Island Brews Cruise #BrewedAwakening
I spent the past couple of days on Prince Edward Island, or, as many of us down east shorten it to, “The Island.” Growing up in Nova Scotia with a Cape Breton mom, we also called Cape Breton “The Island,” but PEI is more generally known that way.
There is something brewing on The Island. They stagnated for many years with just one small brewery, Gahan, which grew to become the PEI Brewing Company, now expanded to have Gahan locations in Halifax, Saint John, Fredericton and soon in Moncton. My favourite location is the old brewpub in Charlottetown.
That, as well as their main location for PEI Brewing Company, along with Upstreet‘s cool taproom, are the Charlottetown breweries. Then there is Copper Bottom brewery in Montague, Barnone brewery’s barn in Rose Valley, Evermore in Summerside, and Moth Lane in Ellerslie. Another brewery, Bogside, is planned to be open in Montague, hopefully later this year. I suspect there are more in planning stages.
Apparently there were around 15 breweries on The Island in the late 1800s, so perhaps that will be surpassed this century.
Many of us old beer lovers remember way back when Red Rock brewery tried to make it in PEI in the 1980s, and failed. As I recall, the beer wasn’t all that memorable, but perhaps they were just ahead of their time.
No matter, a lot is happening now. I was in the Charlottetown area on my trip this week, so took a side trip to Montague to check out Copper Bottom, and also popped into C-Town to see Upstreet’s funky taproom and patio.
Cruising down the rural roads in PEI to Montague, running through the gears in the BRUBUG, felt a bit like country pub hopping in England…that excitement about the imminent tasting of good beer in a new setting. It’s quite a thrill for a beer nerd.
Copper Bottom is in a beautiful building, that was the first town hall in 1938, with great views over the Montague River. Their core brands are a Blonde Ale, an APA, and a red, but I also tried their DIPA. I really enjoyed the APA and red. They have guest beers, as well. I sampled the milk stout from Barnone, a tasty beer, but quite dry, not like milk stouts I’ve had in England. They don’t offer food, but you can order in or bring your own. I got some fish taco’s from Red’s food truck across the street.
I headed back to Charlottetown to Upstreet. It’s a great spot, with a nice retail area, and they serve food as well. I was already familiar with their excellent core brands, especially their Commons pils, Do Gooder APA and Rhuby Social fruit/witbier, so I tasted through a sampler of seasonals, including a tasty Saison, and three different IPAs. My favourite was the cleverly named New English IPA, which tasted to me like a traditional IPA from the UK.
If you haven’t been to The Island in a while, get back there soon. It’s still the same beautiful island, only now there’s lots of great beer.