Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia craft brewers raise a glass to savings and growth in 2017

Good news announcements for the province's brewers in 2016 mean local craft beer makers can look forward to savings and growth in the new year.

The new year is poised to be a good one for those in the province's booming craft beer business

The Nova Scotia flag hangs at Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax, one of the first craft brewers in the province.

Nova Scotia's craft brewers believe 2017 could be the year for their suds. 

Good news announcements for the industry accumulated in 2016, setting local businesses up for growth.

From changed markup metrics for government fees on brewers' direct sales, to plans by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. to install fridges for local craft brews, to an industrial bottle-washing facility in Dartmouth, those in the business say they feel the love.

Rebecca Atkinson is getting ready to upgrade from the small system behind her as she works on growing Sober Island Brewing Company.

Growing in numbers

There are now 30 to 40 craft breweries in the province, meaning it can boast more craft breweries per capita than any other province.

Rebecca Atkinson owns Sober Island Brewing Company in Sheet Harbour, one of the province's newer and smaller breweries.

Atkinson claims the only oyster stout in the province — one she's been developing on a small $15,000 system. 

But as she transitions to what she's calling phase two of her business plan, she has just completed a renovation on her parents' neighbourhood pub and shelled out about $160,000 for a bigger brewing system that will help her expand.

"It's a great industry to be in and we're in it at the right time," she said. 

The timing is good because of the cost savings on the horizon for the province's breweries.

Right time for brewers

The change in the retail sales markup allocation will reduce the fee brewers pay the government by almost half in most cases when it rolls out in April.

And the bottle washing facility, if brewers chose to use it, could save about 10 cents per bottle.

Brian Titus is the vice-president of the Craft Brewers' Association of Nova Scotia and the founder of Garrison Brewing Company. (CBC)

Brian Titus, owner of the Garrison Brewing Company, said the markup change in particular is something that will benefit everyone. 

"The nice thing about it is that it affects every [brewer] literally across the province," he said. 

"It doesn't matter how small or big or new or old you are, it will have an immediate effect on your cash flow."

A rising tide

Peter Burbridge is a partner in Dartmouth's Battery Park Beer Bar and the founder of North Brewing Company. He says there is still room for the province's booming craft beer industry to grow.

Peter Burbridge has two stakes in craft brewing. One in his own brewery, North Brewing Company, and one in the Dartmouth brew pub Battery Park, which serves many local craft beers.

But he doesn't see it as a conflict and says there is room for everyone who wants to brew craft beer. 

"It's not saturated yet," he said. "It's a good time to be in the brewing industry and a good time to be a craft beer drinker in the province, too."

Currently Nova Scotia craft brewers have about seven per cent of the beer market in the province.

Burbridge said he hopes it will catch up to provinces like B.C., where craft breweries have approximately 12 per cent of the market.