Cider House manager Shauna Krasuski pours a Bulwark Blush.
ew Ross-based Bulwark Cider opened a taproom in Halifax this week, opening Tuesday for pints and patrons.
“It’s been a little bit of a long haul but we’re very happy that we got to this stage and now we can open,” says cider house manager Shauna Krasuski.
The soft opening has been staggered over the course of a few weeks, with the storefront opening for sales in late July, and the taps set up for growler refills last week.
“We aren’t quite ready to do a big grand opening type of deal yet, so we’ve been promoting it little bit by little bit,” Krasuski, who started with the company in June and dealt with the delays of COVID.
“We originally wanted to open in the spring," she says. That "was the goal, but unfortunately with COVID that delayed things quite a bit."
Currently, the cider house is open Tuesday through Sunday and it has nine ciders on tap as well as Bulwark’s vodka soda. They soon plan to announce a partnership with a local brewery to add craft beer to the lineup as well.
The retail store on-site sells 20 different Bulwark products.
The next phase of the cider house will be adding a small menu, as well as finishing the second floor, which will add a second dining space.
“If you go on our website you’ll see a few food pairing options, we kind of want to go in that route. Maybe use some cider in some things, see what works nicely with our products. But we’ll start off small with cheese and olives and things like that that people like that go well with cider already, and then we’ll expand from there,” Krasuski says.
The second floor may also be a prime location for private events, and pop-ups from other local chefs. “We would look at doing trivia nights, acoustic nights, maybe pairing tasting nights,” Krasuski says.
Walking into the Cider House on Dresden, the newly renovated modern taproom harbours one section of exposed wooden beams—the bones of the original 1850s building.
“It’s an opportunity to display the historical fact of this house. It was built around 1852 to 1856, they’re not sure. The city did provide me with interesting info, who the architect is and the way it was built up so that’s why I’ve kept that open,” says owner Germain Bergeron, who heads up Bulwark and its parent company, Muwin Estate Wines.
When Bergeron first started looking for a location in Halifax, it was 2017, and he wanted something with character.
The building at 1518 Dresden Row.
“When he was first looking to buy somebody suggested that he just bulldozes it and takes the land and builds whatever he wants,” says Krasuski. “And he was like well why would I do that? You know, Halifax is such a historical city, they’ve already gotten rid of so many things. If I can work with this space and keep it the way it is, and obviously upgrade it, make it a bit more modern, then that’s what he wanted to go with.”
Over the years, she says the building at 1518 Dresden Row has housed a Turkish restaurant, a guest house, a dispensary, a salon, and two different Chinese restaurants.
Bergeron plans to cover the exposed beams with plexiglass to preserve them. He’s also in the process of trying to register the property as a heritage house with HRM
. “It really shows you the [way] heritage houses used to be put together in the 1850s, so it’s a showcase to that,” he says.
The owner feels the old building connects well to the tradition of cider making, and hopes to display more antiques and relics from the history of cider pressing in Nova Scotia.
“Ninety-nine percent of our apples come from Scotian Gold," the producer-owned apple cooperative in the valley. So Bergeron says he'd like to have some artifacts from them in the space. "I mean, Scotian Gold is the oldest cooperative in Nova Scotia, going back to 1880s, 1890s, so it’s a nice story to tell as well,” he says.
Halifax-based Bergeron says it was important for him to open the cider house in Halifax as an opportunity for him to educate people about local cider, joining Sourwood Cider, Lake City Cider and Chain Yard Cider in the fairly new cider-making storefront game in HRM.
“To educate the consumer about what is a cider. Because right now beside Bulwark, there are products sold at the NSLC that are 85 percent water content and they are called ciders when in reality they’re RTDs, they’re ready to drink, no different than Mike’s Hard Lemonade,” says Bergeron. “And that’s the sort of things that we’ve opened the taproom to be able to educate the consumers and well on the authenticity of what a cider should be.”