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All posts for the month March, 2013

Hello beer fans! Another busy week in Atlantic Canadian Beer News.

  • Picaroons‘ Easter Keg Hunt is on now! Search around downtown Fredericton, NB for the 4 painted kegs and snap a picture of yourself to win a prize. Check their Facebook Page for more details.
  • Also, with their upcoming Melonhead release, they are looking for a photogenic kitty to grace the label. Email them a picture of your favourite cat, and it could be famous!
  • Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza, NS is ready to open, and is having a pair of parties to mark the occasion. Saturday April 6th 4-8pm at the Bras d’Or Yacht Club in Baddeck, and Saturday April 20th 7pm at The Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth (upstairs at the Alderney Ferry Terminal). Come out to support the Atlantic Provinces’ newest brewery!
  • Last week, Propeller Brewing Co released a new 1L flip-top Growler, for when you only want one litre of your favourite beer. Fill it with their Double IPA or current One Hit Wonder Black IPA (only available in growlers at the Prop Shoppe on Gottingen in Halifax for a limited time).
  • Not to be outdone, Garrison Brewing Co released their own version, a 1L “Growlito” this week. Think of these as a three-pack of beer, for when you have to be up early the next morning 🙂
  • Garrison has released their 2013 Ol’ Fog Burner, as well the 2012 Barrel-Aged version, which spent 9 months in Glenora Distillery barrels. Only 1000 bottles of these available, so make your way to the brewery to pick them up.
  • Following up on a recent post, Mike Buhler has launched Beerthief.ca, complete with forums for chatting about the beer scene in Newfoundland, as well as homebrewing and everything else. Keep up to date with the next offerings from the Newfoundland Beer Club.
  • The Saint John Beer Fest (April 13 at Market Square in Saint John) VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still regular tickets available through the Harbour Station. We are eagerly awaiting the brewery and beer list, and will release our interview with them next week.
  • Shiretown Beer‘s Blonde du Quai is now available in 500mL bottles. Since their move to Charlo in January, they’ve been busy, including “Best of the Fest” at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. Congratulations and keep up the great work, Derek and Tim! You’re helping folks in Northern New Brunswick drink great beer.

Stay tuned for more news and profiles as we keep our eyes and ears open. If you’ve got any news or events we should cover, please leave us a note.

Another full week of Atlantic Canadian Beer News, and we’ll focus on the Garrison Brewing Home Brew-Off, whose results were announced last night at a great gala.

Kellye

Kellye Robertson, with some of her 2012 Home Brew-Off winning beer, Kellye R’s Wild Rye’d IPA

Last year’s Brew-Off winner, Kellye Robertson, was in attendance to help launch “Kellye R’s Wild Rye’d IPA”. The beer was on tap, and the double-dose of Citra she and Brewmaster Daniel Girard used really comes through, and it’s great! I can see this beer selling out quickly, so be sure to pick it up soon, where better beer is sold. Brian Titus also announced that after she finishes her diploma at the Niagara College in the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program, she will be returning to work at Garrison. Welcome aboard!

Daniel

Garrison Brewmaster Daniel Girard

Daniel spoke about the challenges of scoring and picking winners from 69 entries. They had to change their plan this year to taste and evaluate the beer in groups of 8, with several folks helping to whittle it down to a final four. The final four were judged the day of the gala, by three BJCP-certified judges, and from them, the winner was chosen. And the winner is… Peter Welton!

2013winner_PeterWelton

2013 Home Brew-Off Winner, Peter Welton. pic courtesy of @NobleGrape

The judges loved the carbonation level and clarity of his beer, and thought it was a great example of the Belgian Blonde style. Peter will be brewing his beer with Daniel in the spring. Congratulations, Peter! Also congratulations to Andrew, Gerald and Dewi for top four finishes. We were fortunate to try all of the beer, and they were all great. Well done!

former_winners

Former Home Brew-Off winners Brian Harvey, Adam Comeau and Scott Tilford

I was also lucky enough to snap a picture of the 3 previous Brew-Off Winners in front of the trophy now on display at Garrison (only 4 years late). Brian Harvey (2009, Harvey’s Bitter), Adam Comeau (2011, Adam Und Eric’s Neuschottland Schwarz Black Lager), Scott Tilford (2010, Nit-Wit Belgian Wit).

In other important news, next year’s Home Brew-Off style was announced (after much poking and torturing of Mr. Titus), and it is BJCP Style 15A: Weizen/Weissbier. So start your kettles now, homebrewers! This is one of my favourite styles of beer, so I’m looking forward to brewing up a few test batches to perfect a recipe for submission.

In other Garrison news, their next One Hop beer will be released soon, and it will be showcasing the Citra hop. I’ve got word that there might be more than one batch of this made, which means we won’t run into a sold-out situation like we did with the Comet release. As I mentioned above, I’m a big fan of Citra, so I can’t wait!

peibc_black

The PEI Brewing Company announced in February that it would be organizing a culinary tour of various restaurants and bars across the province. The tour pairs PEI Brewing Company beers with menu items at each location.

From the press release:

“Fresh, local ingredients are staples of the Island culinary community and what better way to showcase that than with our partners combining their fantastic menu items with our award-winning beer products”, says Jeff Squires of the PEI Brewing Company. “We invite all Islanders to follow along and join us in our Island-wide tour. Good times with fantastic food and drink are sure to be had, as well as the chance to earn some PEI Brewing Company prizes along the way.”

Al Douglas, the host of the event, says that the tour was started “as a way to show our support for the many restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc. that serve our product. Using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), we promote the location by promoting food pairings with our beers, showcasing their menu and other general information about the restaurants.”

The tour kicked off in Charlottetown in late February at Ise’s Bar, followed by stops at The Big Orange Lunchbox, The Landing in Tyne Valley, Boston Pizza, and last night’s event at Dundee Arms Inn. The tour continues tonight at Sir Isaac’s Pub, in Montague.

For the remainder of the month, the tour will have events at The Albert and Crown, in Alberton (March 22nd), Brother’s 2, in Summerside (March 28th), and  O’Shea’s Pub, in Kinkora (March 30th). The PEI Brewing Co’s social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) will have continuous updates for April and May; also, those on Twitter can follow specifically with the hashtag, #peibrewtour.

Railcar Brewing Company Finalize 2013

Good news for New Brunswick craft beer lovers! A new nano-brewery is in the works to open in the Florenceville-Bristol area, hopefully by the end of this year or early 2014. It looks like the brewery will be housed in Railcar 3 at the Shogomoc Train site. Mitch Biggar, owner/brewmaster of Railcar Brewing, is currently going through the many stages required to get a brewery up and running in New Brunswick. I exchanged emails with Mitch recently to get some information on his plans for the brewery…

Could you give me a bit of background about how this all got started?

This all started about 2 years and 1600 hrs ago. I was working in Fredericton at the time and my wife had a Paint Your Own Pottery Shop in Woodstock. She was travelling back and forth and I had an opportunity to take a job at McCains in Florenceville. So we moved her business from Woodstock to Florenceville and moved ourselves as well, to eliminate travelling.

I grew up in this area and when I was in grade 9 I was actually a member in the Shogomoc Historical and Model Railroad Club. This club was the club that got the cars into Bristol and started work on restoring them.

After graduation from high school, I always had a thought that when I did move back I would like to have a business in one of those cars. So as soon as we moved back to the area I approached the Town and pitched my idea. During my time away the club had turned over the cars to the Town, and Fresh (ed. a gourmet restaurant in the area) had opened up as well.

Were you doing much homebrewing before you decided to go pro?

I have been home brewing for about 10 years and love all things craft beer related. I really started getting into pairings and started hosting tastings of my own. I am currently working on my Cicerone certification and am always offering to do tastings and pairings here locally.

What steps have you been taking to get everything started? Do you have any partners involved with Railcar Brewing?

Right now it’s just myself involved in the brewery, although I am entertaining taking a partner on. I have been building up gear over the last two years in preparation of opening. So far I have been doing  everything out of pocket and am looking at about $15,000 more in equipment costs to start up. One of the first things we did was come up with the name and logo and get our merchandise (hats, shirts, hoodies, glasses) made and have been selling that and reinvesting the monies right back into the business.

Tell me a bit about Rail Car Brewing’s initial beers. Are you planning on concentrating on a particular style, or styles of beer?

We will be offering three main lines year round. Shogomoc Stout, Boxcar Blonde and Railcar 3 Red. Also, we will have a 50 L batch monthly, called an “Off The Rail Ale”. So a pumpkin ale, blackberry mango wheat, ginseg tea wheat, etc. Something different to pique the taste buds.

What type of brewing system do you plan on using initially? How do you plan on distributing your beers?

We will be using an all-electric 50 L Braumeister system with six 60 Gallon fermenter tanks to launch with. We plan on “brewing small and selling it all”. At first we will just offer Growler and keg sales direct from the brewery as well as having local accounts featuring our ales.

Have you had any assistance with other breweries in the area through the whole process?

I have asked lots of questions of local breweries and this brewing community is so helpful. I have also used Facebook a ton to talk to other startups all over North America and England.

What will make Railcar Brewing different from other breweries in New Brunswick?

What makes Railcar Brewing different is that when we do tours we will be hands-on. So, visitors can grind some grain, or measure hops out for the boil, etc. We want to educate people on the brewing process and promote fresh local taste that Maritime brewies can offer. So when you leave at the end of a tour you understand what it takes to make beer and you can actually say, “I helped brew that!”

We also intend to try and recyle waste water for the Town to use for watering flower beds, offering our spent grains to farmers, and composting our hops. Green is very important to us so we will source locally as much as possible.

Any plans on having a tasting room at the beginning?

There will be a tasting room in the rail car with our merchandise area.

Do you personally have a favorite beer style? Brewery? Beer? Any hobbies outside of brewing?

My personal favorite beers are stouts and dark ales. Picaroons and Garrison have been my favorite breweries for years. Winter Warmer from Pics and the aged Fog Burner from Garrison.

I am a big history buff as well, and have one published book entitled, “New Brunswick Historical Tidbits”.

From whom have you learned the most in respect to brewing?

I wouldn’t say any one person. I have read a ton of books and talked to a lot of people and have learned a lot from trial and error over the years.

With your history of homebrewing, do you have a favorite beer to brew?

I have to say my favorite beer to make is my PDA, pumpkin dark ale. Love using the spices (nutmeg and cinnamon) and the fresh pumpkin.

Is there something specific that got you into the world of craft beer?

The taste got me interested, the taste is so much better then mass-produced beer, and the variations in style from one brewery to another is awesome.

Check out Mitch’s progress with his brewery on his Facebook site. Also, visit Railcar Brewing’s website (currently being updated) for some more information on their beers and pictures of their equipment. On the website, there is also the option to donate to assist in the final push for brewing equipment. Donate $30, and Mitch will mail a Railcar Brewing t-shirt to you!

If there’s anyone in Mitch’s area who would like to participate in his beer tastings, he has a separate Facebook page called Biggar Beer that you can use to contact him, or send an email to him directly at mitch@railcarbrewing.com.

We’re really looking forward to tasting the first beers from Railcar Brewing. It’s great to see another brewery opening up here in New Brunswick!

Rail Car 3, three years ago...

Rail Car 3, three years ago…

... and today, after a paint job

… and today, after a paint job

Mitch surveying the future brewery site.

Mitch surveying the future brewery site.

Hello again beer fans!

A few updates since last week:

  • We had a great time at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest at the Delta Fredericton Saturday. There were over 100 beers available from lots of local and farther afield favourite breweries, as well as  representatives from some new breweries that will be coming on the scene very soon. We’ll have a full report shortly. Thanks to the organizers and volunteers for a wonderful event! Looking forward to next year (they’ve already got some breweries signed up to return!).
  • Speaking of New Brunswick Beer Fests, the Saint John Beer Fest will be taking place April 13th at the Market Square in Saint John. Their VIP tickets are selling fast, so jump on them now. We’ll have a full write-up, with brewery and beer list, next week.
  • Also in Saint John, taking place at the Saint John Alehouse is Maple Mania, March 23rd. Picaroons Maple Cream Ale on cask along with lots of food cooked with or pairing with maple syrup. Sweet! Get your tickets at the Alehouse.
  • Attention Hop Heads: The Double IPA is back again from Propeller Brewing Co in Halifax. It is at the PropShoppe now, and will be in the private beer stores and NSLCs shortly. Sorry, not available in NB, PEI or NL.
  • It’s been on tap in Port Williams for a week, and Sea Level‘s  Dussel-port Altbier is now available for sale in cans at the brewery in Port Williams, and  Bishop’s Cellar, Harvest Wines, and Cristall Wine Merchants in Halifax.
  • The gala for Garrison Brewing Co‘s Home Brew-Off is next Thursday, when they will announce this year’s winning Blonde beer. We hear that there are at least two Brewnosers in the final four! It also means that last year’s winning beer, Kellye Robertson’s Rye IPA (name TBA at the gala), will be released the same night. We’ll be there for a full report, this event never disappoints!
  • The Coast’s annual Beer Guide is out this week, with lots of good articles on homebrewing for the Garrison Brew-Off, our friends at Bridge Brewing, NS cider and the weekly firkins at Rockbottom Brew Pub. Pick it up across Halifax, or read the digital flip version here.

Finally, you will be seeing another new handle posting articles and profiles soon. Shawn is a homebrewer and lover of all things beer, living in Fredericton. I managed to corner him at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest, and he has graciously agreed to help Nick and I to keep the info flowing. There’s plenty of beer news in Atlantic Canada to keep us all busy, and only signs of it ramping up further! Thanks Shawn!

The Artisanal Beer Club of Newfoundland, run by Tom Beckett and Mike Buhler, began in 2011. Their goal is to allow Newfoundland and Labrador residents access to a greater selection of craft beer than the NLC currently provides. The two men seek out great craft beer breweries, and offer their 800+ members the opportunity to try these beers not available in Newfoundland. It is really a win-win for the breweries and members, who would never normally be able to connect. Please check our profile on them from December for some more background, and how to join if you live in Newfoundland.

I was recently in St. John’s, and luckily my visit was during a beer tasting put on by Mike and Tom at the Quidi Vidi Brewery (beautiful location in Quidi Vidi Village, a few minutes East of downtown St. John’s). They were pouring beers from Charlevoix, which came in as part of their second offering of beer to the club (their first was Dieu du Ciel!, and third that just closed was Flying Monkeys).

Over 80 people were in attendance, and were greeted at the door by Tom (who writes “Beckett on Wine” for the NLC Occasions Magazine), who let us know the plan for the evening, and started us off with a ticket for a Quidi Vidi beer. QV’s new British IPA had recently been launched, so this was the first time many of us had the chance to try it. A solid British-style IPA with lots of earthy hop character, a great way to start the evening.

Beerthief - The Roast Beef and Tasting Sheet

As we went to our seats, we found a great Roast Beef sandwich to help clean our palates between beers, and the wonderful Beer Evaluation Sheet, as created by Mirella Amato, a Master Cicerone. Mike encouraged us to fill out as much or as little as we liked on the sheet, and use it to help pick out the aromas, flavours and feelings we were getting from the different beers we’d be tasting.

Over the course of the next two hours, Mike (whose website is Beerthief.ca), a Certified Beer Server himself (and going for his Certified Cicerone distinction), lead us through the tasting of four different beers from Charlevoix. We tasted their Dominus Vobiscum Double, Triple, their Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout, and Dominus Vobiscum Hibernus.

Beerthief - The Beerthief Himself

My notes from the evening:

Double: 8%, copper in colour. Dark fruit (fig/raisin) on the nose, nice carbonation level, finishing with a bit of heat.

Triple: 9%, golden. Some hops on the nose, with more alcohol heat and carbonation.

Vache Folle Imperial Stout: 9%, dark brown. Lots of roast in this one, as well as a bit of sweetness from the lactose. Tons of chocolate in there too!

Hibernus: 10%, light brown. The aroma on this beer is very berry-like (I got blueberry), thanks to the hard working yeast. At 10%, this would not be confused with a blueberry wheat beer, but it does make for an easy-drinking big beer. I can see this beer developing and aging quite nicely over a few years in the cellar.

Beerthief - The Beers

Cheers to the Newfoundland Beer group! I’d encourage all Newfoundlanders to sign up (send an email to Tom with your details, including the NL Liquor store closest to you) to hear the latest news as it’s released.

(Editor’s Note: It was originally reported that Mike Buhler is a Certified Cicerone. Mike is a Certified Beer Server, and will be taking his Certified Cicerone exam soon)

There’s been lots of developments since our first/last Friday Wrap-Up, here’s just a few teasers:

  • PEI Brewing Company’s Beach Chair Lager is now available in NB. It joins their four other listings (1772 IPA, Iron Horse Brown Ale, Island Red and Sir John A’s Honey Wheat). They are also in the midst of major expansions, to open in May.
  • The Garrison Brewing Home Brew-off Challenge closed last week, and there were 69 entries! The judging is taking place now, and the Awards Gala (which coincides with the release of last year’s winning Rye IPA by Kellye Robertson) is Thursday, March 21.
  • Speaking of Garrison, their Ass-Kicker IPA is being released today. I’ll have more details on that shortly. They’ve also got another of their One Hop IPA beers coming soon. Their Comet Pale Ale was VERY popular!
  • The 2nd Annual Saint John Beer Fest is happening April 13th, at the Market Square Atrium. We’ll have a full write-up soon.
  • Bridge Brewing Co. has rejigged their Gus’ 65m Blonde Ale recipe, so it is worth checking out again (or for the first time). And they have kegs back on tap at Gus’ Pub! And their Farmhouse Ale is at Chez Tess.
  • Hell Bay Brewing Co. is in the middle of major expansion and will be opening in the next months.

Wow, and that just scratches the surface! We’ll keep our ears open and fingers a-typing to keep you up to date, gang! Please forward on any tips to your friendly neighbourhood ACBB staff. 🙂 Now go out and drink! Both Rockbottom Brewpub and Hart and Thistle Gastropub in Halifax have some great beers on currently, including a special firkin Saturday at Rockbottom. The last couple have been selling out within a few hours, so better get there promptly at 1pm.