It is odd how sometimes the Canadian drinks press fails to recognize the rather large neighbo(u)r to the south. In 2007, we learned through the Globe and Mail that pumpkin ales were "another classic" which deserved the revival that an Ontario brewery brought to the style even though there were 150 examples of the style in the US at the time. Today, we learn in the Toronto Star about of blueberry beer that New Brunswick's Greg Nash was inspired by his Nova Scotian home when he came up with the idea:
"I practically grew up in a blueberry field, so it was kind of a natural for me to do a blueberry beer," explains Nash, whose mother Raylene is a former head of the Nova Scotia Blueberry Growers Association. Nash grew up in Amherst, N.S., not too far from the town of Oxford, N.S., which bills itself as the wild blueberry capital of Canada. While there were already some fruit beers around, Nash noticed they tended mostly to use raspberries or cherries. "There really weren't any blueberry beers out there," Nash explains.
Like me, another central Nova Scotian, he also grew up next to New England and about six hours drive to Bar Harbor, Maine and its extremely well known Atlantic Brewing Blueberry Ale. Six hours drive, you might say. How the hell would he know about goings on in Maine? Well, the cable TV is all from Maine when you grow up in the Maritimes and the drive to the cousins in Boston is through Maine and long weekends twice a year for the normal family include going shopping in, you know, Maine. New Brunswickers are pouring over the border as you read this just to get the cheap brew. Heck, I once defended the honour of a nice girl when backpacking through Paris in 1986 by defending the honour of her home of Maine as Canada's other Maritime Province. Given all that, it would seem that anyone interested in brewing in the Maritimes in the first part of this decade could not have but spent a significant time in Maine and beyond sampling the beer - not to mention noticing all the brewing innovations we Canadians are, well, not particularly known for.
I introduced a pal to Atlantic Brewing Blueberry Ale's in 2000 or 2001 and the oldest review on Beer Advocate is from late 2001. Given the Pump House take could well be showing up around two years later... any chance that's where the inspiration really came from? I make no accusation in this other than to scratch my head at the cultural issues we seem to have sharing a continent with one of the most vibrant and innovative societies in the history of human kind and not expecting that there is cross-pollination. I always assume the influences are there.
Then again... Pump House has a beer called S.O.B. with a first review in 2006 just like Atlantic Brewing has had since at least 2002. Is there a branding side deal here that needs a bit of 'splainin'?