Alex is the brains and visionary behind Local Connections Halifax, a quarterly print and online magazine that highlights the best of Halifax, in all categories (shops, food, beer, crafts, everything!). In addition to the magazine, Alexander also hosts and helps promote events all over the HRM (remember Sausage Fest?). The Autumn edition of the magazine has a wonderful feature on The Golden Age of Craft Beer in Nova Scotia.
ACBB: Please tell us a little about yourself and Local Connections Halifax.
Alex: My background at Local Connections Halifax is that I started the magazine about 1.5 years ago with no experience, and have begun doing events right from the get go. At this point in our brief history, we have accumulated a lot of data/experience doing events successfully, and are now looking to apply our findings to what we do to make our events even better. There hasn’t been any outward pressure to improve, but we simply roll this way.
My interest in beer comes from my first bottle of craft beer which was Shaftebury’s Rainforest (in BC). From there I just started liking beer and began to try others. I am not in any way a beer expert, but I do enjoy drinking craft beers on regular basis and have tried quite a few. On the food end, I probably began a slow transition towards good food, which is often local, probably as far back as 20 years ago. At some point, you have to concede that not all food is equal, and at some point, realize that some of it really isn’t food in the first place. Obviously having a name like Local Connections Halifax implies a support-local mandate, but the truth is, we have a quality-first mandate which is then supported by a support-local one. I think this differentiates us most other buy-local groups.
Please tell us about the January 16 event.
The previous event (Meet Your Local Spring Gala), from the public’s perspective, was that it was a great event, and the format of having 7 themed rooms is something we are keen to continue. The Gala actually showcased the most local producers in the Halifax Club’s 150 year history, and to my knowledge, no one has ever has 7 differently themed rooms, or host the diversity of people entering the building. As event organizers, we enjoyed ourselves, but have instead choose to look at where we can improve. With a bunch of people having told us that the Gala was one of the best events they’ve ever been to makes us very happy because we know we can do much better.
So, the Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration will be more refined in terms of quality and experience. Obviously the focus will be the beer, but we will have cider, entertainment, contests at the event, and lots to eat. Our goal is to have an event which exceeds even our own expectations. This might sound odd, but what we’ve learned is that when you surround yourself with like-minded folks and let them run with it, you end up with something pretty amazing. We saw this firsthand at 3 of the pop-up events during Sausage Fest.
At the moment, for the most part, what you see on the website is pretty much where we are right now. On the breweries end, we are aiming to have as much of the complete product line-up as possible, and in the cases of most breweries, have them make a cask or two for the Cask Room. Jeremy at Big Spruce is keen on doing a home brewers contest prior to the event. We’ll also be requesting that the breweries do some sort of collaboration on their casks. As an example, I have asked Boxing Rock to work with Avondale Sky Winery. We will also have the chefs and dessert makers cook and bake with beer, with the exception of the Stubborn Goat who will be using apples and cider with pork.
Thank you to Alex for the additional details. We can also tell you that almost every packaging brewery and cidermaker in Nova Scotia will be in attendance, as well as all three HRM brewpubs. As he mentioned, they have been encouraged to collaborate with the excellent chefs in attendance, so the pairings will be effortless (no need to scoot from the beer room to the food room, food and beer will be right beside each other). One of the most intriguing room is the Cask Room, where many brewers will have a special one-off beer pouring, and there will be Beer Ambassadors roaming around to chat about the brewing process, suggest beer and food pairings, and just chat beer.
Some other details on the evening: the event is all inclusive, and there are only a handful of tickets still available, even with the event two months away. They are expected to sell out this week, so act now if you are on the fence! More details on the “Seven Rooms, Seven Experiences” can be found on the event page. Be sure to follow Local Connections on Facebook and Twitter as more details and sneak peeks are released. We’ve been told that there are still lots of fun details that will be released leading up to the event. And look for the magazine online or at your favourite restaurant, bar or shop.