A moment of curiosity captured Giovanni Johnson, who went from a delivery driver at SXM beer to now being in the final steps of becoming the first local brewmaster for SXM beer. Giovanni shared his story; “One day, I stopped behind the brewery and saw the brewmaster standing on a platform throwing something inside a big stainless-steel barrel. A stomach teasing aroma, with a smell like when you pour a warm cup of milk onto cereal or cornflakes. When this aroma filled the air, I asked, what he was doing, he replied, using the brewer’s term, “I’m mashing in”, which in other words means to extract starch and sugars from grain that will be your potential beer wort. My curiosity was sparked, I went home and learned all I could about the beer making process”.
Co-founder Scott Brockie took quick notice of Giovanni’s passion for brew making and encouraged him to keep paying attention to the process and to learn. With deep belief, Scott shared, “You will be the next brewmaster”. Since opening SXM beer, Scott had dreamt of having a local person as the brewmaster, as the SXM beer slogan says, “My Island My Beer”. There’s a sense of pride among the SXM brewery team, as Giovanni is in the final stages of becoming the first brewmaster for the company. Co-founders Scott Brockie and Pascal de Lacaze, saw the potential in Giovanni, built his confidence and believed he could do the job. “What I will enjoy when I become a brewmaster, is being able to pass on the knowledge and experience to others in St.Maarten”. Stated Giovanni.
SXM brewery also provides tours, adding a layer of personal connection to the product, guests will use their five senses in this hands-on experience, and the storytelling element is heightened by having Giovanni connect his personal love for what he does and how the company was started. Visitors will also learn about the beer making process, for example, it takes eight glasses of water to make one glass of beer.
Business sectors will require ongoing support, stated Minister Lawrence who is optimistic to see growth in the economic sector. He spoke of an initiative to provide cost savings for business owners who locally produce what they sell. The Local Produce Product Initiative, will aim to provide incentives, for example, water and electricity cost, to all business owners who locally manufacture and produce in St. Maarten, a similar model could follow other sectors.
Scott Brockie, was asked his thoughts on this initiative, his response was;
“We are St. Maarten’s largest brewery with over 8,500 square feet. When making beer we are using water, malted grains, hops and yeast. But the number one ingredient is water. Most people think it takes 1 L of water to make 1 L of beer. This is not the case.
It takes 7 to 8L to make 1 L of beer. It also takes a mass amount of energy to run all the equipment in the factory. We feel that in order for local producers in SXM to be competitive with other imported brands we should receive reduced and competitive electricity and water rates. We are hopeful that in cooperation with our government we can make this happen. I know the government of St Maarten wants entrepreneurial investment on the island in the manufacturing sector so that products can be locally consumed or exported off the island. We are a good example of this diversification. We at SXM Beer not only want this for ourselves but for other companies producing products on the island. We feel that reduced rates could be a good initiative for more manufacturing businesses to want to invest on the island”.
The Minister wants to promote and encourage locals to use their creative talents and produce locally, he would like to see businesses to not only remain here but to invest and see new business opportunities. Minister Lawrence would like to thank MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten, who made the connection to SXM brewery.