Happy Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week! We hope those of you in the province, or nearby, will make it out to one or more of the events happening all week, including the Cape Breton Kitchen Party in Sydney, or the Beer & Beethoven in Halifax. Check out the #NSCBW Guide we published yesterday for the scoop on the next 10 days of beer fun! And keep your eyes open for plenty of new beer alerts throughout the week; we’ll do our best to retweet and FB-share them so you won’t miss out!
• After a sneak peek at this year’s Saltscapes Expo, Sober Island is officially open, and serving beer! Their current home in Sheet Harbour, Henley House, opened yesterday for the season, so Eastern Shore fans will now have access to a steady supply of their beers. Drop by for a pint of their Oyster Stout, English Golden Rye Ale, or their very own Henley House Private Ale. This 4.8%, 34 IBUs Ordinary Bitter features all late-addition East Kent Goldings hops, and is fermented with an English yeast for a taste of the UK. Sober Island will also have a brew on at this weekend’s Stillwell Open, and is gearing up for festival season, with plans to attend the Cold Waters Seafood Festival June 4-5, and NorthumBeerFest at Pictou Lodge June 11. They are also in the process of finding a Farmers Market location for the summer, so stay tuned for that. While set up at the market, instead of growlers, they will be using Crowlers, the can-on-demand system popular in the US. These 950mL cans are great for taking on the boat, camping, hiking, or to the beach, where glass can be dangerous/forbidden. They will be installing the system in their rolling beer trailer, and will eventually institute Crowler Delivery runs to town.
• Turning now to another Island, there’s a couple of new beers on tap at the Gahan House Brewpub in Charlottetown, PEI. First up is ESB, an Extra Special Bitter that comes in at 6.5% ABV and 65 IBUs. Featuring late hop additions of East Kent Goldings and Fuggles to boost the herbal and earthy aroma, this classic British style has been pouring for awhile now. More recent is Belgium Blue, a strong (7.6% ABV) Belgian style that was fermented with a blend of yeasts, giving it a “spicy banana” aroma and flavour, according to brewmaster Trent Hayes. Be sure to stop by the brewpub soon to give both a try! And swing by the PEI Brewing Co. taproom for a taste of their newest cask, Chocolate Cherry Lager, a 4.5% ABV beer that has cocoa nibs and organic tart cherry juice added in-cask.
• In other brewpub news, Big Tide also has a new beer pouring at their location in Saint John. Cascade SMaSH IPA features a grist of German Pilsner malt, and lots of late- and dry-hop additions of the well-loved Cascade hop variety, sourced from local Darlings Island Farm. Weighing in at 5.25% ABV and 39 IBUs, this “very drinkable” beer has a “beautiful citrusy flavour and aroma”, according to the brewery. It’s available now at the brewpub for pints and growler fills. And coming soon from Big Tide is their Wild Weed Summer Ale, a 4.9% ABV, 15 IBUs Wheat ale enhanced with sweet gale, yarrow, lemongrass, cardamom, and coriander.
• Back to Nova Scotia now, Meander River has re-released their Summer Solstice Session IPA, a hoppy and sessionable beer perfect for when the warmer weather decides to stay for good! Hopped with Amarillo and Citra in the boil, it was further dry-hopped with Cascade to provide even more fruit and citrus characteristics in the aroma and flavour. This 4.5% ale is available at the brewery and Forum Farmers’ Market while it lasts. Meander River has also brought back their Scotch Ale, Surf & Turf, just in time for Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week. A silver medal winner at the 2015 Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards, it was brewed with peated malt and seaweed to give it a “smooth, savoury taste with an earthy scotch finish”; it weighs in at 6.2% ABV.
• Propeller Brewing has released their newest One Hit Wonder this week. Lil’ SIPA is a 4.4% Session IPA, with 27 theoretical IBUs, but as is often the case in beer, the numbers do not tell the whole story! Massive late hopping favours aroma and flavour over bitterness, so this small package packs a massive taste wallop. As always, the OHW beers are ONLY available for growler fills at their Gottingen and Windmill locations, with select kegs sometimes sneaking out to local bars.
• After a brief hiatus, Spindrift‘s Seventh Wave Series returns this weekend. These smaller, pilot batches allow the creative minds at the brewery to run a bit wild, and brew up beers that would otherwise be impractical, or not feasible. The series continues Saturday during Open Brewery Day, with Raspberry Session Saison, a 5% beer with 6 kilograms of raspberries added to the batch. And if that wasn’t enough, it was dry-hopped with whole leaf Citra hops. Grab this beer starting at 11am tomorrow. And Spindrift will keep the Seventh Wave going all week, with a new one debuting every day (or whenever the previous beer empties). Next up is India Session Lager, a 4.4% light lager with massive amounts of Citra and Simcoe at flameout and whirlpool (while the beer chills), for a seemingly-low 25 IBUs, but with plenty of flavour and aroma from the volatile hop oils that would otherwise be boiled off if added earlier in the process. They have several 7W beers locked and loaded to release during NS Craft Beer Week, so be sure to follow their Twitter feed for the announcements.
• Fresh off the great announcement of $436,000 of ACOA funds destined for Cape Breton, Sydney’s Breton Brewing took delivery of a Cask canning machine this week, and will be packaging their core brands of beer in the coming weeks. Look for their cans to hit the shelves of the NSLC, and private stores in the first week of June. And be sure to drop by Breton tomorrow during Open Brewery Day, as they will be launching Crazy Angus DIPA. With the malt bill being an amped-up version of their Black Angus IPA, this 7.4% ABV beer features a massive citrus punch from 85 IBUs worth of hops, including the always-lovely Australian Galaxy.
• With little fanfare, Downeast Beer Factory opened Sunday. Located in the former Brewdebakers location at 612 Windmill Road, the bar and grill is currently serving product from across the province, with 14 beers and ciders on tap. In the coming weeks, they will be adding their own house-brewed beers to the lineup, including Mylde Wylde Blonde, Fiddler’s Irish Red and Game Changer IPA. Their unique building location features a drive-thru beer shop, which will allow them to sell beer to go from other Nova Scotia breweries, when it opens later in the spring.
• Speaking of openings, Stillwell has announced the new location of their mobile Beergarden: the vacant lot at 5688 Spring Garden Rd. Nestled between Bookmark and Eastlink and across the corner from the Public Gardens, it will feature their iconic converted shipping container slinging local and imported beer (upgraded to 10 taps) and handheld “Summertime BBQ” food. Their friends from Manual Food & Drink will be joining them in the space, for some sweet relief from the hot weather (think ice cream and pastries). Construction has already begun at the location, and they look to launch the space in early June.
In addition to NS Craft Beer Week, here are a few more beer events worthy of your attention in the next little while:
• Tomorrow, May 8th, Stillwell is holding the second of their Rare American Beer Series, with several bottles from Mystic Brewery in Massachusetts popping all day. The En Garde, Connards! Biere de Garde, Flor Ventus Barrel-aged Wild Beer, Saison Renaud Saison (also available on tap), and Table Beer will be available by the full bottle, or 5-7oz pours. Look for some special accompanying beers on tap, and, as always, great food from the kitchen.
• The next Meet Your Maker event at the James Joyce will feature Big Tide, and has been scheduled for next Friday, May 13th at 7:30 pm. As always, there is no charge to attend, just show up for some Big Tide beers (there will likely be four different ones on tap) and have a chat with brewer Wendy Papadopoulus!
• As part of this year’s Festival Inspire in Moncton, they will be holding a Craft Beer Village June 18th. We are still getting all of the ticket details, but we do know that Bore City, Celtic Knot, Flying Boats, Maybee, and Picaroons will all be in attendance.
• The date for the second annual Atlantic Canadian Craft Brew Oktoberfest has been set for Saturday, September 24th at the Lion’s Club in Moncton. Featuring many local breweries pouring beer alongside local food stations, the 7:30-10 pm session (tickets $58+fee) will allow unlimited beer samples and a custom take-home glass; VIP tickets ($68+fee) will get you in at 6 pm, along with a special glass, guided beer tasting, and access to an industry panel discussion; a portion of the proceeds will go to the United Way. Keep your eyes on the event page, as tickets will go on sale sometime in July.
And in closing this week:
– Congratulations to Red Rover for winning medals at this year’s Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition! Their Blues, Fall, Fire, and White Witch all took home bronze medals at this competition. In celebration, they have (or had!) all these award winners available at their Cider House on Queen Street.
– Maybee Brewing has released their new Birdseye Pale Ale and recent Elevensies Espresso Stout in cans; a currently-ongoing issue with ANBL’s ordering system has prevented cans from hitting ANBL stores this week, but there’s still lots available at the brewery’s location on Wilsey Rd, so drop in to pick some up this weekend!
– The James Joyce recently registered their venue on the popular beer app/website Untappd, which means their entire draught list, event schedule, and more is available and updated in real time! Check it out here.
– Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing is releasing a new batch of the Double Orange Ale (DOA) today. This batch of the 7.5% ABV SMaSH was fermented with a famous Vermont yeast for even more juicy goodness. Grab a growler when the brewey opens at noon, or a glass at Charm School from 4pm.
That’s it for this week; have a great weekend!