Published in the Victoria Standard – Vol. 21, No. 4 – April 1 to April 14, 2013
Jeremy White, an organic hop farmer with a license to brew, is the owner and alesmith of Big Spruce Brewing Company, on the Yankee Line in Nyanza. With vast experience in the water treatment field, Jeremy has mastered the art of making things flow. His love of beer making and his technical know-how have brought him to this juncture, embarking on a new career as brew master of craft beer with a unique sense of style.
Originally from Ontario, Jeremy worked in Latin America for fourteen years in the design and construction of water treatment facilities. When he and partner Melanie married they chose Cape Breton for their honeymoon. That was in 2008. Later, returning to Nicaragua they realized Cape Breton had captured their hearts. The couple decided to buy some property, a summer home, so they could spend more time in Canada. Cape Breton was calling.
They weren’t initially interested in farming, wanting just a country place for their new family. But Jeremy has always been a home brewer and started experimenting with growing hops. At the same time, the idea of a micro-brewery was germinating. He investigated craft beer in Nova Scotia finding the two main producers, Garrison Brewery, and Propeller Brewery, were both in Halifax. Even better, there was only one other farm based ‘organic’ craft brewery in Canada, Crannóg Ales in Sorrento, B.C.
Jeremy went to B.C. in 2012 and worked at Crannóg studying their operations, and adding to his knowledge of brewing. By August of 2012 he was back home in Cape Breton building his own brewery. He designed all components of the brewery himself knowing exactly how to send the beer from kettle to fermenter to cooler. He could have spared some of the cost as there are serviceable options in nearby Baddeck but that would include compromises Jeremy wasn’t willing to settle for. Municipal water, for one thing, that would carry unwanted chemicals into his brewing process. His preferences were clear. Build a home brewery, grow his own hops, and use his own pure well water.
Jeremy compares craft beer to commercial beer in this way. Big Beer would be Wonder Bread. Craft Beer is the hand kneaded, rich organic flour, stone hearth baked bread. Quite a difference.
Like everything Jeremy does, the name of his company is important. He wanted a name that speaks of Canada, and of Cape Breton. Equally important are the names for the beer that Big Spruce Brewing Company will offer. His flagship beers, Kitchen Party Pale Ale and Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout, will be offered year round. He plans to add seasonal specialties, like berry ales, using Nova Scotia’s famous blueberries, and other unique recipes from Big Spruce using ingredients from his and other local farms. These seasonal specialties will only be brewed at harvest time when the freshest ingredients are available. The products of Big Spruce must be of exceptional quality.
Atop the brewery Jeremy and Melanie are building a restaurant which will be operational by mid-summer. Dining will be by reservation only and only two or three evenings per week. The menu will feature farm fresh offerings, matched with his specialty house beers.
It’s nearly opening time for the new brewery and Jeremy says it’s nerve wracking, the waiting to find out, “Will the people love my beer?” He knows it takes total commitment. He says without hesitation, “On this project, I’m all in.”
April 6, 2013 is the official launch of the Big Spruce Brewing Company, with Kitchen Party Pale Ale and Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout on tap at the Bras d’Or Yacht Club. Celebrations start at 4:00PM. Good Beer. No BS.