Hammond River Is The Latest New Brunswick Craft Brewery

Good Drink, February 7, 2014, The Telegraph Journal

by Craig Pinhey

Atlantic Canada has been hit with a veritable Beer Revolution in the last couple of years, with small microbreweries popping up in towns small and large on a regular basis.  It is difficult to keep up with the barrage of openings in Nova Scotia, and here in New Brunswick we are trying to catch up. Three are opening in the next few months, and there are no doubt more on the cusp.

The first is Hammond River Brewing, a small, “draft only” brewery opening on Stock Farm Road in Quispamsis.   They are kicking off with a launch party on Thursday, February 13 at the Saint John Ale House. Contact the pub for tickets.

Owner and accomplished homebrewer Shane Steeves set up his “nanobrewery” – that’s the name coined for very small brewing operations – in the basement of his home, something that is becoming increasingly common in North America. It makes sense. Beer is food, and is best sourced locally and served fresh. Every town in New Brunswick could and should support a small local brewery.

Hammond River brews 30 gallon batches (in a 40 gallon kettle), and expects an annual production of approximately 10,000 litres, or just under 200 litres a week. That’s about 47 cases of 12 standard bottles of beer a week, except you can’t buy his beer in bottles; for now it will only be available on tap at pubs. You cannot buy beer at his brewery in Growlers, either, so don’t try!

“To start,” says Steeves, “I’ll have two taps at Saint John Ale House, two taps at Bourbon Quarter, and one tap each at The Barrels Head and Shiretown.” He is considering selling to other cities, but is smartly staying local for start-up.

Before opening his own brewery, Steeves had been homebrewing regularly, and also making occasional batches of his “West Coast” style Hammond River Pale Ale at  Big Tide brew pub in Saint John. At his own brewery, though, his flagship beer will be his Hop Flash IPA.  This will be sold at a premium to pubs, compared to his other beers, because of the high cost for hops.  For a 30 gallon batch he uses a total of around 1.5 kg of hops – so that’s roughly 4-5 grams per serving, exponentially more than a typical Canadian pale ale –  of five different varieties, most giving citrus (grapefruit) and piney/floral/herbal characteristics typical of West Coast style beers.


The nearly 2 pounds of hops used in just the finishing addition for Hop Flash IPA

“The hops used in my IPA are Magnum, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook,” explains Steeves. “The majority of my hops are added in the latter part of the boil to give big hop flavours and aromas, as well as some staying power for hop freshness.”

Hop Flash checks in at 6.6% alcohol and 66 IBUs. IBU is short for International Bitterness Units. To put this in perspective, mainstream Canadian beers are typically around 10 IBUs,  whereas English style bitters and Premium lagers are generally around 20-40 IBUs.

His other starting brews include: Red Coat India Red Ale, Covered Bridge ESB, and Back In Black Oatmeal Stout. Look for them soon at the aforementioned pubs.  You can follow Hammond River Brewing on Facebook.

The two other breweries opening soon are Big Axe in Nackawic and Brasseurs du Petit-Sault in Edmundston.

The owner/brewer at Big Axe is Peter Cole, and he plans to release a stout, IPA and a cream ale from his 40 gallon brew system, starting in mid-March on draft, and via Growlers at the brewery in May. They are only two minutes from the Trans Canada Highway, and also have a B&B. “Ideally,” says Cole, “people will stay here and be able to try our craft beer!  Our location is waterfront on the Saint John River and we have 53 acres of land with our trails joining the provincial snowmobile/ATV trails.”  Sounds like a great getaway to me!  Check out BigAxe.ca for more information.

Brasseurs du Petit-Sault is a larger microbrewery, 15 bbl (over 10 times the size of Hammond River or Big Axe), and is located in the old police station, which has undergone major renovations. “The company is privately-owned,” says  spokesperson Mychèle Poitras, “but with the added twist of having over 60 investors, which makes it somewhat of a community project.”

They will specialize in Belgian style beers, and, to that end, have a working relationship with Belgium’s Brunehaut Brewery, makers of St. Martin Abbey ale and other classic Belgian styles.  Brasseurs du Petit-Sault recently hired two experienced brewers and are making test batches at the pilot brewing system at NBCC Grand Falls.
Their equipment arrives in March, and they anticipate a June opening.

Their initial beers, developed by Brunehaut, will be a blonde ale and a Belgian wit (white).  They plan “more complex” beers in the future. You can learn more at  www.brasseurspetitsault.com.

Craft beer is really happening in New Brunswick. It is a revolution you should get behind.


Wine of the Week

Jost L’Acadie Pinot Grigio,  $16.99 – this is a fresh and fruity off-dry white made from mostly Nova Scotia Acadie Blanc, with some Ontario Pinot Grigio. I have no problem with wines that are blends of grapes from various regions or countries, as long as it is clearly stated on the label, as with this wine.  It has tasty fresh fruit flavours of pear and citrus, with light white flower notes. Enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine.


February 13th and 15th – Picaroons Beer and ChocolateTastings in Fredericton. Try a selection of Picaroons brews with various chocolates. The Feb 13th event is at the York Street Station ANBL, and I will lead the tasting on the 15th at The Schnitzel Parlour.  $50 for 4 courses.  For tickets go to Picaroons Brewtique at 422 Queen Street in Fredericton.

Tuesday, February 18th – Big Reds at happinez wine bar. Join me for a tasting of some power reds. Go to happinezwinebar.com for more information.

Saturday, February 22nd – Red Cross WIne Fair. This wonderful fundraiser always sell out and this year is no exception. There are a few VIP tickets left. For $40 more you get a 1 hour premium wine tasting before the main event. See you there! VIP tickets can be purchased atwww.eventbrite.ca/e/saint-john-wine-fair-tickets-9672595995

Saturday, March 8 – Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. This successful event returns to our capital this spring and is a can’t miss for beer lovers. More information can be found at www.frederictoncraftbeerfestival.com.


Craig Pinhey is a certified Sommelier, beer judge and writer. Visit him www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as frogspadca.