It’s another big weekend for beer in our region, with a beer release that’s very pertinent to our interests here at the ACBB, a sudden (and welcome!) rush of canned products we totally didn’t see coming, and some killer events going on in the downtown core of Halifax. So we’ll skip the traditional commentary on the weather this week and get right into it…
• There’s a cool new beer being released tomorrow from 2 Crows, a collaboration brewed with some pretty awesome guys… us! Named Amateur Hour (well, I guess that put us back in our place), the beer features a light-coloured primarily Pilsner grist with healthy amounts of Wheat malt, Malted Oats and Spelt, and heavy whirlpool-hopped with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. Thanks to two dry-hop additions of those same varieties (during active fermentation, and again during conditioning), you can expect notes of orchard fruit and melon, further accentuated by a light funk resulting from fermentation with the Yeast Bay’s glorious Brett Amalgamation, a combination of six Brettanomyces strains. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV and 29 IBUs, we’re thinking of this as a Brett Session IPA, or even a Brett Session Ale. Available on tap and in cans (check out that label by Midnight Oil Print & Design House!) at the brewery tomorrow, expect to see it around Halifax at the private stores shortly after. And a big thanks to Jeremy, Miles and the rest of the gang at 2 Crows for inviting us to participate in brewing a beer!
• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing is sporting a rockin’ new logo this week and they’ve also got a new beer available today, one that goes to eleven. Nunmoar is a Black IPA, big and bitter, that’s been heavily hopped with Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe. Tipping the scales at 6.5% ABV and a hefty 75 IBU, expect it to marry a distinct roastiness to a prominent hop presence. How much more black could it be? NUNMOAR BLACK. Meanwhile, AJ and the gang have settled on opening hours for the brewery – for the foreseeable you’ll be able to visit for growler fills and merchandise Wednesdays from 2-6 PM, Thursdays 12-6 PM, Fridays 12-8 PM and on Saturdays from 11-5 PM. Even better, they’re now able to accept debit and credit transactions and the dreaded “cash only” sign has been taken down. Expect those hours to shift and hopefully expand a little once they’ve got all the permits in place for their taproom. And, speaking of growler fills, also available right now are the 5.1% ABV Pale Ale known as Daydreamer and two, count ‘em two, versions of the Headliner IPA. The first batch, where efficiency was better than expected, clocks in at 7.3% ABV and the second, matching the original specs for the beer, is 5.9% ABV. Maybe sample them both and let AJ know which version should top the marquee.
• After launching their new Takeaway shop last week, YellowBelly also released a pair of brand new bevvies. We already told you about their Blueberry Hill Milkshake IPA last week, and now we can share more details on their latest cider on tap. Bakeapple Cider is a 7.0% ABV blend, featuring a base of apple cider with the elusive bakeapple (aka cloudberry, aka if you want some, you’d better know someone!) added for a lovely crisp and tart fruit blend. Back-sweetened ever-so-slightly with some of the original cider to reduce a bit of the dryness, the cider is on tap now, and should see limited release in bottles too. And speaking of their Takeaway location a few doors down Water St from their home base, in addition to bottles and 1.89 L growler fills (new for YB), you can stay a while to enjoy samples and pints, as well as pizza from their kitchen.
• North Brewing is releasing the Fall 2017 edition of their Canadian Brewing Awards Gold Medal-winning Midnight today. They took a batch of their Strong Dark Belgian and let it sit in barrels from Glenora Distillery straight from the source (i.e., still wet and with plenty of single malt whiskey flavour and aroma to go around) for the past several months, before packaging recently. Look for a melding of Belgian Abbey flavours (fruity esters with a light toasted bread character) with the barrel and whiskey character (vanilla, caramel, wood), resulting in a 10.5% ABV fireside sipper. Midnight marks the first in a series of several special Barrel-Aged bottles releases coming from North, which will featuring some beers in the coming weeks with funkier beginnings and unique aspects.
• Up in Amherst, NS, Trider’s Craft Beer has released their newest offering, Chaga-Lug Brown Ale. Focusing on local ingredients, this earthy and crisp beer in the Northern English Brown Ale style boasts additions of honey, Chaga and hops that were all sourced locally. Fifteen pounds of Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) were harvested by Shawee, a real life lumberjack; this provided the beer with its distinctive deep brown color. Wildflower honey (over 100lbs) from nearby Nappan, NS, was added during the whirlpool for a slight tartness. And the hops came from Jeff Smith, a member of the Brewnosers homebrew club from the area, who provided roughly four pounds of backyard-grown Cascade, Galena, CTZ and Centennial to this 5.1% ABV brew. Bitterness was kept low to allow the character of the other special ingredients to shine through. It’s available for growler fills now with 500 mL bottles in the works.
• A few weeks ago, TrailWay hinted that they would soon be releasing their first Milkshake IPA, and the day is today, with the launch of Velvet Fog. Brewed with plenty of oats in the mash, to enhance the haziness of the beer (although, really, when have they ever had a problem with that?), as well as the mouthfeel, the addition of a “healthy dose” of lactose powder boosts the body even more, and adds just a touch of residual sweetness. Hopped entirely with El Dorado, the brewery also threw in some peach and apricot purees, as well as some vanilla, to bring everything together with aromas and flavours of “tropical fruit, peaches, bubble gum, and vanilla”. Cans, pours and pints at the brewery starting at noon, and this one will also be pouring at their Tap Takeover at Stillwell today.
• Firkinstein has a new beer, one that features the addition of fresh ginger. Added to a Pale Ale base for a unique twist, Root Pale Ale has just a subtle hint of ginger, with a light malt backbone and a minimal hop presence. At 6% ABV, you can find it now wherever Firkinstein beers are sold. The brewery is also now applying for a beverage room licence, so expect to see them able to sell pints of their own beer (as well as guest taps for other breweries) in the not-too-distant future.
• In our weekly “heads up for the Tuesday’s Beta Brew” Good Robot blurb, we’ve got an Irish Extra Stout dropping on the 21st. Extra Sass is a 5.8% ABV brew featuring 2-Row and Vienna with Caramel 30 for sweetness and Caramel 120, Roasted Barley and Black Prinz for colouring. The balancing bitterness, to the tune of 53 IBU, is thanks to East Kent Goldings and Summit hops. Notes of coffee and dark chocolate are punctuated by a light addition of Sarsparilla root. As always, the Beta Brews are only available at the taproom for enjoyment onsite, so drop for a taste. And if you’ve got a killer idea for a beer, be sure to let them know, they’d love to have you in the brewery! No brewing experience required.
• And in other Good Robot news, after several weeks of conditioning, their first canned offering is hitting the shelves today. We’ve mentioned Craft Coast Canning, a mobile canning business based in Fredericton previously, and it’s this new business that has made this new format possible. Extra BIG-ASS Beer is the first GR beer to get the treatment, their 5.2% ABV amber Marzen/Oktoberfest style beer (and recent ACBA medal winner). Featuring Vienna, Coffee, Flaked oats and a touch of memoirs malt on a 2-Row base, the hopping is from traditional German Perle and Willamette varietals. This won’t be the last canned offering from Robie and the Robots, as they’ve hinted that more of their lower-ABV/approachable/
• It’s also a big weekend for Bad Apple Brewhouse, as they too release their first canned products. And why not shoot for the stars, as their first two beers to get the silver bullet treatment are the Mosaic, their award-winning, and charity-benefiting, Double IPA, and their also award-winning Black & Tackle Russian Imperial Stout. Showcasing its namesake Mosaic hops, the Mosaic is an 8% bitter and aromatic brew that has been an off-and-on favourite for years, whenever owner Jeff Saunders can get his hands on those hops. All sales from Mosaic go towards Down Syndrome Nova Scotia, who make possible the Maritime Down Syndrome Family Camp at Brigadoon Village. These organizations are close to Saunders’ heart, as his son Hunter lives with Mosaic Down Syndrome. On the deep and dark side, Bad Apple’s Black & Tackle, which has won awards as both a “regular” Russian Imperial Stout and in a barrel-aged variation, is also now much more portable, so you can it lots of places and enjoy its big roast presence and 9+% ABV as winter approaches. Cans of these beers are available this weekend at the brewery in
Berwick Somerset, and are also headed for the private stores in the HRM. Follow along on their social media for the exact availability details. We’ve also seen hints on Bad Apple’s social media accounts that canning these two beers is just a start and other tasty things are on the way in that format in the coming weeks.
• And lastly, but perhaps most uncanny of all (not even sorry), Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing made a splash on social media yesterday when it was revealed that they’ve gone ahead and put four of their beers into cans now available at the brewery and very soon (as in very possibly this afternoon) at Bishop’s Cellar. The flagship IPA Exile on North Street and DIPA 12 Years to Zion are joined by fall/winter seasonal Flat Black Jesus West Coast Stout and everybody’s favorite Citra bomb Double Orange
Apocalypse Ale in a hoppy quadfecta. Interest was immediate from folks far and wide as the prospect of shippable Unfiltered became a sudden and unexpected reality. We suspect few will breach the borders of the province or even HRM, at least at first, as having these beers unbound from growlers will be a novelty that takes some time to wear off.
• Last week we told you about the Garrison and Boxing Rock collaboration Courage brewed in honor of Gord Downie. The response to that bear was pretty impressive, with both brewery locations and the private stores all selling out within 24 hours or so! To date, just shy of $11,000 has been raised for two charitable causes: Brain Tumour Research and Indigenous People’s Reconciliation. And hopefully that number is only going to grow, as the beer will be available in 11 NSLC stores by next week (want to know which ones? Go here and click “Check Store Availability”). It will also be hitting PEI LLC this week, and ANBL and NLL stores soon after that. And in other Garrison beer news, their Dirty Ol’ Town Black IPA has been canned and will be available at the NSLC and private stores shortly and their fall/winter seasonal Winter Warmer will be at the NSLC in bottles very soon as well.
• Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax has a new beer of their own on the go this week, called Northumbeerland. Brewed partially as a trial for a new local malt, this beer is in the saison style, and the grist is a single pale base malt. In the kettle, Warrior hops were used for bittering while Saaz were added at the end of the boil and later, post-fermentation, for a dry-hop. The saison yeast strain used was selected for its ability to dry the beer out, and it has, while also yielding subtle hints of hay and berries along with a slight tartness. This is a very sessionable beer at 4.1% ABV and you’ll find it for growler fills at tiny tasters at the brewery’s operation on Salter Street.
A few events to tell you about this weekend and beyond, with a clear concentration of activity in downtown Halifax:
• A little bar named Stillwell opened on Barrington Street in November, 2013, and has been helping to grow the enthusiasm (and number) of breweries and drinkers alike in Halifax. They’re celebrating their Fourth Anniversary with a weekend full of events. Today from noon, the beers (and people) from Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing will be taking over, with a full dozen beers available on tap. Old favourites and new releases (including the Velvet Fog Milkshake IPA mentioned above) will be pouring; there will be free glassware for the first 100 to show up, and the full taplist can be found here. Saturday will see the annual Stillwell Birthday event, featuring an absolutely ridiculous tap, bottle and cask selection that celebrates the best of local offerings, highlights from other parts of Canada and the U.S. and very special treats from Europe. The full list can be found here (try not to drool) and it also includes the first public pourings of Stillwell Four, the first bottle release from Stillwell Brewing Co. which, as a matter of fact, will also be available the very next day for sale at the brewery’s warehouse around back at 2015 Gottingen Street. We’ve been advised that the Four is in somewhat short supply, so there will be a signup sheet at the bar during Saturday’s festivities so you can ensure you don’t miss out. We’ll should also warn you, especially those from out of town, if you’re planning to hit the birthday celebration on Saturday, that the 22nd Annual Parade of Lights is going on downtown that evening. It has been called a “traffic apocalypse” and “the worst traffic of the year”; things start getting nutty at about 4:30 PM and really don’t start to clear up until close to 9 PM or later. So maybe plan to take a bus or cab downtown, get good and settled in, and really explore what’s on offer.
• We mentioned that Montague, PEI’s newest-and-first brewery, Copper Bottom Brewing, would be holding their official grand opening soon, and looks like “soon” is even sooner than we thought! The Grand Opening is happening tomorrow from noon-close, there’ll be live music going on all day, a TBA food truck will be onsite, and lots of other fun stuff throughout the day, including kick-the-keg prizes, brewery tours, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 pm. And if you’d like to get out to the party without having to commit to driving, the brewery has teamed up with a local company to bring you the Copper Bottom Brew Bus, which leaves from the Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown at 5:15 pm, and departs Copper Bottom at 10 pm; contact Sonya or Loralei at 902-213-5177 if you’d like a ticket, which is just $15 round-trip.
• Yes, it’s months away, but we really need to let you know that tickets for the 6th Annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival officially go on sale next Friday, November 24th, at 11 am. This event, which is being held on Saturday, March 10th, 2018, continues to grow in breweries represented, beers poured, and overall excellence every year, so we can’t even imagine how awesome it’s going to be next March! And did we mention that Maine’s Orono Brewing will be pouring? Have this ticket link all ready to go next Friday at 11 sharp, especially if you want to get your hands on VIP tickets (which sold out in something like 2 minutes last year… no, we’re not joking). We’ll have lots more information on the event as the date approaches!
And a couple of last mentions before we let you get started on your weekend:
– A reminder that the launch party for 100 from Big Spruce, their beer made with 100% Nova Scotia-produced ingredients, is taking place at Horton Ridge Malt House tomorrow at 2 PM. Big Spruce beers will also will be taking over the guest growler taps during this kitchen party-styled event. The 100 is now available now in cans at Westside in Halifax, where a Big Spruce 5-tap mini-takeover of their growler station (including fills of the 100) started last night and is likely to continue into the weekend.
– Halifax brewpub Rockbottom has a new beer on the menu this week, an American Pale Ale dubbed Mostly Maris for the use of the venerable British malt called Maris Otter. It lends a biscuity note and a sweetness that should pair nicely with the very American hop schedule that includes Cascade, and Columbus. This beer is balanced to the hoppy side of the spectrum and comes in at 5.5% ABV and 55 IBU.