The storm is past us and Oktoberfest events and releases are in full swing. With *that* storm past us, our country saw another storm of hate against our non-binary, queer and trans friends and community. We had a number of breweries and establishments offer support, safe-spaces and community gatherings, so with your likes, with your dollars, your time and effort, be conscious of who you’re supporting. We’ve got a full plate ahead of us this week so let’s get right into it!!
Your Friends in Foam™ at Stillwell Brewing are at it again, bringing you another beer you very well might not have realized was missing from your life. You may recall way back in the early-ish days of Stillwell Beer Bar, they worked with Greg Nash and Bad Apple Brewing (RIP) to work up a house batch of hoppy pale ale for the bar. Intended to be an evolution of what was then known as East Coast IPA (malty, very bitter, not so much with the hops), That’s Falcon Teamwork was paler and more hop-forward, with a balanced bitterness. Fittingly for the Stilly gang, this was ahead of the curve, and the world started seeing a pale ale and IPA trend away from the malt sweetness and the tongue-curling bitterness and towards presenting a fairly neutral slate on top of which all the newest hop cultivars from the Pacific Northwest and the Southern Hemisphere could shine. Fast forward a few years and we saw the rise of the hazies, where bitterness and maltiness dropped to barely perceptible levels and sweetness and mouthfeel went through the roof.
Although it doesn’t feel like we’re in any danger of a decline in hazy hoppy juice bombs, Stillwell is coming full circle back to a style they themselves moved away from nearly a decade ago. Continuing with their, “what’s on the tin is what’s in the tin,” naming scheme, Stillwell Pale Ale has arrived. Based on a grist of predominantly UK Maris Otter, known for bringing a maltier character than North American two-row varieties, with a soupçon of Crystal 60 to round it out a touch more, it was, of course, decocted (CPR: DECOCTOR OF ALL THINGS) and treated with classic American hops Chinook, Cascade, and Simcoe. The result is a typically quaffable 5.3% ABV beer with some sweetness, balancing bitterness, and a citrusy and slightly dank hop character that’s reminiscent of many beers you may not have had in a long time but you’d probably love if you tried them again. And since you probably can’t get those ones in Atlantic Canada, we encourage you to try this one. On draught only for now at the taproom and Stillwell properties, expect them to put it in cans for wider sale later in the fall. Speaking of cans, if you’ve been missing Stilly Pils, more cans should be available at the brewery by mid-next-week (although many NSLC locations still seem to have decent stock). And lastly, speaking of the brewery/taproom, they’ve really started to hit their stride on events over the past month and if you’re looking for a really fun and chill space with cool things going on, you could do worse than to keep an eye on their Ig feed!
Now we’ll get into the Oktoberfest news, starting in God’s Country (does every island call their homeland God’s Country?), but specifically Sydney, Cape Breton. Breton Brewing has their Oktoberfest Lager out now in a classic Festbier style lager in a 5.8% malty German flavour, yet dry and crisp with enough balancing hop character. This is a new release for Breton, but they have done Marzen style under the same name in the past. The beer is available now from the brewery in pints and cans, and delivery in CBRM and HRM today. They’re closed on September 23rd and 24th, so stock up beforehand if you need to!
Although they’re known more for (very) hoppy things, Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing has been celebrating Oktoberfest for a few years now, and each year with the release of their Festbier. First brewed a couple of years ago, it features a German-style grist comprised of local ingredients and a classic German lager yeast, leaning into the bread dough character and light toasty notes, while leaving a touch of honey-ish sweetness. Rounded out with an herbal hop character and a light bitterness as befits the style, we expect that like all classic examples it very much tastes like another, just maybe be a bit cautious, as it’s 6.3% ABV! You’ll have plenty of opportunity to try it if you head down to the brewery and taproom for their Oktoberfest celebration tomorrow, Saturday, September 23rd, from 11am – 11pm. Beer garden, live music, an appropriately-themed menu from The Kitchen by Trailway, games, giveaways, and, of course, more.
If easy drinking lagers and lederhosen aren’t your thing though, rest assured that Tw still has you covered with their other release this week, with a beer that’s probably about as far as you can get from that style (at least in one direction), the latest iteration in their series of smoothie sours they call The Blend. This time 5.3% and featuring cherry and raspberry, every can contains nearly 200g of pure fruit. This means a few things: it’s fruity as hell, you’ve got to keep it cold and drink it fresh, and you might want to roll the can around a little before you open it. Possibly for breakfast.
Not to be outdone by the uplanders in Fredericton, Moncton’s O’Creek also has two beers and an Oktoberfest party to tell you about this week. The first beer is, of course, a suitably festy one, their Amber Lager at 5% ABV. Medium-bodied, you can expect some toasty malt notes and caramel sweetness that should pair well with grilled meats (sausages, maybe?) and sharp cheese. You will be able to drink your fill of this one if you grab yourself one of the few remaining tickets to their Oktoberfest party tomorrow, Saturday, September 23rd, from 1 – 5pm. With full Bavarian immersion, your $60ish ticket gets you live music, a t-shirt, a stein, 32oz of beer, and plenty of fun. You can also look for their other new beer, Dry-hopped Saison, to be pouring now and available in cans: this one is suitably dry, with some lovely hop notes from a dry hopping of Citra and Motueka.
The last of our Oktoberfest celebrations to talk about this week is a three-day bash scheduled for Friday, September 29th to Sunday, October 1st at Tatamagouche Brewing on Nova Scotia’s North Shore. With on-site food by Moth and Moon on Friday evening from 4 – 8pm (happy hour from 5 – 7!), fresh pretzels on Saturday from Connie’s Bakery, and more Moth and Moon on Sunday from 2 – 6pm, your need for nibbles will be satisfied as you sip from a weekend-long Oktoberfest-themed tap list. Of course that tap list will feature Tata’s long-running fall seasonal, Lagerhosen. At 4.5% ABV, this is a thirst-quenching lager brewed with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hops for spicy and floral hints. Whether you can make the party or not, this one has also been packaged in cans for your enjoyment at home.
Rolling down to the other end of Nova Scotia, Boxing Rock brings us the last (of this week!) Oktoberfest release, this time featuring the aforementioned Märzen-style classic Bavarian lager. Equinox is their long-running take on the traditional style with a lot of pilsner malt, herbal German hops and bringing together the bready, malty, sweet flavours with a touch of spiciness in a 5% package. An annual release from the Shelburne brewery, you can pick up cans of this one at both locations and online.
Back to New Brunswick where Rackhouse Brewing continues to release their barrel-aged and -inspired beers. Barrel-Aged Blonde is a flavourful and complex Blonde that spent time in a Brandy barrel, where it picked up notes of the spirit, as well as yeast notes from the Brettanomyces that has made its home in the wood. At 7.1% ABV, it shows both fruity and bitter notes married together. Available at CAVOK Brewing’s taproom in Dieppe, so though in the area should definitely take flight!
Heading up to Newfoundland, we find Baccalieu Trail has a new beer out, albeit a variation on a previous release, but one with a great story behind it. Ediacaran Fuse was a hazy IPA released a couple years ago that celebrated, “the multitudinous fossil discoveries in Newfoundland and Labrador.” Since that time, and somewhat oxymoronically, new fossils have been found in Conception Bay North that have revealed organisms completely new to science. What better excuse than to iterate on that previous beer than in celebration of what is literally a once-in-a-lifetime discovery? Ediacaran Fuse: Origins Edition sounds like it could be a tabletop RPG or a multiplatform video game, but it’s definitely a beer, a beer featuring all kinds of Australian and New Zealand hops, particularly Eclipse, Riwaka, and Strata, this beer offers, “a unique flavour that reflects early life’s journey across continents and epochs,” but also a whole lot of juicy hop character. Packaged in cans, look for this 6.0% beauty at the brewery in Bay Roberts.
Going very much west to Corner Brook, NL, we find Boomstick Brewing with their own variation on a previous release. Strawberry Rhubarb Lone Flamingo pretty much tells you what you need to know, with Boomstick’s version taking the same sour base they’ve used for previous Lone Flamingo batches and treating it to a heavy fruiting with strawberries and rhubarb. They’re pretty pleased with the way the base beer shines through this time, giving a light and bright character to support the ample fruit. It’s on draught in their taproom now, and packaged in cans to go, with further distribution likely in coming weeks.
Down on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, in Lunenburg, Shipwright Brewing has a new beer on the go. Wheels Are Turning is an American Wheat Ale that was treated to a dry hop. Built on a grist of wheat, pale, and Munich malts, it saw Hallertau Blanc and Lemondrop hops in the kettle along with orange peel before fermentation with Vermont Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs. A further dry hop with more Lemondrop tied it all together at the end with a final burst of citrus character. With a creamy mouthfeel balanced by a refreshing bitterness, this is a lovely beer for late summer (please nobody point out that it’s fall!) as you enjoy some cooler and drier air, especially in the evenings. Grab it for pints or crowlers/fills to go at Shipright locations, and also packaged in cans to go from the brewery.
Let’s hop (get it?!) over to PEI where we’ll start with the multi-locationed Lone Oak brewing who are introducing a brand new collaboration with Toronto’s Indie Ale House. Hang Your Hat! is an American style Brett Pale Ale coming in at 5.3%. This beer has additions of fresh Orange zest and peel in the whirlpool, along with orange concentrate during the fermentation with Thiol Libre (a thiol-unbinding yeast blend from Escarpment Labs that can enhance tropical flavours) and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (a strain of Brett yeast derived from Lambic beers from Brussels, Belgium). The grain bill is Golden Promise along with some oats, and in the kettle, there were Amarillo hops and Phantasm powder (to bring out those Thiols!). There’s a lot going on in this one, and it’s a must try; it’s available while quantities last at all of their locations on tap and in cans to go at the Borden brewery and the cold beer store at their Milky Way location. And a heads up that their Cavendish location is now closed for the season.
Sliding over to the Eastern part of the Island, Montague’s Copper Bottom is re-releasing the 70 Mile Yard Ale. Brewed in support of the annual 70 Mile Yard Sale, this beer is a celebration of the yard sale and their strong community. A refreshing hazy wheat beer with orange citrus flavour, it was hopped with old school American variety Cascade and is 5.0% and 15 IBU. It’s available only directly from the brewery, grab it right from the source in Montague today!
With some of the fake news that was going around the protests earlier this week, Nyanza’s Big Spruce has re-released their pale ale, Fake News, just in time. This is a bright, juicy pale ale showcasing the tropical and citrus flavours of a single hop, El Dorado! Find this 5.7% release available on tap and in cans at the brewery and also online to order for delivery.
As the weather turns a little colder each year, Cole Harbour’s North Brewing thinks to bring back their Headline Milk Stout for a smooth, creamy and highly drinkable nightcap. This returning ale has been around since 2016 and is still 5.5% and features three different chocolate malts (including debittered chocolate malt), complemented with toasted nut and coffee notes. The addition of lactose lends a creamy and lightly sweet finish to the beer and it comes in at 30 IBU. Grab it on tap or in cans from all three of North’s locations.
Sticking with the dark and creamy, Port Rexton Brewing has a similar theme with a truly seasonal release. Having been released in Fall and Spring editions, we see the return of their Fall edition of Shoulder Season, which is a dark cream ale. The beer is big on bready, malty flavour, but still features a crisp finish. Even at 5.5% it still gives some warmth with some toffee and dark fruit characters and a dark ruby red colour. This is available at the taproom this weekend in cans and will be available everywhere you can buy craft beer in Newfoundland in the coming weeks!
Next in this quadrilogy of deep dark returning beers is Propeller’s Nocturne dark lager. Brewed every year in support of the Nocturne: Art at Night festival that takes place in Halifax every fall, this jet black beer with a tan head carries notes of toasted bread, milk chocolate, and coffee, all of which are malt-driven. A lager yeast keeps those characters while ensuring that the beer finishes crisp, dry, and clean. At 5% ABV and 25 IBU, it’s a beer you can savor a few of without worry. Look for it at Prop Shops around the HRM and maybe check out the Nocturne website to plan some (free!) art appreciation in downtown Halifax, October 12 – 15th!
And finally in this group of dark beers this week is Candid’s Antigonight Dark Berry Sour. Brewed to celebrate the ongoing celebration of Art After Dark in Antigonish, this 5.0% ABV sour beer is full of raspberries and dark cherries, for a refreshing and tart beer. Enjoy it any night of the week, or prepare yourself for the celebrations to come later this fall and winter!
We’ll finish the week back in Newfoundland where Banished Brewing in Paradise has a couple of returning beers to tell you about. First up is Jim Time, named for the father of one of the owners, the real life Jim played a big part in getting the brewery up and running, and what better way to celebrate the man than to name a beer (in his favorite style) after him?! Generously hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Cascade in the boil before being even more generously dry hopped with more Citra and Mosaic, this very popular 8% double IPA is in its third, and hopefully best iteration. Joining it for sale this weekend is Portage Pilsner, a beer originally brewed in collaboration with the much-acclaimed Portage Restaurant. A 12º Czech-style Pilsner (so figure somewhere around 5% ABV), it’s an ideal beer for cracking on a cool evening around the campfire. Cleaner than ever, you can grab this one at the brewery, with further distribution to retail locations to come next week.