The most joyous of seasons is upon us. No, not Christmas, Halifax Seaport BeerFest! BeerFest is a summer celebration of good beer, good food, friends both old and new, and a whole lot of fun. I was on the job both for my blog and Nova Scotia Tourism [shameless plug: check out my other post about BeerFest!], so I hope you’ll get a complete picture of the beer – and the fun – and be inspired to join me for Round 2 on Saturday.
August 10, 2012
As part of my official blogging duties, I got to participate in the walk-through prior to the event with Stephen Beaumont, renowned Canadian beer expert who blogs over at the World of Beer and is likely the envy of many beer enthusiasts for having one of the greatest jobs in the world. Stephen provided a very thorough introduction to some of the beers, providing detailed information about their composition and how they’re crafted, as well as detailed tastings notes.
When the event opened for ticket holders, we heard a boisterious “Woohoo!” as the crowd poured in. Seriously, people wait all year for this event, and the excitement and enthusiasm were palpable throughout the night.
Especially this guy. He was everywhere, with beer in his giant hand, and an equally big smile.
I am a very amateur appreciator of beer. I love craft- and microbrews, but honestly don’t know much about how they’re made – other than “well” or “badly.” The Oatmeal Stout from St-Ambroise was a revelation. A hearty brew, that’s complex, but very tasty.
We had a lot of fun with the servers, too. They love their brew and were very confident we were going to love it as much as they do. They were right.
I got to the table for À l’abri de la Tempête just in time to taste the Écume, a light, fresh beer, perfect for drinking alongside the ocean.
I also got reacquainted with my Ontario friend, Beau’s Lug•Tread Lagered Ale. They had a number of delicious brews with them, which I’ll meet on Saturday night when I return.
And, of course, I got to Scotland’s Brew Dog for the Hardcore IPA. This beer was not joking around. It was a complex blend of hops and aromas, and had so much going on, I was reminded of a wine tasting. There was a lot going on, in the best possible way.
The good folks at Pumphouse Brewery let me go around the bar to check out their fun, distinctive fire hydrant beer tap. I also tasted their Thai Wheat, the seasonal brew of the month for August. They called it, it’s perfect for the spicy, savoury complexity of Thai food.
There were also plenty of delicious discoveries. Like the Hawaiian Style Pale Ale from Toronto’s Spearhead Brewing. It’s made with pineapple, so I’m fairly certain it can also count as a fruit serving as part of Canada’s Food Guide.
So, is BeerFest all beer? Not by a long shot. There’s tons of great food from our friends at Saege Bistro and Scanway, Fid Resto, Bramoso Gourmet Pizza and Sober Island Oysters. I’ve sampled everything they’re offering over the past few months, and have made the food a big part of my BeerFest experience. The chicken tacos from Saege are divine, and I’m going to have Fid’s slow-cooked pork sandwich tonight. I ate one almost daily during Tall Ships 2012, and I’m really looking forward to having one again.
There’s also plenty of entertainment to keep folks occupied between samples. My keg-carrying days are behind me (perfected during my time as a server at The Axe, Acadia University’s student bar), but heartier souls can take the beer keg bowling challenge.
And there’s hula-hooping for those looking for a fitness challenge while tasting beer. If music is more your taste, there are different bands playing at each tasting, to set the mood and keep the vibe going.
BeerFest is kind of like one of those quest movies where a group of friends spend the night having separate adventures, only to reconvene at the end of the night and share their incredible, yet different, adventures. This isn’t me just writing nonsense after a night of sampling beer. Go check out blog friends Drew Moore and Gillian Wesley of The Local Traveler NS. They both live–tweeted the night and, with the exception of the media walk-through at the beginning, we had completely different experiences! [By the way, I was delighted to finally meet Gillian and Drew in person, they super nice and really fun!]
With the exception of all of the flowing beer, nightfall at BeerFest totally reminded me of my time in Marrakech at Jemaa el-Fna. The sun set and the tents lit up, warm glowing lights, and a steady din of music and people laughing and chatting. I was definitely still in Canada, but the outdoor, market-like feel of the festival created such a fun atmosphere, when the memory popped into my head, I couldn’t help but think, “Yes.”
The BeerFest adventure continues this afternoon and this evening, so be sure to visit Halifax Seaport BeerFest for ticket information. information. I’m going back with a different group of friends to sample the brews that I couldn’t get to on Friday night. At this point, the weather is looking … iffy … so I’ll be kitted out in my raincoat and waterproof sandals just to be on the safe side. With rain gear in place, that leaves me focus on more important matters, like getting to know even more great beers and ciders!
August 11, 2012
Remember how much Canadians like to talk about the weather? Saturday night’s tasty was under slightly different circumstances. Friday was hot and sultry, Saturday was misty, foggy, and spooky. The weather was no deterrent for the crowd, people just rolled with the weather by wearing ponchos and Sou’westers to keep the rain at bay.
I had just as much fun on Day 2 of BeerFest, doing to rounds to get to the beers I missed the previous evening as well as the ones recommended by Jim, Jocelyn, and Todd in their video wrap-up.
Got some important business out of the way, too. Fid Resto, one of my favourite Halifax spots, has been tormenting me all summer (in the best possible way) with their slow-roasted pork bahn mi-style sandwiches. I have suggested this sandwich should become the official sandwich of summer in Halifax. Let’s do this!
I finally got to sample some Granville Island Brewing, all the way from my beloved Vancouver.
This is definitely among the best beer labels of the show. La Vache Folle (the mad/crazy cow) from Microbrasserie Charlevoix is a milk stout which was nice for such a misty evening.
I ended up trying both of these by the end of the night. The Spring Oddity lives up to its name. With heather and juniper berries, it’s a perfect cottage beer.
Ok, time to nap, it’s been a crazy weekend!
I would like to thank Halifax Seaport BeerFest for inviting me to participate in this year’s festival and for providing a media pass for the Friday night portion of the event. Any time I receive a discount or complimentary service in my capacity as a travel blogger, I disclose it.