WINDSOR, N.S. - Cam Hartley isn’t brewing beer out of his basement anymore, although there’s still a scrappy, analog eloquence to Schoolhouse Brewery.
“It’s a welcome change being here,” Hartley said. “We did exceptionally well with what we were working with at the schoolhouse, it was small, but we were able to produce our core recipes and started our brand there.”
“But it was getting to the point where we were bursting at the seams,” he added.
Schoolhouse Brewery opened the doors to its new location on Water Street during the first week of May, 2017, but since then, a lot has changed, including a new patio, merchandise and an expanded selection of beers.
The entire operation, as Hartley describes, is about 10 times larger in scale when compared to the old location.
“There are so many things that go into getting all of this up and running,” he said. “This is definitely falling into place well for us, this was the vision right from the beginning.”
Hartley said his first summer in the location was very good, but added that they’ve yet to meet their full potential.
“We’re still growing into this spot, we’re excited to do more fine tuning,” he said. “We’re of course making more beer, so our turnover of ingredients is better, our hops are a lot fresher.”
“We’re excited about the future here,” he said.
Hartley started brewing in 2013 in Falmouth, in the basement level of his home, a former schoolhouse. The name and theme of their products has stuck since then.
And it’s not just Schoolhouse Brewery product on tap, there are selections from other craft breweries across the province. A line of growlers from multiple brands line the ceiling near the checkout.
They still use a bottler that Hartley built himself and the labels get put on via a hand-turned crank.
“We’re very hands-on in the production of our beer, it’s an intimate relationship with our product,” he said. “There are very few things that are run automatically.”
But Hartley said he doesn’t have ambitions of growing too big, he said he likes being the regional beer of the area.
“Being in a small town, we’ve got a very local, loyal following here,” he said. “We’re definitely a venue for a bit of a younger crowd, and have brought a lot of that demographic out of the woodwork.”
The Schoolhouse Brewery is hoping to get some extra attention during the Pumpkin Regatta by entering a pumpkin in the race, which will be operated by the head brewer Lee Davidson, and by having a larger beer garden and live music in place with food trucks near Lake Pisiquid.
With a large anticipated crowd, Hartley said he’s hoping to the stars will align.
“It’s important for us to focus on Windsor’s strengths, and one of the best things is the Pumpkin Regatta, and we’re right at the finish line,” he said. “And of course we have a Pumpkin Paddler Pumpkin Beer. We are all about running with a theme.”