Brewery dreams come true for Nova Scotia couple

A Hants County couple has combined the booming interest in Nova Scotia’s craft beers with an idea usually reserved for agricultural products – to create a small brewery on their farm.
Alan and Brenda Bailey met and married in Brenda’s home province of British Columbia 30 years ago. From the get-go, they shared a passion for beer and a dream of brewing it someday.
“It was a very, very expensive game to get into back then, millions and millions of dollars to open a brew pub,” says Alan.
So instead, they went into the business of life, raising two kids and following two careers that allowed them to move around and work in places like Australia. Ten years ago, the couple decided it was time to put down roots.
Alan and Brenda’s home in Ashdale, N.S. is roughly 200 years old. Alan’s parents bought it in 1960 and he grew up there. The couple purchased the house in 2004 and they have been working the land ever since.
However, their brewery dream didn’t take seed until their son came back to the farm with a business school project five years ago.
“So, Alan and he got together and decided to build a case study for growing hops,” says Brenda.
Today, the couple sells several varieties of hops to a larger, local microbrewery and they use it for their own beer.
This year’s batch will be small, even by Nova Scotia standards, at 20,000 to 30,000 litres.
“Our goal is definitely to keep it small here on the farm and keep it quaint,” says Alan.
To make it viable, the couple have used a business model called A Community Supported Brewery Program, which follows the same premise as community-supported agriculture.
“People are paying in advance for beer they will get throughout the year and they will get some value added there as well,” says Alan.
For example, a $100 purchase will get you a $125 value.
After decades of dreaming, the Bailey’s vision is about to become reality. Meander River Farm and Brewery has a pale ale called Lunch Box, in memory of Brenda’s late father’s work ethic and the trusty old box he carried to work every day.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s definitely a labour of love for us,” says Brenda.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jayson Baxter

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