During my recent trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I decided to visit the famous Alexander Keith’s Brewery and attend their brewery tour. I confess that it was one of my first brewery visits, but it left a unique impression on me and set a benchmark yet to be defied by other breweries. First of all, this is not your typical tour where you are led through the facilities, educated on the history of the brand and their beer making process and then given the opportunity to try some of the beer samples. Alexander Keith’s tour is more like an interactive show in which you also play a role. Just as a side note… I will not describe the tour in step by step detail simply to not spoil the experience….assuming that one day you will go there as well.
During your journey, you take on a role of a visitor from ‘our’ time who somehow ends up in the 19th century Halifax, right when Mr. Keith was doing his brewing magic. The experience takes place inside the old Alexander Keith’s house and the neighbouring Keith’s beer production facilities. As you make your way through various rooms and buildings, you get a chance to meet some of the actors, portraying the people who played a significant role at Keith’s brewery. Each one tells you a few interesting facts about Keith’s brewing and the impact it had on our culture. They also talk about their responsibilities around the facilities and usually get you to do something related to the brewing process… like assess the barley or approve a beer sample. Towards the end of the tour and after all the hard work, your reward is a few mugs of either Keith’s IPA, Red, White or Stout inside what looks like the original Red Stag tavern. While you enjoy a fresh brew, the actors entertain you with popular 19th century Nova Scotian songs, dances and a few old tavern games.
I left the tour with a big smile on my face, but I couldn’t help feeling like something was missing. The actors were great, the sets and decorations were top notch, and the beer samples very fresh. However, I never had a chance to see any of the actual workers in the midst of the beer making or the actual brewing facilities (except for the green beer storage tanks). And where was Mr. Keith himself!?! J By the end of the tour I realized that this wasn’t really a ‘brewery tour’ as it was advertised…it was more like a historic site tour…not what I expected. Nonetheless, I did not feel like the $12 I spent were a total loss. The actors kept me entertained every step of the way, and I did get 3 mugs of beer (about half pint each). However, it would’ve been nice if I was given some sort of a souvenir (like a mug) at the end.
To all of you reading this and those who plan on visiting Halifax, I would suggest that you check out the tour. It’s unique, it’ fun, and you get to learn some interesting facts about Keith’s beer. Here are some pictures of the tour after the jump: