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Pop a Cold One at Halifax Seaport BeerFest

With nearly 200 varieites on offer, this annual festival is heaven for beer lovers

By Trevor J. Adams

Taps Magazine picked Halifax’s as Canada’s “favourite beerfest” and it’s not hard to see why. Running from August 5 to 6, the Halifax Seaport BeerFest on Marginal Road features some 200 beers and ciders from around the world.

Now in its fifth year, the festival has been growing steadily and is now a beloved rite of summer for the city’s committed tipplers. “For the past two years, evening sessions have sold out,” says festival co-chair Bruce Mansour. Organizers are expecting 5,000 attendees
this year.

This year’s highlights include an expanded Quebec pavilion, Baxter Brewing (Maine), King Brewery (Ontario) and Canada’s newest brewer, Spearhead Brewing from Toronto. In addition to the ample array of ales, vendors will sell beer-inspired food on-site. Forget about the stereotypical hot-dog-on-a-barbecue vendors, though. Some of the city’s most popular restaurants will be serving up sample-sized creations. They include Saege Bistro, Fid Resto and Brussels Restaurant & Brasserie.

Once again this year, organizers are offering a Ladies VIP Brew Tour with Mirella Amato. For a $10 surcharge, women can skip the line-ups and enjoy a 30-minute talk, sampling and food pairing.

The weekend kicks-off on August 4 with a one-of-a-kind beer dinner at Brussels Restaurant & Brasserie. Troy Burtch of Taps Magazine hosts. The meal features four courses paired with five festival beers, each introduced by a brewery representative. New this year is the Beer Brunch at The Maxwell’s Plum on August 6 from 10 a.m. to noon. It’s a chance for attendees to meet some of the brewers in town for the festival.

BeerFest Survival Guide
With dozens of vendors, hundreds of beers and thousands of dedicated drinkers, BeerFest can overwhelm newbies. Organizers have provided these survival tips to help you get the most out of the experience (without doing yourself permanent harm).

• Pace yourself. It’s not a race and there’s plenty of beer to go around.
• Protect yourself. The event is predominantly outdoors. Check the weather and bring rain gear or sun block as needed.
• Carry cash. The beer is included in the ticket price but the food isn’t. After a
couple hours, you’ll want food. Trust me.
• Eat before you go. Trying 200 different beers on an empty stomach will end badly.
• Do a quick circuit and pick out some must-try highlights before you start
drinking with gusto. You probably won’t get to try everything, so be strategic.
• Drink water. If you’ve had beer before, this one is self-explanatory.

The Details
Tickets are available at some Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores and online. The cost is $40 per session or $45  at the door. Sessions run Friday night 7:00 p.m. to 9:30pm, Saturday afternoon 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday night 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets sell quickly, so it might be wise to buy in advance. Follow the link for more information.

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