The Island’s breweries come together for inaugural celebration of craft beer

The first week of June marks the first PEI Craft Beer Week. Spearheaded by the PEI Craft Brewers Alliance, it will showcase our Island craft breweries from west to east. On day one, beer buses will travel between the breweries with different brewery start points, allowing beer lovers the option of visiting seven breweries and having their own designated driver to boot. The rest of the week will have a wide range of events unique to each brewery.

For your reference, we compiled a brief look at all the breweries. We also asked Salty writer Rod Weatherbie, local beer aficionado and cicerone in training, what beer(s) he’d suggest trying at each brewery.

The Gahan House: PEI’s first craft brewery started out in The Lone Star Cafe in 1997 and by 2000 Gahan was born. In 2008 an expansion saw the company start to bottle their ales, and in 2014, Gahan expanded to Halifax with the opening of Gahan House Harbourfront. Further expansions now mean there’s five Gahan restaurants (and respective beers) across the Maritimes. After winning a few awards in 2011, the PEI Brewing Company was ‘spun off’ and officially established in 2012.

Rod’s suggested beer: Whatever they have in cask. Trent Hayes has been creating some wonderful ales for the casks and there is nothing like an old-school hand-pumped ale. Some are one-offs and other are variations of established flagship brews. You can be pretty surprised at the results.

PEI Brewing Company: PEI’s biggest brewery, their new brewery opened on Kensington Rd in Charlottetown in 2013. Numerous expansions have since added to their brewing capacity. Now there are over a dozen brews regularly available to buy, with seasonal or limited edition choices on tap each year as well. Their brews are also available across the Atlantic provinces in various restaurants and in liquor stores.

Rod’s suggested beer: Like The Gahan, try the cask or one of the seasonals. The PEIBC is also great at being consistent across all their beers. They have super strict tasting panels and take care to make sure every beer is what it should be. Their traditional style ales are all good examples of the styles they represent. The Iron Bridge Brown Ale is fantastic. The single hop Vic Park Pale Ale is my go-to drink only occasionally interrupted by a 1772 IPA or Raspberry Sour (which just won bronze in the Fruit Beer category at the 2019 Canadian Brewing Awards).

Upstreet Craft Brewery: As a certified B Corp business, Upstreet is determined to brew tasty beer, and be a responsible corporate entity as well. They opened in Charlottetown in 2015 and have four flagship beer regularly on tap, along with seasonal and one-off brews. In 2018, they partnered with a Dartmouth, NS restaurant and opened Upstreet BBQ Brewhouse. They also opened up the Craft Beer Corner in Charlottetown, which features their beer along with many other Island and Maritime brews. Upstreet also produces East Coast Soda, a great alternative for anyone looking for a craft soda.

Rod’s suggested beer: Upstreet is a great example of a small business doing it right by their customers, staff, and suppliers. My anchor beer there is White Noize, which is a white IPA. Lots of flavour in a mashup of styles. The 50% wheat in the grain bill gives this IPA plenty of body that lingers—like you should at the bar at Upstreet Brewery.

Copper Bottom Brewery: Taking over the old Eastern Graphic building in Montague, co-owners Ken Spears and Ashley Condon opened their doors in 2018. They were the sixth PEI brewery and the first brewery in Kings County. Spears is the brewmaster behind their ales, and earlier this year, his namesake beer Ken’s Stout took home the first place medal in the Porter & Stout category at the Down East Brewing Awards in Fredericton. Within seven months of opening, Copper Bottom was canning their beers and you can buy their Centennial Stock Ale, Broadside APA, and Rabble Rouser Red in PEILCCs. Like most microbreweries, they have seasonal and one-off brews, so visiting often isn’t a bad idea.

Rod’s suggested beer: This is a beautiful place to visit. Ken and Ashley have done an impressive job at rehabilitating the old Eastern Graphic building. Absolutely try the Broadside APA. Classic American style pale ale. Just the right amount of hoppy citrus balanced by a slightly elevated ABV. If they ever brew Ken’s Birthday Ale again that’s a close second.

Evermoore Brewing Company: Currently the only brewery in Summerside, Evermore is found downtown on Water St in the old train station. Not quite a year old, it was July 2018 when they first opened their doors, so this is a fresh new brewery establishing itself.

Rod’s suggested beer: Truthfully I haven’t yet been able to try as many of their brews as I have the other breweries. That being said their porter is worth the trip to Summerside for.

Barnone Brewing: The second oldest of PEI‘s craft breweries, Barnone was founded in 2011 by a father and son team Hugh and Don Campbell. Barnone is found in central PEI in Rose Valley, and they create unique ales with their own grown hops. With four year-round beers, and seasonal options, you can fill up your growlers at their brewery, find their brews on tap at local PEI restaurants, and catch them at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market.

Rod’s suggested beer: This is PEI’s original farmhouse brewery. It’s a beautiful location and Don is a great host. Being able to essentially sit in the hopyard while drinking Don’s concoctions is pretty close to Island heaven. I haven’t had a bad brew at Barnone so picking out the best is difficult. Try them all for sure, but I have to pick one so please have a pint of the milk stout. It’s classic, dark, creamy, with a hint of sweetness and all sorts of great deep flavours like cherry, cacao, and coffee.

Moth Lane Brewery: Tucked down a classic PEI mud road on the North Shore of PEI you’ll find Moth Lane Brewing. Established in late 2016, owner and brewer Eric Wagner has just expanded his operation which will allow him to bottle his beer and get it on the PEILCC shelves. The expansion also means an expanded menu of food for patrons to enjoy. Moth Lane is quickly becoming a must-visit spot in rural western PEI.

Rod’s suggested beer: If Barnone is the quintessential farmhouse brewery, Moth Lane is the seaside version. If you have visitors this summer this is a great place to take them. You will get lost and your friends will start to worry about your intentions as you take them down a dirt lane to a metal building. But once inside they will thank you and never forget that trip. For my money you can’t go wrong with The Answer DIPA or The Brown-Eyed Girl Brown Ale.

Bogside Brewery: As PEI’s latest brewery to open, it joins Copper Bottom in Montague. In fact, the two breweries are almost within spitting distance of one another. Bogside has had a long road to its opening, and the final push was to be up and running for Craft Beer week.

Rod’s suggested beer: As Bogside was opening its doors just prior to Salty’s print deadline, I wasn’t able to sample their brews, but I met one of the young brewers and he cut his teeth at Tatamagouche Brewery, possibly the best brewery in Nova Scotia. This bodes well.

In the meantime why don’t you check them out and tell us your favourite?

-Cheryl Young and Rod Weatherbie

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A diverse group of people, the Salty team works hard each month to bring you great stories about PEI's food and farming community.

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