New Brunswick’s Beerocracy

Written by Sophie M. Lavoie on November 7, 2016


Far left to right: Filmmakers of Beerocracy, Shauna Chase and Alex Vietinghoff. Photo by Sophie M. Lavoie.

The plethora of craft beer operations popping up in New Brunswick is the subject of a new documentary, titled Beerocracy. The film premiered at the Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton on Nov. 3, 2016.

Beerocracy (tagline: “Be(er)…in this place”) is directed by the founders of the popular satirical website, The Manatee, who crowd-funded their documentary idea. Shauna Chase and Alex Vietinghoff share the credit for directing the film and admit to having ingested hundreds of beer in the process.

Supported by 159 backers and having drawn attention from national press (Canadian Beer News), Chase and Vietinghoff raised over $10,000 in their Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to make the film earlier this year.

The documentary examines the regulatory framework in New Brunswick and gives a voice to many of the men (and one woman) who make and sell craft beer in New Brunswick. The film also briefly incursions into Nova Scotia and Maine for examples of supplementary brewers and regulations.

The documentary confirms recent assertions of a culture of secrecy at Alcohol NB Liquor. No one from the organization agreed to do an on-camera interview for the film.

Another political topic examined by the documentary was the recent court case against Gérard Comeau, of Tracadie, who was stopped with a dozen cases of beer and various bottles of liquor, on his way home from shopping in Quebec, where beer is almost half the price of NB Liquor stores. In the documentary, Comeau’s case provided another example of misguided and outdated legislation around alcohol in the province.

Backed by the example of the Maine Beer Trail, a tourist project run by the Maine Brewer’s Guild, the documentary posits an initiative to foment craft beer tourism in the province.

There are currently around 35 craft beer producers in the province, according to the filmmakers. Giving a proper tour of many New Brunswick’s small craft beer producers, the filmmakers interviewed dozens of people passionate about brews including representatives of Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault (Edmundston), Distillerie Fils du Roy (Paquetville), Picaroons, Grimross, Graystone (Fredericton), Flying Boats Brewing (Shédiac Bay) and Big Tide Brewing (Saint John).

The directors also talked to makers of other craft alcohols including Red Rover Craft Cider, Fredericton-based makers of craft hard apple cider, and Pollen Angels, a company that makes craft mead (from honey).

First-time feature-length documentary filmmakers Chase and Vietinghoff are working on a longer version of the documentary –including a section on women and craft alcohol.

Sophie M. Lavoie, an editorial board member, writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op. 

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