Craft beer industry finds a welcoming home in the Maritimes

Maritimes experiencing a local beer boom
Local craft breweries have been popping up right across the Maritimes. By the end of this year there's expected to be forty breweries in Nova Scotia alone. Global's Alexa MacLean sat down with some brewing experts to discuss what's causing this craft beer boom.

The Maritime provinces are quickly becoming a craft-beer hub for local brew-lovers.

Nova Scotia, in particular, has become a launching pad for much of the activity, a far jump from its humble beginnings.

“Up until 1996 there was only two microbreweries open in the province,” said Maritime Beer Report blogger Todd Beal. “There was Paddy’s a brewpub in the valley, and Granite Brewing, in Halifax.”

READ MORE: Shop selling Nova Scotia-made liquor to open at Halifax airport

“At the end of last year there was 27 breweries in Nova Scotia. This year we’re going to get about 40.”

Beal, who spends much of his time travelling to different breweries across the Maritimes, said the increase in openings is great for the industry.

“A rising tide rises all boats, so what’s good for one craft brewer is good for everybody.”

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The waves of growth over the past two decades have helped ensure the east coast has a taste to suit everybody’s needs.

WATCH: African Heritage month celebrated at local brewery with U.S. President Barack Obama’s beer. Alexa McLean reports.

The White House beer on tap in Halifax
The White House beer on tap in Halifax

Shaun Fraser, CEO of the Pump House Brewery in Moncton, said the way people have embraced craft beer has changed in that time.

“In 1997, we saw the second wave of breweries come on board — the bigger ones, Garrision and Propeller. It kind of fluctuated between eight and 11, up until what I call the third wave, in 2012, when we started getting into all the new breweries,” he said.

“When we started, a lot of our effort went into educating people that such a beer existed. But now people are beginning to support it, so we see phenomenal growth in this sector.”

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Fraser said small breweries boasts a sevenfold increase in jobs per litre produced compared to their bigger counterparts.

“The more money that you put into the microbreweries and craft brewers, the more employment you’re creating,” he said.

Peter Burbridge got his start in home brewing and has since opened up North Brewing Company in Halifax’s north end. He said the best part of working in the local brew community is the relationships he forms with his customers.

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“We just opened another storefront in Dartmouth, which is the community that we live in now, where I’m raising my family,” he said. “So that’s the decision we made, stay a little bit smaller and sell directly to really engage with our customers. Those are the values that we have.”