It’s hard to throw a rock and not hit a craft brewery these days. Nova Scotia is home to more than 70 breweries province-wide and as a result, it has made beer enthusiasts out of people who never thought they would be. With a diverse range of ingredients, flavours, and beer types, there’s truly something for even the most discerning palette.
Nova Scotia breweries make some of the best beers in the country. Is it the locally sourced ingredients, the salty sea air, or the tangible passion of the brewers? Who knows, but beer enthusiasts are certainly paying attention.
Here are a few of my favourite Nova Scotia breweries that you might want to add to your bucket list the next time you visit our beautiful province.
*Please note that some of these beer recommendations may be seasonal and not available year-round.
Tatamagouche Brewing Co. (North Shore)
This heavy hitter in the Nova Scotia craft beer market began in 2014 in a converted old butcher shop on Main Street, Tatamagouche. Eight years later, this brewery has gone on to expand its production facility three times and won over 20 national awards including Atlantic Canadian Brewery of the year in 2019.
Tatabrew, as the locals call it, also boasts an impressive roster of brews. What began with four flagship flavours has grown to eight core varieties available most of the year, as well as a wide variety of seasonal and session ales. Their beautiful taproom has become the epicentre of the town with both indoor and outdoor seating seasonally. While they don’t have a kitchen onsite, you’ll see many patrons chowing down on a hearty sandwich from Dexter’s Butcher Block, which is next door to the brewery. The taproom is also pet friendly.
My Top Picks: Apres Cream Ale. Light, crispy and creamy – it’s perfect with a meal or on its own. The Baltic Porter is probably their most recognized beer; it has won five national awards.
Tatamagouche Brewing Co. is located one hour, and 45 mins outside of Halifax.
Truro Brewing Co.
In the heart of downtown Nova Scotia’s hub is Truro Brewing Company, which opened its doors in 2019. This is one of the few Nova Scotia breweries in the province that is queer-owned and female-owned with a female brewer. They have six flagship beers in rotation and have also done special brews in the past for occasions like International Women’s Day, and Pride Festival. Their current taproom is an intimate setting that is also pet friendly, but they’re also currently undergoing an expansion on their production side.
While they don’t have a kitchen on the premises, they do encourage bringing takeout or having a local restaurant deliver right to their tap room. Their summer deck is always a popular spot to relax with a brew and enjoy the bustling atmosphere of Inglis Place.
My Top Picks: Exit 14 Porter, but honourable mention to their International Women’s Day collaboration – Bad Pickup Limes Ginger Lime Gose which has a really unique and refreshing flavour.
Truro Brewing Co. is located one hour outside of Halifax.
Tusket Falls Brewery (South Shore)
Tusket Falls Brewery has got ‘tasty brews and crafty foods’ at both of its locations. The flagship taproom located in Tusket, on the South Shore in Yarmouth County, opened in 2017. In 2021, they opened a second location in Halifax’s North End which has all of the same brews on tap and menu items. I highly recommend checking out their Tusket location if you have time. It’s beautifully secluded in a serene wooded setting. If you’re a person that really wants food with their flight, this is the brewery for you. Their menu boasts mouth-watering items such as the Double Smash BBQ burger, and War Fries but keep an eye out as the menu is always changing. Their dog-friendly patios are heated and very comfortable for dining, or gathering with friends.
This is also a brewery I’d recommend for those who enjoy adventurous flavours and eye-catching graphic can designs. They always have a great variety of fruity sours, and creamy porters and if you’re a pilsner fan, their Czech-style pilsner is as authentic as it gets this side of the Atlantic.
My Top Pick: Creamsicle Sour which packs a real punch to the taste buds. It’s quite sour but a refreshing citrusy brew.
Tusket Falls Brewery is three hours from Halifax.
Church Brewing Co.
Church Brewery resides in Wolfville, which is considered Nova Scotia’s wine country and has an atmosphere like no other. This beautiful decommissioned church, originally built in the 1840s, has incredible architecture and eye-catching stained glass windows. The building was purchased by the brewery in 2017 but the restaurant and first brew didn’t come until 2019. The owners have created what is truly a sanctuary for beer and food lovers alike. In the warmer months, they have a beautiful outdoor area as well overlooking downtown Wolfville.
You’ll want to come hungry because they have an impressive menu that offers something for every craving with the perfect beer pairing suggestion. If you’re looking for a restaurant atmosphere over a tap room, this is the place for you. Plan ahead and make a reservation for this spot because they’re often fully booked.
My Top Pick: Saltwater Joys Gose which really does taste like it was brewed with the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean, in a good way.
Church Brewing Co is one hour from Halifax in the Annapolis Valley.
Breton Brewery (Cape Breton)
Breton Brewery Co. is just one of the many reasons to visit Sydney, Cape Breton. Located just 10 minutes outside of downtown Sydney, this location houses a spacious tap room with a seasonal outdoor beer garden. Since it opened its doors in 2015, Breton has expanded three times and won four awards, including Beer of the Year for Stirling in 2017 at the Atlantic Canadian Brewing Awards. Their taproom offers nine core brews with a constant rotation of tasty new varieties.
My Top Pick: Sons of Hector Brown Ale with honourable mention to Let’s Jam in all its varieties, but the original strawberry rhubarb is one of the most chuggable summer beers I’ve ever had.
Breton Brewing is four hours from Halifax.
Big Spruce Brewing
On the other side of Cape Breton Island, you’ll find Big Spruce Brewing tucked amongst the trees of the Baddeck area. This brewery began as an old farmhouse that the owners bought sight unseen. What they ended up with was over 100 acres of farmland. They decided to plant a hop yard, and the land was certified organic. This brewery has flagship flavours like Cereal Killer oatmeal stout, Kitchen Party pale ale, Tim’s IPA, and the Silver Tart organic sour raspberry wheat ale, which is genuinely a punch to the taste buds, so pucker up!
While the brewery originally came with a kitchen they planned to use for events, it wasn’t until 2019 that the owners purchased a food truck that became a permanent outdoor cooking facility. This allowed them to curate a menu that complimented their beers. It was important for them to take advantage of local producers and they developed a menu based on what was available from their local farmers. The menu is rotated seasonally so you can plan to visit them all year round. They also added an indoor and outdoor seating area which is reminiscent of an adult clubhouse you want to visit with your friends.
My Top Pick: Cereal Killer Stout is so thick and hearty – you have to try this if you’re a fan of dark beers.
Big Spruce Brewing is roughly three and a half hours from Halifax.
Rare Bird Brewing (Eastern Shore)
You’ll get more than just great craft beers when visiting Authentic Seacoast Company in Guysborough, as it is the first combined brewery and distillery in Canada, but the beer alone is worth the trip. The brewery began in 2016 and boasts custom-designed state-of-the-art equipment, and filtration systems, as well as its own hop yard onsite. They claim it’s the pristine water in Guysborough that makes their beer so good, but they also use a wide range of grains from around the world.
You can enjoy one of the six beers at their Tasting Bar or fireplace lounge. They also offer tours of their impressive facility, but you’ll want to make a reservation ahead of time. You can easily make an overnight stay out of your visit as this is one of the most unique Nova Scotia breweries as they also offer accommodations, as well as other activities like rental bikes and kayaks.
My Top Pick: Party Dove Blonde Ale is a light, refreshing and easy-drinking beer.
Rare Bird Brewing is two hours, and 45 mins from Halifax.
Nine Locks (Halifax Regional Municipality)
Nine Locks Brewing Company actually began in one of Halifax’s popular pub eateries, Your Father’s Mustache. In 2015, they opened their own brewery in Dartmouth, which was intended as a production and retail space only. In 2020, a Halifax location opened offering a casual dining experience with an intimate menu of sharable items in a relaxed atmosphere. Nine Locks now has seven year-round brews with a constant rotation of seasonal varieties. The original Dartmouth location is currently undergoing renovations to include a taproom and larger retail space and will open in 2023.
My Top Pick: Watermelon Blond is such an interesting flavour. You don’t think watermelon would go with beer but it works so well. It tastes like you’re drinking a summer day.
Honourable Mention to Stillwell Beer Bar
While this location is not actually one of Nova Scotia’s breweries, I’ve included Stillwell Beer Bar on the list because it’s a great place to try a selection of Maritime-brewed beers if you’re sticking to the Halifax area. They opened their original beer bar in 2013 in the heart of downtown Halifax and have since expanded to a seasonal beer garden, an old English-style pub, and their own brewing facility headquarters. They also began brewing their own beers in 2017. The beer bar offers 12 rotating taps with the majority focusing on Maritime producers.
The beer bar has a kitchen on site with a menu that’s great for snacking, sharing, or enjoying a full meal to yourself. While it does rotate menu items, there are a few staples like the signature Tokyo fries and fried chicken sandwich that stand out. Their beer taps rotate frequently so you can visit them often and sample different craft beers each time.
Want More Things to Do in Nova Scotia?
I hope you’ve enjoyed pouring over these tasty craft brewery choices but this is just a sample of what’s available throughout Nova Scotia. Find a hop-ortunity to visit as many as you can when visiting our fine province.
While sampling beer at local breweries is always a wonderful thing to do, there’s so much more to Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. For more things to do, check out our guides below: