While it’s been a couple of weeks since I returned from my travels out east, I want to make sure I give details on some of the breweries I happened to visit.
Originally Grimross was brewing out of Picaroons. It’s where they sold their first beer on July 1, 2013. As their popularity grew, they got their own space on Bishop Drive in Fredericton, New Brunswick. They officially opened their doors in December of 2014 and I happened to visit them on opening day.
The brewery is named for an island in the Saint John River near Grand Lake where owner Stephen Dixon spent a lot of time growing up. Currently, they run a 10-barrel system with five 20 barrel fermenters. They keep four tanks full, plus one empty at present for transfers. Their popularity continues to grow and they are looking to add two new 20 barrel fermenters so they can move forward with plans of canning their beers.
As a test run, they have been doing a limited can run of their Maritime Pale Ale, which frequently sells out. Along with the goal of expanding their capacity, they are straight up expanding their footprint from 4,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. This will allow them room to install a canning line while also expanding their taproom space.
While Grimross had brewed mostly Belgian style ales they have recently expanded their horizons, adding more American styles to their repertoire. I tried all their beers and enjoyed each one.
Bonus: If you are looking for a job, they want to hire a new brewer to help keep up with demand. Fredericton’s not a bad place to live, after all…
PEI Brewing Company
PEI Brewing Company has a storied history on Prince Edward Island, beginning in 1997 with the founding of Murphy’s Brewing Company next to the Lone Star restaurant on University Avenue in Charlottetown, PEI. As the popularity of the brewery grew, in November 2000 they moved to a 19th Century building in downtown Charlottetown where, in honour of the original owner of this building, they changed their name to Gahan House Brewery.
In 2008 they expanded to an off-site location that allowed them start bottling beer for sale. With a new 10 hectolitre system they were able to produce more beer, expanding their distribution. They won a gold medal for their Sir John A’s Honey Wheat in 2011 as well as 2012. After running out of beer three summers in a row, owner Kevin Murphy partnered with Jeff Squires and expanded again, this time opening the PEI Brewing Company.
A new brewery was constructed for the PEI Brewing Company, which opened in May 2013 with a 50 hectolitre state-of-the-art brew system built entirely in PEI and a whole new team of brewers. While Kevin Murphy is still involved in PEI Brewing Company, he continues to brew with both the Gahan and PEI Brewing Company labels.
One of the more interesting marketing events they’ve done is partnering with local musicians to offer some unique experiences. I had the opportunity to go and see Lenny Gallant, an Acadian artist, who sang songs and told stories about PEI all while enjoying beer. Overall, the place is well worth a visit, for the tour as well as the brews.
While I had hoped to get to more breweries, I was ultimately out east to spend time with family. But I do have a few final thoughts on some differences I noticed between Manitoba and New Brunswick.
I understand each province is entitled to its own regulations and laws when it comes to the sale and distribution of alcohol. Still, I think there are some interesting differences. In New Brunswick, there is no requirement to have food at a taproom. In fact, you can sell whatever beer you choose at your taproom. The only restriction is you can only sell growlers of your own beer to take away.
In New Brunswick they do not use the Peagas system for filling growlers. Each site uses its own method, but most seem to fill straight from the tap using a food grade tube. This is after purging the growler with a CO2 tap.
Finally, there seems to be a huge boom of breweries happening in New Brunswick and the surrounding area right now. There are currently seven breweries and three cideries open in a town of roughly 60,000 people, with more on the way. While there may be concern here in Manitoba that we might grow too quickly, I think that if a town of 60,000 people can support a rich local craft beer scene, then we sure can, too.