Where I work: Off Track Brewing | Food | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Where I work: Off Track Brewing

Thanks to a trio of beer enthusiasts, Bedford now has a brewery.

Where I work:  Off Track Brewing
Lenny Mullins

Off Track Brewing Ltd.
275 Rocky Lake Drive

Allan MacKay, Matt Scott and Jon Saunders all have a story many Maritimers will find familiar: The three were born in Nova Scotia (MacKay hails from Antigonish, Scott and Saunders are from Bedford), but packed up to find work out west. While in British Columbia, MacKay developed a taste for home brewing. He returned to the east coast several years ago, finding a job in his field of human resources. Scott, MacKay's brother-in-law, also developed a passion for home brewing and a desire to return to his home province. Together with Saunders, they decided to start a business venture in craft beer.

"We're bigger into the beers that are drinkable beers that people tend to like more of," says MacKay. In other words, Off Track is about the stouts and IPAs. "There's literally hundreds of kinds of IPAs and that's the fun thing about it," he says. "There's so much to play with that I feel you don't have to go so exotic and extreme." That's not to knock other beers—there is a market for the more eccentric booze, and MacKay points to 2 Crows as an example. "I think every craft brewer is of the mindset if we can get one more person off of Bud and Coors Light and get them to understand what craft beer's about, then we're all doing a good thing."

The Off Track owners looked at upwards of 20 different spaces before they settled, as the Bedford Trade Mart location wasn't attractive to them at first. But there were a lot of pros: "We liked it because—you know—tons of parking, there's a garage door that pulls right up and you can literally take kegs in and out of there," says MacKay. On top of that, if either of the units beside Off Track opened up, they would have the option to expand. In the end, it turned out to be a good choice and folks who live in the neighbourhood are especially appreciative.

Off Track is getting ready to re-open after a literal dry spell. After opening in December, the response was so overwhelming that they ran out of beer and needed to get brewing again in order to keep up with the demand. Part of the reason for this, explains MacKay, is that they're still using their "pilot system" to brew. Brewing for 14 hours straight gets them nine 20-litre kegs of beer. When the full-scale equipment arrives—hopefully by the end of January—they'll be able to produce 30 kegs from six or seven hours of brewing. They're also adding three new taps at the bar for a total of nine, including a tap dedicated to cider. "That really made a difference for us to have that time off," says MacKay.

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