A Worthy Education: Brewery 101 at Schoolhouse Brewery

A Worthy Education: Brewery 101 at Schoolhouse Brewery
By Genevieve Allen Hearn

Class is in session April 27 and 28. The lesson: Brewery 101. Eleven breweries spanning from Windsor to Yarmouth will be on tap at the event, showcasing what the Valley has to offer.

Presented by Schoolhouse Brewery at their taproom in Windsor, the Highway 101 Tap Takeover is part of Nova Scotia’s Craft Beer Week. The idea was hatched at a Nova Scotia Craft Brewers Association conference, where discussions about Craft Beer Week were occurring. Cam Hartley, owner of Schoolhouse Brewery, added up all the breweries and brewpubs in the Annapolis Valley and counted 13 in total. He felt that this warranted the Valley’s own signature Craft Beer Week event. “There is such a high concentration of breweries here,” Cam says. “Outside of Halifax, this is the place to come for beer.”

The real highlight of the event will be the 101 Taster Flight, which will feature 4oz. beer samples from every brewery on tap: Lazy Bear Brewing, Heritage Brewing Co., Wayfarers’ Ale Society, Sea Level Brewing, Bad Apple Brewhouse, Schoolhouse Brewery, Roof Hound Brewing Co., Annapolis Brewing Company, Lunn’s Mill Beer Co., Meander River Farm and Horton Ridge Malt and Grain Co. The breweries collaborated in selecting what beers to feature, so that guests can sample a wide variety of styles. “We wanted to show that craft beer has a whole spectrum of flavours,” Cam says, visibly excited about the concept. “You may not love everything, but there will definitely be something that will impress.”

Cam explains that craft beer is about experimenting, which is why there is a camaraderie among breweries. “We don’t push brand loyalty on our customers.” Craft beer drinkers still only make up 7% of the market share of beer, so for Cam, it doesn’t make sense to compete for that small piece of the market – but rather encourage customers to support local and keep trying new things.

If the event is a success, then Cam sees a potential for it to turn into an annual event. But he says even in a year, the event will look different. Cam says the Annapolis Valley will have more breweries by next year, and they may include ciders at the event too.

“I don’t think you could have a better industry in this province,” suggests Cam. “It’s employing young people, keeping money in the local economy, attracting tourists, using local ingredients, and we’re producing a great product.” He predicts that the bar will continue to rise. As customers become more familiar with craft beer, they will continue to develop discerning tastes and breweries will have to match their expectations. He sees more creativity in the industry and a continuation of breweries being a source of local pride.

Brewery 101, the Highway 101 Tap Takeover event, takes place on the first weekend of Nova Scotia’s Craft Beer Week, allowing beer fans to also attend the signature Full House event in Halifax on May 5. The event will also feature live music from the Basin Brothers and Idle Threats, and guests can order from Schoolhouse Brewery’s new menu.

Why is it important to be a student at this event? In Cam’s words, “the Annapolis Valley is producing amazing beers, and I don’t think the Annapolis Valley truly knows it.” Well kids, it’s time to expand your minds.

For more information visit @SchoolhouseBrewery on Facebook.