ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Care for a Ceasefire IPA? How about an Acadian Honey Brown or a King George Porter?
If you were buying a beer in Annapolis Royal those names suddenly make sense. Just like Courthouse Vanilla Coffee Stout.
Paul St Laurent and Danny McClair, the guys who make the beer and come up with the historic names, operate Annapolis Brewing Company out of a carriage house off St. George Street. Business has been good, the feedback positive, and a taproom and new, larger brewing premises are in the near future.
Such is the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia – growing.
The partners were both businessmen already, both did some home-brewing, and have been friends for a few years.
“This is the first venture together,” said Paul. “We were always honing our craft and buying new equipment to perfect our recipes. Friends and family loved our beer and we were always met with ‘where can we get this?’ A decision was then made to take our craft beer to Nova Scotian craft beer drinkers.”
While some jobs are boring and not very rewarding, not so beer making.
“We have a pile of fun brewing together,” said Paul. “There is never a dull moment, hence one of the ingredients listed on our growlers -- laughter.”
Annapolis Brewing Company was licenced October 1, 2017 with a mid-October roll out.
“We currently deliver our product to our clients such as pubs, restaurants, and individuals,” Paul said. “You can find us on tap at the Sydney Street Pub and Café in Digby, The Old Town Pub in Annapolis Royal, Bistro East has had our growlers, and Jamiesons Irish Pub in Cole Harbour/Dartmouth had our Acadian Honey Brown in their tap rotation alongside some great Nova Scotia craft beers.”
They’ve been on tap at Horton Ridge and over at Schoolhouse Brewery in Windsor. Annapolis Brewing Company uses Horton Ridge malt in some of their beers.
“We appreciate them for supporting local brewers,” he said.
Right now Danny and Paul are building their own taproom and small second brewery on St. George Street across from Fort Anne.
“You’ll be able to come in and try all of our beers, buy a growler or 12 and try some of the other local beers from our guest taps,” Paul said. “It will be a great environment. We hope to have it open and ready by mid May of this year.”
From the local buzz, the place will be popular.
“The feedback locally and on social media has been great. Craft beer drinkers and brewers are one giant family,” Paul explained.
“Daily we field the question on social media, ‘where are you located and how do I get some of your beer?” said Danny.
Annapolis Brewing Company’s bottles aren’t your average growlers. They look a bit like those old medicine bottles, and with Danny also owning a pharmacy, that seemed a bit suspicious until he explained.
“We decided to use the Boston round bottle, supplied and printed by Jym Line glassware in Elmsdale,” Danny said. “The bottle is unique and would resemble some of the old glassware that used to come and go from Annapolis Royal back in the Fort Anne days.”
On the back of the growler, printed in white, is some brewing and historic information and not a little bit of humour: “Much like the Cannoneers of the historic 40th Regiment of Foot at Fort Anne, the brew crew at the Annapolis Brewing Company have taken up positions at the old cannons and have joined Nova Scotia’s craft beer revolution.”
“It was simple to link our story with the town's historic importance,” Danny said. “There have been many battles fought over Fort Anne and although the cannons have gone silent, the history continues and we try to tweak historic interest in our beer names. People may google King George after having our porter and learn about King George's War and so on.”
“Because of the vast history surrounding the town, naming beers is a simple task,” said Paul. “We research the web and the archives and look for people, places, or things and go from there.”
“Like most things in our brewery, it’s all done over a beer,” Danny said.
Annapolis Brewing Company’s beer line-up is W&A Railway Rye IPA, Ceasefire IPA, Acadian Honey Brown, King George Porter, Goodwill Amber, Courthouse Vanilla Coffee Stout, Capital Hefeweizen, and our M.A.S.H Valley Pale Ale.
“Most of our beers were sampled by friends and family over the years and the feedback was great,” Paul said. “Danny wanted to add a Honey Brown to our list so we worked on a recipe and made it what it is today. It is one of our best sellers.”
Danny’s beer philosophy is simple.
“I believe we only brew beer we will drink,” he said, “We’re not afraid to try and make a new beer, which hat’s off to Paul is great at balancing recipes out, but we’re also not afraid to dump it if it doesn't live up to our standards. If we won’t drink it, it doesn’t get drank.”
Danny and Paul weren’t the only testers and tasters.
“Being home brewers meant we had to have kegerators at our houses so there was always beer on tap,” Paul said. “People would drop in and we would say ‘want a beer’ and ‘what do you think of that IPA?’”
“I’m supper excited to be able to bring the taproom to the area,” Danny said. “It's because of our current location and it’s lack of public access it had been one of our biggest challenges to get our products in peoples hands.”
As is Annapolis Royal, the taproom will be a place where people come together.
“We want it to be a gathering place, a place to meet old friends and new friends,” Danny said. “A place to experience our craft and the craft of other small breweries. A place to continue to grow the craft beer revolution.”
Paul said the taproom will consist of ABC’s beer line-up and guest taps.
“We plan to open in mid May and will offer food provided by a local restaurant,” he said. “People will be able to come sample our craft beer, purchase growlers and smaller bottles. We will have entertainment every now and then as well as special events. We will also brew small batches of beer onsite.”
“We have officially maxed out our space in our current location,” Paul said. “We are currently exploring vacant land locations to build a larger building on. We will eventually have everything under one roof. With expansion will come new employment and economic spinoffs to the town and province.”
But the beer will always be good. It says so on the back of the growler.
“We craft beer the way all great craft brewers should brew beer, using five simple ingredients; barley, hops, yeast, water and laughter.”
They have a big flat screen television hanging in the carriage house. Danny said it’s so they can watch the Pats win the Super Bowl. Paul, more of an Eagles fan, cracks up at the very thought. The laughter, like the other ingredients, is natural.