Nova Scotia

New book raises a toast to Atlantic Canada's microbreweries

East Coast Crafted, a craft beer lover's bible released Wednesday, profiles the Atlantic Canadian microbrewing scene that has exploded in recent years.

Almost 400-page book looks at massive growth of industry and characters at the centre of it

Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran are the authors of East Coast Crafted, a new, in-depth book that profiles Atlantic Canada's microbreweries. (Andrew Connell/Chelle Wootten)

As the owner of Halifax craft beer bar Stillwell, Chris Reynolds knows a lot about the region's suds, but co-writing a book that profiles Atlantic Canada's microbreweries gave him a deeper appreciation of the craft.

"It's like walking through an art gallery and knowing a thing or two about the artist or the art — you just love it that much more when you know more about it," he said.

Reynolds and Whitney Moran are the authors behind East Coast Crafted, a craft beer lover's bible released Wednesday that profiles the scene that has exploded in recent years and the characters at the centre of it.

Prior to running his own business — which also now includes a brewery — Reynolds worked as a journalist, while Moran works as a managing editor for Nimbus Publishing, the publisher of the book. At one point in time, she worked for Halifax's Garrison Brewing.

The pair's unlikely set of skills allows them to take a deep dive into the brewing scene and results in an almost 400-page book that details the rise of local breweries, their histories, brewing styles and signature beers.

Craft breweries have become an important draw for tourists. (Rebecca Pate)

"I found myself continuously enamoured with the rural breweries, the community breweries and people going back to that age-old concept of the brewery as the social space for the community," said Moran.

She points to Meander River Farm and Brewery in Ashdale, N.S. One of the co-owners planned to build the brewery himself, but when neighbours got wind of the plan, they showed up with tool belts to help out — an endeavour which came to be known as the Habitat for Brewmanity.

Moran said the local community centre was torn down before the brewery was built, but Meander River has replaced it as a gathering space.

There are around 90 microbreweries in Atlantic Canada, with the majority in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. One of those breweries is Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault in Edmundston, N.B. With co-founder Mychèle Poitras's work as the communications director for the city, she pondered how to increase tourism in the community.

Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault brews out of an old police station in Edmundston's downtown. (Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault/Facebook)

"She said, 'How do we make people stop in Edmundston for more than just a bite or a hotel on their way to or from Upper Canada?' and she said a brewery. So she got 82 of her friends to invest and they just opened a brewery together, which I think is hilarious and awesome," said Reynolds.

The brewery operates out of a former police station and names its beers after people from Edmundston's past.

Craft beer is a popular tourism driver. In Nova Scotia last year, 12 per cent of tourists visiting the province included a stop at a craft brewery as part of their itinerary.

"Beer tourism is this big thing now and people plan their trips around which breweries they are going to visit … so we wanted to be able to tell people what the experience is going to be like to go to this place," said Moran.

The book doesn't just profile breweries, but also looks at local beer clubs as well as DME Group, a Charlottetown-based company that supplies brewing equipment to companies both locally and abroad.

While available for sale in bookstores, rather fittingly, it's also available at some of the breweries profiled in the book.