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Founded in 1999 as a brewpub by Shaun Fraser, former captain of Moncton’s fire department, and Lilia Fraser, Pump House Brewery in Moncton, N.B., has grown to be a production brewery with sales in every province of Canada except Quebec, and in export markets including the United States, the Netherlands, Barbados, Sweden, China and Curaçao.

The original brewpub location at 5 Orange Lane remains, and a second brewpub location opened in 2022 in Shediac, N.B., just 20 minutes northeast of Moncton. Prior to co-founding Pump House, Shaun was a consultant to DME Brewing Solutions, so Pump House has a lifelong affinity for equipment from the Canadian company.

In the beginning …

The Frasers started with six beers: Blueberry Ale, Cadian Cream Ale, Fire Chief’s Red Ale, Muddy River Stout, India Pale Ale and Bohemian Pilsner. Beers of these styles were common for brewpubs at the time, and served alongside wood-fired pizza, Pump House quickly established itself is a local favourite for beer lovers and food lovers alike.

Their most popular beer was the Blueberry Ale and its popularity fueled Pump House’s growth, meriting the building of the 25-barrel production and packaging facility on Mill Road in 2003. Pump House’s never-ending insistence on quality in the brewpubs and the production facility has helped it grow to be one of the largest breweries in Atlantic Canada. In 2005, Pump House was awarded Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

While Blueberry Ale was easily Pump House’s most popular brew, all of the original beers were popular and remain in production, a testament to 25 years of consistent quality.

The next chapter

In 2016, Pump House launched Crafty Radler. The popularity of that beverage grew so quickly it is now its own sub-brand for Pump House, coming in four flavours (grapefruit and tangerine, blood orange and peach, limonchello and lime, and tart cherry and blueberry) with unified packaging that is distinct from Pump House’s other beers. Crafty Radler now represents two-thirds of Pump House’s production.

“This is the engine that now drives the brewery,” said Brian Harriman, co-owner of the brewery, noting that Blueberry Ale remains the top-selling beer in the brewpubs.

Man and woman walking through brewing facility

It was in 2020 that the Frasers decided to start a new chapter of their lives and sold the brewery to Harriman, Brad Devarennes and Kolin Barley, three local, long-time friends who have continued Pump House’s exponential growth with expansion across Canada and into export markets, and investment in automation at the brewery.

New ownership has also introduced new beers and new products. Harriman is particularly proud of Pump House’s Uncommon Kölsch, a low-calorie Kölsch with only three grams of carbohydrates.

“We won a Silver Medal in the Kölsch category at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup,” he said. “And we did it competing against regular, full-calorie beers.” Harriman is quick to add that while he is proud of that new beer, Muddy River Stout also won a Gold Medal in the Stout category at the 2023 Canada Beer Cup. “It’s great to see our classic beers continue to win awards alongside our new beers.”

Pump House added Real Vodka Water in four flavours: watermelon kiwi, blueberry yuzu, lemon lime, and raspberry peach (four per cent ABV, 100 calories, vegan and gluten-free). In a unique twist, the flavoured vodka waters are uncarbonated. Tapping into the market of health-conscious drinkers made Real Vodka Water grow tremendously, with the vodka waters now representing 20 per cent of Pump House’s business after launching in May 2022.

Glenn Kervin leaning against brewing equipment
Glenn Kervin, one of the four brewers at Pump House Brewery

Pump House also has a line of hard seltzers under the Venerdi Italian Seltzer brand. Sold in slimline cans and offering six per cent ABV, Venerdi Italian Seltzer comes in pink lemonade, tangelo and green apple flavours.

Keeping the House in order

“It’s a huge priority for us to stay true to what we do well,” said Harriman. “We have a team of brewers producing quality beer consistently.” While Pump House has introduced and succeeded with new lines of products and offers seasonal beers, continuing to brew those six original beers is a consistent benchmark to ensure brewing does not deviate from standards. It serves as a signal to their original fans that the brewery will always be a part of their community; nobody is going to take away Moncton’s favourite beer.

That dedication is also given to the Pump House team. “We want Pump House to be a great place to work,” said Harriman. The brewery and brewpub employ 132 people. On the financial front, Pump House has provided consistent wage increases, but more importantly, Pump House creates a safe workplace for a diverse workforce.

A current team of four brewers – Navjot Singh (head brewer), Glenn Kervin, Oluchi Amadi and Brannan Walsh – runs the brewery. Over the years, Pump House brewers have come from Germany, China, India and elsewhere, with experiences at breweries of different sizes. Those different backgrounds influence and improve Pump House’s operations. Harriman notes that a brewer with a German background was instrumental in developing Pump House’s original Crafty Radler.

A recent hire in the packaging department is an immigrant from Ukraine who was displaced by the ongoing war there. “The diversity of our team brings a different global perspective to beer brewing,” said Harriman.

Taking care of that team is a top priority, so many employees have been with Pump House for 15 to 20 years. “Our keg filler, Stephen Emmerson, has been with us for over 10 years, manually cleaning and filling probably 12,000 kegs per year,” said Harriman. “He’s probably filled over 100,000 kegs!”

Kervin recently brewed his millionth litre of beer. For that milestone, he was asked to brew any beer he wanted – he chose a Bière de Garde – and Pump House sent him on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a NASCAR race.

Pumped for the future

Harriman, Devarennes and Barley have backgrounds in beer and hospitality, and knew they had the experience to grow the brand. Breakthru Beverage Group was recently appointed Pump House’s national sales agency and the company builds upon the platform in every province of Canada (except Quebec) by growing sales of existing products and marketing the new product line extensions.

“We have worked with Beer Canada on regulatory issues and provincial markup policies. It’s just nice to have an association to call that has so much experience and knowledge when you are navigating the industry as a small player.”

Brian Harriman, Pump House Brewery

International sales have also grown in select markets around the globe, but the Pump House team is particularly excited to double the number of states distributing its beers south of the border, from four to eight.

All this growth has necessitated investments into the Moncton brewery. Pump House has added more tanks, a new kettle, a new glycol chiller and a fully automated packaging machine.

Beer Canada has also supported Pump House’s growth.

“Beer Canada has been a good ally and resource for us as we work to grow our business nationally,” said Harriman. “We have worked with Beer Canada on regulatory issues and provincial markup policies. It’s just nice to have an association to call that has so much experience and knowledge when you are navigating the industry as a small player.”

Stainless steel tanks

In 2024, Pump House will celebrate its 25th anniversary. To honour the occasion, Moncton’s beloved brewery will release three special beers. The first is Evolution Brut IPA and two more are planned. The two brewpubs will introduce new, fun menu items and a large celebration is planned for September to mark the actual anniversary date.

“Pump House is a well-loved brand in the Maritimes, built by people who want to make quality beer and have fun doing it,” said Harriman.

By building upon the success of the Frasers, supporting a strong and diverse team, and investing in new equipment, Pump House is starting a new chapter of 25 more years of success.

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