Smokey Brews at 2 Crows

When we discovered that our Cape Smokey Brewery building would be delayed in construction due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, our Brewmaster began the hunt for a plan B. Located in downtown Halifax, 2 Crows Brewing Co. became his answer. Jan Tzril literally walked up and pitched a collaboration idea. Jeremy Taylor, 2 Crows Master Brewer shares more.

Hey Jeremy! Thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us how you were approached by Jan with Cape Smokey?

Funnily enough, we actually had Jan show up at our garage door one afternoon and start chatting with us about the project.  We had a Czech-style pilsner in tank that we were particularly excited about, so the idea of working with a Czech Brewmaster was incredibly enticing to me.  I am getting more and more interested and excited about brewing traditional lager styles, so having the opportunity to learn from someone trained where the best lagers are made the project really appealing.

We had a bit of back and forth via emails and Zoom regarding working together, and we are excited that things are now underway.  I think this could be the start of a great relationship, we are excited about what Cape Smokey is brewing to Cape Breton and to the NS beer community.

Where the best lagers are made! Maybe that’ll change thanks to you and Jan! Can you tell us how 2 Crows got started?

2 Crows was started by Mark and Kelly Huizink, and myself.  It opened its doors in January of 2017, but Mark had started putting the business plan together back in 2015. A brewing school friend had put us in touch because I had been working in BC since graduating brewing school, but had plans to move to Halifax for many years.

I had actually developed my own business plan for a Halifax brewery, but being a brewer, I had completely neglected the financial aspects of things.  Mark, by comparison, had focused largely on the financials and ignored the beer part of things.  When we met in late 2015, we mashed our business plans together and 2 Crows was founded.  We began construction on our facility in May 2016, and have been busy ever since.  I run the beer side of things, Mark runs the numbers and business aspect of things, and Kelly heads up our sales.

That’s a well-balanced match! Now you have Jan poking around your brewery, but you’re not new to the collaboration game, are you?

We have done lots and lots of collaboration beers, but this is definitely a unique one.  A big part of our identity is brewing with friends of ours from across the country — I am originally from BC, and have a number of good friends in the brewing industry out there, so we have done a bunch of collabs with breweries in Vancouver. We have also done collabs with breweries in most provinces, and even one in the USA and in Scotland.

It sounds like the brew scene stays pretty close! How do you decide what style to brew when collaborating?

Most of the time, our collaborations come out of a preexisting friendship with the brewers and are a good excuse to travel and hang out with friends. The recipe usually becomes a bit of a mishmash of different styles and techniques that the two breweries enjoy playing with.  Generally, collabs we have done in the past are brewed at one brewery and sold out of that brewery — this one is a bit unique in that we are brewing it here and Cape Smokey is taking the whole batch, with much of the recipe design being done by Jan.

What is YOUR personal favorite brew or beer style, Jeremy?

As I mentioned, I am getting more and more interested in traditional lagers at the moment.  Even though brewing with decoction brews makes for a long, labour-intensive day, the results can be well worth the effort.  I find myself only really drinking lagers at the moment, especially in the warmer weather when all I want in a beer is crisp drinkability.

If we host a beer fest this summer or fall, will 2 Crows Brewing join in?

Absolutely! We love getting up to Cape Breton.

What does “crisp drinkability” look like? Here’s the Cape Smokey Pilsner low-down:

Bohemian Pilsner style
12,6 ° Plato
Alcohol – 4,9 % ABV
Bitterness – 38 IBU

Made from Pilsner Malt from Czech Republic, Saaz hop also from Czech Republic and Czech lager yeast, this pilsner is brewed by double decoction mash.

Arriving this week at Cape Smokey, we look forward to pouring you a pint on the marina!

Thank you to Jeremy Taylor, Brewmaster for 2 Crows Brewing for sitting down with us to chat, and a thank you to Jeremy, Mark, and Kelly for welcoming us into their brew home.