Berwick brewery success: A Bad Apple has never been so good

Nancy Kelly
Published on February 5, 2014

Business at a Nova Scotia’s newest micro-brewery, located just north of Berwick, is “hopping” less than one month after opening its doors.

What started out as a hobby many years ago has turned into something more for Jeff Saunders, owner and brewer at the Bad Apple Brewhouse in Somerset, which opened it doors to the public in late December. Saunders has long enjoyed the creative side of beer-making and seeing his friends enjoy his brews.  At his new brewery, he uses all grains and expensive hops to blend flavourful beers.

Saunders acknowledges his customers aren’t looking for mainstream types of beer.

“No, we don’t do plain (beer) here. Our customers are looking for something different.”

Despite being open only a short time, Saunders says customers, many from the Halifax area, are finding their way to his location on the Parker Condon Road.

“The craft beer market is growing like crazy,” he said.

Saunders and his partner, Kari Smith, operate their rural, home-based business together, while juggling the demands of full time jobs and family.

“We balance what we can,” said Saunders, adding that the couple plans to grow their business brewing less conventional beers for the local market and by tapping into a segment of the craft beer market that is currently not being filled. They hope to double their capacity within a year.

Saunders started collecting the necessary brewing and bottling equipment two years ago and currently has one kettle, one mash tun - which converts the starches in crushed grains into sugars - and four fermenters in production. Bad Apple Brewhouse is licensed by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to produce 2,000 litres per month and operates out of a warehouse/production facility built by Saunders.

The brewery’s current offerings include an American Pale Ale, a Russian Imperial Stout and a stout that is aged in used whiskey barrels.  All are sold in bottles or in refillable “true” 1.89 litre brown glass growlers, which Saunders explains offers customers the best bang for their buck and have become a part of the craft beer culture.

Currently, Saunders’ distribution plans are limited by his capacity, which will increase when he takes delivery of another fermenter in the coming weeks. While he hopes to have his product on tap at a few locations within the Valley and at locations in Halifax, he says he will stay focused on crafting beers that appeal to a certain market segment.

“We want to make people who know what they like to drink happy.”