Welcome to another weekend! Maybe it’s just us, but this weekend seems well-deserved, even more than normal. So cozy up to your nice, warm computer screen (phones don’t throw off enough heat), and get caught up on all the goings-on with craft beer in Atlantic Canada this week… and there’s quite a bit of it.
• Well, you lot on the West Coast of Newfoundland are a thirsty bunch! Launching their brewery and taproom in Corner Brook last Friday, the crew at Bootleg Brew Co were overwhelmed with patrons, nearly drinking them dry! Good news for everyone is that they will be open again this weekend, with hours 4PM til late today, Saturday, and Sunday. Returning on tap are their El Diablo Rojo Amber Rye, Hoppy Roger IPA, Just the Tip Spruce Ale, beside new beer El Ray and Friends American IPA. The beer weighs in at 5.8% ABV and 48 IBUs, but that only tells part of the story. Millennium hops were used as bittering in the boil, with Hopzoil from Glacier Hops Ranch in Montana used post-fermentation. This product is the concentrated essential oils, steam-extracted from freshly-harvested El Dorado, Pekko, and Azacca hops. This preserves all of the aroma and flavour, with no bitterness from the alpha acids. The hops used in the beer tell the story of the name. From the brewery: “El Rey Dorado (the Golden King), was the term used by the Spanish Empire to describe a mythical tribal chief (Zipa) of the Muisca native people of Colombia. Pekko is named for the Finnish God of Field and Crops. Azacca is named for the Haitian god of agriculture. In turn, once a millennium El Rey and his friends Pekko and Azacca get together and have a party and drink this beer. A gift from the Gods.” The only spot to grab a sample or pint of Bootleg is at the tasting room, so be sure to drop by this weekend for a spell.
• Newfoundland’s YellowBelly has a new, experimental beer available now that was many months in the making. Spring Session Wheat is a 5.1% ABV beer that started off as a pretty standard brew with a grist of 2-row, Maris Otter, and Wheat malt, hopped with Nugget, Cluster, and Cascade. It was fermented with their house ale yeast and dry-hopped generously with El Dorado, before moving on to secondary. Some “infecting organisms” were added at this point, with the goal to develop notes of funk (but not in a dominating way), which took some time. Success eventually occurred, with the characteristics of the El Dorado developing into a “deep berry character”, according to the brewery. It’s available now at the brewpub for pints and growler fills. There’s another experimental beer underway right now as well; look for that one to debut sometime this coming summer.
• Newly-opened Four Rivers Brewing, out of Bathurst, NB, released their latest beer yesterday – Rockbolter is a Black IPA with plenty of “coffee, dark chocolate, and toffee”, to go with the hop aromas and flavours. The 6.5% ABV beer clocks in at 40 IBU, thanks to lots of Cascade and Mosaic, offering a citrus and tropical aroma to complement the roast and other dark malt character. It is available on tap for pints and growler fills now, and joins their other beers, including Havre St-Pierre, now also available for growler fills (previously only available in flights).
• Propeller‘s latest entry in their Hop Collection series, Skyrocket Double IPA, is now available. This one was hopped with a new American variety, Skyrocket, a relative of the classic Chinook. Giving “complex fruit aromas, but without the piney resin commonly seen in Chinook”, it has a full body and provides a bit of alcohol warmth at 8% ABV, and with 100+ calculated IBUs, a bitter finish. It’s available now at the taproom for pints, and at both Propeller locations for growler fills. And don’t forget to drop by their Gottingen Street taproom after work this afternoon for their latest Cask, this week featuring their Cascade Pale Ale, dry-hopped in the firkin with Citra and an addition of sweet orange peel.
• Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing has released a new single-hopped American IPA, Bravo! Featuring the often-underappreciated Bravo, Boxing Rock used “advanced hopping techniques” throughout the entire brewing process, include a quadruple dry-hop approach with the high-alpha acid variety. The result is a 6% ABV beer with a clean bitterness and “floral, evergreen and fruity aromas”. Available now at the brewery and market stalls in 650 mL bottles and 1 L growler fills.
• Speaking of Boxing Rock, they’ll be showcasing their annual Many Hands Pale Ale, brewed in time for International Gruit Day on February 1st. This year’s batch is brewed with bayberry leaves and berries, sweet fern, and bog myrtle, instead of hops (Gruit is a centuries-old style of beer brewed with a mixture of herbs and spices to give balancing bitterness). Also celebrating IGD is Sober Island Brewing, who are showcasing their Juniper IPA, brewed with almost three kilograms of locally-foraged juniper berries, added in the boil and during conditioning. Look for plenty of posts and maybe some giveaways on their social media, as well as Beau’s Brewery in Vankleek Hill, ON. With nearly sixty breweries taking part across the world, it should be a fun time for checking out this close cousin to beer (or maybe grandparent, as it *does* pre-date it)!
• Next Friday marks the launch of the inaugural South Shore Lobster Crawl, with restaurants, retailers, art galleries, and even breweries getting in on the crustacean action. First up, Hell Bay Brewing in Liverpool brewed up South Shorer Ale, named after the boat that supplied the lobster. A hybrid of a Pale Ale and Belgian Blonde, whole lobsters was added at the beginning of the boil, were removed after it was cooked, with the empty shells returned to the boil after removing and enjoying the meat. Featuring characteristics of biscuit malts and citrusy hops, it’s a Lobster Roll experience but in a 5.0% ABV liquid format! While it debuts on the 2nd, there will be a launch party February 8th from 7PM at the Sipuke’l Gallery in Liverpool, Lobster Tales and ARTifacts. In addition to the brewery, look for kegs of the beer at a few of the Lobster Crawl participants, and White Point Beach Resort, Grand Banker, and a few spots in HRM as well.
• The second brewery taking part in the Lobster Crawl is Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewing, serving up Crustacean Elation beginning next Friday. This 5.5% ABV straw-coloured ale features a base of Pilsner malt and Flaked Wheat, lightly hopped with Hallertau and Huell Melon. Whole lobsters were added during the mashing process, removed and eaten, with the shells kept and roasted, and added back during the boil. The finished product will be light and refreshing, with “a finish that tastes just a bit like the sea”, according to the brewery. The South Shore Lobster Crawl is on from Feb 2 to 19, with events taking place at more than fifty spots in the region, so be sure to check their website for the full event listing.
• Saltbox also has a pair of new beers available now that are worth checking out. During their Robbie Burns event yesterday, they released Storm Surge Maritime Ale. This was a collaboration brew, with Kirk Annand joining brewer Jeremy Fehr in the brewhouse. Annand has decades of brewing and brewery consultation experience, and together with Fehr, that amounts to more than 50 years of collective knowledge. Featuring a base of English malts (including some Caramel for colour), with North American Cascade and German Mandarina Bavaria hops, the beer highlights the influences of these cultures and regions on the people of the South Shore. The resultant beer features a light spicy character, with hints of orange, on a toasted toffee base. The 5.4% ABV beer is available now at their taproom. Also available is Whiskey Jack, a barrel-aged version of their Jeezus Murphy Irish Red, which was aged in White Oak Whiskey barrels, finishing at 8.0% ABV.
• Earlier this week, Niche Brewing sent out kegs of their latest brew, Orange Creamsicle IPA. This brew is a Milkshake IPA, brewed with a good portion of Malted Oats in the mash, and hopped with Citra and El Dorado in the boil. Lactose powder was also added in the boil to boost the mouthfeel and give a bit of residual sweetness. Fermented with London Ale III, the beer was dry-hopped with more Citra and El Dorado, as well as some Equinox, to give notes of orange and tropical fruit. Once fermentation was complete, the beer was conditioned on fresh orange zest and real vanilla bean, before being packaged. It weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 55 IBUs, and should be available now/soon at the James Joyce, 540 Kitchen & Bar, and The Palate in Fredericton, at Cask and Kettle and Pepper’s in Saint John, and Marky’s Laundromat in Moncton. And for the first time outside of NB, drop by Halifax’s Stillwell today for pours of their Mines of Wallonia Grisette, and Something Different Brett Table Beer.
• Today’s TrailWay release is their latest Double IPA, Lampin. Hopped entirely with Cascade from local Bloomsfield Hops Farm out of Lindsay, NB, the brewery is describing it as having a “slightly sweet front, with a soft citrus/floral finish”. Coming in at 8% ABV, the beer nevertheless goes down smooth, as is pretty standard for TW’s hoppy offerings, due to low IBUs thanks to late hop additions (with much of it going in the dry-hop). You can find it in cans and on tap at the brewery today from noon on.
• We have the info on the latest entry in the Something Different series from Annapolis Cider Co. Crabapple & Tangerine is an unfiltered, sparkling cider made from hand-picked local crabapples. Pressed for their juices and fermented dry, it was then finished off with fresh apple juice, perry, and a “touch” of tangerine juice and zest. The resulting cider is “refreshingly tart, with notes of tangerine and sharp apple”. You can pick up your refills of this 5% ABV one-off at the cidery today; $0.50 of each refill will be donated to Kings Point-to-Point Transit.
• Today’s Good Robot update is brought to you by the return of Burban Legend… specifically, version 2.0 of the brewery’s popular 5.9% ABV American Pale Ale, hopped with Cascade, Amarillo, Falconer’s Flight, Citra, and Centennial. Meanwhile, Kinsman’s Ale – a new Beta Brew – is being released next Tuesday. Named for guest brewer John Kinsman, a local homebrewer, and billed by the brewery as an English Porter, maple syrup and honey malt were added to encourage a bountiful body, and it was hopped with several additions of Fuggles to 35 IBUs. A very sessionable 4% ABV, look for it on tap at the brewery for Beta Brewsday next Tuesday, January 30.
• Garrison‘s seasonal Chocolate Imperial Stout, Wintervention, was re-launched late last week in Nova Scotia. A big beer at 10.5% ABV, it’s brewed with Maritime Pale Ale malt, along with some Munich and Chocolate malt, and hopped with Millennium to 60 IBUs. A dark beer with a tan-coloured head, it has “rich, bittersweet chocolate aromatics with dark dried fruit and vanilla underneath”, and flavours of chocolate and molasses. Available now in 650 mL bottles at the brewery and some private stores in the HRM, it will also be hitting provincial stores in NB and Newfoundland in the near future.
• Lower Sackville’s Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse continues to pump out the beer and it continues to be snapped up by the local market. For starters, their Disco Inferno Red IPA is back, it’s 5.9% ABV with citrus and floral notes and a clean chocolate caramel finish. Also making a return is their Saturday Night Fever IPA, but with a slightly modified recipe, with malty melanoidin malt replacing crystal for body and sweetness and a dry hop of both Centennial and Amarillo. The result is a light-colored 6% ABV beer with a juicy grapefruit and floral character and a touch of bitterness. And coming soon (just going into the brite tank this weekend) is the Sackvegas Sour. With a grist of wheat, acid malt and Bohemian Pilsner malts, it was soured with a mix of acid and 2-row malts for 28 hours before the boil where it was hopped with a small amount of Columbus for roughly 5 IBU. The batch, which came in at a little less than 1 BBL, was fermented on 26.5 lbs of whole raspberries. Once it’s ready look for kegs of this one to appear at Good Robot in Halifax, in Fredericton, and likely at another tap account. Speaking of tap accounts, they’re still working on lining up another one in Halifax as we hinted about a few weeks ago; we’ll let you know where it is as soon as it’s official!
• On the South Shore of NS, Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co has a new entry in their Small Lot Series available now, this one a Porter. Coming in at 5.1% ABV and 27 IBU, it offers a bitterness that’s balanced by a sweeter malt profile. Featuring “loads” of roasted dark malt character combined with notes of coffee, chocolate and caramel, you’ll find it at the brewery for both growler and grunter fills. And do check out their website, that’s now been updated with profiles of all their beers as well as current availability information.
• On the North Shore of Nova Scotia, Antigonish’s Half Cocked has announced that they’ll be taking part in the Antigonish Winter Market that’s happening every Saturday from tomorrow, January 27th, through to April 28th, from 10 AM – 2 PM, at the former National Philatelic Centre (say that three times fast!) building on St. Ninian Street beside the St. FX Campus. They’ll be bringing pre-filled growlers and grunters so those arriving with a clean and empty Half Cocked vessel can simply pay for beer and be on their way. They’re also hoping to be able to provide small samples. Availability will vary, of course, but plans are to have the full lineup available as often as possible, including Pete’s Sake, XPA, Cock of the Walk, Darkest One and Bury’d Son. This is a great chance for folks to pick up Half Cocked beer in town instead of having to drive all the way out to the farm. Stay tuned for news of new Half Cocked offerings, likely to soon include a new IPA and possibly a Valentine’s Day beer in the hoppy Irish Red vein!
• Have you ever found yourself wondering whether that beer you’re eyeing in the cooler at the NSLC or another purveyor of fine local malted beverages is at it’s best, freshness-wise? We certainly have. And unfortunately, while some breweries make it explicit with stamped-on dates, some use codes that aren’t easily deciphered to indicate when a batch was packaged. Enter local beer fan Duncan Fergus. When he’s not nailing barleywines with the 902BrewCast boys (and throwing potentially ill-advised shout-outs to his mother-in-law), Duncan is doing his best to crack the codes to help us all stay on the fresh side and avoid the dreaded shelf turds. Check out his web site at Fresh 2 Death – Atlantic Canada Beer Dating Codes. And if you see the man out and about, consider buying him a beer; this is public service he’s doing.
• Some unfortunate news came out of Hortonville, NS, this week, as it was revealed on Sunday that Horton Ridge Malt and Grain Co had suffered a break-in following a very successful Songs and Suds of the Valley event. The premises and some vehicles that had been left overnight were damaged and a significant amount of cash was stolen. It seems pretty obvious that this was a targeted attack by the perpetrators looking to take advantage of the revenue earned through hard work the night before. It’s a pretty sad day when a local business, who is helping to stimulate the economy not only in its own community, but indeed the province and the rest of the Maritimes, has to deal with a setback like this thanks to petty criminals. Horton Ridge is looking for any information that anyone might have and are promising confidentiality and drinkable rewards for any information that helps track down whoever was responsible; we hope that they are successful in this endeavour.
Lots going on this weekend and next, so mark your calendars!
• A reminder to brew up your beer for Good Robot’s FemmeBot Home Brew Competiton! While the beer is not due until March 1, they ask that you register online by February 1. Open to all female and femme-identified amateur brewers, with the style being “Pre-prohibition”. A wide variety there, so check out the BJCP Style Guidelines, and check the History section for some inspiration! And while we’re talking Good Robot, today is Aussie Day at their taproom, with Australian-themed music, food, Football on the big screen.
• If you’ve been missing the fun Kitchen Party events at Quidi Vidi each Friday in the warmer months, you’re in luck! They will be holding a very special one today, marking the end of an era. After this weekend, they will be completely redesigning the retail and hospitality room space, in order to build a full time taproom, with 16 taps. There will also be changes coming to their beer lineup, so drop by today at 5PM for hints of what’s to come!
• In Halifax this evening at 6 PM, Taste of Nova Scotia is hosting their annual celebration of local aquaculture with Sip ’n Shuck, this year hosted on the 8th floor of the Delta Halifax and sporting a wide selection of local fare, in both edibles and potable and potable categories. In addition to oysters from at least seven producers, you’ll find various other seafoods, including quahogs, soft shell clams, scallops, striped bass, salmon, trout, seaweed, mussels, halibut, and eel. And from the beverage industry Nova Scotia distillers and winemakers will be pouring along with Bulwark and Annapolis Cider Co bringing apple-y goodness and Boxing Rock, Saltbox, and Garrison ensuring that our province’s beer industry is well-represented. As of this writing, tickets are still available ($65 + fees and taxes), so if fruits de mer and fine drinkables are your jam and your Friday night is as yet unbooked, maybe give a thought to heading down and sampling some the best our Province has to offer.
• Don’t forget to drop by 2 Crows this weekend to help them celebrate their First Anniversary. We already described the 5 (five!!) new beers that they are releasing in cans tomorrow in last week’s post, which will be pouring from opening Saturday at noon. There will be bar snacks and giveaways for those who drop by. On Sunday (also from noon), they are filling the board with 11 small batch beers (and cold brew coffee from Low Point), available on tap only due to availability. The list is too long to enumerate here, but trust us, you’ll want to drop by! And for those looking for a teaser of what’s to come, drop by Harvest Wines, RockHead, and/or WestSide from 5-7PM to chat with the 2 Crows Crew, grab some merch, and receive an entry for giftcard with each growler fill.
• Acadie-Broue will soon be releasing Mi-Carême, a Doppelbock, and celebrating with a Beer Launch at Moncton’s 2nd Floor at Dolma Food on Thursday, February 1st from 4:30-7:30. They’ll be opening up the rooftop and firing up their grills, shucking oysters, and making smores… what better way to celebrate the release of a brown, malty, rich, strong German Lager? The 7.5% ABV will be available in limited quantities, so make sure to drop by to give it a try and join in the fun. For those wondering (like us) what Mi-Carême means, it is an Acadian traditional day of celebration mid-way through Lent, where revelers would dress in costumes and disguises, and travel from door to door, visiting friends and family, and having their identities guessed. We’ll toast to that!
• PEI Brewing Co. is bringing back their popular Transmitter Coffee Stout – this time in cans! – and is celebrating with a Launch Party on Friday, February 2nd. Held at the Receiver Brass Shop Breadworks and Roastery (only fitting since coffee roasted at Receiver is used in the brew), Transmitter will be pouring on tap, alongside special menu items from Receiver, and live music. You’ll be able to buy cans of the beer at PEIBC and Gahan locations on February 5th; it’ll hit PEILCC stores shortly after.
• Niche Brewing launched four weeks ago, but due to the craziness of the holiday season and getting things running, didn’t immediately have a chance to really celebrate. Now that things have calmed down a bit, they’re inviting you to join them for their Launch Party on Saturday, February 10th at the James Joyce in Fredericton. From 7 pm on, four of their beers will be pouring (Single Origin, Something Different, Orange Creamsicle IPA, and a currently-not-released NEIPA, Apt Pupil), and all will be on for Happy Hour prices. Both Rob and Shawn will be there, eager to talk beer, and will also have some merch (glasses, shirts, and toques) available for sale.
• A reminder that entries are now open for the Canadian Brewing Awards, taking place in Halifax May 24-26. Sign up for the competition closes March 9th, with the beers due in Mississauga from March 12-23. And for those brewery folk who will be attending the conference, 3 day conference passes are now available, at Early Bird pricing until April 9. The conference features talks from industry folk around the country (and often the We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!
And a few more quick mentions afore ye go:
– Digby’s Roof Hound had a rousingly successful Tap Takeover at Battery Park last night, with 15 beers, some special cocktails, and plenty of great food served. Of note were a few one-off beer iterations, that we’ve been told may be available at other spots again soon (or maybe even still on at Battery Park if you head there for lunch!): Pink SIPA is a Pink Lemonade/Session IPA blend, weighing in at 4.5% ABV; Oat of Thyme is a lend of their Thyme to Grow a Pear and Oat Of My Mind IPA, their take on the dry-hopped sour theme; and Kentucky Devil, a variation on their Keltic Devil Pumpkin Spice Latte Strong Porter aged on Bourbon-soaked oak chips.
– And finally, Nyanza’s Big Spruce has a couple of twists for us this week, first an Experimental Gose (3.8% ABV and 15 IBU) with sea salt and Indian coriander that was surplus beer that wouldn’t fit in their tequila barrels when they brewed their collaboration with Merit Brewing of Hamilton (look for that version in the coming weeks). And second, a version of their Whole Nine Yards Scotch Ale with an infusion of whisky; this one came in at 6.3% ABV and 25 IBU. And already preparing for next Christmas, Jeremy and the gang had local violinist extraordinaire (and burgeoning brewer, apparently) Donald MacLennan in the brewhouse last week helping put together an Imperial Barrel Aged English Fruitcake Stout that will be conditioned on brandy-spiked organic plums and aged in Glenora whiskey barrels until next December!