The PEI Brewing Company, producers of Gahan, currently one of the largest breweries in the Maritimes, came from humble beginnings. Island entrepreneur Kevin Murphy originally opened the brewery as the Lone Star Brewing Co. in 1997, operating in the Lone Star Restaurant in Charlottetown. The small, 5 hL system started with three beers, available on tap only at the restaurant, and was eventually renamed Murphy’s Brewing Co. Despite it being years before the craft beer boom, patrons loved what they were drinking, and after a few years it was time for the first of several expansions.
In 2000, Murphy purchased the historic Gahan property on downtown Sydney St., and reopened the brewery as the Gahan House Pub & Brewery, with an upgraded 10 hL system operated under the stewardship of brewmaster Trent Hayes. The brewpub did very well over the years, with new beers being brewed regularly, making up a line of flagship brews that regulars were happy to enjoy over repeated visits. In 2007, it was expansion time again, and a second location on Walker Dr. was opened, the 25 hL system and bottling line allowed the brewery to produce the first bottled beers on the Island in almost 25 years, as their Island Red and Sir John A’s Honey Wheat debuted in bottles in 2008.
Shortly after Sir John A’s won a gold medal at the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards, Murphy teamed up with local business owner Jeff Squires to build a new brewery. After renovating the location at Walker Dr., and adding more brewing equipment and a canning line, the PEI Brewing Co. officially opened in 2012. The same year, the first official PEIBC beer Beach Chair Lager was launched. Meanwhile, the Gahan Brewery & Pub continued to brew the Gahan line of beers, as well as additional seasonals and specialty one-offs.
By the time 2013 rolled around, several beers were available in Maritime liquor stores, and yet another expansion this time major went underway. The old Coca Cola bottling plant at 96 Kensington Road in Charlottetown was purchased and extensively renovated. A state-of-the-art 50 hL system was installed, and the new brewery opened in May 2013, which also houses a large event space and taproom.
Expansions continued when a Gahan sister property, the Gahan House Harbourfront, opened in Halifax in 2014, where its 6 hL system is used for their own seasonal and one-off beers, joining the regular PEI Brewing Company, Gahan lineup on tap. Many of their beer are available throughout the Atlantic Canada, in bottles, cans, and on tap at better beer establishments. With over 45 different beers available between regular releases and seasonals and specialties, the PEI Brewing Company and their Gahan brand will continue to grow. Says Murphy, “We’re as much a beer brand now as a restaurant brand, and we look forward to it becoming a national brand with the beer being available in all provinces.”
A number of their beers are available at NSLC stores, including a Gahan Sampler-Pack, Gahan 1772 Pale Ale, Gahan Blueberry Ale, Gahan Sir John A. Wheat Ale and various seasonal offerings throughout the year.
Gahan Sir John A. Wheat Ale, 500 ml $3.90
Gahan 1772 India Pale Ale, 500 ml $3.90
We interview Andy Armstrong and Kellye Robertson of Spindrift Brewing in Dartmouth.