This week’s Canada's Craft Beer post comes from our Maritimes craft beer guy, Todd Beal. Today Todd takes us on a walking tour of Halifax craft breweries. There's eight excellent craft breweries stops along the tour. And as an added bonus, he adds tips for seven more!
When you think of Nova Scotia you can't help but think of beautiful scenery, friendly people, seafood and endless beaches to explore. These things draw thousands of people to visit Canada's ocean playground every year, but now there’s one more thing to find: beer! If you're looking for things to do in Halifax, this loop tour of 8 Halifax breweries is a great one to add to your list!
As of June 2018 there are nearly 50 breweries operating that cover almost every corner of the province, and nearly half of those operate in Halifax Regional Municipality. More and more, visiting local breweries is on tourists’ itinerary, so here’s a simple craft beer walking tour of Halifax's downtown.
No need for a vehicle … just some good walking shoes and a thirst for local beer. This walking beer tour of Halifax is a loop so you can start anywhere, but check the days and hours of operation of each brewery prior to starting.
Downtown Halifax Craft Brewery Walking Tour
I chose a starting and ending point of Garrison Brewing in the historic Seaport district, which can be very busy when a cruise ship is in port. Garrison has been in its current location for nearly all its existence at 1149 Marginal Road. Garrison serves up seven year-round brews and at least double that amount in seasonals and one-offs. You can shop their large store for merchandise and beer to go, as well as flights for sampling in their cozy indoor area. Or, pull up a chair to a barrel on the patio to enjoy people watching and some Nova Scotia sunshine.
- A beer pick here is their Irish Red Ale.
Alexander Keith’s Brewery
Next stop will be about a 10-minute walk due north along the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk to the historic Alexander Keith's Brewery at 1496 Lower Water Street. Founded in 1820, it’s among the oldest commercial breweries in North America. Although the Keith's brand is owned by Labatt's, they operate a small batch brewery here creating unique ales. There’s a retail store here for beer to go and merchandise, but to see the brewery and sample the beer you have to buy a brewery tour.
- A top pick for beer here is Lunenburg Coffee and Cacao Stout.
When leaving Keith’s, return to the waterfront and continue north to Halifax’s Historic Properties and Gahan House Harbourfront. Gahan House started in the heart of Charlottetown, PEI in 2001, offering craft beer and food, and in 2014 expanded to open a brewpub on the waterfront in Halifax.
In addition to their house-brewed beer they offer a selection of other craft beer and cider as well as an upscale pub menu and oyster bar. Gahan House also has a patio offering an expansive view of the harbour.
As a side note, the brand has two more brewpubs in New Brunswick with another one opening this year.
- My top pick here is Vic Park Pale Ale.
2 Crows Brewing
Now it’s time to work off some of that food and drink by a 10-minute walk and climbing one of many hills in the city to 1932 Brunswick Street, home to one of Nova Scotia’s best new breweries, 2 Crows Brewing.
The brewery has been open for just over a year and has been named one of the top 50 new breweries in North America by BeerAdvocate. 2 Crows shook up the scene by brewing unique beers using foedres and wild yeast and all kinds of fruit. The taproom space is industrial and expansive and allows patrons to observe work in the brewhouse without any barriers save a bar.
- Pollyanna is a great beer to get here.
Propeller Brewing Company
Next stop is Propeller Brewing at 2015 Gottingen Street, about five minutes away from 2 Crows. Propeller is one of the oldest brewers, having opened here in 1997.
Propeller has brought in a new head brewer to refresh the brand and added new beers on to their award winning lineup. The tap room offers a lot of their beers to try.
- A top pick is Propeller IPA — not any crazy hops, just a good IPA.
Next stop will take you to Rockbottom Brewpub at 5686 Spring Garden Road. It’s about a 20-minute walk south that takes you past Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, a star-shaped fortification atop the city, and Halifax Public Garden, a historic English garden. It may be a good time to have a small break and visit one of these prior to continuing your brewery visits.
This downstairs brewpub creates unique beers and outstanding food in an intimate environment.
- I love going here to eat and my brew of choice is the Fathom IPA.
Almost next door to Rockbottom is Stillwell Beergarden, a chill hangout when the weather’s nice. Why am I mentioning them? Well back in 2013 Bar Stillwell at 1672 Barrington Street opened for business and became the de facto craft beer bar serving beer from around Nova Scotia, Canada and the world. Last year they opened a brewery and although they’re open randomly they offer some of their beer here at the Beergarden and at their bar.
- A great choice here is a Stilly Pils.
Last stop is at the tiny taproom at Tidehouse Brewing at 5187 Salter Street, about 10 minutes away from Stillwell Beergarden. Tidehouse has become noted for brewing experimental beers. The small bar is cozy and there’s always vinyl spinning and great conversation happening.
- Grab a flight here to end your tour.
Looking for More Halifax Beer?
If you haven't had enough and want more, check out the North End breweries Unfiltered Brewing, Good Robot Brewing and Chain Yard Urban Cidery. All are within a few blocks of each other about 20 minutes north of Propeller.
Still thirsty? You can jump on the Halifax Dartmouth Ferry and check out downtown Dartmouth location of North Brewing at Battery Park and coming this summer New Scotland Brewing, Brightwood Brewing and Lake City Cider.
Please come enjoy my city and drop me a note about how you liked it!
As always, please drink responsibly. No drinking and driving!
Todd Beal follows the craft beer scene closely in the Canadian Maritimes and reports on it weekly on his blog, Maritime Beer Report. He’s frequently asked to comment on television, newspapers and magazines as a craft beer expert. He can be heard Friday afternoons on News 95.7 commenting on beer. Visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @MaritimeBeerRpt.