We live in Nova Scotia’s beer capital, with nearly 20 taprooms, breweries and beer bars in near the downtown core. But even with that bounty, you can’t help but crave something new. Lucky for us, the South Shore is just a short drive away.
As with any time we suggest you take a beer road trip, recruit a designated driver to lead your mission. Thankfully, all of the spots below offer growler fills, cans, and bottles, so you can pay for your ride in beer for later.
Tanner and Co. on Duke
59 Duke Street, Chester
Your first stop, the newest on this list, is about an hour away from downtown Halifax. (Confirm the hours before setting out; they vary in winter).
The cozy tap room seats about 20 amid a classy black and white colour scheme. The tables are close together, so prepare to get chummy with your neighbours. In addition to 12 taps (usually featuring one cider and one guest beer), you’ll find 15 board games to while away an afternoon.
Owner/brewer Dan Tanner has focused on his saisons since starting the brewery three years ago, so you’ll usually find at least one on tap. The Blackberry and Rosemary saison (6.8%) blends sweet, spicy, and earthy for a light beer with a surprising depth of flavour. Don’t miss the massive beer fridge stocked with bottles, including the black-label Reserve Series offering barrel-aged beers like Milk Stout with cherry and almond (8%).
363 Main St, Mahone Bay
Our next stop is about a 25 minute-drive down the shore. This sizeable tap room boasts long wooden tables, so it’s perfect for traveling groups. In addition to beer, you’ll find an array of live music and trivia nights here, and some nearby food stops to order in from. Pop back in the summer to take advantage of the sprawling patio.
Owned by the Mahone Bay Brewing Company, Saltbox is part of a growing family of beer and cider operations. We’ll visit another Saltbox outpost in Bridgewater, and watch later this year for the spinoff Lightship Brewing in Lunenberg, which will focus on foeder brewing and barrel-aging.
A mere 15 minutes away we’ll visit Bridgewater, which offers two stops.
673 King St., Bridgewater
Firk was the area’s original craft brewery, starting on a 300-litre system and retailing at local farmers’ markets. Recently it expanded the tap room to offer more table space and lot of room for dancing at the brewery’s frequent concerts featuring local bands.
If it’s still on when you visit, try the Chill and Sublime. The low chilli heat and added lime juice create a flavour that’s straight out of summer. Drink carefully. It goes down like juice and doesn’t taste like 6% ABV.
King Street Beer Company
463 King St., Bridgewater
Just a few blocks down you’ll find the newest addition to the area. An offshoot of Saltbox Brewing, you’ll find mostly its wares on tap. The other thing you’ll find in abundance at King Street is events. From lobster trivia (yes, it happened last week) to Sunday afternoon kitchen parties, there’s always something on the go here. Wednesday are the big evening with a wing-delivery special from nearby Jac’s Burger and Shakes and radio bingo from 7–8 p.m.
On Sundays, order one of three house beer cocktails, including a twist on the classic Caesar with Lumberjack Ale.
Shipwright Brewing Company
84 Montague St., Lunenburg
Our last stop is the smallest on our mission, but worth the visit. Here you’ll find just a smattering of metal stools along the bar, but the view is what you came for. The tiny brewery is within arm’s reach of the bar, so you get to see how the beer is made.
The newest addition to the tap line is Cross Island Common. This take on a California common-style beer features sweet malts that lend a red-brownish hue to the ale. The hops add herb characteristics while a little candied orange lends the whole event a crisp finish. This beer blends the best of North American and English ales to satisfy fans of either.