The Mahone Bay Brewing Company is crafting yet another expansion with plans to open a brew pub and cidery in Lunenburg this spring.
The company owns Saltbox Brewery in Mahone Bay and opened King Street Beer Company in Bridgewater last spring.
George Anderson, one of the founders of Mahone Bay Brewing, says its new subsidiary, Lightship Beer and Cider Company, will launch a 5,000 sq. ft. facility on Lunenburg's waterfront in May or June.
"There's a lot of regulations to comply with and so dates are hard to pin down, but we are actually pushing as hard as we can to open in May," he told LighthouseNOW.
Anderson, now president of Lightship Beer and Cider, describes the business as "a specialized European bottled beer and cider company. We're bringing to Lunenburg an old-fashioned method of brewing called foeder brewing, or barrel and barrel-aged brewing," he explained."Basically, it's brewing in large wooden barrels. It gives a more authentic, European character to the beers that are produced."
According to Anderson, the founders of Mahone Bay Brewing Company - himself and his wife, Jane McLoughlin-Anderson, Patrick Jardine and Andrew Tanner - have long since been interested in the technique. "But we had to wait until we felt confident to take this on because it's a little more difficult way of brewing," said Anderson.
The plan builds upon the company's intention to have distinctive operations in the three Lunenburg County towns. Its Saltbox Brewery in Mahone Bay brews and sells a range of branded beers and is the production engine of the company. It also produces cider in a standard way. King Street Beer brews LaHave River Beers, which are those brewed by qualified local brewers from the LaHave River area. Lunenburg will use barrel aging for cider and foeder brewing for European beers.
"You're going to get a different product produced in Lunenburg as part of our offering to the public in Lunenburg, and of course the tourist trade," Anderson emphasized.
The brew pub and cidery will be located at an area Anderson suggests was "rechristened" as Lightship Point - the furthest point out into the Lunenburg harbour of the vacant land owned by ABCO Industries Inc. on Tanner Road.
"If you go down there now, you will see the road going into it, and you will see we have elevated the land over three feet above the high tide mark. And the platform that we're building on is going to be a further two feet. So the project is going to be five feet above the high tide line," Anderson pointed out.
He distanced the project from concerns that have been expressed by town residents over ABCO's own development plans, noting those are related to "the notion that they're going to infill the harbour, part of the harbour. Our project is being built on existing land. So there's no issue there."
Designed by Logan Amos Architecture & Design of Bridgewater, the facility will resemble an old South Shore fishing village.
"So when I say a platform, it's going to be a wharf, really, and the buildings are all going to be on a wharf and they're going to look like the old fishing buildings or shacks that you see all over the place."
The property will house a full tap room and brewing facility, and "lots of outside seating for entertainment, and catered food." The company recently ran an ad for caterers and Anderson reports they've had "a very good response."
He anticipates that at the height of the summer, the business will have eight full-time employees. It has not yet been determined whether the business will stay open year-round. "But we have built the facility for that possibility and we'll just see what the reaction of the town is like, before we decide whether we go with the tourist months or all year."
Anderson says the founders are "over the moon excited" about the new venture. "We hope everybody else is." Although they are still waiting final planning approval, he suggests the Town of Lunenburg and its planning department have been supportive.
"And good support from people on the street. They're emailing and writing and saying, 'We want this to come to Lunenburg.' So we're really encouraged," said Anderson.