When Hell Bay Brewing opened in 2011, it was a welcome newcomer to the underdeveloped South Shore brewing scene. Co-owners Mark Baillie and Melanie Perron launched in their backyard, in Cherry Hill, when there were only a handful of other breweries in the province, making it one of the first in the current wave of growth.
Now celebrating its fifth year in operation, the number of breweries in Nova Scotia is now pushing close to thirty.
For co-owners Baillie and Perron, opening Hell Bay was an extension of their culinary lives; both previously working as chefs. Home brewing has long been a passion for Baillie, who started the hobby in the late 1990s, using a “Beer Machine” kit.
“The beer was not very good at all,” says Baillie. As his interest grew, so did his techniques, graduating from extract, to canned kits, and finally, all grain brewing, “where I had the freedom to create anything that I wanted.” He and Perron decided to make the step to commercial brewing after encouragement from family and friends who couldn’t get enough of his beer.
Originally opening in a barn on their property, the demand from local establishments solidified their decision to go bigger right away. Outgrowing their original location soon after opening, Hell Bay moved to its downtown Liverpool location in early 2013.
They are now brewing on a 10 hectolitre system, and producing more than 200 hl per year, selling at their storefront at 38 Legion Street, and at local restaurants and bars.
Hell Bay focuses on English styles of beers, with their core offerings of English Ale and Dark Cream Ale complemented by several seasonal and one-off beers brewed throughout the year. The English Ale is a 5.2 per cent ABV pale ale, featuring five malts for an enjoyable malt and toast character, with mild hop notes. It won silver in the Pale Ale category at the 2015 Atlantic Canada Beer Awards.
The Dark Cream Ale is Baillie’s personal twist on the traditional cream ale style, but he substitutes darker malts to introduce some complexity to the beer, thanks to the roasted notes. At 5.0 per cent ABV, and 20 IBUs (International Bitterness Unites), this easy-to-drink beer shows no lack of character. Both beers are available in six packs at NSLC outlets province wide.
The community, and town of Liverpool, have been very supportive of Baillie and Perron’s endeavour, which is much appreciated. They are opening a licensed outdoor patio at the brewery, which overlooks the Mersey River, allowing customers to relax and socialize while sampling the beer.
They have a partnership with Wooly Mountain Farms, who collects their spent grain to feed their pigs, and they in turn make pork and beer sausages for Hell Bay, which can also be enjoyed on the patio. Their success has not been without some obstacles, however, including keeping up with growing customer demand, already running low on space at their new location, and sourcing ingredients, especially hops, as supply fluctuates with climate and varieties available. Sharing their passion with beer lovers is what keeps Baillie and Perron going, providing great suds from the South Shore to fans throughout the province.
Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale, 6 x 355 ml $14.50
Hell Bay English Ale, 6 x 355 ml $14.50
Chris and Shawn talk brewing with the team behind the PEI Brewing Company, producers of the Gahan lineup of beers.