Roll out barrel on new trend

Published on June 29, 2014

Some statistics recently released by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation included a refreshing trend.

The figures showed volume and value of sales during the last fiscal year. One in particular was of note: the sale of Nova Scotia craft beers was up by 22 per cent, compared to an 11.7 per cent growth last year.

That is an optimistic indication of shifting consumer tastes for what has become a growing industry in the province.

Uncle Leo’s brewery in Lyons Brook opened last year to an enthusiastic reception by a public becoming more educated to these distinctive varieties. Then last week, nearby Tatamagouche saw the opening of the Tatamagouche Brewing Company, a project created by former Jost Wines owner Hans Christian Jost with family involvement, and offering two kinds of ale for starters.

These companies have the happy challenge of trying to keep up with demand.

This microbrew trend has grown over the past couple of decades in North America, generally starting from the west coast. Most began as small companies hoping to serve the growing interest in authentic ales and other unique styles of beer that set themselves apart from what the brewing giants offer. It gained a gradual foothold in Nova Scotia and in the past couple of years has grown with new brew houses popping up around the province.

This has promise as a Nova Scotia success story in more ways than one. Consider the startup four years ago of a grower of hops – a primary beer ingredient – FiddleHop Farms in Glenholme, Colchester County, which provides the flavouring herb to some of the province’s brewers. For a province where farming has been a mainstay, here’s a crop with potential.

This growing industry is one that includes hospitality and tourism industry spinoffs. The presence of these microbreweries is at the point now where a craft brew tour around the province would be quite doable. It’s a series of small business success stories that provide a great lesson in tapping new trends.