Bogside Brewing cleans up at recent Atlantic Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax

Bogside Brewing in Montague came out of the gates ready to win, and win it did. At the recent Atlantic Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax the brewery picked up six awards; half of the total awards won by Island brewers.

We sat down with Bogside owner David McGuire over ciders (ironically) at Red Island Cider to talk about the awards they won, which included both Brewery of the Year and New Brewery of the Year, and what they mean for the Bogside team.

“It’s a phenomenal boost to us both internally and externally,” he said. “From our perspective in-house, we set a goal to start with the best possible beer that we could. We take great care in selecting the highest quality ingredients; we try and build quality into our process along the way. And then just make beer that we like to drink, beer that’s approachable, beer that we think appeals to local people.

“When we launched we started with five beers and then we kept making more types and styles and seem to have a good response; people really enjoyed it. So we sent beer to the Atlantic Canadian Brewing Awards. We didn’t think more of it at the time. Well, we’re having beer at Hopyard and the phone rang. Mark Patriquin, our head brewer, got the call. And he’s off in the corner on the phone, which I thought ‘well, must be important.’

“He comes back and he’s got this look on his face,” McGuire said. “And he’s, you know, just pure joy. And I said, ‘What’s up?’ And he said, ‘We won two gold medals.’ And I said, ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’”

Owner Dave McGuire contemplates drinking a pint of his favourite Bogside beer

McGuire said at that point none of them really understood the scope of the awards in terms of the number of breweries and number of beers entered.

“I think there was somewhere around 56 breweries and cider houses entered in the competition and 400-plus products,” he said. “So you know, that makes you feel pretty good. And the format for it that every beer is coded and it’s a blind tasting so they don’t know who you are, so there’s no bias. It’s just straight on its merits so I credit judges, it’s not a popularity contest, it’s legitimately judging the beer on the style and and what it’s supposed to be. I was pleased with how serious they are about it.”

He said winning four other awards just made the whole thing surreal. The brewery received a silver for its Pitcher in the Rye Roggenbier and a bronze for its Wheat Kings County wheat beer.

The two beer that won gold were the Brudenell Brown and their Lighthorse Lagered Ale.

“The Brown was one of our first beers right out of the gates. And we just thought it was an interesting style we married to an interesting malt bill and hop bill. It provided something that was approachable, but also something that other local brewers weren’t necessarily doing. So that was cool. And then the other beer, the Lighthorse Lagered Ale won, which is a cool style beer, was just really the icing on the cake. It’s something we’re extremely proud of.”

The brewery’s tanks are ready for new brews at their location in Montague

The Lighthorse Lagered Ale is really a collaboration between the Brewery and some military veteran friends of McGuire’s. “The idea was to come up with a way to give back and recognize those guys and gals,” McGuire said.

Bogside partnered with them in terms of deciding on a style, a name, and label design. Bogside now donates $1 per pint sold at the brewery to a charity designated by the veterans.

“They decided they would give it to the Last Post Fund, which they felt very passionate about. Anybody that serves their country should have a proper end-of-life and burial. So that was great.

“For us, since we launched it, it’s been our top selling beer. It’s been number one. So that’s been rewarding as well.”

McGuire estimates sales of the beer at the taproom have raised about $1,000. “So maybe the end of the year, Christmas time, well, we’ll have to get a check to them.”

The brewery certainly isn’t complacent despite the big win: you would think everyone would take it easy, but no, Bogside is coming out with more varieties of beer.

“We have a couple of new beers coming out to get PEI through the winter,” McGuire said. (The beers in question will be on tap at Bogside by publication time.) “One is a dunkel and the other is a porter.

“So the German one is dark and it’s unique in that we use Shoreline Malt from Sleman Park. It’s basically 100% their malys, and we use a single hop variety. So it’s a smash single and if we get a good response from it we’ll look at maybe doing another Shoreline smash in the future. I think it’s neat that we’ve got some local product up the road that that appears to be suitable for what we want to do. And I think they’re excited that we’re making that beer.

“And then we’re working on a porter that’s going to have some interesting twists to it.”

He said the brewery is excited by the possibilities offered by the opening of a specialty liquor store down at Founder’s Food Hall. “We’re working on some listings for the liquor commission. We’re looking forward to the new specialty liquor store that’s opening. So we’ll be able to put some stuff in there to see how people respond to it. We’ve just started a six- and a twelve-pack kind of gift box in a wooden box that will be pushing out.”

With winter coming on McGuire said the brewery is learning to adapt to customer preferences, mostly the preference of Islanders to hibernate.

“In our tap room, we’re just in figure-it-out mode,” he said. “What do we want to do from a food perspective?

Running a full-service restaurant has been phenomenal for us, the summer into early fall, but it’s a bit slow in the offseason and we want to stay fresh and motivated and want to keep people engaged. So we’re going to get through the cooler weather and come out swinging in the spring with some new and interesting products for the for the summer season.

McGuire said going to the awards event was a real treat especially with all the Prince Edward Island representation in the house. The event was hosted at Hopyard Halifax in keeping with the Island theme.

“When we won Brewery of the Year we were probably shocked as anyone. No no bones about it. Absolutely, humbled and honored.

Sample anyone? Bogside experiments with mixing their beers together for a unique taste

“We were really pumped to be sitting beside Red Island Cider and Copper Bottom on one side and Upstreet and PEI Brewing Company on the other. Those companies all won awards, so it was really cool to see PEI kind of carve its share out of the pile of awards for Atlantic Canada. PEI won 12 awards overall out of some 15 categories.

“Yeah, I think that was pretty freakin’ good.”

About Rod Weatherbie

Rod Weatherbie is a writer working in the hospitality industry. He spent a number of years in Toronto as a member of the financial press before returning to PEI. Rod has published one piece of short fiction, one book of poetry, and has had work published in Red Shift, the Antigonish Review, Mitre, and the Toronto Quarterly. He has also recently co-produced, co-directed, and acted in a stage production of old television shows.

He also likes writing about food. Go figure.

View All Posts