Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
BY STACEY COLWELL
Business is booming in Nova Scotia’s craft beer market. The province’s liquor commission reported sales increased by more than one third last year to over $10 million. Nearly three dozen small, independent breweries are thriving, mostly in rural communities and small towns, including Bridgewater. Adam Sarty and Devin Fraser opened a craft brewery on Bridgewater’s main street in 2017. “You can feel the energy coming back, there’s lots of good things happening on the street and good ideas,” said FirkinStein Brewery co-owner Devin Fraser as he points across the road to an old-fashioned diner ready to open in a renovated building on the main street of the South Shore. “You can feel the vibe here change, a younger crowd is starting to come around.”
The town has been growing steadily, with a population increase of about 1,000 over the past 15 years. FirkinStein has benefitted from that growth, along with the community investing millions in a downtown renewal project. In addition, Fraser and co-owner Adam Sarty have been received with open arms by other microbreweries, much to their surprise.
"In the very beginning I honestly thought it was going to be a competitive market,” said Fraser. “But the moment we started, right from Day 1, it was the extreme opposite. Every brewery is out to help you. They all want each other to succeed because it’s not us against every other brewery, its all us little breweries against the big guys.”
The industry encourages innovative ways to get people through the doors, and at FirkinStein that means not only a laid-back daytime scene and live music every weekend but everything from dance lessons to a retro Duck Hunt video game night. “It’s all about people just looking to have a good time,” said Sarty. “And from what we’ve seen, there’s tons of people here who love having a good time.” The co-owners, who also work together at Bridgewater’s Michelin tire plant, agreed the most surprising thing about opening their brewery has been all the amazing people they’ve met. “Yet that was so low on my radar,” said Fraser. “I never really considered it at first, but in hindsight it’s been one of my favourite parts. We’ve met pretty awesome people.” Fraser grew up in Montreal, and said there’s simply a different pace of life in Bridgewater.
“When I go home to visit now, I notice everybody is wound tight. I come back to Nova Scotia, here on the South Shore, and it’s like, ‘Let’s relax a little bit, take a second to think about things.’ I love that. That’s my favourite thing about living here.”