Sober Island Brewing Company


Written by Rebecca Atkinson, Owner Sober Island Brewing Company

Edited by the Symplicity team


Maritime Resilience is a series of stories on how local organizations are adapting to COVID-19.

Sober Island Brewing Company launched 4 years ago. The launch took place at Saltscapes and featured our horse trailer turned mobile beer bar. We began on a 50L brewing system and quickly moved up to an 800L system that we currently use to produce our ales. Our flagship beer is Beth’s Black, an Oyster Stout brewed with whole fresh local oysters for a true taste of the sea!
COVID-19 has, like with many others, made a huge impact on Sober Island Brewing. With restaurants shutting down all of our keg sales have ceased. This led to unfortunately having to lay off our sales representative. This past December we opened a new taproom, which up until the COVID-19 situation took place, was gaining success. Being in a rural area, we don’t have the foot traffic or easy access to our taproom so we have had to adapt. We closed the doors to the taproom on March 13th.
Our production is still running, but we have slowed down. We’re currently assessing the situation of keeping Tim, our brewer on payroll part-time and subsidizing his wages. We’ve always had a small team, but I’ve had to put off hiring my taproom manager, a young local woman. I also can’t afford to have help in the brewery, which puts another young woman out of work.

We have moved to curbside pickup and delivery for our beer. This is all contactless and safe to keep anxiety levels down, making it easier to purchase local craft beer. We’re also building an online store where folks will have a streamlined experience of ordering for pickup, delivery and shipping.

Time has been strange in many ways for us during this crisis. A week before covid-19 “hit” Nova Scotia, my 26 year old brother died. The first few days of the covid-19 are mostly a blur. I wasn’t working at that time as I was taking time to grieve and stay connected with my family. When I got back to work, it was full on. It’s been an incredibly busy time trying to navigate the government programs, connect with suppliers and our customers. It’s been a scramble, but I feel very fortunate that our business gets to continue as so many have no choice but to close.
There are so many lessons to take from this right now. The main one, would be how quickly we can react and adapt to the scenarios that are given to us. Challenges bring opportunity and build strength.
I have about 5 weeks until we run out of money. Right now what we need most is a wage subsidy so I can keep Tim, our brewer, employed. An influx of money into the business is also needed so we can survive this crisis and still be in business when this is over and we return to a “new normal”.
I’ve learned a big personal lesson from all of this. The week before my brother’s death I was depressed. I couldn’t help but think there was more to life than what I had. More to life than constantly working. I would do anything to go back to those previous weeks and give my head a shake. I’ve learned from both the death of my brother and the Covid-19 crisis, that I am so fortunate. I really have everything that I need, I just couldn’t see it before. We are so fortunate to live in a beautiful, rural area where we can easily self isolate and take in the fresh air, sun and nature.

I’m working to keep my mental health in check and keeping positive during these uncertain times. Right now my priority is keeping Tim employed, have the business survive and my family. 


Family first.

Sober Island Brewery is currently offering Free delivery in HRM and parts of Nova Scotia, along with pick up orders.

Let’s support local small businesses! Visit their website or social media to place an order!

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