Brewery tours de force

Three of Halifax’s breweries offer tours. It’s a great chance to pull up a glass and see where beer comes from.

Propeller Brewery’s Prop Room is where the mayhem begins.
Propeller Brewery’s Prop Room is where the mayhem begins.

There are five large-scale breweries operating in Halifax---one brewery for every 77,000 people---producing brews ranging from mass-market lager to niche-market barley wine. There is something for everyone.

Three local breweries welcome the public inside for tasting's and, in two cases, education about brewing. Here's all you need to know to choose the right tour for you.

Alexander Keith's
Keith's Brewery has a storied connection to our port city. Named after Alexander Keith, its founder, who arrived from Scotland in 1817. Keith operated the brewery for 53 years and served as the mayor of Halifax three times. The current brewery site was constructed in 1820 and is one of North America's oldest breweries. Even the Halifax Explosion couldn't convince Keith to switch locations.

The Keith's tour transports visitors back in time to 1863, complete with period speech, costume and decor. It combines history, beer and comedy to deliver an entertaining and carefully curated family experience. (It's the only brewery tour in Halifax that children would enjoy.) Tour guests learn about the process in a non-operational stage brewery.

Its greatest strength is accessibility---no preparation is required. You can swing by solo or with a small group during regular tour hours. The one-hour tour is the ideal place to take visiting parents or friends.

The adult ticket price is $15.95 but there are various discounts including family, student and military. Price includes two beers.

1496 Lower Water Street,
1-877-612-1820 ext. 222

Propeller Brewing Company
Propeller's tour exudes authenticity: a tour by beer lovers, for beer lovers.

It begins in the Prop room, located adjacent to the storefront. The Prop room is every guy's dream man-cave, complete with brass-covered bar.

In the winter months you must book ahead with a group of 10-25 people, but July through September there is a drop-in tour from 6-7:30pm every Wednesday. Tours last 90 minutes and cost $15 for drinkers and $7.50 for non-drinkers. Propeller provides its craft-brewed sodas for non-drinkers.

You are encouraged to bring your own tunes, food and even movies. There are no drink limits but staff won't serve people who appear to be drunk. After 45 minutes, tour participants are encouraged to enter the basement and get up close and personal with Propeller's brewing equipment. You follow the brewing process starting in the malt room, head to the tanks used for boiling and fermentation and end at the bottling machine. This tour is ideal for close-knit friends and students because of its casual environment that encourages everyone to sit at one table.

2015 Gottingen Street, 422-7767

Garrison Brewing
Garrison's tour is misnamed--- it's actually a tasting that takes place in the storefront attached to the brewery. You're separated from the brewing equipment by windows and no brewing education is provided.

What you do get is a clean and pleasant environment in which to host a casual event. Garrison's tour takes place in an open space with little seating, encouraging people to mingle, which makes it an ideal setting to celebrate with office staff or colleagues.

The Garrison store accommodates 10 to 75 people for $12 a person, $5 for non-drinkers. You must book ahead of time. Tours last 90 minutes and each person receives five drink tickets. Garrison provides a selection of its handcrafted sodas for non-drinkers. You can bring your own food or order in. The staff is happy to play music from MP3 players.

1149 Marginal Road, 453-5343

Both the Garrison and Propeller tours offer a great way to start off a evening downtown. With three such different tours there truly is one for every Haligonian.

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