Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Going Coastal - The Halifax Craft Beer Scene

Nova Scotia Craft Beer
Casualties of sunny Sunday afternoon
The explosion in craft beer popularity has created more than just a sprawling landscape of new breweries in North America: it's also created a new travel category. We at Real Man Travels have been lovers of beer since the real nectar of the gods first touched out lips, so pairing it with our love of travel seemed only natural. Beer tourism is now a part of every trip we a take. We can be found scouring the local breweries of our host city and chatting up locals on what pint fills their glasses. Recently I had the privilege of taking in the craft beer scene in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Craft Beer
The Propeller Brewing Company sign at the Gottingen Street Location

While their name is a playful nod to the sea faring traditions of  Nova Scotia, their beers are all business. I hadn't been in Nova Scotia for more than a couple hours when I met up with Stephen, the retail and tour manager for Propeller Brewing Company at their Dartmouth location for a tour and tasting, A few sips later, and I thought I would never leave.
Nova Scotia Craft Beer
Stephen showing me around the Dartmouth brewery
Fun Facts: 

  • Propeller boasts the title of number one beer in the Canadian Maritimes with their India Pale Ale. The beer it beat out? Propeller's own Extra Special Bitter that had held the spot for 15 years.
  • Propeller has been featured as the beer of Canada's own Trailer Park Boys.
  • Propeller also offers two sodas. Ginger Beer and Root Beer are available for patrons of all ages

An early fav was their Extra Special Bitter. This English-style brew found its way to the table with many of my meals. It was Revolution, Propeller's Russian Imperial Stout, however, that took the cake for me. A seasonal offering that deserves the cult following it has.
Nova Scotia Craft Beer
Garrison's seaport location has iconic curb appeal

Named for the rich military history of Halifax, the fine people at Garrison are definitely a more fun-loving crowd than one might expect from a company boasting a 19th century military canon as their logo. After meeting with Tracy at their beautiful Halifax seaport location, and sampling their beers, I came away thoroughly impressed. Not only has Garrison been busy making exceptional beers, but they have been very active in the Halifax community supporting local groups and brewing up specialty beers for local festivals. One example of this is the Summer Fest Blonde they've made for the Halifax Jazz Festival.

Nova Scotia Craft Beer
Award winning beer at Garrison Brewery
Fun Facts:

  • Garrison Brewing Company hosts and annual "Home Brew Off" where homebrewers compete for the chance to brew a full sized batch of their finest creation with Garrison's brewmaster. The beer is then offered as a limited edition seasonal offering. How cool is that?
  • Expansion is underway for a larger primary brewing facility to make even more of their prize winning concoctions
  • Garrison offers a line-up of kettle brewed "Cannonball Soda" with five flavours, including chocolate.

Garrison's Irish Red Ale won a place in my beer fridge as an easy drinker with  full bodied flavour.

Nova Scotia Craft Beer
A line up of 750 mL bottles of North Brewing Company's finest ales
North Brewing Company - @NorthBrewing

This small brewery located in the north end of Halifax on Argicola Street has been making big waves with their Belgian-inspired line up. When I arrived to meet Peter for a peek behind the scenes I didn't know what to think. Situated in what was once a small house was a small storefront with steady foot traffic coming in and out. North Brewing Company is taking a different approach than most start up beer companies. Their primary focus is to make great beer, while minimizing the impact on the environment. While the lofty goal of a zero emission brewery is their mission, their beer is already turning heads. They won "Best New Brewer" from What made me fall in love with North Brewing (aside from their beer, of course) was how small it is. It gives me something realistic to shoot for with my own dream of starting a brewery. If you're in Halifax you can buy your 750mL bottle or 1.89L growler from their store front or set out to experience one of their beers at any of these locations.
Nova Scotia Craft Beer
Behind the scenes at North Brewing Company
Fun Facts:

  • Josh, who does most of the brewing, grew up on a Nova Scotian hop farm. They use his hops for their Wet Hop seasonal.
  • North Brewing Company's beers are only available in Nova Scotia, so if you're not in the province, you need to get there to try it!
  • Gus' 65 Meter Ale is named after the door-to-door distance of the bar Gus' Pub, their first customer.


Gus' 65 Meter Ale was the beer I had to bring home and show off. This Belgian blonde has a fruity taste upfront, perfect for summer. It's a refreshing addition to the Real Man Travels beer fridge.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Halifax and Nova Scotia's great craft beer scene. Leave us a message letting us know your favourite East Coast beer.

SlĂ inte!


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