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Mount Allison students to open up nanobrewery in Sackville

Students Anthony Maddalena, left, and Robbie Baxter are among a group of university students who will be launching Bagtown Brewing Company early in the new year. The nanobrewery is part of an entrepreneurship class project in which students are required to invest in and open up their own business.
Students Anthony Maddalena, left, and Robbie Baxter are among a group of university students who will be launching Bagtown Brewing Company early in the new year. The nanobrewery is part of an entrepreneurship class project in which students are required to invest in and open up their own business.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Beer lovers in Sackville will have some new ale to enjoy in the new year.

A group of commerce students at Mount Allison University are set to open the first nanobrewery in the town sometime in January and hope to be serving up some suds to thirsty customers from their downtown location.

Bagtown Brewing Company is a new student-led and student-owned business that was born out of an entrepreneurship class taught by professor Nauman Farooqi.

A group of commerce students at Mount Allison University are set to open the first nanobrewery in the town sometime in January and hope to be serving up some suds to thirsty customers from their downtown location.

Bagtown Brewing Company is a new student-led and student-owned business that was born out of an entrepreneurship class taught by professor Nauman Farooqi.

Robbie Baxter, president of Bagtown Brewing and a fifth-year commerce student, said the idea for this year’s project came from fellow student Anthony Maddalena, who had dabbled in the brewing business over the summer, producing a few batches of beer from his shed at his home in Halifax. Maddalena’s brother is also a productions manager at Oland’s Brewery and has passed down a lot of knowledge to him about brewing.

“We were tossing ideas around the first week .  .  . and Tony mentioned doing a brewery because he had some experience with it,” said Baxter.

Maddalena, vice-president of productions for Bagtown Brewing, said he spent the summer perfecting his recipe and is confident the product they will be selling when they open up their doors will become a new favourite for many. A light and golden English ale, it will be a beer that will “pretty much appeal to everyone,” he said.

The entrepreneurship class gives students the opportunity to open up and run their own business. The students must invest some of their own money into the venture, although they also have access to a $5,000 start-up loan from the university, and their marks are tied into the success or failure of the business.

The 14 students have spent the fall semester establishing branding, fine-tuning the recipe, obtaining licensing, filling out insurance forms, renting space and ordering brewing equipment, among many other details.

“Things are now really starting to fall into place,” said Baxter.

The licensing process has taken up a significant amount of time, he said, and the team has been learning a lot about the legalities involved in the system along the way.

He said plans are moving ahead, however, to have the brewery up and running early in the new year.

“We hope to be fully licensed by early December so we’ll be able to come back after Christmas and be able to start selling our product right away.”

Finding a home for Bagtown Brewing was also a bit of a stumbling block in the early stages but the students soon heard about the Sackville Commons, where they have rented space in the former RCMP detachment garage bay.

Bagtown will be Sackville’s first nanobrewery – essentially a scaled-down microbrewery that produces beer in small batches. Baxter describes it as a brewery operation that produces less than 500,000 litres of product per year, making smaller batches at only about 40 litres each.

He said the hope is to sell their product to local pubs and bars, as well as to offer growlers and a fill-up station at their storefront location at the Commons for other customers.

Maddalena said the university students will be their biggest target market, since it is likely to gain their support because it’s a student-run business, but they also hope to appeal to community members once they open their doors.

Baxter said the buzz around town has been building up over the past few months.

“Everyone who has heard of having a new brewery in town . . . the idea is just exciting,” he said.

An official launch party will be held sometime in February so stay tuned for more details. Follow Bagtown Brewing Company on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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