The taps are on for Half Cocked Brewery Company in North Grant, Antigonish County.
Located at the former Oicle chicken farm, the brewer is Greg Oicle, whose father ran the farm. His partner is Matt Thompson, who moved to Antigonish a little more than a year ago.
Oicle noted his father is also involved in the new business, adding it was he and his dad who did all of the renovations to transform a farm building into a brewery.
“Yesterday (Aug. 10) was our first day of growler sales, so the first day we were opened here,” Oicle said.
“Last Friday we were at the Townhouse (Brewpub and Eatery) for a launch party; we had all of our beer on tap there.”
Oicle said the launch went very well.
“All of it was gone by 9:30 p.m.,” he said. “There were a lot of people in, it was really busy. I think they sold quite a bit of beer.
“We brought a few growlers in for sampling; everyone had the opportunity to try everything before they went to the bar to buy a pint or two. It was a great night.”
Customers were sampling from five selections; the same five available now at the North Grant location.
“We have the Cock-of-the-Walk which is an IBA (India Black Ale), XPA which is an American pale ale (APA), Wait for It which is a double IPA, Pete’s Sake which is a blond ale and Fruit Cocktail which is grapefruit beer,” Oicle said, listing the selections.
“Really, for the most part, I’m just making beer that I like, the blonde is kind of the exception. If you drink Keith’s or Oland’s, new Schooner, or, Coors Light, Bud Light … it’s trying to get those people on-board with craft beer. We need a beer for that group because it’s a big market; so we just tried to make a nice, smooth, easy beer. So while it’s not my favourite, I know that it’s still a quality beer.”
Oicle and Thompson came together on the venture because, as craft beer enthusiasts, they recognized a need in the area.
“Trying to get good beer in Antigonish was a bit of a struggle,” Oicle, who lived in Alberta and Ontario after graduating from St. F.X., said.
“Big Spruce (Brewing of Nyanza, Victoria County) was great in delivering me full growlers to the Townhouse, which I could go and pick up, exchange my growlers for. It was around then though I thought it was a little bit ridiculous and maybe I should look into brewing myself.
“So we started making some pretty good beer. Big Spruce lost a couple of good customers in my brother and I, my father and whomever else was around to enjoy a lot of the Big Spruce beer, but once we started brewing our own we steered away from that a bit.”
People have been hearing about Half Cocked Brewery Company through word-of-mouth as well as a strong online presence that includes Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
“We’ve been on social media quite a bit, kind of building (a following),” Oicle said.
“We’ve also brewed with Terry (Piercey), at the Townhouse, on his system … had our recipes on his system and sold those at the Townhouse. So people had the opportunity to try our recipes months ago, a couple of them anyway.”
Oicle described this summer for Half Cocked Brewery Company as a bit of a “tester.”
“Testing the waters, getting the brand out there, the beer out there and learning the brewing business really,” he said.
“I think this fall/winter we’re going to try and get the ball rolling on a bigger system. This was, kind of, just a short-term plan to learn how to brew, learn how to brew quality beer, and figure out the recipes … what people want.
“Hopefully, over the winter and into the spring/summer, we’ll be installing a bigger system in here and, potentially, a nice tasting area. And then, further on down the road, we could do events here. That’s pretty far off; right now we’re just focusing on getting beer out there,”
Half Cocked Brewery Company is open each Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m., for beer sales. They’re located at 1290 on Highway 245, just beyond the sign for Vincent’s Loop.