We’re late today because we’ve got lives and jobs and one of us has all of that and a brewery. And then our regional beer purveyors go and have a busy week. The nerve!! Lots to tell you about in the region today, so let’s not belabor introductions and get straight to it!

• We kick off this week’s post with news of a brand new brewery in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Opening late last week, Four Rivers Brewing is the first large-scale brewery (15 BBL/1800 litre) and taproom to open in the region, capitalizing on the region’s residents’ thirst for well-made, fresh, local beer. We’ll have a full profile with the Four Rivers folks shortly, but in the meantime we can tell you that their taproom is open for samples, pints, and growler fills of their beer, plus glassware and other merchandise, 12 – 6 PM Mon-Wed, 12 – 8 PM Thurs and Fri, 10 AM – 8 PM Sat, closed Sun. As for what you can expect when onsite, they are currently pouring Havre St-Pierre American Amber Ale and Nor’Easter American Pale Ale, with a Black IPA/India Black Ale debuting in the coming weeks. Keg sales are planned for sometime next month, which means the only place you’ll find Four Rivers’ beer is at Four Rivers, so be sure to drop by their spot at 335 Murray Avenue. Keep an eye on their FB and Insta accounts for more details, and keep your eyes locked here for the Q&A with them soon. Congratulations!

• If you head 585 km East Northeast of Bathurst, you’ll reach Corner Brook, Newfoundland, home to the other new brewery opening their doors this week. Located at 92 West Street, the brewery and taproom for Bootleg Brew Co is opening today at 2 PM, open until midnight (with the same hours Saturday and Sunday). While there, you’ll be able to enjoy samples and pints of their first four beer offerings: East Coast Pale Ale (5.5%/25 IBU), Hoppy Roger IPA (6.5%/61 IBU), El Diablo Rojo Amber Rye (6.3%/18 IBU), and Just the Tip Spruce Ale (5.8%/23 IBU). With room for more about 30 patrons in the small location, we imagine it will be blocked, given the enthusiasm for great beer the west coast of the province is seeing. To ensure the taproom is always stocked, they are concentrating on samples and pint sales for the time being, with beer-to-go in the coming weeks. But with local art by Nolan Short hanging in the space (also for sale), and a chill and rustic, yet modern, vibe, you won’t mind sticking around for a spell to try them all (at least once). Keep an eye on their social media (FB/IG/Tw) as they announce their hours for next week, as well as add food options to the taproom. Congratulations to Matt and Morgan on the launch, and we’re excited to have a full Q&A with them soon. ps. Flights from Bathurst to Corner Brook’s closest airport, Deer Lake, are currently $600. If you send us proof that you made the trip, we’ll buy your first beer at both taprooms!

• And in more new/coming soon brewery news, the initial beer release from CAVOK Brewing is debuting this weekend across New Brunswick. Brewed at another facility while they set up their own brewery and taproom in Dieppe, the Leger Corner Honey Ale has been kegged and delivered to Moncton’s Tide & Boar Gastropub and Pump House Fill Station on Mill Road, with Fredericton’s James Joyce and a few others over the next few weeks. They’ve also managed to can a portion of the batch in tall boy cans, destined for the shelves of the ANBL shortly (check that link for availability). Leger Corner is Dieppe’s original name, before being changed to commemorate the soldiers of the Dieppe Raid. The 4.8% ABV beer features wildflower honey (Atlantic Gold) from local producer Lockhart Apiaries. Look for CAVOK to open their facility later this year, and keep up to date on their social media (FB/IG/Tw) for the latest news!

• After a brief hiatus (you drank them dry!), Bedford’s brand new Off Track Brewing is re-opening their taproom for sample, pints, and growler sales today. Back on tap are their  Alias Pale Ale, Crash Course and Hooved a Doo IPAs, the Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Porter, Good Grief Charlie Brown, and the debut of Universal Soldier, a 4.2% Kolsch. First fermented at Ale temperature (17-18 Celsius) for two weeks, the beer then conditioned cool (5 Celsius) for four weeks, resulting in a straw-coloured beer that is clean and refreshing, with a nice mouthfeel. They are also bringing in reinforcements to fill up the taps, with a rotating cider tap (now populated with Chain Yard Foundation), with the other two guests being Lunn’s Mill‘s Anvil Porter (which will then switch to Brickyard Red) and Ol Biddy’s Funktown APA. Open this weekend (today 2 – 10 PM, Saturday 12 – 10 PM, and Sunday 12 – 6 PM), their hours for the week will be posted on social media (FB/IG/Tw) and are dependent on being able to serve you beer.

• We’ve got some news about two new beers available/soon to be available from Lazy Bear Brewing, out of Smiths Cove, NS. First up is a big beer, a Russian Imperial Stout named Avos’, after the Russian word meaning “blind trust in sheer luck” (we’ll take their word on that). A favourite style for sipping in front of a fire on a cold winter night, it clocks in at 8.9% ABV and has “intense chocolate and roast malt notes up front and on the nose”, with flavours of anise, stone fruit, and some alcohol warmth going down, according to the brewery. This medium-to-full bodied brew is available now in bottles around Smiths Cove, and may be heading in keg-form to Halifax in the near future.

• Next up from Lazy Bear is a currently-unnamed Saison featuring wild cherries. The beer started with their House Saison, to which cherries they foraged for one morning back in July were added. After aging for a few months, more Saison was blended in to achieve the desired colour and flavour. The final ABV came in at 5.9% and though the IBUs are unknown, they are assuredly quite low. This beer will make its debut (and likely it’s swan song, only 40 L were produced) at the South West Nova Craft Beer Tasting at Roof Hound this coming Tuesday. And we’ve been advised to be on the lookout for some more limited releases from Lazy Bear in the coming weeks and months.

• Downtown Halifax’s Tidehouse has a new one brewed to commemorate tonight’s opening of the annual PRE-SHRUNK art show at Argyle Fine Art. Featuring over 300 small works of art (just 4” x 5”), nanobrewery Tidehouse, who are also supporters of the arts, seemed a great match for the event. Argyle Fine Ale is a Pale Ale brewed with both Amarillo and Cascade hops along with spruce tips. It tips the scales at 5.8% ABV and features a “snap” of spruce buttressed by citrus hop notes and then yielding to a malty finish with a soft bitterness. You’ll find it at the Tiny Tasty Beverage Room both on tap and in 650 mL bottles with labels designed by Jodie Hansen that incorporate art by Andy McDonald.

• It’s hard to believe, but it’s only been about a year since 2 Crows Brewing opened their doors in Halifax. Since then, they’ve released upwards of 60 different beers – several of which have been collaborations with other breweries, podcasts, and sexy blog writers – and consistently pushed the envelope in the craft beer scene. They’re celebrating next weekend, and on Saturday, January 27th will be selling six special anniversary beers, five of which are brand new. And here they are!
Forever Young – We talked about this beer last week, but as a refresher, it’s an 8.5% ABV “Foedre-aged Brett Saison” conditioned on rosehips and rosewater
Panhandle Slim – Brewed with plenty of oats, spelt, wheat, and rye, this “Foedre-aged multigrain Farmhouse Grisette” spent four months in the brewery’s cognac foedre, and is described as “super dry, earthy, lightly funky, and refreshing”; 4.9% ABV, 17 IBUs.
Magic Touch – Yet another foedre-aged beer, this Golden Ale was fermented with Brett C to give “subtle pineapple and wine-like flavours”, and was dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Centennial to give even more white-wine characteristics.
Sounds pretty delightful! All three of these beers will be available on tap and in cans, and were big batches so there should be plenty to go around. The next three beers, however, are very limited, at only 400 cans each, at the brewery only. Aaaand… all three were can-conditioned!
Bingo Bango (4.1% ABV, 1 IBU) – Blackberry and bay leaf Brett Gose
House Funk (7.7% ABV, 29 IBUs) – Brett Saison
Dynamo (5.1% ABV, 28 IBUs) – Rustic Saison with grapefruit
Pushing the envelope, indeed! Be sure to drop by the brewery next Saturday, or you’re probably going to miss out! There’ll likely be some sort of pop-up food option to keep your stomach happy while you try all of those beers, and some live music to bob your head to at the same time (which has been scientifically guaranteed, we think, to burn significant* calories).

*Significance is relative.

• And really, you may as well stay close by that evening, as 2 Crows will be continuing their celebrations with Sour Sunday the next day (28th), with a whole whack of one-off sour beers, a few Brett beers, and quite possible a tap of cold-brewed coffee to start your day off right.

• And leaving the Halifax Downtown core for the city’s North End, Robie Street’s Good Robot Brewing has news for us this week, as they almost always do. First, from their big batch Alpha system, is the return of Tom Waits for No One, the auspiciously named stout that sits somewhere between the American and a Russian Imperial styles at 7.9% ABV and 58 IBU. Moving from big to little, but only in terms of batch size, this week’s BetaBrew was actually brewed late last year when Kelly Costello was joined by Alicia MacDonald, who is making waves at Newfoundland’s Port Rexton Brewing, and Christina M. Coady, formerly of Toronto’s Folly Brewpub, now back in St. John’s and plotting some hometown waves of her own. Their brewday resulted in what they’re calling an “Alsatian Lager”, where German malts (Pilsner and Vienna), French hops (Strisselspalt) and Bavarian Lager yeast came together to make a beer they’re calling Crispi Boi. A little bit of flaked oats rounded out the recipe, bringing a touch of smoothness and haze. Lagered over the holidays, it finished up at 4.5% ABV and 33 IBU and this coming Tuesday, January 23rd will see its Beta Brewsday release. And after such a tale of girl power killing it in the brewhouse it seems like an excellent time to also remind folks that registration is still open until February 1st for GR’s FemmeBot Home-brew Competition. The competition is open to female and femme-identifying non-professional brewers with the constraint of pre-prohibition styles.

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing released a new beer earlier this week, aptly-named Hangover Helper. No, there’s no medication or tomato juice in this beer, it’s just a straight-up American IPA, hopped with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo, all wonderful and delicious American varieties. Most of you will be familiar with all four, and likely can already picture in your head how the beer will taste (we’re thinking lots of tropical fruit, along with dank, piney notes). It weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 40 IBUs, and can likely be found at your favourite Backstage beer source… especially the brewery itself!

• Less than three years after opening their brewery, the team at Charlottetown’s Upstreet Craft Brewing has announced that they will be opening a new retail location downtown at the corner of Great George and Kent Streets. Bottled beer and growlers will be available for sale, with a total of 24 taps for pints on-site, featuring a mix of Upstreet beers and other breweries on the Island. They’ll be hiring between 5-10 employees for the new location, which should be open by March. For more info, check out the full story in the Guardian.

Sober Island Brewing has released the third in their Foraged Series of beers this week, with Wintergreen Cocoa Porter hitting the taps as of yesterday. Featuring 46% Horton Ridge malt (both Pale and Munich) along with a wide variety of character malts, including Brown malt, Chocolate malt and Oat malt, it was hopped with Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings. The foraged ingredient this time around was Wintergreen (courtesy of East Coast Wild Foods), a medicinal herb known for its minty aroma and flavour, with 5 pounds added in the last 10 minutes of the boil. Cocoa nibs finished the recipe, added after fermentation was largely complete (at the “dry hop” stage) but before conditioning in the brite tanks. Only 600 L of this beer are available, and in crowlers only, available at the brewery and Sober Island’s three regular farmers market stops: Musquodoboit Harbour, New Glasgow, and Truro.

• And another brewery is starting up a beer series this week, this time it’s Dartmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing. Geared to provide head brewmaster Jake Saunders an opportunity to step outside the core brands and try new things, the Signature Series will boast the same high quality Nine Locks fans are accustomed to while traveling a little further afield in terms of styles. One key element is that each and every beer in the series is intended as a one-time release; so if one strikes your fancy you’d best act quickly, as there’s no telling how long it will last or if it will ever be seen again. The first beer in the series is One Foot on the Wagon, a Session IPA. Very light in weight at 4.2% ABV (have two!), it still sports a solid 40 IBU but is not overwhelmingly bitter. Hopped with generous amounts of Amarillo and Ahtanum hops, both in the whirlpool and dry hop, you can expect to taste citrus, stone fruit, and floral notes. It’s available now in cans and for growler fills at the brewery.

• In New Brunswick, Fredericton’s haven for hop heads, Trailway Brewing has yet another lupulin-packed present for their fans. Ida Hoy was designed to showcase a fairly new hop variety called Idaho 7, first released to a broad market in 2015. Bright and pungent, with tropical fruit and citrus prominent, and more subtle aspects of resiny pine and black tea, it brings a massive tropical juice presence to this beer. No coloured malts at all were present in the grain bill, but the oats were pumped up to unheard of levels at 30%, which yields a pale straw-yellow beer with a very creamy mouthfeel. Available as of noon today in cans at the brewery only, get it before it’s gone!

• It’s been a busy week for the guys from 902 BrewCast, who kicked off #902sday with their conversation with Peter Cole of Big Axe Brewery in Nackawic, NB. Learning about Big Axe’s start, their award-winning beers, their great Big Axe Craft Beer Festival (this year’s event is July 14th, 2018), and all about their on-going expansion. And just dropping this morning, the boys sat down with the Honourable Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia, to talk about the current beer scene, and steps that can (and will) be taken to improve the plight of Nova Scotian breweries. Both episodes can be played on the website, or downloaded for offline commuting. Listen in!

There are quite a few events worth checking out this weekend and beyond, no matter where you find yourself in the region:

Your friends (and ours) at Stillwell Beer Bar in Halifax have achieved another coup, tomorrow at their noon opening you will find no less than 5 taps from Dexter, Michigan brewery Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, one of the breweries responsible for pioneering Belgian-influenced American Farmhouse styles. Confirmed for this draft feature are the Calabaza Blanca oak-aged witbier, the Oro de Calabaza oak-aged sour golden ale, Bam Bière dry-hopped farmhouse, Madrugada Obscura sour stout and Fuego del Otono, a sour amber ale brewed with chestnuts and spices that was brewed in collaboration with Monkish Brewing Co. in Los Angeles. As always, the kitchen will be pushing out tasty treats dreamed up specifically for the event. So if you’re into that kind of thing (and, if you’re reading this you very well might be), get thee to Stilly after 12 noon tomorrow!

• Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub, since building a new keg fridge three years ago, has greatly expanded the availability of craft beer in the city, and introduced and educated many to the world of well-brewed beer. So, if you’re in the Fredericton area this weekend, why not drop by the pub on Saturday, January 20th at 8 PM to celebrate the 3rd Birthday Party of the keg fridge? As always, there will be over 30 taps of New Brunswick-brewed beer a-flowing, and happy hour prices will be on all evening. Plus…cake! No cost to attend of course, just pay by the pint or flight, and raise a glass to one of the province’s finest craft beer establishments!

• The Fredericton Ladies Beer Connection is celebrating their upcoming 1st Anniversary with a Social at Picaroons next Wednesday, January 24th, from 6:30-8 pm. If you’d like to attend, RSVP to freddyladiesbeerconnection@gmail.com to hold your spot; $10 gets your a flight of beer. Of course, you’re more than welcome to hang out afterwards for more beer! Picaroons has released their Pivot #11, with this batch of 8% ABV Imperial IPA hopped with Lemondrop, Zeus (aka Columbus) and Warrior.

• Digby’s Roof Hound is taking over the taps at Dartmouth’s Battery Park next Thursday, January 25th. From 11:30, all 15 taps will be flowing with plenty of their current favourites like Big Stink IPA and Big Brown Roof Hound, and we bet there will be a few special kegs debuting/returning for the big event.

• The latest screening of the feature documentary about the craft brewing industry in New Brunswick, Beerocracy will take place Thursday, February 15th at 6 PM at the Tide & Boar Gastropub in Moncton. Those who backed the film by donating on Indiegogo at the VIP level or higher will have their first drink covered by the organizers. If you’re planning to attend, they ask that you let them know via the event’s Facebook page.

And before we let you go, a few more quick mentions:

– Over the course of 2017 we reported on several events that saw Shelburne’s Boxing Rock paired up with the Friends of Keji Cooperating Association. The brewery brewed a beer that was featured at many of these events, called Dark as Keji, from which a portion of the proceeds were earmarked for the Friends of Keji and specifically their Dark Sky education programs. At year end, in recognition of that commitment, Boxing Rock co-owners Henry Pedro and Emily Tipton were able to present a cheque for over $7,000 to the organization! Look for this partnership to continue into 2018, with new ideas and events on the way.
Hammond River Brewing has released The Vegas SMaSH (Vic Secret Edition), the latest iteration of their popular one-malt-and-one-hop IPA. Brewed with 2-row malt and hopped entirely with the delicious Australian Vic Secret, expect “tons of pineapple, passionfruit, and a little pine”; 6.5% ABV.
Niche Brewing has only been selling beer for a few weeks – and delivery options have been limited – but thanks to a generous soul, a keg of their hoppy Grisette, Mines of Wallonia (3.6% ABV) is heading to Halifax’s Stillwell today! Look for it on tap sometime over the next few days.
– For you teachers out there (or really, any of you frustrated with what winter has brought us so far), Schoolhouse has got the perfect beer to get you through the next 6 months (noooooo…..), Dreaming of Summer Break. Actually a re-release of their Summer Break from last July, this 4.9% ABV Witbier has the style-standard addition of orange peel and coriander.
– Bridgewater’s Firkinstein Brewing have a new batch of their Double IPA, Cut of Our Jib. Leveraging constant hopping throughout the boil with Simcoe and Cascade hops, it’s a big ‘un at 8.6% ABV and 100+ IBUs, but be careful, as it’s surprisingly smooth, almost sneaky.

 

After a brief lull in the new beer releases last week (we figure the brewers in Atlantic Canada may have needed time to fully recover from the holiday festivities), we are back with a full complement of news in the region, ready to fill your growlers and glasses with the best beer going.

• Fredericton’s Grimross has the ninth entry in their Scratch series available for pints and growlers at their taproom on Bishop Drive. Scratch #9: Golden Ale is “light, earthy, and dry”, and was hopped with all-Maritime-grown hops. Dry-hopped with Chinook to give some spice and pine to go with the floral notes, the brewery describes the beer as well-balanced between malt and hop flavours. Coming in at just 4.7% ABV, like all Golden Ales it’s meant to be enjoyed in quantity.

• Halifax’s Ladies Beer League has teamed up with Lunn’s Mill to add yet another collaboration beer to their ever-growing list. Hopper’s Bazaar is a Belgian Dubbel brewed with Pilsner, Amber, Dark Munich, Special B, and Chocolate Wheat malt, with an addition of Dark Belgian Candi sugar. Hopped lightly with Saaz and Tettnang, they even threw in a late addition of Garam Masala, an Indian blend of spices, for good measure. This very dark Belgian Ale comes across as “rich, semi-sweet, and spicy, with hints of cumin and cardamom”, and weighs in at 6.7% ABV. It’s available right now at the brewery, and select licensees for pints.

• While it may feel a heck of a lot warmer now than it did a few days ago, no mistake, it’s still winter! Which means you can still enjoy Trider’s newest beer, an 8.5% ABV Winter Warmer called Hibrrnation. Described as a “deep chestnut brown”, the beer was brewed with demerara sugar and unfiltered local honey, to give it extra sweetness to go with the warmth from the alcohol. Hopped with earthy Willamette to prevent it from getting too sweet, this is a one-batch wonder until next year, so grab it while you can!

• We have a new beer alert for this week for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, as they will be releasing their Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red. Brewed with Pale malt, Melanoiden, Crystal 30 and 60 L, and a bit of Black Malt for colour adjustment, the beer was hopped to 28 IBUs with Columbus and Willamette to help balance the sweetness from the malts. Coming in at 4.0% ABV, this reddish-coloured brew is medium-bodied with a “caramel, biscuit, and light roast finish”. Look for it to hit the taps at Battery Park and Stillwell very, very soon. New batches of Orange American Bastard and Funktown APA will also be popping up at local tap accounts, as well as Disco Inferno Red IPA and Saturday Night Fever IPA within a couple of weeks. And for OBB fans in Halifax, look for them to be available at another location before the end of January, we’re hoping to reveal exactly where that is next week.

• Your favourite Halifax brewery named after a duet of birds (that would make a great trivia question) is releasing a brand new beer tomorrow. That’s right, 2 Crows launches Forever Young on Saturday, a beer brewed with Pilsner, Wheat and Vienna malt. Hopped in the boil with Sterling and Hallertau Blanc, it was fermented in their cognac foedre with their house Saison culture, along with TYB 207, an experimental Brettanomyces strain. Further conditioned for 3 months on local rosehips, the beer was then transferred back to stainless for further conditioning on a small amount of rosewater, and then finally carbonated and packaged. Cans of this 8.5% ABV, 29 IBUs beauty will be available at the brewery and private stores, and a few kegs will be popping up at Stillwell (and probably a couple other lucky places). Described by the brewery as “earthy, floral, lightly funky and dry”, don’t miss out on your chance to try this one!

• Hanwell, NB’s recently opened Niche Brewing is releasing their third beer today, but actually the first one they brewed, and one of their expected flagship brews. Called Something Different, the name acknowledges that this isn’t a style we see a lot of in our region: the table beer. Low in ABV and considered excellent for accompanying a meal, this is a classically Belgian style that is usually balanced towards the malty side. Niche’s offering takes the style in a slightly different direction, using the Amalgamation blend of Brettanomyces strains from the Yeast Bay to provide a citrus and slightly funky character to a fairly dry beer accented by Hallertauer Blanc in the kettle and a small dry hop of Amarillo.  At 3.6% ABV and 20 IBU you’ll be able to have a few without too many effects, which should give you plenty of opportunity to savour the interesting combination of yeast and hop characters. It’s available to Niche licensees as of today, with the Saint John Ale House already confirming that they’ll be taking a keg.

• Northern Nova Scotia’s Tatamagouche Brewing has a couple of new beers to tell you about this week that each feature a different unique ingredient. First is Mussed Up, a Double IPA in the Northeast style. Starting with a grist of pale malt from Horton Ridge and some oats and hopped with Enigma and Hallertau Blanc, this beer was dosed with the must of Petit Milo grapes after two days of fermentation. Although the hop varieties were chosen specifically to drive the wine character of this beer, they also add plenty of pineapple and other tropical notes characteristic of the style. At a hefty 7.9% ABV and 60 IBU, it’ll pack a punch in more ways than one. Look for it at the brewery for pints, fills, and in cans, at tap accounts in NS and some in NB, and next week in the private stores in Halifax. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who has a ticket, you’ll also find it being served next week at the Halifax Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration!

• Tata’s second new beer announcement this week is on the other end of the spectrum, a “breakfast” Porter called Crack of Dawn. Coming in at 8.4% ABV and 35 IBU, this is a big beer built on a solid base of Horton Ridge pale malt and plenty of oats, with color, character, and mouthfeel provided by chocolate rye and chocolate wheat malts. It was hopped with Chinook and with some lactose added in the kettle for a balancing sweetness, but the feature ingredient of this beer is cold-brewed barrel-aged coffee. The gang took 150 lbs of green Ethiopian coffee beans and aged them in a rye whiskey barrel for 3 months before taking them down the road to Meeting Waters coffee, where they were given a dark and smooth roast. The coffee was then cold-brewed to maximize flavour and smoothness and keep the bitterness under control; this cold brew was added to the finished beer before packaging. The resulting brew is big-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel providing counterpoint to the acidity and roastiness of the coffee and the darker malts, with definite notes of whisky and fruit from the coffee aging process. Our own Chris McDonald and homebrewer extraordinaire Brian Harvey were part of the prototyping process for this beer, assisting with the process of figuring out the coffee dosing level and also helping brew the production batch (ed: no really, we did work!). Look for kegs of this one to start appearing late next week, with 500 mL bottles on their way as well, after its debut along side the Mussed Up at the aforementioned event next week (in cask, with an additional special secret ingredient added for the evening’s festivities).

• Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing just put a new beer up on the board today, a New Zealand Pilsner named Captain Cook’s Goat. A crisp, 5.5% ABV lager hopped with New Zealand (of course) hop varieties including Rakau, Motueka, and Pacific Jade to 20 IBUs. In case you’re wondering about the name, our Foghorn source says it was inspired by the story of a Captain Cook who supposedly brewed the first beer in New Zealand, but more importantly, traveled the world with his beer-drinking (we assume) goat companion. If that’s not worth a beer name, we don’t know what is! It’s on tap at Foghorn right now, and will be at licensees sometime next week.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has brought back a pair of beers this week, at the two ends of the flavour and ABV spectrum. Their Hopyard American Pale Ale has returned, melding the hoppy focus of a West Coast IPA (thanks to Amarillo and Cascade hops in both the boil and dry-hop) with an East Coast/British-influenced sensibility (featuring Maritime Malt with 2 Row and Carastan). The 5.5% ABV beer is available for the next few months in six-packs at the brewery and NSLC stores across the province. And launching today is the next in their Cellar Series (big and bold beers that are usually wood-aged and worthy of enjoyment now or in a few months/years), Rum Barrel-Aged Spruce Beer. Last year’s release of this historically-inspired beer spent 12 months in Ironworks Rum barrels, picking up plenty of spirit character, combining with the bold flavours of spruce, and touch of molasses. This barrel-aged edition also picks up a significant amount of alcohol from the wood, increasing from 7.5% ABV for the standard release, to 11.0% ABV for its bigger sister. 650mL bottles are available today at the brewery, with a $15.95 price tag.

• We’ve got Alpha and Beta news from Good Robot Brewing Company this week. First off, Extra Big-Ass Oktoberfest Camacho Lager is once again available on tap for pints and fills (and, no doubt, making appearances at GR tap accounts). Just remember to order it (respectfully, mind) in ALL-CAPS. This week’s Beta Brewsday, on the other hand, is a feelgood brew dreamt up and brewed by Kelly and Glee Club member Rebecca, along with Rebecca’s brother Joseph. Dubbed Cuddle Up, this coconut porter started with a grain bill of 2-row barley, flaked oats and Vienna malt, with both roasted and black barley for color and deep roasted flavour. Bittered to 26 IBU and very lightly kettle hopped with East Kent Goldings before being fermented with London Ale yeast to preserve a malty character, toasted flaked coconut was added for a lingering coconut flavour. Everything about this 4% ABV beer was designed to be comforting, so if that’s your jam, grab your favourite blankie and head on down to Good Robot this Tuesday when it’s tapped.

• Montague, PEI’s Copper Bottom Brewing has announced that they will officially be releasing their third flagship beer, The Rabble Rouser Red, next Thursday. Brewed “with a rich malt profile in mind”, this 5% ABV, 25 IBUs American Amber Ale has a grist made up of five different malts, giving a flavour of slightly-toasted malt, “with a residual sweetness to round out the body”. Check out their Facebook page for the back story on where the name came from, and plan to drop by the taproom on January 18th, from 6 – 10 PM for the launch party, which will feature live fiddle music and Sneaky Cheats BBQ, with a custom-created food menu to pair with the beer.

Horton Ridge Malt & Grain in Hortonville, NS, has another new beer coming out next weekend, brewed on their small system. Beer of Fundy celebrates the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Valley by being made with malt, hops and water that are all from that region. The barley (75%) and rye (25%) were grown and malted by Horton Ridge and the hops used were Galena and Centennial sourced from Fundy Hops down the road in Berwick. At 6% ABV and 63 IBU, this beer is admittedly the hoppiest to come out of Horton Ridge and treads “perilously close” to IPA territory. This is a nod to Fundy Hops, who will be at the malthouse and brewery to celebrate the launch of this beer a week from tomorrow on Saturday, January 20th from 2 PM, at an event that’s being called Songs and Suds of the Valley. Look for lots of musical entertainment from Space Paddy Bog People and artists featured on This Place, Songs from the Annapolis Valley, along with lots of beer, of course!

Hammond River Brewing has teamed up with Josh Mayich from Darlings Island Farm to brew their first Bohemian Pilsner. Currently unnamed, it features Bohemian Pilsner malt and Carapils, and was bittered with Magnum to 43 IBUs, followed by three later additions of Saaz. As you likely expected, both hop varieties are from Darlings Island. Look for this one to finish at about 5.6% ABV; since it naturally needs to undergo a lagering period, look for this one to hit taps around mid-February. And meanwhile, HRB’s Shane Steeves and Darlings Island’s Josh Mayich are hosting a “Hop Seminar” to talk hops and beer. Want to know which hops match well with which styles of beer or maybe which hops grow well in our region, but especially New Brunswick? These are just the gentlemen to tell you about that! Look for it to happen at the HRB Beer Bar on Sunday, January 21st, at 1 PM: grab a pint and learn a little about what’s in it and where it came from!

And one last mention before we go, you may have heard that Loblaw’s is giving away $25 gift cards as a measure of “atonement” for their bread price-fixing scandal. You may also have heard that there’s been a groundswell of support for collecting those cards and getting them to organizations who can put them to good use. You may not have heard, though, that our pals at the 902 BrewCast have taken it upon themselves to help this process, calling it the #RobinHoodChallenge. Over the past couple of days they’ve been enlisting breweries from across NS to agree to be drop points for the Loblaw’s gift cards, which will help the process by making it easy for the folks who can afford to do so to donate their gift cards, knowing that those cards will make their way to an important organization like Feed Nova Scotia. Be sure to check the 902BrewCast Instagram and Twitter feeds for more details and information about which breweries are participating. And big kudos to the Kyle, Phil and Tony at 902BC for organizing, the breweries for taking part, and everyone who takes the time and makes the effort to help out with such a worthy initiatve!

Good morning, everyone! Hopefully by now you’ve all had a chance to recover from yesterday’s storm (or at least have made a good amount of progress). There’s been a bit of a lull in beer news as the holidays have finally been winding down, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t some reading to get done, so sit back and take a break from your snowblower/shovel, and let’s get right to it!

PEI Brewing Co. has a new beer out this week, and don’t feel sad if it makes you think of warmer, and less-snowy, locales. Snowbird Juicy IPA is a 6% ABV New England IPA, made up of a simple grist of Pale Ale malt and Malted Oats (to help ensure that expected cloudiness). The high majority of the hop additions were in the whirlpool and dry hop, including both El Dorado and Ella varieties. The calculated IBUs come in at around 40, meaning this beer is more about hop flavour and aroma that it is about bitterness (true to the NEIPA style). Fermented with Escarpment‘s Vermont Ale strain to boost the juiciness even more, you’ll be able to find this one on tap at all Gahan House locations, select licensees, and at the NB growler program this weekend (while supplies last). There’s a good chance this one will also be released in cans in the spring, when it finally arrives in the Maritimes in approximately 4.5 years.

• Sharp-eyed fans of the offerings from Horton Ridge may have noticed that to this point there’s been a limit to how dark their products have been, both in terms of their malt and beer offerings. Because their kiln is hot water-based, there is a limit to how dark they can go (and truly “roasted” malts are out of the question). And given that their in-house policy says that all beers on tap and available for growler fills must be 100% Horton Ridge malt-based, that has thus far prevented them from exploring certain styles. In a noble effort to broaden their brewery’s offerings without violating their own ethos, they’ve taken the step of allowing themselves to brew a beer with non-Horton malts, but in keeping with their policy, it will bypass the taps and go straight into bottles. Thus, Chocolate Oatmeal Stout is born. It’s still 90% Horton Ridge malt (2-row, oats and CaraHorton), but the other 10% is chocolate malt and roasted barley from other sources to give it a deep roasted character and typical deep brown-black color. Hopped with Fuggles and Perle, it also got a dose of cacao nibs in the fermenter to enhance the chocolate flavour. This beer is available in 650 mL bottles at the tap room and also at the Wolfville Farmers Market, the first time Horton Ridge beer has been available outside the brewery premises! We’re told that there will be some more entries in the bottle series over the course of the coming year, and that the brewery is planning to be at market from January to May. And in other good news, with Horton Ridge using more malting barley, the growers in the region have stepped up their production, and the maltster has secured enough locally-grown malt to last well into the year. Look for more truly Nova Scotian Grain to Glass beers in the coming months, thanks to this symbiotic relationship.

• Fredericton hop hawkers Trailway Brewing have yet another juicy hop bomb ready for consumption today, this one cleverly dubbed Hopical Trop. Featuring heavy doses of ultrafresh citrusy Citra and tropical Mosaic hops, it was conditioned on over 100 lbs of peach purée (note to Jeremy @2 Crows: peach purée is a thing that you can buy). Described as “straight up fruit juice,” it’s an 8% ABV double IPA that’s still soft and drinkable, with massive aroma and flavour. Quantities are limited, you’ll find it at the brewery as of noon today in cans and also available for pints and growler fills.

• Amid the blowing wind and rain yesterday, Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing released the latest in their informal Milkshake series. What began with Liquid James Brown in January 2017, it continued with For Peach’s Sake in August, followed up by Jackpot Apricot in September. Chamba features an addition of tart cherries during the conditioning process, lending fruit character to the 6.4% ABV, 50 IBU IPA. It is available at the Sprucetique for samples and growler fills now, and will be flowing at your favourite beer bar and restaurant soon (if not, be sure to ask for it!).

• Some happy news for beer fans on the Rock, as Port Rexton Brewing has re-opened their Retail Shop in St. John’s! They’re planning to restock every week and be open every Friday from 4 – 8 PM and Saturday from 12 – 6 PM at 286 Torbay Road in Corker’s Meadow Plaza. Terms are “first come, first served” until they run out each weekend. Look for cans, growler fills, and branded merchandise as well. Definitely keep your eyes on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to find out what’s on offer each week, especially for growler fills!

• Hanwell’s Niche Brewing is following up last week’s release of their Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout with the release of an entirely different sort this weekend. Born out of the common practice of rewarding (or at the very least, allowing) workers in Belgium with beer breaks during and after a long workday, Grisette was the drink of choice for miners in the Wallonia region of the country. A sibling to the Saison style, the low-alcohol Grisette feature malted Wheat, was fermented with Saison yeast, and often late-hopped; perfect for refreshing the dust-covered palate, but still providing plenty of aroma and flavour in a small package. Mines of Wallonia is Niche’s ode to the style, a 3.6% hoppy Grisette featuring a grist of Wheat, Oats, and Spelt, and fermented with a French Saison yeast. Deviating slightly from the Noble hop varietals of yesteryear, in favour of Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin (no complaints here!), Wallonia was late-hopped in the boil and further dry-hopped during conditioning to offer tropical and wine-like aromatics and flavours to complement the light spicy phenolics from the yeast. Not yet on tap as of publishing, we expect to see it hit the taps in Fredericton and beyond over the weekend/early next week. Keep an eye on Niche’s social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for the announcements. And if you run, don’t walk (maybe don’t drive, either!), you may be able to catch the last few drops of Single Origin at 540 Kitchen, James Joyce, and the King Street Ale House.

• Halifax’s Good Robot doesn’t have anything on the Alpha system for us this week, although you might scope their social media for hints about their plans for big brews in the coming months. Meanwhile, Kelly Costello continues to helm the BetaBrew program, bringing diverse brewers into the fold to make interesting beers. This week’s Beta Brewsday release will be a wheat ale with a touch of rye and featuring every child’s favourite pigmentally-challenged starch, parsnip. Pale golden in color, sporting an ABV of 4.2% and a very moderate 19 IBU, Arsenip was hopped with Sorachi Ace and fermented with the Pin Cherry yeast from Big Spruce for a hefeweizen-esque feel. Brewed with East Coast violin savant Donald Maclennan, the careful taster will note a progression of yeast and hop flavors before being rewarded with spicy elements from the rye and parsnips. Available this Tuesday at the GR taproom for pints and, depending, possibly growler fills.

• Tickets for the 5th Annual Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration are just about gone, so if you haven’t yet grabbed yours for the all-inclusive beer and food event from 16 Nova Scotian breweries and 17 food producers, now is the absolutely last time to do so. January 18 at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront will be the launch party for many new beers from the provinces producers, including the winner of Big Spruce’s Home Brew Challenge (a beer featuring a strain of yeast harvested and isolated from a tree on their farm), and a brand new beer from Tatamagouche (with local homebrewer 1029Brewing and our own acbbchris). Don’t miss out on the fun, grab your tickets now!

Just a few more things to get you going this weekend:

– In case your podcast software didn’t grab it automagically already, be sure to head over to the 902 BrewCast site and grab their first episode of 2018. Kicking off a month focusing on New Brunswick breweries, they sat down with Paul Maybee of Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing, learning about his introduction to beer, his history as a homebrewer, and plans for the future.

– Bedford’s Off Track Brewing has mixed feelings about announcing that you drank them dry! Keep an eye on their social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for the word when they are stocked with product again.

Propeller in Halifax is resuming their Friday Cask Nights at their Gottingen Street location again, this week featuring their Russian Imperial Stout aged on American oak from 5 PM.

Unfiltered on North St. has a fresh batch of DOA available in all its Citra-laden glory. Available for fills and pints today from noon. And if you’re looking to get your hands on some cans, as of opening they’ve still got some Exile on North Street and Hoppy Fingers available.

The town of Hanwell, New Brunswick, is just a few minutes southwest of the province’s capital city, Fredericton. A small community of fewer than 5000 residents, with many working in town, in Fredericton, or in other nearby communities, it can now also boast that it is home to the province’s newest brewery, Niche Brewing. Founded by two award-winning longtime homebrewers, Rob Coombs and Shawn Meek, Niche aims to expand the palate of the local community and the province at large. The brewery itself is located on Millennium Drive, but there is currently no retail location for growlers or pints; they’re opting instead to sell kegs direct to licensees for the time being. We managed to chat with Rob and Shawn to learn more about how they got into beer, their brewery’s ethos, and plans for the future of Niche Brewing.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Shawn – I’m originally from PEI, and moved to New Brunswick after meeting Jill (now my wife) when I moved to Ottawa after graduating from pharmacy school. I’ve been living in Fredericton and working here as a pharmacist since the summer of 2005. We have a 5-year-old daughter, love to travel, and love beer (Jill and I, not Zoe… yet).

Rob – I was born and grew up in Labrador City. I moved to New Brunswick for school and was planning to relocate afterwards but work kept me in Saint John as an X-Ray technologist. I met my wife there and we moved to Fredericton nearly 10 years ago where I’ve been working as an MRI Technologist ever since. We have two young boys, Cameron and Oliver, ages 5 and 2, respectively. They share our love of travel and tolerate my love of photography.

Niche's Sign, courtesy of Zoe Meek

Niche’s Sign, courtesy of Zoe Meek

How did you get into the world of beer?
Shawn – I was never a beer person until a trip to Belgium in the winter of 2009. I had no idea that beer was available in so many styles, and when I returned home… I wasn’t able to find many of them. Keep in mind this is over 8 years ago, long before there were many breweries in the area. I started reading about beer online, and quickly discovered that it was possible to brew these styles at home. Rather than just jumping into the hobby of homebrewing, I bought John Palmer’s How to Brew and did a lot of reading; eventually, I bought a simple homebrewing setup and brewed my first batch on November 29th, 2009 (yep, I still remember the date). Like a lot of people, I was immediately hooked, and have been brewing regularly since then (I think I’m at 155 or so brews now). My love of beer and brewing lead to me writing a homebrewing blog in 2011, and a couple of years later I started co-writing the Atlantic Canada Beer Blog.

Rob – About six years ago I was introduced to quality craft beer by a friend on a trip to Portland, Maine. He told me about Dogfish Head and Stone and my love for beer grew from there. When I returned from that trip I did some research online about those breweries and found that Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione had a mini-series on Discovery called Brew Masters. Sam’s explanation of the brewing process conveyed the simplicity of making beer and also his passion about the creative and intuitive aspects of the process. I found this very inspiring, so much so that I started home brewing that same week. A couple of years later I joined the NBCBA which was a great resource for the practical aspects of brewing as well as feedback on beers I had brewed. That club helped me progress and I eventually started a homebrew blog a couple of years ago. This gave me an excuse to brew more interesting beer such as 100% Brett, mixed fermentations, sours and New England styles which I could subsequently post about.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
We met about four years ago – our kids were going to the same daycare – and got into your typical homebrewing relationship soon after that: sharing recipes and ideas, trading homebrew, etc. Looking back, it’s really hard to actually pinpoint when we started discussing opening a brewery, but it was about a year ago that the idea was sparked. Neither of us were looking to open a brewery for any reason other than because we love to brew. It wasn’t because friends were saying they loved our beer, it wasn’t because the beer scene has improved so much the last few years… it’s because we’re both passionate about beer, about brewing it, and sharing this passion with others.

What is the culture of the brewery?
Really, this can be found in our brewery name, as well as our tagline “Find Your Niche” (which, as intended, can be interpreted in two ways!). The idea behind starting this brewery stems from a belief we share regarding finding a passion that speaks to you and fully immersing yourself in it. We believe this can apply to everyone within their own context and interests. Find something that you love to do more than anything and focus on applying your own creative character to it. It’s also important not to take any hobby, job, or even yourself too seriously, and to have fun in what you do! Even when it involves writing business plans, securing loans, and dealing with the 1001 things that will inevitably go wrong when opening a business. Wait, where were we going with this again?

Niche Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout

Niche Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout

Can you tell us about the beers you are offering initially?
We have three flagship beers that we’re launching with, and will keep these in rotation if demand (and ingredient availability) allows. All three of these beers have been homebrewed by both of us, and tweaked over many attempts for each:

Single Origin – a Coffee Sweet Stout, we took a Sweet Stout recipe that we’ve liked in the past (featuring lots of roast character, with a healthy amount of lactose added to boost the mouthfeel and provide a bit of residual sweetness), and added local coffee. The coffee presence is pretty apparent, and those who aren’t big on Stouts shouldn’t shy away from giving it a try.

Something Different – a “Brett Table Beer”, this one is a pale-coloured, low-alcohol brew hopped lightly with Hallertau Blanc and fermented with Amalgamation (a blend of six Brettanomyces strains); dry-hopped with Amarillo, we wanted to showcase Brett in an easy-drinking package, complemented by some light hop character.

Orange Creamsicle IPA – a Milkshake IPA featuring the addition of lactose, vanilla bean, orange zest, and hopped with plenty of CitraEl Dorado, and Ekuanot. Probably pretty obvious what flavour/aroma characteristics we’re going for here, and I guess the name gives it a way a bit as well! This is a beer we started brewing over a year ago, and have played with it a little bit to get it where we really wanted.

We’ll definitely be experimenting with one-offs (while at the same time focusing on keeping the flagships in rotation), and have a Grisette hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin; that one should be available very soon.

What are your plans for distribution?
We’ll definitely be keg sales to licensees only… at least for a while. Growlers or packaged beer may come in the future, but we’re in no hurry.

The Niche Brewhouse, from Stout Tanks

The Niche Brewhouse, from Stout Tanks

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have at least two locations in Fredericton who have agreed to serve our beer – the James Joyce and King Street Ale House – as well as Moncton’s Tide & Boar and Saint John’s Cask and Kettle. We hope to be at least occasionally on tap at other great beer bars/restaurants in Saint John, Halifax, and Charlottetown at some point!

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada?
We’ve had lots of help from plenty of people in the brewing industry, and we’re extremely grateful to all of them. During the months of business plan writing, equipment selection, dealings with licensing, etc., we had lots of help from Shane at Hammond River, Marc at Flying Boats, and Scott at Think Brewing. When we announced the brewery in late September, several people were quick to provide support, advice, and equipment when needed, including Jeremy at 2 Crows, Mark McGraw at Loyalist City, Paul at Maybee Brewing, and Dan and Jake at TrailWay. Ken at Beer Tech has been beyond generous with helping us get our CO2 and kegging equipment set up, and Chris McDonald (of some blog, forget which) has been more than a lifesaver with too many things to mention, least of all muling equipment from Halifax on his work trips to New Brunswick (which didn’t necessarily include Fredericton!), as well as setting up/building various pieces of brewery equipment.

Do you have  favourite beer styles you enjoy drinking?
Shawn – I enjoy a wide range of beer styles, but tend to focus most on hoppy ones, as well as funky, sour beers. I love a well-brewed Saison, and really do have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of other Belgian styles (since they’re kind of what got me here to begin with).

Rob – Like most beer geeks I enjoy a variety of styles. I love the current NE hoppy beer available from breweries like Bissell Brothers. Mixed fermentation beers really interest me, as well as those time-honoured Flanders and spontaneous sour styles. Finally, I enjoy some styles that tend to be harder to find, such as Grisette and Gose.

Niche fermenters and brite tank

Niche fermenters and brite tank

How about a favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
We’re both very like-minded when it comes to brewing (luckily). We love hops. We love Brett. We love brewing sour beers, whether it be kettle sours with a fast turnover, or barrel-aged brews that take 1-2 years (or more) to be ready. We recognize that those aged beers will be difficult to brew on our system, but we hope to get access to at least a few vessels in the near future to make this a reality, so that we can get started on at least a couple Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins, etc.

Tell us about the brewery: What type of system are you be brewing on?
We have a 2 BBL (240 L) brewhouse from Stout Tanks and Kettles: three vessel system (HLT, mash tun, and boil kettle), with four 2 BBL fermenters and a brite tank. Since both of us are keeping our day jobs, full-time, we can’t say for sure what our output will be, especially launching during the slow beer season; probably somewhere in the 1000-1200 L range monthly to start.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next few years?
It’s probably safe to say we really aren’t sure where we’ll be… hopefully still open and brewing beer that people really enjoy. At some point we’ll obviously have to sit back and take stock about where we are and where we ultimately want to go; for right now, we want to focus on brewing good beer and continually improving in that regard.

Congratulations to Rob and Shawn on their launch, and having their first beer out in the wild! Single Origin is available now at Moncton’s Tide & Boar, Saint John’s Cask and Kettle, and Fredericton’s James Joyce Pub. Keep on eye on Niche’s social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest news on their releases, with the Grisette expected in the first week of January.

Niche kegs waiting to be filled

Niche kegs waiting to be filled

Here we are at the last Friday Wrap-up of 2017; time flies when you’re drinking beer and taking names. The past 52 weeks have seen our regional scene continue to develop and evolve, with a couple breweries closing up shop, many more than that opening across all 4 provinces, and tons and tons of new beers released, from easy-drinking, lightly-hopped, low-ABV session beers, to intensely complex barrel- and foedre-aged mixed fermentations occasionally featuring fruit, and everything in between. We’ve attended some incredible events at our favourite venues, stood in line for beer releases and even had the chance to read a book about beer in our little corner of the world. And it looks like 2018 is going to bring even more of the same. Halifax will host the Canadian Beer Awards in May, we know of several more breweries in the works with plans to open in the coming year, and we’ve no doubt the regions brewers will continue to up the ante in terms of quality and innovation. Thanks to everyone who continues to read our weekly scrawl (as unwieldy as it sometimes gets when there’s 4,000 words to get through) and we’ll be sure to toast you all with some of our favourite local beers on New Years Eve.

• We’ve mentioned Hanwell, NB’s, Niche Brewing previously, and we can now announce that their beer is available to the public! Their Single Origin is a Coffee Sweet Stout, and hit the taps at a few spots across the province for the first time last night. This 5.0% ABV Stout features lactose in the recipe for a light sweetness (lactose is not fermentable by most yeasts) to enhance the roast and chocolate character of the malt as well as mouthfeel, with an addition of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans from Fredericton’s Jonnie Java Roasters after primary fermentation was complete, to lock in the coffee flavour and aroma. The beer is now available at Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub and Saint John’s Cask and Kettle, with Moncton’s Tide & Boar looking to tap it at any moment. Keep an eye on Niche’s social media for the latest buzz on the beer, and we’ll have a full profile with the gang behind Niche in the next day or two. Congratulations Rob and Shawn!

• A little while ago, Propeller released the latest of their Gottingen Small Batch beers, Hazelnut Oatmeal Stout. This 5.5% ABV stout was brewed with flaked oats, chocolate malt, and roasted barley, and features hazelnuts added to the recipe as well. Chocolate, roast, and nut flavours and aromas punctuate the underlying creamy semi-sweet beer. It is available in growler fills at both Propeller locations, and by the pint at the Gottingen Street taproom, and at a few spots across HRM. And keep an eye open for cans of their Double IPA and Extra Special Bitter on the shelves of an NSLC near you!

• Capping off the Second Anniversary celebration of their sibling beer spot Battery Park, North Brewing released the 2017 edition of Saison de Pinot yesterday. The 7.1% ABV beer/wine hybrid features a Saison as the beer base, with 220 litres of Benjamin Bridge‘s own Pinot Meunier grape must added in secondary. This year’s grape harvest lends a more notable tart acidity to the must, which does translate to the final product. Fermented using two different Sacc. yeasts (Cerevesiae and Boulardii), the finished beer was lightly dry hopped with Hallertau Blanc, and has been bottle conditioning for the past 8 weeks, and is a perfect candidate for further aging in a cellar, to enjoy the flavours and aromas that develop over time. We suggest buying a pair (or more) and enjoying one now, and another in several months when the hops will have faded (maybe even wait until BP’s Third Anniversary!).

• Halifax’s Good Robot Brewing has announced that they are holding their first homebrew competition in Spring 2018. GRBC is already well-known known for encouraging those sometimes passed over or left behind by the modern brewing scene with their CommuniBrews and Goodwill Bot events, and this competition is no different. Female Brewsters are credited with promoting and keeping alive the art and science of brewing, before often being barred from activities involving the production of alcohol. To celebrate the earlier times, they are presenting the The Good Robot FemmeBrew Competition. Open to all women, and female-presenting, non-professional brewers, entrants are encouraged to dig into the past with “pre-prohibition” style recipes, choosing beer styles from before the industrialization of brewing. No “can and kilo” kits, please, an original recipe is the way to go (but modern ingredients such as malt extract are OK to enhance the beer!). There is no fee to enter, and you are asked to register online by Feb 1, with your entries (four 341ml bottles preferred) due March 1 at the Good Robot Retail Shop (aka Beer Later). This is a BJCP-registered competition, and entrants will receive feedback on their entries. For those women previously interested in the hobby, this may be just the nudge needed to try their hand at recipe development and brewing! Winners will be announced at Good Robot’s FemmeBot celebration on March 7th, and there are plenty of prizes up for grabs. If you have any more questions, please contact Kelly C for more details.

• And in new beer news at GRBC, the latest iteration of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie is on tap for growlers and pints now. Version 4.0 is a step in another direction for this Coffee Pale Ale, featuring the use of Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, prepped by the fine folks at Low Point (whoa, twice in one post??). This varietal has notes of honey and citrus, with a floral nose, helping to bring the beer closer to that eponymous “Cherry Pie” flavour, according to the brewery. To launch this latest batch, they are holding a bit of a contest, where a single cherry is hidden somewhere in the taproom every day this week: if you can spot it, you’ll win yourself a gift card for a free beer.

• Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse has released a handful of their full time and seasonal offerings in cans recently, thanks to the Craft Coast Canning mobile unit. Now available in the handy format at the brewery (open 1-6PM daily), are: Alternate Ending, a 5.0% ABV Altbier; Black and Tackle, their 9.0% ABV Russian Imperial Stout; a 6.0% ABV Hard Apple Cider, made from local apples; Honey Wagon, a 5.0% ABV American Wheat; and Mosaic, their flagship 8.0% Double IPA. Many of these will also be available in Halifax at Bishop’s Cellar very soon.

• One of the newest breweries in Nova Scotia, in one of the oldest European settlements in the country, Annapolis Brewing Company, has some big plans coming for 2018. First, they’ve already got a production expansion in the works, with four new 5 BBL (roughly 6 hL) unitanks on their way to the brewery now to meet increased demand as the year goes on. They’re also currently looking for a location to build a new building to house the brewery, which will be even shorter on space with the new tanks. The team is also working on developing a Craft Beer Farmers Market concept for the new year, the first of its kind in the Province. It will see breweries and perhaps craft distilleries set up on the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market grounds on Sundays from May 13th to October 14th from 10 AM to 2 PM and provide a one stop shop for patrons in the area to buy beer. Tables will cost $20 per week and any breweries that are interested can reach out to paul@annapolisbrewing.com. Look for more information about the market to be publicized throughout the winter as they prepare for their first Craft Beer Farmers Market in Spring!

• In new beer news, Annapolis have a brew in the works that’s passed out of the testing phase and is scheduled to enter production in 2018. Goodwill Amber is a red-hued beer that strikes a fine balance between malty and hoppy. Vienna malt is featured on the grist side for a bready and toasty character and it’s been hopped with classic American varieties Willamette and Cascade with modern Amarillo completing the picture. Look for it to land on tap at 5.3% ABV and 36 IBU in early 2018. Also in the pipeline, although the recipes haven’t been finalized quite yet, are a Vanilla Coffee Stout and a Hefeweizen.

• On the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co. Brewing has a few new beers on the go these days. Up first is a small batch of their Hefeweizen, this time a little lighter at 4.6% ABV with lots of clove presence and some banana and bready notes. Next up and available is their Milk Stout, a big one at 7.7% ABV with a full mouthfeel and creamy texture. Described as “very filling,” It features aromas of coffee, vanilla and chocolate, with prominent espresso, vanilla, and even a bit of cigar character on the palate. And still available is their Saison, at 6.8% ABV, dry, and with prominent notes of lemon and black pepper. The brewery is considering keeping it in production throughout the year.

What’s going on this weekend???

• Sunday is New Year’s Eve, so expect plenty of extra drinking going on…. just about everywhere. Meanwhile, if you’re in Mahone Bay, drop by Saltbox Brewing for live music from the Eclectic Garage Band. The brewery will also be launching two new ciders on NYE, one made with Russet apples, and the second (being released at midnight) with Burgundy apples.

Hammond River Brewing in Rothesay is also ringing in the New Year with a Beer Dinner, pairing six courses of food with with six of HR’s own creations (plus a pint of your choosing to start the evening). Brewmaster Shane Steeves and Executive Chef Colin McCarten will be on hand to chat about each course and pairing. With only 30 tickets available, it is sure to be an intimate event. The fun kicks off at 6PM, and you can grab your ticket at the Hammond River taproom, or call ahead to reserve yours today. Check Facebook for the full menu.

• With New Year’s Day comes several Levee Day events in Atlantic Canada, which always amounts to several hours, or even up to a full day of drinking, eating, and celebrating… what better way to bring in the New Year? In PEI, both the PEI Brewing Co. and Upstreet are holding their own activities on Monday, January 1st. PEIBC will be serving up beer and live music from noon-2 pm, and has their PEIBC Levee Bus picking up and dropping off at several locations (check their FB page for exact times and where to be). Over at Upstreet, they’re re-releasing Top Stamp, their crowd-favourite Amber Lager, while celebrating Levee Day with their 2018 Kick-Off, a full day of live music, brewery tours, staff-priced pints, brunch, and beer cocktails. They open at 10 am, with music starting at noon.

• Not to be outdone over in Halifax, Stillwell is holding their own Levee Day Celebration, starting at noon. With special beers pouring all day – including the second release of Stilly Pils, as well as Lambic by the glass – expect a special menu featuring new tasty treats to pair with whatever you have in your glass.

Happy New Year! Have a safe and beer-filled evening on Sunday. Before we go, a couple last things…

Ol’ Biddy’s has released their newest American IPA that we reported on two weeks ago; look for Saturday Night Fever (6% ABV) at Stillwell, Battery Park, and the Mount Uniacke Pub.
– The latest iteration of TrailWay‘s ever-changing Kettle Sour, El Generico (3.8% ABV), is available as of today. This one was brewed with orange juice concentrate, lactose and vanilla, and was conditioned on fresh orange zest; slightly acidic and reminiscent of an Orange Creamsicle, it’s available in cans and on tap at the brewery.

It’s the last Friday before Christmas, and that means the last chance for gift ideas for the special someone on your list (and you!). We’ve got a new brewery, plenty of new beers, and promises of beers to come in the new year to get you in the giving (and drinking) mood. So grab a beer, put down the wrapping paper, and check it out!

Off Track Brewing is opening today in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Located at 275 Rocky Lake Drive, the brewery opens today at 3 PM for pints, 4 oz samples, flights and growler and grunter fills. Visitors can get a taste of a handful of the beers made right on site, including their Alias Pale Ale, Good Grief Charlie Brown Brown Ale, Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Stout, Crash Course IPA, and Hoover a Dip IPA. They’ve also announced that they will be open on both Christmas Day (12 – 5 PM) and Boxing Day (12 – 9 PM) for beer emergencies. In fact, the only days they’re closed for the rest of the year are Wednesday the 27th and New Year’s Day. Check this Facebook post for their hours on any of the other days and  consider heading on down to sample the wares from HRM’s newest brewery. Congratulations to Allan, Matt, and Jon!

• Moncton’s Bore City has dipped their collective toe into the world of hazy, juicy, tropical IPAs with one of their own. There’s a NEW England? is a New England (or North East, depending on who you ask) IPA, hopped with Azacca and Ekuanot/Equinox. No filtering here, folks, as that would strip out lots of those flavours. So embrace the haze and find this 7.5% ABV beer on tap around town and quite possibly at the James Joyce in Fredericton, as part of their rotating line-up of all-NB beers.

• Halifax’s RockBottom Brewpub is saying “Merry Christmas” to its customers with two new beers on tap this week. First up is Nitro ESB, a 5.6% ABV English Special Bitter hopped with East Kent Goldings and Fuggles. With “sweet toffee notes derived from dark Crystal malts”, and a firm bitterness (at 40 IBUs) to balance, it was carbonated with nitrogen to give a creamier mouthfeel. Next is Japanese Rice Lager, brewed with equal parts malted barley and rice. Thanks to the high amount of adjunct in this beer, it has a very light body, with “a malty sweet, yet slightly tart, fruit finish”. It was lagered at cold temps for over six weeks, and comes in at 4.5% ABV and 10 IBUs.

TrailWay is bringing back their annual holiday brew, Christmas Rascal, which will be released at the brewery today at noon. The recipe has changed since last year, with this Imperial Milk Stout being conditioned on lots of cacao nibs, vanilla, and a “blend of spices”. Expect a creamy and full mouthfeel, plenty of chocolate character, and a background of vanilla and spice. It’s a big one at 8.5% ABV; cans and pints at the brewery, with a few lucky spots around Fredericton pouring it on tap as well. And please keep in mind that 50% of all pint revenues today will be donated to the Fredericton, so do your part to help out and drop by for a beer or three. And if you bring an item for their food drive, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a TW merch package.

• Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub is holding a double-banger of a day today. At 11AM, they will be hosting another one of their Growler Fill Days, featuring a return of their Peach Shake Ale (Peach Milkshake IPA, with peaches, vanilla beans, lactose, and plenty of hops), Young Blood IPA (Hazy yet crisp, with notes of citrus and grass), and the brand new 7.2% ABV Destroyer IPA (featuring Enigma and Mosaic hops, for a meld of tropical, fruit, and dank notes). With 3 kegs of each beer available, they should last until lunch, but there’s no guarantee! And from 1-5PM, their holiday tradition of Free Oysters continues. With the purchase of any drink, you’ll be served a tasty trio of oysters to toast the season. Be sure to drop by!

• The Annapolis Cider Company is releasing Wine and Strawberry, the latest in their one-off Something Different series, today at the cidery. This one is an unfiltered, sparkling blend, bringing together dry cider, red wine, and strawberry juice. The hand-picked apples were juiced and cool-fermented before being combined with red wine from local Leon Millot grapes. Cryo-extracted juice from local strawberries was then added to this blend, resulting in a 5.9% ABV “aromatic, medium-bodied cider with soft tannins and bright notes of fresh juicy strawberries”. Every fill of this one will see $0.50 donated to the Wolfville and Area Food Bank.

• Today, Saint John’s Big Tide is launching a special beer with a party at the brewpub at 8 pm. Darlings Island American Lager was brewed with a grist of Pilsner and Munich malt; the beer was hopped with Saaz from local hop suppliers Darlings Island Farm. The 5.4% ABV, 43 IBUs beer was brewed a couple of months ago, in order to give it the time to lager (cold-condition) before its release. Speaking of its release, the Release Party will happen tonight, as mentioned; your $25 ticket gets you entry and a pint of the beer, with all proceeds going to Broken Earth (a medical relief mission in Haiti). It’s a great cause, so if you’re in the area and looking to get away from the craziness that is shopping during Christmas, head down to Big Tide! You can reserve your ticket by calling 506-214-3311.

• Rose Valley, PEI’s BarNone Brewery has a new beer available this week, Warmer Winter. This 8.2% ABV Brown Ale was brewed with Bryan Carver of DME Brewing Solutions, who boldly loaded up the mash tun with Ginger Snaps, giving it, we imagine, a spicy ginger character to complement an otherwise malt-forward beer. You’ll find a limited supply of bottles available at the brewery as well as at the Charlottetown Farmers Market tomorrow.

• A reminder that Port Rexton Brewing‘s Pop-up Shop at 286 Torbay Road is open again this weekend (4-8PM today, 12-6PM tomorrow). Growlers of Mr. Wheaty Pants are available, as well as cans of Chasing Sun NEIPA and T-Rex Porter. And for those in the area, or would like a bit of a drive, their taproom in Port Rexton will be open tomorrow 2-10PM for Tibb’s Eve, for merchandise, pints, and growler fills, as well as cans of Baycation BlondeChasing SunHorse Chops IPA, and T-Rex Porter.

• And speaking of that T-Rex Porter, it’s the base of a very special holiday beer released today. A couple months back, they put some of that beer in French Oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels to condition along with some locally foraged partridgeberries. The result, which they’re calling Nor’ Easter is 6.5% ABV and 19 IBU and it’s available now in 500 mL bottles at the Port Rexton taproom as well as at their retail outlet in St. John’s. In the interest of letting as many people as possible try this special brew, there’s a 2 bottle limit per-person. So if you’re in Newfoundland and you’ve got a beer lover in your life, we’re guessing this would make a pretty stellar stocking stuffer. Or hey, if you’re the beer lover in your life, maybe skip the stocking and go straight to the enjoyment part.

• At Lunn’s Mill in Lawrencetown, NS, they’ve got a new beer courtesy of their assistant brewer, Peter, who took the lead on all aspects of this new brew. As fans of hoppy amber styles (think MBC Zöe and Trailway Good Aura),  they’ve been wanting to try their hand at making one for some time. Today’s release, Clever Girl is that beer, based on a grist of Maris Otter pale malt, with honey and chocolate malts for sweet and roasty character. For hops, Amarillo and Centennial were used, both known for bringing grapefruit and other citrus presence along with some floral notes (Centennial) and melon and stone fruit (Amarillo). The batch was double-dry-hopped to encourage a smooth hop character; it finished at 5.5% ABV and 40 IBU so it should be an easy drinker, with a well-defined malt backbone balanced against a bright and prominent hop presence. Available on tap at the brewery now for fills and pints.

• And, moving from the Valley to the South Shore of NS, Heritage Brewing in Yarmouth has a brand new collaboration beer hitting the taps, this one done with their downtown neighbours Sip Café. Starting with a porter base, they added fresh-brewed coffee from the gang at Sip along with chocolate soaked in Vanilla Bean Vodka from Annapolis Royal’s Still Fired Distilleries. The result is a smooth beer weighing in at 7% ABV, with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavour. Only 180 L was made, however, and some of that has been set aside for Sip Café’s own taps, so if it sounds like your cuppa tea, or, maybe more accurately, cuppa joe, they’ve got a limited amount for growler fills and tasters at the brewery. Otherwise you’ll be waiting for it to appear at Sip, when you might just see a contest to give this brew a name.

2 Crows received a special care package in the mail this week, just in time for a special collaboration beer that they brewed up yesterday! A picture on their Facebook page gave a glimpse of several delicious-sounding yeast and bugs from Escarpment Labs, including a “Lacto Cocktail” and a “Fruit Bomb Saison Blend” (one with Saccharomyces, and one with Brettanomyces). Escarpment has officially teamed up with 2C for this beer, which while we can’t share all of the details yet, we can tell you that it’ll be funky, sour, and fermented in one of their Calvados oak foedres (now empty thanks to the packaging and release of Never Again, which we mentioned last week). As always, we’ll keep you up to date on the progress of this new beer!

Before we sign off today, remember that most (but not all) breweries and taprooms will be closed Christmas Day, and many are adjusting their hours on the 24th and 26th as well. Check social media or call first to avoid disappointment!

Boxing Rock has brought back their Russian Imperial Stout, U-889. Featuring coffee from the Valley’s Just Us! Roaster, and whole Madagacar Bourbon vanilla beans, this 8.89% ABV beer is the perfect pairing for cool nights in front of the fire, or food with friends. Co-owner and -brewer Emily Tipton decided to go the extra mile and cook with it, detailing her recipe and results on their blog. Grab bottles at the brewery, their tables at the Halifax Seaport and Dartmouth Alderney Landing Farmers Markets tomorrow, and at the private stores in HRM.
– Next Thursday, Dec 28, Good Robot will be releasing yet another iteration of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie Pale Ale (5.5% ABV), this time featuring organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (I’m going to trust their spelling of that) coffee beans from Java Blend Coffee Roasters, cold-brewed by Low Point Coffee Co. And a heads up that, due to staff demand, their taproom and brewery will be open regular store hours over the holidays.
– After a little adventure in canning line malfunction last Friday (too many hops!) Unfiltered had a fridge full of cans (Hoppy FingersFlat Black JesusExile on North Street, and DOA) to start the day on Tuesday, but it’s surely been dented if not decimated over the last three days. Also in the fridge are bottles of their Commissar Russian Imperial Stout. They’ve got store hours from 12-8 PM today, from noon tomorrow (until 8 PM, we suspect), and not again until December 29th, so if you want Unfiltered cans to be part of your Christmas week you’d best be getting on that by tomorrow!

Good afternoon, Atlantic Canada beer lovers! Now that Christmas is just about here (yes, you can officially start to panic now), we thought we should work hard to ignore our pre-Christmas responsibilities and publish another Friday Wrap-Up, to distract you from your shopping, cooking, wrapping, etc. Hey, it’s just the kind of guys we are!

Tatamagouche Brewing has a beauty of a beer available as of yesterday, an “American Brett Ale” named Feronia. Comprised of a fairly-simple grist of mainly 2-row, with some Wheat malt and Spelt, and a touch of Acid malt, it was lightly hopped to 20 IBUs with Huell Melon. Fermented with a blend of three Brettanomyces strains to “really drive the dark/red fruits, as well as some classic funk”, the beer was aged in secondary on plums before being bottle-conditioned for six months. Available now at the brewery in 750 mL cork-and-cage bottles, as well as on tap, those of you in the HRM can expect a small amount of bottles to also be available at the private stores. A few kegs will likely make their way to better beer establishments in Halifax sometime next week.

• Moncton’s Tide & Boar has announced their very first bottle release, which will be taking place today at 5 pm. Named simply Barrel Aged Sour, the beer was soured with Lactobacillus, and then aged for three months in a Napa Valley Pinot Noir French oak barrel. After this, it was racked on top of 30 lbs of New Brunswick-grown raspberries, fermented with Brettanomyces, and bottle-conditioned. Only 200 bottles were packaged, and 100 of these will be sold today at the Bottle Release Party from 5-7 pm, depending on how quickly they sell. We’ll keep you updated on when the remaining 100 bottles are sold… if they are at all!

• Let’s stay in Moncton, shall we? Bore City released their first hoppy beer in some time last week, and judging from some early buzz, it’s a good one! Causeway is a 6.5% ABV, ~40 IBUs American IPA that features large amounts of late addition hops – Mosaic and Vic Secret – as well as plenty of both in the dry-hop. Complemented nicely by a malt bill that includes Flaked Oats and Flaked Barley, as well as some Vienna and Honey malt, expect a huge floral, fruity, and citrusy aroma, followed by equally as much in the flavour. It’s circulating among their regular tap accounts, but it’s going fast. But don’t worry! They plan on making this a regular addition to their line-up, so more will be brewed in the near future.

• After launching their brewery last month with their first two core beers, Montague PEI’s Copper Bottom Brewing has just released their first seasonal. Nostalgically named Charlie Brown Ale (nostalgic for us, anyway!), it’s a Brown Ale brewed along the English-style lines, showcasing a “rich malty aroma, and smooth chocolate and nutty qualities”. As a good English-style beer should be, it’s quite drinkable at just 4.5% ABV and 15 IBUs, and is meant to be enjoyed in quantity during these colder evenings (and afternoons). You can find it on tap at the brewery in Montague, and at CB tap accounts across the Island.

• Elsewhere on the Island, Upstreet is launching the first in yet another new series of one-off beers. The Flipside Series was created to introduce “fresh new flavours,  ingredients, and beer styles” to consumers, with all beers in this series being packed in the standard 500 mL Upstreet bottles. Their first stab in this series is Amber Saison, a Belgian-inspired beer that provides a “dry finish with a subtle vinous character”. With PEI Vienna malt in the grist, and UK Archer and French Triskel hops to just 20 IBUs, this 5.5% ABV Saison was fermented with a Belgian yeast to give the required phenolics and esters in the style. Grab your bottles today at the brewery or PEILCC stores.

• Today, TrailWay is releasing Malibu, their first dark-coloured beer in months. An Imperial Milk Stout, it was brewed to be “extremely chocolate-forward” before being conditioned on hefty amounts of toasted coconut and pure vanilla extract. With some lactose powder added to increase sweetness and mouthfeel, the resulting beer is “like drinking a liquid macaroon”, with lots of coconut and chocolate notes, as well as a complementary background of vanilla. Coming in at a whopping 9% ABV, you’ll want to take it easy with this one. As always with their one-offs, you can grab it in cans at the brewery only; it will also be on tap there and at select accounts in Fredericton.

• Down in Yarmouth, Heritage Brewing is helping residents stay warm with the release of their Steamship Belgian Quad this weekend. A full-bodied, 9% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale, it’s “malty and slightly sweet, with notes of raisin, cherries, plums and prunes”. The Belgian yeast strain was responsible for the fruity esters and spicy phenolics in the beer, and the high ABV provides a slight alcohol warmth on the way to your eager stomach… perfect for winter (yes, it’s not officially here yet, but who cares about the exact date). Look for this new brew at the brewery this weekend for growler fills.

Annapolis Cider Company is bringing back Muscat Infusion, one of their popular ciders in their Something Different series. Originally released last March, it’s being sold in a convenient size for crowd sharing… Magnums! A 7.1% ABV sparkling cider infused with Nova Scotia Muscat grapes (which were added during fermentation to extract colour, tannins, and aroma), it was finished with a “touch” of fresh-pressed apple juice. Rose-coloured, with “distinct tropical and floral notes”, the 1.5 L bottles are available at the cidery for a very limited time.

• Further into the valley in Lawrencetown, Lunn’s Mill has a treat for its fans around the region: they are testing out a new package to get their beer to you, cans! Available now is a very limited run of 12-packs for the holidays featuring 10 different beers, available now at the brewery. This is an awesome opportunity for one of Nova Scotia’s most local breweries to see some of their beer travelling beyond the Valley and the Province for others to enjoy. As of publishing, they are down to their last dozen cases, so don’t delay in grabbing yours today! And due to its popularity, we can guarantee that they’ll be releasing more canned product in the near future.

• The fine folks at 2 Crows Brewing on Brunswick Street in Halifax have a couple things on the go for us to share. Earlier this week saw another batch go on tap from their brewery assistant Nick Ogden, this one an Imperial Witbier called Wite Nite. Taking a lighter style known for easy summer drinking and pumping it up to 8.7% ABV for a December release takes something. And while we’re not exactly sure what that something is, we’re positive that Nick has it. Keg conditioned, it features aromas of sweet orange and grapefruit with some hints of pineapple. The palate sees citrus and apricot with a wine-like character lending an “overall lusciousness”. This one is available only by the glass in the tasting room.

• And this coming Wednesday will see the last canned release of 2017 for 2 Crows (how many were there? LOTS) with the arrival of Never Again. Named for brewmaster Jeremy Taylor’s feelings after he boldly purchased 400 pounds of peaches at a really good price before pitting them and then jamming them into one of his Calvados foedres, this is a Brett Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV and 23 IBU. Fermented on the Amalgamation blend of Brettanomyces strains, it started with a grist of malted barley, spelt, oats (surprise!) and wheat, to which Belma and Simcoe hops were added in the boil. After it came out of the wood, it was dry-hopped with Citra, Hallertauer Blanc and Huell Melon before being keg conditioned with Champagne yeast. Rife with oaky tannins, funk, and peach character, it still manages to be delicate. Look for it at the brewery next week and then, very possibly, at finer private liquor stores in Halifax.

Good Robot has another new Alpha Brew hitting taps next Thursday, Yas Queen Chocolate Porter. Brewed with a hefty grist of Maris Otter, Flaked Oats, Flaked Barley, Coffee malt, Vienna, and Chocolate malt, the beer had several additional ingredients thrown in, including dark cocoa powder in the mash, lactose, carob powder and ground cacao nibs in the boil, and chocolate extract into the brite tank before packaging. Hopped with Belma to 25 IBUs, it weighs in at 6.1% ABV. In terms of tasting notes, we’re going to go out on a limb and say notes of…. chocolate? And next Tuesday’s Beta Brew will be Make My Day IPA, a “light, super fruity” beer bittered with Magnum, and hopped with Dr. Rudi and Zythos late in the boil, and dry-hopped with more Zythos and some Mosaic. Fermented with the East Coast Ale yeast strain, it comes in at a very reasonable 4.5% ABV and 44 IBUs.

• There’s a new beer in the fermentor at Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse, a brand new, currently unnamed American IPA. Brewed with Pale malt, Wheat malt, Crystal 30 L, Carapils, and Dextrose, it features late additions of Amarillo and Centennial hops, and will be dry-hopped with more Centennial. The expected stats on this light golden-coloured brew are 6% ABV and 43 IBUs, with floral, orange, and grapefruit flavours. We’ll keep you updated on when it’s released over the next couple of weeks.

• Also still in the fermentor, but available in kegs as of Monday, is Ol’ Biddy’s first collaboration brew, done with Todd Beal. Using a recipe that was developed before the brewery opened its doors as a guide, Keith and Todd brewed Call Your Bluff a light, dry pale ale named for Todd’s favourite hiking location, the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. This one comes in at 4.7% ABV and, although the calculated IBUs are 28, the perceived bitterness should be a little higher owing to the use of light malts and the overall dryness of the beer. Well-hopped with Amarillo for an orange, floral and pungent grapefruit hop presence, you’ll find it at Battery Park next week and potentially some other tap accounts. Keith has also advised us to be on the lookout for his Funktown Pale Ale to pop up around the city, as it is becoming the brewery’s mainstay.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing isn’t slowing down for the holidays at all, as they’ve got three beers to tell us about this week. First is the return of their seasonal Spruce Beer, an attempt at recreating North America’s oldest beer style using spruce and fir tips harvested from Meander River Farm along with Crosby’s Blackstrap Molasses. It weighs in at a husky 7.5% ABV and solid 35 IBU and will be available at the brewery and Liquid Assets at the Halifax Airport with some delivery to Newfoundland expected as well. If you’re a fan of this beer don’t delay, though, as they’ve made a smaller batch than in previous years.

• Next up is the return of a big ol’ beer originally released in January of this year. Wintervention is an Imperial Chocolate Stout built on a base of Maritime pale malt with chocolate and Munich for character. Hopped to 60 IBUs with Millennium, it’s been sitting in Bourbon barrels from Buffalo Trace for the past 11 months and is now bottled and ready to go. Flavours of bourbon, cocoa, cherry, vanilla and coffee present themselves in this sipper, which is sure to be warming against the coming cold at 11.5% ABV. Look for this one at the brewery starting today as well, although not until 3 PM.

• And lastly is another beer seen only briefly before before being given some time to develop. Back in September Garrison brewed a special collaboration beer with Sawdust City Brewing out of Gravenhurst, ON, to commemorate the announcement of Halifax as the host city for the 2018 Canadian Brewing Awards. That beer is called Leroy and it is an Imperial Brown Ale tipping the scales at 10% ABV and 41 IBU. After 3 months of conditioning it’s ready for general consumption, with its creamy head, smooth aroma, and flavours of molasses bread and milk chocolate. Like the other two you’ll find it at the brewery starting today in 650 mL bombers.

Uncle Leo’s is releasing their first ever barrel-aged beer, a Smoked Porter aged in a whiskey barrel from Cape Breton’s Glenora DistillerySmoke’n Oakum is 9.2% ABV, and named in tribute of the Phantom Ship of the Northumberland Straight. It features big notes from the dark and smoked malts in the beer, as well as the vanilla and caramel notes from the whiskey and oak. This beer is in short supply (only one barrel’s worth!), so drop by the brewery tomorrow to grab your allotment!

• Saint John’s Loyalist City has taken over the taps at the Wellington Row ANBL’s Growler Bar, with a wide variety of beers flowing: their Backslide IPA, Three Sisters American Pale Ale, their latest Hop Series: Wai-tiPink Dwarf Tart Cherry Kettle Sour, Red Tart (a raspberry kettle sour, in extremely low quantity), and the latest release of their Black 47 Stout, featuring hops from local grower Darlings Island Farm. Mark and Dave from LCBC will be on hand this evening to fill growlers and chat, while also raising money for Romero House, who provide hot meals and other food assistance, clothing bank, and guidance for those in need.

• And last, but certainly not least, are two new releases from harbour hopping North Brewing Company. Yesterday saw the release of their latest Finite Series of beers (those that take a little longer and are in finite supply). Baldrsbräu is a 5.5% ABV bottle-conditioned Saison, made with hay and chamomile. The melding of the malt, light hopping, adjuncts and yeast result in a refreshing beer with notes of flower and herb. Bottles are available at both the Halifax and Dartmouth North locations. Releasing tomorrow at noon (also at both North shops) is a special Barrel-Aged version of Saison de Pinot. The original Saison de Pinot featured pinot noir must from Benjamin Bridge‘s own estate-grown grapes. Taking the wine influence to the next level, 220 litres of SdP was aged in a red wine barrel from Benjamin Bridge, and has now been bottle-conditioned for our enjoyment. Released in honour of Battery Park‘s Second Anniversary, fewer than 300 bottles are available, so don’t delay in picking up one (or two, one for enjoying now, one for aging). Or drop by Battery Park tomorrow to try bottle pours of this release alongside last year’s un-oaked batch!

Don’t sleep on the events and openings we’ve got on the go!

• As mentioned above, Dartmouth’s Battery Park is celebrating their 2nd Anniversary tomorrow. From 11:30 til late, there will be a dozen-plus beers available from North on tap and by the bottle. In addition to the three mentioned above, previous Finite Series releases Ask & Embla and Oh My Darlin’ will be pouring, the North x Stillwell collab GoseBarrel-Aged Milk Stout, and many more.

• Life got in the way, so we didn’t manage to publish the promised Profile of Tusket Falls Brewing, but don’t let that keep you from visiting them during their launch weekend. Tomorrow from noon, they’ll have samples, flights, and pints of their Golden Ale, Stout, Red IPA and Smoked Ale. And going forward, the brewery and tap room will be open from 12 – 10pm daily, except 12 – 6pm Sundays.

• There’s still a few tickets left for Fredericton’s Christmas Brewery Tour 3.0, happening tomorrow from 11:30 am – 4 pm. Your ticket ($65 each) includes transportation to three local breweries (Maybee, Grimross, and TrailWay), a minimum of four 4 oz samples at each stop, and a final stop at the King Street Ale House for a pint of Foghorn beer (head brewer Esty will also be on hand to chat beer). The bus for this tour will be leaving Maybee Brewing at 11:30 am sharp, with everything wrapping up at KSAH. Tickets are available through the event link above.

• Due to extremely fast sales for next year’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival (Saturday, March 10th), organizers have decided to tack on Newbie Night for Friday, March 9th. This three hour event (6-9 pm) will feature 10-12 breweries that are new to the region; while the list of those participating has not been solidified quite yet, with all of the new breweries opening in Atlantic Canada, filling it up won’t be a difficult job! This event will be more low-key than the two FCBF sessions the next day, with only 200-300 tickets being sold. It will still take place at the Fredericton Convention Centre downtown, and your $62.20 ticket includes a keeper glass and unlimited samples. Whether you missed out on evening tickets for Saturday, or already have FCBF tickets and really want to fill up your weekend with beer, Newbie Night is the perfect solution! Tickets are available now through the link above.

A few more things to leave you with this week…

Picaroons has their tenth iteration of Pivot now available; this time around, the 8% ABV, 80 IBUs DIPA was hopped with Amarillo and Sorachi Ace. To celebrate the season, they’ve also thrown in some spruce tips into the boil, making it what they’re calling an “Imperial Christmas Tree IPA”. Available at all Picaroons locations, and in bottles at select ANBL stores.
– Twillingate’s Split Rock Brewing has a brand new beer pouring today. Santa’s Little Helper is a 10.8% Barleywine, focusing on a big malt backbone with some balancing bitterness to keep it from being too sweet. Light warming with notes of caramel and fruit cake, this small batch is only available at the Stage Head Pub, the brewery’s taproom.
– Good news for hop fans in Halifax, Unfiltered Brewing has done another canning run. Look for Exile on North StreetFlat Black Jesus, and DOA as early as this afternoon. Available at the retail location on Fridays and Saturdays and Bishop’s Cellar all week as long as stock lasts.
– Speaking of Bishop’s Cellar, although you might know that they do a bang up job of supporting the local scene and providing shelf and tap space for an extremely wide selection of beers from our region, you might not be aware that they’re also known for bringing in special treats from other environs, many of which are pretty hard to come by. This week some highlights include extremely limited quantities of Bellwoods Barn Owl Brett IPA with Apricots (foedre-aged for a year), and Oria Guava Sour Saison and Sour Cherry from Burdock, along with selections from Quebec superstars Brasserie Dunham and Danish masterminds Evil Twin.