Stephen Dixon began brewing beer in 1992. Nearly 30 years later, he’s fine-tuned the technique, crafting a variety of delicious beers while leading the team at Grimross Brewing Co. Grimross Brewing was one of the first craft brewers to pop up in Fredericton—and it’s still the go-to, uptown location for craft beer.
The Making of a “Beer Chef”
It all started in the kitchen. Stephen has always loved cooking, experimenting with new recipes and mixing together interesting ingredients to find new tastes and palatable flavours. It wasn’t long before he tried his hand at brewing, which combines some of the same processes.
As much as Stephen enjoys the creative process behind cooking, he also enjoys the scientific side. Brewing is a form of molecular biology and a practical application of chemistry. For example, one must be mindful of brewing temperatures as it this activates different enzymes, breaking down starches in the sugars to make beer. Water chemistry is also an important variable because this affects the quality of the final product.
Craft brewing combines Stephen’s sincere interest for both the scientific and the creative, making it the perfect pairing. And so, a self-described “beer chef” was born.
Humble Beginnings: Kitchen Parties
In the early days, Stephen would host house parties and excitedly set up beer tastings, sharing his knowledge and passion for beers with friends and family. By introducing people to more varied types of beer, more and more of his friends switched from commercial beer drinkers to craft beer lovers.
Around this time, the craft beer industry as a whole started to boom. Stephen saw an opportunity to take his hobby to the next level. He was working in a corporate environment at the time, but felt the entrepreneurial urge. He wanted creativity to be at the core of his work life.
After talking things through with his supportive wife, Dawn, they agreed the time was right to hop into professional brewing. “Dawn is my partner—both in business and in life,” says Stephen. “I couldn’t have done this without her and our daughters, Rhys and Madison. We made the leap as a family.”
The Story Behind the Brand
When it came time to land on a name for his new brewery, the water called Stephen’s name. He’s spent lots of time boating on Grand Lake and the Saint John River over the years—and one of his all-time favourite places to meet up with friends and family along the river was Grimross Island. They’d pull their boats onto its sandy beach and enjoy a beer or two under the summer sun.
“The place holds a warm spot in my heart and brings back happy memories,” says Stephen. “I wanted a brand name with personal meaning.”
His brother, Mark, who shared many of the same experiences as Stephen growing up, designed the Grimross logo in the same sentiment of their fond memories on the water. The sideways capital G is meant to look like the hull of boat.
Did you know Gagetown was originally named Grimross? Grimross is a Maliseet word for “settlement place,” reflecting Stephen’s mission for the brand: create a welcoming atmosphere for the community to settle in to enjoy good company and good beer.