from the HRM. You have a sense of being in the middle of nowhere, as it were. It’s a real treasure. CB: One of the things in our area we love to boast about is the ‘Trio of Taste’: it’s ourselves, Avondale SkyWinery, and the FlyingApronCookery. Together we promote and collaborate. We’re all within 20 minutes or less of each other in the rural West Hants area. It makes a great day trip for anyone visiting us. So, what is a day trip to Meander River Farm & Brewery like for visitors? And I have to ask, how does the four-season climate – that’s not exactly evenly divided, I might add – affect and change your business on the farm? AB: I think the best way to sum up what MRF offers its customers is an experience. The experience includes education about the brewing process, about hops – where they come from, how they are grown, harvested and processed, about livestock, about gardening and growing crops, about nature, and a chance to meet the producers and owners directly – and get a sense for the passion and commitment that entrepreneurs have for their business. But mostly we want people to feel at home and comfortable when they visit MRF and a desire to share their experience with others. To answer your second question, each season offers a different experience at MRF – but each has its own beauty and benefits. The summertime has its gardens and mature crops; the patio is warm and relaxing. The fall is obviously the harvest, the changing colours, the fresh crisp air, and still warm sun on the patio. The winter here is perfect for outdoors enthusiasts and snow lovers and the warm and cozy nature of the retail and tasting area really compliments it all. Spring is obviously when everything is coming back to life, so there’s something different in each season.
We broke ground for the brewery in the summer of 2013, opening our doors in the spring of 2014. The building of the brewery was, like all things around here, done by hand. My mother’s father, my grandfather, Hugo, was a carpenter and taught my dad everything he knows about carpentry today. When my parents were first married, they bought old fixer upper homes to renovate and my grandpa would be there most days to help. When they bought the farm, he would come out and help build cabinets and renovate the house here too. Unfortunately, he passed away before we built the brewery, but my dad built that brewery from the ground up, with help fromour community, and used everything he learned over the years, and more, to build it. It wouldn’t have been possible without that relationship they began to build 30-some years ago. We even dedicated our first brew to him, my grandpa Hugo. We called it Lunch Box, because he brought his lunch box with him every day he came. “The farm has always been a part of the family and the family brand really drives our business direction because we all have different experience and skills that we bring to the table.” That’s very touching, Campbell. I suppose that’s where your family gets their collective will to work together from, right? AB: We work closely as a family and we work closely with other businesses in our area. It’s important to come together. It’s important to tell them of things to see and do and eat and drink in our area so they can make the most of their time here. There is a lot going on in West Hants and it is such an easy strike
into something beautiful and sustainable. How everything is handmade, hand-labeled, and hand- bottled; everything comes together when you see it for yourself. And like Dad said, when the seasons change, our products change. We go from fresh lavender to dried lavender, fresh veggies to pickled veggies, light crisp brews like session IPAs to dark, smoky brews like porters and stouts. Our products change with the seasons to reflect the changes on the farm and the processes you need to go through to be sustainable all year round. Speaking of changes on the farm, I understand that you offer cider. What inspired you to brew cider and, more importantly, what does it taste like? AB: Living in the Annapolis Valley it seemed totally natural that apple cider should be a prominent product of this region – and it ties in nicely with the craft brewing scene. There is a resurgence of interest in cider in Nova Scotia – and the world for that matter – and again it just seemed to align perfectly with what we were doing and, as I’m sure Campbell will tell you, the timing was right. CB: Well, we first started making cider in the dead of the dreadful 2015 winter we had here in Nova Scotia. Our first batch was called Shack Wacky, and maybe that’s what we were; going crazy from all the beer and needed a change. Our first batch went so quickly, and we haven’t been able to keep up with the demand since.
CB: The farm has always been a part of the family and the family brand really drives our business direction because we all have different experience and skills that we bring to the table. Now, working to improve and expand it has brought us closer together. Brenda is our master gardener, expanding on our outdoor, garden and all creative matters. Dad is our businessman and head brewer, keeping things running smoothly and creating good beer. Fraser, although living in Saskatchewan as a mechanic, brings a mechanical and practical perspective on all our projects. We have so many ideas that we see happening on the farm and everyone has a part to play. “We had an interest in the brewing industry for many years – and have brewed beer and wine as a hobby since university days.” Regardless of any ups and downs, at the end of the day, we get to relax and enjoy a product that we created together on this beautiful farm and that’s pretty amazing. On that note, I’ve always believed that the brewery was a natural progression on the farm. We had all these resources, all these product ideas, and we needed a place to invite people to come and share in the experience of this beautiful farm – and to sell right here a finished product produced in every sense on- site. The brewery made sense for us. Having a store and tasting room to feature all of our products is a natural step for us.
CB: The experience is definitely what we offer. That’s really why we made our brewery such a destination; because we believe it’s beautiful and fun and wanted to share it all with others. It’s one thing to buy our product at an expo or at an event, but I don’t think you can fully appreciate it until you come out to the farm and see it. It’s worth coming out to see how we’ve made this incredible property
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • OCTOBER 2019
63 OCTOBER 2019 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online