Brewing a premier beer in Nyanza
Premier visits Nyanza brewery to promote N.S. craft beer industry
Nova Scotians may think they know the Premier of their province, but it will be another six weeks before they get to know the real Mcneil.
Premier Stephen Mcneil was in Nyanza March 14 to brew his namesake beer (aptly branded ‘The Real Mcneil’) with alesmith Jeremy White of Big Spruce Brewing. The visit was a chance to learn more about the brewing process while raising awareness of Nova Scotia’s Craft Beer industry.
“We’re brewing the ‘Real Mcneil’, it’s a one-time seasonal for Jeremy and the industry. It will be a nice red colour,” said the Premier from the brewery floor.
“I hope it will draw some attention to what’s happening. This is such an important industry for the province. You look here, with Jeremy, eight or nine people working full-time who brew a tremendous product for Nova Scotians.”
White said the Premier agreed to brew with him partly on a dare. Last year, White wrote a lengthy op-ed calling on Mcneil’s government to make changes to what he and other brewers see as outdated laws and regulations on the books.
“They’ve raised what I think are some doable requests,” said Mcneil. “We’ve worked with them on some of the other issues around taxation. We’ll continue to do that, but we want to make sure that our rules reflect the reality of today. Making sure that Nova Scotia craft brewers get treated the same as New Brunswick and PEI craft brewers when it comes to getting access to the market – those are all important things.”
The Premier also acknowledged the current, flawed distribution model.
“We’re here in Baddeck and this beer has to go to Halifax to come back to Baddeck. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
“There’s tremendous growth in this sector. We know we need to respond to some of the needs now because it’s growing so much. We have to figure out how to give them access to distribution.”
The Premier also raised the issue of allowing smaller brewers to find a way onto the NSLC shelves without having to produce volumes that put them into dozens of stores.
Mcneil talked to many of the staff working at the brewery and had the chance to see firsthand how White has invested in the industry in this province. More than a quick photo op, the Premier spent nearly three hours – from the Mash Tun to the Fermenter - helping White produce the beer.
White says educating people on craft beer-making is something he tries to extend to everyone who walks into the brewery.
“How close can I get you to my beer?” asked White. “Because the closer you are, the more you adopt craft beer in Nova Scotia as something you believe in and the more opportunity you will have to buy it and drink it.”
Award-winning editorial cartoonist Bruce Mackinnon was asked to create a likeness of the Premier for the can. What it looks like remains a closely guarded secret until beer’s release date expected to coincide with Nova Scotia’s Fourth Annual Craft Beer Week, April 27 – May 6. The opening kickoff event will be the Cape Breton Full House evening at Centre 200 in Sydney.
Visit nscraftbeer.ca for info/tickets.
Premier Stephen Mcneil (left) watches Big Spruce Alesmith Jeremy White (right) as he performs a random can inspection from his canning line. The Premier visited Nyanza March 14 to brew a beer that will be named after him. Photo by Andrew Brooks / The Victoria Standard.