Canada's northernmost brewery opens today in Iqaluit

The Nunavut Brewing Company opens this afternoon in Iqaluit today, marking the first time all 13 provinces and territories have had a running brewery, and will serve four brews and supply snacks like charcuterie, pretzels and Arctic char.

Nunavut Brewing Company had faced delays due to water worries

Nunavut Brewing Company, a new brewery in Iqaluit, serves four different brews: Floe Edge, Frob Gold, Aupaqtuq and Celebration Ale. (Angela Hill/CBC)

The Nunavut Brewing Company, the northernmost brewery and brewpub in Canada, opens in Iqaluit this afternoon, marking the first time all 13 provinces and territories have had a running brewery.

"We're so ready and excited to be opening the brewery," said general manager Katie Barbour.

The brewery and brewpub is housed in a building on Iqaluit Lane, just past the turnoff to Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

"You can't believe how intimate this space is," Barbour said. "You can smell what we are doing on the production side of things. You can hear the brewers, you can see the brewers, and you're really close to the product that we are so excited to showcase and serve."

Brewmaster Mike Wayne, left, and general manager, Katie Barbour, right. 'You can smell what we are doing on the production side of things,' Barbour says of the brewery's intimate space. (Angela Hill/CBC)

Four brews will be on tap:

  • The Floe Edge, a northern lights-inspired lager.
  • Frob Gold, a British golden ale.
  • Aupaqtuq, or "red" in Inuktitut, an Irish red ale.
  • A so-called Celebration Ale.

Unlike most brewpubs, Nunavut Brewing Company is not making its own food. Its location prevents it from getting a food permit, so Barbour said it's working with local caterers to provide snacks like charcuterie, pretzels and Arctic char.

Opens after water woes

It hasn't been smooth sailing to start up the brewery. There were delays as the city worked out allowances in the water trucking bylaws.

Iqaluit previously had a daily delivery cap of 2,000 litres of water per day for local businesses — less than needed by the brewery. The Nunavut Brewing Company had been asking for permission to haul additional sewage and water, but a bylaw that would have allowed private companies to haul their own supply failed to pass in July.

But city councillors voted earlier this month to have city trucks and staff deliver trucked water services to existing businesses that need more than 2,000 litres a day.

Iqaluit has been facing concerns about a future water shortage as levels in Lake Geraldine, the city's source of drinking water, are lower than previous years. A study in 2017 found that Iqaluit could face a water shortage within just five years.

Barbour said she is only looking forward.

"At this point, we are the most northerly brewery in Canada, and we also have a pretty lofty goal of being a leader in industry for environmental responsibility," she said.

The Nunavut Brewing Company hopes to be an industry leader when it comes to environmental responsibility, Barbour says. (Angela Hill/CBC)

They're doing that in part by capturing the carbon dioxide created during the brewing process and using it in the final carbonation of the beer, she said. When their products are served in restaurants in Iqaluit, the glass bottles will also be collected and reused.

Currently, the only place where customers can taste the Nunavut Brewing Company's beer is inside the brewpub. But that will change this fall, when canning equipment is expected to arrive by sealift.

Once that is set up, Barbour said Nunavut Brewing Company products will be sold at Iqaluit's beer and wine store.

People outside Nunavut will still have to travel north if they want to try some of the tasty suds.


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