By Shannon Courtney
Whether your preferred brews are of the java or hops varietal (or both!), Charlottetown's burgeoning cafe culture and craft brewing scene have got you covered. Check out these unique gems that'll 'fill yer boots' as they say on PEI:
Victoria Row's 'hip' quotient has always been high, but it got a big boost when Receiver Coffee Co. opened its doors, offering up in-house fair trade coffee sourced by the owners themselves and a menu filled with breakfast, lunch and dinner indulgences for meat-lovers and vegetarians alike. The warm food, hot drinks and cozy environs of this brick-walled cafe invite you to wile away the hours.
Pro Tip: Lunch can get busy, so head over early and grab a prime table on the patio or inside before the crowds arrive.
In recent years lower Queen Street's cafe and restaurant options have flourished, with The Kettle Black holding favour amongst those searching for house roasted coffee (organic coffees available), a relaxing atmosphere and delicious eats to tempt every palette, such as warm beet salads, breakfast burritos, and fried halloumi wraps, to name but a few options.
Pro Tip: Snag a seat at one of the front windows and take in some people-watching while you sip your latte.
Located within The Gahan House in historic downtown Charlottetown, the Gahan Brewery blazed the trail for Charlottetown's latest rejuvenation of craft brewing. Extremely popular amongst the locals, this gastropub is almost always full-up during the summer, yet there always seems to be enough room for everyone that walks through the doors. Whether you're looking for a pub-style dinner, want to catch the game on TV or are in the mood for a nightcap with pals, the Gahan has got you covered with a diverse food menu and selection of Gahan and PEI Brewing Co. beers.
Pro Tip: If you're having trouble deciding which beer to try, the beer flight is perfect - a sampler of beers that can be customized to your liking.
The new kid on the block, Upstreet opened their doors to the public just in time for the summer of 2015 and quickly gained a large, loyal following of craft beer-lovers. This drinking oasis, located in an understated midtown building, is so laid-back and chill, you'll feel like you're hanging out with friends. On any given day you can take in mid-afternoon brews in the beer garden, enjoy old school video games, try your hand at Settlers of Catan and nosh on beer-inspired dishes created on-site. Upstreet has developed a reputation for hosting unique events such as morning yoga in the brewery, adult colouring nights, and block parties, as well as featuring fantastic live music from throughout the Maritimes.
Pro Tip: Pick up bottles of your favorite brew as you leave and enjoy a good laugh at the 'Islandisms' under each beer cap.
Make your way up Kensington Road from downtown and you'll happen upon the Island's largest craft brewery, the PEI Brewing Company. Walk in on any given day and you can look forward to an on-site beer and merchandise store, tours of the brewery, over 12 beers on tap, a pub menu and super comfy couches, yet this is just a taste of what the venue has on offer. Since opening its doors in May 2013, the space has become a hub for events of all sorts, including Art Battles, live concerts, comedy shows, stage performances, community gatherings, private weddings and more. Check out their event calendar for upcoming events you won't want to miss.
Pro Tip: Brewery tours run every hour on the hour every day, so there's no need to book in advance and, importantly, beer sampling is part of the tour!
While it's located beyond the city limits, the scenic 35-minute drive to Barnone's brewery is well worth it for the ambience and beer you'll experience on its Thursday Growler Fill night. Located, fittingly, in a barn at the end of a long laneway in Rose Valley, simply arriving at the brewery will have you feeling like you've accomplished something important. A bevy of picnic tables offer outdoor seating and a view of the stunning valley, while live music in the barn will keep your toes tapping. The father-son team behind Barnone have created a selection of high quality beers to suit every taste and, of course, given them unusual names such as Blackeye PA, 'La Vaca Loca' Milk Stout and Unidonk Uncommon Pilsner.
Pro Tip: Trust us, you'll not regret the trip to this unique brewery, but if you don't have wheels or can't do a Thursday night, you can find Barnone at the Charlottetown Farmers Market on Saturdays and a variety of bars in the city, including Baba's Lounge, Cedar's Eatery and the Old Triangle.
Now that you've got the lowdown on where to get your daily caffeine fix and craft brews, you'll want to map out a plan to hit 'em all up during your visit!