ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS - Nova Scotia is in the middle of a craft beer revolution and Danny McClair and Paul St Laurent are taking it to the street – literally.
The two men behind the newly opened Annapolis Brewing Company have secured Market Square across from the wharf Sundays between mid May and October with a growing list of Nova Scotia crafter brewers signing on.
It was Paul’s idea.
One day he asked Danny what he thought of starting the first craft beer farmers market in Nova Scotia.
“We both talked about the benefits it would provide to craft breweries and the Town of Annapolis Royal. We had no idea how many breweries would be interested but realized that it could gain traction as it becomes known.”
He was right.
“The response has been great. The Annapolis Brewing Company, Lunn's Mill, Horton Ridge, Meander River Farm Brewery, and Off Track Brewing have confirmed,” he said. “There are a few more that are waiting to confirm and we will announce every brewery as they come on board. This is a great venue to introduce their product, especially if their beer is not listed at the NSLC.”
Of course Danny and Paul would love to have as many as they can get out to Annapolis Royal.
“Some will attend every two weeks, others every week,” Paul said. “Breweries have asked if they can attend once a month and we said absolutely. We expect to grow from there.”
While they named it the Annapolis Royal Craft Beer Market they’ll be welcoming wineries and craft distilleries on Sundays as well.
“The potential is that we completely fill the market grounds with craft beer and spirit producers,” Paul said. “We are only limited by space and have quite a bit of it.”
The market will run on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting May 13.
“We approached council last October and advised them of our idea. We had to enter into a lease agreement to lease the Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market grounds on Sundays,” Paul said. “Council has been very supportive throughout this entire process. It will showcase Annapolis Royal and our neighbouring breweries.”
The biggest stipulation is that they are not able to sell food, but they do plan to make every market an event with local musical entertainment.
Sampling is allowed as per NSLC regulations and permits,” Paul said. “Each brewery must obtain a permit from the NSLC which allows them to sell and offer samples at farmers markets.”
Most product will be prefilled growlers, bottles, and cans, he said.
“Some may choose to fill onsite but for most breweries, filling growlers at their breweries prior to coming out will be much easier,” he said.
For Annapolis Royal, the market is just one more attraction in Canada’s oldest European settlement.
“It provides another reason to visit Annapolis Royal on a Sunday and sample the various craft beers in one spot, buy the product, eat at one of the local restaurants, maybe stay an extra night in a B&B to take in the new market,” Paul said.
“The potential doesn't stop there,” said Danny. “The grocery stores, the local shops, the local gas bars -- everyone wins in this town when we have reasons for people to come.”
Danny said there are close to 50 craft beer breweries in the province and word is this will continue to grow.
“Many Nova Scotians drink local product and have great admiration for their local breweries,” Paul said. “This is evident in the number of new craft breweries coming online in the smaller centres throughout the province.”
“The craft beer revolution to me is about getting back to basics, knowing what’s in your beer, sharing a great story over a beer with full flavour made by small business and by like-minded people. It’s all about local.”
Paul said the craft beer demographic is simple – young and old alike.
“I always say, there is something for everyone in the craft beer world, you just need to find your style,” Danny said. “It’s funny when I go to a place that serves only craft beer, it’s a 50/50 split of gender, and the ages go from the youngest of drinkers to seniors.
“We’re finding that each brewery brings their own style and flavour to the craft beer line-up in Nova Scotia,” Paul said. “Perhaps people will remember the town they visited based on a local beer they tried.”
“I definitely think it’s a throw back in time,” Danny said “And it’s all about local and people caring more about the quality and the flavours of what they drink.”
“Many breweries started up as home brewers bringing their passion and product one step closer to consumers,” Paul said. “Some come from business backgrounds and some don't. It is however a little easier to start up when one has had previous businesses. You are a little more seasoned to the successes and failures as they arise. They key is to follow your passion and to never let people tell you that you can't do it.”
While there are some hurdles in the craft brew industry, the revolution continues.
“The province is aware of must of the concerns Nova Scotia craft brewers have at this time and have listened,” Danny said. “Now we wait and see if changes will be made -- such as being able to sell our product at our local NSLC stores. Right now you have to be able to supply 32 stores. Many do not have the capacity to do that but could supply their town's local NSLC store.”