Happy Friday! As we enter the busy month of December, the breweries in Atlantic Canada are firing on all cylinders, as there is lots of beer news this week. Let’s get started…
• Big Tide has a new brew on tap at the brewpub: Gasworks Chocolate Honey Wheat was brewed for an event at the Saint John Free Public Library, “Beethoven, Books and Beer”. Brewer Wendy Papadopoulos was aiming to brew a beer that was “light and dark”, and warming and refreshing at the same time. So, she added honey to a light wheat ale base to hopefully give a creamier mouthfeel, and also added both Chocolate and Carafa malts to darken the beer and give some roastiness to the flavor. The IBUs are on the lower end, to keep the malt characters upfront. It clocks in at 5.5% ABV; get down to try it, as it won’t be around for long! They’ve also got another new beer in the works just in time for the holidays, Santa’s Chocolate Porter. More on that one, soon!
• Pump House has re-released their own take on the Winter Warmer style… a style which is becoming more and more popular for these colder months. Nor’Easter Winter Warmer is a strong ale at 7.5% ABV, and malty sweet, as the style calls for. The brewers spice the beer with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and lightly hop it to only 20 IBUs. It’s currently on tap at the brewpub in Moncton, and is also available for growler fills at the Dieppe ANBL store this week.
• Along with their first DIPA, 8 Cord, the PEI Brewing Co. also released another new beer yesterday! Ice Boat is the brewery’s Sydney Street Stout that has been aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels for three months (the barrels were rinsed before adding the beer, to temper the alcohol flavor and enhance the softening effects of the oak, according to head brewer Chris Long). Packaged in a limited number – 1000 – of 750 mL, wax-dipped bottles (they assure us the wax is easier to remove than in their Transmitter Stout!), it’s currently available at the brewery, and should hit PEILCC stores sometime next week. We also mentioned a Doppelbock last week; that beer has currently been put on hold, but don’t worry, they still plan on brewing it soon!
• In cider news, Red Rover has just released their newest product, Jingleberry. A semi-dry cider coming in at 7% ABV, it has wild blueberries added during the brewing process to give some tartness in the flavors. And if you’re looking to take home some Red Rover cider in a larger container than their usual 1 L flagons, they now have 5 L “Kitchen Party Kegs” for sale… they’re $64 (taxes included) and are refillable; available for purchase at the Ciderhouse. You can also find their products on tap at Sam Snead’s and Ten Resto in Fredericton, joining several other accounts in the city.
• With Christmas around the corner, it’s good news for Picaroons fans… they’re about ready to start their 12 Beers of Christmas! Starting next Friday, December 12th, they will be releasing a new holiday-themed beer every day at 4:00 pm (noon on Sundays) for 12 days, in growler form at the Brewtique. Like last year, there will be a 2 growler limit per person, and the day’s beer won’t be announced until noon on that day (through Facebook and Twitter). There may be a couple of brand new beers, according to the brewery; most will be re-releases of favorites over the last couple of years. These beers always go quickly, so if you want to grab some, make sure to show up early!
• If you don’t have plans for Saturday, Dec. 20th, we have a great idea for you! Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault is having a tap-takeover at Resto-Bar Le Deck in Edmundston. All 8 taps will be dedicated to Petit-Sault beers, four of which will be “One-Hit Wonders” that have never been released before! These new beers include La Dictée (IPA), La Winding Eddy (Vanilla Bourbon Porter), La Kedgwick (Lager), and La Mud Lake (Brown Ale). It all starts at 7:00 pm; admission is free.
• Tickets for the 2015 Saint John Beerfest are now on sale! The event will be held on Saturday, April 11th from 7:30 – 9:30 pm; general admission tickets are $60, with VIP tickets – which allow you entry to the festival half an hour early, and access to “limited quantity beer, food, and entertainment” are $70. We’ll have some more details on the breweries, beers, and food and entertainment options closer to the date.
• Propeller Brewing Co is at it again! They are releasing the second in their four-beer Lambic-style beer series in a couple of weeks. Their Blackberry beer will be released December 22nd at both the Dartmouth and Halifax breweries. This beer started out from the same batch of wort and young beer as the Framboise (and the two other beers to come), and then blackberries were added for a unique Nova Scotia twist on this Senne Valley traditional style. And much like their Framboise release in August, they will be holding a special event at Bar Stillwell on Saturday, December 20th. Beginning at noon, patrons can enjoy the new beer by the glass or bottle before it hits the shelves to the general public Monday morning. No tickets are necessary to drop by and enjoy the beer, and those who do will have the opportunity to sign up for a guaranteed bottle to be purchased at the Gottingen St location Sunday the 21st.
• Another busy week for Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza, NS. Last weekend, the Second Annual Homebrew Competition judging took place, and Eric Gauthier’s American Wheat was crowned the best in show! Through stiff competition, Eric’s beer rose to the top, and he will be joining the Big Spruce crew for a brewday in a couple of weeks. His beer will then be released for the first time at the Local Connections Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration at the Halifax Club, January 15, 2015 (sorry, tickets are sold out, but you can sign up to the Wait List). Congratulations Eric, and finalists Keith and Jimmy! Last year’s Homebrew Competition winning beer, Tim’s Dirty American IPA, has made a return to the brewery and tap accounts this week, so be sure to grab it when you see it.
• And in more Big Spruce news, they are releasing a new beer today, an Imperial IPA, brewed with 100% imported German malts. Crazy Ivan weighs in at 8.2% and 108 IBUs, thanks to several different American hops. Due to the wicked amount of hops in the boil, the yield for this Bad Boy is quite low, at just over 500 litres, so don’t delay, and grab this insane beer today. And this is a warning to be on the lookout for Hoppuccino version 2, brewed this week. This version featured a special blend from Just Us! Coffee Roasters, roasted especially for this brew. The beer has more coffee added, and a lower ABV, so the flavour profile will really allow this new coffee blend to shine through.
• Boxing Rock Brewing Co has brought back their very popular U-889 Russian Imperial Stout, just in time for the colder days ahead. Weighing in at 8.89% ABV and 65 IBUs, this dark beer features a full body, and significant roast and chocolate character, benefitting from additions of organic, fair trade coffee from Just Us! and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for a complex flavour and aroma profile. Available in 650 ml bottles at the private beer stores in HRM, at the Halifax Seaport Market both Friday (for the next three weeks) and Saturday, and at select bars on the South Shore and HRM.
• Tatamagouche Brewing Co had a busy week, with a beer re-release, a new beer style on the horizon, and some visitors to the brewery. They have re-released their Dreadnot IBA (India Black Ale) in 650 ml bottles (for the first time), as well as on tap around the province, and in growlers at the brewery. More details on the beer are available here. Details are light, but we spotted the Tata Crew adding some oysters to a new brew that will debut in early 2015, an Oyster Stout. We’ll be sure to pass along the specs when available, but we can say that it features both local Malagash hops and oysters. And the crew from Stubborn Goat Gastropub paid a visit to the brewery to help out with a collaboration that will be released in early 2015 as well. More details on that beer soon.
• And while we don’t yet have all of the details on Tata’s upcoming festive ale, we do have more information on the Holiday Brunch launch event, being held at Stillwell December 12th, put on in partnership with the Ladies Beer League. Chef Graeme Ruppel has prepared three special menu items for the event, Frittata, Strata and Purgatorio (full details at the link above). Tickets for the noon event are $25, which gets you a glass of the Tata holiday beer and food beginning at noon, before the standard 4pm Sunday opening time. Tickets are available online, and will sell out this weekend, so act fast!
• The North Brewing crew were working their new bottling system hard again this week, busy packaging their Barrel Aged Strong Dark Belgian. Aged in barrels from Glenora Distillery in Cape Breton for two months, the base beer features dark candy sugar and a long boil for dark fruit flavors and a full mouthfeel, that is only enhanced by the vanilla and whisky flavours and aromas picked up from the barrels. Available in 650 ml bottles at the brewery beginning today.
• Local glassware printer Jym Line received a shoutout in the Herald this week. Chances are good that if you’ve filled a growler, or drunk a beer from a logoed glass from a local brewery, you were using a Jym Line product. Check out the article for more insight into this local business.
• As drinkers, we include local beer in our diet, to support our vibrant community of local breweries. In turn, these breweries are increasing their use of local ingredients, grown or harvested in our region. Hop harvest season is a flurry of activity with breweries teaming up with local hop growers to share the best our land has to offer. Other ingredients just as critical to beer production are the grains and malt. While there are local grain producers, there are no commercial malting facilities in the Maritime Provinces. Though the barley for Maritime Malt is grown in our region, it is malted in Quebec. Enter Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Co, a new malt house, located in the Annapolis Valley, NS. President Alan Stewart has been growing certified organic produce in Nova Scotia for over 25 years, so is well aware of the unique character of the land and climate of this region. He wants to bring that passion to begin producing malt and grain for local breweries, distilleries, and homebrewers. To further his knowledge on the art and science of malting, Stewart trained at the Canadian Malt Barley Technical Centre in Winnipeg, completing the Malt Academy course. Plans are in place for the first malting to take place during the 2015 season, including three varieties of rye grown on-site. To involve the wider local community in this new venture, Horton Ridge has launched a Community Economic Development Investment Fund (or CEDIF). Stewart is holding an information session December 11, 2014, at the Wolfville Farmers Market, to learn more about the Malt House plans, and the CEDIF details. If interested in attending, be sure to RSVP. We wish Horton Ridge success, and look forward to tasting beers brewed with their malt soon!
• “The best laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” … Garrison Brewing Company was to be releasing their much anticipated Spruce Beer today, but sadly some bottling line issues has delayed the release until next week. However, we’ll give you the details today, to get you in the mood. It was all hands on deck for over a dozen staff, family and friends of the brewery who visited Meander River Farm and Brewery, to harvest spruce and fir tips and boughs three weeks ago. A bit of snow fell as they collected the tips, making it all the more magical. Pale, dark crystal, roasted malt, and oat flakes were used in the mash, with Crosby’s Molasses from Saint John, NB added to the wort for additional body, aroma, and fermentable sugars, aiding the beer to reach the 7.5% ABV. To complement the aroma from the nearly 40 bags of boughs used, Citra hops brought the bitterness up to 25 IBUs. This year’s brew will be packaged in 650 ml bottles, just the right size for sharing with your favourite elf. And good news for beer drinkers, the distribution of the beer has now expanded into both New Brunswick and PEI, and will be sent to Manitoba and Alberta, as well. The Spruce Beer goes on sale at the brewery next Friday, the 12th, at 9am. We can also share that some of this year’s Spruce Beer will be aged in barrels that previously held Ironworks Distillery Rum, and that last year’s Barrel Aged Spruce Beer will be released before the New Year.
• May 11-17, 2015 will be the inaugural Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week! The Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia is hosting this week-long celebration of beer made in the Bluenose province. Events include Open Brewery Day, Tap Takeovers, Beer Dinners and more, capped off by the flagship event Saturday May 16th, the Full House Craft Beer Fest. The Fest will see beer poured by all members of the Association, all under one roof for the first time. There are two sessions of the fest, being held at the Olympic Community Centre, 12-3pm and 4-7pm. Tickets are now available at the Early Bird price of $22, which gets you in the door, a take-home glass, and your first 12 beer samples. After that, samples are only $1. This format allows for a more relaxed environment, without people rushing and overindulging, in the hopes of “getting their money’s worth” of a higher ticket price. Reasonably-priced food options will be available onsite, as well as musical entertainment and a pop-up shop with merchandise from the Association members. Grab your ticket now to avoid disappointment! We will be sharing details of the other NS Craft Beer Week events as they are released, but from what we’ve heard so far, we can assure you that there will be events across the province, and for beer lovers of all stripes.
Wow! Just when you think beer news is slowing down a bit, you get a week like this. Have a fantastic weekend! In addition to all of the new beers mentioned above, Granite Brewery‘s Darkside IPA is now available at their Beer Store for growler fills, so if you’re in Halifax, stop in to pick some up! And there’s some other new beers on the horizon that we weren’t able to get info on for this week… Big Axe has Chocolate Mint Stout and Wrath of Putin Imperial Pale Ale, both of which will be on tap at 540 Kitchen & Bar soon; BarNone announced that they’ve just brewed a Sweet Stout, La Vaca Loca; and Yellowbelly has their latest seasonal, Root Cellar, on tap now, with bottles following shortly. If you haven’t bought your tickets for the 2015 Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, don’t wait any longer… VIP tickets are gone, and general admission tickets are already over 50% sold out! Hell Bay has received a new 12 hL horizontal fermenter that will become their new (and bigger) mash tun, so expect more production from them in the near future. Finally, a big congratulations to Cam and Jenn at Schoolhouse Brewery, who welcomed the newest addition to the family/brewery – baby Claire – on Monday!