brewery sign

Our Maine Beer Weekend continues! After a lovely beer dinner and evening at the Stratton Brook Hut, we headed East to The Forks, a town with a year-round population of 35 people… and 6 bars! It is also the home of Northern Outdoors, an adventure resort open year-round for people visiting for Appalachian Trail thru-hikes, fishing, hunting, ATV, biking, snowmobiling, and of course, white water rafting. Opened in 1976, they were the first company to offer guided rafting in the region. Their lodging facilities range from hotel rooms in the main lodge, beautiful large private cabins (each with room for 8-14 people), smaller cabins for couples, Logdominium units (a condo-type building with large open loft rooms with sleeping for up to 6), plus permanent “cabin tents” and spots to set up your own tent or RV.

taps

We arrived a little too early in the day to check in, but were happy to take a breather in the main lodge, log onto the free wifi, and do some exploring. The resort has a large pond to kayak in, a pool, hot tub, a gift shop, an arcade, and a beautiful fireplace that would keep guests warm in the winter. There are trails on the grounds, and we were given a list and directions to some nearby waterfalls and other hikes worth doing. After our excursion, it was time for a beer! We ordered the sampler tray of their current offerings, and headed out to deck to enjoy the beautiful weather and a game of cornhole. The eight beers available during our visit were: Deer In the HeadLite, a 4.1% ABV light lager brewed as a gateway beer for those new to full flavoured beers; Whitewater Wheat, a 5.2% ABV Witbier with light coriander and orange flavours, characteristic of the Belgian originals; Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale, a very drinkable 4.9% Pale Ale with Cascade hops and lemon zest; Big Mama Blueberry, a 4.8% golden ale with a touch of blueberry flavour; Bawston Bock, a 7.2% Maibock beer; Magic Hole IPA, a 6.0% ABV hoppy and bitter IPA, complete with dry hops; Sled Head Red, a 5.2% malt-forward Red Ale with a very smooth character; Class V Stout, a 5.6% roasty stout served on nitrogen, for a creamy texture. All were very well made, and definitely thirst-quenching.

sampler

The Kennebec River Brewery is actually located in the basement of the main lodge. The 4 barrel (5 hl) system was commissioned in 1996, and has been going great guns ever since, serving the pub upstairs for onsite pints, and growlers to go. All of their beer is unfiltered, and keg conditioned, for a very smooth and flavourful end product. They also feature whole leaf hops and local ingredients whenever possible (in fact, they have been growing hops onsite for a few years now). We spotted some bags of Maine Malt House in the brewery, destined for the next batch of Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale. Brewer Mike McConnell was nice enough to sit and have a drink with us, after returning from that day’s Kennebec River run. He was a very nice guy, dedicated to bringing quality craft beer to the area. He has been with Northern Outdoors for many years, after starting brewing in Rhode Island more than 20 years ago. In addition to brewing, also leads rafting tours, and grooms the snowmobile trails in the winter. He does it all!

fermenters

Erin was a little nervous to do the rafting trip the next day but Mike did his best to assure her she would love it (and she did!). Mike took Chris down to the brewery and showed him around, and gave a great overview of his brewing philosophy. Some of his special one-offs brews, including a Hazelnut Brown and Bourbon Vanilla Porter have us feeling like we’ll need to return in the cooler months! In a town with a population of only 35, they still manage to go through lots of beer year-round!

burger and beer

After talking with Mike, we grabbed a bit of supper. They have a wide variety of pub and finer fare, with the ability to build your own burger from scratch. Several of their dishes are prepared using their beer, and pairing notes are found throughout the menu. After supper, we decided to check into our Logdominium. The building is similar to a motel: a large building with separate units, and parking right at your front door. However, the inside atmosphere is much like a log cabin, with exposed wood. It was very roomy and perfect for a family or group of 6. The downstairs had a kitchenette with stove and fridge (perfect for keeping a Kennebec growler cool) and a picnic table style dining area, a couch and chairs, a double bed, and a bathroom. The stairs lead to a loft area with another single and double bed.

logdominium

After a great night sleep, we had a very light breakfast (so that we didn’t lose it on the river!), and headed on our rafting adventure. After a quick briefing in the main lodge, we took the 40 minute bus ride to the launch site on the Kennebec River. We launched right below Harris Station dam, which has a daily timed release of water. For those more adventurous (maybe our next trip?), there are high Turbine Test Days at Harris Station, as well as rafting on the Penobscot and Dead rivers, which offer more Class IV and IV+ rafting. Today on the Kennebec, there were 17 rafts in all, with more than 100 people on the river. Our awesome rafting guide named Emily was very knowledgeable and capable, and we were joined by a lovely family of five from Boston, who had done this trip before and had come back because they loved it so much.

For the first hour on the river, we hit some great and exciting white water and all managed to get soaked. No one fell out of the raft, but there were certainly some tense moments. We then stopped along the riverside for lunch, with the guides BBQing up steak, chicken, and veggies options everyone, along with a great rice side. They also served lemonade, ice tea, cowboy coffee, with fresh-baked cookies for dessert. It was such a beautiful day, we’d all dried quickly, so some people got in the water for a quick swim before we got back on the water.

rafting

With full bellies, we hit the water again and this time, each raft towed behind it a two-person inflatable kayak. We took turns taking the kayak out by ourselves, to test our river mettle. The current was strong that there wasn’t much work to do. However, we did manage to tip the kayak over (oops!), but the dunk in the drink was refreshing. Along this quieter part of the Kennebec, many of us hopped out of the raft (on purpose this time!), and floated alongside the raft.  All along this whole trip, a pair of videographers in kayaks were documenting our day, and photographers were at various points on the river to capture pictures of the rafters. Once the river ride was over, we all hoisted our rafts up the bank, and loaded into the bus for the short five minute ride back to the resort.

After a fun look at the pictures and videos captured from our day on the river, we had a great visit with Russell Walters, President of Northern Outdoors. He hails originally from the U.K., and first visited and worked with Northern Outdoors in the 1980’s as a river guide. After a stint elsewhere, he joined the Northern Outdoors family in 2000 because of his love of the outdoors and the year-round adventure opportunities. He was a great guy who really believes in unplugging, spending time with family, and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. He still guides rafts occasionally, to return to the passion that brought him to the region.

Thanks very much to Russell, Mike, and the entire Northern Outdoors crew! We had a great time on the river (and at the bar!), and are looking forward to a return visit soon. Be sure to check out their October 3rd Octoberfest Raft ‘n Brews event, which marks the last running on the Dead River for 2015, a BBQ cookout after the river run, and $3 Octoberfest pints all day, and live entertainment that evening.

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Our Maine Beer Weekend continues! After a busy Friday night in Bangor, we hit the road for the Carrabessett Valley Saturday morning. Our destination tonight was the Stratton Brook Hut, part of the Maine Huts & Trails network. On our way there, we passed along the outskirts of Skowhegan, and spotted a sign for Oak Pond Brewing, so of course we had to stop!

Oak Pond

Brewer Adam Chandler was working that day, but took the time to share a few samples with us, and tell us about the brewery. The brewey opened in 1996, with the current owners now in their 12th year of operation. Operating on a 14 BBL (16 hl) brewhouse from DME, they offer both ales and lagers for sale at the brewery and bars across the state.  They also do a brisk growler and keg business, as witnessed by the many visitors we spotted this Saturday afternoon.

oak pond brewhouse

We sampled the Nut Brown Ale, Skowhegan India Pale Lager onsite, and grabbed a bottle of the Storyteller Doppelbock to go. The brewery is open M-F 3-5:30pm, and Sat 12:30-5:30pm, and they are happy to lead a tour of their facilities at any time (except Monday, which is their brewday). Their motto is a great one: Try it ’cause it’s local… drink it ’cause it’s good! FYI, they are cash only, so come prepared. We weren’t, but Adam was gracious enough to accept some Canadian cash instead. :)

trailhead

Back on the road, we arrived and parked at the trailhead for the Stratton Brook Hut, just across Highway 27 from Mountainside Grocers and the entrance to Sugarloaf ski hill. We were setting off on our hike at the same time as a delightful lady named Donna, and so we hiked together. As Donna had stayed at this hut before, she shared her previous experience with us, and was looking forward to a return visit. There are two trails up to the Hut from this trailhead. On our way up, we chose the 5km Oak Knoll Trail and as the hill is quite steep, there were plenty of switchbacks. The walk up was completely enjoyable and could be completed by those of varying skill level, though novices may require a break or two. It was well suited to mountain biking, with carved turns, and we did spot of few bikers along the way. It also happened to be the day of the Baxter Brewing Duathlon, featuring 50 entrants biking 15km and then running 10km along the trail system.

hut beers

When we reached the summit, there was one thing on our minds, A NICE COLD BEER! And lucky for us, they had a great list of local beers for us to try. After Megan and Alex (the full-time staff at the hut this summer) checked us in, we slugged back an Allagash White and Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale. Our first impression of the “hut” was that this was no hut! Built in 2012, it was very well-appointed: The main building featured family-sized dining tables, suitable for 40 people, as well as a cozy lounge area with leather armchairs, sofas and two wood stoves. It also featured hot showers (and cold ones too, perfect after our hike up!). As they are open year-round, the wood stoves would be a welcome sight to a chilly climber or cross-country skier. At the reception counter, they also have a large selection of hot drinks, snacks, and any camping/sleeping accessories one may have forgotten to bring. Lunch was prepared fresh and available 11:30-1:30pm to guests, whether there only for the day, or overnight. There were fresh flowers everywhere and we later learned these were picked from both employee homes and along the trail up to the hut.

hut fireplace

We made our way to our bunkroom and dropped our things. Our room had only one light and a bunk bed (folks are asked to bring their own bed linen), but it was very clean and roomy enough for us. Maine Huts and Trails prides themselves on being environmentally-responsible and urge you to leave electronic devices home and/or ensure they are charged before-hand. The washrooms have composting toilets and timed showers in an effort to reduce waste and save water. There are solar panels outside and there are signs everywhere that read “Pack in, pack out” referring to encouraging minimal garbage and reducing refuse.

pan1_stitch

After taking a short walk to Vista Point to view a lookoff, and spending some time in the lounge tasting a couple more beers (for R&D of course!), we got ready for that nights event. It was a chef-prepared, 4 course meal using as much local fare as possible paired with Baxter beers. We got an introduction of each course and to each beer by Chef Jarod Frigon and Baxter Brewing‘s Director of Brewing Operations Ben Low, and Brewer Matty Johanes, respectively. We were lucky to be seated at the table with folks from both Maine Huts & Trails and Baxter Brewing, and everyone was warm and friendly and handled our incessant questions admirably.

dinner1

Our first course was several breads, cheeses, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and caramelized onions served buffet style. The vegetables and herbs were grown and harvested from around the huts. The first beer was Pamola Xtra Pale Ale, a 4.9% ABV APA whose hoppy aroma and bitterness worked well with the onions and basil.

dinner2

The second course was a salad with fresh greens and raspberries, both picked at the huts. It also had goat cheese, slivered almonds and pears poached in red wine. The second beer was Summer Swelter, a 4.7% ABV unfiltered ale with kaffir lime leaves and lots of citrus notes.

dinner3

Our third course was chicken pieces that were brined overnight and roasted root vegetables including: carrots in a sweet glaze, white turnips, and beets. There were also “smashed” potatoes which were roasted potatoes that had been smashed flat, seasoned and roasted a second time to crisp them. The murmers around the now-quiet table were in agreement that everything was delicious! The third pairing was a two-fer, as the brewers wanted to enhance the caramel and malt character from the Tarnation California Common beer, and use the hop bitterness from the Stowaway IPA to cut.

dinner4

Our final course was a brownie topped with chocolate mousse and homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream. There was also homemade raspberry coulis and a garnish of pecans candied in brown sugar with a hint of cayenne pepper. Our fourth and favourite beer of the dinner was their Munich Dunkel infused with Ethiopian Harrar Coffee. A perfect note to end on!

chef and assistants

A big thanks to Chef Frigon and his sous chefs for the evening! While dinner was being cleaned up, some folks chose to retire for the night but the folks that stayed were treated to an intimate performance by Megan, who with Alex, are members of the band Exit Glaciers. Afterwards, a combination of the hike, the beers, the large supper and the soft music had everyone in bed at a decent time.

The next morning, breakfast was served promptly at 7:30 am and it was fantastic. There was expertly cooked bacon, scrambled and seasoned eggs and homemade flaxseed biscuits that were extraordinary. We then showered, packed up and headed down the hill, but this time on the Newton’s Revenge trail, for a change in scenery. We’d been surprised at what a great evening we’d had and headed excitedly towards The Forks for our next adventure, at Northern Outdoors. Stay tuned tomorrow for part four of our Maine Beer Weekend adventure!

Thanks very much to Maine Huts & Trails for having us for the event. MHT is a non-profit organization that manages four backcountry eco-lodges (with several more coming soon), and more than 100 km of multi-use, year-round trails. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and skiing are the most common way to travel to, and between, the huts. In the summer, the huts are full service, with staff preparing meals, whereas in the winter, guests pack in their own food, and have access to the commercial kitchen. They are holding guided hikes, bikes, paddling, photographic and bird watching tours throughout the fall, with several events happening each week. Of particular interest are the 3rd Annual Harvest at the Hut dinner, coming September 19th at the Stratton Brook Hut.

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Welcome to our second Maine Beer Weekend post! We hope you enjoyed our first post, focusing on Geaghan’s Pub and Brewery on Main Street in Bangor. Today’s post is a continuation of our evening in Bangor, when we hopped on The Growler Bus and visited three breweries in the Bangor area.

Growler Bus

The Growler Bus launched earlier this year, as a way to promote and highlight the great breweries and bars in Bangor and the surrounding region. It is owned and operated by One Man Beer Army Gene Beck, the owner of the very popular Nocturnem Draft Haus, and who is also to thank for establishing the outstanding beer variety at Swett’s Hogan Road Deli & Convenience aka That Citgo with the Killer Beer Selection. The Growler Bus is a souped up 14-seater limo bus, complete with a high quality speaker system, comfortable seating, and a knowledgeable driver (tonight, Gene himself was behind the wheel). They operate several tours each week, visiting Bangor region breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Or, the bus is available for private hire for wedding parties, graduations, and any other excuse to get together for a beer road-trip. They are happy to design a custom trip for your group, to accommodate your every Maine beer desire.

Tonight’s tour was the “Local Round Up”, starting at the Nocturnem Draft Haus, heading to Geaghan Brothers’ production brewery, Orono Brewing Company, and Black Bear Brewery. Each brewery visit was about 60 minutes, allowing enough time for a tour of their facilities, a handful of samples (included in the tour price), maybe a game of cornhole (a Maine brewery staple, we’ve noticed!), plus shopping for bottles/growlers and brewery swag.

nocturnem beer list

Nocturnem Draft Haus opened in 2011, bringing a wide variety of local and afar craft beer to Bangor. They feature more than a dozen taps (updating their online draft list daily), a couple hundred bottles, as well as a rotating cask and Lambic-dedicated line. More than half of the taps feature Maine beers, making them a great choice for an out-of-state visitor to try some local craft beers, with the balance of the beers highlighting New England, other US states, and European offerings. They frequently hold tap takeovers of local breweries, and offer food cooked, and to pair, with beer.

GeaghansBigBrewery

After a warm-up beer at Nocturnem, our first stop was the new Geaghan Brothers’ production brewery in Brewer, just across the Penobscot River from Geaghan’s Pub. It was opened earlier this year to keep up with the great demand for their beer at the Pub and external distribution. This 20BBL (23.5 hl) custom-built Tigpro system allows them greater flexibility to sell kegs to accounts outside of Bangor (GBB is now available in bars and restaurants from Calais to Fort Kent), and has also allowed them to bottle product. Their Smiling Irish Bastard APA is available in six-packs, and they have just released a mixed “Queen City Sampler” 12-pack, featuring the Bangor Brown Ale, Lineman Pale AlePresque Isle Honey Blonde Ale, and Smiling Irish Bastard APA. The production brewery also supplies Geaghan’s Pub with their core brands, relieving some pressure, and allowing the smaller brewery to explore new seasonals and unique styles. Assistant Brewer Brian Sturgeon and Cellar Tech Forrest Brown were on hand to tour us around their brewhouse, and answer any questions we had.

OronoBrewhouse

After a handful of samples at Geaghan’s, we hopped back on the bus for the drive to Orono. Thankfully, with a limo license, we were able to enjoy even more local bevvies on our trip north, so it passed by in a flash. Once in town, we stopped by Orono Brewing Company, located at 20 Main Street in a brick building dating from 1848. Opened in December 2014, this young brewery uses a 4 BBL (4.7 hl) Stout brewhouse to produce a wide variety of different brews. Brewmaster Asa Marsh-Sachs has full control of the styles and ingredients used in the beers, with the only limit being his creativity (and we don’t think there is any!).

OronoBeers

Co-owner Abe Furth was on hand to give us a tour of the brewery, while we enjoyed samples of their ten offerings, which included a pair of Saisons, two IPAs (the Habanero Lemon IPA was a personal favourite), and two nitro beers (White Nitro Cream Ale and Woodman’s Nitro Red). The Tap Room is open daily for visitors, and they offer lots of swag, and growlers of their beer to go. OBC’s beers are also available across Main Street at Woodman’s Bar and Grill and a handful of other local bars and restaurants. They recently brewed up their 100th batch of beer, and their Ozone IPA won Best Beer of the Tap Into Summer Beerfest earlier this summer.

BlackBearBrewery

Our next stop was just across Mill Street, to the Black Bear Microbrewery. Their 10BBL (12 hl) brewhouse opened in 2008, and they opened their Tap Room in 2013, where they feature live music and food (including brick oven pizza from the nearby Bear Brew Pub). During our visit, they had nine different beers on tap, including the tasty Lil’ S.I.P.A. Session IPA, and Liquid Sunshine Hefeweizen, both great lighter beers fit for a summer’s night. Black Bear beers are available on tap at bars and restaurants across Maine. Their tap room is open M-W 3-10pm, R-F 3-11pm, and Sat 2-11pm for pints, growlers, and kegs to go.

BlackBearBeers

After enjoying our pizza and beer, it was time to head back home to Bangor. A night cap at Nocturnem marked the end of our first day in Maine, but there was lots more fun to be had during the weekend, as Saturday meant a hike into the Stratton Brook Hut for a Brews & Views pairing thanks to Huts & Trails and Baxter Brewing, and then onto The Forks for a visit to the brewpub and a rafting trip down the Kennebec River with Northern Outdoors.

Thanks to the great hospitality of Gene, Lisa, Abe, and everyone we encountered on the Growler Bus Tour!

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Recently, we were invited to check out some breweries and beer-centric special events in Maine, and we were thrilled with the opportunity to take part. Chris and his partner Erin made the trip south for an extended weekend of fun, food, and of course beer. We wanted to share our adventures with you, in the hopes of inspiring you to make a visit south to Maine to discover their exciting beer locations and events.

Fireside_Geaghans

Our three days in Maine kicked off in Bangor. After a leisurely drive in from Fredericton, we checked into our room at Fireside Inn & Suites on Main Street, enjoyed our complimentary whoopie pie, and went directly to our first beer destination. Thankfully, it was in the same building! Geaghan’s Pub is an Irish pub, opened in 1975 by John and Arline Geaghan. In 1983, John passed away, and the business was purchased from Arline by several of their children. In 2011, they added on-site brewing to the pub, focusing on American-style beers with an Irish twist, quickly growing a faithful following. Andrew Geaghan (John’s grandson) and Ryan Power are in charge of the brewing operations, sharing co-head-brewer titles. Both started out as home brewers, and had been working elsewhere in the Pub before taking on these roles. In fact, working at the pub is certainly a family affair, with owners Larry, Pat, and Peter Geaghan all working in the kitchen or bar.

GeaghansTapList

We met up with Lisa Sturgeon, who joined us in a tour of their beers and tasty pub food, including their famous boneless wings. Insider tip: Ask for the “Reserve Sauce” with your wings. You won’t find it on the menu, but the locals have been ordering it for years. It’s hot and sweet, much like a sriracha and brown sugar combination.

GeaghansFlight

In our first flight, we enjoyed their Refueler Unfilitered Wheat, Presque Isle Honey Blonde Ale (made with local honey), Higgins Irish Red Ale, and Smiling Irish Bastard APA. All were very well-made examples of their styles, and quenched our thirst quite nicely on a warm summer afternoon. All of their beers are named in celebration of the local culture, region, and family history of clan Geaghan. The Smiling Irish Bastard, for instance, is named after Police Officer Bernie Welch, a relative of the Geaghans, who was a serious man patrolling the streets of Bangor, but had a dry, Irish sense of humour.

GeaghansBrewhouse

After the great food and drink, Lisa took us on a tour of the on-site brewery. Their Criveller-built brewhouse is a 5BBL (6 hectolitre) system, with four fermenters of the same size. They do well to pack everything in the narrow footprint of the brewery, with enough room to manoeuvre, but without wasted space. The day we visited, they were doing a 24-hour sour mash for an upcoming release. The walls of the brewery are finished in white plastic, perfect for dry erase markers. The brewers use that to their advantage, taking tally of the number of beers brewed (37 different beers so far this year), volume tally (they are well on their way to overtake the 717 barrels [841 hl] they brewed last year), and motivational sayings (“Don’t be that guy”, featuring a picture of the chemical formula for diacetyl). They are brewing three times a week to keep up with demand, serving eight different brews on tap, and for growler fills, at any given time.

GeaghansBreakfast

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the stellar breakfast we enjoyed at Geaghan’s the next morning before leaving town. Co-owner Larry Geaghan is onsite at 4am every morning baking bread and pastries (we loved the Thick-Cut White and Oatmeal Brown), and Chris couldn’t get enough of the Bacon Cinnamon buns, prepared French Toast style! They also feature “Paddy Cakes”, An Irish potato pancake made with bacon, cheese & onion. And their Oatmeal Stout makes a perfect breakfast beer (so we’ve heard).

Thanks very much to Tom Palmer of the Fireside Inn & Suites, and Lisa Sturgeon of Geaghan Brothers Brewery for having us for a visit, be sure to visit them both at 570 Main Street in Bangor, and stay up to date with new beer releases and Mug Club events on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Stayed tuned as we continue our adventures to a few more locations in and around Bangor, as we hop on The Growler Bus for a fun Friday night, and then hit the road for the Carrabassett Valley and The Forks for some outdoor adventures (and beer)!

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Happy Friday everyone! Sadly, this marks the last Wrap-Up of August, but that doesn’t mean that the beer news is slowing down at all.

• TrailWay released a new beer yesterday – this one was actually brewed by Catherine Saunders and Alex Sorenson under the watchful-eye of their significant others, Jake Saunders and Dan Mason (owners and brewers of TrailWay). Appropriately-named Better Half, it’s a Blueberry-Lime Fruit Beer that had real lime zest and 35 lbs of local blueberries added after fermentation was complete. With a simple grain bill consisting of mostly Pilsner malt, and very minimal hopping, it’s a refreshing and easy-drinking (at 4.5% ABV) end-of-summer beer, with some sweetness and tartness from the fruit. You can find it on tap now (or very soon) at the King Street Ale House, James Joyce Pub, 540 Kitchen & Bar, and Vault 29.

• In other TrailWay news, they should be releasing a new Double IPA (currently unnamed) sometime next week. Clocking in at about 8.1%, it was hopped heavily (to ~75 IBUs) with Centennial, Comet, Galaxy and Mosaic, so expect plenty of tropical, citrus, and dank notes in this beer! Like most of their hoppy beers, the malt bill was kept relatively simple to allow the hops to shine through.

• PEI’s newest craft brewery, Upstreet Craft Brewing, is holding a Block Party on Saturday, September 5th. This free event will be held outdoors in the Upstreet parking lot, and will feature local food vendors, live music (including Wrong Planet Band), lawn games, activities (big and small, for kids and adults), and a “pop-up barber shop” for all your hair-trimming needs; guided brewery tours will also be going on throughout the day. It’s family-friendly, so bring the kids! The party will continue inside the taproom after 8 pm. They’ll be releasing their highly-anticipated Boxing Rock collaboration beer, Rumble in the Alley: Round 1, a SMaSH India Pale Lager, and there MAY be a special guest or two on hand for the tapping! And in other good news, brewmaster Mike Hogan has confirmed that he will be brewing another batch of their Wheat IPA, White Noize in the next few days; look for that one to be released again in September.

• It’s Hop Harvest time in our region! Yesterday, the crew from North Brewing made the trek to Shelburne to visit Boxing Rock Brewing for their own harvest collaboration brew. Many Hands 3.0 features loads of freshly-harvested Cascade, Chinook, and Willamette, all from North brewer Josh Herbin’s Lazy Acres hop farm. This Pale Ale will weigh in just shy of 6% ABV, and be available at both breweries and their market and restaurant accounts in September.

• Several other breweries have/will be brewing up wet hopped beers. Hammond River will be brewing up some with their own home-grown hops next week, Rockbottom Brewpub is brewing up a Pale Ale today with some Annapolis Valley fresh hops, and Picaroons has started the brewing of their multiple Harvest Ales, sourced from hop farms across the Maritimes. Big Spruce will be harvesting their own farm-grown hops Wednesday, September 2nd, and Meander River will be harvesting theirs Saturday September, 5th, with brews to follow quickly thereafter (if you’re able to help pick in Nyanza or Ashdale, keep an eye on their respective social media feeds for details and rain dates, if necessary).

• Meander River has a few new beers on tap recently, and we wanted to keep y’all up-to-date with their releases. Summer Solstice IPA is a 4.5% ABV Session IPA featuring a balanced hoppy flavour and aroma thanks to Amarillo and Citra; it was further dry-hopped with Cascade. A lower alcohol, but full-flavoured beer, perfect for summer afternoons and evenings. Gristmill Wheat Beer is an unfiltered wheat beer, featuring a forward bitterness with lots of citrus and strawberry, with a characteristic banana aroma. This is a lighter 3.8% ABV. Their Dusty Road Hard Apple Cider is a bit bigger, at 5.5% ABV, but just as refreshing, as it finishes quite dry and crisp. This is a different blend of Annapolis Valley apples than their Shack Wacky release in the spring, and as such will have a different profile. Their 5.2% ABV Ashdale Honey Brown is also available now, featuring honey harvested right on the farm, and added to the lightly-hopped Brown Ale, for a slightly sweeter finish and notes of toffee. Look for these beers at the brewery, or their accounts around the province.

YellowBelly Brewery in St. John’s, NL has released an alcoholic Apple Cider this week. Weighing in at 7% ABV, it is an off-dry cider, featuring some perceived bitterness from the high tannin content of the apples. It was fermented with champagne yeasts for a crisp and acidic bite. It is now on tap at the brewery and public house, and will be available in bottles next week.

Red Rover has brewed up their first Perry; similar to a cider – in that it is an alcoholic beverage from fermented apple juice – it also incorporates juice from pears. Featuring a single variety of pear from Cocagne, NB, it was balanced with juice from Cox’s Orange Pippin apples. The batch has been maturing for the last six months, and is exhibiting a “sweet, floral nose, and softer palate than a cider”, according to co-owner/brewer Adam Clawson; it should come in at around 7% ABV. It will be released at the Cider House next Thursday for flagon fills, and will also make a limited appearance at the Farmer’s Markets that Red Rover frequents.

• Fredericton’s James Joyce Pub has announced details on their Mug Club, the first of its kind in the city. A yearly membership of $59.95 + tax gets you a personally-numbered mug with plenty of entitlements, including 24-oz pours for the price of 20-oz, food discounts, email updates on new beers tapped at the pub, and invitations to Mug Club-exclusive events. Only 30 mugs will be sold; check out the link for more details. The official launch will be October 1st, but you can head into the pub now to reserve your mug.

• Good news for beer fans in New Brunswick: the ANBL has announced that they have over 30 award-winning beers from this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards that will be available for sale at select stores this Monday, August 31st. The “Ultimate Beer Run” includes multiple styles from breweries all across the country; check out the full list (and participating ANBL outlets) here. Quantities are limited, so be sure to drop by on Monday if you have particular beers that you would like to try.

• La sixième édition de l’Oktoberfest des Acadiens se passe du 3 au 6 Septembre à Bertrand, NB. Avec de la musique et un ambiance bavaroise dans les après midi, et des spectacles avec des artistes de renoms les vendredi et samedi soirs. C’est une fin de semaine de plaisir et de divertissement pour toute la famille. Jeudi soir l’on vous propose une dégustation dirigée par Patrice Godin d’Acadie-Broue, intitulé “Le Tour du Monde avec de la Bière”, mettant en vedette certains accords mets et bières spéciales. La Grande Dégustation se déroule le samedi et le dimanche de 13h à 18h, où les visiteurs pourront déguster une centaine de bières différentes du Nouveau-Brunswick (y compris Acadie-Broue, Petit-Sault, Picaroons, Pump House, Savoie’s Brewhouse), le Canada (Glutenberg et Red Racer et beaucoup plus), ainsi que l’Europe (Chimay, Chouffe, et Weihenstephan par exemples). Pour plus de détails sur les billets et l’horaire complet Vous pouvez visiter leur site et leur page Facebook.

• The Sixth Annual Oktoberfest des Acadiens is happening September 3-6 in Bertrand, NB. Featuring live music daily, and major concerts Friday and Saturday evening, it is a full weekend of family fun and entertainment. Thursday evening features a tasting led by Acadie-Broue‘s Patrice Godin, entitled “Around the World with Beer”, featuring several special beer and food pairings. The beer garden will be open Saturday and Sunday 1-6pm, where visitors can sample from over 100 different beers from New Brunswick (including Acadie-Broue, Petit-Sault, Picaroons, Pump House, Savoie’s Brewhouse), Canada (Glutenberg and Red Racer and many more), as well as Europe (Chimay, Chouffe, and Weihenstephan for example). Ticket details and the full schedule is available on their website and Facebook page.

• Homebrewers, fire up those kettles, the 3rd Annual Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge is back! This year is a bit of a departure from previous competitions, as beers are being accepted in three different styles: Czech Dark Lager (3D), Altbier (7B), and Red IPA (21B). They will be judged using the new 2015 BJCP style guidelines. The top three beers in each category will win prizes, and the Best in Show beer will be brewed at Big Spruce, and released at the Third Annual Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration in January. Homebrewers may enter a beer in one, two, or all three categories for the same $25 entry fee. That fee also entitles entrants to a limited edition t-shirt, and new this year, entry to the post-judging party at the Wooden Monkey Alderney Landing November 28th. To take part, be sure to email Big Spruce for the official entry form before November 23rd, and drop off the beer before the 27th at the brewery or the Halifax drop-point. There are more details on the event’s Facebook page. As there are a couple of lagers in there, best to get brewing soon!

Enjoy your weekend! All four ANBL growler stations are pouring summery beers this week, including Petit-Sault‘s new John Stadig (an “Orange Ginger White ale”), Picaroons Dooryard, and Le Trou du Diable Blanche de Shawi. Be sure to drop by Rockbottom this weekend and next week as they host several acts from the Halifax Urban Folk Festival, and catch their FizzGig Ladies Beer League Imperial Red, and Farmer’s Daughter Farmhouse Ale before they are replaced by an English Brown Ale and a traditionally-brewed Marzen (featuring imported malts and the Hochkurz Double-Decoction mash technique). Cheers!

Howdy, beer lovers! Time for your weekly dose of Atlantic Canadian beer news. Unfortunately, we have to lead off with some sad news…

Shiretown Beer, first operating out of Dalhousie, and then Charlo, New Brunswick since 2011, has officially closed their doors. Their regular-release beers (including Blonde du Quai, Big Brown Ale, and Siren’s t’Ale) have been available in bottles at ANBL stores for some time, and have been pouring on tap (along with multiple seasonals and one-offs) at several accounts across the province, including the Heron’s Nest Pub, located next door to the brewery. Graduating from just 40 litre batches up to 1.5 hL, all while using their Sabco Brew-Magic system, Derek and company have been working with local producers (Southan Farms hops, for instance), and promoting the craft beer movement in Northern New Brunswick for many years. On the bright side, we understand that owner/brewer Derek Leslie will still be working in the industry, and we look forward to catching up with him in the near future!

• In good news for New Brunswick, however, there’s a new brewery opening this fall in Fredericton! Maybee Brewing Co. will be owned and operated by Paul Maybee, an avid home brewer (and NBCBA member) based in the city. Construction on the 10 BBL brewery and tasting room (located at 559 Wilsey Rd.) has already begun. The brewery will focus on hoppy American ales and Belgian styles (including an American Amber, American IPA, Pale Ale, and Belgian Tripel as their initial launch beers), and coming up with their own twist on other styles of beers. Along with pints and growler fills at the tasting room, their beers will be available at select beer bars/restaurants throughout Fredericton, and in cans at ANBL stores. You can follow along with the brewery construction progress on their Facebook and Instagram pages, and we will have a Q&A posted in the coming months.

Tatamagouche Brewing released a new beer late last week, Little Russian Parti-gyle Stout. A parti-gyle beer involves running a second (or third) volume of hot water through the grains in the mash tun, and extracting some sugar still left over from the initial mash. The wort is then treated as a completely separate beer, boiled, hopped, and fermented independently from its big sister. In Tata’s case, that initial mash and beer is now fermenting as a Russian Imperial Stout, to be released in September, hence the Little Russian moniker for this beer. The LR is a 3% ABV beer, fairly light in body, but still features some roast flavours thanks to the darker malts used in the grain bill. The beer was hopped with Ahtanum, Centennial, and Magnum. The Little Russian can be purchased in cans and growlers at the brewery, and in growler fills at Harvest Wines and RockHead. Also look for it on tap at Agricola Street BrasserieStillwell, and Stubborn Goat.

• There’s currently a new beer fermenting over at Hammond River, and it’s a big one! Sterke Monnik is the first Belgian-style ale brewed on the HR system. It’s a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that should weigh in at approximately 10.4% ABV. While obviously a strong beer, the goal is one that is smooth, rich, and complex, with lots of malt and dark fruit characteristics, along with some classic Belgian fruity esters and spicy phenolics. Brewed with a Pilsner base malt, some dark Crystal malts, Special B (a specialty malt known for providing raisin and plum characteristics), and plenty of dark Belgian candi syrup, it was hopped with Hallertau to 33 IBUs. Look for this one to pop up at Hammond River’s regular accounts in two to three weeks.

• In other NB Belgian beer news, Grimross just released their Grimross Dubbel. A 6.8% ABV brew that is lightly hopped to 18 IBUs, it exhibits a coppery-brown colour and has notes of dark fruit and caramel, a dry finish, and mild alcohol warmth. Fermented with two yeast strains (a Belgian Abbey strain, and a neutral American strain), the beer had an addition of Demerara sugar, a light-tan, raw sugar with a coarse texture that can add notes of molasses to the final beer. It’s available now for pours and growlers at the brewery, and at better beer establishments across the province.

Petit-Sault released a new seasonal offering earlier this week, and it came just in time for the heat wave we’ve been experiencing! John Stadig is named after a Madawaska counterfeiter who was one of the first civilian inmates at Alcatraz prison, in 1934. An “Orange-Ginger White Beer”, the grist includes 50% Wheat malt that adds a “bready, subtle spiciness, and an almost silky mouthfeel”, according to the brewery. Real, fresh-grated ginger was added at the end of the boil, along with fresh orange peel, to provide lots of aromatics and flavour to the beer; it comes in at a supremely-drinkable 4% ABV. It’s currently available at the brewery for a limited time for growler fills, and will be hitting all four ANBL growler stations next week; you can also find it on tap at the James Joyce in Fredericton. In other Petit-Sault news, their regular-release Witbier (and one of their first two launch beers), Tante Blanche, is now out of circulation until next May; it will be a summer seasonal from this point on.

Sea Level Brewing is looking for a Brewing Assistant at their Port Williams location. Tasks include brewing, running the canning machine, filling growlers, and other tasks in the brewery. Brewing knowledge is preferred, but not required for the position. To apply, drop off a resume to Owner/Brewmaster Randy Lawrence at the brewery, weekdays 10am-4pm.

• Tickets for this year’s Fredericton Poutine Festival, being held Saturday November 21st at the Crowne Plaza, are now on sale, and are going fast! It looks like the evening session is sold out, but there are still some afternoon tickets available (which this year includes beer), as well as the family friendly, 12-2pm session (including free tickets for children under 12). We will have more details next week when the brewery list is finalized, but expect 8 breweries to be pouring, along with at least five establishments serving up more than a dozen styles of Poutine!

Shediac Bay’s Flying Boats Brewing will be holding their Launch Party at the Laundromat Expresso Bar on Thursday, Sept. 3rd, starting at 7 pm. While Flying Boats has been open since early last month, this will be their official launch, and they’re bringing two kegs to be tapped for the event. The first is their S-55 Special Mission Dark Pale Ale, a 5.7% ABV, Cascade-hopped APA that first made its debut during the NB Tap Takeover at the James Joyce during the NB Day long weekend. The other is the Empress Irish Red Ale, a 5.5% ABV, 20 IBUs beer that “focuses on the maltiness and creaminess of the barley malt and wheat that is used”, according to the brewery, and features a “nice, roasted caramel flavour”.

Thanks for reading this week! In Fredericton, TrailWay has rebrewed their D’Under, an American Pale Ale hopped entirely with Australian Galaxy; this time around, they’ve increased the hop additions, so expect even more tropical fruitiness than before! And in Halifax, Good Robot Brewing are now pouring at two of the city’s markets. Catch them at the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market Saturday 8am-1pm, and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market Sundays.

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Savoie’s Brewhouse has recently opened in Charlo River, in Northeast New Brunswick. Owner and brewer Rodney Savoie was kind enough to answer a few of our questions regarding his new venture.


ACBB: How did you get into the world of craft beer?
Rodney: I have only been into craft beer for about 4 to 5 years now, and that is approximately how long I have been brewing. A HUGE thanks goes to Derek Leslie from Shiretown Beer who had piqued my interest, but also has been like a mentor and guide for me in this endeavour!

What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?
I always wanted to get into business. I first looked into micro distilling, but as time went on, I started home brewing and enjoyed the beer that was being made. Others have as well, so that is why I decided to move towards the beer business.

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Savoie’s 75l electric brewing system


What size/manufacturer/type of system are you be brewing on?
I am using a 75 litre electric brewhouse, with a control panel from High Gravity Brew, and hot liquor tank, mash tun and kettle from Ontario Beer Kegs.

Can you tell us about the beers you are offering initially?
I started with an Amber beer which now is called Chaleur Phantom Amber Ale. Not long after, the Blonde Ale was created, Island Lake Blonde. Both are lightly hopped beers. The next beer is going to be a Rye IPA called Charlo Falls IPA, named after a well known local swimming spot, and a popular spot for photographers.

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Chaleur Phantom and Island Lake Blonde are available at the ANBL


What are your plans for distribution? Plans for tap accounts, bottles, growlers, etc.?
I am starting with bottles in the ANBL locations near Charlo, including Bathurst, Campbellton, Dalhousie, and Tracadie-Sheila. We will be supplying the James Joyce Pub in Fredericton with kegs when possible, and will be on tap at the Heron’s Nest Pub in Charlo very soon. Due to the small volume, we don’t plan on offering growlers for the time being.

 

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Primary Fermenters at Savoie’s Brewhouse


Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?

As of right now my favorite beer would be an Amber beer with mild to medium hop bitterness. I also enjoy an IPA from time to time.

What are your plans for the future?
There are no real plans: we are just going to brew, fill orders as best as we can, and see where this will take us.

Thanks again to Rodney for answering our questions. You can follow along on Twitter and Facebook to stay up-to-date with the ANBL availability and new beers as they are released.