A northwestern New Brunswick brewery is launching a new beer that is looking to capitalize on the craft beer trend and showcasing some of the region’s iconic characters.
Petit-Sault Brewers are hoping to launch its first two beers and open its new brewery in Edmundston in the next few weeks.
Mychele Poitras, the communications director for the brewery, said a small group of beer-loving friends identified a gap in the local marketplace.
"People travel, they have been to microbreweries all over the place … Picaroons in Fredericton, Pump House in Moncton, why not here?" Poitras said.
"There was no beer being brewed in northwest New Brunswick, this is a new thing, so yes, we thought this is what we want to do."
'We thought it would be nice to shed light on these strange local characters, not the big names, the people who captured the local imagination.' - Mychele Poitras
Once the group decided that there was a market in the area for a craft beer, they needed to find money to start a brewery.
“We really, really wanted to make this a community project so we started looking for some investors. In the end we have 84 investors in this lovely project,” she said.
The only problem, she said, was no one had any real experience in running a brewery. Poitras said those initial conversations identified a former Edmundston resident living in Belgium, who did have some savvy in the beer industry.
The group convinced the friend to move back to New Brunswick and take over as the brewery’s general manager.
Petit-Sault has been brewing its beer out of the New Brunswick Community College in nearby Grand Falls. Two recipes will debut this summer.
Poitras said the brewery will launch a Belgian-inspired blonde ale and a white beer. The brewery is also using Edmundston water drawn from the Iroquois River basin and trying to use local products when possible.
The brewery's website describes the beer as a "happy union between Belgium and Madawaska County."
Local characters featured
That isn’t the only connection the beer will have to the region.
“We really, really wanted to make a hit with marketing. We thought a lot about it. We thought it would be nice to shed light on these strange local characters, not the big names, the people who captured the local imagination," she said.
The blonde ale will be named after Bob LeBoeuf, who is described as a “legendary” prospector in Edmundston, who tried to find valuable minerals in the local forests.
The white beer is named after Tante Blanche, who travelled around the Madawaska area in 1797 during a famine and ordered rich settlers to share food with the poor.
The beer labels feature caricatures of Bob LeBoeuf and Tante Blanche. The labels won’t be the only distinctive element of the beer.
Petit-Sault will be featuring stubby bottles, which Poitras said will be a huge hit.
The brewery is also opening a location in the city’s downtown.
Two Edmundston business people bought the old police station, Poitras said, and have leased a section of the building to the brewery.