FOOD AND DRINK
Diving Into Halifax's Craft Beer Scene With the Ladies Beer League
When craft beer lover Pam Crouse started Halifax’s Ladies Beer League in 2013, she wanted to create a group that was nurturing and hands-on, a group that a newbie wouldn’t be afraid to join. There were other groups in town, but they were a bit competitive and not as inclusive of those who didn’t already know their lagers from their IPAs. Crouse expected maybe a handful of friends and family to turn out to support the first event she planned at Garrison Brewery (where she works in sales and promotions). Instead, 101 women lined up get in. “It proved to be a phenomenally popular concept right out of the gate,” she says.
With membership now hovering around the 200 mark, the League is incorporated as a not-for-profit complete with a board of directors. The group packs out every event it holds, so be sure to buy a ticket in advance if you want to take part while visiting.
Halifax is a craft-beer loving city, where it seems new brewers are setting up shop every few months. Whether or not you can tag along with the Ladies Beer League, here are some of Crouse’s favourite places to sample what’s tasty in the Halifax craft beer scene.
The ultimate destination for beer lovers in this city, Stillwell is a beautiful bar where you can hang out and learn about East Coast beers while nibbling on jazzed-up bar snacks such as duck-fat popcorn and Tokyo Fries with Atari Mayo. You’ll find 12 rotating beers on tap, as well ask a selection of cask and bottled ales. Says Crouse: “They bring in such variety, what they’ve created is astonishing. It has a bigger city feel than any other establishment in Halifax, and there’s a great range of beers from Nova Scotia and beyond.”
1672 Barrington Street, 902-421-1672
This brewpub offers an ever-changing menu of six beers on tap, and despite the fact it is located in a basement, it offers a lovely environment of big leather armchairs and fireplaces, just perfect for spending a cozy evening in. Rockbottom just launched a beer – an imperial red – that was developed in collaboration with the Ladies Beer League.
5686 Spring Garden Road, 902-423-2938
A couple of boys “from away” (a Maritimes term used to label anyone not from there) with big dreams recently opened a craft brewery that people are really excited about. “These guys are very fun, very young, and they’re doing things a little bit different,” Crouse says. “The fun thing about craft beer is that you have to find your niche, and they have the hipster market cornered with beers with names like Goseface Killah (a sour and saline ancient ale type) and Tom Waits for No One (a breakfast stout), and focusing on the kinds of beer you’d never see from bigger brewers. They’re keeping it fresh and it’s exciting to see them flourish.” Good Robot is set to open a tasting room in early fall, but right now you can grab a take-out bottle or growler to try their brews.
2736 Robie Street, 902-446-1692
Operating out of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, since 1997, Gahan House crossed the Northumberland Strait last September to open a second location on the Halifax waterfront. “Brewmaster Karen Allen has a lot of leeway to create beers that are sold just in this location,” Crouse says. “When the sun is shining, there’s no better spot to sit and sample handcrafted beer than on the Gahan House’s huge deck as you watch the sailboats and tankers making their way in and out of Halifax Harbour. They offer a full food menu too, and their “brown bag fish and chips” is especially tasty.
1869 Upper Water Street, 902-444-3060
Lion & Bright
This cheerfully spacious bar/restaurant/coffee shop prides itself on presenting beers that aren’t commonly found around here, such as the many-award-winning Picaroons from Fredericton. “It’s really exciting to see a place in Halifax adopt a New Brunswick brewery and bring that here,” says Crouse, who loves meeting friends here in the daytime because it is such a fun place to hang out. Lion & Bright offers a small but perfectly formed food menu too, and often offers beer and food pairings on its specials board.
2534 Agricola Street, 902-496-0022
For more information on Ladies Beer League events in Halifax and beyond, visit www.ladiesbeerleague.ca