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All posts for the month September, 2015

It’s been another busy week in the Atlantic Region! Another new brewery has launched in Nova Scotia, a new cidery will be opening soon in New Brunswick, and there are more new beers (and return of seasonal releases) than you can shake a stick at; not to mention several great events for you to check out this weekend. Let’s get to it!

Spindrift Brewing in Dartmouth now has beer available for purchase. While their storefront is not yet open, their Coastal Lager is available now in several NSLCs around the province (with that list growing daily). This 5.0% ABV Amber Lager has an initial province-wide launch in cans, with tap accounts soon, and growler fills at their Burnside location upon its opening in the coming weeks. Look for our profile of them early next week, and go grab a can now!

• There’s a new cidery coming to Fredericton – York County Cider recently got the final approval to move into 418 York St downtown. They’re hoping to launch by the end of October; their first five products should include a Dry, Semi-Dry, Hopped, Ginger, and Blueberry version. Plans right now are to distribute in 12 oz bottles, along with one confirmed tap account in the city (with likely more to follow); growler fills are also a strong possibility. We’ll keep you updated on their progress, and should have a Q&A with owner/brewer Ed Teale in the near future!

• Meanwhile, the string of wet-hopped seasonal beers continues! First off is a “Harvest ale version” of Celtic Knot‘s American IPA, Hopicide. Owner/brewer Bruce Barton was generously given a large amount of fresh Cascade from Amherst, NS homebrewer Jeff Smith, all of which were used as a single dry-hop addition in the already-brewed beer. Look for this batch to pop up on tap at various Celtic Knot accounts very soon. And in other Celtic Knot news, they will be brewing an Oyster Stout version of their Oatmeal Stout, Dark Passage, soon; this one will feature the addition of oyster shells at the beginning of the boil, followed by the meat and juices added near the end. We’ll keep you updated on its release.

• Moving on to Hammond River, they’ve once again released their Harvest Ale. This season’s batch was wet-hopped with a large amount of fresh Cascade that was harvested at the home of owner/brewer Shane Steeves. A West-Coast style IPA, it weighs in at 70 IBUs and 7% ABV and features a “simple grain bill” to let the hops shine through. It’s been popping up at selects bars/restaurants over the last week or two; only two batches were brewed, so if you haven’t tried it yet, find it quickly before it’s gone!

Big Spruce has released their annual hop harvest beer, Craig Goes Yard. An American IPA clocking in at 6.7% ABV, and features a combination of wet and freshly-dried hops, all harvested from their on-premise hop farm. East Kent Goldings and Mt Hood were used wet, while a healthy dose of dried Chinook made it into the boil, and the beer was further dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria. The multiple hops give a great combination of complex aromatics, with the brewery describing the final product as “deeply flavourful”. Look for it on tap at the brewery during today’s Food Truck Friday, around Halifax and Sydney, and at tonight’s Hops n’ Brats event (more details below).

Unfiltered will be releasing their first single-varietal fresh-hopped beer, Hop Riot India Red Ale, at the brewery today at noon. This one features the addition of a total of 272 kg (!!) of wet Centennial hops, grown locally and sourced through the Maritime Hop Growers Cooperative. The hops were used within 6 hours of harvesting in PEI, so expect a blast of fresh hop aromas and flavours in this 7.3% ABV Red IPA. We can only imagine how much work this brew day must have been, with the sheer weight and volume of hops in their brew system.

Big Tide has released three hop harvest beers, all part of their Indian Beach series. The three varieties used in these beers – Cascade, Hallertau, and Nugget – were grown locally at Dunhams Run Estate Winery at Gorham’s Bluff on the Kingston peninsula, historically known as Indian Beach. The first beer is Indian Beach Kolsch-style, which is their regular-release Karnival Kolsch (4.8% ABV) brewed with fresh Cascade. The Indian Beach Pumpkin Ale (5.2% ABV) also uses Cascade, along with fresh local pumpkin that has been cut up and roasted with several spices, and added to the mash of Pale Ale malt. Both beers are available on tap now at the brewpub. Coming early next week is the final beer, Indian Beach Harvest Ale. With a grist of 2-row and CaraMunich, it was hopped with all three of the fresh varieties, and comes in at 5% ABV.

• In PEI, BarNone has just released a batch of their award-winning Sub Stanchel Amber that has been wet-hopped with Cascade grown on their farm, with some wild PEI native hops grown nearby in Stanchel (or directly under it). It’s currently available at the brewery, and on tap at the Olde Dublin Pub and Old Triangle in Charlottetown. BarNone is also releasing a new beer that was brewed in tribute to co-owner Hugh Campbell, who passed away last month. 333 Somewhat Irish Red is brewed in the style of an Irish Red, but features more hops… specifically, 3.33 kg of freshly-dried whole hops were added as a dry-hop addition. Both beers will be pouring at a special music event being held at the brewery tonight, featuring Nudie’s Country Duets with Hannah Rose, plus Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar. The show begins at 8 pm; tickets are available online.

• In case you didn’t know, there are always a few in-house brewed beers on at Your Father’s Moustache in Halifax, courtesy of Rockbottom in the basement. The latest to hit the taps is a wet-hopped version of their Red Duster American Pale Ale. This 5.5% ABV Pale Ale was brewed with a healthy dose of locally-grown Centennial hops, but instead of typical floral or piney aromatics, these wet hops deliver a massive orange and sweet citrus aroma and flavour.

• Downstairs at Rockbottom, they have a couple of seasonals in addition to their four core lineup: Bulldog Brown Ale is a 4.5% ABV English Brown with a light and semi-sweet body, toasted aromas, and mild toffee flavour. It’s lightly hopped to 25 IBUs using traditional earthy English varietals. The Märzen Red Lager is a malty, amber German lager traditionally brewed for Oktoberfest. At 5.9% ABV and 25 IBUs, it features a bready malt flavour, restrained bitterness, and a dry finish. Be sure to drop down for a pint of each, and don’t forget their Wednesday weekly firkins for a taste of something different (this week’s was a Schwartz Bier Black Lager).

• Finally in harvest beers this week, North Brewing has released their second of the year (after the Many Hands collab with Boxing Rock): Setting Sun. This wet-hopped version of their Saison features brewer Josh Herbin’s own Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops. If that wasn’t enough, the beer was aged on 12 kg of sour cherries from Stirling Fruit Farms in the valley. The cherries come through brilliantly in the aroma, coupled with a citrus flavour and bitterness, and pepper finish from the yeast. The beer is available now at the Agricola St brewery for growler fills, and will make it on tap at just a few spots around the city shortly. And the crowdfunding for their new partnership with Brooklyn Warehouse, Battery Park Beer Bar, is entering its last week. Things are definitely taking shape at the new location in Dartmouth, with the grand opening happening in the coming weeks.

PEI Brewing Co. has re-released their Pumpkin Ale seasonal. An Amber Ale that includes the addition of plenty of local pumpkins and squash, it’s also spiced with whole nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cassia, and fresh ginger. The grist also features Victory malt for a “toasty sweetness”. Hopped with Magnum to 25 IBUs, it clocks in at 5.8% ABV. It’s available now at the brewery in bottles and on tap, and will be at the PEILCC and licencees shortly, and select ANBL and NSLC stores, soon.

• Next week should also mark the arrival of Rogues IPA, which was brewed at the PEI Brewing Co. Brewed “in the style of an American IPA”, it actually features a lot of British ingredients, such as Maris Otter malt (along with Crystal 40 L and Torrified Wheat), Goldings and Target hops, and was fermented with Burton Ale yeast. This 6% ABV, 70 IBUs ale should be released in cans at the brewery next week, with PEILCC  and NSLC stores to follow shortly afterwards; ANBL stores should eventually be seeing some, too. The beer is based on the IPA served at Rogues Roost brewpub in Halifax, which closed last week, due to the building being demolished for renovations. Be sure to raise a can of Rogues IPA to toast the life of this Halifax institution.

• Moving back to Pumpkin beers: Garrison has re-released their Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Brewed with Cinderella pumpkins (a variety regarded as a superior dessert pumpkin) from the Dill Family, the beer was also spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg. Hopped with Millenium to 30 IBUs for “a light bitterness to offset the malt and spice character”, it weighs in at a might 8% ABV. It’s currently available at select NSLC stores, and will follow shortly at the brewery and tap accounts. And for those heading to the Halifax Oktoberfest this weekend (more details below), you will be able to enjoy three new brews on tap: the Hammer-Schlagen Brau, Nass Hopfenweisse, and Rise ‘n’ Stein Hefeweizen.

Bulwark Cider will be releasing an Oak-aged blend later this fall, and they’re currently holding a Label Competition for the bottles of this new cider. The competition is open to all artists, and entries should not include any text (name of the brand and cider); the winner will receive a cash prize and TBD cider prize. The deadline for entry is October 6th at 1 pm; eight finalists will be chosen by Oct 12th, and will then move on to final judging in a display at Bar Stillwell. For more information on how to enter, check out the link above.

• Next Friday, October 2nd at 7 pm, Rudder’s Brewpub will be holding their 10th Annual Brewer’s Dinner. Reservations are required, and include a 4-course dinner, with each course paired with a different Rudder’s-brewed beer. Contact the brewpub today to reserve your seat!

• Finally brewers, don’t forget to submit the forms for the second annual Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards. Today is the last day to register, with beers due in a couple of weeks. This year’s Awards has expanded to an entire week of events, including seminars and dinners for both brewers and open to the public.

There are lots of events on the go this weekend, so be sure to get out for some great local beer:

• The Ladies Beer League will be holding a Food and Beer Pairing at Bishop’s Cellar this afternoon, beginning at 5pm. Nine beers from Bishop’s shelves will be paired with some small plates and snacks from a local chef. Tickets are $20, and available online.

• The Tatamagouche Oktoberfest is being held today and tomorrow; this is the 36th year for Atlantic Canada’s largest Oktoberfest, and there’s plenty of events going on both days, including a Beer Garden tonight from 6-11 pm. If you’re attending, keep your eyes open for Tatabrew‘s just-released Lagerhosen.

• The Halifax Oktoberfest is also taking place this weekend, with a craft beer/sausage event, Hops & Brats, taking place today from 5-11 pm. Entry is $16 and includes five beer samples from local craft breweries; of course, plenty of sausages will be available for purchase as well. Tickets are available online. Tomorrow there will be an Oktoberfest & Kinderfest from 11 am – 11 pm, featuring traditional German food, games, music, and plenty of Garrison beer and Bulwark cider. Entry is free until 6 pm; afterwards, it becomes a 19+ event, where entry is $20 and includes a 500 mL Stein to keep, and your first fill.

• Saturday afternoon, the Moncton Beer League will be going on an Urban Hike to five different craft-beer-friendly bars in the downtown area; more details on this event in an earlier post. Those who purchase tickets to the Hike will receive a $5 discount on the upcoming Atlantic Canadian Craft Beer Oktoberfest, being held October 9th at the Moncton Crowne Plaza. We’ll have more details on the Oktoberfest next week; in the meantime, tickets are on sale now.

• And for those who are looking for a fun group of homebrewers to hang with, the Brewnosers Hoptoberfest event is being held Saturday afternoon and evening. Check the thread on the forum for details, and though it is a private event, anyone looking to chat, snack, and taste and enjoy great beer, of course, is welcome! There will be at least 20 different homebrew kegs of all types, and hop-infused sausages, especially made for the crew by Cavicchi’s Meats.

Wow, another extremely busy week! There’s even more new beers coming soon, including the first seasonal from Breton Brewing, Celtic Colours Maple Lager, and an Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Upstreet Brewing (actually a collaboration brewed with award-winning homebrewer Ryan Palmer)… more on these beers, soon. Boxing Rock has re-released their Black IPA, The Darkness; it should be popping up, now. If you live in Fredericton and are thinking you’d like to work in a brewery, Maybee Brewing Co. is now accepting resumes for positions in the New Year; send along yours via email. Have a fantastic weekend!

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s too beautiful of a day to be stuck reading some hilarious and insightful introduction paragraph, so let’s get right to the beer news, and get you on your way out the door for a beer!

• This week saw the launch of FirkinStein Brewing, a small brewery based in Bridgewater, NS. While not available on tap in bars or restaurants just yet, they have begun direct delivery of growlers to the public in their region. They currently have their Nor’easter Ale on offer, a 7.5% ABV Strong Ale, with lots of citrus aroma and flavour from Cascade hops (to about 55 IBUs). To take part in the fun, visit their Facebook page and send them a message with your name, address, and request. And yes, direct growler deliveries ARE legal, don’t worry! Growler fills are $12, with a growler cost of $8. Look for more details on the brewery and the folks behind it very soon, and welcome to the neighbourhood, FirkinStein!

• Despite the warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately, October is just around the corner, which can only mean… pumpkin beers! Petit-Sault has just released their Bonhomme Sept-Heures (roughly translated as “Bogeyman”), and as pumpkin beers go, it’s a big one! Weighing in at a whopping 8.6% ABV, the batch included the addition of more than 60 lbs of fresh pumpkin and squash, and 2 lbs of spices. Described by the brewery as having a “hint of caramel, with a slight biscuit sweetness” to go along with the pumpkin and spice flavours, it features a “warm finish” from the deceptively-hidden alcohol. It’s available now for growler fills at the brewery, on tap at select locations, and will also be at ANBL growler stations by next Thursday, Sept. 24th. And for those of you in PEI, Petit-Sault is now selling several of their beers at select PEILCC locations!

• Things are hopping over at Tatamagouche Brewing, as there’s lots of beer news to report! First off, their Russian Imperial Stout (the next beer in their Giant Beer Series) is now available; a monster of a beer at 8.5% ABV and over 100 IBUs, it was brewed with Frontenac Organic Pale Malt, Munich, Chocolate malt, and Roasted Barley to provide lots of dark colour and roasted flavours, and a bit of Flaked Barley to boost the body and head retention. Hopped with Pacific Gem and Chinook, it’s available in 650ml bottles now at the brewery, and at the Truro Farmers Market Saturdays.

• Tatabrew is also releasing a brand new IPA next Thursday, Sept. 24th: Deception Bay IPA is a 6.2% ABV “West Coast-inspired IPA” that was bittered with Magnum, and features large late-hop additions of Huell Melon, Mandarina Bavaria and Citra for intense juiciness in both the aroma and flavour, and a big 63 IBUs. This beer will be available in growlers and cans, and on tap as well, so be sure to grab a pint when you spot it in the wild!

• AND, Tatabrew will soon be re-releasing a couple of old favourites; their seasonal Oktoberfest, Lagerhosen, will be released on Sept. 24th. Brewed specifically for the Tatamagouche Oktoberfest (Sept. 25th-26th), it was hopped solely with Hallertau, and weighs in at a very-drinkable 4.5% ABV. And their DIPA, Horns Over Hooves, was brewed earlier this week; it should be available for release around Oct. 8th.

• It’s Harvest Jazz & Blues week in Fredericton, so there’s plenty going on in the city. In terms of beer, the Capital Complex is holding a Saturday Matinee tomorrow, from 12-4 pm, at Wilser’s Room. Tickets are $15 each at the door, and get you a plate of BBQ (roast pig, while available), live music (starting at 1 pm), and a pint of craft beer. Both TrailWay and Gray Stone will be pouring; while not yet officially open, this will be Gray Stone’s second official appearance on the scene, with another preview of some of the beers they should be releasing when construction is completed on their brewery. They will have their American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, American Stout, and Brown Ale on hand, and will be pouring at Wilser’s Room for the rest of the day until the beer is gone! TrailWay will be bringing their Primetime APA, and a new version of their D’Under – this batch was hopped entirely with a fairly new (and hard to come by!) Australian variety, Vic Secret (known for giving plenty of pineapple and pine characteristics). We hope to see you there!

• In other Harvest news, Red Rover is re-releasing their Blueberry Cider under the name The Blues. This batch features a change in the apple blend, but with the same 7% ABV. The name, flavour, and colour come from the addition of 55 kg local wild blueberries to the batch. Grab a growler at the Ciderhouse, and look for it on tap at bars and restaurants around Fredericton. And keep your eyes open for the return of their popular Fall in a couple of weeks.

• The crew at Good Robot in Halifax have announced the release of a new beer, so of course they will be holding a party to celebrate it! On October 4th, they will be releasing Leave Me Blue Kentucky Corn Beer, their take on the Kentucky Common pre-prohibition style beer. Brewed with corn and rye, this beer will be another departure from the mainstream for GR. The Sowr Soul party looks to be a fun one, featuring Southern-inspired food, music, and, of course, the beer. Joe Martin of Bar Stillwell will be preparing a feast, centering around a roasted pig (raised by Moo Nay Farms and fed GR spent grain!), with corn on the cob, mac & cheese, collard greens and more. Big Country Ramblers will be playing bluegrass music to keep the party going into the evening. Check the FB Event page for a few more details.

Uncle Leo’s in Lyons Brook, NS are releasing their ode to the hop harvest today, a wet-hopped Pale Ale. The Pictou County Harvest Ale is 5.7% and at 35 IBU beer thanks to 23 kg of Centennial and Cascade fresh hops from local grower Bramble Hill Farm. Grab a growler at the brewery, and look for it on tap at their accounts shortly.

Distillerie Fils du Roy brewed up a one-off beer specifically for the Oktoberfest des Acadiens in Bertrand, NB earlier this month. While it is named Oktoberfest Bieretrand, the beer was actually brewed in the German Hefeweizen style. Exhibiting the banana and clove aromas and flavours expected from this style (thanks to the Weizen yeast strain), this cloudy and light gold-coloured ale has low hop character, and a smooth and creamy texture. Easy-drinking at 5% ABV, expect to see some light bubblegum and candy-like qualities in the taste as well. The leftover kegs are currently at all four ANBL growler stations for growler fills this weekend.

Big Spruce Brewing has brought back the very popular Gimme Citra this week. Brewed in conspiracy with the Bar Stillwell crew, this 4.7% ABV Pale Ale features loads of late hopping exclusively from the Citra varietal, showcasing more in the aroma and flavour than in bitterness (calculated at 36 IBUs). Look for it on tap for growler fills at the brewery and around Cape Breton and Halifax (including tomorrow’s Sausage Fest Sasuage Throwdown and Sausage O’ The Night). Drop by the brewery today for lunch for their Food Truck Friday to grab the assortment of sandwiches prepared with/built to pair with beer, and enjoy some music from their house band, The Asaphs, who go on at 3pm.

• The Antigonish Townhouse recently released a new beer, Old & Bitter. Brewed in the style of an Old Ale, it’s maltier and has a higher bitterness than their regular Best Bitter, which is often pouring at the pub. Also slightly higher in ABV at 5.7%, it was hopped with a higher alpha-acid variety, giving it “more complex, slightly spicy notes” according to the brewery. It ran out just recently, but will be returning in the near future. And next Friday, Sept. 25th, they will be releasing a new experimental beer to celebrate the Antigonight Art After Dark Festival. Incorporating elements of their Best Bitter and the Old & Bitter, expect it to be slightly darker than the two beers on their own, as the Chocolate malt has been increased in the recipe.

• For those looking to expand their knowledge of beer brewing, serving beer, and pairing food with beer, the Atlantic Chapter of CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers) is offering training centered around the Cicerone certification program. Local Certified Cicerone Angeline MacLennan (along with formerly-local Certified Cicerone Tracy Phillippi) developed two courses to prepare students to take and pass the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone exams. Consisting of 4- and 10-week courses, respectively, the course includes information on the history of beer styles, recipe development, caring for draft and bottled beer, and pairing food with beer. The first course launches Tuesday, October 13th, so check out the details and sign up today!

A few parting shots this week: If you haven’t filled your growler with Unfiltered Brewing’s Double Orange Ale yet (or even if you have, and need more), best get down to the brewery *now* to grab it, as it will be out before the end of the day Friday. And look for a special tapping of their core lineup of beers at the James Joyce in Fredericton later in the weekend. The Little Rollin’ Bistro Food Truck set up at Breton Brewing 12-8pm today, who are now also running events throughout the week (Wednesday night 7-11pm is Game Night; Thursday 7-9pm is Trivia Night with wings made with Great Breton sauce, including Sons of Hector Brown Ale). Or, if you are on the other island, drop by Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing for food and music: the Thai Pad Food Truck is set up all day, and drop by after work for free and live music from Al Tuck during their Quittin’ Time Sessions, beginning at 6pm. Don’t forget to check out the Sausage Fest kick-off events at the Olympic Centre tomorrow; check last week’s post for more details. With nine breweries and lots of great food all under one roof, it will sure to be a blast! And be sure to check out the Sausage and Beer Patio Party at Scanway on Wednesday the 23rd. Picaroons’s Harvest Ale series will be hitting the shelves next week. Check their Meet Your Farmer website for information on the folks behind the wet hops used in the seven different beers. And speaking of Picaroons, the latest release of Half Cut‘s Alter Ego (brewed on Picaroons’ pilot system at the Brewtique) is out now, and available at bars around Fredericton. Sea Level has released their 6.5% ABV Hopfazupfa IPA at the brewery today, brewed with local wet hops. And congratulations to North Brewing, who have taken possession of their new 12 hl DME-built brewhouse late last week. The doubling of their brewery capacity is also part of their moving a pilot brewing system into the Battery Park Beer Bar, whose crowdfunding is entering its last couple of weeks. Now, put down your phone, laptop, or raven-delivered scroll, and get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather while it lasts!

It’s Friday again! Things aren’t slowing down much in the way of beer news this month, so we might as well get right to it!

This year’s Halifax Sausage Fest is fast approaching, and as a handful of special beers and a cider are being released in its celebration, we want to share the details:

• Boxing Rock Brewing has released Kerfuffle APA, a 5.2% ABV American Pale Ale. It features MagnumWillamette, and Centennial hop for a bright and fresh hop bitterness and aroma. The hops were sourced from Canadian hop farm Clear Valley Hops, just outside of Collingwood, ON. It is available in growlers now at the brewery, their market stalls at the The Halifax Seaport Market and Alderney Farmers’ Market tomorrow, and on tap at a few spots in Halifax and Lunenburg.

• Bulwark Cider is releasing Hopped Citrus Cider this weekend. The first of its kind in the province, this 6.0% ABV cider uses a special blend of Annapolis Valley apples to complement the hops, and the resultant brew has a distinct citrus character. Cascade and Comet hops make up the majority of the dry-hopping, with some Summit and Hersbrucker as well. The cider is being launched at the Stubborn Goat‘s Sausage & Cider event Sunday (tickets are still available, and will include a pour of the very last keg of Bulwark’s very popular, and long gone, Sour Cherry Cider). Like the Sour Cherry, this will be a limited, draft only release., however, it may return later in the fall in bottles at the NSLC.

• Garrison Brewing is bringing back their Sweet Rye’d Harvest Wheat Ale today, a collaboration with Beau’s All Natural Brewing. Brewed with Munich, Wheat, Rye, and Pale Malt, this copper-coloured beer weighs in at 6.0% ABV, and 40 IBUs, thanks to CitraCascade, and Columbus hops. The fine folks at Beau’s sent down a special ingredient for the brew: bog myrtle (Beau’s uses this in a couple of their beers).  Thanks to this plant, which is a very common ingredient in the bittering of gruits, a more herbaceous and spiced character comes through. Catch this Sweet Rye’d at the brewery, private stores, and the NSLC very soon.

• Propeller Brewing has released Wind Swell Wheat, an American-style Wheat Ale. At 5.5% ABV and 20 IBUs, the beer features Cascade hops for a floral, citrus, and spice notes, and the wheat offers a smooth, approachable finish. The beer is available in 650 ml bottles and growler fills at the brewery, and will be on tap around the city as well.

• The co-flagship events for the Sausage Fest are the Sausage Throwdown (11:00 am – 3:00 pm) and Sausage O’ The Night (5:30-10:00pm), next Saturday, Sept 19th. The $51.75 ticket price includes 12 four ounce samples (with more being available for purchase for $2), a Belgian glass to keep, plus $20 in food allowance to spend at the many great food vendors on-site (including T DOGS, Obladee, Getaway Farm and several more). Breweries taking part are: Big Spruce, Boxing Rock, Bulwark Cider, Gahan House, Garrison, Good Robot, North Brewing, Propeller, Sea Level (afternoon only), and Tatamagouche (evening only).

• During the week, Local Tasting Tours will be running a Sausage Crawl each day (2-4pm, Sunday-Friday, Sept 20-25), visiting multiple stops in the downtown area, with plenty of sausages and/or beer at every stop. Tickets are still available.

• The Sausage Fun continues with the Hops ‘n’ Brats event taking place Friday September 25th, as the kick-off to the Halifax Oktoberfest weekend. For the first time, multiple breweries will be taking part in the German fun: Big Spruce, Boxing Rock, Breton Brewing, Bulwark Cider, Gahan House, Good Robot, Meander River, Propeller, and Rare Bird. The Brats will be courtesy of Harbourstone, Scanway and T-Dogs. The event is from 5-11pm at the Sands on Salter location on the Halifax Waterfront, with tickets now available. Your $16 entry includes a sampling cup to keep and five drink tickets (with additional samples available at $2 each). We know of a couple special casks being put together for this event, including a pin of dry-hopped-wet-hops Hefeweizen from Garrison.

• In other new brews from the above breweries, look for the Boxing Rock & North Brewing collaboration Many Hands Pale Ale (version 3.0) out this week. This annual celebration of local wet hops was brewed with this year’s harvest from North brewer Josh Herbin’s Lazy Acres farm in the Valley. More than 35 kilos of fresh-picked CascadeChinook, and Willamette organic hops went in at all stages of the brewday, for a floral aroma and mild bitterness. This 5.6% ABV beer is available at the Boxing Rock brewery, as well as both Boxing Rock and North’s market booths, and on tap around Halifax, but for a limited time only.

• Propeller Brewing has released this year’s Nocturne Lager, in celebration of the Nocturne: Art at Night event, scheduled for October 17. A 4.8% Munich Dunkel (Dark Lager), it features rich and malty flavours, balanced with traditional German Noble hops. It is available now at both the Halifax and Dartmouth breweries, as well as the private stores shortly.

• Switching gears from the Sausage Fest, Big Axe has just released a new IPA at their brewery/taproom in Nackawic. Therapy Session IPA comes in at an easy-drinking 5.2% ABV, and is single-hopped with Topaz, an Australian variety that can exhibit characteristics of lychee, tangerine, citrus, and resin. The calculated IBUs are about 50, so expect a firm bitterness in the finish of this deep gold-coloured beer. It should also be on tap at the Saint John Ale House soon, and likely at the James Joyce and 540 Kitchen & Bar in Fredericton shortly.

• Over in Cape Breton, Big Spruce announced the release of a new beer… sort of. Ivana Drinkalot is an American IPA that came into existence quite accidentally, during a planned brew day of Big Spruce’s Crazy Ivan DIPA. Due to a slight miscalculation when scaling up the batch size, the beer came in at a lower OG (original gravity). A bag of Munich malt was also missed in the batch, so owner/brewer Jeremy White decided to roll with it, and completely changed the dry-hop! Details on WHICH hop(s) was/were used here are being kept a secret, but the brewery describes the new beer as “deeply aromatic”, with “lots of gooey hop flavour”. It weighs in at 7.1% ABV and 89 IBUs; it’s available now at the brewery, and should follow soon at Halifax’s Bar Stillwell and the Stubborn Goat.

Picaroons will soon be releasing their annual Harvest Ale, their 5.5%-ABV British-style Pale Ale that features several batches, all hopped with a different, locally-harvested variety. This year, there are six different batches, all single-hopped with one of the following varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Crystal, Goldings, or Nugget. When the beer is released later this month, each bottle will have a four-digit code that signifies which hop was used, and where the hop was cultivated (farms include three from NB, two from NS, and one from PEI); that info can be obtained online. Look for the beer to be released in 2-3 weeks!

• The PEI Beer Fest begins tonight with a 6:30-9:30pm session, continuing with an afternoon (2-4:30pm) and evening (6:30-9:30pm) session tomorrow. The Fest will feature more than 75 beers from around the world, including several Atlantic Canadian breweries. The beer list can be viewed on their site, and they have encouraged special one-off casks from the local breweries. Upstreet Craft Brewing will be pouring a pair of them: Friday evening, they will be serving Do-Wooder, a cask of their Do-Gooder American Pale Ale, aged with oak cubes for 1 month and double dry-hopped with Amarillo. Citrusy and malty but with a dry finish from the oak. Saturday, they will be serving Poppa Haskap, a pin of their Commons Pilsner, refermented with 5lbs of local Haskap berries. A refreshing, tart beer, but with the colour of a red wine. PEI Brewing Company will also be pouring a few casks during the fest, though the details on those are not yet available.

• There’s a new event coming soon from the Moncton Beer League – the Urban Beer Hike will take place on Saturday, September 26th from 2:30 – 5:30 pm. Featuring a walking tour of several of Moncton’s beer-drinking locations (including Marky’s, Plan b, St. James’ Gate, The Old Triangle, and the Pump House Brewpub), each stop will include two or three 4 oz beer samples, as well as various food items. Tickets ($49 each) are available now on the event page; attendees will be meeting at 2:15 pm at Marky’s to begin the tour.

• In other tasting news, the Ladies Beer League is partnering with Bishop’s Cellar to hold a craft beer and food pairing on Friday, Sept. 25th from 5-7 pm. Tickets are $20 each and are available online. They will be pairing a wide variety of beers with chef-prepared bites.

• The ANBL is marking the one-year anniversary of their growler program this weekend. While they have been hinting at expanded locations for months, it is still only in four locations: Dieppe, Fredericton, Kennebecasis Valley and Sackville. To celebrate, they will be giving away free growlers to the first 100 customers looking for a fill at each of the locations tomorrow. While most brewers we’ve spoken to have had positive experiences with the program, there is much room for improvement. The fact that this week’s offerings at the fill stations are not from New Brunswick, and two of the three are from multi-national brewing conglomerates, illustrate the fact that there are many improvements still needed to the program. Be sure to let the ANBL know your feelings and suggestions for improvement.

Be sure to grab some of the other great new beers out this week. Upstreet and Boxing Rock’s Rumble in the Alley: Round 1 is available now in Charlottetown, as well as the last few kegs of Upstreet’s White Noize White IPA (but don’t worry, there’s more on its way, as it was rebrewed last week). PEI Brewing has released their Vic Park Pale Ale, Citra version in cans, now at the brewery, and at the PEILCC shortly. Coming soon will also be the Rogues Roost IPA in cans, and Hell Street Barrel-aged Doppelbock. Savoie’s Brewhouse is already looking to expand from their 20 gallon system; they’ve built a new fermentation room to increase space, and are hoping to more than double their capacity soon (to 45 gallons). Finally, the James Joyce in Fredericton will soon be expanding their tap selection, as they’re adding another 6 lines to their system, bringing the total to 24! Look for even more NB beers (and beyond) to be available at the Joyce within the next week. And watch this spot for details on the many other wet-hop and harvest beers brewed around our region, including BarNone, Big Tide, Uncle Leo’s, and Unfiltered.

Good morning, and welcome to the start of the long weekend! Before diving into cottage-time, family-time – whatever you have planned, as long as it involves some good beer! – let’s get cracking at a big pile of beer news…

• Cider lovers, we have some good news! This fall will bring the first Fredericton Cider Festival on Saturday, October 24th. Brought to you by those behind the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, the afternoon event will be held at Brewbakers in downtown Fredericton, and will feature unlimited tasting (4 oz pours) of up to 30 different ciders. With several local craft cideries attending (including New Brunswick’s Red Rover, Scow Craft Cider, and Gagetown Cider Co.), as well as other big brands, there will be plenty of different offerings to sample! There are two ticket options: regular tickets ($56.50) will get you a tasting glass and unlimited pours from 1-4 pm, while a limited number of VIP tickets ($65) will allow for early entry at noon, plus a special information session on cider production. The event will be held outdoors on Brewbakers’ partially-covered deck; food from the restaurant will also be available for purchase. Attendees can expect to see some extra-special products at the fest, quite-possibly including New Brunswick’s first exposure to cask cider! Tickets go on sale online today at noon. We’ll have more info on the festival, soon!

Unfiltered Brewing has a new beer out today, starting from their opening at noon. Double Orange Ale is a 7.5% ABV SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) beer featuring 2-Row Malt and Citra hops. Despite the rather low-lovibond colouring inherent in 2-Row Malt, the final beer colour is a beautiful orange, thanks to some special Nash-magic during the brewday. The beer is calculated at over 100 IBUs for bitterness, but the hops mostly shine through in a big, bold, and juicy aroma and flavour, without being brashly bitter. Pick up the beer in growlers at their North St location, or look for it on tap at bars and restaurants around the city.

Flying Boats has released a new beer, Penny Wreck ESB. This moderate-strength (5.5% ABV) Extra Special Bitter exhibits a “significant caramel malt sweetness” with plenty of “biscuity, toasty, nutty malt character”, according to the brewery. Hopped to 37 IBUs with Warrior and Willamette (with some added later in the boil for flavour), it’s named after an incident in the late 19th-century, where a CPR train carrying 900,000 pennies derailed just outside of Dorchester, NB on its way to Montreal. You can currently find the beer on tap at Ducky’s in Sackville. And congrats to Flying Boats on their official launch party last night at Marky’s Laundromat in Moncton!

Garrison Brewing released their three-way collaboration beer last night, Not So Gentle Tickle, brewed in early August when the folks from Metalman Brewing in Waterford City, Ireland and Great Lakes Brewery in Toronto were in town for the Halifax Seaport Beerfest. This 7.0% IPA was brewed with loads of whole leaf AmarilloCitra, and Columbus hops throughout the boil, whirlpool, and with a generous dry-hop charge as well, for a 55 IBU final product. The hops give the beer a citrus, floral, and grassy aroma, and help to enhance the pleasant bitterness. A bit of Wheat and Carapils malts, along with the Pale Ale base malt, give the beer an orange hue with a vibrant and persistent head. Grab the Tickle on tap and in 650 ml bottles at the brewery and around Halifax now.

• And speaking of Garrison, more details have been released for their Hops ‘n’ Brats event taking place September 25th in collaboration with the Sausage Fest folks, and as the first event in the Halifax Oktoberfest weekend. Joining Garrison for the Hops at the event are Big Spruce, Boxing Rock, Breton, Bulwark Cider, Gahan House, Good Robot, Meander River, Propeller, and Rare Bird. The Brats will be courtesy of Harbourstone, Scanway and T-Dogs. The event is from 5-11pm at the Sands on Salter location on the Halifax Waterfront, with tickets now available. Your $16 entry includes a sampling cup to keep and five drink tickets (with additional samples available at $2 each).

• As the hop harvest season continues to get underway, more wet-hopped beers are appearing in our region. Railcar will soon be releasing their wet-hopped Harvest Ale, featuring fresh Goldings hops from Southan Farms in Wicklow. Hopped throughout the boil to 68 IBUs, this 6.2% ABV beer will be released on Saturday, September 19th at the brewery’s Corn Boil, from 1-6 pm. Railcar has also begun a Community Supported Brewing program; there are several levels to buy into, each with varying “rewards”, including beer credit in their retail store and tasting room, glassware, brewery tours, and even the chance to shadow a brew day at the brewery. The program will be running until the end of September.

• In more harvesting news, Horton Ridge Malt & Grain did some of their own this week. Organic Hazlet and Danko varietals of rye were collected, and will be stored, tested for viability, and malted once the Malt House construction is completed later this year. The three-step malting process will happen in their building, with the steeping (wetting) of the grain, germination (preparing enzymes and starches for conversion in the mash), and kilning (drying and possibly roasting for flavour and colour). The malt house will be two floors, each of 316 m² (3400 square feet), for the floor malting process. The key malting equipment will be built by local crafts people whenever possible. In addition to their own grain, they will be malting grain from other organic farmers in the region, and, if necessary, meeting demand with western organic grain until the local supply is sufficient. They are looking forward to their first runs in December 2015, and supplying the local commercial and homebrewing communities. Be sure to follow along on their Twitter feed for updates on their progress, and we look forward to visiting when the building it completed.

Schoolhouse Brewery also did some harvesting of their hops this week. Along with other local farmers’ wares, they will be doing a series of three 100% Maritimes-sourced brews, in keeping with their philosophy of using local ingredients whenever possible. While the exact beers have not yet been decided, they do have some ideas for the special release of them. They will be sold in half-cases of 750 ml bottles (two of each style), in December. They will be orderable from their website, and available through their Growler Bus delivery (which may also be available in Halifax for this special release). Stay tuned for more beer details!

Pump House brewed the second iteration of their Stonefire Ale yesterday. Originally brewed last year to celebrate their 15th Anniversary, the 2015 edition has had the recipe “tweaked slightly” by the head brewer. A Stein Beer, it was brewed by immersing extremely-hot stones into the wort, which not only brings it to the necessary boil, but caramelizes the sugars in the process. The beer should be released in bottles by the end of October; we’ll have more information on the recipe changes at that time. For more info on last year’s release, check out our previous post. And in other Pump House news, they plan on releasing a new IPA in the near future; stay tuned for details!

Big Axe has just released a new Fruit Beer, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, to celebrate the end of the summer harvest season. With a grist that includes dark Crystal malts and toasted Wheat, the beer was moderately-hopped (to 22 IBUs) to provide some aroma to blend with the caramel flavours from the malts. The real experience in this light-brown ale, however, comes from the addition of 10 lbs of local strawberries, and freshly-picked rhubarb, giving an aroma of “strawberry ganache”, according to the brewery. It weighs in at 5.5% ABV, and should be available now at the brewery’s tasting room, and soon on tap at Big Axe accounts.

• Over in Truro, The Nook and Cranny brewpub has released a new beer, White IPA. A style that combines the fruity esters and spicy phenolics of a Belgian Witbier with the fruity/citrusy hop aromas and flavours (and high bitterness) of an American IPA, this batch was hopped (and dry-hopped) with Cascade and Centennial to 42 IBUs, and fermented with Abbaye yeast to give it those classic Belgian characteristics. Drop by to grab a pint today!

• A new brewery in the development stage is looking to hire a head brewer! High Tide Brewery, based in Truro, is looking for a Head Brewer for their upcoming 15 BBL (17.5 hL) brewhouse. They are looking for someone immediately for their input and expertise on equipment choice and purchase; ideas for recipe and style choices are also welcome. Investment and partnership opportunities are available, as is an equity bonus program. Check out the ad at brewingwork.com for more details, and apply before the Sept 11 deadline.

Enjoy the long weekend! BarNone Brewing‘s latest batch of IPA is out now, and has been nicknamed the “Broken Scale” IPA, and features a big juicy nose from generous hop additions throughout the process. Halifax’s Gahan House Pub has a new beer on tap, the White Rhino Belgian IPA, weighing in at 6.7% ABV and a solid 55 IBUs. PEI Brewing Company has released their Harvest Time Lager, a 4.0% Golden Lager, and the Harvest Four-Pack (featuring it, the Sir John A’s Honey Wheat, Blueberry Wheat Ale, and Black Banks Cascadian Dark Ale) is available at both the PEILCC and ANBL.

And don’t forget to head out to some of the great events happening in our region this weekend: Oktoberfest des Acadiens is happening now until Sunday in Bertrand, NB; Big Spruce and Breton Brewing are both hosting Food Truck Friday events at their breweries today (Cape Breton Brewery Crawl, anyone?); Upstreet in Charlottetown is holding their Block Party starting at noon tomorrow, to celebrate the release of their collaboration brew with Boxing Rock; or if you’re in Nova Scotia, maybe visit Meander River Saturday morning to help harvest their hops? Check their Twitter or Facebook feed for potential scheduling changes.

brewery sign

Our Maine Beer Weekend continues! After a lovely beer dinner and evening at the Stratton Brook Hut, we headed East to The Forks, a town with a year-round population of 35 people… and 6 bars! It is also the home of Northern Outdoors, an adventure resort open year-round for people visiting for Appalachian Trail thru-hikes, fishing, hunting, ATV, biking, snowmobiling, and of course, white water rafting. Opened in 1976, they were the first company to offer guided rafting in the region. Their lodging facilities range from hotel rooms in the main lodge, beautiful large private cabins (each with room for 8-14 people), smaller cabins for couples, Logdominium units (a condo-type building with large open loft rooms with sleeping for up to 6), plus permanent “cabin tents” and spots to set up your own tent or RV.

taps

We arrived a little too early in the day to check in, but were happy to take a breather in the main lodge, log onto the free wifi, and do some exploring. The resort has a large pond to kayak in, a pool, hot tub, a gift shop, an arcade, and a beautiful fireplace that would keep guests warm in the winter. There are trails on the grounds, and we were given a list and directions to some nearby waterfalls and other hikes worth doing. After our excursion, it was time for a beer! We ordered the sampler tray of their current offerings, and headed out to deck to enjoy the beautiful weather and a game of cornhole. The eight beers available during our visit were: Deer In the HeadLite, a 4.1% ABV light lager brewed as a gateway beer for those new to full flavoured beers; Whitewater Wheat, a 5.2% ABV Witbier with light coriander and orange flavours, characteristic of the Belgian originals; Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale, a very drinkable 4.9% Pale Ale with Cascade hops and lemon zest; Big Mama Blueberry, a 4.8% golden ale with a touch of blueberry flavour; Bawston Bock, a 7.2% Maibock beer; Magic Hole IPA, a 6.0% ABV hoppy and bitter IPA, complete with dry hops; Sled Head Red, a 5.2% malt-forward Red Ale with a very smooth character; Class V Stout, a 5.6% roasty stout served on nitrogen, for a creamy texture. All were very well made, and definitely thirst-quenching.

sampler

The Kennebec River Brewery is actually located in the basement of the main lodge. The 4 barrel (5 hl) system was commissioned in 1996, and has been going great guns ever since, serving the pub upstairs for onsite pints, and growlers to go. All of their beer is unfiltered, and keg conditioned, for a very smooth and flavourful end product. They also feature whole leaf hops and local ingredients whenever possible (in fact, they have been growing hops onsite for a few years now). We spotted some bags of Maine Malt House in the brewery, destined for the next batch of Let ‘Er Drift Summer Ale. Brewer Mike McConnell was nice enough to sit and have a drink with us, after returning from that day’s Kennebec River run. He was a very nice guy, dedicated to bringing quality craft beer to the area. He has been with Northern Outdoors for many years, after starting brewing in Rhode Island more than 20 years ago. In addition to brewing, also leads rafting tours, and grooms the snowmobile trails in the winter. He does it all!

fermenters

Erin was a little nervous to do the rafting trip the next day but Mike did his best to assure her she would love it (and she did!). Mike took Chris down to the brewery and showed him around, and gave a great overview of his brewing philosophy. Some of his special one-offs brews, including a Hazelnut Brown and Bourbon Vanilla Porter have us feeling like we’ll need to return in the cooler months! In a town with a population of only 35, they still manage to go through lots of beer year-round!

burger and beer

After talking with Mike, we grabbed a bit of supper. They have a wide variety of pub and finer fare, with the ability to build your own burger from scratch. Several of their dishes are prepared using their beer, and pairing notes are found throughout the menu. After supper, we decided to check into our Logdominium. The building is similar to a motel: a large building with separate units, and parking right at your front door. However, the inside atmosphere is much like a log cabin, with exposed wood. It was very roomy and perfect for a family or group of 6. The downstairs had a kitchenette with stove and fridge (perfect for keeping a Kennebec growler cool) and a picnic table style dining area, a couch and chairs, a double bed, and a bathroom. The stairs lead to a loft area with another single and double bed.

logdominium

After a great night sleep, we had a very light breakfast (so that we didn’t lose it on the river!), and headed on our rafting adventure. After a quick briefing in the main lodge, we took the 40 minute bus ride to the launch site on the Kennebec River. We launched right below Harris Station dam, which has a daily timed release of water. For those more adventurous (maybe our next trip?), there are high Turbine Test Days at Harris Station, as well as rafting on the Penobscot and Dead rivers, which offer more Class IV and IV+ rafting. Today on the Kennebec, there were 17 rafts in all, with more than 100 people on the river. Our awesome rafting guide named Emily was very knowledgeable and capable, and we were joined by a lovely family of five from Boston, who had done this trip before and had come back because they loved it so much.

For the first hour on the river, we hit some great and exciting white water and all managed to get soaked. No one fell out of the raft, but there were certainly some tense moments. We then stopped along the riverside for lunch, with the guides BBQing up steak, chicken, and veggies options everyone, along with a great rice side. They also served lemonade, ice tea, cowboy coffee, with fresh-baked cookies for dessert. It was such a beautiful day, we’d all dried quickly, so some people got in the water for a quick swim before we got back on the water.

rafting

With full bellies, we hit the water again and this time, each raft towed behind it a two-person inflatable kayak. We took turns taking the kayak out by ourselves, to test our river mettle. The current was strong that there wasn’t much work to do. However, we did manage to tip the kayak over (oops!), but the dunk in the drink was refreshing. Along this quieter part of the Kennebec, many of us hopped out of the raft (on purpose this time!), and floated alongside the raft.  All along this whole trip, a pair of videographers in kayaks were documenting our day, and photographers were at various points on the river to capture pictures of the rafters. Once the river ride was over, we all hoisted our rafts up the bank, and loaded into the bus for the short five minute ride back to the resort.

After a fun look at the pictures and videos captured from our day on the river, we had a great visit with Russell Walters, President of Northern Outdoors. He hails originally from the U.K., and first visited and worked with Northern Outdoors in the 1980’s as a river guide. After a stint elsewhere, he joined the Northern Outdoors family in 2000 because of his love of the outdoors and the year-round adventure opportunities. He was a great guy who really believes in unplugging, spending time with family, and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. He still guides rafts occasionally, to return to the passion that brought him to the region.

Thanks very much to Russell, Mike, and the entire Northern Outdoors crew! We had a great time on the river (and at the bar!), and are looking forward to a return visit soon. Be sure to check out their October 3rd Octoberfest Raft ‘n Brews event, which marks the last running on the Dead River for 2015, a BBQ cookout after the river run, and $3 Octoberfest pints all day, and live entertainment that evening.

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Our Maine Beer Weekend continues! After a busy Friday night in Bangor, we hit the road for the Carrabessett Valley Saturday morning. Our destination tonight was the Stratton Brook Hut, part of the Maine Huts & Trails network. On our way there, we passed along the outskirts of Skowhegan, and spotted a sign for Oak Pond Brewing, so of course we had to stop!

Oak Pond

Brewer Adam Chandler was working that day, but took the time to share a few samples with us, and tell us about the brewery. The brewey opened in 1996, with the current owners now in their 12th year of operation. Operating on a 14 BBL (16 hl) brewhouse from DME, they offer both ales and lagers for sale at the brewery and bars across the state.  They also do a brisk growler and keg business, as witnessed by the many visitors we spotted this Saturday afternoon.

oak pond brewhouse

We sampled the Nut Brown Ale, Skowhegan India Pale Lager onsite, and grabbed a bottle of the Storyteller Doppelbock to go. The brewery is open M-F 3-5:30pm, and Sat 12:30-5:30pm, and they are happy to lead a tour of their facilities at any time (except Monday, which is their brewday). Their motto is a great one: Try it ’cause it’s local… drink it ’cause it’s good! FYI, they are cash only, so come prepared. We weren’t, but Adam was gracious enough to accept some Canadian cash instead. 🙂

trailhead

Back on the road, we arrived and parked at the trailhead for the Stratton Brook Hut, just across Highway 27 from Mountainside Grocers and the entrance to Sugarloaf ski hill. We were setting off on our hike at the same time as a delightful lady named Donna, and so we hiked together. As Donna had stayed at this hut before, she shared her previous experience with us, and was looking forward to a return visit. There are two trails up to the Hut from this trailhead. On our way up, we chose the 5km Oak Knoll Trail and as the hill is quite steep, there were plenty of switchbacks. The walk up was completely enjoyable and could be completed by those of varying skill level, though novices may require a break or two. It was well suited to mountain biking, with carved turns, and we did spot of few bikers along the way. It also happened to be the day of the Baxter Brewing Duathlon, featuring 50 entrants biking 15km and then running 10km along the trail system.

hut beers

When we reached the summit, there was one thing on our minds, A NICE COLD BEER! And lucky for us, they had a great list of local beers for us to try. After Megan and Alex (the full-time staff at the hut this summer) checked us in, we slugged back an Allagash White and Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale. Our first impression of the “hut” was that this was no hut! Built in 2012, it was very well-appointed: The main building featured family-sized dining tables, suitable for 40 people, as well as a cozy lounge area with leather armchairs, sofas and two wood stoves. It also featured hot showers (and cold ones too, perfect after our hike up!). As they are open year-round, the wood stoves would be a welcome sight to a chilly climber or cross-country skier. At the reception counter, they also have a large selection of hot drinks, snacks, and any camping/sleeping accessories one may have forgotten to bring. Lunch was prepared fresh and available 11:30-1:30pm to guests, whether there only for the day, or overnight. There were fresh flowers everywhere and we later learned these were picked from both employee homes and along the trail up to the hut.

hut fireplace

We made our way to our bunkroom and dropped our things. Our room had only one light and a bunk bed (folks are asked to bring their own bed linen), but it was very clean and roomy enough for us. Maine Huts and Trails prides themselves on being environmentally-responsible and urge you to leave electronic devices home and/or ensure they are charged before-hand. The washrooms have composting toilets and timed showers in an effort to reduce waste and save water. There are solar panels outside and there are signs everywhere that read “Pack in, pack out” referring to encouraging minimal garbage and reducing refuse.

pan1_stitch

After taking a short walk to Vista Point to view a lookoff, and spending some time in the lounge tasting a couple more beers (for R&D of course!), we got ready for that nights event. It was a chef-prepared, 4 course meal using as much local fare as possible paired with Baxter beers. We got an introduction of each course and to each beer by Chef Jarod Frigon and Baxter Brewing‘s Director of Brewing Operations Ben Low, and Brewer Matty Johanes, respectively. We were lucky to be seated at the table with folks from both Maine Huts & Trails and Baxter Brewing, and everyone was warm and friendly and handled our incessant questions admirably.

dinner1

Our first course was several breads, cheeses, roasted tomatoes, fresh basil, and caramelized onions served buffet style. The vegetables and herbs were grown and harvested from around the huts. The first beer was Pamola Xtra Pale Ale, a 4.9% ABV APA whose hoppy aroma and bitterness worked well with the onions and basil.

dinner2

The second course was a salad with fresh greens and raspberries, both picked at the huts. It also had goat cheese, slivered almonds and pears poached in red wine. The second beer was Summer Swelter, a 4.7% ABV unfiltered ale with kaffir lime leaves and lots of citrus notes.

dinner3

Our third course was chicken pieces that were brined overnight and roasted root vegetables including: carrots in a sweet glaze, white turnips, and beets. There were also “smashed” potatoes which were roasted potatoes that had been smashed flat, seasoned and roasted a second time to crisp them. The murmers around the now-quiet table were in agreement that everything was delicious! The third pairing was a two-fer, as the brewers wanted to enhance the caramel and malt character from the Tarnation California Common beer, and use the hop bitterness from the Stowaway IPA to cut.

dinner4

Our final course was a brownie topped with chocolate mousse and homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream. There was also homemade raspberry coulis and a garnish of pecans candied in brown sugar with a hint of cayenne pepper. Our fourth and favourite beer of the dinner was their Munich Dunkel infused with Ethiopian Harrar Coffee. A perfect note to end on!

chef and assistants

A big thanks to Chef Frigon and his sous chefs for the evening! While dinner was being cleaned up, some folks chose to retire for the night but the folks that stayed were treated to an intimate performance by Megan, who with Alex, are members of the band Exit Glaciers. Afterwards, a combination of the hike, the beers, the large supper and the soft music had everyone in bed at a decent time.

The next morning, breakfast was served promptly at 7:30 am and it was fantastic. There was expertly cooked bacon, scrambled and seasoned eggs and homemade flaxseed biscuits that were extraordinary. We then showered, packed up and headed down the hill, but this time on the Newton’s Revenge trail, for a change in scenery. We’d been surprised at what a great evening we’d had and headed excitedly towards The Forks for our next adventure, at Northern Outdoors. Stay tuned tomorrow for part four of our Maine Beer Weekend adventure!

Thanks very much to Maine Huts & Trails for having us for the event. MHT is a non-profit organization that manages four backcountry eco-lodges (with several more coming soon), and more than 100 km of multi-use, year-round trails. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and skiing are the most common way to travel to, and between, the huts. The huts are open year-round, with full services available in the summer and winter, with staff preparing hot cooked meals (supper, breakfast and a self-prepared trail lunch is included in the overnight stay rate). In the spring and fall, the huts are self-service, with guests packing in their own food, and have access to the commercial kitchen. More details are available on their website. They are holding guided hikes, bikes, paddling, photographic and bird watching tours throughout the fall, with several events happening each week. Of particular interest are the 3rd Annual Harvest at the Hut dinner, coming September 19th at the Stratton Brook Hut.

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Welcome to our second Maine Beer Weekend post! We hope you enjoyed our first post, focusing on Geaghan’s Pub and Brewery on Main Street in Bangor. Today’s post is a continuation of our evening in Bangor, when we hopped on The Growler Bus and visited three breweries in the Bangor area.

Growler Bus

The Growler Bus launched earlier this year, as a way to promote and highlight the great breweries and bars in Bangor and the surrounding region. It is owned and operated by One Man Beer Army Gene Beck, the owner of the very popular Nocturnem Draft Haus, and who is also to thank for establishing the outstanding beer variety at Swett’s Hogan Road Deli & Convenience aka That Citgo with the Killer Beer Selection. The Growler Bus is a souped up 14-seater limo bus, complete with a high quality speaker system, comfortable seating, and a knowledgeable driver (tonight, Gene himself was behind the wheel). They operate several tours each week, visiting Bangor region breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Or, the bus is available for private hire for wedding parties, graduations, and any other excuse to get together for a beer road-trip. They are happy to design a custom trip for your group, to accommodate your every Maine beer desire.

Tonight’s tour was the “Local Round Up”, starting at the Nocturnem Draft Haus, heading to Geaghan Brothers’ production brewery, Orono Brewing Company, and Black Bear Brewery. Each brewery visit was about 60 minutes, allowing enough time for a tour of their facilities, a handful of samples (included in the tour price), maybe a game of cornhole (a Maine brewery staple, we’ve noticed!), plus shopping for bottles/growlers and brewery swag.

nocturnem beer list

Nocturnem Draft Haus opened in 2011, bringing a wide variety of local and afar craft beer to Bangor. They feature more than a dozen taps (updating their online draft list daily), a couple hundred bottles, as well as a rotating cask and Lambic-dedicated line. More than half of the taps feature Maine beers, making them a great choice for an out-of-state visitor to try some local craft beers, with the balance of the beers highlighting New England, other US states, and European offerings. They frequently hold tap takeovers of local breweries, and offer food cooked, and to pair, with beer.

GeaghansBigBrewery

After a warm-up beer at Nocturnem, our first stop was the new Geaghan Brothers’ production brewery in Brewer, just across the Penobscot River from Geaghan’s Pub. It was opened earlier this year to keep up with the great demand for their beer at the Pub and external distribution. This 20BBL (23.5 hl) custom-built Tigpro system allows them greater flexibility to sell kegs to accounts outside of Bangor (GBB is now available in bars and restaurants from Calais to Fort Kent), and has also allowed them to bottle product. Their Smiling Irish Bastard APA is available in six-packs, and they have just released a mixed “Queen City Sampler” 12-pack, featuring the Bangor Brown Ale, Lineman Pale AlePresque Isle Honey Blonde Ale, and Smiling Irish Bastard APA. The production brewery also supplies Geaghan’s Pub with their core brands, relieving some pressure, and allowing the smaller brewery to explore new seasonals and unique styles. Assistant Brewer Brian Sturgeon and Cellar Tech Forrest Brown were on hand to tour us around their brewhouse, and answer any questions we had.

OronoBrewhouse

After a handful of samples at Geaghan’s, we hopped back on the bus for the drive to Orono. Thankfully, with a limo license, we were able to enjoy even more local bevvies on our trip north, so it passed by in a flash. Once in town, we stopped by Orono Brewing Company, located at 20 Main Street in a brick building dating from 1848. Opened in December 2014, this young brewery uses a 4 BBL (4.7 hl) Stout brewhouse to produce a wide variety of different brews. Brewmaster Asa Marsh-Sachs has full control of the styles and ingredients used in the beers, with the only limit being his creativity (and we don’t think there is any!).

OronoBeers

Co-owner Abe Furth was on hand to give us a tour of the brewery, while we enjoyed samples of their ten offerings, which included a pair of Saisons, two IPAs (the Habanero Lemon IPA was a personal favourite), and two nitro beers (White Nitro Cream Ale and Woodman’s Nitro Red). The Tap Room is open daily for visitors, and they offer lots of swag, and growlers of their beer to go. OBC’s beers are also available across Main Street at Woodman’s Bar and Grill and a handful of other local bars and restaurants. They recently brewed up their 100th batch of beer, and their Ozone IPA won Best Beer of the Tap Into Summer Beerfest earlier this summer.

BlackBearBrewery

Our next stop was just across Mill Street, to the Black Bear Microbrewery. Their 10BBL (12 hl) brewhouse opened in 2008, and they opened their Tap Room in 2013, where they feature live music and food (including brick oven pizza from the nearby Bear Brew Pub). During our visit, they had nine different beers on tap, including the tasty Lil’ S.I.P.A. Session IPA, and Liquid Sunshine Hefeweizen, both great lighter beers fit for a summer’s night. Black Bear beers are available on tap at bars and restaurants across Maine. Their tap room is open M-W 3-10pm, R-F 3-11pm, and Sat 2-11pm for pints, growlers, and kegs to go.

BlackBearBeers

After enjoying our pizza and beer, it was time to head back home to Bangor. A night cap at Nocturnem marked the end of our first day in Maine, but there was lots more fun to be had during the weekend, as Saturday meant a hike into the Stratton Brook Hut for a Brews & Views pairing thanks to Huts & Trails and Baxter Brewing, and then onto The Forks for a visit to the brewpub and a rafting trip down the Kennebec River with Northern Outdoors.

Thanks to the great hospitality of Gene, Lisa, Abe, and everyone we encountered on the Growler Bus Tour!

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