'A lot to show off:' Nova Scotia's craft beer industry steps into national spotlight as 2018 award hosts
Brewers say Halifax landing the Canadian Brewing Awards underlines the quality and economic impact of the province's industry.
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When one of the smallest provinces in Canada has people standing on chairs to cheer for their beer, it’s easy to see why one local brewer says it’s “Halifax’s time” to step into the spotlight.
For the first time ever, the city will host the 2018 Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference (CBAC) next May at the new Halifax Convention Centre, where more than 500 delegates, families, trade show members and more will celebrate the best of the country’s beers and ciders over three days.
“This is a chance to show off, and we’re at a point where we have a lot to show off,” Garrison Brewing president Brian Titus said Wednesday about the 42 breweries around N.S. – the most per capita of any province.
Landing the bid to host the 2018 awards, which were held in Ottawa a few weeks ago, shows just how far the industry has come since Garrison, Granite and Propellor began paving the way more than 20 years ago, Titus said
At the CBAC awards this year three N.S. breweries picked up golds (North Brewing, Uncle Leo’s and Boxing Rock), and Titus said when Halifax was announced as the 2018 location, many got up on their chairs to begin clapping, so “I think people are pretty excited” in the community.
“The feeling among many was this is Halifax’s time,” Titus said.
For Peter Burbridge, co-owner of North Brewing Company in Halifax, it’s “impressive” that not only is Nova Scotia turning out lots of beer (roughly 3 million litres a year), many breweries beat out established names from Ontario and British Columbia for top spots in national awards.
The impact of beer tourism also can’t be overstated, Burbridge said, in light of numbers showing 12 per cent of N.S. tourists in 2016 visited a craft brewery.
Burbridge said the success of craft beer in Nova Scotia is helped by tight-knit communities feeling proud to support their local breweries, knowing the owners, and getting hooked on unique flavours.
“Once you get people to try craft beer and get them sort of switched over they can’t really go back,” Burbridge said.
The day Burbridge said he knew Nova Scotia craft beer was here to stay was actually the day North Brewing opened - even in the freezing January weather, people lined up out the door and around the street corner.
On the national level, Burbridge said at the recent Ottawa CBAC, his wife (and North co-owner) “overwhelmingly” heard from people saying they’ve been meaning to get to N.S. because they’d heard so many good things about the industry.
“People are excited about what’s going on in Nova Scotia, and want to come here and check it out,” Burbridge said.