It’s another big weekend for beer in our region, with a beer release that’s very pertinent to our interests here at the ACBB, a sudden (and welcome!) rush of canned products we totally didn’t see coming, and some killer events going on in the downtown core of Halifax. So we’ll skip the traditional commentary on the weather this week and get right into it…

• There’s a cool new beer being released tomorrow from 2 Crows, a collaboration brewed with some pretty awesome guys… us! Named Amateur Hour (well, I guess that put us back in our place), the beer features a light-coloured primarily Pilsner grist with healthy amounts of Wheat malt, Malted Oats and Spelt, and heavy whirlpool-hopped with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. Thanks to two dry-hop additions of those same varieties (during active fermentation, and again during conditioning), you can expect notes of orchard fruit and melon, further accentuated by a light funk resulting from fermentation with the Yeast Bay’s glorious Brett Amalgamation, a combination of six Brettanomyces strains. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV and 29 IBUs, we’re thinking of this as a Brett Session IPA, or even a Brett Session Ale. Available on tap and in cans (check out that label by Midnight Oil Print & Design House!) at the brewery tomorrow, expect to see it around Halifax at the private stores shortly after. And a big thanks to Jeremy, Miles and the rest of the gang at 2 Crows for inviting us to participate in brewing a beer!

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing is sporting a rockin’ new logo this week and they’ve also got a new beer available today, one that goes to eleven. Nunmoar is a Black IPA, big and bitter, that’s been heavily hopped with Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe. Tipping the scales at 6.5% ABV and a hefty 75 IBU, expect it to marry a distinct roastiness to a prominent hop presence. How much more black could it be? NUNMOAR BLACK. Meanwhile, AJ and the gang have settled on opening hours for the brewery – for the foreseeable you’ll be able to visit for growler fills and merchandise Wednesdays from 2-6 PM, Thursdays 12-6 PM, Fridays 12-8 PM and on Saturdays from 11-5 PM. Even better, they’re now able to accept debit and credit transactions and the dreaded “cash only” sign has been taken down. Expect those hours to shift and hopefully expand a little once they’ve got all the permits in place for their taproom. And, speaking of growler fills, also available right now are the 5.1% ABV Pale Ale known as Daydreamer and two, count ‘em two, versions of the Headliner IPA. The first batch, where efficiency was better than expected, clocks in at 7.3% ABV and the second, matching the original specs for the beer, is 5.9% ABV. Maybe sample them both and let AJ know which version should top the marquee.

• After launching their new Takeaway shop last week, YellowBelly also released a pair of brand new bevvies. We already told you about their Blueberry Hill Milkshake IPA last week, and now we can share more details on their latest cider on tap. Bakeapple Cider is a 7.0% ABV blend, featuring a base of apple cider with the elusive bakeapple (aka cloudberry, aka if you want some, you’d better know someone!) added for a lovely crisp and tart fruit blend. Back-sweetened ever-so-slightly with some of the original cider to reduce a bit of the dryness, the cider is on tap now, and should see limited release in bottles too. And speaking of their Takeaway location a few doors down Water St from their home base, in addition to bottles and 1.89 L growler fills (new for YB), you can stay a while to enjoy samples and pints, as well as pizza from their kitchen.

North Brewing is releasing the Fall 2017 edition of their Canadian Brewing Awards Gold Medal-winning Midnight today. They took a batch of their Strong Dark Belgian and let it sit in barrels from Glenora Distillery straight from the source (i.e., still wet and with plenty of single malt whiskey flavour and aroma to go around) for the past several months, before packaging recently. Look for a melding of Belgian Abbey flavours (fruity esters with a light toasted bread character) with the barrel and whiskey character (vanilla, caramel, wood), resulting in a 10.5% ABV fireside sipper. Midnight marks the first in a series of several special Barrel-Aged bottles releases coming from North, which will featuring some beers in the coming weeks with funkier beginnings and unique aspects.

• Up in Amherst, NS, Trider’s Craft Beer has released their newest offering, Chaga-Lug Brown Ale. Focusing on local ingredients, this earthy and crisp beer in the Northern English Brown Ale style boasts additions of honey, Chaga and hops that were all sourced locally. Fifteen pounds of Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) were harvested by Shawee, a real life lumberjack; this provided the beer with its distinctive deep brown color. Wildflower honey (over 100lbs) from nearby Nappan, NS, was added during the whirlpool for a slight tartness. And the hops came from Jeff Smith, a member of the Brewnosers homebrew club from the area, who provided roughly four pounds of backyard-grown Cascade, Galena, CTZ and Centennial to this 5.1% ABV brew. Bitterness was kept low to allow the character of the other special ingredients to shine through. It’s available for growler fills now with 500 mL bottles in the works.

• A few weeks ago, TrailWay hinted that they would soon be releasing their first Milkshake IPA, and the day is today, with the launch of Velvet Fog. Brewed with plenty of oats in the mash, to enhance the haziness of the beer (although, really, when have they ever had a problem with that?), as well as the mouthfeel, the addition of a “healthy dose” of lactose powder boosts the body even more, and adds just a touch of residual sweetness. Hopped entirely with El Dorado, the brewery also threw in some peach and apricot purees, as well as some vanilla, to bring everything together with aromas and flavours of “tropical fruit, peaches, bubble gum, and vanilla”. Cans, pours and pints at the brewery starting at noon, and this one will also be pouring at their Tap Takeover at Stillwell today.

Firkinstein has a new beer, one that features the addition of fresh ginger. Added to a Pale Ale base for a unique twist, Root Pale Ale has just a subtle hint of ginger, with a light malt backbone and a minimal hop presence. At 6% ABV, you can find it now wherever Firkinstein beers are sold. The brewery is also now applying for a beverage room licence, so expect to see them able to sell pints of their own beer (as well as guest taps for other breweries) in the not-too-distant future.

• In our weekly “heads up for the Tuesday’s Beta Brew” Good Robot blurb, we’ve got an Irish Extra Stout dropping on the 21st. Extra Sass is a 5.8% ABV brew featuring 2-Row and Vienna with Caramel 30 for sweetness and Caramel 120, Roasted Barley and Black Prinz for colouring. The balancing bitterness, to the tune of 53 IBU, is thanks to East Kent Goldings and Summit hops. Notes of coffee and dark chocolate are punctuated by a light addition of Sarsparilla root. As always, the Beta Brews are only available at the taproom for enjoyment onsite, so drop for a taste. And if you’ve got a killer idea for a beer, be sure to let them know, they’d love to have you in the brewery! No brewing experience required.

• And in other Good Robot news, after several weeks of conditioning, their first canned offering is hitting the shelves today. We’ve mentioned Craft Coast Canning, a mobile canning business based in Fredericton previously, and it’s this new business that has made this new format possible. Extra BIG-ASS Beer is the first GR beer to get the treatment, their 5.2% ABV amber Marzen/Oktoberfest style beer (and recent ACBA medal winner). Featuring Vienna, Coffee, Flaked oats and a touch of memoirs malt on a 2-Row base, the hopping is from traditional German Perle and Willamette varietals. This won’t be the last canned offering from Robie and the Robots, as they’ve hinted that more of their lower-ABV/approachable/crushable beers will soon be available this way, including their Goseface Killah Gose and Leave Me Blue Kentucky Common. Cans are available at noon at the brewery (single and four-packs), and at private stores around HRM.

• It’s also a big weekend for Bad Apple Brewhouse, as they too release their first canned products. And why not shoot for the stars, as their first two beers to get the silver bullet treatment are the Mosaic, their award-winning, and charity-benefiting, Double IPA, and their also award-winning Black & Tackle Russian Imperial Stout. Showcasing its namesake Mosaic hops, the Mosaic is an 8% bitter and aromatic brew that has been an off-and-on favourite for years, whenever owner Jeff Saunders can get his hands on those hops. All sales from Mosaic go towards Down Syndrome Nova Scotia, who make possible the Maritime Down Syndrome Family Camp at Brigadoon Village. These organizations are close to Saunders’ heart, as his son Hunter lives with Mosaic Down Syndrome. On the deep and dark side, Bad Apple’s Black & Tackle, which has won awards as both a “regular” Russian Imperial Stout and in a barrel-aged variation, is also now much more portable, so you can it lots of places and enjoy its big roast presence and 9+% ABV as winter approaches. Cans of these beers are available this weekend at the brewery in Berwick Somerset, and are also headed for the private stores in the HRM. Follow along on their social media for the exact availability details. We’ve also seen hints on Bad Apple’s social media accounts that canning these two beers is just a start and other tasty things are on the way in that format in the coming weeks.

• And lastly, but perhaps most uncanny of all (not even sorry), Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing made a splash on social media yesterday when it was revealed that they’ve gone ahead and put four of their beers into cans now available at the brewery and very soon (as in very possibly this afternoon) at Bishop’s Cellar. The flagship IPA Exile on North Street and DIPA 12 Years to Zion are joined by fall/winter seasonal Flat Black Jesus West Coast Stout and everybody’s favorite Citra bomb Double Orange Apocalypse Ale in a hoppy quadfecta. Interest was immediate from folks far and wide as the prospect of shippable Unfiltered became a sudden and unexpected reality. We suspect few will breach the borders of the province or even HRM, at least at first, as having these beers unbound from growlers will be a novelty that takes some time to wear off.

• Last week we told you about the Garrison and Boxing Rock collaboration Courage brewed in honor of Gord Downie. The response to that bear was pretty impressive, with both brewery locations and the private stores all selling out within 24 hours or so! To date, just shy of $11,000 has been raised for two charitable causes: Brain Tumour Research and Indigenous People’s Reconciliation. And hopefully that number is only going to grow, as the beer will be available in 11 NSLC stores by next week (want to know which ones? Go here and click “Check Store Availability”). It will also be hitting PEI LLC this week, and ANBL and NLL stores soon after that. And in other Garrison beer news, their Dirty Ol’ Town Black IPA has been canned and will be available at the NSLC and private stores shortly and their fall/winter seasonal Winter Warmer will be at the NSLC in bottles very soon as well.

• Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax has a new beer of their own on the go this week, called Northumbeerland. Brewed partially as a trial for a new local malt, this beer is in the saison style, and the grist is a single pale base malt. In the kettle, Warrior hops were used for bittering while Saaz were added at the end of the boil and later, post-fermentation, for a dry-hop. The saison yeast strain used was selected for its ability to dry the beer out, and it has, while also yielding subtle hints of hay and berries along with a slight tartness. This is a very sessionable beer at 4.1% ABV and you’ll find it for growler fills at tiny tasters at the brewery’s operation on Salter Street.

A few events to tell you about this weekend and beyond, with a clear concentration of activity in downtown Halifax:

• A little bar named Stillwell opened on Barrington Street in November, 2013, and has been helping to grow the enthusiasm (and number) of breweries and drinkers alike in Halifax. They’re celebrating their Fourth Anniversary with a weekend full of events. Today from noon, the beers (and people) from Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing will be taking over, with a full dozen beers available on tap. Old favourites and new releases (including the Velvet Fog Milkshake IPA mentioned above) will be pouring; there will be free glassware for the first 100 to show up, and the full taplist can be found here. Saturday will see the annual Stillwell Birthday event, featuring an absolutely ridiculous tap, bottle and cask selection that celebrates the best of local offerings, highlights from other parts of Canada and the U.S. and very special treats from Europe. The full list can be found here (try not to drool) and it also includes the first public pourings of Stillwell Four, the first bottle release from Stillwell Brewing Co. which, as a matter of fact, will also be available the very next day for sale at the brewery’s warehouse around back at 2015 Gottingen Street. We’ve been advised that the Four is in somewhat short supply, so there will be a signup sheet at the bar during Saturday’s festivities so you can ensure you don’t miss out. We’ll should also warn you, especially those from out of town, if you’re planning to hit the birthday celebration on Saturday, that the 22nd Annual Parade of Lights is going on downtown that evening. It has been called a “traffic apocalypse” and “the worst traffic of the year”; things start getting nutty at about 4:30 PM and really don’t start to clear up until close to 9 PM or later. So maybe plan to take a bus or cab downtown, get good and settled in, and really explore what’s on offer.

• We mentioned that Montague, PEI’s newest-and-first brewery, Copper Bottom Brewing, would be holding their official grand opening soon, and looks like “soon” is even sooner than we thought! The Grand Opening is happening tomorrow from noon-close, there’ll be live music going on all day, a TBA food truck will be onsite, and lots of other fun stuff throughout the day, including kick-the-keg prizes, brewery tours, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 pm. And if you’d like to get out to the party without having to commit to driving, the brewery has teamed up with a local company to bring you the Copper Bottom Brew Bus, which leaves from the Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown at 5:15 pm, and departs Copper Bottom at 10 pm; contact Sonya or Loralei at 902-213-5177 if you’d like a ticket, which is just $15 round-trip.

• Yes, it’s months away, but we really need to let you know that tickets for the 6th Annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival officially go on sale next Friday, November 24th, at 11 am. This event, which is being held on Saturday, March 10th, 2018, continues to grow in breweries represented, beers poured, and overall excellence every year, so we can’t even imagine how awesome it’s going to be next March! And did we mention that Maine’s Orono Brewing will be pouring? Have this ticket link all ready to go next Friday at 11 sharp, especially if you want to get your hands on VIP tickets (which sold out in something like 2 minutes last year… no, we’re not joking). We’ll have lots more information on the event as the date approaches!

And a couple of last mentions before we let you get started on your weekend:

– A reminder that the launch party for 100 from Big Spruce, their beer made with 100% Nova Scotia-produced ingredients, is taking place at Horton Ridge Malt House tomorrow at 2 PM. Big Spruce beers will also will be taking over the guest growler taps during this kitchen party-styled event. The 100 is now available now in cans at Westside in Halifax, where a Big Spruce 5-tap mini-takeover of their growler station (including fills of the 100) started last night and is likely to continue into the weekend.
– Halifax brewpub Rockbottom has a new beer on the menu this week, an American Pale Ale dubbed Mostly Maris for the use of the venerable British malt called Maris Otter. It lends a biscuity note and a sweetness that should pair nicely with the very American hop schedule that includes Cascade, and Columbus. This beer is balanced to the hoppy side of the spectrum and comes in at 5.5% ABV and 55 IBU.

It’s been another busy week for news in the region, with no fewer than a dozen new and returning beers and ciders on the shelves, draft lines or coolers across the region. And to kick off this week’s edition, let’s dive right in with another new small-batch brewery opening.

• Bathurst, New Brunswick has now joined the ranks of brewing communities, with the opening of AKA Beer late last week. Brewing small scale 55 litre batches on location at the local craft beer bar Au Bootlegger, their Prohibition Ale is now available for purchase. Strictly available on tap at the bar, this 5.0% ABV Amber Ale is a complement to the other NB beers already available. Look for more information and an interview with the crew behind AKA shortly!

• There’s a new beer available from Bagtown Brewing in Sackville, NB these days, their second brew featuring tea. TEAse the Senses is a 5.0% ABV orange-hued beer, with loose Blackcurrant tea leaves added during the mash for a distinctive rich and smooth taste. A healthy dose of Mosaic hops offer plenty of citrus and fruit aromatics, as well as a solid 46 IBU bitterness. TEAse, as well as their flagship Wobbly Duck English Pale Ale, Crown Vic Belgian Pale Ale, and Suble Tea Session IPA (their first beer to feature tea) are available for growler fills at the brewery, open Thursday, Friday (both days 3-7PM), and Saturday (9AM-1PM), located at the Sackville Commons.

• One of the more anticipated collaborative releases is hitting the shelves across Nova Scotia today. In October, inspired by the By The Numbers piece by local artist Erin McGuire, Boxing Rock and Garrison teamed up to brew a beer in honour of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. Courage (For Gord Downie) is that beer, a 6.0% ABV Amber Wheat Ale. Available today from noon at Boxing Rock’s Shelburne location, there is also a release party later today, starting at 5PM, with local musicians paying their respects to Downie. In Halifax, Garrison released their share of bottles at opening (10AM), and there will be a Live 105 event at the brewery, for those able to win their way in through social media/call-ins, and will feature raffles and tshirt sales, with all funds going to charity. Speaking of which, $1.00 of the bottle price is going to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and Downie/Wenjack Fund for Indigenous Peoples Reconciliation. If you are unable to make it to either brewery, the private stores in HRM will also be receiving deliveries, and should have the beer on shelves today. And reaching across the Atlantic Provinces (and beyond), through the NSLC, ANBL, PEILCC, NLC and MBLL before the end of the month.

• Riverview’s Celtic Knot Brewing will soon be offering their beers in bottles, for a more portable way to enjoy their beers. Beers like their Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout, Ryetious Rye IPA, Dubh Loki Black IPA, and new Choc Wort Orange, a Chocolate Orange Stout, will be packaged in 500 mL bottles. Initially for sale only at the brewery, keep an eye here, or on their Facebook page, for exact release details (should be within the next 1-2 weeks). And don’t forget to drop by Marky’s Laundromat tonight to meet with Celtic Knot and other members of the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective during their weekend-long Tap Takeover.

• Fredericton’s TrailWay is releasing another SMaSH beer today at noon, Binary American IPA. Brewed with Golden Promise malt and hopped generously (as usual) with El Dorado, one of the new favourite varieties at the brewery, they’re describing it as “super complex” despite the seemingly-simple recipe. SMaSH beers are always fun to experience, as it’s a great way to see what exactly single ingredients can offer. “Incredibly bright and juicy, with a definite candied fruit/mango element”, this 6% ABV beer will be available at the brewery’s taproom for pints, growlers, and cans.

Port Rexton Brewing is releasing their first canned beer, and first packaged beer since bottles of last winter’s Belgian Tripel. Blazing Sun is an amped-up version of their popular Chasing Sun NEIPA, featuring plenty of the same juicy hop aroma and flavours, with the added piney notes of a Double IPA. Cans of the 7.0% ABV, 45 IBU beer, are available exclusively at the brewery this long weekend: Sunday Nov 12 from 11-10PM, and Monday Nov 13, 11-2PM. If there are any left, we’ll be sure to let you know where you can grab a couple. And keep in mind that the brewery taproom is now into off-season hours, which means keeping an eye on their website for exact details.

• We’ve got a couple of news items from Halifax’s Propeller this week, starting off with the latest (and second) release of their Gottingen Small Batch “Hop Series”, Idaho-7 XPA. Focusing on Idaho 7, an American hop variety that’s been making its way into a few beers in our region over the last year or so, this “Extra Pale Ale” has “complex fruit and citrus aromas of apricot and orange, and finishes with a subtle backdrop of resiny pine and the slightest things of black tea”. Coming in at 5% ABV and 40 IBUs, it’s available now at both Propeller locations for growler fills. Moving on to tonight’s Cask Night, they’ll be tapping a cask-conditioned Honey Wheat Ale, aged with black raspberries; if you’d like a taste, be sure to show up at the Gottingen Tasting Room at 5 pm sharp, when the cask is tapped.

• There’s a brand new cider in the popular Something Different series from Annapolis Cider Company, Juniperry. Made from local, hand-picked Flemish Beauty pears, the juice had an arrested fermentation, before the addition of crushed juniper berries which were foraged from Peggy’s Cove and Prospect Bay. The resulting unfiltered, sparkling Perry has a light, pale colour, with a “delicate, woodsy aroma and a complex palate of sweet pear and balmy pine, with a hint of citrus”. Drop by the cidery for your fill of this 6.5% ABV beauty; $0.50 of each refill will be donated to the Town of Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department.

• The Western Newfoundland Brewing Company has been paying attention to the demands from their demographic in Pasadena (and beyond), who have been requesting a beer on the lighter side, somewhere between an American Pale Ale and a light Lager. Well, the brewery has responded with… Beer! Yes, that’s the name! As expected, it’s minimally hopped at 16 IBU, with a simple grist of Pale and Pilsner malt (achieving 5.0% ABV), making it easy-drinking, while “retaining the full body” that the brewery proudly notes is in all of their beers. Drop by the brewery for a taste, and don’t worry about trying to remember the name of what you wanted to order!

• Coming off their big ACBA wins, Chain Yard Cider has a new product pouring at the cidery, Petal to the Metal. A blend of a wild-fermented Baldwin base cider with rose water, it was matured with a ferment of Spy and Jonagold apples. A touch of Ironworks gin was added to bring out more floral aromatics, and a tiny amount of cherry wine gives the final cider its pink-rose colour. Described as “crisp and smooth”, it’s quite dry (like most ciders from Chain Yard), as very little sugar is left in the final product. Packing a nice punch at 8% ABV, drop down to Chain Yard to give this beautiful cider a taste!

• We mentioned that YellowBelly had brewed up a “Blueberry Milkshake IPA” last week, and had a few details to tide you over… well, looks like that beer is now on tap at the brewpub, and we have more information to share! They’ve finally settled on the name Blueberry Hill, fitting for a beer that features the addition of over 100 kg of blueberries (some in primary, some in secondary). Fermented with the excellent Funktown yeast blend, and dry-hopped heavily with Citra, expect lots of mango, pineapple, citrus, and passionfruit, along with a smooth, silky body (thanks in part to the typical-for-a-Milkshake-IPA addition of lactose powder). Blue-hued, 6% ABV, and high-20s IBUs, it’s available on tap at the brewpub as we speak, and will also be in growlers at the new YellowBelly Takeaway (just down a few doors at 264 Water St) that starts today from 1-7 pm… just buy a YB growler or bring your own branded, CLEAN 64 oz one.

• Next week’s Good Robot BetaBrewsday is just about ready to go, brewed by Travis Lindsay, Dan Hendricken and Kelly C. Named Funk You Saison (tsk), it’s golden-coloured, with a dry finish, and hints of “raspberry, clove, honey sweetness and bready funk”. Releasing at the brewery on tap on Tuesday, it weighs in at 5.7% ABV and 23 IBUs. And I’d just like to note this may be the shortest Good Robot post we’ve had since… when did they open again?

Grimross isn’t taking much of a breather with their one-off Scratch Series lately, as after releasing a couple of news ones over the past few weeks, they already have another in store! Scratch #8 is a hoppy Saison which is dry-hopped with a healthy dose of Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. This one won’t be released until the beginning of the week of November 20th, so ABV, IBUs and tasting notes aren’t available yet, but based on the hops used, we’re thinking a blend of citrus, pine, and lemongrass, with some spicy phenolics and fruity esters from the yeast, followed by a dry finish.

Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax has been beavering away on several things in the past few weeks and it looks like this is the week for you, gentle beer drinker, to benefit from many of them in a very short timespan. First is the debut of two bottled beers at The Guy Show this weekend at the Halifax Exhibition Centre. First is the Winter Warmer, a 6.3% ABV beer geared towards the season with spruce tips, cinnamon, bitter orange peel and blackstrap molasses. Citra hops provide an additional citrus kick. Also at the show will be Night Shift on the Palisade, and IPA featuring Topaz and (surprise!) Palisadehops. So if you find yourself at the Guy Show (even if it’s because you got roped into going to the Christmas Craft Village next door, do check out these two new brews!

• Meanwhile, at Tidehouse’s Tiny Tasty Beverage Room on Salter Street, another new beer is hitting the taps called Do Make Say Drink, another IPA, this one built on a malt base of 2-Row barley to which Vienna and Melanoidin were added for a balancing malt character and body. Hops were largely Citra and the beer was fermented with clean and neutral American ale yeast. And already on tap from earlier this week is the Cosmic Blonde, a mash-up of the Belgian Blonde style with very new world hop varieties including Amarillo, Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic. Multiple Belgian yeast strains were used in this one to develop fruity, spice and peppery notes to complement the tropical and citrus hop presence. Lastly, it was announced this week that Tidehouse will be hosting a tap takeover event to celebrate their first birthday at Tom’s Little Havana. on December 9th. We’ll have more information on that, hopefully including a tap list, in the coming weeks.

• Although the release date is not yet set in stone, Sober Island Brewing on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore is expecting to bring out a new beer very soon. Juniper IPA is an IPA in the West Coast style that’s been loaded with dry hop additions from Wicked Hops near Stewiacke, including Magnum, Chinook, Centennial and Cascade varieties. Also added in the last 10 minutes of the boil were three pounds of macerated juniper berries. The beer looks to be coming in at 6.3% ABV and some 58 IBU, and it may yet see a little bit of tweaking, as two more pounds of juniper berries are still available for additional dry hopping. Look for this one to be available as early as next weekend.

• And if you’ll recall, Sober Island also has a homebrew competition for beers featuring foraged ingredients, with the entries due on Wednesday, November 15th at Bramoso Pizza on Quinpool Road in Halifax, or Thursday, November 16th, at Cavicchi’s Meats on St. Margaret’s Bay Road in Tantallon during their Bangers & Beer event. We’ve also heard some rumours that drop-off may be possible at Noble Grape locations, but you’ll probably want to verify that before you go trying to drop your beer off as described in this Facebook post right here. Keep your eye on Sober Island’s social media (Facebook, Twitter) and the Facebook event page for any last minute details, and we’re looking forward to hearing the results announced on Sunday, November 26th, at the competition finale at Henley House in Sheet Harbour.

Plenty on the go this weekend, but do keep in mind that the provincial beer stores will be closed tomorrow in observance of Remembrance Day, and private stores and breweries are closing or delaying their opening:

• Don’t forget that the James Joyce Irish Pub in Fredericton is holding Deja Brew, their second New Brunswick Tap Takeover, today from noon till close. They’ve installed new draft lines and made the use of jockey boxes to have over 30 beers on tap, with just about every brewery in the province representing. It’s pay as you go, with flights available as usual. Coincidentally, the NBCBA (New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association, the local homebrew club in the region) is holding a Meet and Greet at the JJ from 6-10 pm, so flag one of the members down if you have any questions about brewing beer at home!

• Members of Foghorn‘s new KV Beer Club have the opportunity to participate in KV Beer School, a one-hour learning experience on the subject of beer, on Tuesday, November 14th from 7-8 pm. Brewer/co-owner Andrew Estabrooks will be discussing a brief history of beer, beer styles, and basically answering any beer-related questions you have on your mind. Club members can RSVP by emailing steve@drinkfoghorn.ca; it’s first-come, first-serve, to RSVP today!

• Dartmouth’s Battery Park continues their run of dedicating tap lines to a local brewery with their Boxing Rock Tap Takeover on Thursday, November 16th from open till close. Featuring Shelburne, Nova Scotia’s favourite brewery, Boxing Rock will be bringing 15 different beers to pour until they’re gone! There’s a good chance a brewery member or two will be on hand to answer any BR-related questions you may have. Keep an eye on the event link above for a taplist to be revealed in the near future.

• The original Gahan House in Charlottetown, PEI, is releasing a beer next Thursday that celebrates the coming winter, or at least the shorter days on the way to winter. Shortest Day is a spiced milk stout, black, opaque, and topped with a dark, lingering head. It features a prominent vanilla aroma with toasty undertones and it’s been spiced with nutmeg for a festive flair. It comes in at a very drinkable 5.3% ABV and you can be among the first to try it by attending the Shortest Day Celebration at the Gahan House on November 16th. At the event you’ll find live music, sampling of the beer, and a chance to win a prize package that includes a night at the Great George Hotel and dinner for two at Sims Corner Steakhouse on the official shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice on December 21st.

Big Spruce is celebrating the release in cans of their 100% Nova Scotia-made beer, One Hundred, with a special Launch Party at Horton Ridge on Saturday, November 18th at 2 pm. For those who’ve forgotten, the beer features grain grown and malted at Horton Ridge, together with wild yeast and hops harvested at the Big Spruce farm in Nyanza. There’ll be live music at the event from 3-6 pm, and pizza from The Rustic Crust at 4 pm. More details to come, stay tuned to the event page as the date gets closer.

• If you’re in the Charlottetown area and would love to learn more about the aromas and flavours you’re experiencing in your beer, HopYard has just the answer! On Saturday, November 25th, they’re holding a Guided Tasting with PEI’s only certified-Cicerone, Bryan Carver, at 11 am. Bryan will lead you through four beers brewed in Atlantic Canada, and will help you discover aspects of beer you never knew existed! The perfect way to make you a better friend of your favourite beverage, tickets are just $25 and can be picked up in advance at HopYard.

• It’s quite a ways off, but Halifax Curated already has the date for their East Coast Cider Festival, which will happen on Saturday, June 16th, 2018. There’ll be two sessions (1-4 pm, and 6-9 pm) pouring plenty of cider, with 16 cideries from Nova Scotia already signed up, as well as a couple from New Brunswick and one from Ontario. Early-bird tickets are already on sale ($30 + tax and fees) through the link above, so if you’re a cider fan, it makes sense to buy yours today! The event will be held at the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Centre, and will also have food vendors on-site.

Just a few more things to get you up to speed before we let you go today:

Bulwark has re-released their Winter Cider, a 7% ABV blended cider infused with cinnamon and nutmeg; available in bottles now.
Lazy Bear has brewed up another batch of their Norwegian, a take on a traditional style from, you guessed it, Norway, brewed with juniper-infused water and a yeast that ferments at almost unheard-of temperatures. It comes in at 7% ABV and should be around at the Annapolis Royal market tomorrow morning.
– One of Picaroons most popular seasonals, Winter Warmer (7.3% ABV, 35 IBUs) is back for the colder weather; look for it in bottles and on tap wherever Picaroons beers are normally found.

Fans of great beer in Halifax are no stranger to the name Stillwell. Since 2013 the bar has been pouring the best in local beer, bringing in tasty treats from other parts of the country and beyond, pioneering the modern beer garden concept in HRM, and putting on events that have spoiled our little city for world-class beer. Throughout that time they’ve teamed with local breweries for collaborations and contract brews under the Stillwell brand, including several mixed fermentation beers that have showcased the tastes and interests of Christopher Reynolds, one of the three primary owners of the bar. Back in spring of this year word got out that Chris had decided to take another leap of faith and start Stillwell Brewing in the spirit of some of his own personal favorite breweries. Although we’ve already seen the release of Stilly Pils, a hoppy, rugged and eminently drinkable brew that was a highlight of the late summer season at the Stillwell Beer Garden, we are quickly approaching the first bottle releases from the brewery, the culmination of many months of fermenting, aging and blending, bottling, and aging some more. We caught up with Chris to find out more about who and what his inspirations are, why he (finally!) decided to start the brewery, and what we’re likely to see from Stillwell Brewing in the coming weeks, months and years.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is the team involved in your brewery?
The brewery is mainly a project of mine (Chris), borne out of a desire to create the sorts of beers that I a) really love to drink and b) aren’t available locally. Namely, mixed-fermented, bone-dry beers. De La Senne, Oxbow, Jester King, etc. I am the main brewer, recipe maker, yeast steward and squeegee operator.

I made the first 10 batches with brewer Kyle Jeppesen, but unfortunately he’s had to take a job abroad, kind of an offer he couldn’t refuse. He was very bummed leave SBC, but given the experimental nature of the brewery, it was not (and may never be) in a position to pay anyone a salary, myself included.

Nikki Lockington, my lady, is also a daily contributor to the brewery. She helps me to plan beers and label designs, and takes care of a lot of logistics in terms of materials, and (eventually) sales.

I would say that the staff at Stillwell are officially and unofficially involved, too. Sam Fraser made our logo (from her tap wall handwriting, a ubiquitous feature of the bar), and Graeme, our chef, made a joke suggestion for a beer, which will be one of our first releases (“Sport”). Everyone kind of weighs in and offers support and feedback.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Being lucky enough to drink great stuff around people passionate about great stuff. Bar Volo was a real influence, as were a lot of the great beer books out there (Beaumont, Pashley, etc.), and finally and most importantly, traveling. We opened Stillwell in 2013 and beer has been my full time life ever since.

What made you decide to take the step of opening a brewery?
I’ve always enjoyed making beer. Homebrewing, as you would probably agree, is a wonderfully meditative process, and is something that makes me use a different part of my brain (and body – it is a workout). Personally, I find I’m happiest when I’m making or creating something, and unfortunately making bars and restaurants all the time, though I’ve certainly tried, is incredibly difficult and risky. Brewing a beer, as risky and big a process as it is at the commercial level, allows me a creative outlet. For several years, brewing my beers in other people’s breweries fully scratched the itch, but eventually I found that the beers suffered a little by not being fully in my control (and, mostly, on my timeline). I always said I would never open a brewery, but listening to an episode of The Sour Hour featuring Troy Casey of Colorado’s Casey Brewing and Blending, I realized that his set-up is actually attainable and manageable by me. Basically, a lot of oak, bottles and time, and some years of experience with yeasts and recipes, and it finally clicked that I could – and should – take the leap. In business and in life, if something is a foregone conclusion, like I just know it will work, I have to listen to that and take the leap.

What is the ethos of the brewery?
I’m looking for the brewery to be just like the bar, i.e., a “workshop” that will hopefully sustain us long enough to realize some goals in beer. I want to produce beers of character that are super drinkable, but immediately special. I’m very inspired by the family-sized breweries of Belgium, places like Cantillon and De Dolle. I love that they’re run by a small handful of family and friends, they make what they like, sell what they can, and aren’t bound by a group of stakeholders, production schedules and crazy equipment loans looming over their heads. When I hear someone is opening a brewery, I want to know that they have something to say with their beer, and I believe that I and we do, in this case.

Do you have an approximate opening date?
I would say that we’re technically “open” as of April, i.e., we’ve been brewing in our own space since then. We released Stilly Pils in August, which went great, but I was only able to get around to brewing a new batch in mid-September, which, of course, won’t be ready for months. On November 18 and 19 we will finally have a bottle release at the bar and brewery, and once we have bottles out, with the promise of more to follow, I think it’ll feel a little more real.

Can you tell us about the beers you’ll be offering initially?
Stilly Pils is something we want to make over the long haul, with tweaks along the way. A house beer for our bar and beergarden, we’ll try to have it on as much as possible. It’s my quest to make the ultimate pilsner, which, of course, can never end.

Most of the rest of our beers are and will be blends of barrel aged and/or barrel fermented farmhouse ales. We have bitter things, sours things, funky things, pale things, darker things, complex things, clean things, etc., in various stages of fermentation, and from those we’re blending and bottling.

The very first bottle release will be Stillwell Four, this year’s beer to celebrate the birthday of the bar. It’s a tart and effervescent farmhouse ale aged in a single sauvignon blanc barrel. We’ll be pouring it at our 4th Birthday Party before selling bottles the next day from our warehouse location.

Another of the earlier releases is called Sport, a tart barrel fermented farmhouse ale with sea salt and lime zest added. It’s margarita, gatorade and sour beer all in one, with notes of coconut and vanilla, and is bright as all get-out, with a big, rocky, long lasting head. It’s awesome and almost ready.

Possibly released on the same day will be Gosh, a tart red wine barrel aged farmhouse ale heavily dry-hopped with Mosaic. There’s a lovely fruit-meets-dankness of the hops on the nose, with tons of fruit character also showing through from the fermentation. The beer is very sparkly and, near the finish, the grapey, red wine character starts to show itself, and really comes out in the tannic, grippy finish. You immediately want another sip.

In mid-September I brewed a beer which, other than Stilly Pils, might be our first beer that won’t see oak. It’s my quest for Taras Boulba, or even young Stillwell 3. Hops and restrained fermentation character. It may see kegs, but I’m not sure yet.

Everything is a one-off until it’s not!

What are your plans for distribution (aka, how can people try your beer)?
A lot of this will be decided by the reception. If the beers are good and people buy them, then we’ll have a better idea of how this could look. I’ll say we’re making pretty niche beers and we’re not planning to get into the licensee keg game at all. We will likely have to export to sell all of our bottles, and we’ve been speaking to some agents in provinces abroad. We’re predominantly packaging bottles and most kegs will be just for Stillwell and the Beergarden, locally. We will never do growlers. Bottles will be available via our bottle release days (i.e., out of the brewery on certain afternoons), and very possibly available to-go from Stillwell (working on that licensing). We might look at figuring out a separate-from-Stillwell tasting room in a year or three, if that ever makes sense. I have some ideas!

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We don’t, but there are some restaurants in the city who I think may carry our beers, mostly pals. We won’t really be on tap anywhere.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries or people along the way?
100%. I owe a debt to North Brewing for hosting a whole slew of contract and collab brews, to Boxing Rock, Big Spruce & Bar Volo for making collabs with me in the early days, and to Propeller for renting me the space on Gottingen to work. Greg Nash from Unfiltered lent me some stuff yesterday. It’s true that we have a very collaborative and friendly industry. In terms of knowledge, there have been many brewers, especially in the U.S. and Belgium who’ve been willing to have a chat and throw me an opinion or two.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
I’d love to see us have a solid reputation for great farmhouse-style beer. We kind of have that already, so I guess I just hope we don’t frig that up! I’d like to create a job or two. I’d like to attend some cool festivals. I’d like to be happy drinking our beer!

What type of system are you brewing on, and what is your expected output?
We’re brewing on a very old, very manual 15bbl, two-vessel steam-powered brewhouse. The same kit Propeller brews their one-offs on. We have no expectation of yearly or monthly output.

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
Sure – I first started with kits in Toronto in 2010ish, then moved to Halifax and started really playing with mixed fermentations. I won something in a Brewnosers home brew competition, which was a real honour. I pretty quickly moved from homebrewing to collab brewing commercially — having a bar to buy the beer is pretty helpful when convincing a brewery to do a collab, and luckily they were all great. Definitely learned lots doing this — anytime one co-brews either at home or in a brewery one learns something, of course.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery whose beers you particularly enjoy drinking?
I like dry beers for the most part. I like hoppy beers and bitter beers. I like drinkability in beer most. Give me De La Senne Taras Boulba, Birrificio Italiano Tipopils and Mahr’s Brau Ungespundet and I’m a very happy man. Granite Ringwood. A good cask bitter or mild. A vintage barleywine. A geuze – any will do. Saisons from the classics to Quebec.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Yeast first, then hops. I like Noble hops primarily, or their hybrid descendants. Saison & Pils.

How can folks keep up to date with the latest news and brews?
@stillwellbrewing on Instagram

A big thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer our many questions and hopefully give the uninitiated a good idea of what he’s got planned for Stillwell Brewing. If you like the sounds of what you read here, you should probably mark your calendar for later this month when the first bottled beer, Stillwell Four, becomes available, first for pours during the Stillwell (bar, not brewery) fourth birthday party on the 18th, and then the next day for retail sales at their warehouse location on Gottingen Street (entrance at the rear parking lot of Propeller Brewing). We’re looking forward to sampling not only this release, but the releases of the others Chris mentioned above, as well as those he hasn’t brewed or even dreamt up yet.

 

After several years of brewing at home in his basement for friends and family, avid homebrewer Keith Forbes is now brewing at home in his basement… but for a wider audience, as the commercial brewery Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House. Forbes released the first of his beers this past Friday, with the inaugural batch of his Funktown American Pale Ale delivered to Freeman’s Pizza Sackville, Bishop’s Cellar (for growler fills), and the Good Robot taproom, where he had previously done a Guest Tap Takeover. We traded emails with Forbes in between brewdays and cleaning kegs to learn more about him, his brewing history, his beers, and the future of OBBH.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Open with a hard question will ya? I’m 34, live in Sackville Nova Scotia, have been married to an amazing wife for 8 years and have 3 great kids. I work full time in IT/Telecom; have been brewing for quite a while, have competed against some of the best brewers (now friends) in the province and have a passion for craft beer. I’m fun, easy to get along with, but have been known to be a sarcastic arsehole all at the same time. But I am who I am. My wife is 37, and has lived in Sackville her whole life. She works in Payroll and has tolerated my passion for quite some time. She’s the better half of this duo and we wouldn’t be in this position to launch Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House without her support.

How did you get into the wonderful world of beer?
I started into the world of beer to save a few $$$ (that did not happen) as we just moved into a house; had 2 kids with a 3rd on the way. The first 6 months, it was Festabrew kits (ed: pre-made wort, just need to pitch yeast) which led into a couple Best Case kits (partial extract and steeped grains), after that found the Brewnosers and decided I could create my own beers. I brewed 2 extract batches before picking up a fellow brewer’s Brew in a Bag setup. After that, I was making some good beer. A year after that, I was entering competitions, receiving feedback and dialing in my product.

What made you decide to take the leap into going commercial?
My passion for great beer and wanting to share my product with everyone is the main reason. I love sharing my beer. Anyone who knows me will agree that if you show up, you’re likely having a beer or leaving with some! I believe the turning point was after the Forbes 500 tap takeover at Good Robot; it was a moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It was an event that let me briefly follow my dream. With Brightwood Brewery launching on a small scale I knew it was feasible and I started the process early this year to follow our dream.

Tell us about Ol’ Biddy’s: Where did the name come from?
Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House wasn’t the original name; as much as I love this brand there was a ton of disappointment in having to start over. As for the original name there is a story, but another brewery registered their name in the province and our original was rejected as the names were too similar.
As for Ol’ Biddy’s, we were around 3 weeks on brainstorming to come up with a new brand. We wanted to have a fun brand, be a bit sarcastic, stand out from the crowd and just make and share some great beers. For those who know us, my wife and I are like an old married couple… we should be very entertaining when we actually are an old married couple! She’s my Ol’ Biddy, and now that we are at this point, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

What is the ethos of the brewery?
We definitely believe in sharing and giving back where we can, and look forward to having fellow Brewnosers and friends in the brewery to give them an avenue to release some beers to the public, where it’s at beer events, a release at Stillwell, Battery Park, or one of our regular accounts.

Can you tell us about your lineup of beers?
We plan on having 3 mainstay beers that will be available more often than not. In addition, I have a list an arm long of beers that we plan to release as seasonals. As well, as a thank you to the Brewnosers, I would like to offer up the nano brewery for one-off releases to other members; let them experience the fun and excitement of having a beer commercially released. But back on track…these are the three core beers, I’m sure the ACBB Team is well-versed with these! (ed: Chris and Aaron have enjoyed many of Forbes’ beers during monthly Brewnosers meetings and social events)

Funktown APA: Crisp and Clean, hop-forward American Pale Ale. Heavy on the hops, but clean on the finish. This beer took Gold Medal in the 2015 Brewnosers National Homebrew Competition, and was released during my Good Robot Tap Takeover in November 2016. Future ideas for Funktown include the addition of pineapple, grapefruit, or blood orange.

Disco Inferno Red IPA: Fellow homebrewer Mike Orr and I created this recipe, and has been a favorite amongst many. Malt meets Hops. Well balanced, malt-forward, with chocolate and caramel notes and a citrus hop-focused finish. This beer won People’s Choice this year at the New Brunswick Big Strange Brew.

Even Gooder Coffee Brown: A well-balanced complex Brown Ale with a dense coffee aroma and flavor that finishes crisp, clean and leaving you wanting more. Once described as the “Cocaine and Hookers of Beers” (can I say that?). Knowing who said it, this was meant as the highest of compliments.

We also plan to offer two or three seasonal beers shortly after launch. Likely one of the best beers I’ve ever brewed previously was Moose Milk, my infamous Vanilla Bourbon Chocolate Milk Stout – rich, silky, and creamy with hints of vanilla and bourbon. It’s like chocolate milk for adults! You must try it; it won’t last. It might be going by a new name upon release…
The Orange American Bastard (#Trump) is a beer my nephew and I designed especially for him. Primarily Wheat-forward, with bitter orange peel, coriander and Cascade hops. Fermented with a clean American Ale yeast, it is a true bastard of the Wit Style of beer. It was originally designed as a one-off recipe, however, it has become a mainstay during the summer months.
Being so small, and concentrating on draft rather than packaged beer, I love offering a wide variety of beers I’ve brewed previously. Here are few other beers I look forward to sharing with the public:

Hops
  • Gail’s Revenge IPA
  • Hoppily Ever After DIPA
  • Intergalactic APA
  • Problem Child Amber (Brewed for release with Peter Lionais of Tidehouse Brewing)
Malts
  • Even Gooder Nut Brown (Released at Good Robot during the Tap Takeover)
  • Ol’ Biddy’s Irish Red
  • Alternate Ending Altbier (Brewed for release with Jeff Saunders at Bad Apple Brewhouse)
  • Tall Dark & Handsome Robust Porter (Bronze Medal Winner at 2015 Garrison Home Brew-Off)
  • Engine 41 Smoked Porter (Released at Good Robot)
  • Tilted Kilt Wee Heavy (Collaboration brew with Mike Orr; Gold Medal Winner at the Hammond River Brewing Competition.
  • The Good Boy Dark English Mild (Released at Good Robot)
  • The Cookie Jar White Stout (Released at Good Robot)
Wheats, Light Ales & Sours
  • Lawn & Order Wheat Ale.
  • Alternate Releases: Blueberry; Apricot and Blood Orange
  • Liquid Gold (Silver Medal Winner at the 2016 Big Spruce Brewing Comp)
  • Orange Grove Wheat
  • Sackvegas Sour
What are your plans for distribution?
We are still waiting to see what I can do in terms of distribution; being zoned R1 is tricky. The initial focus will be having a few select tap accounts and then see how sales are. We may provide growler sales in the future, but are waiting to hear on zoning. Worst case scenario, I’ll have the potential to be setup at Farmers markets.

How can folks enjoy your beer currently?
We have already delivered Funktown APA to Bishop’s Cellar, Good Robot, and Freeman’s Sackville. Yesterday (Sunday), Mount Uniacke Pub received our Even Gooder Coffee Brown, and in the next day or two, we’ll be delivering kegs of that and the Chocolate Milk Stout to Battery Park (as well as a pair of the previous spots). Our beer will be dispersed throughout HRM; most areas will only have my beer at one establishment, being a small brewery operation. However, we want to spread the beer out as far as we can to reach the most people. If anyone reading this is interested in taking beer on let us know. We are looking for a few more tap accounts in Halifax, Dartmouth, Cole Harbor, Bedford and Windsor.

Have you had assistance from other breweries or people while you made your way towards opening?
This is a long list and everyone has offered me assistance, guidance or feedback over the years… in the beginning to get started brewing, feedback on beers, friendly razzing in competitions over the years, or just answering questions on the setup process. These are in no order and I apologize if I missed anyone.

  • Erin Forbes (My wife and the inspiration behind our brand)
  • The Brewnosers
  • Jeff Saunders @ Bad Apple Brewhouse (Somerset)
  • Greg Nash @ Unfiltered (North Street)
  • Jimmy Beaman @ Mad Boocha (North Street)
  • Mike Orr
  • Shane Steeves @ Hammond River (Rothesay, NB)
  • 1029 Brewing
  • Brathair Brewing
  • Chris @ ACCB
  • Josh, Doug, Angus and the rest of the Good Robot Team (Robie Street)
  • Jeremy @ Big Spruce (Nyanza)
  • Peter and Shean at Tide House (Salter Street)
  • Dave @ Everwood Ave (Lr. Sackville)
  • Becky @ Sober Island (Sheet Harbour)
  • Jonathan @ Best Case (Burnside)
  • Matt @ Brightwood Brewing (Dartmouth)
  • There are more, but my mind is tired and sorry if I forgot a mention!

With that said, if someone wants to talk brewing, has a question about the process, wants to join us for a pint and just discuss beer we are all ears and encourage it. If you see us, say Hi!

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
I hope to still be having fun with the brewery. Likely in 2 years I’ll have more shiny gear and a few new fermentors. However, I want to keep it small scale for now, keep things exciting, and have friends in to brew. Eventually, I would love to have a tap room in Sackville; have a few main stays and rotate through an abundance of seasonal and one-off beers. Wait and see what the future brings.

Let’s get a bit nerdy for those of us who want to learn more about the beer and brewery specifics:
Tell us about your brewhouse.
I’ve got a fully custom 1 barrel (120 litre) brewery with a pair of fermentors; I built it over the years as funds permitted. There’s nothing standard about this setup, and it’s likely one of the most Frankensteined breweries around. With that said, it’s doesn’t come down to the equipment used, but the quality of beer you can produce.
To start, we anticipate producing 600 litres per month (72 hL per year); in 2 years I’m anticipating growing to 170-200 hL annually. Either way, it’s still small scale; but we are ok with that.

Can you share more about your homebrewing history?
I started 6 or 7 years ago, and found the Brewnosers forums about 5 years ago. I started out with a canned Coopers kit. It was complete garbage, but we drank it anyway. Later, I found Festabrew kits and fermented those for a few months, which is around the time I found the Brewnosers. I moved from bottles to kegs and partial grain kits, and then started producing my own recipes on Jimmy’s old 20 litre setup. From that point, I entered into competitions, where I made some great friends and slowly grew my system over time. Next thing you know, I have a brewery in my basement and I’m looking for a license! Never would have guessed 5 years ago that I’d be at this point.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
It really depends on the day. I love a good hop-forward, low-SRM beer; just something juicy and delicious when done right. As for favorite local breweries or beers, I’d need to say Bad Apple’s Boxcutter IPA and Unfiltered Exile on North St. are at the top of my list.

How about a favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
No real favourite styles to brew; kettle sours are more interesting. But overall the process is the same, you mash, boil, ferment, keg, and then drink. However, my favourite ingredient to brew with (which I think has a lot to do with my beer) is the salts. Most wouldn’t think water additions would make or break a beer; however it’s single-handedly what makes my beer unique. Looking forward, we are looking to get a barrel and do a few barrel aged beers. Not sure where we will put the barrel; but we will find a space!

Massive thanks to Keith for taking time out of a full time job and full time brewing to answer our questions. The Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House website is currently under development, so the best way to keep track of beer availability is through Twitter and Facebook. Congratulations to Keith and Erin on joining the ranks of Nova Scotia breweries!

Well, we knew crowing last week about how much it had slowed down would come back to haunt us… and haunt us, it has (just think how much more clever that would have sounded if Halloween was today instead of earlier in the week)! With news and events bringing us into the world of 4,000+ words again, there’s a lot for all of you to get caught up with, including news on two breweries opening their doors. Get comfortable, grab something to sip on, and let’s get to it!

• The Gahan House has officially opened their newest location, Gahan Port City, in Saint John, NB. Located at 87 Prince William St., the 7 bbl (~800 L) brewhouse came to the city from the now-closed Rogues Roost brewpub in Halifax. With three 7 bbl fermenters and three direct draw serving tanks, the aim for the brewery is to have three seasonal taps pouring, with a wide variety of brews available, to complement the standard PEIBC/Gahan brews. While the brewhouse is not yet online, we expect the SJ-brewed beers to be available in December. Experimentation will be key! Expect collaborations with local businesses and other breweries as well. We’ll keep you up to date on all of their future endeavours, including a Q&A with Head Brewer Spencer Gallant once his beer is flowing.

• In more newly-opened news, Copper Bottom Brewing, located on Main Street Montague, PEI, officially opens today at 4 pm! Their beautiful new taproom will be open for growler fills and pints, with their first two core beers pouring: Centennial Stock Blonde Ale and Broadside APA. Centennial Stock is a 4.9% ABV, entry-level beer brewed with a simple grist of equal parts 2-row and Maris Otter, and hopped with some late-addition Centennial to just 13 IBUs. Broadside is heavily-hopped after the boil is complete, and dry-hopped, to lend some “citrus, grapefruit, and pine” flavours. From Saturday on, Copper Bottom will be open daily from noon to midnight, with live music playing a central role every Saturday. Their first musical event will start tomorrow, with musician Dave Gunning performing at 7:30 pm (get your tickets here). Look for their official grand-opening party to occur later this month. More news to come, but in the meantime, you can check out our Profile of Copper Bottom!

• Those who’ve been waiting with bated breath for news of the first mixed fermentation release from Stillwell Brewing got a pleasant surprise yesterday when it was announced via Instagram that the upcoming Bar Stillwell 4th Birthday Party on November 18th would feature the first pours of Stillwell Four, a tart and effervescent 6.2% ABV farmhouse ale that was matured in a single Sauvignon Blanc barrel. Even better, the day after that party you’ll be able to head down to the brewery (located at the back of Propeller Brewing’s Gottingen location) and purchase bottles to go. And even more better than that, the following weeks will see three additional bottle releases. The Four isn’t expected to be available anywhere outside of the bar and the brewery, so you’ll maybe want to make some plans to head to Gottingen Street on November 19th. And meanwhile, if you’re looking for a feast for your craft beer curiosity, look for East Coast Crafted, a book written by Bar Stillwell and Stillwell Brewing guy Christopher Reynolds and Halifax-based editor, journalist and craft beer fanatic Whitney Moran, to make the city on or about November 28th. We’ll have more details as that official availability date approaches.

• A lot has changed for Hammond River Brewing since they opened almost four years ago, but their homebrew competition continues! The Fourth Annual Homebrew Competition is now open to all homebrewers in the Maritimes, and they’re looking for your best European beer. That’s right, any European style can be entered, ranging from Continental Pilsner to English IPA, Berliner Weisse to Altbier, and beyond! With a registration fee of just $10, you can enter up to three different beers for judging by certified BJCP judges. Prizes will be awarded to the top three beers, with the gold-winning beer being brewed on HR’s new 15 bbl (~1750 L) brewhouse (with you assisting, of course!). Full competition details can be viewed here; if you’re interested, fill out your form and have your beers sent in by February 2nd; judging will take place on February 4th. And speaking of competition winners, last year’s winning beer in the HR comp is now available on tap at the brewery. Black River Milk Stout is a 6.8% ABV Milk Stout that was originally brewed by Jean-Marc Landry and Julien Belliveau, who recently helped owner/brewer Shane Steeves replicate the recipe on his system. Drop by the brewery today to give it a try!

• Let’s keep rolling with the homebrew competition theme with one with a bit of a twist: Noble Grape is once again offering up their annual cider group buy, which gives home makers a bucket of freshly-pressed apples from a local producer. This year, they are partnering with the folks at Bulwark to allow customers a chance to use a special blend designed by Bulwark’s Alexandra Beaulieu. If you follow the included ingredients and instructions, you will end up with a dry sparkling cider. However… the crew from both Noble Grape and Bulwark are encouraging folks to flex your creative muscles and get a bit crafty. For those who take part in the purchase, using some or all of the ingredients provided (and you may add your own), they can choose to be entered in a friendly (but serious) competition for the most creative and unique cider possible. Pre-orders for the cider close Thursday, November 9th, with pickup of the cider November 22-23 (don’t miss this, as this unpasteurized cider may start to ferment if not dealt with promptly). Your entries (no entry fee, by the way!) for the competition are not due until February 2018, so you do have a bit of time to plan and implement your entry. And fret not, if you want to keep all of your cider for yourself, there’s no requirement to enter!

• And finally in homebrew competition news, we have the details on Garrison’s 10th Annual Home Brew-Off Challenge we first mentioned a few weeks ago: the deadline to submit your Kolsch (2015 BJCP 5B) is February 12th, and should be accompanied by the brew sheet and your $15 entry fee (which gets you entry to the March 22nd gala, a commemorative glass, and a Growlito and its first fill). Take a look here at their page for a bit more details.

• There’s plenty going on in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia this week, with TataBrew releasing a new beer, and bringing back a couple of favourites. In the new category, they’ve finally brewed up a dry-hopped Sour to go along with all of their other tart releases over the past months. Jitney is a 4.5% ABV kettle-soured beer brewed with 2-row, Oats, Wheat, and a touch of Acid malt. After bringing the pH down with a pitch of Lactobacillus, the beer was heavily dry-hopped with a combination of El Dorado and Mosaic, as well as a smaller amount of Azacca and Citra. Fermented with Foggy London (a strain suggested for NEIPAs) from Escarpment Labs, it finished off at a quaffable 4.5% ABV, with “lots of lemon and grapefruit upfront, and a sweeter stone fruit character in the background”. Kegs and cans will be distributed out as well, with cans even making an appearance at your local NSLC!

• And over to their re-releases, Tata has brought back their Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter, a 10% ABV monster that was aged for 9 months in second-run Glenora barrels. Brewed with lots of Horton Ridge Pale malt, and some Roasted Barley and Chocolate malt, it was fermented cool with a Lager yeast strain to keep the beer as clean as possible, allowing the spirit character from the whiskey barrel to shine through. Warm – but not hot – thanks to the high ABV, expect notes of graham cracker, rich dark chocolate, and dark fruit… a perfect beer for the quickly-approaching colder weather! Available in 650 mL bottles at the brewery only (for now), it’s also on tap there for samples, and a couple of kegs may make appearances elsewhere for special events. And finally, their Blue Bales Blueberry Wheat is being re-released at the brewery this weekend. A 4.6% ABV beer, it’s the same recipe as the last go-around (featuring 250 lbs of organic blueberries from North of Nuttby Farm), but was fermented with a different yeast strain this time, bringing it closer to a Hefeweizen than an American Wheat. Look for cans and kegs to appear in the HRM next week.

• With quite a bit of beer news coming out of Horton Ridge lately, it’s understandably sometimes easy to forget that first and foremost, their main job is providing malt for other breweries in the Maritimes! They’ve recently begun malting some Newdale 2-row grown by Fred Dollar of Kentdale Farms (Winsloe, PEI), and decided to take some of it and make a new SMaSH brew (hey, what better way to get to know your product?). Fred’s First Ale was hopped entirely with Pacifica, a floral, citrusy varietal from New Zealand; at 6% ABV and 20 IBUs, you can find this malt-forward ale at the HR taproom in growlers and pints.

• Winning all those awards at the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards a couple of weeks ago hasn’t slowed down Big Spruce one bit, as they continue to release new brews. Their latest is Muddled Mule, a Witbier aged on organic strawberries from Wings of Dawn Farm (Masstown, NS). Coming in at a very-approachable 4.3% ABV and 12 IBUs, the beer also features the addition of locally-grown house-candied ginger. On tap at the brewery now, expect it at your usual haunts that pour Big Spruce beer.

2 Crows just called… to say… I Love You (sorry, the jokes get worse as the day goes on). Really, though, it’s a beer! A Saison brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malt, Rye, and oats, it was hopped lightly with Bramling Cross and Calypso. Then it starts getting a bit complex: a portion of the wort was actually left unhopped and was inoculated with a Lactobacillus strain (most strains of Lacto are not hop-friendly); once the desired acidity was reached, this portion was blended back in with the rest of the wort. The brewery then used their house Saison strain to ferment the brew, along with an experimental Brettanomyces strain (TYB 207). Once conditioned, the resulting beer was dry-tead (no, I don’t think that’s a word) with Lemon Verbena from Halifax’s World Tea House, and then dry-hopped with Huell Melon. Phewf! Described as “funky, bright, lemony, and tart”, I Love You comes in at 4.9% ABV and 17 IBUs and will be available tomorrow in cans and kegs.

• After several weeks of no new Alpha beer releases, those lazy buggers at Good Robot have got off their collective asses and brewed up Falstaff, a 4.7% ABV, 43 IBUs American Pale Ale being released later today. With a grist of 2-row, Red X, Caramel, Rye malt, and Flaked barley, it was hoped early and late with the “Good Robot blend” hops, as well as more late additions, of Amarillo and Cascade. More hops were thrown in the dry-hop, including more Amarillo and Cascade, as well as Azacca and Jarrylo. Malt presence is low with this one, with plenty of citrus coming through thanks to all those hops, along with a bit of pine. And don’t worry, those of you who tune in weekly just for the BetaBrewsday release news! Next Tuesday will see “Quite an Enigma” Black Ale, brewed by Kim Hart Macneill and Kelly Costello. “Nutty, roasty, and light-bodied”, with some balancing hop bitterness from the Enigma and Summit additions, it weighs in at 4.5% ABV and 51 IBUs.

• In other benign automaton news, they’re also excited to release their first Barrel Aged beer today. You might remember the big old barleywine Mississippi Goddam that they released back in April. Well, there was more where that came from, and it spent the last 6 months or so soaking up the goodness of fresh Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels, which have imparted woody, vanilla, toffee and candied fruit flavours to the beer. You’ll find bottles of Barrel-aged Mississippi Goddamon for sale today starting at noon at the Good Robot store, the taproom, and possibly other private retailers in the HRM (check first!). And oh, by the way, for the second year running, Good Robot has won both the Best Brewpub and Best Craft Brewery awards in The Coast’s annual Best Of Halifax, thanks to their loyal (and vocal) fans! Congratulations are in order, we think.

• Edmundston’s Petit-Sault is helping to celebrate the first official activities of the town’s new Jean-Daigle Centre by releasing Snap Dickie, a “Sport Ale” named in honour of the local hockey legend, who played for the Edmundston Eskimos in the 1930s. Actually falling in the Cream Ale style, the beer is available on tap now at the Jean-Daigle Centre and at the brewery taproom, it comes in at an easy-drinking 4.6% ABV and 15 IBUs. Depending on the response, it could possibly be bottled in the future.

• We have news on the latest hoppy offering from TrailWay2 Jackets, to hit this week. This one is an American IPA hopped with the brewery’s “all-time favourite hops”: Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic. As expected by anyone familiar with these hop varieties, the beer is full of “citrus, intense juiciness, and some spice”. Releasing today at noon, 2 Jackets will be available in cans at the brewery only, along with pints and growlers. Of course, a few spots in Fredericton will likely have it on tap in the near future as well.

• Alma’s Holy Whale Brewing is releasing a frightfully good beer this weekend, inspired by the changing seasons and cooler weather. Medusa’s Milk Stout is 5.7% ABV, and instead of venemous snakes added to the boil, a tincture of vanilla beans and coca was added post-fermentation. As always, the best place to grab a pour of HW beer is at the brewery taproom in Alma, at the Buddha Bear Cafe. You can try it on nitro, as well as the standard CO2 faucet. And even better, they’ve recently implemented a “Positive Pints” program, where $0.50 from each pint goes to a partnering not-for-profit organization. Check here for more details.

• Fredericton’s Coastliner Cider will be releasing a couple of new ciders in bottles, for sale at some ANBL stores this week. Castaway, a 5.4% ABV cider featuring the addition of Tropical Hibiscus, was originally on the ANBL growler program last month, and Hop on Board, a new cider (5.4% ABV) infused with New Brunswick-grown Goldings hops. As of publishing, they were not yet listed on the new ANBL site, but should be showing up shortly, and will be on the shelves over the next couple of weeks.

Propeller‘s popular Coffee Porter (5.9% ABV, 35 IBUs) – their deep-brown coloured, coffee-forward ale – has returned at both Prop Shop locations in both growlers and 650 mL bottles. Brewed with hefty amounts of specialty malts and Java Blend Fog City coffee beans, it has “subtle hints of dark chocolate and roasted malt” too complement the coffee character. You’ll be seeing it on tap over this weekend, and a cask will be pouring exclusively at Stillwell; more bottles will be available at the NSLC after Remembrance Day. And tonight’s Propeller Cask Night will feature their IPA dry-hopped with Laurel; be there at 5 pm when the cask is tapped!

• Harvey, New Brunswick’s Think Brewing has a new beer that should be making rounds to Think tap accounts over the weekend. Churchill is a 6.7% ABV, 35 IBUs “British Strong Ale” (likely similar to an ESB) that has some caramel malt character with a touch of sweetness, and a little bit of chocolate in the flavour. Balanced by a moderate bitterness in the finish, it has a little alcohol warmth as it goes down.

Lazy Bear in Smiths Cove released a special beer/wine hybrid last night during their Thursday Growler Night. First Crush is a 5.9% ABV Saison-base with Pilsner and Wheat malts, fermented with saison yeast from Bootleg Biology. After fermentation was complete, L’Acadie blanc and Lucie Kuhlmann grapes (grown onsite at their own vineyard) were added to the tank. The resultant beer is light and effervescent, finishing quite dry, but with pleasant fruit flavours from both the yeast and grapes. For those who missed out on last night’s release, fear not, it will be available in growlers tomorrow at their table at the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market, and a limited number of kegs available soon, and half of the batch has gone into French oak barrels (via the Napa Valley) for release at a future date.

• Back over to Newfoundland, St. John’s Mill Street Brewpub is pouring their new Seaside Sparkling Ale, an “Australian version of a Cream Ale, with traditionally higher carbonation”. Available on tap and in growlers, it has “bready malt flavours” upfront, balanced by some “herbal hop bitterness”. Weighing in at 5.5% ABV and 23 IBUs, as always with these one-offs, it’s available only at the brewpub.

• And one more piece of St. John’s new beer news with YellowBelly, who announced that they will soon be releasing a “Blueberry Milkshake IPA”. A NEIPA hopped with plenty of Citra, conditioned on 45 kg of blueberries, and fermented with the wonderful Funktown yeast blend, it should hopefully be kegged by late next week. At last glance, they were still looking for some name suggestions for this beer, so hop on over to their Facebook page and give them your best shot!

It’s not just beer and brewery news that’s heavy this week, as there’s plenty of events going on this weekend, as well as the near (and distant!) future. Get caught up with a large handful of them below:

• St. John’s Quidi Vidi Brewing is bringing back their Fogtown Lager with a Release Party at the brewery tomorrow, November 4th. While the taproom opens at noon, with Fogtown on tap all day, the real party begins at 7 pm, with live music, food, merch for sale, and a Fogtown Barber & Shop pop-up. Only $5 at the door, the event will kick off the weekly Fogtown Fridays at QV, featuring happy hour from 4-7 pm with $5 Fogtown pints… the perfect way to end your work week! A reminder that this beer is brewed every fall as a fundraiser for Movember, raising funds to support men’s mental and physical health research and programs.

Roof Hound is tickled stink (see? I warned you about these bad jokes) by their ACBA Gold medal win for their American IPA, The Big Stink, so they’re hosting a Big Stink Party tomorrow, November 4th to celebrate! Drop by the taproom for some free live music, starting at 9 pm, and order a pint of the winning beer (and some of their other offerings on tap) to toast their win. Kitchen closes at 9, so if you’d like some food, best show up early.

• If you’re participating in tomorrow‘s Run the River in Nackawic, Big Axe will be waiting for you at the finish line! Well, maybe not right at the finish line, but they’ll have warm soup and plenty of beer pouring at their Beers, Soup & Music Jam, the perfect reward for all of your hard work. And if you’re musically-inclined, bring your instruments to jam with your fellow runners and beer-drinkers for the rest of the day; it all starts at 11:30 am at the brewery on Otis Dr.

• The Moncton Craft Brewer’s Collective is excited to announce that they’ll be hosting their second tap takeover next weekend, Thursday, November 9th to Sunday, November 12th. The primary venue will be the Laundromat Espresso Bar and there you’ll find a huge collection of local beers and ciders from Acadie-Broue, Bore City, Celtic Knot, Flying Boats, Pump House, Scow and Tide & Boar. In addition, they’re partnering with Notre Dame de Parkton on Thursday and Friday to have draught beer available to go with beer-friendly food like wings, nachos and more! So if you’re at the Laundromat and you’re feeling peckish, you can hop a couple doors down for a bite and keep the beer flowing. And if you’re at Notre Dame de Parkton you can order up some tasty local beverages. This is the largest selection of Moncton-local beer and cider products available anywhere! Check it out!

• Yarmouth’s Sip Cafe is hosting a Brewer’s Dinner on November 10th, featuring Yarmouth’s own Heritage Brewing. Featuring appetizers, a three course meal, and a pint of beer chosen to accompany each plate, there will also be live music, it is sure to be a fine night out. You can find out the full food and beer pairings here. Reservations are a must, and can be made via email or phone (902-307-2250).

• The Cape Breton Beer Fest is returning December 2nd, and tickets are now available. Featuring twenty breweries and food vendors, the CBBF is taking over the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion (aka The Big Fiddle) from 7-9PM (VIP tickets will get you in an hour early) that evening, for plenty of beer, food, and fun. The fest is kicking off their partnership with Children’s Wish Foundation and Families for Families Toy Drive today with an event at Breton Brewing today at 5PM. Learn more about it, and enter for a chance at free Fest tickets by dropping by. And throughout November, the CBBF will be giving away pairs of tickets to the Fest every Friday. All you need to do is tag your friend, and @capebretonbeerfest on IG and Facebook (@beerfestcb on Twitter) and use the hashtag #whodeservesabeer, and you’re entered! Check the full list of breweries here.

• After a hiatus last winter due to some truly weird weather (remember? It went something like this: snow, rain, freeze, repeat), NB HopSpiel is returning to Fredericton in 2018! The all-day event will be held on Saturday, January 27th, and you can start signing up your team now! Tickets are $60/person or $240/team, with each team participating in 2-3 curling games. Tickets also include coffee and other hot beverages, lunch, and access to the FROSTival Beer Garden (with three complimentary beers). Plenty of prizes will be awarded after the event, and it’s always a great time! Remember, it’s outdoors, so dress accordingly! Grab your tickets here.

A couple more notes today:

– For fans of Dark & Stormy Night (4.8% ABV), Picaroons‘ take on a Dunkelweizen that was discontinued a while back due to an ongoing legal feud, it has returned as Cease & Desist. Still the same recipe as before, it’s on tap now/soon at all three Picaroons locations, and other licensees in the Maritimes. And their Halloween-themed Black IPA, Best BiTer, has been renamed Walk In The Dark, to avoid confusion with their Best Bitter.
PEI Brewing Company has announced the return of a pair of barrel-aged beers. Hell Street is their 8.1% ABV Doppelbock, which is available at the PEIBC and PEI Liquor storesIce Boat is their barrel-aged Imperial Stout, which will be making its return in the coming weeks, as well as the launch of a new beer, Shortest Day, a 5.3% ABV Spiced Milk Stout, coming November 16th. We’ll have more details on those beers when available.
– In Moncton, Pump House once again sees the return of their gourd-filled beer, now named Glenn’s Pumpkin Ale and sporting 5.5% ABV.
– Gander’s Scudrunner Brewing is coming along nicely, with the delivery of their 10 BBL (1200 litre) last week. Take a peek at a few pictures of the progress here. And as they prepare for a late-2017 opening, they are expanding their crew. No brewing experience is required, they’re just looking for some motivated folks to join their team. Contact Sam via email or FB message.
Unfiltered in Halifax has brought back their paean to unfair (illegal?) taxation, the Mosaic-heavy RSMA, a classically NASHian DIPA at 7.5% ABV and 100+ IBU and bursting with tropical hop flavors.
– PEI’s Upstreet Brewing‘s Black Tie Affair, the sweet and roasty stout with hints of chocolate, vanilla and tart cranberry, hits the shelves again today in advance of the PEI Symphony Orchestra’s Black Tie Evening featuring Atlantic String Machine.

Easter egg: this post is 4000 words.

Crikey! It looks like the celebrations and shenanigans associated with this past weekend’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards Gala and Reception (check the list of winners here) might have finally taken the edge off the local beer scene for a week, allowing your faithful beer bloggers to catch our collective breath. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything exciting going on, just that there’s a little less to talk about this week. Enjoy the relatively short read (only 2000 words!); we don’t figure it’ll stay this way for long!

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing reached a milestone this week, finally opening to the public and selling beer! Wednesday and Thursday of this week saw AJ Leadbetter with two of his own beers, Daydreamer Pale Ale and Headliner IPA, available for grunter (900 mL) and Growler (1.89 L) fills. They’ll be open again today from 2 – 6 PM for the same, but do note that until their point-of-sale system arrives it’s cash-only. Grunters are $7 for a fill and Growlers are $12. If you don’t have any to fill, grunters and growlers are both available for purchase, as are a selection of swanky Backstage branded fauncy paunts beer glasses, including the Rastal, the Belgian tulip, the Spiegelau IPA, and the Teku 2.0. Congrats to AJ and Beth and everyone who’s worked so hard to make the brewery a reality! Peep our Profile with AJ for a reminder of their beer and learn more about going Backstage…

2 Crows released one of their coveted small batch brews yesterday, Mountain Sounds, a Hopfenweisse brewed by Assistant Brewer Miles Bishop. With a malt grist of Pilsner malt, Wheat malt, and raw Wheat, it was fermented with a Hefeweizen yeast strain to give the banana and clove notes we all expect in the style. Being a Hopfenweisse, however, demands hops, so Miles dry-hopped the beer “judiciously” with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. The end result features “huge notes of fruit salad, tinned peaches, banana, and pear”, accompanied by a full mouthfeel. Pours only for this one at the tasting room, so get down there quick! And as a bit of a heads up, they will be sporting a new release next Saturday (November 4th), I Love You, a Brett– fermented Saison, infused with lemon verbena, care of Phil Holmans of World Tea House. We’ll have all of the nerdy details next Friday.

• Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing has an au courant brew ready for All Hallows’ Eve and, perhaps, reminiscing about classic Halifax haunts from the 80s. GothStout is an American Stout, featuring citrusy Centennial hops added at both the beginning of the boil, for bitterness, and towards the end, for a flavourful hop presence and aroma. The body is dark and roasty from the use of roasted barley, kiln coffee and pale chocolate malts. Said to pair well with Bauhaus or The Cure, we’ll wager it also wouldn’t go amiss with a little Sisters of Mercy or Siouxsie and the Banshees either. Head on down to the Tiny Tasting Room and see whether GothStout is really as black as your soul. And while this beer will have come and gone by the time it opens, the TH family have announced that they will be filling the three beer taps at aFrite Restaurant on Lower Water, when it opens in late November.

• Continuing on the popular release of their DDH Luster in late summer, TrailWay is releasing DDH Hu Jon Hops today at the brewery. Their flagship 6.5% ABV American IPA, HJH is typically packed full of hop flavour and aroma, and TW promises an experience at the next level with this double-dry-hopped version. A second dry hop with Citra and Mosaic was added, giving a flavour of “saturated hop juice”, coming across as “very fruity with some dankness”, according to the brewery. Available today at noon at the brewery on tap and in cans, and likely a few kegs will pop up around Fredericton, as is usual for these limited releases.

• Erica and Kelly C. continue their exploits on the Good Robot pilot system with another new BetaBrewsday release next Tuesday. Falling on Halloween, they were reminded of Dia de Muertos, or “Day of the Dead”, a multi-day, annual holiday in Mexico; Erica was lucky enough to attend the celebrations in Oaxaca a few years ago, and was introduced to a wide variety of molé sauces, with her favourite being molé negra. With chocolate and spices working so well in certain beer styles, she created (with help from Kelly C. and Maria Josey) Holy Molé, a 5.3% ABV Brown Ale brewed with 2-row, Crystal 120 L, Wheat malt, Roasted Barley, and Chocolate Wheat malt. Hopped lightly with East Kent Goldings to just 11 IBUs, of course the ingredients didn’t rest here – a small amount of thyme, cumin, cinnamon, clove, and sesame were added in the boil, with fire-roasted peppers and avocado leaves being thrown into the fermenter.

• Be on the lookout for Sober Island Brewing‘s small (relatively speaking) cans to be hitting the shelves next week. 473 ml cans of their Blonde Ale (renamed Marigold) and Oyster Stout (now known as Beth’s Blackout) will both be found at Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar beginning November 2nd. They will be running a tasting that afternoon from 4-6pm, where you can grab a taste before grabbing a can (or two). They are still using the crowler format for on-demand fills, but the smaller format will allow them to have packaged beer more readily available in the HRM area.

• As part of this weekend’s Devour! The Food and Film Fest, the 2017 Taste of Nova Scotia Awards were announced yesterday, with all of the winners sharing close ties to the cider and beer world. Congratulations to Product of the Year Something Different from Annapolis CiderRestaurant of the Year The Grand Banker in Lunenburg, Server of the Year Nicole Raufeisen of Little OakCulinary Ambassador of the Year Chris and Melissa Velden of The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery , and Producer of the Year Benjamin Bridge.

• And a big congratulations to Alicia MacDonald and Sonja Mills of Port Rexton Brewing, who were recognized with the Trailblazer Award by Newfoundland And Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs. Opening a brewery in a small town more than 3 hours from the closest city takes a special passion that these two entrepreneurs are demonstrating. Building both their local community in Port Rexton, and the community of breweries opening in other small towns in the province, their win is much-deserved. Celebrate with the entire PR crew this weekend at the brewery, as they celebrate the end of the season. The bar is open 2-10PM today, 1-10PM Saturday, and 11AM-6PM Sunday, for you to enjoy samples, pints, music (Saturday night), and then grab a few growlers to enjoy at home during the week. Costumes are highly encouraged!

We have two exciting developments in “coming soon/not-so-soon” beers in our region:

• In planning for months, a collaboration between artist and breweries will come to fruition next month. Artist Erin McGuire is the man behind “By The Numbers“, a piece of art he created inspired by The Tragically Hip. Being a beer fan from the South Shore, McGuire reached out to Boxing Rock (who in turn wanted to collaborate with Garrison) to turn his art into a beer label, with a portion of proceeds of the beer going to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. The collaborative beer, Courage (for Gord Downie), will be a 6.0% Amber Wheat Ale, with a limited run of just 2000 bottles, coming in late November. For those Hip and beer fans looking to pay tribute, and help fund brain tumour research before then, prints of “By The Numbers” are available through McGuire now.

• In the not-so-soon department, the crew from North Brewing took the first steps of a multi-month (multi-year?) journey last weekend. After preparing a low-ABV-potential, high-wheat wort using the turbid mash method (put on your beer goggles, take a deep dive and prepare to lose a few hours while researching!) at their Agricola Street location, they trucked the wort to the vineyard at Benjamin Bridge Winery. At that point, the still-hot wort was pumped into a shallow metal container named a coolship. The vessel’s large surface area and shallow depth allow for a quick cooling (normally requiring lots of water and a heat exchanger). At this point, yeast would normally be added by the brewers, but in taking advantage of the wild yeast and flora growing on the grapes and leaves in the vineyard, the wort was allowed to spontaneously ferment (or innoculate). An overnight process to ensure enough yeast found their way through the cheesecloth (to keep any insects or other nasties out!), the beer was then pumped into Benjamin Bridge barrels, and brought back to HRM. The beer will now ferment and condition over the course of many months, and could potentially lead to a multi-year blend of future brews (think Gueuze, from Brussels). We’ll be keeping you up-to-date with this beer as it develops

In addition to your own Halloween-themed parties this weekend, here a few others to keep in mind in the coming weeks!

Horton Ridge will be hosting a special event for Halloween this year, featuring one of the Gold Medal-winning beers from this year’s ACBAs. Hortonville’s Pumpkin Ale, which we told you about a few weeks ago, was brewed by Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery brewer Stefan Gagliardi using hefty amounts of Horton Ridge organic Vienna and Munich malts as well as home-smoked pumpkin and plenty of spices. The beer will be available for pints and as part of flights on Tuesday Oct 31 from 1 – 9 PM while supplies last. Of course there will be other Horton Ridge-brewed and guest beers on tap for this event.

Lion & Bright will be hosting Charlottetown’s Upstreet for an 8-tap takeover next Thursday, November 2nd. Featuring some of their core beers, plus plenty of special and one-offs, there will be food and drink deals from 5PM. Come and meet the Upstreet crew, jam on some tunes, and have a fun night out!

• Not quite getting your fill of New Brunswick beer? The James Joyce in Fredericton has been a strong supporter of breweries in the province over the past couple of years, but on Friday, November 10th, they’re pushing the envelope – and adding taps! – to try and have beer available from every brewery in New Brunswick. The event is currently unnamed, but they’re doing all they can to ensure every brewery is able to participate, including adding lines, jockey boxes, and kegerators! The last time they attempted this it was a bit easier, with only 18 breweries open in the province; now, it’s over 30. There’s no charge to attend, just show up when they open at 11:30 am, and pay by the pint or flight!

Just a couple more things before we send you off:

Grimross has released Scratch #7: Skinny Pale Ale at their brewery in Fredericton; they’re describing it as a 5.8% ABV mix of a “Belgian meeting a California Pale Ale”. Scratch is available now, and/or drop by on Saturday for a taste, when they’ll also have their Schwarzbier on cask, featuring additions of orange peel and Citra hops.
– We teased a few weeks ago that Rothesay’s Long Bay would be bottling soon, and that day has come! One of their flagship beers, Bantam APA, is the first to be available in bottles, which you can find for sale at the brewery, as well as KV and Saint John ANBL stores (check inventory). Look for their first Belgian beer, Chalice, to follow suit over the next couple of days.
– While Uncle Leo’s mixed 4-pack of German Ales is still available at select NSLC stores in the region, it looks like the next local variety pack will be a 6-pack featuring two bottles each of three different ciders from Bulwark, going on sale as of November 20th.

Alma, New Brunswick, has just joined the growing ranks of other small towns in the province that have their own brewery. Brothers Jeff and Pete Grandy, originally from Prince Edward Island, have opened Holy Whale Brewery in a former church, which is also home to the Buddha Bear Coffee Roaster & Cafe, a cafe/taproom also owned by the Grandys. We’ve exchanged some emails and met with Jeff to find out what Holy Whale has in store for Alma, and the rest of the province…

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Pete and I grew up in PEI. My background prior to our beer venture is in business marketing, and Pete’s is in engineering and teaching. Pete lives next door to the brewery – he needed a place to live and it had a great well (and water tested very favourable for our brewing water) and I just moved to Moncton with my wife and little daughter.

How did you get into the world of beer?
After university, I sort of fell into a job that after about 10 years or so, realized it wasn’t for me (takes me a while). I stumbled upon a brewing operation program at both Niagara College in Ontario, and Olds College in Alberta. I applied to Olds and was luckily accepted. After my first of two years, my wife – who was doing her MBA at the time – and I started our business plan. She was able to use it as her final project, so a fair bit of time and discussion was allotted to the plan. At the beginning of my second year, I approached Pete, who was teaching at a college in Malaysia at the time. As an engineer, Pete had experience with manufacturing QA/QC and thought he may be a good addition. After graduation, I also approached Ian Hillier, who is the engine/muscle behind this project. Ian, having experience as a general contractor, being a generally nice guy, and having the patience in dealing with our arguing was key in allowing us to get this thing off the ground. If it wasn’t for Ian, we’d be opening in a year’s time.

Pete and I started by making wine in our high school years. We were very serious about the process, mostly because our older brother was terribly meticulous and was pretty strict in the teaching process. After a year of making wine, we soon had too much product for us to drink and Pete starting selling to others at Colonel Gray High School and Queen Charlotte Junior High (I had nothing to do with this). I eventually got into beer-making in my mid-twenties, and eventually started all-grain brewing a few years after and have been at it since.

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
We are trying hard to create a space where our customers can relax, and product that they can enjoy. We also hope that our staff enjoys the environment where they work, whether it be in the brewhouse or cafe. Despite being fairly regimented in the brewhouse, we are trying not to take ourselves and what we do in an overly serious way. We’re a taproom/brewery in Alma, NB – not exactly saving the world.

Can you tell us about the beers you’re offering initially? Any seasonals or one-offs in the works? 
Right now, we’re experimenting quite a bit. We just had our soft-opening over the past weekend, which are the following:
– An experimental Irish red (on nitro, 4.2% ABV, 18 IBUs)
– Session IPA (4.1% ABV, 35 IBUs) with flaked oats in the malt bill, bittered with Magnum hops, and Azacca and Mosaic used as late additions, as well as the dry hop.
– American Pale Ale (5.3% ABV, 55 IBUs) bittered with Magnum, and hopped with Amarillo, Cashmere and El Dorado for late/dry hop additions.
Once we have a few more beers tested and have our Brewery Agency Store (BAS) license (for takeaway sales), we’ll likely have our grand opening; we’re hoping mid-December.

What are your plans for distribution? Taproom, keg licensees, bottles/cans, growlers, etc.? Will you be licensed for on-site sales or consumption at the brewery?
We currently operate a cafe featuring 10+ craft beers on tap, with a heavy Maritime focus. We operate the cafe under the name ‘Buddha Bear Coffee Roaster’ and will market the beer under ‘Holy Whale Brewing Co.’ We’ll likely focus on taproom sales; through pints at first, and then eventually crowler fills once we get our BAS.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
A lot of breweries have been great in knowledge sharing — quite a few over the past couple of years.  A couple to note, Jeff and Graham from Tool Shed in Calgary helped out as I was starting my business plan. More recently, advice from Jake and Dan at Trailway, Patrice at Acadie-Broue, Ian Cameron from Bale Breaker in Yakima Valley, and Dave Holowaty from Rebellion in Regina.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
Still existing.

What size/manufacturer/type of system are you be brewing on? Expected output (monthly, yearly, etc)?
We purchased a 10 hectolitre system from a manufacturer in China. A German brewer I met while I was in school at Olds suggested I contact this manufacturer where he had sourced his equipment. My brother Pete, who was in Asia at the time, went to China and inspected the manufacturing warehouse and visited a couple of brewpubs with this equipment in place. Overall, we’re happy with the equipment – a few measurements for our space were off, which caused some initial headaches, but overall we’re pleased after our first few brew days.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
I find Belgian styles and wacky, hop-forward styles the most interesting.  I also have a great deal of respect for any craft brewer who produces a crisp, clean lager.

Do you have a website, Facebook page, Instagram account, and/or Twitter presence?
We’re using our ‘Buddha Bear’ Facebook page as our go-to for info — along with Instagram — @buddhabearcafe

Congrats to Jeff and Pete on their recent launch! Be sure to drop by the Buddha Bear to give their beers – as well as their coffee – a taste. Stay tuned to their social media pages – and this blog, of course – for details on future beers, and their grand opening in December.