André Anglehart uses the housing market as an analogy for the economic impact of breweries: the housing market. When somebody buys a house, banks, real-estate agents, and lawyers make money. “It’s the same thing for microbreweries,” says Anglehart, president of Atlantic Bottle Wash Inc. in Burnside. “When you buy a craft beer, you would not believe the ripple effect it creates in our own backyard in Nova Scotia.”

While the economic impact of the local-brewing industry gets simplified as being the roughly 500 people it employs at the more than 50 craft breweries in the province, the impact includes local shipping companies, hop growers, draft line cleaning companies, cardboard companies, glass and bottle companies, contractors and the graphic designers who design labels for the craft breweries’ frequent new releases.

The growing industry creates a market for companies that couldn’t exist otherwise. Anglehart’s Atlantic Bottle Wash Inc. is a prime example. The company, which opened in March 2017, washes what are known as industry-standard bottle beers and sells them to three Nova Scotian microbreweries (Propeller, Garrison, and Boxing Rock) that use them.

Prior to Atlantic Bottle Wash, the only local bottle washer for industry-standard bottles was the Oland Brewery in North End Halifax, which is owned by a Belgian company. “We basically didn’t have access to washed bottles, so we were buying brand new bottles and putting them into the pool, which then Olands got to use 19 more times,” says Emily Tipton, a founding partner and beer engineer at Boxing Rock.

Anglehart says it’s too expensive for microbreweries to wash their own bottles. To get his business up and running, he says he sold his house, “toys,” and cashed in his RRSPs. “I went all in,” he says. The company also got a $250,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The facility washes about two million bottles of beer a year, but is capable of doing 55 million. The operation employs about six people, but that’ll double once it begins selling cans to local microbreweries. At present, Nova Scotia microbreweries using cans must buy them from companies outside of the province.

A new industry-standard bottle costs brewers about 30 cents, but is about half that when it’s washed and sold back to the brewer. Besides getting more microbreweries on board with using industry-standard bottles, Anglehart’s also hoping to launch a bottle-washing program for 650-millilitre bottles. Those bottles can be reused about 30 times.

Tipton says the bottle-washing program has many benefits. “It’s kind of a feel-good factor in that I know that bottle does not leave Nova Scotia … we’re minimizing our environmental impact, as well as it having a positive financial benefit and employing more people in Nova Scotia indirectly,” she says.

The operation employs about six people, but that’ll double once it begins selling cans to local microbreweries. At present, Nova Scotia microbreweries using cans must buy them from companies outside of the province.

A new industry-standard bottle costs brewers about 30 cents, but is about half that when it’s washed and sold back to the brewer. Besides getting more microbreweries on board with using industry-standard bottles, Anglehart’s also hoping to launch a bottle-washing program for 650-millilitre bottles. Those bottles can be reused about 30 times.

Tipton says the bottle-washing program has many benefits. “It’s kind of a feel-good factor in that I know that bottle does not leave Nova Scotia … we’re minimizing our environmental impact, as well as it having a positive financial benefit and employing more people in Nova Scotia indirectly,”
she says.

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