Well, it’s been a wet and snowy past couple of days, but the weekend – and better weather – is here! There’s plenty going on as usual in the beer world, so let’s dive right in…
• Sticking with Fredericton, TrailWay has a couple of news items this week. For starters, they’ve confirmed that their beer will finally be available in cans, starting today at the brewery with the release of their American IPA, Hu Jon Hops (yes, that is a spelling change!) and hoppy session ale, Luster. More details will follow soon as to their canning schedule (which beers, when, etc.) and further distribution. And in the meantime, they’ve got a brand new beer available for pints and growler fills – Seeing Citra. This American IPA weighs in at 6.7% ABV and was hopped entirely with, yes, Citra, so expect plenty of tropical fruit and citrus. It’s available now on tap at the brewery, and should be popping up at better beer establishments around the city. Expect to see more one-hop “Seeing” IPA series in the future.
• The latest episode of the 902BrewCast podcast dropped earlier this week. The guys sat down with Angus, Doug, and Josh from Good Robot, and chatted everything from Busch Gardens, Short Circuit, Gilmore Girls, and even beer once or twice. Learn more about some cool upcoming beers, how they decide what to send us for tasting notes (“Hey Josh…”), and how to master social media (though it may be in chapter 3 of that book). Grab it from Stitcher, iTunes, or your favourite podcatching software. And subscribe now, so that December 13th’s 2 Crows episode downloads automagically while you sleep.
• Big congratulations to winners and entrants alike at the two homebrew competitions held on the weekend. Firstly, Gahan House’s Homebrewer’s Challenge winners: Clayton Harding, Jonathan Green, and William Panting, for their outstanding Winter Warmer style beers. Look for the scaled up version to hit the taps at Gahan in the coming months.
• And in Nova Scotia, the winners of the Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge were announced on Sunday. From 57 entries, the top three beers were chosen by a panel of local BJCP judges: David Pepper’s Risky Biscuits was the best Dark Mild, Mitch Kehoe’s Big Juice won in Double IPA, and Jeramy Slaunwhite’s Sour Cherry Hefeweizen took home top honours in Experimental Sour. Look for Best-in-Show Risky Biscuits to be brewed in Nyanza in the very near future, with release at January 12th‘s Fourth Annual Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration (tickets available now).
• Lazy Bear Brewing is releasing an extremely interesting beer this weekend called, simply, The Norwegian. Brewed according to a traditional Norwegian Farmhouse Ale recipe adapted to the brewery’s equipment, it was mashed using an infusion made from locally harvested juniper sprigs and Hallertauer hops. But the real star of this brew is a unique strain of yeast from Norway known as Kveik that has been preserved and propagated for generations, brought across the sea to Lazy Bear by the eponymous Norwegian. Known to ferment at temperatures that are double what you’d see for most ales (upwards of 35 and in some cases over 40ºC!), it provides orange-peel and Christmas spice aromas and a distinct earthiness on the palate. The resulting beer should be like nothing else in the region. Bittered to 17 IBUs and coming in at 7.0% ABV, it will be available at the brewery and the Lazy Bear stall at the Annapolis Royal Farmer’s Market, and a keg has been sent to Stillwell. It is in limited supply and won’t be brewed again until next year, so if you’re looking to broaden your beer horizons, you’ll want to act quickly on this one.
• Debuting at last night’s Tap Takeover at Battery Park was the conspiracy brew between Big Spruce, BP, and North, Blood Donair Imperial Donair Meat Stout. At 7.0% ABV, this stout incorporated a small amount of donair meat in the mash, and was aged on 50 kilograms of raspberries. The resulting beer features a great mix of dark chocolate and raspberry notes, with only a hint of spicing from the meat. The idea of a meat-infused beer is grounded in a tradition of fortifying beers to increase essential minerals (Oyster Stout, anyone?), but is certainly a new take on it in our region. Learn more about Meat Stouts at the great Shut up About Barclay Perkins and Zythophile. BD IDMS is available on tap (and growler fills) now at Big Spruce and Battery Park, and will soon be available at your favourite watering hole.
• Following on the heels of last night’s release of the unholy Blood Donair conspiracy brew with Big Spruce and Battery Park, word from North Brewing this week brings us news of the first in their “Finite Series” of one off experimental brews. Not to be outdone by Lazy Bear with the Scandinavian influence (and the use of interesting ingredients!), this beer is called Ask and Embla, after the first humans in Norse mythology. It is a mixed fermentation rustic Saison containing a significant portion of oats in the grain bill, and also a generous amount of Timothy hay in the mash. If that weren’t far enough off the beaten path, it was then aged for three weeks on driftwood foraged in Cow Bay. Not too heavy at 5.2% ABV and 20 IBU, it is said to feature citrus and tropical flavours, with a subtle aroma of hay, a light brine character and a dry finish. Available, for now, only on tap at Battery Park, Stillwell, Little Oak and the Agricola Street Brasserie, the rest of the batch is currently being bottle conditioned and will be released for sale once it’s ready (we will certainly pass on word of its impending arrival when we receive it).
• Red Rover has a few special releases planned for the Christmas season, as they’ve teamed up with Distillerie Fils du Roy for three different collaboration ciders. For three consecutive Fridays, starting on December 9th, a different cider will be released in a very limited amount – only 200 bottles for each style. Each will be priced at $16.50 per 750 mL bottle, with customers having the opportunity to pre-purchase all three for $45, on December 9th. All bottles must be picked up at the Ciderhouse in Fredericton, and sets are limited to three per person. Here are the details on the three styles, all of which are named after the three spirits that visit Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol:
Past (December 9th) – a 7.3% ABV dry crabapple cider with added vanilla and Crosby’s Molasses, combined with Fils du Roy Fort LaTour brandy.
Present (December 16th) – Red Rover’s wild blueberry cider infused with Gin Thuya; 7.3% ABV.
Future (December 23rd) – a 7.4% ABV, semi-dry floral cider featuring the addition of The Courailleuse, a Fils du Roy absinthe that has flavours of wormwood.
• Fredericton’s Bogtrotter is releasing a new beer on tap today – Bullrush Golden Ale. This “light and crisp”, straw-coloured 4.5% ABV English-style ale was hopped with Saaz and Northern Brewer, giving the beer soft notes of hop spiciness. It was fermented with a British Ale yeast strain, to help add light fruity aromatics. Look for it on tap at the James Joyce, and in 500 mL bottles at the York St. and Oromocto ANBL stores.
• The Saint John General Store location for Picaroons launched their newest-one off yesterday, a Roggenbier named City on Fire. A German ale traditionally brewed with a hefty portion of Wheat and Rye malts in the grist, Picaroons’ take also features the addition of real ginger. As with all one-offs, this 4.5% ABV brew is available for pints and growlers at the General Store only, while supplies last. Also, a reminder that the 5 Kings Restaurant & Picaroons Brewhouse, located in Saint Stephen, is now open. The inaugural brew on the system there hasn’t been completed yet, but look for that to happen soon.
• Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewing has announced the details of their inaugural Home Brewing Competition. It is open to all local amateur brewers, though the number of entries is being capped at 20, and registration closes December 17th. One brewer may enter more than one beer ($40 per entry), but only one entry per brewer per style, please! Entrants may choose any BJCP style for their beer, provided they keep it under 9.0% ABV, and do not use any wild yeast. As part of the judging process, brewers will come to the brewery and give a short presentation on their beer, from the style and recipe choice, to the brewday itself. A slideshow with pictures is encouraged. During the presentation, the judging panel (made up of Saltbox Head Brewer Jeremy Fehr and local “experts in the field”), as well as fellow entrants, will be enjoying your beer, so be sure to bring enough to go around! In addition to the judging of the beer, positive remarks from your presentation will ensure you advance to the next round. After the initial rounds of presentations (taking place on subsequent Tuesdays in January at the brewery), the top beers will go onto a Final Five tasting February 7th, where you will present it to the Saltbox’s Pioneers Club, who will sample and give feedback on the beers alongside the judges,. The judge’s scoring, presentation and story, and Pioneers feedback all calculate the winning beer, which will be announced February 15th. The winning brewer will help Fehr to brew it on Saltbox’s big system, for release in the spring, and will be able to direct 10% of the sales of the beer to the charity of their choice. All of the details are available here, and you can download the registration form here. A few notes: the winning entry becomes the sole property of Saltbox brewing, and may not be brewed on a 1.2 hl or larger system going forward. Be sure to keep Feb 7 & 15 open, as you’ll need to be there to talk shop and win, but there will be food and beer, as well as lots of happy and thirsty beer fans!
• Congratulations to Western Newfoundland Brewing, who have now launched and are serving beer to thirsty fans in the region. Their first beer is Killdevil Pale Ale, named after the mountain in nearby Gros Morne National Park. Currently on tap at the Bonne Bay Inn in Woody Point, they will be expanding to other spots in the region in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook to see where they’ll be popping up next!
• And in a last-minute addition, Coastliner Craft Cider, New Brunswick’s newest cidery, is launching soon. They will be announcing the release date of their core brand, a 5.4% ABV cider made with “100% cold-pressed juice”, today at 11 am; we can expect to see bottles of this one available at ANBL stores within a week or two. We’ll have more details in the near future; in the meantime, check them out through the link above, and follow them along on Twitter for more updates.
Lots of events this week, and remember to check out our Calendar for everything on the horizon.
• Tidehouse Brewing, our region’s newest (and one of its smallest) breweries, has released the details of its Launch Weekend, happening December 9th and 10th. From noon Friday, they will be taking over half of the taps at Stillwell Beer Bar, just a couple of blocks from Tidehouse. They will be pouring their four core beers (Like a Motorcyc-ale, The Copper, Mild Thing, Golden Glacier), in addition to a special one-off Hoppy Saison special to the Stilly crew. On Saturday, they’ll be doing it all again at Good Robot‘s taproom from noon, with the Core Four, plus a unique Spruced Red Ale for GR. After the draught launch, look for the Tidehouse retail spot to open in another week or so, for growler fills at 5187 Salter St.
• If you live in Fredericton and are looking for an excuse to go for a run this month, good news – The Tasters Craft Brewery Fun Run will take place on Saturday, December 10th. Starting at 2 pm at the King’s Place Mall, runners will run to and stop at several breweries/cideries during the day (Graystone, TrailWay, Picaroons, and Red Rover) before finishing off at the James Joyce. This is a very informal event, with no charge to run… just bring money to purchase beer/flights at each stop!
• Those behind the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival have confirmed the date for the Second Annual Christmas Beer Garden at the Market – Sunday, December 18th. Starting early at 10 am, and continuing until 2:30 pm, your $26 ticket (available now) entitles you to a 16 oz glass and four beer tickets; additional beer tickets can be purchased for $7 each. Food will be available for purchase from vendors at the Market and can be taken into the Beer Garden.
• Tickets for next Spring’s Saint John Annual Beerfest have gone on sale this week. Being held Saturday, April 8th at Market Square in Uptown Saint John, the festival will feature more than 100 beers from 20+ breweries from across the Maritimes, as well as imports from across the pond. Food is included in your ticket, with a handful of local vendors providing their wares, while roaming entertainment from contortionists, fire eaters and stiltwalkers will keep you on your toes. Grab your tickets now, both general admission and VIP, allowing for entry 30 minutes earlier. The SJBF is a fundraiser for Ducks Unlimited and KV Old Boys, and will include a silent auction and 50/50 draw as well.
And a couple more things this week…
– Saint John’s Big Tide Brewpub has brought back their Gesner’s Deluxe Copper Ale this week. Weighing in at 5.7% ABV and 28 IBU, this beer is named in honour of Abraham Pineo Gesner, Nova-Scotian born physician and geologist, who was the inventor of kerosene, and the father of the modern petroleum industry. He was the founder of the first public museum in Canada, the Gesner Museum, which later became the New Brunswick Museum, in Saint John, New Brunswick.
– Unfiltered has once again brought back their DOA (Double Orange Ale, 7.5% ABV, 100+ IBUs), a SMaSH DIPA brewed with all-Citra hops. This batch, being released at the brewery today at noon, also features 2-row malt from Horton Ridge Malt & Grain, donated as a contribution to Unfiltered’s ongoing legal battle with the NSLC. And don’t forget, Charm School’s first Anniversary is being celebrated this Sunday, December 4th, with $5 pints all day, and special treats available from Salvatore’s Pizza.