Roof Hound brewpub looking to double production by April

Published on February 21, 2017

Les Barr stands by his three current brewing tanks, which are named after his three kids.

©Sara Ericsson

DIGBY, N.S. – Local beer brewer Les Barr is expanding his brewpub, and doubling its production.

Roof Hound, his business, has been open since August 2016. As he was putting the initial building plans together in 2016, Barr asked 100 brewers for advice about how big to build his brewpub – 79 told him to take his plans and build even bigger.

He listened to their advice, but has now decided his initial plans were nowhere close to enough.

“I thought I went big then, and now we’re going even bigger,” he says.

The expansion will consist of two 2,000-litre brewing tanks, as well as two 40-foot shipping containers. One container will be used for storage, and the other as new space for an added 30 seats inside and on top of it.

“I want it to feel like you’re inside your grandparents’ shed,” says Barr.

New seating arrangements will be ready by March, and the new brewing equipment will be used in production by April. Changes are, as always, also coming to the beers offered on draft but also to the food. Pizzas containing Roof Hound yeast and barley will soon be on the menu.

The catalyst for the expansion was a dispute with the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, which had been charging microbreweries – whose products were not stocked on NSLC shelves – 50 cents per litre of their sales.

This charge was called a displacement fee, and was eventually challenged in provincial court. Premier Stephen McNeil announced in Dec. 2016 this would be changed to five per cent of wholesale in April.

Roof Hound-brewed beer.

©Phil Church

This money saved is the money Barr has put into his expansion, with almost no change in cashflow. The money will be invested instead into creating more beer, and also more jobs.

“I’m glad the NSLC and the provincial government finally came to their senses and are allowing me, as a small business owner, to invest in my community,” he says.

Barr says the expansion will allow him to bring more innovative beers to people across the province. The brewpub’s beers are currently sold in over a dozen bars across Nova Scotia, and Barr says more businesses are looking to sell Roof Hound beers.

After returning from a recent trip to San Francisco to visit where craft beer started – and brewers whose podcasts he learned brewing techniques from – Barr is feeling even more inspired.

Barr says ‘beer nerds’ are also becoming a trend in Nova Scotia, especially over the summer. Data supports his theory as well: 12 per cent of tourists in Nova Scotia visited microbreweries in 2016.

“People are stepping out of their comfort zones – trying something they’ve never heard of – and enjoying it,” he says.