Good Robot Brewing Co.

Grog Blog

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Events – June

We’ve got some sexy events lined up to kick off the summer. And what could be sexier than a Burlap-sque show?

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Yes, from the demented mind of Nick Greeno (Backstage Printing) comes an event so good, you’ll burlap it up. Turns out Nick traded printing services for a whole pile of burlap sacks and this was his answer to it. Burlap Fashion Show. Burlap-sque Variety Show. Burlap Sack Races. Slated for June 20.

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Proud to announce we are one of the sponsors of OUTEast Queer Film Fest from June 15 to 18. Several films are slated to screen at the Halifax Central Library and Museum of Natural History. Plus, we’ll be here every night for the aftermath, including an ear-tingling Saturday showcase of silent disco: don your pair of headphones and tune in to the DJs in the quietest rager you’ve ever attended. Plus, Sunday will feature brunch here and a read-along screening of the “classic” film, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.

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In fact, as part of our Robie Scope Spring Movie Series, we’ll be screening films outdoors every Sunday through June. This month, we’ll be featuring The Muppet Movie (1979) (June 4), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (June 11), and The Blues Brothers (June 25).

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The summer will also see the return of a Robot classic, Just Vorlaufs! Live from the GastroTurf. Join comedian Dan Hendricken and a slew of rotating talent for this outdoor comedy show. A live, outdoor broadcasting of unfiltered comedians on microphones through a quiet neighbourhood. What could go wrong?

As always, stay up to date with more of our events by following our Events Page.

By in Uncategorized 0

Brews News – June

As we segue into our busy season, we’re panicking to make everything work. But it’s fine. Probably.

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Everyone wants to know how things are with the neighbours at the Centre for Islamic Development since our media blow-up in October. During our meeting in October, we made a list of propositions to improve relations – including better premises and block control, recalibrating speaker volumes and music selections, mounting signs, scheduling events around prayer times, increasing block patrols from our north alley through to St. Albans for litter, loitering and the like – to name a few. We’re happy to report that we met with some reps of the Centre in May and things are great. We’ve had amicable relations since the autumn.

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Giovanni. In his resume, he said he had experience with photography. When we inquired about this in his interview, he said, “I’m very photogenic.”

Man, look at that beauty! We hired a slew of new Robots in the past couple months. Give it up for Alley, Chris, Pat, Gio, Harry, Aaron, Kyle, Bridgette, Jennifer and Taylor! Kyle and Bridgette round out our DesignBot team. Jenn & Taylor, a mean mother-daughter combo, have been tackling our markets at Alderney Landing and Wolfville while the other Bots are hospitality. In addition to their day-to-day, Alley is spearheading our Brewsletter and marketing initiatives, Gio (pictured above) is moving into brewery work, Aaron is our Business Administrator, and I’m sure we’ll find ways to exploit the rest.

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Our resident yeast expert and BrewBot Erica recently returned from Montreal where we sent her to further her knowledge on yeast cultures and beer culture via the Brewing Microbiology course at Siebel Institute. We’re looking forward to the results. On a related note, Gio studied the same program as Erica and once extracted a wild yeast culture from birch trees in the Bahamas to create an apple cider. Curious what this duo can come up with.

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Our DesignBot team is now 6 people in size: Brent, Kyle, Bridgette, Sara, Brittany (from afar) and Sam. The work they produce is nothing short of incredible. Just check out Mobie, our new company vehicle. I feel like a proud father at a baseball tournament where all 6 of my children brought home medals. And not for participation.

It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere

By Dan Hendricken
5pm. 17:00 hours. Quitting Time. For years, this has been the time society has told us it’s ‘appropriate’ to have a beer. Well, personally I am sick of this. I’m tired of being told when i can have a drink. I’m a +19 adult, and just like doing my taxes, I’ll start drinking whenever I feel like it.

This freedom train is not done rolling though, because I’m talking about having a few beach beers on a long weekend. I’m talking about having a few adult beverages on a Tuesday in March. Break out the bus tickets, Daddy is having himself a weekday.

Do not go boldly into this brave new world of day drinking blind though, my friend. Day drinking is a tricky beast, look no further than every episode of Cops for proof. So here is a quick guide to day drinking, along with some classy recommendations to pair your beer perfectly with the time of day. Continue reading

By in Beer News 0

Beer Releases – May

It’s raining outside, which means summer is on it’s way. And with these scorching 13°C days come some crushable beers to sweat out as quick as you drink ’em.

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Our Koji Kondo – Sake Beer was a fun little experiment. See, we love sake. For a long time it was our go-to on nights where we just couldn’t fit any more beer in. Something about the crisp rice and fruity character just screamed, “$14 at the NSLC.” And typically, we’d play a lot of Super Smash Brothers while drinking it. So it’s only appropriate that we paid tribute to the composer of so many classic Nintendo themes with a beer brewed with flaked rice, pale and pilsner malts, Sorachi Ace hops and sake yeast. Available May 12 as part of Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week.

Speaking of Super Smash Bros., Doug bought a boatload of Oceanian hops and is doing a series of SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beers in order to empty out our freezer. First up: a beer brewed with pale malt, Dr. Rudi hops and Californa Ale yeast (name TBD). Look for it sometime in late May.

May also marks the return of the David Lynch classic Twin Peaks. Naturally, we had to capitalize on this and are releasing the Damn Fine Coffee & Cherry Pie – Pale Ale just in time for the show’s debut on May 21.

Also look for a variety of our other classic beers on tap in the next little while, including the Leave Me Blue – Corn. As always, our beer page is updated daily with the current tap list.

By in Uncategorized 0

On the success of craft beer in Halifax and Newcastle

I’ve been lucky enough to call home two amazing small cities with long working-class histories. In Newcastle, Australia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, I have been lucky enough to witness a rebirth in craft beer and cocktail culture. These two places are hardly metropolitan epicentres like Sydney and Toronto (respectively) and yet the craft renaissance has gripped them like nothing I’ve seen before. After pondering on this for some time, and comparing and contrasting these two very similar towns, it seems to me that the success of the resurgent hospitality cities comes down to the people in the cities.

Newcastle, New South Wales
For the years from the ’60s through the late ’90s, Newcastle’s heart and soul was the steel mill. When BHP closed much of the heart of the city was torn out, and the formerly bustling main street fell into disrepair. Hunter Street became a ghost town. But while our industry may have died, Novocastrians (inhabitants of Newcastle [henceforth referred to as God’s Country]) maintained the humble, working-class modesty that made our city great. Always keen for a yarn over a beer and to discuss the footy. When the craft beer revolution took off, people embraced it in such a non-judgemental manner that small craft breweries could not help but feed off it.

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The people of God’s Country were seasoned on VB or Tooheys New (and never the twain shall meet) because they had been drinking it for thirty years, and their fathers before them. Those whose doctors told them they could no longer drink, drank XXXX Gold (a mid-strength beer). But presented with a multitude of delicious beers that only cost a buck or two more, the punters took them on with gusto.

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There was no snobbery, no “ooh I want a beer with x flavour profile”, just “fuck that’s a good tasting beer, I’ll have ten.” And then the tap would rotate onto a new craft beer and the process would repeat. The people of God’s Country took to these craft beers in the way I had hoped they would. A sense of adventure based on a wholehearted love of beer.

Good Robot Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia
I see a lot of the same here in Halifax. For many people who come into our brewery, their visit may be their first experience of craft beer, and they approach it hoping to be given something they like. Not to find a beer that adheres to a certain judging criteria, but just that tastes great and will get them on the way to a good time.

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So as I see the craft beer revival thriving in these two places I love I have to give immense credit to the Novocastrians and Haligonians who are making it succeed. When it all comes down to it, without people to drink the beer, there’s no point brewing it.

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So give yourselves a pat on the back guys, you make the process worth it, and are an integral part of the renaissance of craft beers and cocktails.

By in Uncategorized 5

On hospitality and mental health

It’s a funny old game this business of slinging drinks. As I speedily approach my ten year “hospoversary” (hospitality anniversary), I spend more time reflecting on my time in the industry, what it has given to me, and what it has taken from me.

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At its core, I love it with all my heart. Through my interactions with the many amazing customers and co-workers I’ve met throughout the years, I’ve become close to people from all walks of life. From discussing Camus in the dishpit, to talking footy over the bar, between front and back of house we’ve solved all of the world’s problems. The people with whom I have engaged in discourse with have opened my eyes, shared some amazing things with me, and I do my absolute best to reiterate this, giving the best of myself to every interaction. Some of the best times I have had in my life have been enjoyed on both sides of the bar, with the people I have worked with, and the people who I have worked for: my eternal boss, the customers. I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

However there is a darker side to this industry, particularly for those suffering from mental health disorders. This dark side is one that I rarely share with people in my professional capacity, as no-one wants to hear about their bartender’s shitty day when they’re enjoying a beer. But at the same time, this industry can run you into the ground and spit you out. The long hours, late nights, hectic work environments, constant excuses to drink, and anti-social schedules can force a person into seclusion.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

When you’re working, your friends are drinking and socialising. When your friends are drinking and socialising, you’re working. So you drink when you’re not working. Whether it’s pounding beers till 7am after your shift, or sitting on 3 bottles of red wine on your day off because it’s a Tuesday and everyone else is at their “real jobs”.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

As someone living with Type 2 Bipolar Disorder, this “routine” has led to some very self-destructive periods in my life. It isolated me, it got in the way of friendships and relationships, and threw me into a hole that I was lucky enough to make it out of. Some are not so lucky. The immense lows that a bipolar sufferer endures were compounded by the drinking, the lack of sleep, and the separation from my loved ones.

Good Robot Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia microbrewery craft beer mental health

But as I’ve been told so many times, the key to everything is balance. The highs that this industry offers me more than make up for the crushing lows, and it’s a game that I’ll play for a long while yet. While the industry intrinsically has its problems, the people that I’ve met and shared my time behind the bar with and the moments we’ve shared have made it all worth it. It’s a simple as a customer enjoying a beer I’ve poured them, a thank you as they leave the bar, a wind-down beer with a co-worker after a shift. As I grow older, the balance is shifting more in my favour, and the good times are outweighing the bad.

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Keep your chin up, and let’s grab a beer sometime.

By in Beer News, Brewing 0

Insane in the Spent Grain: Barley Shortage

Beer, as we know it, may be in danger.

We frequently hear of hops shortages, though rarely does one hear of an equally important problem: malted (roasted) barley shortage. While demand currently fits supply, within a decade, supply could be problematic.

How did this happen?

CLIMATE


In the past 135 years of global temperature data, 4 of the 5 hottest months on record all happened in 2015. Near-droughts, excessive rain and weather fluctuations yielded poorer quality crops in 2013 and 2014.

AMERICAN BREWERIES

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As poor as the Canadian crops were, the American crops suffered even worse. By virtue of NAFTA, tariffs on Canadian malt were eliminated and American breweries began purchasing Canadian crops without restraint.

BEEF

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Most barley is produced to feed cattle. Canadian beef production is down. Mad cow disease continues to hurt Canadian beef export. In addition, an increasing number of citizens are eating healthier and sustainably by reducing or eliminating red meat from their diets.

GMOs

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Barley for beef feed is competing with soybeans, canola and corn, all genetically modified crops with better resilience, production and pricing than barley. Monsanto Company invested $10M over 10 years for short-season corn in Alberta, destroying barley competition in Canada’s biggest barley province.

CRAFT BEER

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Macrobreweries tend to use alternatives to malt, such as corn and rice, to cheapen production. Popular macro beers also tend to be lighter and lower in alcohol. Therefore, craft breweries use, on average, 4x the amount of malt per unit volume than macrobreweries, creating a higher demand on barley.

THE FUTURE OF BEER

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In the next 10 years, we have 180k metric tonnes of malting capacity under build. Projections show we’ll need 1M metric tonnes (Canada Malting Group Annual Presentation, Halifax, 2015). Canada will begin importing European and Australian malt sooner than later, though the incoming El Niño cycle will likely yield a very harsh winter in Europe and hotter and drier conditions in Australia. Expect wheat beers to gain prominence since wheat is more resilient than barley and GMO wheat will likely enter the commercial market soon. Brewers may also begin experimenting more with sugary alternatives to barley, like sorghum, millet, rice, corn, quinoa, spelt, oats, and rye.

But, you know, the picture isn’t that bleak. We adapt. We’ll always find a way to get buzzed. Ever had prison hooch with rotted fruits fermented in a sock?

By in Uncategorized 7

Misogyny and Brewing

If you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the current situation. If not, let me get you up to speed. A yoga event we were hosting was shared on our Facebook page. The description of the event was misogynistic and deeply offended many people. Here is the screenshot taken of the event details, which then spread to social media:

It is a fact that the way the event is written is offensive. Connie, the owner of RIO Pilates approached me a few weeks ago about hosting a yoga event on our lawn. She hosts a weekly yoga class called “Broga”, an all-male yoga class followed by beers. She wanted to start serving our beer at her studio and proposed a collaborative yoga and beer event. Being a fan of yoga myself, I jumped at the opportunity. RIO was to take care of everything: ticketing, promo, setup, clean up, etc. My only task was to obtain the liquor permit. We agreed that I would not promote the event on our social media because we wanted to attract mostly RIO’s existing customers and friends, and only 20-30 people could attend.

I did not properly proofread the event description and, for that, I sincerely apologize. I did not perform my duty as Marketing Director.

I’d like to iterate three points.

1) Myself, my two co-founders, Angus and Doug, as well as our 15 employees do not share the sentiment communicated in the event description.

2) Neither I, nor anyone from our company, proofread the event description even after my girlfriend warned me about it. For that, I sincerely apologize. We will screen all content and events associated with our brand in the future to ensure nothing like this happens again.

3) Due to a death in Connie’s family, RIO has postponed the event until further notice. RIO will address the situation when Connie returns.

If you have anything to add to the conversation, please do in the comments, our social media, via email, or a phone call. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

By in Brewing, History 4

Why Your Dad Doesn’t Like Craft Beer

“What’s your lightest beer?”
“What do you have that tastes like beer?”
“What do you have that’s like [Labatt/Keith’s/Bud Light/Oland’s/Corona]?”

These are the most common questions we get when we sample our beer in an area outside of our usual patronage, as we did at Moo Nay Farms​ this weekend. (As an aside, when these new subjects try our beer, the most common feedback we get is eyes wincing, tongue sticking out, head shaking, and a general look of disgust.)

Ironically, these same patrons happily crowded the grill next to us to try a locally made, farm-fresh, preservative-free sausage. They care about their food quality. So why is beer any different?

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Moo Nay Farms collects our used beer grains to feed their stock.

A little Canadian beer history…

Much like the US, Canada was ripe with beer at the turn of the 20th century – about 118 breweries with a population less than 7M. After Prohibition ended in 1930, the brewery total declined to about 69 breweries, which survived by brewing beer for consumption outside Canada. (Prohibition was even more devastating for the US, with over 4k breweries dwindling to about 500, which further declined to about 40 through to the 1970s.)

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Liquor barrels emptied into Elk Lake, Ontario.

After Prohibition, beer control fell in the hands of publicly owned stores and liquor boards, who imposed heavy, often ridiculous restrictions on alcohol. Many breweries consolidated, the most famous of which was E.P. Taylor’s merger of 30 Canadian breweries into one conglomerate later known as Carling O’Keefe. By 1980, Molson, Labatt, and Carling O’Keefe controlled well over 90% of the beer market.

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Vancouver Breweries in 1926, one of the breweries to form the Carling O’Keefe conglomerate.

Then, a series of fortunate events unfurled. In 1971, a group of passionate British drinkers formed the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which sought to educate the public about traditional, flavourful beers fermented in casks. Michael Jackson (no, not him) published The World Guide to Beer in 1977, which sparked international interest in beer. One year later, the United States legalized homebrewing, sparking a sudden resurgence of small breweries and brewpubs, while a disgruntled Carling O’Keefe employee decried the state of Canadian beer in a popular magazine article. British Columbia minister Peter Hyndman deregulated beer pricing in 1981 to increase competition between breweries, but the Big 3 all increased their price to the same amount. Hyndman then began handing licences to “cottage breweries” to aid in the competition. Craft brewing in Canada was born.

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Halifax’s own Granite Brewery, Canada’s 4th craft brewery.

So, there you have it. The “lightest beer” – the beer that “tastes like beer”, like a Blue or an Oland’s or a Schooner, is a pale lager, a style ubiquitous in our nation since 1930, a style the big conglomerates brewed solely because they knew it sold. Your parents drank it. Their parents drank it. And chances are, you’ve drank it. Craft beer isn’t a new style of beer. It’s mostly a reemergence of old styles that were prominent before conglomerates took the stage. Craft beer is what your great-great-grandfather may have drank. It’s in your blood. Though hopefully below 0.08.

By in Construction 0

Taproom Construction Update 3: Seasons Change

The major problem with our brewery is that you guys come here, buy the beer, and leave. Some of you send us pictures of yourselves enjoying the beer. Then, while we’re taking a leak at The Stubborn Goat, we check our phones and see that fabulous picture of our beer on your backyard porch. Or your office desk. Or a mountain top. Campsite. Living room. Schoolyard.

See the problem?

We don’t get to drink our beer with you.

Let’s remedy that.

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Our driveway has come a long way, from Denzel Washington movie set to 10,000 pounds of transplanted soccer field. And although John MacNeil Elementary may not get the practice they need to make the finals this year, I’m sure even they’d appreciate the complementary colour coordination we pulled off. Go Dolphins!

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Demolition, structural, plumbing and some electrical are finished. The second-most interesting phase involved turning a living room into a mezzanine overlooking the bar. The most interesting phase will be explaining to our landlord what happened to the residence upstairs.

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You may notice that, as compared to our brewery construction blog posts, our taproom construction blog posts contain few nightmares. Andrew Flood and his amazing team at Five by Five Renovations are to thank for that. While they’ve been hammering through taproom construction, which should be complete in about 6 weeks, we’re catching up on brewery operations, which are difficult. Brewing is demanding. Cash is tight. It’s horrifying to watch your sales increase as your bank account dwindles, but it’s the reality of owning a business. We feel similar to how we did just before the brewery opened. By the time the graffiti mural below hits our wall, we’ll be days away from opening our taproom, which we want as much as you do. Just forgive us if we pass out after one pint.

good robot brewing company halifax nova scotia craft brewery microbrewery north end beer taproom