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All posts for the month April, 2014

Happy Friday everyone! Time for another dose of Atlantic Canadian beer news to finish off the last Friday of the month…

Bad Apple Brewhouse has released a new beer, Smokehouse Lager, a Rauchbier brewed with 100% beechwood-smoked malt. This copper-colored beer comes in at 6.7% ABV with about 27 IBUs, and is described as “smoky, slightly spicy, and malty” by BAB owner/brewer Jeff Saunders. The beer is available in growlers and squealers at the brewery, and might be on tap at your local soon.

• Staying in the Annapolis Valley, Sea Level has released their latest beer, Southern Cross IPA. Inspired by the New Zealand hop, and the Crosby, Stills and Nash song, the beer weighs in at 6.5% and 78.8 IBUs (calc). The Southern Cross hops lend a resiny spiciness and citrus and pine aromas. Available on tap now at The Port Pub, in growlers and cans at the brewery, and this weekend in cans at the private beer stores in Halifax.

• Finally in Valley news this week, both Meander River Farm and Brewery and Schoolhouse Brewery are in the final stretches before opening their doors very soon. At Meander River, they have brewed their inaugural batch of Lunchbox Pale Ale on their 3 barrel system, and are looking forward to opening in the next few weeks. At Schoolhouse, they were going through their inspection for Excise License this week, and are also looking forward to opening in the next little while. Look for profiles from both of these great breweries very soon.

• In the big city, Propeller Brewing has released their latest seasonal beer, Black IPA. Weighing in at 6.7%ABV and 83 IBUs, this unfiltered beer features a healthy amount of bittering, flavour and aroma hops, and is then dry-hopped for an even more explosive nose. The most prominent hop used in the beer is Ahtanum, which gives a great citrusy nose, with a bit of earthy note as well, which fits well with the style. To give the beer its distinctive black colour, Blackprinz and CARAFA malts were used. These choices were very specific, as both are very dark in Lovibond, so that a small percentage in the recipe goes a long way in the colour, but do not transfer any astringency or husky bitterness to the flavour. Pick up 1.89l and 1l growlers of this latest release at both the Gottingen St and Windmill Rd Propeller locations, and look for it on tap around the city (including Henry House, where it was tapped last night).

Big Tide Brewing continues to remain busy in Saint John, as they’ve added two new one-off brews to their tap selection at the brewpub. A single batch was brewed with a base of Canadian Wheat malt, a selection of special Crystal malts, and UK hops, and was then fermented with a dry ale yeast. After fermentation was complete, the beer was split into two vessels. One of these, Ale Mary, was filtered, while the other, Sunset Raspberry Wheat, was not. We think it’s safe to assume that the unfiltered beer also has had some raspberries or raspberry extract added at some point of the brewing process! Both beers are meant to bridge the gap for Big Tide’s return to brewing summer beers; they clock in at 4.5% ABV.

• New Brunswick’s newest brewery, Big Axe, may have just opened last week, but they’ve already added a seasonal beer to their line-up, which is available for growler fills at the brewery now. The beer is named Maple Wheat Amber Ale; specific details on the beer are unknown at the moment, but we’ll be sure to update when we know more.

• We mentioned recently that Ducky’s Bar in Sackville was expanding their tap selection, and would be featuring local breweries. Well, they’ve released their opening tap selection, and it’s looking great! As previously mentioned, two taps will be dedicated to Celtic Knot, starting with their Not Joe Average Pale Ale and Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout. Also pouring will be Hammond River‘s award-winning Hop Flash IPA, PEI Brewing Co. Cole’s Cream Ale and Beach Chair Lager, and Garrison Raspberry Wheat and Nut Brown, with Picaroons Dooryard joining them soon. Kegs will rotate as they empty, so look for more offerings from these breweries, as well as others in our region!

• Tickets are now on sale for the Atlantic Beer Festival, in Moncton, Saturday May 31st. There are two sessions, 2:30-5pm, and 7:30-10pm. Free buses are available to the downtown area after each session of the festival. Tickets are available online, at the Pump House brewpub and Barnyard BBQ, and are priced at $49 (taxes and fees included). We hope to have a full brewery/beer list for you soon.

The Overcast is an arts and culture newspaper based out of Newfoundland. They have an excellent interview with Liam McKenna, brewmaster at Yellowbelly Brewpub in St. John’s. For those of you who do not know Liam’s brewing history (including a time in Dublin), it is a great insight into what makes Liam tick. We hope to share a profile on Liam and the Yellowbelly soon, as we caught up with him on a visit to Newfoundland earlier in the year.

• Don’t forget to pick up bottles of Alewife’s Revenge, the collaboration between Boxing Rock Brewing and the Ladies Beer League. It is now on sale at the private beer stores in Halifax and Dartmouth, on tap around the province (including Antigonish Townhouse), and a special cask of it starting at 4pm for Cask Friday at the Stubborn Goat.

• Speaking of the Ladies Beer League, they’re teaming up with Noble Grape to present an Intro to Beer & Brewing session on Sunday, May 25th from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. This is an introductory course meant to cover the basics of home brewing for beginners and enhance the knowledge of intermediate home brewers, while allowing those interested a chance to also connect with Halifax’s home brewing community. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here; the course will be held at the Noble Grape location on 95 Akerley Blvd in Darmouth. Another session is currently scheduled for Saturday, June 14th.

Stillwell Beer Bar is following up on their first Bellwoods beer releases earlier this month with another deadly trio this weekend. They will be pouring Brettal Head All Brett Pale AleLost River Baltic Porter, and Hellwoods Russian Imperial Stout, beginning at noon Sunday. Be sure to drop by for great beer, food, and company. We might just see you there!

That’s it for now… have a great weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! We hope you’re reading this while sipping a nice coffee stout or citrusy IPA to start your long weekend off right.

Lion & Bright is hosting a Spruce up the Planet! Earth Day Celebration this Tuesday, April 22nd, in support of the Ecology Action Centre. It will feature a tap takeover by Big Spruce Brewing, featuring Bitter Get’er India Black IPA,  The Whole 9 Yards, Cereal Killer, Kitchen Party, Regatta Red, You Spin Me White Round White IPA will all be on tap, and a cask of Cereal Killer Sideways, infused with Glenmorangie, will also be pouring. Jeremy and the rest of Big Spruce Nation will be in attendance, so drop by and say hello. There are no tickets required for the event, but show up promptly at 6pm to get a packet of seeds to help green up Halifax and to enjoy the music and food. $1/per pint of beer sold goes to the EAC.

• In more Big Spruce news, they kicked off the Roving Canadian Craft Beer Bag this week. Born out of receiving the bag with their Organic Conspiracy from Brian and Rebecca at Crannóg Ales, they want to keep the Canadian Beer Love going! The first recipient will be Aaron Spinney at Sawdust City, with a growler of their collaboration You Spin Me White Round White IPA and The Whole 9 Yards. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on this fantastic new tradition as it criss-crosses the country by bus.

• Finally in Big Spruce news, they recently received the second part of their expanded brewhouse, two 10 barrel unitanks, allowing them to ferment, condition and carbonate all in one vessel, allowing for an efficient way to make use of their space. As an aside, they are brewing up another batch of their White IPA today, so all of us fans will have another chances to get our hands on it. For folks lucky enough to be in the area to purchase growlers, they are very short on The Whole 9 Yards First Anniversary Scotch Ale, so be sure to drop by now to avoid disappointment. Like many breweries and the private beer stores, they are open today and Sunday, even if the provincial stores are not.

• Tuesday’s Burgers n’ Beer in Fredericton was a great success; the sold-out event was a dual effort from the Fredericton Beer Festival and reLiSH Gourmet Burgers, and featured six specialty sliders paired with six different craft beers, including first-timers to Fredericton Celtic Knot Dubh Loki Black IPA and Hammond River Brewing Red Coat India Red Ale. Along with ciders from Red Rover, and more beer from Grimross, Shiretown and Central City (Red Racer IPA), the quality of all was top-notch! The next event takes place in Moncton at reLiSH on Tuesday, April 29th from 8 pm – 10 pm. The tentative brewery list includes the brand new Big Axe, Celtic Knot, Grimross, Hammond River, Red Rover, and Shiretown. Tickets ($45, taxes and fees included) can be purchased here.

• Last Saturday featured the judging of the five finalists for the 1st Annual Gahan Home Brewer’s Challenge, which took place at the Gahan House in Charlottetown. The winning beer came from the brewing team of Ryan Palmer and Lee Nicholson with their PEI Cranberry Wit, a sessionable ale at 4.3% ABV brewed with coriander and orange peel, with cranberries added during secondary fermentation. Ryan and Lee will get to brew a full-sized batch of their beer on the Gahan system with brewmaster Trent Hayes, to be served on tap at the Gahan House in a couple of weeks. Congratulations, Ryan and Lee!

Rogues Roost Brewpub now has their Oatmeal Stout on tap, for the first time in six years. It joins the Brown Ale, IPA, Red Ale, Blueberry Wheat, and Cream Ale on tap (and most are also available in growlers). Keep an eye on their Twitter feed for the up-to-date growler list, as well as their continuing Brewmasters events.

• We forgot to mention this last week, but better late than never, especially when it involves great beer! At this year’s Saint John Beer Fest (held on Saturday, April 5th), the crowd selected the Best of Show beer for the event… the winner was Hammond River Brewing Hop Flash IPA! Owner/brewer Shane Steeves was surprised, yet extremely grateful, at being singled out among other great beers. Congratulations, Shane!

• We mentioned in a previous Friday post that Picaroons was holding a Prohibition Repeal Party at the Capital Complex in Fredericton tomorrow, featuring a tap-takeover of their 12 draught lines. They’ve released which beers will be present – many of their regular releases will be there, along with their Yippee IPA dry-hopped with Cascade, Amarillo and Willamette, and their Best Bitter infused with Fuggle hops (thanks to the use of Randall the Enamel Animal). Check out our previous post and the event page for more info!

• Continuing with Picaroons reminders, if you still plan on sending in a picture of your kitty for their Melonhead Cat Contest, deadline for the hi-res pictures to be emailed is next Thursday, April 24th. More details in our earlier post here.

• The next Rockbottom Beer Dinner is scheduled for April 29th at 6pm. Featuring three courses paired with three beers, it’s a great opportunity to chat with Brewmaster Greg Nash about beer, food, and life in general. This month’s dinner will be Sweet Potato Gnocchi paired with their Bigwater Brown, Stout Braised Lamb Shank (Jacktar Stout), and Unbaked Peanut Butter Cheesecake (Fathom IPA). Call the pub for tickets, but act quickly, as its already half sold-out. While there, you can try their Thulsa Doom DIPA, and their Galaxy India Pale Lager SMaSH should be on tap by then as well.

• A friendly reminder that the Beerthief Private Beer Order for Wold Top and Orkney is closing this Sunday, be sure to email in your requests before then to take part. Mike Buhler will also be leading a Beer and Tulip River Cruise in March of 2015, visiting Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and more. Check out this flyer for more details.

• Finally, in case you missed yesterday’s post on the recently-opened Big Axe Brewery in Nackawic… well, they’re now open! You can stop by the brewery/B&B on 519 Otis Dr. for growler fills of their first two beers, Chantarelle Cream Ale and Double Bit IPA, Mondays to Saturdays from 12 pm – 8 pm. You should also see their beers popping up in bars/restaurants in the area, including the King Street Ale House in Fredericton, in the near future. We’ll keep you updated on their development!

• Tickets are now on sale for the Inaugural Pictou County Pizza Competition, Saturday, April 26th, Glasgow Square, New Glasgow. Along with the chance to try six different Pictou County-style pizzas (from Cafe Italia, Crown Pizza Pictou, East Side Pizza, Sam’s Pizza (Stellarton), Sam’s Pizza (Trenton), Ted’s Pizza), attendees will receive two glasses of Uncle Leo’s beer. Tickets are available at various outlets in New Glasgow and Pictou. Also, look for Uncle Leo’s at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market Friday (today included) and Sunday. They will have their IPA and Smoked Porter available in growlers.

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Get ready for more beer, New Brunswick! Big Axe Brewery has just become the latest new brewery in the province. Located at 519 Otis Dr., in Nackawic, the brewery will be located with the recently-opened Bed & Breakfast of the same name, owned by Peter Cole and his wife, Tatiana. I recently exchanged emails with Peter to find out some more information and what he has planned for the brewery in the near future…

ACBB: Tell me a little bit about the build-up of the brewery.

Peter Cole: My wife and I moved to Nackawic about 10 years ago and immediately fell in love with the area – a place to relax after a long work week! Nackawic is New Brunswick’s best kept secret, we think, providing many nature trails, as well as the beautiful Saint John River. Tatiana would cook special meals in the evening, and I would cook breakfast. We always wondered why no one started a business on the river for the locals, as well as the many tourists that visit.

We finally decided that we would give it a try, and started extensive renovations on this beautiful, large home in January of 2013, converting it into a 3-bedroom B&B on the second floor. Renovations for the B&B were complete in September and we opened for business! The brewery was a longer process – started by having this location approved for commercial zoning, various permits for the extensive renovations, many inspections, more permits and licences, etc. Tuesday, April 15th, our first two beers were approved by the ANBL, so we’re now officially open for business! My friends Simon and Michelle Popowich have joined our brew team and are investors in the Big Axe Brewery… their support will help us be successful.

What type of system are brewing on?

After a lot of research, I decided on a 1BBL (31 U.S. gallons, or 116 L) system from Stout Tanks and Kettles.

You spent some time earlier in the year brewing with some other breweries in the province… can you tell me a little about that?

We were first invited to Shiretown in Charlo where brewer Derek Leslie let us brew with him, so we could learn more about the commercial brewing process. Hands-on experience is the best you can get! We later brewed with Stephen Dixon of Grimross Brewing; great to see how brewing is done on different equipment by different brewers. Very educational, to say the least. Most recently, we were invited to brew with Shane Steeves of Hammond River Brewing. Shane has the same brewing equipment as we do, so it was amazing to see our equipment at work!

What are your plans for distribution? Any plans for growlers, bottling, etc.?

We will be selling to licensed establishments and serving our guests. We are selling our own growlers onsite, as well as filling them once they are empty!

Do you have any beer bars/restaurants in the area lined up to serve your beers?

We hope to be on tap soon at the King Street Ale House in Fredericton. I have had verbal confirmations from a few other establishments that are interested and eager to sell our beer. We will keep everyone posted when the time draws near.

Can you tell me about the beer(s) you plan on offering initially? Are you planning on offering a specific style, or styles, of beer? Any seasonals, one-offs, or will you stick mainly with a “flagship lineup”?

We now have two beers listed: Chantarelle Cream Ale and Double Bit IPA. We will be releasing our Maple Ale soon as part of our “Seasonal Selection”.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries in Atlantic Canada?

The support we’ve received from local breweries has been overwhelming. But we would like to highlight the support from Picaroons, Grimross, Shiretown and Hammond River Brewing!

What will make your brewery different from other breweries in Atlantic Canada?

Besides our “kick-axe” name, we hope our beer will be distinct from the local ingredients we add that grow naturally in NB! We also pride ourselves on having a beautiful location on the Saint John River. We are accessible by boat, ATV, snowmobile and we are only 3 minutes from the TransCanada Highway!

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

I would like to see Big Axe Brewery expand to the point of distribution, hiring of employees and a local craft beer pub/bistro.

Do you personally have a favorite beer style? Beer? Brewery?

A favourite beer? I am a craft beer enthusiast. I enjoy trying different beer from different breweries. The type of beer really depends on the mood, atmosphere and even the weather! But if I had to pick one… I would pick an IPA.

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

I learned from a combination of people over the years, starting with my grandfather, but learned the most from the brewers mentioned earlier who we can now call friends. Sean Dunbar from Picaroons has also been very helpful and supportive.

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

My wife and I have travelled extensively throughout Europe, Central America and the UK. We prefer going to local establishments so we can get the true sense of the atmosphere and culture. We make a point in trying a local brew from each place we visit. I have always dreamed of having my own business… and what better business to have than a brewery!

We’re happy to welcome Big Axe into the Atlantic Canada brewery fold! We’ll be updating regularly as they continue to increase production and availability; also, follow their Facebook page and Twitter feed for more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, be sure to drop by the brewery for growler fills, which are currently available Mondays-Saturdays, 12 pm – 8 pm.

Happy Friday, everyone! We don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s beginning to look more like spring in our region. To celebrate, grab a pint of beer (or coffee if your employer frowns on drinking on the job), and let’s get right to the beer news:

• In Saint John, Big Tide Brewing is pouring a new beer at their brewpub. The beer is Three Pages to the Wind, a “Whiskey Pale Ale”. Brewed with Pale Ale and Smoked malt, the beer is mildly hopped with both Cascade and Willamette hops, with whiskey added during the conditioning stage; it comes in at about 5.2% ABV. They’re also pouring a couple of returning beers, including Nut Brown, a 4.8% ABV Southern English Brown that employs some Chocolate malt, and Crasberry Cream Ale, a 5% ABV Cream Ale that has cranberry and raspberry juice added during conditioning.

Red Rover Brewing is expanding their on-tap distribution in Fredericton, with their Summer Brew now available at the Grad House on the UNB campus, and Spring Brew on tap at Isaac’s Way. Of course, their Summer is also still available at the King Street Ale House. Owner/brewer Adam Clawson has also designed some new tap handles for their ciders, which have been 3D printed to give varying results for each of the three ciders they have available. Very cool!

Gahan House in Charlottetown is hosting the finale of their Homebrewer’s Challenge tomorrow 2-4pm, and we’re all invited! Narrowed down from 16 entries to 5, the final judging will take place that afternoon, courtesy of a panel of six beer lovers, including current and former brewers from Gahan and PEI Brewing Company, judging these beers on Flavour Characteristics, Off Flavours, Appearance, General taste, Creativity and Overall balance. The brewers are hoping to win the big prize, having a chance to brew their beer on Gahan’s system, and have it served right at the bar! There will be live music and entertainment courtesy of Iain MacCarvill, and appetizers passed around. Of course, the full restaurant and bar will be open as well. Be sure to drop by and cheer on these well-deserving finalists (and all other entrants). Well done, all! We’ll be sure to pass along details of the event and winning beer next week.

• In other Gahan news, they released their Honey Brown Ale this week. It is a blend of the Sir John A’s Honey Wheat (featuring local PEI honey) and Iron Bridge Brown, and weighs in at 4.8%ABV. It will be available on tap and in bottles at the Gahan House Brewpub, the PEILCC and select ANBL locations.

• Good news, Sackville, NB! Your craft beer availability has taken a step up, as Celtic Knot beer will soon be on tap at Ducky’s. Management at Ducky’s has confirmed that they will be expanding their draught selection from 14 to 22 taps, with mostly local craft beer being served! Following this expansion (hopefully within the next 1-2 weeks), one or two taps will be devoted to Celtic Knot’s beers… other local nanobreweries are likely to be added in the near future.

• If you haven’t been visiting Rockbottom Brewpub for the Wednesday Firkins lately, you’ve been missing out! Over the past two weeks, Brewmaster Greg Nash has been serving up dry-hopped, cask-conditioned versions of his upcoming Thulsa Doom Double IPA, first with Simcoe, and more recently with Citra. Both of these were excellent beers, selling out that night. This base beer weighs in at 7.8%ABV, but there is no hint of alcohol at all, as it features a wonderful citrus and fruit hop aroma and flavour, calculated at 130 IBU, thanks to generous amounts of Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial and Chinook. The yeast used to ferment this brew is called Conan, and also gives off apricot and citrus characteristics. Look for it on tap the middle of next week! Brewmaster Nash also gave us a preview of next week’s Firkin: a SMaSH Lager, featuring Galaxy hops. Be sure to drop by right at 4pm, to be sure you don’t miss out!

• In other Rockbottom news, be sure to check out their Youtube channel, to get the inside scoop on upcoming specials, events, and beers. We see that a member of the Ladies Beer League dropped by this week to assist with the brewing (and cleaning) of an upcoming batch of Fathom IPA.

Picaroons has officially announced plans for their Dooryard launch – it will be held on Earth Day, Tuesday April 22nd at the York St. Train Station in Fredericton. From 4:00 – 7:00 pm, they will be pouring samples of Dooryard, their spring/summer seasonal brewed with coriander and orange peel; there will also be wood-fired “Dough’yard” pizza from Real Food Connections and Speerville Flour Mill, and live entertainment with Earthbound Trio.

• In other Picaroons news, they’ve announced that they will be brewing a collaboration beer with Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery in the near future. While details on on the beer are currently being kept secret, we can confirm that the beer will be ready in time for the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards, which are being held May 29th-31st in Fredericton. Both Picaroons and Great Lakes have won the Brewery of the Year award in the past (2011 and 2013, respectively), so we’re naturally expecting great things from their collaboration!

North Brewing’s Farmhouse  Ale is back again. Weighing in at 7.5%, it features a candied fruit aroma, and tart flavour, thanks to the combination of yeast choice, and wheat and raw sugar in the malt bill. Available at the brewery on Agricola Street, and will be on tap around the city shortly. Their second release of the Glenora-barrel-aged Strong Dark is down to the last few bottles, so be sure to drop by the brewery today to grab one!

Bad Apple Brewhouse’s Russian Imperial Stout is back in stock in Somerset. Weighing in at 9%ABV, it is a big beer with big flavour, thanks to loads of roast malt and generous hopping. It is available in 1.89L and 750mL refillables, along with their American Pale Ale and Cider. Look out for the Barrel-aged RIS coming out at the end of the month, as well as a few more new brews. And a quick note for locals looking to have a pint of their APA at The Wick Pub in Berwick, they are now fully stocked. But be warned, their first keg was emptied in one night last week!

• Halifax Beer Fans: As if you didn’t need another excuse to visit Stillwell Beer Bar, they will be tapping three beers from Bellwoods Brewery Sunday at noon. Witchshark IIPA, Grizzly Beer American Brown Ale, and Farmhouse Classic. See you there!

• In celebration of the anniversary of Prohibition Repeal in New Brunswick, there’s a beer cocktail event being held at the King Street Ale House next Saturday, April 19th. From 3:00 – 5:00 pm, they will be mixing up a variety of beer and whisky cocktails “inspired by the drinks and era of prohibition”; tickets are priced accordingly at $19.27 and can be purchased online. No Tommy guns, please.

• A reminder that the Burgers n’ Beer event at reLiSH in Fredericton is this coming Tuesday, April 15th. There are a FEW tickets still available; remember, if you live in Fredericton, it’s your first chance to try Celtic Knot’s Dubh Loki (a Black IPA) and Hammond River‘s Red Coat India Red Ale! Not to mention some Red Rover cider and beer from Grimross Brewing… and burgers! More detail in our post here. Hope to see you there!

• Finally, be sure to drop by Stillwell Thursday evening, for the release of the Boxing Rock & Ladies Beer League beer, Alewife’s Revenge. The LBL crew visited Boxing Rock on March 15th and brewed up this beer featuring local cranberries and orange zest, and now it’s ready for prime time! Check out some pictures from the brewday to whet your appetite. If you can’t make it down for the release party, look for it in growlers and bottles at the brewery, Seaport Farmers Market, and the private wine stores in Halifax.

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With all of the breweries that have opened recently and will be opening in the near future in Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick is about to get a taste of something different. John Way, a long-time homebrewer, and his wife, Deb, are planning to open Sunset Heights Meadery sometime within the next few months at their home in McLeod Hill. Mead is a fermented beverage, like beer; what sets it apart is that the majority of its fermentable sugars come from honey, as opposed to grain. Like beer, brewing mead provides an open book for the brewer, as it can be still or carbonated; dry, semi-sweet, or sweet; and can have spices, fruit, and even hops added.

John and his family were all representing Sunset Heights Meadery at last month’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, pouring several varieties of their meads. Mead is a product not easily found in our area, so it was great to see that the lines were long and consistent as attendants were anxious to try something new. We recently talked with John about what he and his wife will be bringing to the market in the near future…

ACBB: Tell me a little about your homebrewing history. What got you into brewing mead?

John Way: Twenty-five years of home brewing, everything from extract kits to eventually all-grain; in addition, we have been making wine for over 10 years. My Dad was a long time home wine maker as well. In the early-late 90’s I ran a business next door to a Brew/Vint on-premise on Vancouver Island. The owners became great friends and I learned a ton from them. Early forays into Mead were futile efforts to produce bad mead. We recently learned a lot from the owner and Head Mead Maker at Moonlight Meadery (in Londonderry, New Hampshire)… that changed everything, and all of a sudden all the past beer and wine experience gelled together with the new info we received from Moonlight to make some really good (we think) meads.

Are you a member of any local homebrewing clubs?

I’m a Charter Member of the New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association (NBCBA) and am currently Club Secretary, but I’ll be stepping down soon as the Meadery and my real job are taking up the total time I have in a day.

What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?

We had actually planned to open a nanobrewery locally, but after spending a couple of days at Moonlight we realized it’s where our future was.

What steps have you taken so far getting everything up and running?

We’ve started redeveloping our loft in our garage, as we’re fully licensed by the Feds and Province to produce. The license is actually a winery license, and we’re in the midst of going through the requirements to meet the standard as a “Farm Winery” in the province, which gives us better access to the market.

What type of system will you be brewing on?

We cold ferment, so with no heat applied to the honey there isn’t really any “brewing” per se. Heat only drives off the volatiles that we want in our meads. We currently have 160 gallons of capacity, but have a plan in place to increase that by an additional 500 gallons by this fall.

Do you know when your meads will be available to the public?

We’re hoping for June/July for the “Pollen Angels” kegged product to be available at bars, with the bottled still “Sunset Heights” meads in the fall.

What are your plans for distribution? Any plans for growlers, bottling, etc.?

Plans are still evolving, but currently it’s bars only, though we will be looking at a couple of growler options.

Do you have any bars/restaurants in the area lined up to serve your meads?

The King Street Ale House and The Lunar Rogue have both expressed a keen interest, and we’ve committed to only service them until we get a handle on the demand. Of course, they are also the only two places I’ve approached so far, so it’s tough to say what kind of further acceptance we’ll receive in the marketplace.

Can you tell me about the mead(s) you plan on offering initially? Are you planning on offering a specific style, or styles, of mead? Any seasonals, one-offs, or will you stick mainly with a “flagship lineup”?

Our “Pollen Angels” line will likely open with the “Queen’s Nectar”, a base sparkling mead that is 8.25% ABV, along with additional flavours including Cranberry-Maple, Blueberry-Apple, Iced Tea, Green Tea and some custom dry-hopped versions. Our “Sunset Heights Meadery” still meads will be bottled in Ice Wine bottles, and will include a Local Cyser [a blend of honey and apple juice fermented together], and a dry-hopped Cyser that just won a Silver Medal for ‘Other-Sweet’ at The Mazer Cup, the world’s largest meadmaking competition. We will also be re-running our recipe for our “Sunset Blues”, a Blueberry Cyser that took home the Gold Medal in the ‘Sweet Melomel’ Category at the Mazer Cup. We’re the first New Brunswick Meadery to ever win an award at the Mazer Cup, and we’re very excited, and just a little bit proud.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries in Atlantic Canada?

Sean Dunbar has allowed us unlimited access to his head brewer, Andrew Estabrooks, which has been invaluable. The folks at Picaroons have also been incredibly supportive in helping us with suppliers, and they’ve been a great sounding board for our product development. Sean’s vision of the craft beverage market is such a breath of fresh air, being so supportive to other smaller producers. Many in the industry see everyone as a competitor, but he understands that a rising tide will float all boats.

The owner of Moonlight Meadery, Michael Fairbrother, has been our mead mentor through our learning curve of going from home to full scale; he and his fermentation specialist Chris have been incredible in supporting our efforts. Michael and his wife Bernice were very proud of us when we brought home those medals at the Mazer Cup (he took home 2 Golds and a Silver to add to his already impressive array of past medals). Michael is even working on a very special project with us planned for this fall… it will be a bit like having Elvis do a duet with you on your debut album.

To your knowledge, is this the first meadery in Atlantic Canada?

No, there is another dedicated meadery, Midgard, in Cape Breton, and though I haven’t had the opportunity to try them, I’m told they are great. There are other small meaderies about, but they tend to self-distribute in very small quantities. There are also a few wineries around making some mead as a sideline.

Where do you hope to see Sunset Heights Meadery in the next 2-3 years?

A few more medals, making some more killer versions of our Dessert Still Meads, and with “Pollen Angels” running concurrently as a parallel venture instead of having it integrated into Sunset Heights. Only time will tell if the volume consumed by the public will make that a possibility. For now, we can run both the product lines off of the same equipment.

MedalsonBottles

We’re really looking forward to when Sunset Heights Meadery has their official launch in the next couple of months! We’ll let you know exactly when to expect their products in bars and restaurants in the area, as soon as the dates are confirmed.

Happy Friday, everyone! As we begin the long process of shedding winter for warmer weather, check out the following beer news to keep you warm…

• Big news for Big Spruce! This week, they celebrated one year in operation, congratulations! To celebrate, they are holding a birthday party at the Bras d’Or Yacht Club in Baddeck this Saturday, starting at 5pm. Featuring a BBQ and cake, live music, and, of course, beer! They will be releasing a special cask of their The Whole Nine Yards 1 Year Anniversary Scotch Ale, infused with Glenora Glen Breton Rare 10 year Single Malt Whisky. Weighing in at 6.5% ABV, the beer features lots of roast flavour, as well as smoke and peat characteristics from the whisky. If you’re anywhere near Cape Breton this weekend, this is the place to be!

• In more Big Spruce news, their collaboration with Sawdust City brewmaster Aaron Spinney, You Spin Me White Round Wheat IPA has made it on tap in Halifax, beginning with Stillwell Beer Bar.  This Wheat IPA weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 79 IBUs, and will available at a few more locations around the province soon.

Celtic Knot Brewing has released some early information on a new beer that they’re brewing up, a low-ABV American IPA (beers of this “style” are often referred to as Session IPAs or India Session Ales). Owner/brewer Bruce Barton is naming the beer For Shore (poking a bit of fun at how some Maritimers say “for sure”); the beer will be “light-colored” with an ABV around 5%. Brewed with 2-row and Munich malt, with a bit of Melanoidin and Wheat malt added, it will also feature two new hop varieties for Celtic Knot, from Australia and New Zealand. Low in bitterness but high in hop flavor and aroma, look for this “Maritime Session Ale” to be on tap in the Moncton area in the near future!

Garrison Brewing is releasing another of their Test Batch IPAs, #3459, today. Taking note of customer feedback from their #3447 release in February, they have tweaked the recipe a bit. The IPA is 6.5% and 51 IBUs, featuring lots of tropical and citrus notes from the (secret) hops. As before, look for this beer to be on tap around Halifax, and available in 650mL bombers at the brewery, private stores and NSLC, and for the first time, a pallet is being sent to the ANBL . Use the #TestBatch Twitter tag to weigh in on this version, they’re anxious to hear what you have to say!

• And more great news from Garrison, Brewmaster Daniel Girard brewed for the first time on their new brewhouse this week, located in the Film and Media Centre building, just across Marginal Road from their current location. The larger brewhouse will allow them to triple their production, allowing them to keep up with the growing demand for their beer across our region, and expand in to more provinces across the country. President Brian Titus had this to say, “End of a challenging 3 year process to stay in the Halifax Seaport & build a state of the art craft brewery. Done & done!” They brewed up their Irish Red Ale, which was also the first beer they brewed back in 1997. Congratulations on the new digs, and continued success!

• As the summer approaches, everyone at Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault is working hard to get everything up and running so their first two flagship beers are ready for the thirsty public! In the meantime, they’re putting on a couple of beer workshops with beer expert Mario D’Eer. The first is being held tonight at 7:30 pm at the Book Fair at Cité des Jeunes A.-M-Sormany High School in Edmundston, which will involve an introduction to beer and cheese pairings, with six different beers and cheese to be tasted. The second workshop will be held tomorrow at 3:00 pm at The Deck, and will include a basic “ABCs” of beer, with tastings of nine beers, ranging from Hoegaarden to Picaroon’s Winter Warmer. There are only a few tickets left for both workshops; call (506) 733-7409 to reserve yours!

• And, if you’d like to meet some of the people behind Brasseurs du Petit-Sault, you’ll have a chance next weekend! On Saturday, April 12th, there will be a Beer Fest at Au Cafe d’LaVieille Forge from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm. Those representing the new brewery will be on hand to pass out information and answer questions. Tickets for the beer festival are $40.

•  A quick note for our Valley readers: Bad Apple Brewhouse American Pale Ale is now on tap at the Union Street Cafe and Wick Pub in Berwick, NS. Stop in for a pint today!

• Picaroons will be holding their annual Prohibition Repeal Party and Tap Takeover at The Capital Complex in Fredericton on Saturday, April 19th at 7:00 pm. All 12 taps will feature Picaroons beers; while details on which beers are being served are currently being kept secret, Marketing Director Dennis Goodwin has confirmed that there will be some interesting options. They also plan on bringing their “Randall the Enamel Animal”, a device designed by Dogfish Head that hooks up to a bar tap and acts as a flavor-inducing filter system (check out the link, really). There will also be live music from Krasnogorsk and Jim Blewett & The Swingin’ Cats starting at 9:00 pm. No charge for tickets; entry is free at the door until regular cover charge starts at 10:30 pm.

• And while on the topic of annual Picaroons events, they’re currently accepting entries for their Melonhead Cat Contest. Send in a hi-res picture of your cat (no need to involve melons), and the Picaroons people will pick their favorite and include it on the label for this year’s release of Melonhead. The beer should be released sometime in June; the winner will be announced before the beer’s release. Cat pics can be emailed; the deadline for entries is Thursday, April 24th.

• Finally, those of you who are big fans of the Picaroons spring/summer seasonal, Dooryard, haven’t got much longer to wait until its 2014 release. They’ve announced that the beer should be available on Tuesday, April 22nd. A wheat beer brewed with coriander and orange peel, it’s an easy-drinking and light beer with an ABV of 4.5%. We’ll keep you updated on its release… there’s usually some type of launch party that goes with it!

North Brewing is releasing a second batch of their Glenora Barrel-Aged Strong Dark Belgian today. This beer is in very limited quantities, so be sure to drop by the brewery *today* to avoid disappointment!

• It’s only April, but the Beerthief Newfoundland Artisanal and Craft Beer Group is already taking orders for the 2014 Craft Beer Advent Calendar! Featuring 24 mystery beers from 24 breweries on six continents, these will brighten up any beer lover’s December. Orders must be placed by Monday, April 7th, so get on them now!