Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Halifax: Day 3 - A Visit to RockBottom

You can imagine how we all felt Sunday morning: awful. It was going to be a long day. After managing to awake, we checked out of the Four Points and made our way to the Henry House to meet some old friends for brunch.

As I mentioned earlier, the Henry House makes some great food for terrific prices, and brunch is no different. As hungover as we felt, we ordered some food and watched in horror as our Halifax friends ordered pints of McAuslan Pale and Propeller IPA to help wash down their food. I looked around the Henry House just before leaving and found myself already missing it. It has a calming quality to it, providing you with the comfortableness all pubs should attain to possess. Troubled thoughts and hardships seem to disappear the minute you step foot on the staircase that leads you to the downstairs pub, and a feeling of a serendipity takes hold of you. It truly is a magnificent pub.

Back into the sunlight and off to Garrison for some merchandise. Enright and Kebbel picked up some shirts and wearables, while I stuck to some Ol' Fog Burner Barley Wine. Titus provided us with some terrific pint glasses that have the Imperial Pale Ale logo, along with the 2007 & 2008 Canadian Beer of the Year medals logo, etched on them.

With some hours to kill before our flight we decided to head up Spring Garden road to try out the beers from the new RockBottom Brewery. The new bar is located beneath Your Father's Moustache, right on Spring Garden, and not far from Rogue's Roost. Word of warning - looking for a good craft beer from a brewpub? Stick to the Roost.

It is a very attractive place once you enter. New leather chairs, fake wooden beams running from end to end, a large stone encased fireplace surrounded by chairs, large windows looking out into the brewing (fermenting) area, and a nice long bar with an attractive looking draught system that features no tap handles, just buttons that pour the beer to the desired amount. This is all good, and should attract customers looking for a nice restaurant, but it's not a repeat visit for a craft beer enthusiast. And here's why.

We wanted to try all the beers the Rock Bottom serves up, so we each ordered the sample paddle. Six beers came to our table 15 minutes later: Brown Ale, Stout, Red Amber Ale, Wheat, IPA, and a Pale Ale. They all tasted eerily similar, tart and sweet, flat and watery. The IPA was dull and weak. Most Pilsners have more of a hop bite to them then this one. The Wheat, well, it could have been passed off as a Cider. So tart. Apples and lemon in the mouth gave me the old fish face look. Our server came over to the table to clear the paddles and asked us what we thought of the beers. I think she guessed by our blank expressions that we weren't to fond of them so she actually stated that only two of the beers were fresh and the rest have been around since the first batch - December!

The server also let us know that the beer comes from the Gahan House in PEI, but she thought some others were brewed on site. When asked if all the product came here to ferment, she didn't know, but that is what we expect and that is what we had heard from some other Halifax residents. So, the RockBottom is a ferment pub, not a microbrewery.

Up the stairs and off to the airport for our flight back to Toronto. It was a great visit filled with many a good beer. Thanks to Garrison for taking us out around the town. Thanks to Andrew Cooper and Propeller for supplying us with enough drinks for a month and for getting us into the Seahorse. Big thanks to the folks at the Four Points who took care of us and supplied us with some tasty treats. Thanks to the Bill and Donna from the Henry House, and thanks to the the rest of the pubs who took us in and kept our glasses full.


Greg said...

I've heard nothing but bad things about the beer at Rock Bottom. Too bad, especially if they end up being someone's first (and possibly last) experience with "craft" beer.

Also, I wonder how long it will be before the Rock Bottom brewpub chain in the US comes after them with legal threats over the name...

Cass said...

I did notice that they were "RockBottom" but I'm sure that doesn't matter in trademark law.

Regardless - I doubt they'll last long enough to attract the US attention the way the beers are right now!

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