Happy Friday, beer lovers, and welcome to a warm weekend! Whether it’s freezing out or everything is beginning to thaw, there’s always plenty to report on beer news in our region, and this week has been no exception. Let’s get right to it…
• Starting off with some brewery expansion news, Bruce Barton, owner/brewer of Riverview, New Brunswick’s Celtic Knot Brewing, has confirmed that he will be increasing production, from the current 80 L system to a 3.75 BBL (~435 L) within the next couple of months. The current Celtic Knot brewery is located within Bruce’s home, but the new system will be in a separate location in Riverview, where you will be able to drop by to have growlers filled of your favourite CK beers! We’ll be sure to keep you updated on their progress.
• Tidehouse will be releasing another of their one-off beers today – Oaked Island is an American Pale Ale, solely and heavily hopped with Centennial, and fermented on French oak (previously soaked in Russian vodka). This unique combination results in flavours of “citrus, pine, and floral notes” from the Centennial, with a “soft, subtle vanilla character” thanks to the oak. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV, it will be available at the TH retail shop on Salter, as well as on tap at Stillwell, Battery Park, and Water & Bone. Look for future one-offs to be released on Fridays in the future – this is a change from previous releases, which have occurred on Wednesdays. Hey, we definitely benefit from that!
• The gang at Good Robot has some news and new beers for us this coming week, but also slipped a new beer onto the taps the other day. Dubbel Trubbel came about when Kelly Costello and a co-worker were inspired by a recipe in a homebrew magazine that included star anise and dates. Leveraging GR’s unofficial beer knowledge program that allows employees to try out brewing for themselves, they put the recipe into action, albeit minus the star anise and the dates. We’re guessing with that name it’s probably in the Belgian Dubbel style and we’d assume it was brewed on the GR BetaBrew system, meaning there won’t be a lot of it, so you’ll want to act quickly if you’d like to try it.
• The big news for Good Robot this week is that they’ve found themselves an assistant brewer. Jake Charles DeWolfe is now on the scene, and to celebrate there will be a twin pack of new releases in the GR taproom on Tuesday. The first is DeWolfe of Wall Street, in the American Pale Ale style, a complementary beer to brewmaster Doug’s Burban Legend, mirroring the yin Jake will bring to Doug’s yang. We presume. With a simple malt bill of 2-row, Pilsner and Vienna underpinning a hop schedule that includes Cascade for bittering, Mount Hood for dry hop and both for aroma during a whirlpool, this 6.3% ABV pale comes in high and hard with citrus hop flavours and a dry, crisp finish, but only 29 IBU. Joining that beer will be a BetaBrewed Mexican Lager for which a suitably Good Robot name has not yet been determined. At a very light 4.7% ABV and a barely there 14 IBU, it’s built around pale malt, flaked corn and Vienna for a touch of biscuity flavor, and agave nectar, all paired with the noble Tettnang hop variety, and fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast. This one is likely to be dangerously crushable and reminiscent of a summer day at the lake.
• Over in Burnside, Spindrift has some releases in the coming months that they’re teasing on social media. The Killick is labeled as a “session lager” but has been referred to elsewhere as a Munich Helles, a classic German style that is fairly low alcohol, light-bodied, malt-balanced and designed to go down easy. This will be their first packaging in 355ml cans and it will be available in six packs from the brewery sometime around mid-March and then the NSLC later on. Spindrift are also going to have a seasonal single serve slot at the NSLC and the first two offerings will be the Blueberry Chai Pils we mentioned last week from April to June (also available a the brewery in mid-March) and the Blood Orange India Pale Lager from July to September. We’ll surely have more details for you about these beers and their availability as their official release dates approach.
• Digby’s Roof Hound has brewed up an interesting new beer, which will be the first in their upcoming Dive Bar Classic Cocktail series, where all the beers will be inspired by well-known cocktails. This first brew is a Mojito Sour – “partially kettle-soured” (meaning half the batch was soured, and then blended with the non-soured half), it will be dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial, and also feature the addition of fresh mint, and lime zest and juice. The official launch party for this brew will be held on Saturday, March 4th; we’ll keep you updated on the official stats for this one when they’re confirmed.
• Word hit the street last week that Greg Nash has brought his Russian Imperial Stout, Commissar to Unfiltered. Last seen during his time at the Hart & Thistle, many have lamented that it was on tap when that establishment closed and the last batch was never properly finished. This time around, the beer was aged on oak for months and fortified with J.D. Shore Black Rum from Halifax Distilling Co.. Promising a slightly sweet flavour with lots of dark fruit and hints of bitter chocolate, it is said to be reminiscent of rum cake. It will be available as of noon today at the brewery for growler fills, Charm School for pints, and both the brewery and Bishop’s Cellar for bottles ($16/500ml). This one is likely to get even better with age, so definitely consider grabbing a couple bottles for your cellar when you pop in for your first taste. But be aware, at 11.6% ABV and full of rum, this one is likely to have you throwing rocks at your own house if you’re not careful!
• Red Rover has a new, very-limited batch cider pouring at the Cider House in Fredericton. Just released earlier this week, Blood Orange is a 7% ABV semi-dry cider infused with blood orange juice. Tart and crisp, yet balanced by the accompanying sweetness, it’s available for pours only (no flagon fills) due to the limited supply; however, if feedback is quite positive, there’s a good chance a larger batch will be made in the future. Look for it on tap at James Joyce and Graystone, as well.
• Look for a new beer to be released from FirkinStein very soon – Project Orange is described as a “light, easy-drinking ale with a slight orange tang” by the brewery, despite weighing in at a fairly hefty 7% ABV. With a slight citrus hop presence in the background thanks to the addition of Cascade, there was also plenty of orange juice added. It will be making its debut at tomorrow’s Craft Beer Cottage Party, and should also be pouring at Battery Park shortly afterwards.
• Big Tide and Picaroons have joined forces to brew a collaboration beer, a Doppelbock named The Uphill Battle. The recipe was concocted between the two breweries, and the beer mashed-in on Big Tide’s system (featuring a grist of Bohemian Pilsner, Munich, CaraMunich and Carafoam). Half of the resultant wort stayed at Big Tide, and the other half was transported to the Picaroons General Store location; both were then boiled, hopped (with Magnum and Perle), and fermented at their respective homes with a dry Lager yeast. Coming in at 6.5% ABV, this malty, toasty brew will be going on tap at the Big Tide brewpub and the General Store tomorrow.
• Big news in Halifax from what will be one of the smallest breweries in the region by design – brought to you by the folks behind Stillwell Beer Bar, Stillwell Brewing will be focused on small-batch mixed-fermentations and oak barrel aging, and might possibly be the first brewery of its kind in Canada. Taking up some space in the back area of Propeller Brewing in the North End of Halifax, expect very small scale, periodic bottle releases, and very rare keg tappings (most of which will happen at SW and their Beer Garden). We’ll keep you updated on this exciting bit of info as it develops! In the meantime, follow Stillwell Brewing on Instagram for some pics on behind the scenes activity.
• The NSLC released their third quarter financial results covering the three months ending December 31st, 2016, and the news for Nova Scotia Craft Beer continues to be good. While overall beer sales were down 0.4%, craft beer sales continued to grow, with a 29.5% increase to $2.5m over the same quarter in the previous year. Though this increase isn’t quite as large as seen in first (48.4%) and second (39.7) quarters, it shows the industry still has room to grow. It will certainly be interesting to see whether Q4 shows a continuation of this trend and also whether additional shelf space for craft beer will carry the trend into the next fiscal year.
There’s a whole whack of events going on over the next few days, especially in the HRM… take your pick from below and be sure to head out over the weekend!
• Tonight, the Stubborn Goat will be holding a tap takeover with Charlottetown, PEI’S Upstreet, in the Flight Night at the Goat. Eight Upstreet beers will be on tap, including Smoked Porter from their One Way series. There’s no cover; just show up for plenty of beer, plus food pairings and flight specials! All of the Upstreet crew will be there, anxious to meet you and chat about everything beer!
• Been too long since the last <insert amazing brewery here> tap takeover at Stillwell for ya? Well, it really hasn’t been that long at all, but good news! Tomorrow, February 25th, they’ll be hosting a Le Castor takeover, with 12 amazing beers pouring all day. One of Quebec’s highest-regarded breweries, they’re bringing some real winners, such as Colorado (a “dry-hopped Wild Ale”) and Sanctuaire (a Tripel aged in red wine barrels with Brett). No charge to attend, just show up and pay by the pour!
• Bishop’s Cellar is holding a Big Spruce tap takeover tomorrow, February 25th, which should last all weekend. Their collaboration with Bishop’s, Anaphylactic Choc – a 5.5% ABV “Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter” that features Nutsmith organic peanut butter added in the boil and that was aged on organic cocao nibs – will be pouring. Drop by in the afternoon between 1-4 pm, and don’t forget to bring your growlers! In addition to the new brew, they’ll be have Tim’s Dirty American IPA, Kitchen Party Pale Ale, Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout and Liquid James Brown Milkshake IPA available for fills, with samples of some special one-offs while your jugs are being filled.
• Also tomorrow, February 25th, Hell Bay is holding Cocoa & Malt, a special pairing of dark beer and hand-crafted chocolate desserts and sweets. Originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day, it had to be postponed due to weather… and luckily, there’s still some spots left! It’s $25+tax per person; reserve your spot by calling 902-356-3556.
• Halifax’s Jamieson’s Irish Pub is currently holding a Bad Apple Brewhouse and Propeller tap takeover, which will continue until this Sunday, February 25th. With eight beers from BAB (including their wonderful Mosaic DIPA), and seven from Propeller (including a cask of their ESB), it’s pay-as-you-drink all weekend. BAB’s owner/brewery Jeff Saunders will be on hand for beer questions/chatting tonight, and Propeller’s brewer/sales manager Pat Robichaud will be available on Saturday night. Check out the full tap list here.
• It’s another busy week coming up for Good Robot, starting with their participation at the Craft Beer Cottage Party tomorrow night, followed by an after-party luau featuring beers and buddies from Upstreet Brewing back at the taproom, with Koconut Kings providing musical entertainment. As mentioned above, Tuesday, February 28th, will see the debut of beers from Jake DeWolfe, Assistant Brewer, paired with a Mardi Gras Cajun menu from Black Sheep and a soul playlist on vinyl from Black Buffalo spun by a live DJ. Thursday, March 2nd sees a tap takeover at the taproom by North Brewing, with 8 taps, possibly the most ever for that brewery in a North end pub. The favour is returned the next night, on Friday, March 3rd when 14, count’em 14 Good Robot brews go up at Battery Park in Dartmouth. The most. Ever. Anywhere. We expect to hear more about that this week, so look for more details in next week’s wrap-up.
That’s the news we’ve got to share this week! Have a great weekend, and be sure to enjoy some of that unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having! Before we head out for good…
– Last night was the first Brew Ha-Ha at the Company House, featuring Tidehouse Brewing and the comedy of Andrew Vaughan, Dan Hendrickson and Frank Russo. We’ll find out more about what sounds like it might be a regular event, and let you know.
– The Craft Beer Cottage Party is tomorrow night at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market at 7pm. Although the VIP passes have sold out it looks like there are still some general tickets available. Come on out to dream of summer and sample the wares of 30 breweries from the region.
– Today, Garrison is welcoming Dave Martin, winner of the 2016 Home Brew-Off, to brew his Chamomile IPA on the Garrison system; the beer will be released at this year’s gala on March 23rd. Judging for this year’s competition is actually happening tomorrow, with almost 40 entries for the Wee Heavy style.
– Grimross now has their Pugnacious Porter (6.2% ABV) available in cans; joining their Maritime Pale Ale, it’s available at the brewery and should be following in ANBL stores, soon.
– The Hammond River Blackberry Berliner Weisse we reported on earlier this month is now available on tap; Ram Jam comes in at 3.2% ABV and is circulating on tap around HR accounts.
– March 1st marks one year for Nine Locks Brewing. They’ll be celebrating with draws and in-store specials. If you haven’t been out to see them, it’s probably a good time to rectify that.