What a busy weekend for good beer in Halifax!
Firstly, Stillwell Beer Bar (1672 Barrington) opened its doors officially Saturday. The space has seen many changes since our sneak peek only a month ago. The ten hightop tables give plenty of room to sit while enjoying a pint under the tall ceiling. The well-designed bartop also has plenty of room for people to sit or stand while contemplating their next beer. The 12 taps mounted along the chalkboard wall are arranged from light to dark, as is the beer they are dispensing, and they were turning over quite quickly during the weekend. The well-chosen keg list were from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec (the first time Dieu Du Ciel! and Trou du Diable have been on tap in Nova Scotia, I believe), and about 30 different bottles highlighted the best available in the province. The beer engines at the left of the bar were working overtime on the weekend, dispensing beer from local breweries Granite, Garrison and Propeller.
To complement the excellent beer, the food has to be world-class as well, and chef Graeme Ruppel has risen to the occasion. All of the food items were created to pair with the beer you are drinking, so the focus is on snacks rather than large meals. Highlights are the excellent fried chicken, Baotzel (sweet potato-filled pretzel) and icing sugar-dusted Beignets. The Sunday morning breakfast sandwich with a runny egg, Oulton’s smoked bacon and spicy “Atari” sauce was a hit as well.
The atmosphere downstairs was that of a New York subway station, with tiled walls and benches to match. A small space to chill with friends while awaiting your turn on the pinball machine, which was quite popular all weekend. Be sure to visit this new favourite for craft beer lovers in Halifax. They are open 4pm-2am Mon-Sat (closed Tuesday), and 11-11 Sundays.
The seven casks brought by the brewers were a great diversity of styles, including the Dark Cream Ale from Hell Bay Brewing, Zythos and Chinook dry-hopped IPA from Propeller, Winter Warmer from Garrison, and Smoked Porter from Picaroons. The standouts for me were the Crafty Jack Brown Ale from Boxing Rock, Belgian Apricot IPA from Bridge Brewing, and the winner of the Ladies Choice, the Glenora Whisky-Infused Stout from Big Spruce Brewing.
The Goat was a great venue, as the upstairs was dedicated to the event, while the downstairs was still open for other patrons (and for a post-fest pint), and the full kitchen was open to bring up some nourishment to keep us going.
Once again, congratulations to Stillwell on their opening. Be sure to check their Twitter feed for up-to-date beer lists. And congrats to the Ladies Beer League and Stubborn Goat for the great cask event.