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MARK DeWOLF: Nova Scotia microbreweries support Ukraine with special brews

Updated: Apr 1

Brewing for Ukraine initiative spreads to Canada

Mark DeWolf · Food critic | Posted: March 25, 2022, 7:39 a.m. | Updated: March 25, 2022, 9:50 a.m. | 15 Min Read


Nine Locks will be offering cans and Garrison Brewery will be selling bottles of an ale that they made using a recipe from a Ukrainian brewery as a fundraiser to help Ukraine. - Contributed

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HALIFAX, N.S. — The world’s brewing community are rallying behind a Brewing for Ukraine initiative. The initiative launched by Pravda Beer Theatre, a Lviv, Ukraine-based brewery which came to the world’s attention in late February when they opted to make Molotov cocktails, in bottles adorned with the now infamous “Putin Huylo” (Putin is a dickhead) label, instead of making beer. The brewery later called on the world’s brewing community to support their Brewing for Ukraine initiative, announced via a live-streamed brewing session, attended by more than 100 breweries from around the world.










Alberta resident Vern Raincock, who amongst other positions is a member liaison with the Independent Brewers Alliance, is leading the charge in Canada. Raincock had previously represented Pravda Beer Theatre’s beers in the Alberta market. Upon hearing of the war Raincock says “I called Yuri (Yuri Zastavny, co-owner of Pravda Beer Theatre ) just as the war broke out to make sure he was OK. On the call I gave him the idea of a collaboration brew. Yuriy said ‘let’s do it!’ and then he was off to do more important things such as making more Molotov cocktails.”


What started as a couple breweries now numbers 250, and according to Raincock “that number is growing every day. Our goal is to reach 550 by the end of the month.” That list includes Nova Scotia’s Nine Locks Brewery and Garrison Brewing, producing beer from recipes provided by Pravda Beer Theatre. Proceeds raised from the sale of the beers will be used to support Ukrainian humanitarian efforts. According to Brian Titus, owner of the Garrison Brewing “luckily our partners, Pravda Beer Theatre, already had setup direct links with charities in Ukraine, so all proceeds can be immediately used to support the defense and humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.”



Upon hearing of the Brewing for Ukraine initiative, Nine Locks Brewery co-owner Danny O’Hearn says “we were 100 per cent all in. It was never a discussion. We said internally that we have to do this.” The Dartmouth-based brewery, in its short existence, has grown into the largest microbrewery in the region, producing 14,500 hectolitres of beer per year. Despite the constant challenges to meet demand, and limited brewing space - the brewery just started building a new brewery in Dartmouth to accommodate its every growing demand - O’Hearn and team made the decision to produce the 4,500 473-ml cans of beer to support the cause. The brew released by Nine Locks using the same Putin Huylo name, popularized by Pravda Beer Theatre, is made according to an award-winning recipe provided by the Ukrainian brewery.


Nine Locks expects to release their version on March 31.. The beer is a dry hopped strong golden ale, measuring 8 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) which O’Hearn says “despite a moderate 27 IBU (International Bitterness Units) will have a bit of a bite.” Nine Locks will be selling the beer via their retail locations at their Dartmouth-based brewery and on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, as well as online. O’Hearn doesn’t expect the beer to last long, as requests have been pouring in locally and from across the country for the beer.


Halifax's Garrison Brewing is also brewing a strong golden ale, which according to Titus “will be about 7 per cent ABV, and we expect ours to be tasty, clean, dry but not overly bitter.” Garrison’s version, which Titus hopes to release on April 4, will come in special bottles, and will be sold on-line and at their Halifax Seaport and Oxford Tap Room (Quinpool Road, Halifax) locations.


While Nine Locks and Garrison are the largest local breweries supporting the Brewing for Ukraine initiative Titus adds “the entire local microbrew community is rallying to support Ukraine, as many local breweries including Unfiltered and Harbour Brewing Company have initiatives in place to raise money to support the cause. I think as a community, we’ll be able to raise more than 40 thousand dollars to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.”


Ukraine brewer Pravda Beer Theatre suspended beer production to supply the country's citizens with Molotov cocktails.


It’s not just the breweries themselves support the efforts. Brian Hickling, a former Halifax resident and art director also joined the initiative. According to Hickling “I got involved quite accidentally when I connected with a link to an article from Vern Raincock just talking about the initiative that he was leading. Feeling like I needed to do something I reached out to Vern and said ‘hey I love what you're doing. Do you need any help with creative support?' Vern said ‘absolutely’ and I jumped on board and started to make calls to my LinkedIn community. I'm always blown away by the generosity of the creative advertising and marketing community. So many answered my call. We are working on creative development and supporting initiatives at the moment such as cleaning up the website (brewingforukraine.beer), working on design of some sellable swag and supporting any of the craft breweries who need graphic design work.”


Raincock anticipates the initiative will raise in excess of 5 million US dollars globally, but perhaps the hashtag of the movement sums it up best, “makebeerNOTwar.”


Mark DeWolf is SaltWire Network's creative director of food and drink.






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