Signal Brewing Co. Open at Last!

Richard Courneyea  has been a prominent Belleville, Ontario business man for years. It used to be a treat to stop in his Richard Davis men’s wear store on Front Street  just to see him dressed as if he’d walked out of GQ magazine.  But for the last few years he has been dreaming about getting out of the clothing business and reopening the old Corbyville Distillery site.  The long term goal was a craft distillery but he would start with a craft brewery.

Richard Courneyea

Delighted owner Richard Courneyea

Two years of road construction on Front Street in downtown Belleville was the incentive he needed to shift gears and follow his dream. Today, I saw Belleville’s formerly best dressed man in cargo shorts, a beer shirt and far more gray hairs than when I saw him last, but he was glowing with happiness. His craft brewery opened July 23 and a week later his patio has been full of customers drinking in the beer, the ambiance and the view with equal relish. Continue reading


Quinte Craft Beer by the Bay

Crowd scene CraftMark Rashotte, realtor, owner of the Empire Theatre, and entrepreneur extraordinaire who has made Belleville a centre for avant garde movies and highly sought after musical acts was  a little out of his comfort zone when he organized an outdoor craft beer festival March 12. Continue reading

Nova Scotia Craft Ale Trails

Nova Scotia’s tradition of craft brewing dates back to 1820 when Alexander Keith opened one of the first breweries in British North America. Although Alexander Keith’s is now part of a much larger brewing conglomerate, the beautiful historic brewery building is well worth a visit and a tour and you’ll find their beer on every pub and restaurant drinks menu in the province.

The spirit of the original Alexander Keith lives on in the current generation of Nova Scotia craft brewers whose breweries and brewpubs are springing up across the province.

Craft beer lovers visiting Nova Scotia this summer may want to plan their trip along one of three craft ale trails that will take them through some of the most scenic areas of the province and provide interesting stops for all the family. Continue reading

Ontario Wines to be sold at Farmer’s Markets

Ontario Wines will soon be available at Ontario Farmer’s Markets. This is HUGE.

An Ontario provincial government’s press release on December 17, about New Opportunities for Ontario Wine Growers  was barely mentioned in the  business news but this will be a game changer for all of Ontario’s wine regions.

There are around 100 Ontario wineries who do not sell through the provincialy run LCBO stores because they don’t produce sufficient quantity or because the LCBO cuts so deeply into their profits that they lose money selling through it. Unless a tourist stumbles upon their winery travelling country roads, they have to rely on word of mouth and a growing stack of awards to let people know they even exist. Come winter, opportunities for sales to new customers are miniscule.  Continue reading

Rot – It’s a Good Thing

“Do I smell rot?”  Jan asked as she swirled her Long Dog 2007 Otto Pinot Noir.

We were wine touring in Prince Edward County with cousins from France. They’re not French; they are part of a colony of Brits who have retired in the pastoral countryside of the Midi Pyrenees area of Languedoc but they love wine touring.

We had a lovely wine tasting at Huff Estates , where nothing disappoints. I left with a bottle of Vidalescco and she with a First Frost.

Then on we went  to Karlo Estates where the vineyard manager showed us grapes just out of the de-stemmer and we’d gone on to a full tasting there as well after thoroughly exploring their lovely old barn. They walked away with the Merlot and I bought the white  (heaven in a glass) port.We’d had lunch at the Barley Room at the Waring House  where the men enjoyed the Barley Days  Loyalist Lager.

I’d saved Long Dog Winery for last as their Pinot Noir vines are the oldest in the County and they have a selection of beautiful and surprisingly affordable Pinot.

The word “Rot” hung in the air. Continue reading

Winemaker vs Brewmaster Dinner – Who won?

The Halifax Club’s Winemaker vs Brewmaster Dinner featured in my last column was a major success. Lovers of wine or craft beer might like to know what winemaker Simon Rafuse of Blomidon Estates and brewmaster Bobby Zacharias of Propeller Brewing Company selected as their competing pairings for this five course extravaganza.

As an aperitif to start the evening off, the contestants chose light and lively to stimulate the palate. Simon Rafuse offered Blomidon’s Tidal Bay 2012, the new Nova Scotia Appellation wine which is a blend of select white wines which are juried before being allowed to bear the Tidal Bay name. Bobby Zacharias matched it with Propeller’s Honey Wheat Ale – always a favourite with the ladies.

For each course of the meal, the winemaker and the brewmaster explained their choice of a suitable beverage pairing. Guests were invited to vote for the what they considered the better choice with either a wine cork or a beer bottle cap. Continue reading

Do Brewmasters have it easier than Winemakers?

Earlier this year, Hans Christian Jost stunned the Nova Scotia wine community by selling off his shares in Jost Vineyards and declaring he was going to get into the craft beer industry making German style brews.

I haven’t had a chance to interview him yet to ask why but having recently researched several articles on the craft brewing industry in Nova Scotia, I can think of a few reasons of my own.

Mother Nature is not always kind to the local harvest

Wineries have a five month window to make it or break it for a winning vintage. This year’s National Wine Awards were a case in point. The National Wine Awards are replacing the Canadian Wine Access Awards that died when Wine Access Magazine folded this spring. Nova Scotia wineries used to come away from the CWA covered in bling. At this years NWA, there were no golds, only a couple of silvers, and a scattering of bronze. Jost received the most medals of the lot but even their count was down. Continue reading

Local cuisine, wine & beer at The Port gastropub, NS

The wine tourist

The wine tourist

By Veronica Leonard

The Port gastropub is located in the heart of Port Williams, Nova Scotia,  fifteen minutes from Wolfville. It  is one of the best kept secrets of the Annapolis Valley. The Port  is a co-operative restaurant owned by a number of valley healthcare professionals which caters to a locavore taste in cuisine, wine and beer. You can check out their menus here.

From its location on the banks of the Cornwallis River, patrons are able to work their way through a relaxing meal while watching the spectacular ebb and flow of the Fundy tides Continue reading