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, August 12, 2008

Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs

There are days when I miss the East Coast more than anything in this world. It is an amazing place to live and I'll always remember the year I spent in Halifax. So, when I received an email from a reader in Nova Scotia, who informed me that a new pub guide had just been released by a local bluenoser, I had to obtain a copy. Thankfully Bob Connon, the proud author, shipped me an autographed copy early last week and after a hectic weekend at the Toronto Festival of Beer I finally had a chance to thoroughly skim through it last night.

Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs takes readers on a virtual journey through the three maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia) and explores the best pubs and breweries that each province accommodates. Connon, a musician who plays traditional Irish music every Sunday at Paddy's Brew pub in Wolfville, NS, visited 45 exceptional pubs and took extensive notes to paint a glowing picture of what each pub offers. The book is full of beautiful colour photographs, with many profiles showing both the exterior and interior of the pub. Connon interviewed owners, brewers, managers and other customers to get the full story behind each pub and his writing brings the atmosphere of each one into your hands.

Connon confesses that he is by no means a beer connoisseur and that the pubs selected weren't chosen based strictly on their beer line-up; however, he believes that the key ingredient to a successful pub is the serving of fresh, quality beers, ahead of food, music, scenery, history and ambiance. To Connon, a great pub is a combination of all the above mentioned ingredients, but it starts with the beer. He reminds us that a pub is more than about the pint glass in your hand, is a place to get away and relax in the confines of a social atmosphere.

This maritime pub guide will come in handy for any serious pub/beer lover who is planning a trip to any of the three provinces, as Connon provides in-depth descriptions of each pub, which includes the location, beers available, if there is public transportation available, wheelchair access, hours, entertainment options and much more. The guide would also benefit any maritimer looking to explore what their own province has to offer and may provide some surprise day trips along the way as Connon has laid out a map, complete with an index and dotted with pub locations.

Connon has also profiled the booming micro breweries like Propeller and Garrison's in Nova Scotia and Pumphouse and Picaroons in New Brunswick. Brew pubs are also highlighted with profiles on the Granite, Rogue's Roost, Paddy's, the Rare Bird Pub and Rudders in Nova Scotia; the Gahan House in PEI; and the Pumphouse brew pub in New Brunswick. Alexander Keith's, Oland, Sleeman and Moosehead also get a brief mention. A maritime beer book wouldn't be the same if Keith's wasn't profiled, craft beer or not, it's a large part of Nova Scotia history.

There is much more in the pub guide as well. Everything from what constitutes a 'real' pub to describing 'real' ale and the guide even includes a glossary of terms associated with beer styles. The maritimes are full of many English and Irish style pubs as the first wave of immigrants predominately came from England, Ireland and Scotland, and pubs were some of the first buildings erected. You'll see that this history has continued in the three provinces beautifully profiled in Connon's guide. This is a great book that I highly endorse and recommend for my pub loving brethren out there reading. It even has a great write up on my favourite pub - The Henry House, along with Rogue's Roost, The Knot Pub and the Red Shoe in Cape Breton.

"Sociable! The Elbow Bender's Guide to Maritime Pubs is something every serious beer drinking, pub goer should have on their bookshelf. Beautifully illustrated and carefully written, Sociable! is the ultimate reminder of why pubs have such a special standing in society."
How can you get your copy? If you live in the maritimes, just visit your local Chapters retail store or for those out of province, you can order your copy online by visiting the Chapters/Indigo here. The book retails for $19.95, but order online today and pay only $15.16 (plus s&h).


Teena in Toronto said...

I'm from NS and miss the pubs back home. I haven't found any here in Toronto that compare to the vibe.

Troy Burtch said...

Teena, tell me about it. I miss a lot of them. However, Ontario offers many great pubs, it's just finding them amongst all the chain establishments.

Some good ones to try in Toronto that may interest you: The Feather's on Kingston Road, Victory Cafe on Markham Road and The Rebel House on Yonge. Out of town try the Olde Angel Inn in Niagara on the Lake, the Duchess of Markham pub in Markham or Cellarman's Alehouse in Midland.

5_55 said...


Talking about good pubs around GTA, what's the newest printed pub guide for Ontario? Is there such a thing? As you said, we've got nice places around here but we need to get the word out.

Troy Burtch said...

Zoran - I believe it would be Bill Perrie's "Ontario's Best Pubs" which was released in 2006. Some of the places mentioned are not 'my' type of pubs, but the book is nicely done and pretty informative.

It's not in print right now, but if your interested in obtaining one send me an email and I get one for you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Troy,

Congratulations on the new book. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on the best places to drink in Atlantic Canada.

I noticed that the link to the Rare Bird Pub website in your blog is incorrect. The correct link is:

Thanks once again. I'm looking forward to picking up my own copy at Indigo soon.

All the best,


Troy Burtch said...

Doug - thanks for the note. Bob Connon is the author of the book though. I wish I could take credit.

And thank you for the correct link. Correction has been made.


Anonymous said...

I bought this book tonight at the Halifax Beer festival. Met the author and got my copy signed. He seemed like a really nice man and the book looks like a great read. He told a friend of mine he had been to every pub in Canada!

Troy Burtch said...

Nick - good on ya for supporting a local indepedent author. I'm glad to hear Bob was there at the festival selling his book. It really is excellent.

Every pub in Canada - now there's a job for me.

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