Big Spruce Brewery was my first stop of the Good Cheer Trail

So… Scavenger hunts. They are games that I’m never really interested in starting, but once I’ve been dragged into it, it’s fun and I NEED TO WIN! Then I came across the Good Cheer Trail.

Now, it wasn’t our intention to visit ten alcoholic establishments during our road trip to Cape Breton, but that’s exactly what we did! However, even though my travelling mate doesn’t drink, I had planned on a couple of stops. The first was a quick stop at one of my favourite breweries, and the other involved a distillery tour that she was interested in as well.


Big Spruce Brewery was my first stop of the Good Cheer Trail

It was our first full day of vacation when we visited Big Spruce Brewery. We went into the shop to pick up a couple of things. Next to the register was a display of these blue “Good Cheer Passports”. We asked about them and they told us it was basically a scavenger hunt of craft breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Every time we visit a spot in the passport, we get a stamp. Three stamps gets you a ballot in a draw for a trip, but ten stamps gets you a t-shirt!


Good Cheer Trail - Fortress of Louisbourg
Fortress of Louisbourg

I figured I could probably get to ten stamps by the deadline (this Halloween) no problem and my mate figured she would give the book to her brother. When we got back to the hotel at the end of the day, we took a closer look. Cape Breton has only four stops, and we already planned on going to three of them, with the fourth just around the corner from our next hotel. By the end of the discussion, she was all in on enabling my habit the scavenger hunt. Too bad, so sad for her brother! We decided we would make this Trail a feature of our vacation. We’d visit nine places on our road trip and finish with an end-of-trip meal at the Brewpub in our hometown. Score!


The passport features 49 stops. There are many more breweries, wineries and distilleries in the province, so I’m not sure exactly what the criteria was to be included. The book is organized by region and the Annapolis Valley rules supreme with 21 spots listed.


Our 2016 Good Cheer Trail

Good Cheer Trail Passport


Cape Breton Establishments:

1. Big Spruce Brewery

Good Cheer Trail - Glenora
Tasting at Glenora Distillery

This was a spot I had planned to go when we first decided to go Cape Breton. I wanted to pick up a growler of beer for the trip, as well as some of their “Ra Ra Rasputin” – basically a mocha stout. It sounded so good, but I had never tried it before. I also got a couple of samplers that I drank while we sat and listened to some live music and admired the gorgeous scenery. Travelling Mate did try one of them. I highly recommend checking out this brewery!


2. Glenora Distillery – 

The other already planned stop on the list. I enjoy a good single malt; Travelling Mate was also interested in the tour. The tour included samples. Win all around.


3.  Fortress of Louisbourg – 

It surprised us to see the Fortress on the list. Turns out they do a rum tasting. We planned to do that, but there was just too much other stuff to see and do and so we skipped it. Still got the stamp though, and that’s really all that matters. Especially with all the other alcohol suddenly added to the vacation!


4. Breton Brewing – 

I knew this brewery was close to our hotel in Sydney, but, to tell you the truth, I don’t really enjoy their beer, so had no plans to visit. Obviously things change. It’s good to be flexible. We went over there one night and I tried the one beer of theirs that I’d yet to sample. (It didn’t really change my opinion).



5. Rare Bird Craft Beer – 

After leaving Cape Breton, we took a bit of a scenic detour to Sherbrooke, along the coast in Guysborough. All to catch two spots. Rare Bird is a brewpub in the picturesque town of Guysborough, so along with my beer, Travelling Mate and I shared some tasty fries.


6. Authentic Seacoast Distillery

Before leaving town, we headed around the corner to visit the distillery. This is the one spot we didn’t actually buy anything. The store did not list prices for tastings and I wasn’t interested enough to ask. We chatted with the staff and looked around the shop before continuing on. These guys also own Rare Bird and distill the rum made at Louisbourg.



Still on the way to Sherbrooke (we really went all out for this Trail!) we swung through Antigonish. We were supposed to do a grocery run but go so distracted by other things (not just the brewpub) that we sorta forgot. Luckily, we didn’t actually need any extra food, so I’m kind of glad for that!


7. Townhouse Brewpub and Eatery – 

These guys seem to only brew one beer at a time, but it was good. We sat out on the patio with the dog and I drank my beer while Travelling Mate drank her water. It was a nice spot and I kind of wish we’d had more time to explore the town.


Annapolis Valley

Good Cheer Trail - Paddy's
Paddy’s lights in a whine glass

So… the plan had been to finish off our list, except for that last one at home, in Halifax. For reasons I won’t get into here, that didn’t happen. Instead, we checked out new-to-me places in our own area.


8. Paddy’s Pub & Rosie’s Restaurant, Kentville – 

Been to both of these locations a lot! They have a good selection of beers which aren’t bad. I didn’t partake this time. Instead, we just had lunch.


9. Annapolis Cider Company – 

I’ve walked by this place, on the main street in Wolfville, many times, but never bothered to go in. I’m not really into ciders. In the spirit of trying new things on the Trail, I figured this was a good time to change that! I’m glad I did. The cider is amazing and I want more.


10. Tangled Garden – 

Another place I’ve travelled by often, but never gone in. They have a garden here with a maze and grow herbs and the like. They also make liqueurs. And, as it turns out, boozy Popsicles, which is what we had to beat the horrible heat on our last day of vacation. Tangled Garden was officially the last stop of not only the Good Cheer Trail, but our Nova Scotia Road Trip.


Round Two

After telling my parents all about this awesome trail, my mum wanted to do it, too! I’m at 8 of 10 stamps in the second book. :)  Unlike the first book, however, we have already visited many of the spots on this list. My plan is to get another t-shirt, this time for my dad who drove us around to all of the places in the second round, but didn’t actually participate. I hope to get the list finished and order the t-shirt not only by the deadline, but before they’re out of tees!


The Good Cheer Trail closes on October 31st, but the shirts are only available while supplies last.  There’s still time to participate! I think I’ll do it again next year, if it happens again.


Have you been participating in the Good Cheer Trail? Do you have any recommendations for breweries to visit, whether or not they’re on the Trail? Share in the comments!


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