Beer Bars/Restaurants

It’s a little hard to believe for some of us, mostly because we realize it’s further evidence we’re getting old, but it’s now been a decade since word spread through the craft beer-loving community in Halifax that we were getting a “Beer Bar.” Not that everyone knew what that meant, given that such a thing didn’t really exist in the Atlantic region at the time. Sure we had some brewpubs, a few brewery taprooms, and a couple of places (RIP Tom’s Little Havana) that were known to take beer more seriously than, say, the Dome or the Lower Deck, but this was going to be a place where beer was going to be the focus. A wall of taps; ten or a dozen. Special attention for local brews. Given that there were fewer than 30 craft breweries in the region at the time we weren’t even sure how that was going to work. A bottle list. A what now?! Hand pumps and casks. Whaaaaat??! We heard it was being run by some folks who’d worked at Bar Volo in Toronto, which gave locals who’d been there some clues. But in the great tradition of, “Do we really want Toronto things in Halifax?” that also caused some consternation. So did, “bar service only,” at least until we learned to appreciate the efficiency.

Opening in November, 2013, Stillwell proceeded to be a big part of changing the landscape of craft beer enjoyment in our region. They hired friendly staff that knew beer and/or were willing to learn and share their knowledge. Even though the kitchen was small, they found staff who made the most of it. They introduced many of us to tap takeovers, Belgian beers, themed events (The Stillwell Open!), and great beers from New England, Ontario, Quebec, BC, the UK, other parts of Atlantic Canada, and more. They pioneered a beer garden; twice. They opened a British-style Pub, the Freehouse. They survived the pandemic. Now the empire has extended to producing beer of their own at Stillwell Brewing Co. We figure the only mistake they made along the way was not calling it “Stillwell’s” because, frankly, way too many people still call it that.

But it all started at HQ on Barrington Street in November, 2013, and that’s where they’ll be celebrating this weekend. Friday and Saturday, from noon until late, there’s going to be a party. We’d like to say a big congratulations to the team and all who have helped in their success over the past 10 years. Stop in and raise a glass with friends old and new as we enter the second decade of Stilly.

Here’s the opening taplist for Friday at noon:

  • Stillwell Brewing Co – Stilly Pils
  • Stillwell Brewing Co – Czech 10º Lager
  • Stillwell Brewing Co – Czech 13º Dark Lager
  • Boon – Gueuze
  • North – Saison de Chardonnay
  • Tatamagouche – Carmine
  • Trailway – Seeing Citra
  • 2 Crows – Unnamed New IPA
  • Burdock – Ducks IPA
  • Unfiltered – Exile on North Street
  • Unfiltered – RSMA
  • Stillwell Brewing Co – Auld
  • Blood Brothers – Under a House in Northern Italy

When those kegs kick, there are plenty more waiting in the wings, including: 

  • Stillwell Brewing Co – Preach
  • Oud Beersel – Rozenlambiek
  • 2 Crows – Alright Alright Alright
  • Burdock – Good Grapes Fredonia
  • Tusket – Only NEAPA
  • Saint Andrews – Southbound IPA
  • Tatamagouche – Deception Bay
  • Trailway – HuJon Hops
  • Lone Oak x Banished – Mustard Pickles TIPA
  • Tanner – Altbier
  • Blood Brothers – Unify or Die

There will also be delightful things pouring by the glass whether you like special beers, cider, or natural wine, and something from Revel will also be on tap, although what, exactly, is yet to be determined. Of course there will also be tasty treats to snack on, as Joe and his team load up a “Best Of” from their years in the kitchen. There will be a full contingent from the blog both days, we hope to see you there!


After months of waiting, residents of Fredericton (and beyond) can breathe a sigh of relief – the King Street Ale House, the newest restaurant/beer bar in the city, has finally opened! Yesterday afternoon (November 13th), the doors were opened to the public for the first time.

Located at 546 King St. in downtown Fredericton, the restaurant is owned by Doug Williams and Shane Fraser. Doug and Shane previously owned a popular restaurant in Fredericton that was closed due to a fire in early January; in many ways, the KSAH is an improvement on that location, with a bigger menu, more seating, and most importantly… more beer!

SPEAKING of beer, the KSAH will definitely not disappoint. The tap selection is one of the largest in Fredericton, with 24 draught lines, featuring lots of local beers including Grimross, Picaroons (with an exclusive beer brewed just for the KSAH, a Smoked Porter called “Ember Ale”) and Pump House, along with other Canadian breweries, such as Unibroue and McAuslan. Throw in several European offerings (Delirium Tremens, Mort Subite Kriek, and Erdinger Weissbier, to name a few), and you’ve got a lot of great beer on tap!


The beer storage room!


Front seating area


A few of their many taps…

What about the bottle selection? Yeah, you’ll probably like that, too. Featuring over 140 different beers from all over the world (heavy emphasis on Canada, the U.S., and Europe, of course), many are beers that you normally can’t find in New Brunswick. With styles ranging from English Bitters to Imperial IPAs to Schwarzbier, the only problem beer drinkers will have is deciding WHICH beer(s) to order.

The large menu looks fantastic as well, with a strong emphasis on barbecue. The KSAH has a new smoker capable of smoking up to 240 lbs of beef, pork, chicken, and cheese… and more!

I think it goes without saying that we’re very happy that Doug and Shane are back with another beer bar/restaurant for Fredericton, and wish them the best of luck with their new location! Follow the KSAH on Twitter and Facebook for beer and menu updates. Their hours are 11:30 am – 12:00 am Monday to Wednesday, 11:30 am – 1:00 am Thursday, and 11:30 am – 2:00 am Friday and Saturday (closed Sundays).

Stillwell Logo

I recently had the chance to sit down with Laura and Andrew, who, along with Laura’s brother Chris, will be opening Stillwell Beer Bar soon in Halifax. Located at 1672 Barrington Street, the bar will focus on local craft beer (to steal a line from Rattle N Hum in New York, “No Crap On Tap!”), paired with fresh, local, seasonal food. I had read lots about the bar and owners Andrew, Laura and Chris from a few articles published in the summer (from The Chronicle Herald and The Coast, to name but a couple), but I wanted to delve into the beer side of things (that’s what we’re all about here, after all).

I first asked Laura to tell me a bit about her history with beer: how did they get into craft beer?

Andrew and I met working at The White Horse on Parson’s Green, a pretty famous London beer bar with critical acclaim. (Andrew: Imagine discovering beer at a bar with 8 English casks, St Bernardus and co. on tap and a yearly American Beer Festival featuring Stone on draft). A job working there meant weekly training, typically on beer though sometimes wine and spirits – brewers and reps would come and give a breakdown and tasting on their brands and it really opened our eyes to the beer world. We also had the opportunity to do staff training in Brussels, touring local bars with reps tasting their wares, and touring Cantillon. We also attended Oktoberfest – one of the best times I’ve had in my entire life.
Chris states an interest in beer sparking in his early twenties when buying growlers of Propeller and noting that, hey, this stuff is way better than Faxe (ha!).

Stillwell Bar

Work goes on preparing the bar, future home of 12 taps and 3 casks

I then asked about the impetus behind Stillwell: What brought you (back) to Halifax, and why open a beer bar?

Laura: Chris and I are originally from Halifax, though have been living away for a few years – we’ve seen the craft beer scene growing and growing every time we came home, but hadn’t yet seen the type of bar we would see in other cities – a beer bar to celebrate the best of local brews, and fantastic beers in general. Halifax has such a rich history in beer, and I think every city like that needs a home to showcase great products – we’re really excited to be setting up a place that brings together our favourite elements in a bar, and our favourite beer.

Stillwell Beer Bar, with stairs leading below and the kitchen in the background

Stillwell Beer Bar, with stairs leading below and the kitchen in the background

When I visited mid-September, lots of work was still taking place, including building the bar top. It will feature 12 rotating taps, and 3 beers on cask. They will be highlighting the best of beer from the Maritimes, with a strong focus on the non-mainstream and one-off experimental beers that brewers are putting out. They hope to expand their reach further West and South as well, with great beers from great breweries in Quebec and Ontario, and maybe even Maine. With so many new and upcoming small breweries in the area, I’m sure they will be well stocked with a great variety of interesting and exciting beers not available elsewhere. In addition to the casks and kegs, they will stock about 30 different bottles, again from local and further afield, to complement the draft selection. From Andrew’s experience working at barVolo in Toronto, they will be sure to have something for beer lovers of all stripes and persuasions.

Food-wise, the focus will be on small bites, rather than large format meals, and will be prepared, or paired, with the beer currently pouring, and made with an eye for local and seasonal ingredients. This will allow patrons to try several different tastes and food experiences while they enjoy their beer. The layout of the bar will have a couple of large communal tables, and plenty of stools and ledges, encouraging the community aspect of enjoying a pint with friends, old and new. They’ve got a sound system in place, being fed by a vinyl player right by the bar, going for good, not loud, music.

To stay up-to-date with the bar’s progress, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and check back here, as we’ll be sure to let you know when they open. Welcome to our neck of the woods, Stillwell, we’re excited to have a seat at that bar soon!