Chris Downey has seen his community's thirst for a brewery, so he's giving it one: The Harbour Brewing Company had its anticipated soft opening earlier this week.
Since Downey moved to Nova Scotia three years ago, he's worked for craft brewing companies Spindrift Brewing Co. and Nine Locks Brewing Co. In his time with Nine Locks, he sold the beer at his local farmers' market in Musquodoboit Harbour.
"People were so happy there was beer," he says. "Obviously, in that kind of environment you're always chatting with the local people and everything else, and they're all very keen on local—a lot of people keen on craft beer."
With 27 years of experience in the beer industry, Downey had wanted to branch off on his own for a while. Seeing eager costumers in his own neighbourhood, it felt like the right time.
"There are no breweries between Dartmouth and Sheet Harbour. Sober Island would be the next closest, so I'm thinking there was room."
Acquiring the building (7955 Hwy #7, Musquodoboit Harbour) was serendipitous: It was already painted with a harbour-themed mural, featuring a docked boat that inspired Harbour Brewing's logo. While Downey is the sole owner and brewmaster, he says his friend Andrew Young also helped make the brewery a reality by volunteering his time to lend a hand: "Without him, we'd be nowhere near where we are."
Now that the ball is rolling, Downey's main goal is to service the local market. Beer drinkers can expect a few options with which to fill their growlers—the initial tap list will be made up of a fruity blonde wheat, a chocolate porter, an IPA and a ginger beer (not the soda pop kind).
"I'm going to look into maybe getting into some bars with kegs soon, but it has to wait until we've got the production nailed down."
In the meantime, a beer run is a great excuse to head to the eastern shore.