KENTVILLE – Cider brewing will be coming to Kentville this fall with a business named for Kentville’s renowned railroad history.
Maritime Express Cider, co-owned by Jimi Doidge, the brewer, and Scott Hearn, his business partner, will open its doors after the first successful brew of cider from local Annapolis Valley apples comes through.
And until then, the two are working on their vision for their business, the newest addition to the Annapolis Valley’s crop of craft breweries.
“The beauty of craft brewing is you never get the exact same batch twice. We’re looking forward to experimenting with our product, and always producing new flavours for people to try and enjoy,” said Doidge.
How things got started
Doidge moved from Hamilton, ON., to the Annapolis Valley nearly two years ago and immediately started looking to get involved in the area’s craft brewing and wine industries.
With a long-booming wine industry in Ontario, he knew a thing or two, but was surprised to see a cidery so well-developed, compared to his home province’s fledgling one.
“I did not know this was already so strong here. That, with the quality of local apples available, made me see this as a real possibility,” he said.
After meeting fellow cider enthusiast Scott Hearn through the town of Kentville, the two banded together and began searching for the perfect brewing location, looking at such places as the town’s ill-fated Robinson building.
When they heard about space opening inside Cornwallis Inn, they jumped at the opportunity.
“We knew we had to get that space as fast as we could, and we did. This space has potential we couldn’t miss out on, and we got it,” said Hearn.
Celebrating Kentville’s railroad history
The business’ name was chosen after a long brainstorming between the two men about how to best capture the building’s railroad past, and the apple’s place in the area’s history.
They came across a story in their research that told of a company from the early twentieth century called Maritime Express that shipped perishable goods, like apples, across the province, using the Dominion lines, which ran through Kentville.
The Cornwallis Inn, which was owned by the Dominion Atlantic Railway, also hails back to this period.
“We wanted to tap into the history of this location, the apples, and pulling from its railroad history was the perfect way of doing that,” said Hearn.
The space needs next to no work other than fresh paint, a new bar, tables and chairs. The duo also hopes to eventually have an outdoor patio set up, along with a new entrance.
The brewing space is also being readied directly below the bar space as Doidge and Hearn await the arrival of their brewing tanks, which are made to order and take several months for finishing and shipping.
And until then, they intend to make plenty of public appearances at markets and other events to promote their brewing business.
“We may not be opening yet, but we are going to be very active. Chances are you’ll run into us somewhere,” said Doidge.
What to expect when the doors open
Doidge is looking forward to bringing a new, individual and creative approach to his cider brewing.
A longtime fan himself, he’s aware that some bad brews have given the product the branding of a bad apple.
“It’s interesting, because though cider has been around for a long time, there’s always been a lot of bad batches out there,” he said.
“The big breweries do a good job of getting this type of product noticed, but aren’t all a clear reflection of what this can taste like.”
With wine making experience under his belt, Doidge intends to approach his cider brewing with similar tactics, since the two practices aren’t entirely different.
By using good, local apples, and keeping his flavours a healthy mix of sweet, acidic and sharp, he means to capture an apple’s crisp taste in a cup.
With the first official brew unable to start until apples are available, the opening date is up in the air.
The business will also offer growlers, bottles and other merchandise, along with a space where people can enjoy tasting different varieties, or a full pint of a specific one.
The bar will also carry craft beers, for customers who don’t like cider but still want to venture out and try something new.
“We’re secretly hoping these people try the cider as well, and maybe see why we love it so much,” laughed Doidge.
To follow Maritime Express Cider, see their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MaritimeExpressCider/