ASHDALE, N.S. — The spicy heat of chipotle peppers paired with a smoky porter was a perfect match for Alan Bailey’s taste buds.
And it turns out, he’s not alone.
Meander River Farm and Brewery’s smoky chipotle porter just received a bronze award in the experimental beer category at the 16th annual Canadian Brewing Awards.
The third place finish in that category marks not only a first for the local brewery but for the Hants County and Valley craft beer scene .
“We were elated, over the top — just completely blown away,” said Bailey in a phone interview about the win.
The national awards were held in Halifax this year from May 24-26, with more than 2,000 beer entries in 55 categories. Breweries from across the country competed.
Taking gold in the experimental beer category was Ouaouaron, from Microbrasserie du Lac-Saint-Jean, which is based in Quebec. Silver went to BUMO III, from the Ontario-based Burdock Brewery.
Among other Nova Scotian breweries to win awards were 2 Crows Brewing Co., North Brewing Company, Tatamagouche Brewing Company, and Boxing Rock Brewing Company.
“This is a first,” said Bailey. “We don't submit every year but we did this year, especially because it was going to be in Halifax.”
When asked what inspired the porter, Bailey chuckled.
“It seemed like a good fit, in my mind, in terms of a taste combination,” said Bailey, who enjoys drinking a good porter and eating food with chipotle peppers.
“The smoke comes from the smoke malt that we use and then the chipotle flavour comes from the chipotle peppers that we add to the fermentation process. We've made that beer now for three years in a row. It's the first time we've entered it into competition.”
Bailey said the beer appeals to “more your seasoned craft brew drinkers.”
The 7.2 per cent alcoholic beer is described as having rich, dark chocolate notes and is best served with cheese and hors d’oeuvres or red meat, or to enjoy as a night cap.
Meander River Farm, located in Ashdale, Hants County, is a 186-acre mixed farm operation that specializes in producing hops and lavender. It is run by the Bailey family — Alan and Brenda, and children Fraser and Campbell. The microbrewery operation opened on the farm in 2014.
“Everybody likes to win so it does kind of validate what we're doing and encourages us to keep on that path and try to push the boundaries as much as we can,” he said.
The brewery recently expanded to produce cider, and Bailey said they’re already planning to enter the upcoming Canadian Cider Awards competition.
“We hope to see some results there too.”
If you go
What: Meander River Farm and Brewery
Where: 906 Woodville Rd., Ashdale, Nova Scotia
Hours of Operation: Friday from 4-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: 902-757-3484; email@example.com