MONCTON – Alan Norman and Jerrica Kennedy recently returned from Toronto after living there for around 15 years. They’re now in the process of turning Tire Shack, an auto garage on 190 John Street, into a brewery that serves experimental beers and a rotating menu of food.
The roughly 4,400-square-foot garage is still under renovations, but it’s on track to open as Tire Shack Brewing Co. by mid-to-late September.
“We’re really excited to be back in Moncton…and we’re really glad that we made the move back. This renovation has been long and gruelling but it’s also been really fun and exciting,” Norman said.
The couple is keeping the Tire Shack name because the spot has been known as that for the many years that it was operating as a garage.
“And we like the idea of breathing new life into an old space, just keeping the building as what it was and just changing the use of the building. So, Tire Shack stuck,” he said.
Kennedy was a retail buyer at Winners for about 10 years, while Norman is a homebrewer who had worked with Henderson Brewing Co. in Toronto and a certified beer judge. They frequented breweries around the city and Norman was involved in the home-brew club. They learned many things and wanted to bring more experimental flavours of beer to Greater Moncton.
“We’re going to do standards and stuff, too, but we have a pilot system that allows us to do smaller batches. That allows us some flexibility to do some weird stuff. If it doesn’t work or nobody likes it, then it’s just a small batch of beer. But if people do like it, then we can scale it up onto the bigger system,” Norman explained.
Kennedy and Norman also want to create a vibrant taproom that’s a comfortable place for the community to gather. Seatings for between 75 to 100 people will be set up so that the bar and brewing equipment can be seen by patrons. There will be smaller tables, as well as long tables where people can sit together and connect over beer.
“When you’re here, you’re really getting the whole brewery experience. You can come here and have a beer and be right beside the brewer, [who is] adding hops, and have a conversation with him…It won’t be a separated space,” Kennedy explained.
“We want it to feel like you’re in a working environment. Almost like you’re in a factory, but there are really cool tables and chairs and nice lighting and these garage doors,” Norman added.
The building has five garage doors that open up. The couple will turn some of them into glass doors that open up to the patio/parking lot where they plan to host food trucks, small beer festivals with other breweries, and other events.
The kitchen will serve a menu that will change often, and the couple plans to use local ingredients and work with various chefs in the community.
“A lot of places that we like have vibrant taprooms…That’s one thing that we want to bring down here – a really lively taproom where there’s always stuff going on,” Norman said. “And we want to sell more of our beer out of our front door. Rather than competing in the liquor store – we want to maybe have a couple of products on the shelf, but we want you to come here and we can showcase all our rotating stuff. We really want to build a community vibe in this spot.”
Tire Shack will have a growler fill station and a bottle shop in the front that will also sell merchandise like t-shirts and hoodies, among other things.
Originally from Riverview, the couple left home as teenagers but wanted to return to be closer to family. Now they’re doing much of the renovations themselves, with the help of family.
“The Maritimes has this charm about it that I didn’t really appreciate when I left. I was 18 and I wanted to leave. It [felt] boring here, but now I come back and the people are so friendly. It’s so beautiful and there are so many things to do in nature,” she said.
Norman echoed Kennedy’s thoughts, saying that although he loved living in Toronto, there were some things, like traffic, congestion and high housing prices, that he’d rather not go through for the long run.
“You come down here and you can get to the beach in 20 minutes… You just don’t appreciate it when you’re younger and as you get older, and kind of travelled and lived your life out elsewhere, you realize wow, this is actually pretty great back here.”