1709289287 The brasserie pub A l39abri de la Tempete a monument

The brasserie pub À l'abri de la Tempête, a monument to the Magdalen Islands, faces the death penalty

À l'abri de la Tempête, the center of life on the Magdalen Islands for 20 years, is launching an SOS program. Without an early financial injection, the microbrewery will not survive the winter.

• Also read: There is war in the beer world in Quebec

• Also read: Transbroue owes $8 million to more than 60 breweries and SMEs in Quebec

“We need hands to rise,” pleads Anne-Marie Lachance, leaning against the bar of her pub in L'Étang-du-Nord in the archipelago. The founder is looking for loans, investments or patrons to prepare for the summer season of the local flagship.

The brasserie pub A l39abri de la Tempete a monument

Anne-Marie Lachance has lived on the islands for 23 years. She started her brewery to create a workspace that would allow her to live there year-round. Photo provided by A l'abri de la Tempête

A summer without shelter from the storm is “not possible” in the Magdalen Islands, but that is exactly what will happen if the desired help does not arrive quickly.

“Something has to change, we are open to everything. We need resources to ensure our survival,” says the Montreal native, who has lived on the islands for 23 years.

His mother has also lived there for 30 years. Anne-Marie left the microbrewery 20 years ago to live in the area year-round.

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For 20 years, the brewery À l'abri de la Tempête has been vibrating to the rhythm of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Without an immediate cash injection, the local facility will not survive the winter. Photo Emmanuelle Roberge / provided by À l'abri de la Tempête

Back to basics

Today, his brewery employs 15 people year-round and 40 in the summer. A l'abri de la Tempête is a major employer in the region and an important economic hub with a popular product that brings people to the islands – and stays there.

The beer market crisis after the pandemic hurt. Ingredients and transportation cost twice as much, especially if you're 200km from the continent.

Customers’ ability to pay is also “no longer what it once was”. Inflation is killing everyone, even beer lovers.

The brewery made major investments in 2019, right before the damn virus. Growth was crazy back then, but today the market is in disarray, and this financial weight is compounding the misfortunes of Anne-Marie, who is reviewing her business model.

“We are returning to our roots, to our place, to our fundamental identity, that of the islands,” says the former visual arts teacher. The beer, which has always been bottled, will also be available in cans at all retailers on the continent from next week.

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The following products are offered on the continent: a pilsner (Écume), a citrus blonde (Bombe de soleil) and two IPAs (Trans IPA and Terre Ferme). Photo provided by A l'abri de la Tempête

The microbrewery co-founder asks everyone in the world to add it to their shopping cart to forward this article. Her call for help is not a call for savings; rather, she wants to expand her network of contacts and financial partners.

A bit of Tristan and Joannie's fault

“We have withstood all challenges for four years, we have reached the end,” says the woman, whose tenacity is being put to the test these days.

In addition to other problems, the Quebec brewery clashes with two hated entrepreneurs in the beer world. There are 48 lawsuits against the companies Tristan Bourgeois Cousineau and Joannie Couture.

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Tristan Bourgeois Cousineau and Joannie Couture, in 2017. Carl Vaillancourt / JdeM

The couple, who have owned Transbroue since summer 2022, owe Anne-Marie's brewery $145,000. As soon as they bought the distributor two years ago, they stopped paying their suppliers, most of Quebec's microbreweries.

The islands' brewery owner got fed up and left Transbroue in mid-July 2023, during peak season. It reorganized everything on the fly to ensure the presence of its products on the shelves of retailers across the continent.

“It’s another problem. That debt certainly didn’t help us,” she says. It still suffers today because distribution across an archipelago is a challenge.

Transbroue owes eight other local microbreweries more than $100,000. All they get is crumbs because the distributor is bankrupt and the banks will take all of his assets.

Numerous shelter from the storm

  • 15 employees permanently
  • 40 employees during summer
  • 200,000 liters products per year
  • 20 years of existence
  • 20 beers on the menu in the pub, on the islands
  • 150 retailers sell the product on the continent.

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