SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A growing demand for variety in the beer market has prompted a major Canadian brewing company to think small.
Moosehead Breweries announced plans Wednesday for a small-batch brewery to be built in the uptown area of Saint John, N.B., separate from its large brewery on the west side of the city.
“We see this new brewery as a way to express and explore our passion for beer,” said Moosehead president Andrew Oland.
“When we looked at how we wanted to more aggressively grow our brands, we knew we had to come to the market with more innovation. In order to do that, we were going to have to do it one way or another with smaller batch sizes.”
Oland said the company is looking for a 10,000-square-foot building to house the brewery, a tap room and a retail outlet to sell merchandise and beer.
He said the company is hoping to tap into the tourist market, which includes thousands of cruise ship passengers who visit the city each summer.
“These days, beer drinkers are interested in experiencing not just new beer styles, but the beer-making process itself,” he said.
Alexander Keith’s announced a similar project late last year to refurbish its brewery in Halifax to accommodate small-batch brewing. A new brew called Cornerstone Edinburgh Pale Ale will be unveiled later this month, the company said Wednesday.
According to Beer Canada, there were 520 licensed breweries in Canada in 2014 — up from 290 just five years earlier.
The majority breweries — about 350 — are small operations that produce less than 2,000 hectolitres of beer annually. A hectolitre is equal to a dozen cases of 24 beer.
With the rise in popularity of craft beer, consumers are becoming more educated about beer, Oland said.
“It’s awesome that people have this passion for beer … We expect there will be a lot of experimentation coming out of this brewery and we’re excited about that.”
Moosehead also owns a smaller brewery in Ontario called Hop City Brewing Co.
Oland said he expects to have the new brewery in operation next year as part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Oland family brewing business.