Beers of the Maritimes and Atlantic
The 2019 CanAm Cup of Curling Brew Review
Please find and open a beer before enjoying this article.
The camaraderie we developed during the inaugural CanAm Cup of Curling was special and we should never take it for granted. The degree of camaraderie grew as various groups visited local craft breweries during our time off the ice. We visited more Atlantic Canada breweries in two weeks than most of our opponents will see in the next four years. So, while we may not be the best shot makers, we are surely among the best shot drinkers.
With that said, grab a second beer and join us as we remember the breweries of the CanAm Cup.
Garrison Brewing Co., Halifax, NS
The first morning of the tour we visited the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in North America, founded in 1750. Across the parking lot, at least one of us stepped into Garrison Brewing Co., a relatively large craft brewery in an industrial-modern setting. A dozen beers were on tap and there was a large gift shop. Due to a miserable prior day of travel, jetlag and the early hour, no beers were sampled. Garrison’s Beer was available in some of the later curling clubs and drinking establishments.
Bannerman Brewing Co., St. Johns, NL
We arrived at our hotel in St. Johns midday Sunday. Shortly after that, WhatsApp messages went out from those who found Bannerman Brewing just a block north of the hotel. Bannerman is a relatively small, modern-appearing brewery and coffee house. Fortunately, on a Sunday afternoon the vibe was more brewery than coffee house. Your author chose Sparks Joy Saison which was quite good. Everyone enjoyed their beer here.
YellowBelly Brewery, St. John’s NL
YellowBelly is a brewpub at the top of George Street in an historic building stripped to the original mixed brick and stone walls. The atmosphere was dark and cozy. Steve O’Connor, of course, had the Fighting Irish Red. No one complained about the beer here and we stayed until after the front door was locked to newcomers.
Mill St. Brewery, St. Johns, NL
Mill Street is another brewpub in the first floor of a modern building on St. Johns’ waterfront, part of a small chain of six pubs in Canada extending as far west as Calgary. The look inside was sleek and modern. Their focus was on English-style ales, all quite well-made.
Tide House (Tidehouse) Brewing, Halifax, NS
On our return to Halifax we had a free evening. Many of us headed downtown and we split into small groups for touring in a windy, cold, driving rain. Our group of five focused on breweries. Tide House was the first stop. This tiny brewery had a cramped tasting room manned by the owner/brewmaster/janitor/etc. There were only nine seats at the bar and possibly room for a half-dozen more patrons to stand. Most of the beers were sampled by our group and I heard no complaints.
Gahan House Nova Centre, Halifax, NS
Gahan was around the corner from Tide House and the opposite experience, a large glitzy modern brewpub on the second floor of the Nova Centre. Gahan has five locations across the Maritime Provinces and is part of an umbrella corporation, Prince Edward Island Brewing Co. They featured a fairly wide beer menu selection with English, German and sour styles. The restaurant crew and clientele skewed young and pleasant-looking.
Propeller Brewing Co., Halifax, NS
After a 1.5 km walk into the wind/rain we found Propeller Brewing, a medium-sized craft brewery and tasting room in a stand-alone building. Board games lined one wall. They brew a large variety of styles, all simply named “Propeller” and the style. We saw this brand at some of the later curling club stops.
2 Crows Brewing Co., Halifax, NS
Just around the corner from Propeller we found 2 Crows, another Craft Brewery with tasting room. They brewed everything, as you can see spelled out in block letters on their menu wall. The most interesting beers were their barrel-aged sours which were fermented naturally in the barrel, instead of the usual quicker, simpler kettle-sour method. 2 Crows was many curlers’ favorite brewery of the trip.
Salty Dog Brewing Co., Truro, NS
Salty Dog was only a block or two from Truro Curling Club in downtown Truro, serving a relatively limited menu of decent beers. There was only time for one before the bus delivered us back to the hotel.
Bogside Brewing, Montague, PEI
Montague was the best of all worlds with the hotel/cottages right next to Montague Curling Club and walking distance to two breweries. The first was Bogside, a brewery and cidery only open since May. Despite that, they have won Atlantic Canada’s 2019 Brewery of the Year and Best New Brewery awards. The beers were very good and the enthusiastic owner gave us a nice tour. Since we had quickly ditched the curling club for beer, the club graciously sent their musical entertainment over to the brewery to play for us.
Copper Bottom Brewing Co., Montague, PEI
Two blocks to Main Street then north across the Montague River we found Copper Bottom in the second floor of an older building. The inside was relatively plain and furnished with plain picnic and other tables. I tried the Rye IPA at each Montague brewery to see which was best. Now I’ve forgotten, so will need to go back.
Upstreet Craft Brewing, Charlottetown, PEI
The Packard Rink had the bye Saturday afternoon in Charlottetown, so we snuck out of the games in the third end to walk north about a mile through another gale. We eventually found Upstreet in a modern stand-alone building. Commons Czech-Style Pilsner was the beer to have here or on tap at the curling club. Jay tried on a couple baseball caps, but was unable to find one to fit his by-now-enlarging head. We returned during the 7th end. No one was any-the-wiser and we did not incur any fines.
Picaroon’s General Store, Saint John NB
The bus took most of us downtown on Tuesday night and we split up into smaller groups. The brewery group first visited Picaroon’s which is in a high-ceilinged turn-of-the-last century general store. Their main brewery is in Fredericton and they focus on British beer styles. They had one of the best names for a beer, “Yippee IPA”. A picaroon is an axe-like tool with a point made for handling logs.
Big Tide Brewing Co., Saint John, NB
After a long discussion about directions on the corner outside Picaroon’s, we found the sign for Big Tide across the street. We made the long journey and found cozy brewpub Big Tide Brewing downstairs. It seemed like a good idea at the time to have The Darkening Russian Imperial Stout. It was quite good, as were the beers my compatriots tried.
Grimross Brewing, Fredericton, NB
Another curling club cancelled on us due to ice-making issues, so our great group of officers scheduled us for a tour of Grimross Brewing instead. Once there, brewer Ian gave us the most informative understandable explanation of the brewing process you are ever likely to receive. After that, we retired to the tasting room where Ian served us samples of Cheval D’Or (“golden horse” in French) Farmhouse Ale/Saison which was also on tap the previous evening at Capital Winter Club. Next we tried samples of their flagship beer, Maritime Pale Ale and Tmavy Pivo (“black beer” in Czech). We left after a group photo, but not before purchasing variety four-packs of their Belgian Abbey series. That evening, up to a dozen of us tasted Abbey Singel (Patersbier), Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel.
This was the best brewery of the trip in the author’s opinion. They were making standard interpretations of Belgian and other European styles brilliantly. Grimross was also the last brewery of the trip, as the last two days were a whirlwind of bus trips, curling, banquets and goodbyes.
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This is the space to stay updated with the CanAm 2019 Tour Team. We'll post updates leading up to the event, as well as dispatches from Eastern Canada from Nov 8 through Nov 24.
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