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When Jeff Saunders and Kari Smith officially opened Bad Apple Brewhouse at the beginning of the year in Somerset, Kings County, the plan was to keep it small.
However, customers and orders keep pouring in to the craft brewery, located in an outbuilding on the couple’s rural property near Berwick, and there is constant pressure to increase production, Saunders said Monday.
“We started doing this for fun and enjoyment, and that’s the way we want to keep things for now.”
Saunders started to seriously reach out for some in-depth consultations with experts in the craft brewing business around Nova Scotia about four years ago after many years of hobby brewing.
The couple agreed a modest craft brewery, designed as an interesting part-time project to supplement their full-time jobs, would get them participating in an intriguing, growing economic sector.
While Saunders handles the brewing side of the business, Smith tends to sales.
The five-hectolitre capacity brewery is selling out of small speciality batches and demand continues to increase for the brewery’s American Pale Ale, described as a bolder-than-usual pale ale.
“We haven’t even had time to get a sign up,” Saunders said. “People are finding us through word of mouth.”
An assortment of craft brews at Bad Apple Brewhouse are sold mostly in take-home growlers (1.8-litre jugs) and squealers (750-millilitre bottles). The small brewery also provides kegs for on-tap service at one pub in the Annapolis Valley and another in Halifax.
“We’ve literally been swamped with orders and suggestions for new varieties,” Saunders said. “We can’t make enough brew to keep up.”
It is exciting to launch a successful hobby business, he said. The demand for Bad Apple craft brews indicates the business is on the right track with its product mix, Saunders said.
The couple has agreed to keep the business manageable and to maintain its steady, if modest, flow of production.
“Our situation is not unique,” Saunders said. “Many of the craft brewers around the province are challenged by product demand that exceeds capacity.”
Speculation about expanding the business has been put off for another day while the couple considers some fun and “obscure” varieties to satisfy the thirst of their customers for their flavourful brews.
“At this point, we’re interested only in producing our best brew and not more brew,” Saunders said of the business that has been turned away since the craft brewery went into production.
This week, there is a brew in production called Mosaic Double IPA, which is set to go on sale around Father’s Day.
All proceeds from sales of Mosaic Double IPA will be donated to Brigadoon Children’s Camp Society, operating at nearby Aylesford Lake, and also to the local Down syndrome society.
It is a brew of passion for the couple, whose eight-month-old son was diagnosed at five months with mosaic Down syndrome, a rare form of the genetic condition. The brew will feature mosaic hops, brought in specially from the West Coast for the fundraising project.