Halifax becoming a craft brew mecca

Published on July 17, 2014

It’s true that Belgium, Oregon and Brazil are pretty far away and not necessarily very easy for most people to get to for a visit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good places to look for beer closer to home.

Recently, some work took me to Halifax for the first time in a little over a year, and I have to say I was amazed at how much the beer scene has grown in so short a time. It seems like every time I turned around in the days I was there I was running into another bar or restaurant offering at least eight or 10 taps of local craft beer.

That’s right, I did say local craft beer, which means there are more breweries popping up all the time, too.

Many people are familiar with Propeller, both from when it was sold in Newfoundland and from the fourth Newfoundland Beer Club offering last year. Another Nova Scotia stalwart, Garrison, is lined up to have some of their beers on the shelf at your local NLC in the near future.

Both of these breweries brew very good beer and they have been in the  game for quite a long time, but now it’s the new guys that are often taking the stage.

These are very exciting times in the world of beer right next door to us, and it’s worth a visit.

If you do get to Halifax, here are a few places to go:

The Auction House pub and grill at 1726 Argyle St. is a nice place with a recently renovated bar that has more than 20 taps with many local craft beers and the food is good, too.

The Stubborn Goat at 1579 Grafton St. is another public house that not only has nearly 20 taps, but even boasts a cellar section of bottled beers, the first I’ve seen east of Montreal.

Stillwell at 1672 Barrington St. is another newcomer that separates itself as truly a beer bar and works hard to find a diverse selection of bottled beer and draft. The owner’s small bottle collection shows his passion for searching out exceptional examples.

Rockbottom Brew Pub has been around for awhile at 5686 Spring Garden Rd., and Greg Nash, the brewmaster, brews some mighty fine beers. It’s a fun little bar with a pretty groovy vibe.

Are you a sports fan? Well HFX at 1721 Brunswick St. is a destination you want to get to. Not only does it boast 56 taps, but it also has what’s touted as the biggest television screen in Atlantic Canada and there are screens absolutely everywhere, so you never have to miss a minute of the game even when you have to visit the facilities.

These are great places to go, but what to look for when you get there? Personally I like to drink local and see what’s in the neighbourhood.

I had heard of Boxing Rock in Shelburne and Uncle Leo’s, in Pictou, from club members, and Canada’s beer magazine Taps put me onto Big Spruce Brewing from Nyanza. By good fortune, my only visit to a new beer bar got me a pint from brand new Tatamagouche Brewing Co. that, obviously, can be found in Tatamagouche.

A couple more of the new breweries to keep an eye out for include Hell Bay Brewing which hails from Liverpool, and Rare Bird, which  brews its beers in Guysborough and also puts out some beers under the name Authentic Seacoast Brewing.

As you can see, Nova Scotia is exploding with craft beer all over the province, which means a road trip might be in order.

Book your ferry ticket today.

Mike Buhler is a certified cicerone. Email him at mike@beerthief.ca, or check out beerthief.ca for information on beer club offerings.