© File Photo
After spending most of his life at Jost Vineyards, Hans Christian Jost (left) is turning his attention to making beer. Jost sold the family business last year but his grape growing expertise will continue to be used as a consultant at Jost Vineyards.
MALAGASH - Hans Christian Jost and his family have provided economic and cultural capital for the North Shore for the last 30 years and they will continue to do so for at least the next 30 years.
Jost took over Jost Vineyards after his father passed away in 1988. Last year he sold the family business to Carl Sparkes, former chief executive officer of Canada Bread.
Jost stayed on as general manager but relinquished that title in the middle of April 2013.
Jost has remained as a consultant at Jost Vineyards but he is transferring his winemaking skills to build a brewery in Tatamagouche and focus on the beer making business.
"I will continue to do consulting, especially the grape growing end of it," said Jost. "I think between the two projects, consulting and making beer, I'll be more than busy."
Although there are similarities between wine and beer, there is still a fairly steep learning curve in brewing beer.
"There's quite a few differences, and a few similarities," said Jost. "That's something Karen (his wife) and I are working on, learning the beer production business compared to the wine production business."
The biggest difference is the use of hops and malt grains instead of grapes.
"We're looking at growing hops ourselves, and there's also another grower here in Malagash and we very much want to utilize their crop," said Jost. "When it comes to malt grain there's already some grown here in the Maritimes and that's what we'd be looking at using as well. We want to use as much local product as possible."
The decision on what kind of beer they will make is still in the preliminary stages.
"We're learning about the market and what the public is looking for and what we're capable of making," said Jost.
But they have decided where they will produce the beer.
"The brewery will be in Tatamagouche, at the former library," said Jost.
"It will be smaller than what we have here at the winery in Malagash, a lot, lot smaller," he added. "For those people who have ever seen the library in Tatamagouche, it's a teeny, tiny building. All together, upstairs and downstairs, including the basement, it's less than 2,000 square feet."
Jost calls the new enterprise a "small community brewery."
"It's the way breweries used to be throughout Europe and North America where you supplied the local community with their needs," said Jost. "We want to have a great little place to visit and try a beer or two and, hopefully, pick something up and take it with you to wherever you're at."
A year out from selling his family business, Jost said there are aspects of owning the vineyard that he misses.
"At the same time, both Karen and I feel extremely blessed at having found someone of the capacity and caliber of Carl Sparkes to take this over and to ensure the future viability of this business and the jobs of our staff," said Jost. "He's done a great job in streamlining production and creating efficiencies within the business."
Jost is also impressed with the work Sparkes has done to elevate the profile of the Jost brand.
"When it comes to marketing, and how the product is viewed and enjoyed by Atlantic Canadians and Canadians right across the country, he's done a great job," said Jost. "So far, everything I've seen has been very positive. There's been growth in sales in the last year and he's met and surpassed our expectations."
Jost hopes to have the brewery up and running between the summer of 2014 and the summer of 2015.
"There's still a few regulatory items to go through and there's a bit of a learning curve for both Karen and myself, and we want to make sure we're doing this right."
Jost is 50-years-old and Karen is 47.
"Karen and I still consider ourselves relatively young and we believe we still have something we can contribute to our local community," said Jost. "We love living here on the North Shore and, in today's world of rural communities struggling and working to stay vibrant, this was one of the small ways we could maybe help one of the communities to continue doing well."
Like Jost Vineyards, Jost said the brewery will be sustainable, both economically and environmentally.
"We want it to be there for the next 30 or 50 years," he said.