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!