Craft beer brewing industry growing in New Brunswick
Weeklong festival had early start as a one day tasting event
New Brunswick's craft beer industry says craft brewing is one of the bright spots in a province that is struggling in other areas.
"We've been struggling economy-wise in New Brunswick," said Peter Cole of Big Axe Brewery in Nackawic.
"It's really exciting and New Brunswick really needs it."
The province now boasts more than 20 craft breweries, many of which have hired staff to brew, bottle and transport their suds throughout the province and beyond.
"The industry here is only satisfying about 30 per cent of the demand," said Cole. "So when we expand we'll have to look at hiring more people."
That is good news in a province that is seeing its lowest unemployment numbers in a decade.
But Cole says the money is not just in the bottle. The brews are getting big bucks elsewhere as well.
This week Cole was kegging more of his beer in order to have more product available for the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival underway Saturday.
"It's just a big event now. And the economic impact is huge," said Lloyd Chambers, co-founder of the festival. "It's a lot of money coming into the province."
Tasting event has grown
The annual gathering of brewers and beer lovers began with a single beer tasting event in 2013 with around 550 tickets sold.
Saturday's festival is now just the highlight of a week-long series of beer-related events that is expected to sell more than 1,500 tickets.
"Just the impact of dollars on hotel rooms is huge," said Chambers.
"But everyone is eating out, everyone is drinking beer. People are coming into town for two or three days. Plus all the extra beer that gets sold that supports New Brunswick Craft Brewers is phenomenal."
The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fredericton, across the street from the festival, is booked to capacity. Chambers says it's all because of beer.
Cole also says he sees revenue with people coming to the province for beer. He runs a bed and breakfast in tandem with his brewery.
"We have people that come from across Canada, the States and Europe every year to stay," said Cole.
"They choose us because of our location and because we have a taproom and we make our own beer."