I love to drink beer, but I have to emphasize that by writing this post, I do not consider myself a beer expert, only a beer drinking expert. However, somehow during the countless chugs of my mini beer mug, I did learn something about beer at the Halifax Seaport Beerfest on Friday evening at the Cunard Center.
First of all, I learned a lot about cider. Much to the chagrin of Adam and the other beer aficionados in my life (I’m talking about you, Kyle Andrus) I actually prefer cider to beer: It is super tasty and easy to drink and it goes with all kinds of food (except maybe apple pie). Ever since falling in love with cider during my travels in Australia I have been really happy to see it growing in popularity.
So, obviously I was really excited to see an entire section on the site plan devoted to ciders and about twenty different ciders to taste at Beerfest. I was privy to a quick presentation on cider by Daniel Emerson of Stonewell Irish Craft Cider before the hoards of people thronged the taps.
Emerson is a Ciderist and he takes his apples very seriously. He treats the making of cider more like the making of wine than beer, even putting the year of the batch on every bottle of cider his company produces.
Emerson emphasizes that the taste of the apples changes every year just like grapes, and it is important to remember this when drinking cider on a regular basis, as the taste may vary year to year. I was lucky to have a quick chat with Emerson during the evening and he talked to Adam and I about the importance of the apples and the fact that there are several different varietals of Irish apples in each of his ciders. He is very vocal about the use of fresh juice in Stonewell cider and not concentrate like a lot of well known cider producers.
Stonewell Cider had two different ciders to choose from at the event: a Dry and a Medium- dry. Both had very distinct flavours, with the medium-dry being more fruity, and you could tell they were made from fresh juices. Hopefully we will see this cider at the NSLC soon because it was amazing!
Now don’t get me wrong, just because I am enamoured with cider doesn’t mean that I did not thoroughly enjoy tasting some of the 250 beers that were presented at the Seaport Beerfest. I learned something about my beer taste: I like wheat beers, and Adam likes IPAs. In fact, when I asked Adam what his favourite beer of the night was, he said “The IPAs, all of them.” Case closed.
Listed below are some of my favourites from the evening. It was interesting to try to many different types of beers and learn about what I like and what I don’t. For example, I do not like double IPAs.
I am also not a huge fan of stout, although I did find one exception at Beerfest. The Malediction Stout is from Montreal’s Le Saint Bock Brasserie Artisanale. It has a super chocolatey taste and was described as “opaque black with notes of chocolate, coffee, and burnt cocoa.” It was delicious, and served with a marshmallow! YUM. Unfortunately, it’s not available at the NSLC (yet) but if you are travelling to Montreal any time soon, you can try some at the Saint Bock Brasserie on Rue Saint-Denis.
Spearhead Brewery is another Canadian craft brewery that is located in Toronto. I tried a couple of their selections, but my favourite was the Hawaiian-Style Pale Ale. It was a wheat ale with a really nice fruity finish and I could have drank about a litre of it! This beer has been a winner for a lot of people, having won “Best Brewery” at Session Craft Beer Festival in Toronto in 2011, 2012, and 2013, a huge feat considering the brewery was only founded in 2011.
The following selection isn’t technically a beer or a cider, but I felt it was worth mentioning. Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer from Edinburgh Scotland has been around for a long time, over 200 years in fact, and I have to be honest, I was totally enticed into trying this beer because of its hilarious name. Though it was a shock to the senses it was delicious! The ginger flavour was very strong, but I surprised myself in really liking it.
Now, what post of The Food Girl in Town would be complete without a mention of the food? There was a great selection of beer-pairable treats from a variety of vendors.
To start our culinary exploration off, Adam and I chose The Stubborn Goat. A gastropub that is opening soon on Grafton Street, The Stubborn Goat served up two selections for Seaport Beerfest: I had the Chicken and Waffles, and Adam had the Braised Pork Belly.
The Chicken and Waffles was delicious! It was basically a taco shell made with a waffle and served with buttermilk corn crusted chicken pieces, bacon corn salsa, and a delectable chipotle cream.
I have to say though, that the Braised Pork Belly was the winner for both Adam and I from The Stubborn Goat booth. It was served on a big fluffy bun with ginger slaw, sriracha, and had crisped sweet potato on top. It was soft, flavourful, and we had to try really hard not to go back for seconds!
Later on in the evening, Adam and I also sampled the selections offered by The Food Wolf, a local food truck. I went with the Korean Tofu Taco. It had a very strong ginger taste, but somehow it worked.
Adam had the Mexican Beef Taco that was served on a fresh corn tortilla with local pork, peppers, jalapenos, and chipolte sauce. The garnish of cilantro on top made the perfect pairing with the heat of the meat, and I thought the taco was the perfect thing to serve with beer!
Overall, Halifax Seaport Beerfest was a real blast! This was the first time that I went to the event, and it certainly won’t be the last. It was great to try beers that aren’t available at the NSLC, although I hope to see Stonewell Cider there in the future! Next year make sure you all Explore. Eat. Repeat. the giant selection of beers at Beerfest. CHEERS!