There are no poles or electrical wires going to Harvey Lake southwest of Fredericton in New Brunswick, yet that’s where Randy and Denise Rowe have decided to open the province’s newest brewery. Appropriately enough, they call it Off Grid Ales.
The Rowes are brewing beer using nothing but renewable solar and wind energy and a little bit of propane. “There’s a challenge to doing this,” says head brewer Randy Rowe. “But the draw is just being here. It wasn’t necessarily to be ‘off-the-grid.’ We didn’t have a grid here, but we really liked the location.”
Rowe and his wife have lived in a solar-powered home on Harvey Lake for seven years. Building a brewery on their isolated property has been a passion project for both of them. “It is wonderful,” said Denise Rowe. “It is quiet. It is peaceful. I go for runs on our five kilometer driveway. We love it out here.”
Randy Rowe says that making quality beer several kilometers away from the nearest power pole presents challenges the average brewer never encounters. “You can’t produce a lot of electricity without spending a lot of money, so basically we have to do everything very energy efficiently,” he says. “That’s how we’ve designed the brewery to be able to run on a fraction of what other places would use.”
To ensure consistency in their brews, Off Grid Ales does rely on a propane system for heating. But Randy Rowe says the clean energy generated on site from 18 solar panels and his wind turbine will be enough to power the rest of production.
“We produce around 12 to 15 kilowatts on an average day,” says Rowe. “And we’ve got a battery backup system that holds about 20 kilowatts. It’s nice to be able to live here and brew and not have a power bill. It will be virtually nothing.”
The couple plan to have four different beers, including a red and a double IPA, on store shelves come this fall.