Brew­ing a pre­mier beer in Nyanza

Pre­mier vis­its Nyanza brew­ery to pro­mote N.S. craft beer in­dus­try

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - AN­DREW BROOKS

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.

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