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All posts for the month December, 2015

Welcome to another early-post week! Things have slowed down, understandably, over the last week, but there’s still some action in the beer world that we wanted to be sure you were all updated on…

• Moncton’s newest brewery, Bore City Brewing, has announced that they have received their license to brew, and hope to have beer flowing by mid-to-late January, 2016. Founders Jamie Melanson, Stéphane Cormier (head brewer), and Denis Babineau (assistant brewer) plan on releasing three initial beers: Mondo, a 6.8% ABV American IPA; Spacetime Odyssey, a 6% ABV American Porter brewed with Galaxy hops; and Marécage, a 7% ABV Belgian-style Saison that features clove and pepper in the aroma and flavour. We’ll be talking with them soon for a Q&A; in the meantime, follow them on their Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates!

Boxing Rock welcomed some of the crew from Upstreet to their home in Shelburne on Tuesday for a special storm-day brew. The second collaboration beer for these two breweries, Rumble in the Alley: Round II, is described as a SMaSH (single-malt and single-hop) Extra Special Bitter. The grist was made up entirely of Munich malt (one of the very few “specialty malts” that can be used on its own, it provides an enjoyable bready character to beer), with the Santiam hop being featured. Chosen for the floral and lemon qualities it imparts, according to Upstreet brewer Mike Hogan, it should nicely complement the fruity esters that will likely be found in the beer as well, thanks to the English yeast strain chosen for fermentation. Round II should come in at about 6% ABV and 45 IBUs; this one will be released by Boxing Rock, and should hit regular tap accounts in the near future (with the possibility of a bottle release as well).

• Sticking with news from Shelburne, Boxing Rock has released Porter this week, Sunken Ledge. Named after a shoal in Shelburne Harbour, this 5% ABV, 21 IBUs beer’s grain bill uses a Scottish Golden Promise base with darker malts for colour and flavour of chocolate, coffee and molasses. The beer features a medium body, smooth mouthfeel, and light carbonation for a truly inviting drink. It is available on tap and in bottles at the brewery now, at the Seaport and Alderney Landing Farmers’ Markets this weekend (including today’s NYE market), and at the NSLC and private stores next week.

Grimross brewed up a new experimental beer earlier this week. This currently unnamed “Rye Session Ale” was an excuse for brewmaster/owner Stephen Dixon to use two boxes of recently-purchased Tangelos. Similar in taste to a tangerine, the juice was added to the wort at the end of the boil, with the zest added during secondary fermentation for extra aroma and flavour. With a light grist containing a percentage of Rye malt, the beer was fermented with two yeast strains, a neutral American strain and a Belgian Saison strain. Hopped lightly to 23 IBUs with Waimea (a New Zealand variety chosen by Dixon due to its rumoured Tangelo character that it adds), the beer should come in at a sessionable 4.5% ABV. We’ll keep you updated on its release over the next few weeks.

• PEI Brewing Co. has a few re-brews coming down the pipeline this winter. They recently brewed up another batch of their Black Banks Cascadian Dark Ale which should be available on tap and in cans by late January; this batch was hopped with AmarilloNelson Sauvin, and Galaxy, all of which provide plenty of tropical aromas and flavours. The very popular ReAnimator Doppelbock will be brewed very soon, and available after an appropriate lagering phase. This beer is also the base to the Hell Street Barrel-Aged Doppelbock, so good news for lovers of that seasonal, which will return in the fall. Late winter/early spring will see the next release of their large-scale barrel program, currently aging in Jack Daniels barrels in the brewery. All of these (and many more!) are part of PEIBC’s ambitious goal of releasing a new beer every month at the brewery and Gahan House in Charlottetown. Some will be test brews for future wide-release and packaged beers, so be sure to follow along on their Social Media pages for those details, and give them feedback as to which you would like to see again in wider release.

• And staying on the Island, Murphy’s Community Centre at 200 Richmond St has recently totally renovated their lounge and bowling centre. Now called The Alley – 200 Richmond, is now serving up craft beer from all three island craft breweries; BarNone, PEI Brewing, and Upstreet. To celebrate, they will be hosting a Brewer’s Ball: Balls Unleashed on January 30th. Beginning at 8pm, brewers, owners, supporters, and employees from each of the three breweries will be competing in a friendly tournament. The professionals will also be joined by members of the PEI Aleanders, the PEI homebrewing and beer appreciation group. There is room for the public to join in the fun as well, as all three local breweries’ beers will be flowing, food service available, with entertainment that evening. Be sure to drop by 200 Richmond Street for a great night of bowling and brews!

• Another friend of PEI beers and breweries is Baba’s Lounge. Beginning Jan 3, PEIBeerGuy will be hosting a Sunday Trivia night at the lounge, from 8-10pm. Enjoy specials on pints, beer (and other) trivia, and the trivia-exclusive $10 Shawarma Nachos, perfect for sharing. There are prizes for the weekly winners, with possibly some giveaways from the breweries for all attendees. A great excuse to shake off the New Year’s hangover, and enjoy some (more) Island craft beer! As we previously mentioned, don’t forget to pick up tickets for their BarNone beer dinner, January 24th at 6pm. Four courses of food and beer pairing, plus a glass to keep, for only $49 (includes tax and tip). And then stick around for that evening’s trivia!

• The experimental beers keep coming from Good Robot. Released this week is a Smoked Molasses Port’r, available only at their Tap Room. Brewed on their Sabco Brew-Magic system, these guest and experimental brews are perfect for testing out new recipes, techniques, and having a bit of fun. Stop by today for a pint!

A reminder that several breweries and bars in the region are holding special events tonight and tomorrow, check last week’s post for more details (and you will want to double check that places are open before going for a drink or to fill your growler). That’s all of the news for this week, and this year! Thanks to all of you for following along and reading this year. The beer scene in our region shows no sign of slowing down, with at least a dozen new breweries and brewpubs opening in 2016. Cheers!

Despite the holiday season, our brewing friends have not slowed down one bit! From new breweries to new beers and holiday events, this week has been a busy one!

• Another new brewery has quietly opened in New Brunswick – Johnny Jacks, located at 281 Restigouche Rd in Oromocto, is the newest nanobrewery in the province. Father and daughter David and Vanessa Foss, along with Young Joo Lee, are sharing the brewing responsibilities on their 100 L Blichmann system. The brewery is named after a colourful homebrewing grandfather in the family, Jack ‘Johnny’ Gullison, and is currently serving two beer styles on tap next door at the Sour Grape Cafe (which is co-owned by David Foss). The first beer is their Smokin’ Amber, a “caramelly, sweet, earthy, rich and warm” beer that weighs in at 5.1% ABV and 29 IBUs. The next, Showshoe Winter Ale, is a darker ale that the brewery describes as “layered chocolate with a whisper of vanilla”; this one is a bit stronger at 5.7% ABV and 32 IBUs. While currently only on tap at the Sour Grape, they hope to be able to expand to other accounts in the near future. We’ll have more details on their venture, soon!

• Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing has released a new beer this week, Hyper-Galactic India Pale Lager. The IPL is the cousin of the IPA, featuring assertive hop aroma, flavour, and bitterness, but brewed using lager yeast for a crisp finish, minimizing the characteristic esters and other yeast-derived aromatics from most ale strains. Hyper-Galactic comes in at 7% ABV and around 75 IBUs, with hop aromatics of passionfruit, mango and tangerine dominating. Loads of Australian went into this beer for a taste that’s outta this world! (sorry, I’ll see myself out) Hyper-Galactic is available at the brewery and adjacent Charm School now, and will be on tap at Unfiltered’s other tap accounts shortly. The arrival of the IPL signals the departure (for now) of the very popular DOA (Double Orange Ale), but we understand it will make a return in the New Year. Be sure to grab a pint or snarl of the slightly-modified Exile on North Street IPA, changes to the hopping schedule have this beer exhibiting big hop aroma, while still registering as gluten reduced (less than 5ppm). And for those of you in the The Club, your 2015 edition Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, King of Kings, is ready for pickup. Enjoy this 11.9%, 100 IBU brew during the next few chilly months, or save the bottle for enjoyment later (this style of beer is perfect for aging in a cellar). For those not in the club, you may be SOL.

• On January 1st, Upstreet will be participating in Charlottetown’s New Year’s Day Levee schedule, with a day full of music, food, and (of course) beer! The 2016 Kick-Off will begin at 10 am, and takes place all day until 10 pm. Six different bands will provide live music from 10:30 am on, $4 pints will be pouring in the taproom (as well as various beer cocktails), free brewery tours will be put on, and a special brunch menu will be available from chef John Pritchard. Admission is by donation, with all proceeds going to Upstreet’s brand new Do-Good Fund. This charitable program has been set up to support community initiatives throughout the year; a portion of the proceeds from every Do-Gooder APA will go into this fund. And in other Upstreet news, their White Noize White IPA (7% ABV, 70 IBUs) is now available for purchase in bottles at the brewery and select PEILCC stores; be sure to pick some up, they make the perfect last-minute stocking stuffer!

• Not to be outdone, PEI Brewing Co. is also holding their own Levee event on January 1st; with last year’s inaugural event attracting over 500 people, they hope to have even more this year. Full bar service at the brewery will be available, with $2 half-pints featured, along with free chili and gourmet popcorn, and live entertainment. And if you’d like to really enjoy yourself, there will be a free shuttle running throughout downtown to take you to and from the brewery! There’s no charge to attend.

• There’s a new Double IPA on tap Gahan House Harbourfront (Halifax) this week. Weighing in at 7.8% ABV and about 90 IBU, this big brew features loads of Topaz dry-hopping, for resinous, grassy, and fruit aromas to complement the assertive bitterness. It is on tap for enjoyment on the waterfront now, as well as for growler fills. And look for a pair of lagers from Brewmaster Karen Allen in the new year, including a Schwarzbier in early January.

• The opening of the Good Robot Tap Room in Halifax has allowed the creative juices of Brewmaster Doug Kehoe to flow freely, and as such, he’s put together some experimental brews. The latest to hit the taps is a Märzen. This traditional German Amber beer is given the GR Twist by small additions of Smoked and Rye malt. German hops, in Magnum and Tettnang, were used for a light bitterness and aroma. The 5% Märzen is available on tap at the Tap Room only, and will not last long, so don’t delay. And just a note that the brewery and Tap Room will be open regular hours during the Christmas holiday; check their website for hours.

• Nackawic’s Big Axe Brewery released a new beer at their tap room yesterday, Soleil Belgique IPA. This golden-coloured 7.4% Belgian IPA was brewed with floor-malted pilsner malt and toasted wheat, for a medium body and pleasant mouthfeel. Generous amounts of European hops (including Jaryllo) offer a fantastic aroma of pineapple to complement the yeast aromatics of clove and sage. Look for Soleil Belgique on tap at Big Axe’s accounts around Fredericton shortly.

• The James Joyce has tentatively scheduled their next Meet Your Maker event for Wednesday, December 30th, featuring soon-to-open Maybee Brewing. If all goes as planned for licensing, this will be an official launch party for the brewery as well. Two of their flagship beers will be pouring (Roseway Red and Workhorse IPA), and owner/brewer Paul Maybee will be on hand to chat beer and answer questions. For more info on Maybee Brewing and their beers, check out our Q&A with Paul from October.

• Halifax’s Bar Stillwell will be closed for the next few days (Dec 24-26), and again on Dec 31, but they are holding a levee of their own on January 1st. Opening at noon, they will be featuring a load hoppy, sour, wood-aged, and vintage beers from the cellar all day. And of course, they will have some excellent food to complement, including smoked brisket, a special breakfast sandwich, and pajeon. A few more specific details are available here.

• Need some local cider for Christmas or New Year, but don’t have time to pick it up? Red Rover to the rescue! Customers in Fredericton can fill out an online order form and receive (or send) a gift pack of cider to keep them warm during this holiday week. Details are available here. They’re also offering a Christmas Selection Case, which includes twelve 750 mL bottles (four each of their Spring, Fall and Fire) for $108, which saves you $1 per bottle.

• Bottles of YellowBelly’s Mummer’s Brew (this year’s release is a Cranberry Chocolate Porter) are flying off the shelves at both the brewery and NLC. Adding to that Christmas feeling is their Cranberry Cider, a 6.5% ABV cider prepared with West-Coast Newfoundland cranberries. It is on tap at the brewery now, and will be available in bottles shortly at select NLCs.

• And in more great news for Newfoundland breweries, the crew at Port Rexton Brewing received word that the environmental assessment for their future location has been approved by the Minister. This was a non-trivial hurdle to overcome in their future home, and it’s very exciting to come through before major construction was to take place. Look for their launch mid-2016.

A few parting notes this morning: Grimross has announced that they’ve officially hired their new brewer, Martin Henderson, a graduate of Niagara College’s Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management. Congratulations, Martin! Look for their Dubbel Noel (and Pump House’s Winter Warmer) on the ANBL growler fill stations this week. The barrel-aged version of Tatamagouche’s Ging’ Sync: Rye Rye Rye will be launching very shortly. Look for it in bottles at the brewery store shortly. Halifax’s Granite Brewery has their popular Darkside Black IPA back on tap for growler fills at the brewery, and their tap accounts around HRM. And more good news for Fredericton beer fans, Gray Stone Brewery has found their forever home! The brewery will be opening at 221 King Street in 2016. A reminder that the provincial stores (as well as many private and brewery stores) will be closed Dec 25 & 26, so today may be your last day in a while to pick up some local craft beer. Be sure to check your favourite bars’ and restaurants’ website or social media pages before heading out for a pint over the next few days, just to be sure. Have a safe Christmas, and we’ll hit you with another batch of beer news next week.

Good morning, all! Whether you’re all finished of your Christmas shopping, or are in the middle of a mad, stressful rush like most of us, it’s time to sit back and relax with a bit of Atlantic Canada beer news…

Breton Brewing released a new beer yesterday: Storm Chaser is described as a Vanilla Oatmeal Stout. Featuring a creamy mouthfeel thanks to the addition of oatmeal in the grist, the beer also has a good amount of vanilla in both the aroma and flavour (vanilla was added during the conditioning phase). Coming in at 5.5% ABV and 35 IBUs, it is currently on tap at the brewery for growler fills and pints. You’ll be also be able to find it at better beer bars in Halifax and Sydney, and the private beer stores in Halifax for growler fills.

• Over at Tatamagouche Brewing, they’re re-releasing their seasonal holiday brew, Maple Squash Ale. This complex brew features additions of locally grown and roasted Red Kuri Squash from Waldegrave Farms, maple syrup from Sugar Moon, and a mixture of Tatabrew’s “favourite holiday spices”. Hopped with Malagash-grown Golding and Willamette varieties, this 5.1% ABV ale is truly a unique beer, with plenty of local ingredients! Available in growlers and cans at the brewery, and at select beer bars/restaurants in Nova Scotia.

• There’s lots of news coming out of Schoolhouse Brewery in Falmouth this week! A plebiscite to lift the liquor limitations in their area passed, paving the way for expansion beyond their in-home brewery in 2016. They have also announced the launch of their Locally Hopped Series, coming this weekend. Inspired by the hop producers in their region, Brewmaster Tim Burns put together four new beers to showcase the harvest. Look for four new beers out this weekend: Big Red Schoolhouse Imperial Red, 7.5%ABV; DesBarres Reserve Biere de Garde, 6.8%ABV; Scotian Export Scottish Ale, 5.8%ABV; and Kings Row Chequers Strong Porter, 6.5%. Featuring hops from the Schoolhouse farm in Falmouth (Cascade, Goldings), Wentworth Creek Farm in Windsor, (Galena, Newport, Nugget, Zeus), Castle Frederick Farms in Falmouth (Galena, MagnumZeus) and Elleslea Farm in Sheffield Mills (Fuggles, Galena, Newport). These beers will be making their debut in 650ml bottles at the Wolfville Farmers Market this Saturday. Schoolhouse *may* be taking orders for Halifax customers in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye on their Twitter feed for the details.

• This weekend marks the biggest movie event of the year, and maybe even the decade… the new Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel! No, of course we’re talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Red Rover has released two ciders to celebrate: the DarkCider and Emperor’s Reserve. The DarkCider is a 7% aged Black Velvet, a blend of stout with their Spring cider, which cuts the body of the beer, while retaining the roast and chocolate character as a complement to the flavour of the cider. It first made its debut at the Brewer’s Bash in 2014, andis brewed in collaboration with Picaroons. Emperor’s Reserve is a brand new cider, crafted using the Empire apple variety. This semi-dry 7% cider starts with a smooth sweetness, and finishes with a crisp, acidic, bite. Both ciders are available today only, beginning at 2pm at the Ciderhouse. And while there, look for the re-release of Jingleberry, a 7% ABV semi-dry featuring the addition of wild blueberries to give the cider a mild tartness and dark-purple colour, just in time for the holidays!

• In other Star Wars news (come on, it’s a major movie event!), Picaroons has re-released a new iteration on their JED-IPA. Originally a hopped-up version of their Yippee IPA released over two years ago, this recent batch was dry-hopped with “an astronomical amount” of Orbit and Galaxy; both are Southern Hemisphere varieties known for giving intense tropical fruit aromas and flavours when used in brewing. It’s available for growler fills now at the Brewtique. Also, if you’re missing out on the daily growler released of their 12 Beers of Christmas, good news! The King Street Ale House has been receiving a keg of each beer to go on tap the day after its release at the Brewtique (Saturday and Sunday’s release will both arrive on the following Monday), which allows you the chance to try the beer if you couldn’t make it to the Brewtique for the 4 pm release. There’s still six days of releases left, so be sure to continue to follow along on social media for announcements on each day’s beer.

Pump House brought their Nor’Easter Beater Winter Warmer back recently, just in time for the nasty weather New Brunswick had to endure earlier this week. This malt-forward English style was brewed with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg for a spicy flavour. The 7.0% beer is on tap at the brewery now.

• The much anticipated co-release from Big Spruce and Boxing Rock will be available beginning tomorrow. Triskaidekaphobia is a 9%, 40 IBU Imperial Brown Ale that these two breweries scared together on November 13th. Since brewday, the beer has been aging on cherries and vanilla beans for a brew worthy of wrapping and putting under the tree next week. The beer will be released tomorrow at both breweries (though we understand there may be a sneak peek available today), their market stalls in Shelburne, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Sydney, private stores in Halifax, and on tap around the province. Don’t delay in grabbing some of this beer, and remember that there will be a barrel-aged version of Triska coming in 2016.

• Both Big Spruce and Boxing Rock had busy weeks, inviting visitors in to their respective brewhouses. On Monday, Big Spruce welcomed Eric Gauthier and Justin Clarke to brew up Eric’s Home Brew Challenge-winning Czech Dark Lager. Look for this beer to be released in late January, after an appropriate lagering period. On Tuesday, Justin and Eric took the reigns with a Sour IPA featuring loads of hops to complement the acidic bite from the lactobacillus. This beer will be available mid-January, and will see its release at the Local Connections Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration January 14th. Finally, Aaron Spinney of Sawdust City in Gravenhurst, ON, came by to brew a Pine Needle IPA, featuring over a kilogram of pine needles (not branches!) from Ontario and Big Spruce’s own farm. And of course, our very own Cold Remedy Lemon Ginger Witbier was released yesterday, and is appearing on taps in Cape Breton and Halifax now.

• In Shelburne, homebrewer Jason McDougall visited Boxing Rock to brew up another batch of his Stillwell Open beer, featuring heather flowers, on a base beer brewed with peated malt. Again, look for this to be released in the New Year.

Good Robot’s Tap Room is officially opening today at noon. In addition to their flagship beers, they will be pouring another 8 on their taps, including a couple of tap room exclusives brewed on their pilot system: an experimental Märzen  and a Session IPA brewed with Chris McDonald. Also on tap at opening: Bad Apple Mosaic DIPA, Big Spruce Cold Remedy Belgian WitUncle Leo’s Cream StoutUnfiltered 12 Years to Zion DIPAShipbuilders Cider, and Stutz Wild Blueberry Cider. Going forward, the Tap Room will be open daily (except Monday) at 4pm, with an earlier noon opening Fri-Sun.

• The Townhouse in Antigonish has announced the details of their NYE Party. They are holding a Brewer’s Bash, and have invited several of the areas brewers to take part: Karen Allen of Halifax’s Gahan House (a native of Antigonish), Tim Burns of Falmouth’s Schoolhouse, Karl Whiffen of Lyons Brook’s Uncle Leo’s, and the Townhouse’s own Terry Piercey. The five-course meal (prepared by chef Jacob Buckley) will feature lobster, oysters, rabbit, pork, and wild chanterelles, each paired with a local beer. The brewers will also talk about the process of brewing, pairing, tasting, and enjoying beer. Tickets are available at the Townhouse now, either in person or over the phone. Previous events have sold out, so be sure to pick them up now!

• Early next year (Saturday, January 30th) will mark the first NB HopSpiel event for Fredericton. Organized by those behind the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, the event will feature a day of outdoor curling in Officer’s Square, along with access to the FROSTival Beer Garden, where approximately seven breweries will be pouring up to 15 different beers, ciders and mead. Teams of four are currently being formed; you can register your team for $200, or $50 per person (don’t worry, if you can’t muster up a team of four, extras will be formed into teams). The registration fee includes a minimum of three games, six 4 oz samples at the beer garden (extra beers will be available for purchase), and a lunch of chili and rolls, plus hot beverages. Participants are invited to attend a social gathering on Friday night from 6-8 pm, where you can “brush” up on your curling skills before the big event. Tickets are available online; remember, BYO broom!

• Montreal’s excellent Dieu du Ciel! has announced that Saturday, February 27th will be the next date for their annual Péché Day, and this year Atlantic Canada will be participating! Celebrating their world class Péché Mortel, a coffee-infused Imperial Stout, the brewery/brewpub releases 13 different variants and vintages of the beer in-house; six of these are also sent to 24 participating beer bars in Canada. This year, Bar Stillwell and Tide and Boar will be receiving six kegs each to be tapped on the 27th. No word yet as to which kegs they will be receiving, but mark this date in your calendars, and make the trip to sample several variants of one of the highest-rated beers brewed in Canada!

Enjoy your weekend! If you’re in the Saint John area, Big Tide has their Three Pages to the Wind “Whiskey Pale Ale” and Bockman-Turner Overweiz (a Weizenbock) back on tap for a limited time. And the Hammond River “White Stout”, White Walker, is now available at select accounts; a 7.2% ABV, pale-coloured beer with the addition of Foghorn coffee, it was further conditioned on cacao nibs to give it a “slight smoky flavour” with the coffee and chocolate. Just a note that next week’s schedule may be altered a bit with the end-of-year holidays. Depending on news (and the number of beer we get into), we may push forward, or back, next Friday’s release.

Good morning readers! Today’s post is a slight departure from the normal news and profiles. Maybe consider it a profile of a particular beer? We’d like to share with you the recap of our recent brew day at Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza, Cape Breton.

The story of this beer began several years ago, as a Lemon and Ginger Witbier designed by Chris and brewing partner (and real brains of the operation) Brian Harvey. Through many iterations, thanks to suggestions and demands from (drinking) partners Shawna and Erin, it evolved into a light and extremely refreshing beer, showcasing both ginger heat and aroma, with a pleasant lemon character. It was first brewed on a small scale commercially at Good Robot, and took top honours at The Stillwell Open during NS Craft Beer Week.

SAMSUNG

Big Spruce owner Jeremy White approached us about brewing the beer on a bigger scale, and had a special local twist on one of the ingredients, so we were thrilled to bring the beer North. Erin and Chris visited Big Spruce to bring this beer to life.

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Running the show this brewday was Assistant Brewer Rodney Harvie, and we struggled to keep up with him! He had already been in the brewery for a couple of hours by the time we showed up at 9, ensuring the Hot Liquor Tank was ready, and the 180kg of grain was milled. He is very focused and efficient. Jeremy was also there to help out, but was occupied at the front counter with customers, as this was an unusually busy fall Saturday for Big Spruce.

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In addition to mainstays Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout and Bitter Get’er India Black IPA, they had on their Gimme Simcoe and the Smokin’ Jack It Pumpkin Ale, both of which proved to be very popular that day. We guess Cape Bretoners and visitors both were very thirsty this weekend. And we can’t blame them!

lemon zesting 2

Though Rodney had started early, there was still much to be done. After mashing in the wheat and pilsner malt base, we began zesting the 60 lemons that would eventually end up in the beer. The oil in the zest is what we were after, and so we tried to keep as much of the pith, which can become quite bitter, out of the beer.

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The adage of tasting all of the ingredients that go into any recipe, food or beer, is something that we definitely subscribe to!

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The recipe called for several additions of grated ginger throughout the boil, to get a slight snap spiciness, flavour, and aroma of this versatile root. We were able to source several kilograms of locally-grown organic ginger, thanks to Jody Nelson at nearby LocalMotive Farm. This special ingredient is the reason we chose to brew this usually summer favourite at this time of year. Jody is also one of the brains behind the Big Spruce food items, including malt vinegar, pickled veggies, beer nuts, and jellies and marmalade.

hop and ginger

After the mash rest, it was time to sparge, and then begin the boil. Whole leaf Challenger hops from Big Spruce’s own farm were used for a light bitterness, mostly intended to offset any malt sweetness, and support the special ingredients.

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After the 90 minute boil, the wort was chilled and moved to the fermenter. We pulled a sample and the ginger smell was mouth watering. The gravity ended up at 1.044, a little lower than planned, but we figured the high percentage of wheat may have made the mash a little less efficient. This particular beer was fermented using a blend of yeasts, for a light Belgian phenolic character, without it dominating the lemon and ginger.

After fermenting and conditioning for the past four weeks, the wait is finally over, and we can all taste Cold Remedy beginning today! The beer finished quite dry, and comes in at 4.6% ABV. It is currently available on tap at Big Spruce in Nyanza, and will be available at Battery Park, Good Robot Tap Room, Lion and Bright, and Stillwell very shortly. We hope you enjoy drinking it as much as we enjoyed brewing it!

Thank you so much Jeremy, Rodney, Ryan and Jody! Our day at Big Spruce was lots of fun and a great experience!

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Happy Friday everyone! Lots of new beers and taproom openings to tell you about today, so let’s dive right in.

Petit-Sault just released their newest brew, Maxime Albert, a Belgian Tripel. Winner of the bronze medal in the Belgian-Style Specialty Ale category in the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards, it iss named after one of New Brunswick’s most famous bootleggers. The beer features a relatively simple recipe of Pilsner malt and Belgian candi sugar to boost the alcohol level (all the way to 9.3% ABV) and give a drier finish, both of which are indicative to the style. Hopped with Hallertau and Saaz to 35 IBUs, it was also lightly spiced with a “secret mix” of spices. Pouring with a “rich, golden honey” appearance, it has an aroma of sweet malt, spicy alcohol, and “light floral notes”, according to the brewery. Expect complex flavours of “malt, pepper, citrus, floral and herbal”, followed by a smooth alcohol warmth. The beer is currently on tap at the brewery and at all four ANBL growler stations this weekend, and should follow in bottles within the next few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled at your favourite beer bars/restaurant in the province, as it may turn up at these locations as well.

• Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing opened their adjacent taproom late last week, Charm School. In addition to the three core beers, and handful of seasonals now pouring (Daytimer Berliner Weisse, Hop Riot IRA, Flat Black Jesus American Stout, Double Orange Ale DIPA), they are also featuring a special collaboration release with  Jeff Saunders of Bad Apple BrewhouseSmokeshow is an “Imperial Rauchbier” brewed with 100% Smoked malt; the beer was then aged on hickory for an entire year. It’s a big beer, coming in at a massive 11.2% ABV! The only way to grab this beer, for now, is on tap at 6041 North Street, so be sure to drop by for a pint. Charm School is open daily (except Monday) from 4pm.

• We now have more details on this year’s first batch of Yellowbelly‘s Mummer’s Ale. The grist is quite complex, with 2-row, light Carastan, Munich, Flaked Barley, Pale Chocolate malt and Black malt. Two different types of sugar (Belgian candi and turbinado) were also added, as well as local honey from Murray Meadows Farm. Including further additions of cacao nibs from the Newfoundland Chocolate Factory, and fresh-pressed cranberry juice from Rodrigues Winery. Weighing in at ~6.5% ABV, expect a warming, very complex brew! The Mummer’s will be released at the brewery mid-next week, and should also be available in bottles shortly thereafter.

• There’s a new beer pouring at the Rockbottom Brewpub these days, a special German-style brew. Sticke Alt is an Altbier, traditional to the German city of Dusseldorf. The name translates as “Secret Old”: Secret, as the breweries/pubs would keep this special brew on a hidden or unmarked tap handle, and only pour it for the regular patrons; Old, because this beer is closer to an ale than a lager (the refrigeration required for lager brewing is a relatively new development in beer’s history). The good news is, anyone can enjoy this brew at the ‘bottom! The grain bill features mostly Pilsner malt with a bit of German specialty malts for colour and body (and was brewed using the traditional Hochkurz step-mash schedule), and the hop bill is great Eastern European and Noble hops, featuring plenty of Dana, Magnum, and Saaz, for an American IPA feel from Continental European malts and hops. The final product comes in at 5.8% ABV and a hefty 50 IBUs, and is available now for pints as well as growler fills.

Big Tide has brought back a seasonal favourite, their Santa’s Chocolate Porter. Brewed with 2-row, CaraMunich, and Chocolate malt, the beer is lightly hopped to 25 IBUs. Coming in at a sessionable 4.8% ABV, it features additions during secondary fermentation of vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon, making it a flavorful, spicy beer for the holidays. It’s currently on tap at the brewpub, and will be available for growler fills at all four ANBL stores at the end of next week (Dec 18th weekend).

• Also on tap now at Big Tide is Unbegrentz Lager, a Munich Helles. Featuring a Pilsner malt base, and generously hopped with Columbus and Hallertau, this beer features an addition of Labrador Tea for a twist on this traditional German style. The beer features 4.8% ABV.

• There’s plenty going on this month with Fredericton’s Sunset Heights Meadery! First up is a “bottle takeover” at the James Joyce Pub tonight. This Mead Your Maker event will feature several of their still meads, including THORArthur’s Mischief, Hunt, Appily Married and the “Honey Cones” Dry Hopped Meads. The latter will be available as a set of eight 1 oz pours (featuring single hopped versions with Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Fuggle, Galena, Nugget, Magnum and Willamette, as well as a 2 oz pour of each of their Multi-Hop and unhopped base versions. In addition, if you try this sampler ($20), you will be given the opportunity to buy a case of “Honey Cones” (this weekend marks the second release of these meads, which sold out at the first release in October) before they officially go on sale online. And keep an eye on the Pollen Angels store on the weekend, as a limited number of these expressions will be available for home delivery.

Good Robot has announced that they will be opening their taproom at 2736 Robie very soon, and have released a video sneak peak at the space and plans. They will be pouring 12 taps, featuring their core lineup of brews, special casks/blends, and small batch experimental brews from homebrewers and friends of the Robots. As such, they will be temporarily pulling the Crown on the Ground Steam Beer from the brewing rotation, so fans should stock up now (they will still have it in kegs for a while, fear not!). Look for new brews like Marzen, Saison (which will be joining the regular lineup shortly), Session IPA (our own Chris was invited to help brew this collaboration), Smoked Molasses Porter, and many more as time goes on. Have a cool idea for a small-batch brew? Get in touch! The taproom will also feature food from some great local providers, including Food Noise, Halifax Press, and Salvatore’s Pizza.

• New Brunswick’s newest brewery, First City Brewery, has quietly made their debut in Saint John! Owned and operated by Adam McQueen and Jeff Gibbons, three initial beers are now listed through ANBL for beers bars and restaurants to order for kegs: their Extra Special Bitter, IPA, and Rhuberry Blonde Ale, with the IPA currently at the R-Bar in downtown Saint John. Plans are to be pouring at the Peel Pub and Bourbon Quarter in the very near future, with other accounts to follow shortly after. They will also have their beers at both the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival and Saint John Beer Fest in 2016. Welcome, First City! We’ll have more info on the brewery and beers very soon.

• Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing has expanded their storefront hours to include Saturday hours (now M-F, 11-6, Sat 12-4pm). Drop by for samples and growler fills of their flagship Coastal Lager, which is also available in an unfiltered variant only at the brewery. Spindrift has also expanded their territory East, to Newfoundland. Coastal Lager hit the shelves of the NLC this week, and can be found from Labrador City to St John’s. Check the NLC site for locations near you.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has put together a new take on their Weizen beer. Pear Hug Weisse is a 5.2% Hefeweizen with an addition of pear juice to the brew. Bringing in a sweet character and characteristic fruit flavour and aroma, it is a unique take on this old style. This limited-time beer is on tap at the brewery for samples and growler fills now, and will make it to local bars as well. The brewery has expanded their taps to pour 11 beers for growler fills, or onsite tasting. Joining the Pear Hug and their 5 core brands currently are Imperial IPAMartello StoutRisin’ Stein WeisseSpruce Beer, and Winter Warmer. And remember, the Home Brew-Off entries are due February 11th, just two months away. Homebrewers from across the Maritimes are encouraged to take an American IPA, and make it something more, by adding herbs, fruit, different yeasts, etc. Details and forms are available on their site.

• Residents and visitors of Florenceville-Bristol in New Brunswick have a pair of new brews to look forward to this weekend. Railcar Brewing has released a pair of beers to keep you warm: Raspberry Stout is a 7.7% ABV American Stout, with raspberries added for a lovely fruit flavour and aroma, to offset the hefty 55 IBUs; Christmas Spiced Ale is a 5.5% ABV beer featuring spices reminiscent of gingerbread and mulled wine and keeping warm around the fire. Both beers are on tap at the brewery taproom now, along with their Artisan BrownCafe Buzz, Orange RyeTrainwreck IPA; the taproom will be open daily until Christmas for growler and schwag sales, as well as rental for parties.

Battery Park Beer Bar at 62 Ochterloney in Dartmouth opened yesterday, with a full complement of brews and food for thirsty patrons. Pouring beers (and wine and house-made soda) from across the province, the downstairs space also serves as North Brewing’s second storefront, offering growler fills and bottles to go. Debuting this week is Dartmouth Dark, a 4.5% dark lager with cold-brewed coffee from neighbours Anchored Coffee added to the brew. And just released today are bottles of Glenora Barrel Aged Strong Dark Belgian, available at both the Halifax and Dartmouth storefronts. North is open daily from noon, and Battery Park from 2pm (both are closed Tuesdays).

• A bit of an update concerning the upcoming Christmas Beer Garden at the Market in Fredericton, scheduled for Sunday, December 20th: due to overwhelming interest, tickets for the event have been sold out. Originally, a small handful of “early bird” tickets were made available, and included a special glass and four 20 oz beer tickets. More tickets were sold than originally planned; unfortunately, due to a limited number of people allowed to enter the market area, dropping in to the event is no longer an option. Luckily, organizers behind the market event already have bigger plans for next year’s holiday season, to allow more people to partake in the celebrations!

Just a few more notes for this week: The Grimross Dubbel Noel was just kegged, so look for that one to be popping up for growler fills at the brewery, and on tap in the area, any day now. The new hoppy Amber from TrailWay has been named – Good Aura – and is now pouring in Fredericton; more info on that beer in last week’s post. Hammond River just announced that their beers will now be available on tap at Moncton’s Tide & Boar; also, their new Foghorn Coffee Porter is on tap at Bourbon QuarterSaint John Ale House, and The Barrel’s Head. Upstreet is holding a tap takeover at the Water’s Edge upcoming Ugly Sweater party on Friday, December 18th at 8 pm; along with their regular line-up, look for a special cask of their new stout, Black Tie Affair, featuring the addition of coconut and cocoa nib tea. Phewf! Have a great weekend!

Happy Friday! Now that everyone has cleared their driveways and warmed up, it’s time to sit back and relax with some local beer news…

• Charlottetown’s Upstreet brewery is releasing a new brew today. Black Tie Affair is a stout with a twist! To help combat the cool nights upon us, they have added a little extra to the traditional stout. Sixty litres of cranberry juice (from local producer PEI Juice Works) was added to the beer after primary fermentation had settled down; the beer was further dosed with some vanilla during the conditioning step. The inspiration for the brew came a few years ago, when Brewmaster (then-homebrewer) Mike Hogan brewed a beer for his brother’s wedding. When his sister-in-law-to-be, a culinary student at the time, was asked for a single ingredient to serve as the spark of a recipe, she chose cranberries. From that, Hogie built the Black Tie Affair. It was also one of the first beers that Joey shared with Mitch (the other two Upstreet owners), which planted the seeds of a future brewery. Black Tie Affair Vanilla Cranberry Stout comes in at 5% ABV and 25 IBUs, and will launch at the brewery this evening, after the Christmas Tree Lighting at 6pm. There will be free hot chocolate, music from Salt Licks, and a prize for the ugliest sweater.

• In other Upstreet news, their summer seasonal White Noize White IPA is returning to the lineup as one of their flagship beers. This 7% and 70 IBU beer shares the best characters of an American Wheat and IPA. On tap at Upstreet and around the island now, it will also be available in bottles very soon.  Speaking of bottles, several of the PEILCC stores where Upstreet bottles were delivered last week had to be restocked several times over the weekend. Thankfully, the Upstreet Elves are hard at work keeping them stocked, so keep an eye on their Twitter page for details as deliveries are made.

• Also debuting today is Upstreet’s “alternative drinks menu” at the taproom. For those who want to visit Upstreet with their beer-loving friends and family, but aren’t beer drinkers (those people exist?), they now have local wine and cider on the menu. Beginning today, Matos Wine and Bulwark Cider will be available for on-site enjoyment. And beginning December 9th, they will be offering a full food menu in the taproom, four nights a week (4-10pm, Wed-Sat). Local chef John Pritchard will be preparing tapas and shareable plates. And drop by tomorrow afternoon for a Pinball Tournament, hosted by the Charlottetown Pinball League.

Big Spruce will be releasing their Left Breton Organic Conspiracy, a 7.4% Double IPA, next week. It is brewed with loads of Big Spruce’s own home-grown Cascade, Galena, and Mt Hood hops; this makes the bitterness difficult to calculate accurately, but is estimated at 80 IBUs. This brew was originally inspired by a visit in 2013 from their good friends Brian and Rebecca from Crannóg Ales, who had brought some of their own farm-grown organic hops. While they weren’t able to join them for this brew day, they were there in spirit. A cask of Left Breton, double dry-hopped with Citra and Nelson Sauvin, was sent to Stillwell and tapped earlier this week. Look for the wider release to feature additional dry-hopping from more of their own farm-grown Cascade.

• Big Spruce held their Home Brew Challenge on the weekend. 25 homebrewers submitted 45 entries in three categories: Dark Czech Lager, Altbier, and Red IPA. The top beers in each category were selected by a panel of 12 BJCP judges:

Czech Dark Lager Altbier Red IPA
GOLD: Eric Gautier (co brewer Justin Clarke) GOLD: Eric Gautier (co brewer Justin Clarke) GOLD: Shawn Meek
SILVER: Derek Stapleton SILVER: Keith Forbes (co brewer Mike Orr) SILVER: Scott MacLean & Randy Rowe
BRONZE: Justin Clarke (co brewer Eric Gautier) BRONZE: Andrew Martin BRONZE: Josh Armstrong

The Best of Show beer is Czech Yo Self Czech Dark Lager by Eric Gautier and Justin Clarke, and the Brathair Brothers will be visiting Big Spruce to brew up that beer very soon. In fact, owner Jeremy White was so impressed with the quality of the three gold medal beers, that they all may be brewed in Nyanza. Look for at least one of them to make their debut at the Local Connections Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration on January 14th. Big thanks to the judges, stewards, and the Wooden Monkey Dartmouth for hosting the judging and after party.

• Speaking of homebrewing, it was a great year for local homebrewers on the national level. The Brewnosers took home third place in the Homebrew Club standings (behind the CowTown Yeast Wranglers and River City of Manitoba Brewers), as tracked by Brewer of the Year site. This is thanks in large part to the outstanding performance by Annapolis Valley brewer Mark Pennell, who ended up taking home 75 medals at more than fifteen homebrew competitions during the year, and was the second-most decorated homebrewer in Canada. A special shoutout to Mark McGraw, who finished 11th in the 2015 standings with 19 medals, and the dozen-plus other members who entered and placed in the local and national competitions. All of this year’s results are collated here. Look for Pennell’s award-winning Working Man Mild to be brewed at Beau’s in Vankleek Hill in 2016, earned by winning the Best of Show at the Members of Barleyment and Beau’s Oktoberfest Competition.

TrailWay has just released a brand new beer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Rascal is their take on a “big American Stout”; think dark, strong, and roasty… perfect for sipping on in the colder, snowy weather that has moved into our region. Named after co-owner/co-brewer Jake Saunder’s Black Labrador, it was brewed with plenty of specialty malts, including oats, flaked wheat, flaked barley, Crystal malt, Munich, and Black malt. Bittered to 40-50 IBUs to balance all that sweetness, it weighs in at ~7% ABV. Look for it over the weekend at King Street Ale House and 540 Kitchen & Bar, as well as Bourbon Quarter in Saint John.

• We also have a sneak preview on a new beer from TrailWay, due to hit taps next week. Currently unnamed, this one has a grist of Crystal, Munich and Rye malts, to go along with the base malt, giving it a reddish hue. Hopped into IPA territory with Warrior, Mosaic, and Summit, think of it as a hoppy Amber Ale, or Red IPA. More on this beer next week!

• It’s December, which means that it’s almost time for the annual Picaroons 12 Beers of Christmas! Starting Saturday, December 12th, a different festive beer will be released daily, until December 23rd, for growler fills at the Brewtique. As usual, each day’s beer will be announced at noon via Picaroons’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, and will officially go on sale at 4 pm (except for Sundays, when it will be launched at noon). Unlike last year, there will be no two growler per person limit; however, they are asking customers not to overdo it, as each batch is extremely limited (~360 L per batch, or approximately 180 standard-size growlers). We can probably expect a mixture of new beers and returning favourites, so keep your eyes peeled! These beers always sell out extremely quickly, so if you’re interested in certain releases, be sure to get to the Brewtique as close to 4 pm as you can.

Hammond River has rebrewed their Two Rivers India Black Ale, a Black IPA that was originally brewed as a collaboration beer with Big Axe. This dark ale shows some roast aromas and flavours from the addition of dark malts, with plenty of hop presence as well, thanks to a bittering addition of Columbus to 77 IBUs, and late additions of Galaxy and a heavy dry-hop of Amarillo; the first batch featured all-Citra after the initial bittering addition with Columbus. It still weighs in at 7% ABV, and is currently on tap at the Saint John Ale House and the Barrel’s Head; look for it to possibly follow at other HR accounts, soon.

• YellowBelly brewpub in St. John’s has released a special brew this week. Top Shed Cream Ale is a collaboration between the crew at YellowBelly and Top Shed, a craft brewery in Bew South Wales, Australia. Eastern Australia meets Eastern Canada! This Cream Ale was brewed in the traditional fashion, using barley malt, malted wheat, and corn; the hops used were Mosaic and Pacific Gem. At 4.8% and 22 IBUs, this beer is the lightest ever brewed at YB, and is immensely quaffable. A little more on the story of East meeting East can be read at Top Shed’s blog.

Unfiltered has brought back the immensely popular Double Orange Ale. The DOA Double IPA features huge citrus aroma and flavour from loads of Citra hops used throughout the process, with a light malt sweetness and orange colour thanks to the special technique Brewmaster Greg Nash uses on the brew. The final specs on this beer are 7.5% ABV and over 100 calculated IBUs. It will be back on tap at the brewery today at noon, and at better bars very soon. Rumours are that Unfiltered’s taproom, Charm School, will be open in the next few days, so be sure to follow their feed for more details. *Update: Charm School opened Saturday, and will be open daily (except Monday), at 4pm.

• Speaking of openings, after a brief hiatus, Tom’s Little Havana and sister restaurant The Fireside have opened in their new location on Birmingham Street. The number of taps has expanded, and now feature at least five local craft brews on the go, including Bad Apple, Boxing Rock, Tatamagouche, and Unfiltered. With many of the wall murals and furnishings transported from their old location, the spirit of Tom’s is alive and well in the new location.

The Auction House on Argyle Street in Halifax has recently expanded their craft beer offerings, in a big way! Already boasting more than twenty local beer options, they recently installed a SmartBrew system in the restaurant, allowing them to produce beer onsite. They are releasing an American Amber (Her Name Was Amber) and Dunkelweizen (Bob’s Your Dunkel) under the George’s Island moniker, with more varieties to follow shortly.

• Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub is opening membership into their Mug Club again, with mugs #31-48 becoming available on January 1st. The yearly membership costs $59.95 + tax, and entitles members to their own mug, 24 oz pours for the price of 20 oz, food discounts, email updates on special beers being tapped, and more. Pre-sales start on Monday, December 7th at 6 pm. And get ready for their Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest later in the month – show up at the pub with your lamest, ugliest Christmas garb between December 20th-24th, snap a photo of yourself and upload it to the Joyce’s Twitter or Facebook page to enter. The selected winner will receive dinner for two at the Terrace.

• A new documentary featuring the Nova Scotia independent beer scene will make its debut this weekend. “Craft Beer” will be airing on CBC’s Land and Sea this Sunday, December 6 at 12 noon. The producers visited several breweries and locations across the province to learn about the craft beer movement, and the people behind it. Good news for those without TVs – it is available now to watch online.

• The latest One-Hit Wonder release from Propeller will be hitting the taps later today. Jaromir Lagr is a 6.8% Imperial Czech Pilsener. Details are a bit thin beyond that, but we can tell you that like all previous OHW brews, it will only be available for growler fills at the brewery and on tap at a few spots in the HRM.

BarNone owner/brewer Don Campbell will be hosting a beer dinner at Baba’s Lounge in Charlottetown on Sunday, January 24th at 6 pm. Baba’s has long been a huge supporter of local craft beer on the Island, and this is a perfect way to get your hands on lots of BarNone beer and some authentic Lebanese food! There will be five different BarNone beers sampled, paired with four courses. Campbell will be present as beer host, along with Ryan Abdallah as food host. You can call now (902-892-7377) to reserve your tickets, which are $49 each (price includes tax and tip) and include a sampler glass for you to keep.

That’s about it for this busy week! Good news for fans of Garrison‘s Spruce Beer that live outside of the HRM: it has hit the shelves in several NSLC stores around the province, and will be on shelves in PEI next week, and in Newfoundland and Labrador the following week. And for those in NB, fear not, it will be available on your shelves in the New Year. FirkinStein Brewing will be at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market on Thursday December 10th and 24th, in addition to their regular delivery days. While the Triskaidekaphobia Imperial Brown Ale is not quite ready to pour, there will still be some lovely beery treats at Sunday during the Ladies Beer League‘s Holiday Brunch, including Boxing Rock’s U-889 Imperial Stout. Tickets for the party starting at noon at Stillwell are sold out, but we suspect the beers will still be available when the doors open to the public at 4pm. A reminder that Battery Park Beer Bar in Dartmouth is opening next Thursday, December 10th. The lineup will feature twelve taps, brewed both by partner North, as well as other local breweries, it will increase the local beer availability in downtown Dartmouth. Finally, be sure to drop by to visit the great folks at Good Robot; their new-and-improved Burban Legend Citrus APA, now dry-hopped for more juicy hop aroma, is currently on tap.