Thanks to climate change, sea levels are rising across the planet, and Sea Level Brewing shares in that concern. Situated in the lower level of The Port Pub, in Port Williams, Nova Scotia, Sea Level Brewing and the pub above are experiencing higher than normal tides along the tidal Cornwallis River; the river provides a picturesque setting, but is also threatening. The group of doctors that owns The Port Pub are engaged in measures to protect the building.

But Sea Level Brewing has a bigger issue: it has run out of space. Started as a micro-brewery in 2007, it has grown so much that brewing is being moved off premises, to a much larger space in nearby Sheffield Mills. The core “pilot brewery” operation will remain in the lower level of the pub, as it has a strong presence on the pub’s beer list, but there is simply not sufficient room to make enough beer to fill the demand from the pub, other area restaurants and general public consumption.

Seal Level Brewing was the first independent brewery in the Annapolis Valley, started by hop-farm owner and beer aficionado, Randy Lawrence, and continues to be a local favourite. Its Rojo Mojo Red Ale is one of its most popular beers, aligning with the distinctive red soil that makes the Annapolis Valley a bread basket. Crops (and hops!) abound, so Sea Level, like other local breweries and brew-pubs, such as Wayfarer’s Ale Society (next door to Sea Level), and The Church Brewing (in Wolfville) are able to rely heavily upon local ingredients.

Sea Level Brewing offers a set of regular brews, available year-round, as well as seasonal and annual specialty beers, such as its Summer Blonde Pilsner. Here are the core beers brewed by Sea Level:

  • Planters Ale, their most popular, 4.8% alcohol, made with Maritime malt
  • Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter, heaviest at 5.5%, paying homage to the blue heron that hangs out on the shores of the Cornwallis River, and silver medal winner at the 2015 Atlantic Canada Beer Competition
  • Blooberry Pail [sic] Ale, made from the abundant local blueberries, and full of antioxidants, 5%
  • Rojo Mojo Red Ale, 5.2%, medium bodied and with a marginally sweet malt finish

The new 5,000-square-foot facility in Sheffield Mills will allow expansion, doubling the output capacity of Sea Level Brewing. New owners (a family) Carolyn, Nicole, Matt and Lucas Harvie, also plan to include Millstone Harvest Brewhouse, a brewery and tap room, on premises. They are certainly capitalizing on a hugely successful enterprise, with a great reputation for tasty beers.

Fans of the current brewery in Port Williams will be pleased to know that it will still sell Sea Level beers, as well as all manner of swag, and be the home of new, small-batch experimental beers.

Port Williams has become a go-to location for all sorts of beer, wine and spirits, with (almost in a row along the river) Planters Ridge winery, Barrelling Tide Distillery, Wayfarer’s Ale Society, and, we happen to know, more brewers and distillers in the works for the future.

Close to the main highway, Port Williams and Sea Level Brewing are a hop (pun intended), skip and a jump to the bustling, cultured, university town of Wolfville, quickly becoming a hub for foodies and wine-lovers. In Wolfville, imbibers can find numerous types of accommodations (mostly small inns and B&Bs), as well as a reliable, inexpensive (flat rate) taxi service, C.J.’s Taxi, to get them safely to and from Sea Level Brewing. Cheers to that!

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