Nova Scotia’s Small-Scale Coastal Brewing Traditions

Mark DeWolf

Halifax has deep-rooted beer making traditions connected to our coastal origins. Of course, we all know the story of Alexander Keith’s. The brewery was founded in 1820 by Alexander Keith, one of the most influential figures in our city’s history. His signature Alexander Keith’s IPA (India Pale Ale) became the preferred drink of those working on the waterfront. Almost 200 years later, Keith’s remains the city’s most purchased brew, but what was once a small brewery is now owned by Labatt’s, which is itself part of InBev, the world’s largest brewing conglomeration.

Over the last decade, the job of celebrating our artisanal brewing and coastal traditions has mostly fallen on the more than 30 microbreweries that dot the province and Alexander Keith’s has also recently revived its brewing traditions by launching a series of small-batch brews, made at the original brewery location on Lower Water Street in Halifax. Amongst the beers launched as part of their small batch series is Alexander’s Keith’s Cornerstone Edinburgh Pale Ale.

Nova Scotia’s own Boxing Rock, Hell Bay and Spindrift pay homage to their coastal origins in the names of their breweries. According to the brewery’s website, Boxing Rock is a term used to describe where “bickering seamen were left by their captain to sort out their differences.” Hell Bay is named for the body of water near the brewery’s original location, a 150-year-old barn Cherry Hill Beach on the shores of Hell Bay. Dartmouth’s Spindrift, owned by beverage alcohol industry veterans Andy Armstrong, Andrew Bell and Rob Green, go so far as to say, “born and raised on the East Coast, we’ve always been surrounded by water. Not only has this shaped who we are, it’s led to our greatest passion in life, making craft beer!” It’s a passion shared by many local brewers, some of whom proudly wear their pride on the labels of the beer.

Five Local Brews that Celebrate Coastal Connections

1. Tata Brew North Shore Lagered Ale

This brew, named after the breweries’ North Shore location, is made in the style of Kölsch, a German ale from Cologne that is cold conditioned much like a lager.

2. Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale

Although the brewery has moved to Liverpool from its original location near Hell Bay, it still proudly displays its coastal connections. This is a unique Dark Cream Ale that uses dark roasted malts instead of the typical pale malt to create a brew that has a roasted malt profile but is still light in body and soft, in keeping with more traditional interpretations.

3. Spindrift Coastal Lager

Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewery may be landlocked in its Burnside Industrial Park location, but they show off their coastal pride with every brew they make. This is a German-style amber lager made in the Festbier style. As Spindrift says, they are “putting craft back into lagers.”

4.Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale

This beer is not only a showcase of creative word play, it also tells a unique story. This coastal inspired Pale Ale is made with fresh citrus zest and green tea, lending it a unique and appealing fragrance.

5. Garrison Hoppy Buoy IPA

Garrison’s newly re-branded IPA is a vibrant and characterful brew with ample citrus and tropical hop inspired aromas, and finished with drying but not overpowering bittering hops.

Next Week

We offer a new view on seafood and drink pairing as we match local brews with some of our favourite fish dishes.

Occasions Recommends

  • Tata Brew North Shore Lagered Ale, 4 x 473 ml $16.95
  • Hell Bay Dark Cream Ale, 6 x 355 ml $14.50
  • Spindrift Coastal Lager, 4 x 473 ml, $13.99
  • Boxing Rock Hunky Dory Pale Ale, 6 x 341 ml, $13.49
  • Garrison Hoppy Buoy IPA, 6 x 341 ml $13.79
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0