Welcome to spring! Haha, nice try, winter, we’re onto you. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me eleven times, well…. I’d be a complete moron, is what. Anyway, that concludes the obligatory blurb about the weather. It’s time for beer news!
• Today, Upstreet is releasing the next entry in their Million Acres series of one-offs, Bourbon Barrel Chocolate Salted Lager. This is a very dark brown Lager aged for a year in a Buffalo Trace barrel (Bourbon), and it’s a heckuva strong one at a whopping 10.5% ABV. With flavours of raisin, caramel, toffee, and light vanilla, it finishes with a “smooth, mellowed cocoa bitterness, and balanced bourbon aftertaste”, according to the brewery. You can pick it up in cork-and-cage 750 mL bottle today at the brewery, with a limit of 4 per person (this one was definitely brewed with the intention of aging).
• The folks at Tanner & Co. are mourning the loss (i.e. running out) of their Belgian Tripel in the proper way… by releasing a new beer! American IPA is just that, and built on a grist made up of mostly Maris Otter, along with some Caramel malt to provide some colour, mouthfeel, and sweetness. The brew was hopped in the boil with Citra and Simcoe (to 50 IBUs), and dry-hopped with more Citra to give aromas of “ripe peaches, tropical fruit, and citrus”. Balanced by a firm bitterness in the finish, it comes in at 6.9% ABV and is available now at the brewery for growler fills.
• New Brunswick’s Bogtrotter, located in Rusagonis, is releasing a new beer this week, their first new release in many months. Wonky White is a White IPA, hopped primarily with late additions of El Dorado, giving candy-like, fruity characters in the aroma and flavour, to go with the bitter finish (60 IBUs). Coriander seed was also added during the brew process, to give that classic spice character expected in this cross between a Belgian Witbier and American IPA. It should be on tap shortly at the James Joyce, and will also be available for purchase in 500 mL bottles at several ANBL locations.
• Breton Brewing re-released their Valentine’s Day-inspired beer earlier this week, Cocoa Envy. A Robust Porter featuring the addition of chocolate extract sourced from organic cocoa beans, it sports a creamy mouthfeel and “just the right amount” of chocolate flavour to back up the touch of roast and coffee character. At 6.5% ABV and 37 IBUs, this one is available on tap only; you can find it at the brewery right now, and at select accounts by sometime over this weekend. In addition, the brewery will be tapping a special cask of the beer today, which has been sitting on Peruvian cocoa nibs.
• In other Valentine’s Day beer news, YellowBelly released their own, Sheila Na’Geira, a 5.5% ABV American IPA named after an Irish noblewoman involved in “one of the oldest love stories in Newfoundland”. As for the beer, the grist incorporated a small amount of rice as an adjunct, and it was hopped and dry-hopped with a mixture of Topaz, Mosaic, and Citra to give plenty of citrus character on the palate, along with aromas of “berry, citrus, tropical fruits, and dank resin”. It’s still available now on tap, for growler fills, and in bottles.
• Halifax’s Propeller has been working on their Barrel Aged Series, and has finally released the first beer, Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout. Taking their crowd-favourite, award-winning RIS and aging it in oak bourbon barrels, the result is a big beer (8.5% ABV) with dark fruit, dark caramel, and roasted malt in the flavour, along with notes of vanilla and bourbon. Bound to have some alcohol warmth going down, it’s a great style to sip on this winter, as well as age and enjoy over time. It’s available in 330 mL bottles right now at the brewery, meaning that it’s not quite so daunting to open one up on your own, maybe even on a weeknight! Look for bottles to be available at all of the private stores by next week, along with the NSLC at the Port.
• Good Robot has the usual mix of Alpha and Beta goodness this week. Starting with the BetaBrew to be released this coming Tuesday, Dewey Dudes was brewed by Kelly Costello with local educator Shelby MacGregor. In the Altbier style, it features a grist of Pilsner and Vienna malts and Perle and Magnum hops, but cheats just a little bit with a Kölsch yeast. Overall it’s a malty and slightly bitter, but smooth German-style beer weighing in at 4.7% ABV and 31 IBU. Still on the Beta side if you didn’t make it down to GR for last week’s Treat Her Like a Lady from the sisters Costello, fear not, because you didn’t miss it! Owing to a CO2 mishap at the brewery, the beer wasn’t tapped on Tuesday and is being held in reserve for a future event. Over on the Alpha side of the house, Dewolfe of Wall Street is back, but it’s namesake is sallying forth. Jake is moving on from GR, but this 6.2% ABV APA hopped with Cascade and Mount Hood will stand as a testament to his time at the brewery. Look for it at the taproom and GR tap accounts around Halifax.
• TrailWay‘s weekly Friday release is the first of what they’re dubbing as an American Fruit Ale. Starblast is brewed to be more fruit-forward with a background hop character, instead of the other way around as exhibited in several of their other beers. Hopped with El Dorado, over 400 lbs of mango, papaya, and kiwi puree were added to the brew, giving plenty of tropical fruit juice characteristics. This 5.5% ABV beer is available at the brewery today in cans and on tap, and will most likely show up at a few TW tap accounts around the Fredericton area, soon.
• Garrison painted the town pink this week with the Valentine’s Day release of their kettle sour Pucker Up in cans. Featuring pomegranate, cranberry, hibiscus and rosehips, we expect you’ll be seeing its bright pink branding around the city for weeks and months to come. To celebrate, they’re holding an online contest to see how you \#PuckerUp. Prizes include a flat of cans, a brewery tour for 10, a 20 L party keg and two tickets to the 2018 Garrison Backlot Bash. The contest runs until 11:59 PM on Monday, February 19th. Full details can be found in this here Instagram post. Also from Garrison this week is the return of their Grand Baltic Porter. The Yin to Russian Imperial Stout’s Yang, the Baltic Porter style is one of the biggest beers, known for its rich malty sweetness paired with dark flavors such as molasses and dried fruit, caramel, and occasional notes of liquorice, all atop a clean lager character. This year’s version has come in nice and heavy, at 9.5% ABV; look for it in 500 mL bottles at the brewery and private stores. Lastly, a mea culpa on our part. Last week we reported that the Garrison Home Brew-off Challenge Gala had been moved to Wednesday, March 28th, when in reality the correct date is Thursday, March 29th. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
• For complicated reasons that have been well-covered by mainstream news sources, it’s been awhile since we’ve brought you any new beer news from Quidi Vidi in St. John’s, but they’ve gone and bought themselves a shiny new 3 BBL (360 L) pilot system and have gone back to their experimental roots! Looks like they already have a few news beers in the pipeline; we don’t have the fine details yet, but can provide you with at least a bit of a tease of what they’ve been releasing. Their first beer released on this new system was their Crab Apple Saison, which featured the addition of 300 kg of locally-picked crab apples to give a bit of tartness to the beer. There are several kegs of this one available so look for it to pop up over the next while. They also brewed up Calm Tom’s Double IPA and Mad Mike’s Big Bag Belgian (should that be Big BAD Belgian? No idea!). Unfortunately no details at all on those two. 😞We’ll keep bugging them for more on future beers!
We’ve got some updates on beer events over the next few weeks; here’s what’s going on in our region for the next little while:
• Speaking of Quidi Vidi, As part of the Clarenville Wintertainment festivities up the road from St. John’s in Clarenville, NL, White Hills Resort will be hosting Brewtine this Saturday night, February 17th from 7 PM to 10 PM. There you’ll find six different poutine variants, Buffalo Chicken, Turkey Dinner, Chicken & Waffles, Pulled Port, Port & Meat Pie, and Donut, each paired with a 5 oz craft beer from Quidi Vidi or Port Rexton Brewing. Live music will be provided by 3 Shades of Grey, and there will be a shuttle service from the event centre picking up at 6 PM and returning after the event. Tickets are $59 + fees & taxes and can be purchased online.
• And also going down on the Rock this Saturday night, but on the west side of the island, Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. is hosting a Craft Beer Tasting from 9 PM to 12 AM as part of Corner Brook Winter Carnival. Although Crooked Feeder aren’t quite ready themselves, with renos and permitting still in process, they’re going to get people together at Swirsky’s to talk and taste beers from Bootleg Brew Co., Yellowbelly Brewery and Western Newfoundland Brewing Company. Live music will be provided by GIRLS. Only 100 tickets are available for this event, so act quickly if you’re interested; $20 gets you 4 6 oz samples, with additional glasses available for $5 cash. To get tickets you can message Crooked Feeder on Facebook, or visit Country Road Convenience, Empire Atlantic, Village Music Inc. or Newfound Sushi.
• One last reminder on the live Tasting Episode scheduled by the 902BrewCast this Monday, February 19th, at Garrison Brewing. The panel will include women involved in the NS beer industry, and will be recorded live in front of… you! Just show up (it all starts at 6 pm), with no tickets needed. The taps will be flowing, so feel free to have a beer or two! If you’re not able to attend, look for the episode to be available online later in the week.
• Have you been thinking to yourself lately that it’s been a while since those layabouts at Stillwell have done anything to make you sit up and take notice? Well it’s that time again: if you’re into American Farmhouse Ales, especially ones that are all-Brett fermented, sour, blended, aged in wood, and/or fruited, you might want to block off next Saturday, February 24th from Noon until you can drag yourself away – Denver, Colorado’s Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project will be in full effect, featured on all 12 taps and with bottles besides. And, as always, special snacks dreamt up specifically for the event will be wending their way out of the kitchen. Do you appreciate brewing artistry? This is where to find it. Look for the complete tap list (and perhaps bottle list as well) to be posted on social media this week.
• For the warm weather lovers amongst us who are already looking forward to summer, the annual Savour Food & Wine Craft Beer Cottage Party is just around the corner. This year they’ve got an impressive 35 participating craft breweries and cideries from around the province and a few from beyond our borders. The event is now two weeks away, on March 3rd, from 7 to 9:30 PM at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market. Beer-friendly food will be available for purchase from Shwarma Stop and Bramoso Pizza, a live band will be playing up on the mezzanine, and you’ll find some classic games around the place. Tickets are $65 + taxes and include all your beer samples. So grab your favourite plaid, comb your beard, and get ready for a good time with beers and ciders from: 2 Crows Brewing, Alexander Keith’s NS Brewery, Big Spruce Brewing, Bishop’s Cellar, Boxing Rock Brewing Co., Breton Brewing, Bulwark Cider, Chain Yard Urban Cidery, Elderkin Cider Co., Firkenstein, Garrison Brewing Co., Good Robot Brewing Co., Granite Brewery, Hell Bay Brewing Co., Lazy Bear, Lunn’s Mill, Meander River Farm and Brewery, Granville/Creemore, Nine Locks Brewery, North Brewing, Picaroons, Propeller Brewing Co., Pump House Brewery, Roof Hound Brewing, Saltbox Brewing, Schoolhouse Brewery, Shipbuilders Cider, Sober Island Brewing, Spindrift Brewing Co., Tatamagouche Brewing Co., Tidehouse, Trider’s Craft Beer, Uncle Leo’s, Upstreet Craft Brewing, and Wayfarer’s Ales.
That’s about it for this week! Nice to see things slow down just a touch (for our sakes, anyway). Couple more things before we let you leave to enjoy your long weekend…
– Niche Brewing has just re-released the first beer of theirs that hit taps in late December, Single Origin (5% ABV), a Coffee Sweet Stout). Look for it at the James Joyce and other tap accounts in the near future. They’re also sending a keg of their Hibiscus Sour Ale, Ruby Tuesday, to Stillwell today, to go on tap sometime soon.
– As we hinted a couple times over the past month, Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse has a new tap account, Freeman’s on Quinpool where they’re currently serving up the Saturday Night Fever IPA. Meanwhile Keith is already looking forward to St Patrick’s Day, with an apropos brew already in the fermenter.