“Brains on Beer” Tour Highlights Science & Economics of NB Craft Brew Sector

Hosted by BioNB, Ignite Fredericton, and le College Communautaire de Nouveau-Brunswick Jenny Keleher October 4, 2016

Every new craft brewery that pops up in New Brunswick represents more than a new craft beer to sip. It means more full-time jobs along the value chain in agriculture, brewing, packaging, and even transportation. In many cases, that brew was imagined in an aspiring brewer’s basement, tweaked using the expertise of researchers from one of the province’s research institutions, then scaled-up to production capacity with the support of another friendly neighbourhood brewery.

 

This is the nature of New Brunswick’s craft brewery cluster – a community built on the principles of collaboration and cooperation.

 

This fact became abundantly clear during the Brains on Beer brewery tour held on Saturday Oct. 1st, co-hosted by BioNB, Ignite Fredericton, and the Biorefinery Technology Scale-Up Centre at CCNB – the Grand Falls-based research team that has delivered its alcohol technical expertise to nearly every brewer in Atlantic Canada.

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Brains on Beer was attended by over 40 members of government, business and scientific communities eager to learn more about the technical details of the brewing operations at four Fredericton-area craft breweries and better understand the economic impact they are having in our region and our province. The day featured an informal talk from Ignite Fredericton CEO Larry Shaw, who spoke to the economic development potential of the craft brewing sector in New Brunswick, and the policy changes required to allow the sector to grow.

 

“By embracing reforms in policy, taxation, and regulation the New Brunswick microbrewery industry can accelerate its growth, resulting in significant economic benefits for the province over the medium and long term,” said Larry.

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The bus made four stops, starting with Grimross Brewing, Maybee Brew Co., Picaroons Traditional Ales, and finishing the day at Trail Way Brewing Co.. At each stop, Mike Doucette, a research chemist at the Biorefinery Technology Scale-up Centre at CCNB in Grand Falls, gave a different talk about the brewing process, including brewing 101, hops, malting, and even Picaroons’ open top fermentation. Picaroons’ unique fermentation technique creates the “best environment for yeast”, says owner Sean Dunbar. They keep their yeast happy and that’s why it works.

 

Picaroons is growing quickly, and has shared that success with other emerging craft brewers. They have had a part in incubating Trailway, Grimross, and Big Axe Brewing while they were still getting off the ground. Grimross in-turn supported Graystone while Graystone donated its unused scaffolding to Maybee.

 

They are a truly incestuous group, sharing equipment, space, recipes, tips, and more. This has allowed the sector to grow at an impressive pace, as brewers are able to skip steps in the commercializations process which in-turn save them money.

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“From an economic development perspective, you can’t predict an industry is going to behave like that”, said Larry Shaw. “The notion of one tide raising all ships should shape our policies”.

 

Moosehead Breweries, a New Brunswick institution and a notable name in the global beer industry, is preparing to get crafty in a new small batch brewery in Saint John. Still in the planning stages, Director of Manufacturing Strategy JP Auger attended Brains on Beer to get ideas on how to build out their small facility.

 

“There is a lot to learn from what is being done already”, said JP. “We are definitely interested in collaborating”. It’s a whole new ballgame brewing at a small scale, and in traditional Maritimer fashion New Brunswick’s brewing community will likely jump at the opportunity to exchange resources and expertise with Canada’s oldest independent brewery.

 

Brains on Beer was hosted as part of Global Biotech Week, a world-wide initiative of events and advocacy aimed at raising awareness of the industry and its global potential among policymakers, influencers, and the public. BioNB is New Brunswick’s bioscience agency, promoting a supportive business environment through coaching and community building. Connect with us at BioNB.org or on Twitter and Facebook.

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