2017 FULL HOUSE CRAFT BEER FEST: Put a dent in that growing list of Nova Scotia craft brews you need to try, May 12 – 13
With close to 40 craft breweries dotted throughout this province from Smith’s Cove to Amherst to Sydney, it’s close to impossible to stay on top of all those suds. “Unless you were having four pints a day and travelling everywhere to make sure you get every obscure thing that comes out, there’s no way you can drink all this beer,” says Local Connections owner and Full House producer Alexander Henden.
There is one simple way to at least taste a few blends of most of those brewers, though: head to Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week’s flagship event, the Full House Craft Beer Festival (May 12 – 13). Launched in 2015 by the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, it’s now the biggest gathering of craft breweries in the province.
This year, more than 30 breweries will be at the Halifax Forum’s Multi-Purpose Centre, each maker pouring classics and special concoctions during three-hour sessions on May 12 (6 pm – 9 pm) and May 13 (1 pm – 4 pm, 6 pm – 9 pm). For a $33 early bird or $35 regular ticket, festivalgoers will get a take-home glass and 12 four-ounce samples of any beer they want, though more samples can be purchased.
"A Festival Done Right"
One brewer making his return will be Big Spruce owner Jeremy White, who’s been pouring at the fest since the beginning. “It’s a festival done right and for the right reasons, which are really about the promotion of our very specific industry,” he says of his reasons for returning.
In other words, it’s not really about making bank for the brewers. “We don’t make money on this — in fact, at the end of the day we probably lose a little money,” says White. “But we see nothing better in terms of an opportunity all year to invest time and effort on behalf of the Nova Scotian brand.”
The 2017 Full House format will be the same as previous years. Breweries will be set up throughout the 18,000-square-foot room, and ticketholders can simply wander from stall to stall, sampling what they want and meeting the people behind their favourites. Twenty-seven hundred people are expected to attend over the three sessions this year, up from 1,300 people in 2015 and 2,500 in 2016.
The Focus: Accessibility and Experimentation
That ticket price is relatively low when compared to other beer events in this province — which can run upwards of $60 or more — and that’s done on purpose, says Henden. “The big focus of this event is to make craft beer accessible, to bring as many craft beer drinkers to Nova Scotia’s products and producers as possible.”
And when brewers and consumers come together at an event like this, it’s good for everybody, says White. “I think it blows the consumer’s mind and awakens their senses to just what is out there and how great it is compared with a lot of the beer they’ve probably been drinking to date. For brewers, especially ones trying to do something on the cutting edge, it’s a great stage to showcase that product.”
Big Spruce itself is one of those breweries trying to stay on the cutting edge, and every year it uses the Full House Craft Beer Festival to show off what it can do. Last year, for instance, White and company featured their Russian Imperial Stout “RA RA Rasputin,” a whisky-barrel-aged, chocolatey beauty named after the mystical adviser to Nicholas II. The Beer of the Year honour would be in its future at the 2016 Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards.
RA RA Rasputin will make its return this year, along with a couple of other limited edition, barrel-aged beers and a few of Big Spruce’s stalwarts.
Get Home Safe — and Glowing
With all that craft beer in your belly, you’ll need a safe way to get home or to your next drink safely. That’s why, as with most Local Connections events, a Casino Taxi concierge will be at each session, making sure you get a cab when you’re ready to go.
And when you do get that cab and are on your way, the hope is that you’ll be thinking how awesome Nova Scotia craft beer is, says Henden. “What a fantastic industry and group of experiences we can now have without having to leave this province, without having to go somewhere else. It’s all right here. There are reasons to be enthusiastic about what we have, and I think this event is really able to highlight that.”
2017 Full House Craft Beer Festival
Friday, May 12: 6 pm – 9 pm
Saturday, May 13: 1 pm – 4 pm, 6 pm – 9 pm
Multi-Purpose Centre, 2901 Windsor Street, Halifax, NS
$33/$35 (plus tax and $1.00 fee)
For tickets and details, visit: