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All posts for the month August, 2013

It’s the Hop-Hoppiest season of all!

(sung to the tune of It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year)

It’s Hop Harvest time in the Maritimes, and many breweries are brewing and releasing special brews to commemorate. Here are a few of them:

  • Last Friday, Big Spruce in Nyanza brewed up a wet hop beer from their on-farm grown hops. Brewer Jeremy White used their Challenger and Chinook hops at all stages of the brew: in the mash tun, in the first runnings of the wort, in the boil, and even using a hopback (as the beer is cooling from the kettle to the fermenter). The beer should be available at the brewery in about two weeks.
  • Earlier this week, Shelburne’s Boxing Rock welcomed the folks from Halifax’s Bridge Brewing for a collaboration brew. They used 30kg of wet hops from Lazy Acres Farm, owned by Bridge brewer Josh Herbin, to brew their 100% Vienna Malt IPA. To get that intense fresh-hop aroma, they did not use any of the fresh cones until 30min left in the 90min boil (which gave an intense colour, as well). This IPA will be more aromatic than bitter, clocking in at about 40IBU. The beer will be ready in a few weeks, in growlers at both breweries.
  • Picaroons has started brewing their Harvest series of beers. Details are being kept closely-guarded, but we can confirm that like last year, there will be multiple brews for each hop field, using roughly the same Pale Ale recipe. You will be able to track which hops in your bottle came from which farm, a great idea for farmer, brewery, and informed drinker alike!
  • Big Tide Brewing will be brewing at least one Fresh Hopped beer at their Saint John brewpub. The hop harvest at Dunham’s Run Winery will be this weekend, so the beer will not be far behind. Named after the old name for the peninsula the hops are coming from, Indian Beach Nut Brown will be available in a few weeks, and perhaps another of their popular beers will get a wet-hop kick… Stay tuned!
  • Looking to take part in the harvest? Both Meander River Farm (Ashdale, NS) and FiddleHop Farm (in Glenholme, NS) have put a call out for volunteers to help. Contact them via Facebook for more details. We’ve done it previously, and it is a fun time. Bring some long sleeves to reduce the scratches from the hop bines.

In addition to the harvest, we have some more beer news for you:

  • Big Spruce now has a bright coat of paint, and they are working on the kitchen above the brewery. Their plan has always been to have a small restaurant, overlooking the beautiful Bras d’Or Lake, so it’s great to see this coming together. It will be primarily used for farm-to-table (and -to-glass) events, so stay tuned for those.
  • Attention New Brunswick Homebrewers: in case you missed the announcement, Picaroons will be holding a Home-Brew Challenge in the fall. Brew up a Standard/Ordinary Bitter and submit it between Nov. 1 & 15, and you have a chance at brewing the beer on a commercial scale! The $20 entry gets you a shirt, growler (and fill), and tickets to the Awards Gala on December 1. You’ve got two months to brew a test batch or two, so fire up your kettles! All of the details can be found at the NB Craft Brewers Association website. Unfortunately, it is only open to NB homebrewing residents.
  • Picaroons has just done the last bottling of their Melonhead Wheat beer for the year, marking a sad end to the summer beer season. But in addition to their Harvest beers, they will have some other seasonals coming through the pipeline soon.
  • Shiretown Beer‘s Black Currant Bitter Wheat is now available for growler fills at their Heron’s Nest Cottages location. Along with their Big Brown Ale, it will also be available at the Heron’s Nest Pub. During next weekend’s Charlo Fall Fair, they will have their Honey Wheat available, made with Buckwheat Honey from the Charlo Honeyhouse.
  • Unfortunately, it looks like the popular collaboration between Propeller Brewing and Sea Level Brewing, Alpha%Dog, won’t happen this year, due to Propeller’s upcoming expansion. However Propeller will be releasing their popular Nocturne Dark Lager mid-September (in time for the Nocturne Art at Night event in October), and then their Pumpkin Ale in October. Sea Level have received a larger canning machine, which should mean increased availability at the brewery and at Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax. Their Port in the Storm Porter has just been released, and will make it into Halifax shortly.
BarNone Logo
It’s been a few months since the official opening of PEI’s BarNone Brewing, so we wanted to provide a couple of updates. We contacted Brewmaster Don Campbell, and he was able to pass along the following information:
  • Tonight, as part of their regular Growler Thursday (6-8pm at the brewery, located at 4248 Route 225 in Rose Valley), there will be samples of two Pale Ales available, for your tasting and voting pleasure. Don has made a couple of changes to the newest batch, and is looking for feedback from the public, so now’s the time to make a visit to the brewery. He will have anonymous voting cards and a drop box, so don’t worry if you aren’t a Beer Judge, all feedback is welcome! The Summer Session beer will also be available in growler to go.
  • It is almost time for Hop Harvest in Rose Valley, which they plan on doing this weekend. So if you wanted a chance to galavant through the hop fields, tonight’s the night, as they will be gone by next Thursday. We’re unsure what the plans are for the hops, as Don is being quiet with exact details, but I’m sure he’s got something special planned for them, as they’re grown just metres from the brewery.
  • BarNone will the attending the Kegs, Corks, and Oysters festival taking place in Summerside on Sept. 21. It is a celebration of Malpeque oysters, paired with great local beer and wine. In addition to serving beer samples, we understand some of it will be used in a special beef and oyster hand pie.

For all of BarNone’s news right as it happens, follow the brewery on Twitter and Facebook. Tune in tomorrow for more Atlantic Canada Beer info! It’s been another busy week in our region.

PEIBeerFestival

The Prince Edward Island Beer Festival, produced by the Prince Edward Island Brewing Company, will take place Sept 6-7, 2013 at the New Charlottetown Event Grounds at 360 Grafton St.  This revamped event, kicking off the Fall Flavours Festival, will be focused on educating visitors and Islanders alike on the art and craft of brewing and tasting beer. The festival will feature over 75 beers, VIP packages, food pairings and late night entertainment on the beautiful Charlottetown waterfront.

There are three tasting sessions planned for the festival. The first will be on Friday from 6-9 pm, then two on Saturday: 2-5 pm, and another later session from 6-9 pm. Tickets for the Saturday afternoon session are $30 each, while both of the evening sessions are $40. Keep in mind that tickets for the evening sessions also include admission into the apres-Fest entertainment, also taking place at the Charlottetown Event Grounds.

There are also VIP tickets available for those looking to experience even more at the festival. For $99, ticket-holders will have access to a behind-the-scenes tour at the PEI Brewing Company from 4-6 pm before each evening tasting session, guided by the brewers themselves. Got questions about some of your favorite PEI Brewing Co/Gahan beers, such as recipe and/or brewing technique secrets? The brewers will be there to answer everything you’re anxious to know! There will also be complimentary food and beer-pairing treats, and a merchandise gift pack to take home. A shuttle will take you to the Event Grounds, so you will not miss a minute of the Fest.

Each of the three tasting sessions will feature live acoustic entertainment from local artists, including Ryan Merry, Chris Field, Andrew Waite and Ashley Gorman. As for the late night entertainment, Friday’s session will feature Ten Strings And A Goat Skin and The Chris Dalziel Band, and Saturday’s will showcase More Soul and Some Guys (a Rolling Stones tribute band). The late night shows will run from 9 pm – 1 am; if you’re not attending one of the evening tasting sessions, entertainment tickets can be purchased separately for $20. Even though the Fest will be closed after 9pm each night, there will be a pub set up, serving local and select beer from the Fest to music-lovers.

So, what about the beer? As mentioned above, there will be more than 75 different beers available, from sponsor PEI Brewing Company (including a special Spanish Cedar-aged IPA), Fredericton’s Picaroons, Moncton’s Pumphouse, Halifax’s Garrison Brewing, Toronto’s Mill Street and Amsterdam breweries (both with several beers not available at the PEILC), and Saint John’s Moosehead (including their Cask Ale, usually only available at the Saint John Ale House, and the new Boundary Ale). Other new/interesting/standout beers include Erdinger Weiss and Dunkel Weissbier,  Mort Subite Kriek, St. Ambroise Oatmeal Oatmeal Stout and Pumpkin, and Coors Banquet. The full list can be seen here.

Food will be served by a handful of local restaurants, free tasting bites to Festival goers. There will also be a Designated Drivers area for non-drinkers to still enjoy the music and great ambiance, and will include some comfy chairs and soda pop to keep hydrated while hanging with imbibing friends.

Tickets can be purchased on the PEIBeerFest site, and follow the Fest on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest news, including Fest beers being highlighted, so you can plan your time accordingly.

Happy Friday, beer buddies! Time for another Friday Wrap-Up…

• The PEI Beer Festival is only two weeks away (Sept. 6th and 7th)! We’re partnering with the PEI Brewing Co. to put on a contest for 2 VIP tickets to the festival, through Twitter. All you have to do is take a picture of one of the 75 beers that will be poured at the festival (check the list here) and post it on Twitter, with the hashtag #PEIBeerFest. The winning photo will be selected by the PEI Brewing Co., and we will announce the winner Monday through our Twitter account. Good luck, everyone! Also check back for a full post with all of the details on the Fest early next week.

• Earlier this week, Grimross Brewing released their fourth beer in downtown Fredericton. “Bayard Belgian Blond” comes in at 7% ABV, and has a lot of fruitiness and spiciness to complement its Belgian character. Brewed using the same hops as the recent “Ben’s Bitter Pale Ale”, it’s also fermented with the same yeast strain, but comes across as a sweeter, less bitter beer that is “approachable, with lots of flavor”, according to brewer Stephen Dixon. It’s currently available in 750 mL growlers at the Picaroons Brewtique.

• Meanwhile, Shiretown is also releasing a new beer… the “Black Currant Bitter Wheat” is brewed with their “base wheat recipe” and local black currants, according to brewer Derek Leslie. With an ABV of 5%, it will be available only at the brewery for growler fills, for a very limited time. The launch will be next Thursday, so hurry over if you’re in the area!

• More new beer! Halifax brewpub Rogues Roost has a pair of new beers available on tap: a light and refreshing Blueberry Wheat (their first ever of this style), and a 6% Baltic Porter, with notes of smoke and chocolate. Both are also available in growlers to go, but enjoying the beer on their street-level patio on one of our few-remaining summer days is a good idea too.

• In support of the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation, Picaroons will be re-releasing their “Upstream Ale” for a limited time. Described as a “crisp and clean golden ale”, it has a sessionable ABV of 4.5%, and should be available in ANBL stores by early September. Twenty-five cents from every bottle purchased will go towards the ASCF.

Greg Nash, has released another new beer in town. Hop Candy II, on tap now at the Hart & Thistle, is a 6.5% IPA, hopped at 3.6lbs/bbl with Centennial, Cascade and Falconer’s Flight. As with most hop-forward beers, the younger the beer the better, as the flavour and aroma can drop off significantly over time.

• What a busy week for new beer releases! And with hop harvest arriving soon in the Atlantic Region, we’ll be seeing some special beers coming through the pipeline soon. If you are in the Cabot Trail area today, drop by Big Spruce as they pick hops from their field and brew up a ~6% Harvest IPA. They are using the wet hops (picked minutes before use, only having to travel feet from field to brewery) continuously in the mash tun, kettle and a hopback. It should be a fun day out!

• Originally available only at Marky’s LaundromatCeltic Knot Brewing beers will now be available at another location in Moncton. As of this week, The Tide & Boar Gastropub will begin pouring a rotating selection of Celtic Knot beers (based on availability), including their Hopicide IPA and “Not Joe Average” Pale Ale, as well as future releases such as the Loki Black IPA, Robert the Spruce, and Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout.

• Yesterday, Barnone Brewing had something special for those dropping in for their weekly Thursday growler fill from 6-8 pm – an opportunity to touch and smell their glorious hops! Barnone has been growing hops all season which are just about ready to be harvested for use in brewing, so they graciously allowed customers to experience up-front what fresh hops look, smell, and feel like.

• After we spotted a teaser picture of some excavation work posted on their Facebook page, we contacted Meander River Farm for an update on their upcoming brewery. Alan Bailey was kind enough to get us up to speed with their current situation: after four months of waiting on the NS Dept. of Environment, they will be able to operate as a farm-based microbrewery. Hooray! They will be brewing on a 3 barrel system, focusing on American-style Ales, using hops and other products from their 186 acre property (including honey and lavender, which, along with their hops, have all been used in Garrison beers). They plan to be selling beer by December, and we will certainly be keeping you up-to-date with all of the news! One exciting plan of theirs is to offer CSB (community-supported brewery) shares, similar to the CSA shares popular in the province. This allows for a more personal connection between the consumer and farmer/brewer.

• And more great news for beer lovers in Nova Scotia: as mentioned in our profile in June, the Antigonish Townhouse is ready to serve up their in-house-made beer! They’ve been working hard on perfecting the recipe and techniques, and even harder on getting all of the licensing and legal stuff in place. Within the next week or so, they will be serving it exclusively at the pub. A cask-conditioned English Bitter brewed with 2-Row, Crystal and a touch of Black and Flaked malt, the beer clocks in at 4.5%. The 42 IBU beer uses Challenger for bittering, and great English hops East Kent Goldings and Fuggles for flavour and aroma (including Fuggles for dry-hopping). The only thing this beer is missing is a name, which is where you come in! Send them a message on Twitter or Facebook with your suggestion for a name, and you could win a prize! It probably helps to be able to taste it first, but I have faith you folks can come up with some great names. We’ll let you know the moment the beer hits the hand pump!

• It’s still months away until the second annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival (March 8th, 2014), but a new website has just been launched for the event. Keep an eye on the site (and this blog) for details on the festival, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date on breweries, beers, ticket availability, and more. They might be making some changes to the fest format, so weigh in to let them know what you think!

Lots of beer news this week… hopefully the trend continues! Have a great weekend!

Howdy, everyone… here’s a bit of Atlantic craft beer news for your weekend…

• It’s been a long time in the making, but it looks like the PEI Brewing Company is starting to expand to Western Canada. Last week, their Gahan beers (Sir John A’s Honey Wheat, Iron Bridge Brown, Island Red, and 1772 IPA) and Beach Chair Lager officially became available in Alberta. The brewery partnered with Thirsty Cellar Imports, a sales agency in Calgary, to make the beers available in 39 Sobeys Liquor stores throughout the province, as well as some select private beer/liquor stores. For a full list of locations where the beer is available in Alberta, check out the links here.

• While a separate post on the upcoming PEI Beer Festival is coming soon, keep your eyes on our Twitter account for a contest in the near future that will give away two VIP tickets to the festival. We can’t give full details now, but it will involve two things: photos, and… beer!

• While waiting for his Black IPA, “Loki”, to be released at Marky’s Laundromat in Moncton, Bruce Barton of Celtic Knot Brewing has brewed another pilot batch of a new beer that will hopefully be available in the near future. We don’t have many details on the “Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout” yet, but keep it in mind if you’re in the Moncton area and are keen on some new Celtic Knot beer! And remember to ask for Celtic Knot at your local watering hole, as customer demand is what keeps Celtic Knot going.

• The India Brown Ale from Hell Bay Brewing Company that we had mentioned in a previous post is finally available! Described by the brewery as “sweet and malty upfront, lending way to hints of rum and molasses, and finishing slightly dry”, it comes in at 6.8% ABV. Available in growlers at the brewery, it won’t be around for long, so hurry in if you’re in the area. Brewer Mark Baillie is making good use of his expanded brewhouse!

• We had a great time at the Halifax Seaport Beerfest last weekend. The indoor venue had plenty of room (and restrooms), and there were hundreds of stellar beers available. Very strong showing from new NS breweries Uncle Leo’s, Boxing Rock, Big Spruce, and Bridge Brewing, as well as “old” favourites Hell Bay, Rockbottom Brewpub, Rogue’s Roost, Sea Level and Garrison. Great to chat with all of you brewers onsite! Other standouts were Malédiction Stout from Saint-Bock (served with a mini marshmallow), Maine Is. Trail Ale from Rising Tide and Sour in the Rye from The Bruery (still available at Premier Wines).  The Ladies Beer League had a strong showing for their VIP tasting, giving the women a primer on beer styles and it even got them early for the fest.

• With the different regulations and practices of growler filling in Nova Scotia (brewpubs cannot fill growlers during operating hours, some breweries will only sell pre-filled growlers, etc), buying a growler of beer can mean spending a lot of money on glassware, thus reducing the economics and increasing the clutter in your cupboards. Big Spruce in Nyanza and Granite Brewery in Halifax are partnering to make life a little simpler: you can now bring in an empty 1.89L growler from either brewery, to either brewery, and the growler fee is waived. This is handy for folks who travel between Halifax and Cape Breton, but don’t want to worry about having several different growlers with them. We’re really hoping for an NS (or Atlantic Province) Craft Beer Growler, but cooperation between breweries like this is excellent!

Looks like some nice weather coming for this weekend… get out there and enjoy it, along with some of your favorite craft brews!

Good morning, fellow craft beer lovers!

• This September 21st, Garrison Brewing Co., in collaboration with the German Canadian Association, will be holding their 5th annual Halifax Oktoberfest. There will be lots of German food, live music, and Garrison beer and Stutz cider available. The celebrations will be spread out over the day in two sessions: a free, market-wide afternoon session, and a 19+ evening session beginning at 7:00 pm. Tickets for the evening event will be $12 ($11 for students/military), and can be purchased at the Garrison retail store, or the day-of at the location at Pavilion 20 downtown. We’ll have a more-thorough post on this soon!

• The number of beers available from Grimross Brewing in Fredericton continues to grow. Joining the Cheval D’Or and Destrier Farmhouse Stout is Ben’s Bitter Pale Ale, a Belgian Pale Ale with slightly more bittering hops, according to owner/brewer Stephen Dixon. With healthy doses of Cascade hops for bittering and flavor, and Saaz hops for aroma, Ben’s Bitter will come across as quite floral, with earthy and citrus-fruit tones, and a lasting bitterness in the finish. Currently available in refillable growlers at the Picaroons Brewtique, and hopefully on tap in the area soon.

• With the Seaport Beer Festival happening this weekend in Halifax, it’s time to start planning for the next beer fest… the Prince Edward Island Beer Festival will occur the first full weekend in September, Friday the 6th and Saturday the 7th. Last year, there were two beer festivals in PEI within a month of one another; the province decided in the spring to allow only one festival this year. Details are a bit slim right now, but we’ll do a post on the event as soon as we learn more. We can report that there will be over 75 different beers available, from breweries such as Amsterdam, Garrison, McAuslan, Hop City, and Erdinger. There are several tasting sessions planned; ticket prices range from $20-$120, depending on the session. You can follow the event on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-date notifications.

• Not satisfied with only growler fills of Bridge Brewing beer? Looking to get more than pint pours at Halifax bars? Well, you’re in luck… they are now offering 19.5 L party kegs for sale, for all beers that are available at the time. There is a $100 refundable keg deposit, and pricing will be $105 for the Gus or Summer Ale, $110 for the Farmhouse, and $120 for the Strong Dark (taxes not included). Call ahead to order yours!

• Greg Nash is tapping a few special beers at Rockbottom Brewpub in Halifax today, starting at 4:00 p.m. Accompanying a few of their regular-release beers will be “X”, an Imperial Brown Ale aged 18 months on cedar wood (11% ABV); “Vintage Wreckoning”, a Russian Imperial Stout on nitro, fortified with Macallan single malt whiskey (11% ABV); the regular “Wreckoning” RIS (10.5% ABV); the popular “Oaked-Aged Double Hoppelganger” DIPA (10% ABV); and “Barrel-Aged Desecration”, an Imperial Red Ale (11% ABV). Some nice sessionable (!) beers for your weekend! Get down to the Rockbottom ASAP – these beers will only be on tap until Sunday close.

• And, in case that’s not enough big beers for you, the Hart & Thistle will be putting on Nashfest again, with several OTHER Greg Nash beers for you to enjoy! These include “Columbus DIPA”, single-hopped with Columbus (9.1% ABV); “Commissar”, a Russian Imperial Stout, this time fortified with Bulleit bourbon (11% ABV); “Hop Mess Monster v3.0”, another DIPA single-hopped with Columbus (10% ABV); “Old 87”, an American IPA with lots of Columbus and Falconer’s Flight hops (7% ABV); and “Kneecapper”, an India Red Ale, or “Red IPA” with plenty of… yep, hops (6.1% ABV). It all starts at 4:00 p.m. today, and ends at close on Sunday.

Uncle Leo’s Brewery may have just opened not too long ago in Pictou, NS, but their beers have already made it to Halifax! Both their Red Ale and IPA became available in 650 mL bombers at Premier Wine & Spirits earlier this week. Premier doesn’t expect them to last long, so get in while you can.

• Looks like Barnone Brewing in PEI has started filling growlers. You can drop by the brewery in Rose Valley every Thursday between 6:00 and 8:00 pm; both their Pale Ale and Summer Sessions will be available for fills.

Sea Level Brewing has extended the hours of their retail store, where you can stock up on their canned beer, as well as 1-L refillable growlers. Their official hours are now Monday-Friday 10 am-6 pm, Saturday 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday 12 pm-5 pm.

That’s it for this week… have a safe and beery weekend!

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This coming Friday and Saturday, August 9th-10th, the 7th Annual Halifax Seaport Beer Festival take place at the Cunard Centre on the Halifax waterfront. Featuring lots of beer, food, and live music, it’s a popular event for beer-lovers in Atlantic Canada every summer. We recently exchanged emails with Brian Titus, President of Garrison Brewing, to get a little more information on the festival.

ACBB: This year, the Fest will be held in the Cunard Centre. Can you tell me about this change in venue?

Brian Titus: The change was necessitated by progress, as the Port was doing construction that meant the street site wasn’t available. Loved that street! That said, Cunard Centre has more room, provides sun and rain shelter for the breweries/attendees, has more bathrooms (no more Porta-Potties!), a food truck/boardwalk patio, and 375 feet of waterfront patio with a lifeguard!

With craft beer exploding in the Atlantic region and around the world, can you tell me about the local breweries that attendees will be able to try, as well as some special breweries from further away?

Local has come on strong this year, with all four new Nova Scotia breweries represented: Big Spruce, Bridge Brewing, Boxing Rock & Uncle Leo’s! Sea Level is back (Harvest Wines booth) and the newly expanded Hell Bay will be in for both Saturday sessions. Add in some cask offerings from Garrison and a barrel-aged Rockbottom monster, and WOW! The Irish Craft Beer Village is also big news. Seven Irish micros and cideries shipped a pallet of what’s exciting in Ireland today. Along for the ride is VIP guest Seamus O’Hara (Carlow Brewery) & Daniel Emerson (Stonewell Cider). Ontario came on strong as well with 40% more brands (!) including Denison’s Weissbier, three Spearhead brands and four from new brewery Sawdust City. Quebec is big again with more Trou du Diable, Brasseurs du Temps, Charlevoix & (new) Micro du Lac Saint-Jean. Maine returns for the 7th year with lots of favorites, plus tasty new micro Rising Tide. Finally, check out three Bruery (from California) beers, one for each session, at Premier’s booth.

I see a few ciders will also be available, can you comment on those drinks? Any other beverage styles to be highlighted (craft sodas, etc)?

Gluten-free beers and cider grow every year as their markets expand. Cider has fully doubled this year with 17 great offerings, including those brought directly from Ireland. Beyond that there’s really no interest in expanding to new categories. Whiskeys, coolers, ready-to-drinks… just not what this event is about.

What food options will be available at the fest?

Always strong on local and good-value food that is beer-friendly and no more than $5. We’ll have our first food truck with Food Wolf on the boardwalk, plus Q Smokehouse, Bramoso Pizza and Saege/Stubborn Goat inside. Hell, Stubborn Goat isn’t even open and we’ve got them!

It looks like a great line-up of entertainers for the sessions; will they be playing throughout, or one group per sessions?

One per session as in the past, providing three very different backgrounds but never overtaking the beer. DJ Stilldrunk (I didn’t name him!) Friday, Thom Swift band (think Hot Toddy fame) Saturday afternoon, and Petty Larceny returning to close us out Saturday night.

I see that you have some charitable partners this year, can you comment on that?

Prostate Cancer Canada is our main charity partner and we’re increasing our contribution once again this year. We’ve also been pretty taken aback by the Lac Mégantic tragedy and are working with the Quebec micros to raise several thousand for a targeted Red Cross Relief Fund. We’re hoping people can spare a couple bucks at the fest to throw into the a donation box onsite and top that up. Lastly, the Ladies Beer League is gathering before the Saturday afternoon session and plan to raise a few hundred dollars towards the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

How many sessions and what are the ticket prices for these? One more popular than the others, or are they all equally well-attended?

As in the past, there will be 3 sessions: Friday evening (7-9:30), Saturday afternoon (2-4:30) and evening (7-9:30). Tickets unchanged at $45/$40/$45 (+hst) respectively. Go Ticket Atlantic for online convenience and NSLC stores for no surcharges. Saturday evening sells out, period. The afternoon is my favorite though as all breweries are there and the vibe is just more relaxed. Can’t beat havin’ a beer on the pier in the sun, too!

Are there any options for Designated Drivers?

Yup, $10 gets you a vitamin water and access to the good times with your “non-designated” friends. No pre-purchase necessary, and you won’t be turned away even if the session is sold out.

Are you looking for volunteers? If so, how can someone apply?

All spots were filled a month in advance with over 150 signed up and lots of returning folks. For anyone interested next year it’s a pretty good gig – free T-shirt, food ticket, no crappy jobs and a half-price ticket for another session (free ticket if you volunteer twice).

Are there any events planned surrounding the fest (Brewers breakfast, VIP tastings, etc)?

One that’s open to the public: the Irish Rare Beer Dinner at Brussels Brasserie. Hosted by Seamus O’Hara (Carlow Brewery); amazing meal paired with four Irish craft beers/cider and ending with a barrel-aged O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Whiskey-Aged Irish Stout – Yum! The other is a closed event – The Brewers Brunch at Old Triangle. It’s really a chance for brewers and owners to network and shoot the sh#t while fueling up for a long day of sampling.

Do you have an idea on how many breweries will be coming, and what sort of numbers of beers?

So, the final list is on the website and the numbers are… 110 breweries and 267 brands (40% more than last year)!

Thank you to Brian for all of the great information. With indoor facilities this year, breweries and attendees alike will not have to worry about the fast-changing Halifax weather! in addition to the beer list above, take note of the floor layout, so you can make an attack plan to hit your favourite breweries first. As Brian also mentioned, some beers or breweries will only be attending certain sessions, so check the list to be sure you choose wisely. Saturday afternoon looks to be our favourite, but whichever you choose, you’ll have a great time. Hope to see you there!