They say you can never step into the same river twice. Capturing the current state of craft brewing in Atlantic Canada is much the same. The ever-increasing flood of new and developing breweries across the four Atlantic provinces is hard to track. That’s why when beer enthusiasts Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynolds set out to compile their definitive guide, ‘East Coast Crafted,’ they knew it could only ever be a snapshot. It just happens to be a glorious one at an exciting time in the industry.
Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynolds both came from both a beer-loving and journalistic background. Moran has been writing about Atlantic Canadian craft breweries for six years now. Her work has been appeared in several local publications, and she is now the managing editor at Nimbus Publishing. Reynolds has also had a hand in the literary world as a journalist and editor, but is now perhaps best known as one of the owners of Halifax’s premiere craft beer bar.
The two began their quest to catalogue and profile all the breweries in Atlantic Canada two years ago. They began with a spreadsheet, splitting all the breweries down the middle, with Moran travelling to all of the Prince Edward Island breweries and Reynolds covering the Newfoundland and Labrador breweries, and dividing Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in half.
From the time the time they began in January 2016 to their self-imposed cut-off date in July 2017, they say that the number of breweries on their spreadsheet doubled.
“We knew the book would be ‘out of date’ before it was even printed, which is why we like to characterize it as a ‘snapshot in time’ or a historical document,” says Reynolds. “But as far as we can tell, none of these breweries are going anywhere, so the stories in the book will be relevant for many years to come.”
In total, ‘East Coast Crafted’ covers 70 breweries over 4 provinces, along with details on how each province has fared, coping with the burgeoning industry while struggling to shed many of their prohibition-era hang-ups. While that ever-expanding number of brewery tours had their obvious side-benefits, Moran and Reynolds saw it as a passion project they felt needed to be done.
“Because I was tired of this book not existing. That’s the simple answer,” says Moran. “And I wanted to be a part of it, somehow. Chris and I had one conversation about the ‘idea’ of this book, and we were both on the same page—we wanted to do something detailed, a deep-dive, nothing superficial, and document our scene during this fascinating renaissance period. There’s never a perfect time, but it feels right.”
“I was personally disappointed in the amount of beer books that are just listicles with two covers. I wanted to put in the nitty-gritty: the family stuff, the business stuff, the legal stuff, the malt, hops and yeast,” says Reynolds about their approach to the book.
The result is a lot of context and character. It’s written in a style appreciable by the average beer drinker, with plenty of opportunities to learn something. The profiles aren’t a ton of geeky stats, but a good picture of the people that have built up the industry, the inspirations behind them and what it’s like to get out experiencing a firsthand visit to the breweries. Beautifully photographed by Jessica Emin, the book is an impressively complete experience of what is currently available in Atlantic Canada, and unabashedly shows it off. The authors are hoping the guide will encourage people to get out and visit more breweries, and maybe even try opening one of their own.
Moran and Reynolds gave a resounding “no” when asked if they’ll be completing an updated second edition, but they hesitantly offer that they’ll revisit the idea if the first book is a success.
“We’ll see how this book does, first,” says Moran. “We’re still in recovery mode.”
In the meantime, ‘East Coast Crafted’ is available online at Chapters and Amazon, and through many of the breweries featured in the book. Moran and Reynolds will also be having their official book launch on Saturday, December 9th at Stillwell in Halifax.