Eat & Drink / Halifax History August 2, 2022

A Brief History of Craft Brewing in Halifax

Craft beer. It’s as much a part of the East Coast experience as rain, salt water and donairs. Over the past decade craft beer has boomed in Halifax, but to understand where we are, we must first look at where we’ve come from.

Let’s start by paying homage to the man who started it all: Alexander Keith. Nova Scotia’s founding father of beer began his education as a brewer in the UK at the age of seventeen. After several years Keith migrated to Halifax where he purchased the now famous brewery building on Lower Water Street in 1822.

The popularity of beer grew steadily in Halifax throughout the 1830s and 1840s in response to the abolition of the slave trade in the West Indies in 1833, which reduced the availability of sugar needed for making rum, which had been the traditional beverage of choice for Haligonians up to that point.

Throughout the rest of the 1800s and 1900s, the Alexander Keith’s brand remained alive and well, and by the 1990s, Keith’s IPA was the most popular beer in Nova Scotia. But something else was brewing in Halifax: a new philosophy of brewing smaller batches of beer with a focus on a richer, more distinct flavour.

The first true craft breweries in Halifax were the Granite Brewery, established in 1985 and later Propeller Brewing Co. and Garrison Brewing Co. in the late 1990s. Since the early days of independent brewing in Halifax, the city has seen a craft beer renaissance, resulting in an enormous economic and cultural boom.

Beer drinkers in Halifax now have the luxury of choice and quality. Local breweries use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, like Nova Scotian oysters used in the stout brewed by Sober Island Brewing Co. Craft beer often has a higher alcohol content than their mass-produced counterparts, and consumers can try new brews and enjoy something refreshingly different for every season. And the best part is that it all happens right around the corner.

THE LEGEND OF SOBER ISLAND

Legend has it that Nova Scotian sailors would toast the discovery of new lands. As you can imagine, navigating the archipelagos of the
Eastern Shore led to more than a few raised
glasses. By the time they reached Sober Island, supplies were understandably short and only one name seemed appropriate: Sober Island.

Sober Island Brewing Company
22462 NS Trunk 7, Sheet Harbour | Eastern Shore

ON TAP: Try the Ten Thousand Pound Pilsner from Good Robot Brewing Co.

In 2015 Good Robot Brewing Co. bought
10,000 lbs of astroturf from an elementary school field for $300 on Kijiji. Since then, thousands of people (and other creatures) have played and partied on that very same astroturf.

This easy-to-drink pilsner pays homage to the roots – or lack thereof – of this perennial local-favourite brewery.

Good Robot Brewing Company
2736 Robie St | North End Halifax

Looking for more Halifax breweries?

Check out this list of Halifax Craft Breweries That Will Cure What Ales You, or find out Which Halifax Craft Brewery Should You Visit? with the help of this handy flowchart from the Official Halifax Visitor Guide 2022.

Check out the complete list of craft breweries in Nova Scotia at nscraftbeer.ca.

Which Halifax Craft Brewery Should You Visit?
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