Another craft brewer has opened its doors in Halifax. Bridge Brewing Company, located on Agricola Street in the North End, sold its first batch Jan. 23 and has already made its mark on the local beer scene.
Peter Burbridge, founder of Bridge Brewing Company, said this is a dream of his finally realized.
"I always had the idea that I wanted to start my own business and originally I thought it would be in the coffee industry," Burbridge said inside the storefront area, with wood panels on the wall and a red saloon style door. "So I decided to do an MBA at Dalhousie and learn something about business."
During his time at Dalhousie, Burbridge began working at Java Blend Coffee Roasters, which inspired him to start his own business.
"I didn't want to leave Halifax and I didn't want to open a business that would compete with Java Blend, so I went with my other passion, which is home brewing," he said. "After looking into the industry I noticed it's kind of exploding right now and I thought Halifax was ripe for a nice small scale local brewery."
He had the recipes, he had the business plan, all he needed was a partner to help with the actual brewing.
In comes Josh Herbin, who worked in the brewing industry before. Herbin had also worked in agriculture, including growing hops, one of the key ingredients of making beer. The two met, thanks to mutual friends, and eventually became business partners. Burbridge said things fell into place once they started collaborating together.
Now the two are making and selling beer together and the only issue so far seems to be keeping up with demand.
"I think there's a big enthusiasm for craft beer, a lot of people are excited by the trend and in the first day we sold out of everything in three hours," Burbridge said. "Then on Thursday we did about the same volume over five hours."
The two brewers have two tanks, which makes two beers.
"One is Gus' 65 metre ale, we're doing that with Gus' Pub, which is 65 metres down the road, and that's is where the name comes from," Burbridge said. He described it as a light refreshing Belgian-style blonde that's crisp and citrusy. It's available in growler form in store and at Gus' Pub, just up the street.
"Our other beer is the farmhouse ale, another Belgian-style. That one's a little bigger at 7.5 per cent (alcohol)," he said, adding that it's got a good malt sweetness that is balanced out by a unique yeast strain they're using.
The farmhouse will also be available at the store and on tap at the Brooklyn Warehouse, a local restaurant.
A day in the life of a craft brewer
Josh Herbin is the primary brewer at Bridge Brewing Company. He described the process of making the two signature beers.
"On a brew day I come in around 8 in the morning and I'll check on the beers that we have fermenting at the time and if I have to cool anything down or heat anything up I get that started," Herbin said. "I sanitize the equipment and then I'll check with Peter that we're happy with that recipe and that we're making the right batch.
"We have quite a few different malts that we're using here, some are Canadian and some are import malts. I'll mill the grain for our recipe, which usually works out to 50 to 60 kilos a batch right now. I just started my hot water cycle, so I'll start mashing it in. I mix the grain with the water at just the right temperature and kind of make a tea and let that steep for about an hour and then just go through the brewing process.
"This system is a side-by-side one, two brews at the same time staggered an hour apart to fill one of the tanks, which takes about seven hours to get through the whole process, so along the way I'm also cleaning the tanks and getting it all ready, it's a lot of multi-tasking."