|My oldest niece, Genny, married her 10-year boyfriend|
Rory during a service at the Halifax Trade Centre over
the weekend. It was the first marriage for any of my
nieces and nephews... but was being held a second time!
Let me back up. My oldest niece, Genny, married her 10-year boyfriend, Rory in a beautiful service before 50-plus friends and family at the Halifax Trade Centre this past Sunday. She was my first niece or nephew to get married. So that's a pretty big deal. Oddly, while she was seven years old two weeks ago and just entering Grade 2 in Uncle Donny Time, it turns out she's really 29 in Actual Time. I don't know how the hell that happened...
Now Genny is a product of both the Redmonds and the Whelans, meaning my sister, Carly and her former husband Paddy. Now for this event, the Whelans were out in full force - Paddy, brothers Timmy, Danny and Johnny and sister Mary. I have always felt a little sorry for Mary because when the Whelan boys are together in the same room, there is more testosterone and one-up-manship than your average NFL locker room. That said, they're entertaining, cool and very funny guys.
The Redmonds were a little more sparingly represented with her mom Carly, me, our Mom, my boy David... and that was about it.
What the Redmonds, Whelans and now Rory's family, the MacLellan's, all do seem to have in common is a wicked sense of humour. Rory, his Best Man and brother, Genny and Emily kept us all is stitches during their speeches. Which is what this is all about.
But it was left to Paddy to explain why this was their second wedding during his speech. You see, the Whelan clan's Uncle Jimmy was the Archbishop of Halifax. Many months ago, Father Jimmy fell ill and it did not look good.
|David at the front of Garrison's Brewing, a|
Halifax institution since 1997. They have a
damn good IPA called Hoppy Buoy. This was
the first stop on what David called Beer Fest.
So the wedding, the reception and the reconnecting of all the Whelans and some of the Redmonds was completely awesome, as well as meeting all the new folks, particularly the MacLellans. Just a wonderful time and a warm memory that will last a lifetime for all of us.
But while the wedding was on Sunday, we landed Friday afternoon and weren't leaving until Monday afternoon. That left me some play-time. And you know I made good use of it by charting out every craft brewery in and around Halifax for a bit of a tour on Saturday.
Then a request came from Jackie, a long-time family friend and former girlfriend of Paddy's. Hearing of my planned excursion, she asked: Would we mind if her long-time boyfriend, Jeff, joined us? Of course not. If Jackie, very much loved by all of us, is with him, he's a good guy. Beginning and end of story, period. Also, Jackie volunteered to take my Mom on a tour of the coastline at the same time as she had little interest in our brewery shenanigans... so done deal. Win-win. And while David had already named this little excursion "Beer Fest," in the end, he was pretty much right. For me and Jeff, it certainly was.
While Jackie scooted off with my Mom, the three of us piled into the rental - me behind the wheel, Jeff on the passenger side acting as navigator with the downtown Halifax map I had prepared and David in the back as tour guide chatterbox. We started at Garrison's, pretty much right on the Atlantic Ocean.
|One Propeller server, Kordeena, brightened up|
after I asked if I could take her picture. She said
she had been in a crappy mood but having her
picture taken turned it around. Hey, that was easy.
According to the map, the longest drive we would have this day would be from Garrison's to Propeller. With Jeff reading out "turn left here... turn right here", we were there in seven minutes. After that, it was pretty much, "Okay, turn left here and go for... oh wait, I think we just passed it." It was just that easy. We were stunned. Jeff and I are so used to Toronto distances that Halifax distances aren't even cab-worthy. They're walking distances. As we were told by many craft brewery workers on this day.
But Propeller was a lot of fun. I've had their Propeller IPA here in Ontario, which I thought was just okay but never their Propeller Double IPA, which is really good. I'll get to that next time, as it wasn't on their taps, so let's talk about their Propeller Pale Ale which was on our paddle. They call this a British-style pale ale but believe me, it has some nice west coast kick to it. It was bottle-served at the bar in the Prince George Hotel at which we were all staying and after sampling it on the paddle, it was my Home-Base Go-To Brew.
|Jessica from Unfiltered Brewing (recently|
landed out east from BC) took care of all my
hop needs on this wonderful Beer Fest day.
But I have three more Propeller beers to talk about next time, as well as some really stellar stuff from Garrison's so you'll have to hang tight. Or hang loose. I've just landed back here from the East Coast so that Maritime looseness is still upon me. Believe me, it's a different atmosphere... waaaaay more laid back. But my favourite part of visiting Propeller was telling our server, Adam, that his place of business used to be a strip club back in his Grandfather's day. After he laid out some of the brewery's history to the three of us (as any knowledgeable server should), I dropped that little bombshell on him. His eyes lit up. "I didn't know that!" I think his brewery just gained some serious Street Cred in his young mind.
The next stop on our trip was accidental. I had meant for Beer Fest to end at Unfiltered Brewing as it was my primary goal all day. But the next three breweries by geographical order were North, Cool Robot and then finally Unfiltered. The thing is after leaving Propeller, we drove past them all within minutes.
|Yes, despite being in a small strip-mall with only|
two other places and having this huge grain solo
outside, Jeff and I drove right past Unfiltered...
Now let me explain why Unfiltered Brewing was, in essence, my Holy Grail during this trip. More than a year ago, Liam McKenna, the Brewmaster at St. John's, Newfoundland's Yellowbelly Brewing, assured me that once renegade brewer Greg Nash got his new brewery up and running, it was gonna be a hop shit-show. That was confirmed by blushing bride Genny herself, who worked with him at a brew-pub many moons ago. "I love Greg Nash," she told me. "He's a genius." So the dude came with some seriously strong appraisals, both from a pro and family alike.
Was it earned? Oh hellz yeah! These are some of the best IPAs I've ever had in Canada. While Jeff, the stout and porter lover, helped himself to the Flat Black Jesus Stout at 7% and 70 IBUs, I jumped in with the Double Orange Double IPA, a Citra-hop monster at 7.5% and 100+ IBUs. I sipped Jeff's stout and it was outstanding but my Double Orange? Beautiful citrus aroma, tons of fruit on the tongue. This Nash guy knows how to goose the hell out of a hop.
|I happily drank my Twelve Steps To Zion Imperial|
IPA in my room at the Prince George Hotel. From
one hop bomb to another with Unfiltered Brewing...
After we finished, I walked into their retail shop where server Jessica totally talked me into buying a one-litre (34 ounce) howler of his Twelve Steps to Zion Imperial IPA as well as an Unfiltered tulip glass. (Not even remotely true. I was the insistent one. Jessica, who recently landed in Halifax from BC, was a sweetheart. I just couldn't buy more Unfiltered product quite fast enough.) Whoa, when I had some at back at the hotel, I learned this one kicked some major ass. On the nose, it's pine, peaches, citrus and hops. On the tongue, the 8%, also 100+ IBU nard-kicker delivers juicy hops and more fruit. Mr Nash is batting 1.000 with me!
|A Good Robot and a Young Boy... David poses near one|
of the vats at Good Robot Brewing painted up as a robot
(I think). It looks a little like a boom-box with legs but
still a great logo and some really good atmosphere there!
To be honest, I don't think Jeff was overwhelmed with his Leave Me Blue Corn Lager, which the brewery describes as a California Common - a style where a micro does their own take on a macro beer, in this case, a pale lager. Well, he didn't say he disliked it but I think he found it far too mild, especially for a stout lover. Keep in mind, too, that many macro brewers use corn (as well as rice and oats) as adjuncts (filler) to save costs. At 5% and 16 IBU, this might be a little too close to a macro beer. However, that said, he loved their Tom Waits For No One Stout. Their 8% stout was perfectly roasty and coffee - right up his alley!
Well, due to my lack of attentiveness, an issue that dogs me in daily life, I found myself in Good Robot drinking two beers that weren't even theirs. But given their hugely accessible-to-the-public set-up, these guys aren't going anywhere. So next time I'm in Halifax, I'll start with them and then go to Unfiltered. And then go back and forth between the two until someone has to pour me into a cab. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I'm just that giving.
|Hey, she's my oldest niece so I have to finish this with|
her, right? After all, an invite to her wedding meant a
fun trip to four really great Halifax craft breweries!!
The 5% Halifax Common Pale Ale was a solid outing by the North crew - a touch of sweetness, spice and fruit on the nose while on the tongue, it was a little more spice and malt on the tongue. Oddly, this is a Summer Seasonal brew for the outfit whereas pale ales are year-round in Ontario. But just looking at their roster, these guys seem to specialize in saisons. Every brewery has their thing. But let's face it - realizing I had another Unfiltered IPA on my paddle meant anything else was merely an appetizer. The 7%, 70 IBU Riddle of Steel IPA was all fruit and citrus on the nose, tons of grapefruit on the beautifully-bitter tongue. Someone call Spinal Tap because Greg Nash also turned it up to 11.
Okay, I'll be back in a day or so with a closer look at what I had from Garrison's and Propeller because these guys aren't resting on their 20-year histories, cranking out fresh new and very cool stuff at every turn. And probably a couple more wedding bits because it was so much fun and Halifax stories because that's the farthest east in Canada I've ever been. But one thing I did learn watching late-night TV in my hotel is that there's still phone-sex ads. Really? These days, what kind of twisted bastard enjoys talking on the phone? But guys and dolls, that's it, that's all and I am outta here! Until next time (very soon), I remain, as always...