With the shipment of a pallet of canned beer four provinces westward, a southern New Brunswick brewery has set foot in a new market in the Canadian Prairies.
This marks the first time Hammond River Brewing Company has been able to get one of its beers – 55 24-packs of the microbrewery’s Hawaiian IPA – onto the shelves of another province’s liquor stores.
“It’s really tough to get into another market. I’ve been trying for a while, now, to get into P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Ontario, and it’s been really difficult,” Hammond River Owner Shane Steeves said.
Steeves noted that he’s been sending kegs to Nova Scotia for the last couple of years – but has not yet been able get a berth in any NSLC beer section.
“You’d think next door, Nova Scotia, would be more receptive to it,” Steeves mused.
He noted that he’s a subscriber to calls from the liquor authorities in Nova Scotia and P.E.I., sending samples and following procedures to get Hammond River beers listed.
“We haven’t gotten accepted there, and I know other breweries have faced the same thing – it’s definitely a lot of red tape,” Steeves said.
“Then, we reached out to Saskatchewan and they accepted – so that was great. Saskatchewan has been great to deal with.”
Steeves said that about three or four months ago, he sent along a list of SKUs (stock-keeping units) available, and wasn’t expecting much of a response.
“But they chose the Hawaiian pale ale and the rest is history. I’m hoping this isn’t going to be a one-time thing, but we’ll see.”
Despite the difficulty he’s faced getting beers to Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Ontario, Steeves said he’s always open to ship his beers to other provinces and is leaving the door open on future partnerships.
Steeves is waiting to see where his brews will end up in Saskatchewan, noting that the beer was shipped to the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) warehouse in Regina.
“I’m not sure what locations they’re going to distribute to, and I’m hoping to find that one out once it arrives next Tuesday,” he said.
“I will follow up at some point next week to see what places they might have shipped to. I’ve got some friends in Saskatchewan who are eagerly awaiting it and I don’t know if it’s going to be in their area or not.”
To get the pallet of beers out to the Prairies, Steeves had it sent to A.M.R. Fruiterie in Montreal, at his cost, from which point the SLGA had it shipped the rest of the way.
Steeves told Huddle he expects the first shipment to sell well, noting that new-to-market beers often sell well.
“I’m sure not many from Saskatchewan have tried Hammond River beer, so it’s a matter of seeing if Saskatchewan reorders and how much,” he said.
“I hope this is going to be a relationship that will go forward for sure.”
Hammond River’s first Prairie-bound beer shipment is part of a spurt of growth for the Rothesay microbrewery, which also plans to open a 1,200-square-foot taproom in the East Point Shopping Center in Saint John.
“We’re hoping to get the keys next month to start renovations there for the tap room,” Steeves said.
“It’ll be at least a couple of months before we do the improvements to turn the space into a taproom, so I’d say it’ll be read sometime in the fall – it’s hard to pinpoint a date now.”
Steeves chose East Point on account of the lacking craft beer presence in the commercial corridor northeast of peninsular Saint John that includes the McAllister Mall.
“It’s not going to be big, but we’re going to serve beers, have guest taps from other breweries, cocktails and wine in a sports bar type atmosphere with TVs,” said Steeves.
While the taproom won’t serve food, Steeves said he hopes the food sold by his neighbour, Taste of Egypt, which doesn’t serve alcohol, will bring in people thirsty for a drink.
Sam Macdonald is a reporter with Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.
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