The Rare Bird Craft Beer Story

Posted Apr 24, 2015

(L-R) Glynn Williams, President of Rare Bird Craft Beer and Glenn Squires, Chairman of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia stirring the mash tun.

Glynn Williams always knew they’d created something special with Rare Bird Craft Beer, but it wasn’t an easy journey taking it to market.

“We’ve been making Rare Bird Craft Beer for almost 10 years, and it’s been an evolutionary process,” says Glynn, the owner of the Authentic Seacoast Company and the creator of Rare Bird Craft Beer.

In the beginning, they brewed Rare Bird Craft Beer strictly for on-premise consumption in Glynn’s Rare Bird Pub & Eatery. The tasty, cold beer complemented the pub’s signature “Guysburger”, and famous fish & chips, and was perfect for sipping on the sparkling Guysborough waterfront.

But the beer was so popular with the pub’s customers that Glynn decided they had to take it to the next level.

“We were embraced by folks who loved our beer, so we said ‘Let’s see if we can keg our beer, and sell it,’” recalls Glynn. “We sold it in growlers at farmers’ markets, and had a lot of success there.”

Things didn’t go as smoothly when they tried to sell Rare Bird Craft Beer on tap to bars across Nova Scotia. Many Maritimers were reluctant to try something new, and were tough to wean off their standard Keiths and Coors — beers many of them had been drinking for decades.

“The big beer brands really had a stranglehold on a lot of bars, and it was exceptionally difficult to break in,” says Glynn. “We were so frustrated, because we knew we were really onto something, and we could see the tidal wave of craft brewing coming to Nova Scotia. But we had such limited distribution.”

Glynn says craft brewers like Garrison and Propeller truly “paved the way” for Rare Bird Craft Beer, and he took cues from their success.

“We stepped up our game, and began producing Rare Bird Craft Beer in larger quantities,” says Glynn. “We actually tripled our fermentation capacity.”

The team also began poring over their existing recipes and exploring new processes from scratch, looking to see how they could improve.

“We have an approach at Authentic Seacoast, with all of our products, and it’s that we’re always trying to make them even better,” explains Glynn. “It was the same for our beer.”

They perfected their batches, each one better than the last — and today they have six varieties: Red Ale, Pale Ale, Spruce Ale, Maple Ale, Pumpkin Ale, and Full Steam Stout.

It wasn’t long until Authentic Seacoast realized its dream of getting Rare Bird Craft Beer into bars, pubs, and stores around the province. Several varieties are sold at Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax, as well as Harvest Wine and Spirits in Dartmouth, select NSLC locations, and Cristall Wine Merchants in Bedford.

“When we saw our Rare Bird Craft Beer Pale Ale and our Full Steam Craft Beer Stout on the shelves of the NSLC, it was a wonderful milestone,” says Glynn. “I knew we’d reached a point where we were making excellent beers — and very competitive beers.”

Glynn says some people used to have a degree of skepticism about craft beer in general, but seeing it take centre stage at their local NSLC seemed to make the product more approachable.

“Just seeing it there, the locals would suddenly say ‘Oh, it must be good!’ and they’d give it a try,” says Glynn. “Now, Rare Bird Craft Beer has really become a source of pride for folks, as they saw ‘Oh, hey, Rare Bird comes from Guysborough!’”