Happy first day of Summer and longest day of the year, you’ve got more daylight today than any other day of the year during which to enjoy the fine beers of our region’s producers and it looks like the weather in most of Atlantic Canada is cooperating. So give a read below to see what might be new and interesting in your particular geographical corner of our burgeoning beer scene and get thee to a patio!! (Although if you’re in Newfoundland, maybe bring a sweater? Sawwy).
Starting up on the Rock, waaay up in Twilingate, where Split Rock Brewing has plenty on the go. First is the latest iteration of their Gateway, a 7.1% ABV India Pale Ale that’s been getting successively hoppier as batches have gone on in a possibly not-so-subtle effort to gently introduce modern IPAs to their local market. Featuring plenty of Cascade and Amarillo in both late additions and dry hops, they’ve now gotten it to where they want it, at least for the time being. Also released this week was Razzin’ Around, a Raspberry Wheat beer made with lots of real raspberry puree for aroma and flavor. Tart, but not sour, it still manages to have a crisp finish, making for a refreshing summer beer with a pleasant fruit kick. Lastly, but definitely not least, this weekend Split Rock is kicking off what is planned to be a series of sour beers, each of which will feature something different added to the base, which is a kettle sour using Pilsner and wheat that has been soured with a pure pitch of Lactobacillus plantarum. These beers will come in under the moniker of Sour Patch B’ys and the first has been dubbed Sour Patch B’ys: Citra, for the generous addition of Citra in the dry hop stage. Pale yellow in colour, this medium-sour beer has a lemony-lime tang and overall citrus flavor. You’ll find all three of these beers primarily at their brewpub, the Stage Head Pub (hours on their Facebook page), but some will no doubt make it to other parts of the province, most likely St. John’s (we can confirm that the Gateway IPA is on at Jack Axes and Razzin’ Around is at Fort Amherst Pub in Churchill Square).
Speaking of St. John’s, YellowBelly Brewery has a new beer pouring, a black IPA they’re calling Gravity Base, an homage to the many Newfoundlanders working in the oil and gas industries at sea and on land. This 5.3% ABV and 60 IBU brew is big and toasty, bready and bitter, with Pacific Gem, Citra and Topaz hops added in the boil and a dry hop of Motueka providing a fruity balance. Look for it on tap on site, pouring for pints and growler fills, and bottles to come this week.
And rounding out the Newfoundland news, over in the Southwest portion of the island in Corner Brook, Bootleg Brew Co. has a brand new beer on tap themselves. Drunken Muppet is an Extra Special Bitter ale aimed solidly at non-hopheads. Only 20 IBU and a fairly sessionable 5.0% ABV, it features hints of cocoa and coffee to accompany a light malt toastiness. Available only by the pint at the brewery.
Heading south to Nova Scotia, Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing has released another in their lineup of Black Box Challenge winners, Bursted! IPA. Brewed by Truro’s Derek Wood (known as Woody amongst the local homebrewing community), his runner-up entry took a different turn than the already-released Oh Snap! Ginger Snap Brown. Focusing on the plethora of hops provided in the box, he used Mosaic late in the boil, Cascade and Amarillo at flameout for a 30 minute whirlpool, and tons of all three in the dry-hop after the fact, extracting more aroma and flavour than bitterness and elevating this pale-coloured beer to new heights. As well as on tap and in growlers, look for bottles of the 6.5% ABV Bursted! at the brewery, their market stalls, and at the private stores in HRM this weekend.
Now that we’re officially into summer, Annapolis Brewing Company is ramping up their energy level to keep the thirsty Valley- (and Visiting-) folk happy. Now that their taproom is open at 302 St George Street, they have a pair of beers coming out in the next several days. Debuting this weekend is a brand new Session IPA named Cool Calm & Collected. “CC & C” also covers the hop side of the beer nicely, with Cascade, Chinook, and Citra coming together to provide a solid hop presence to a very sessionable 4.1% ABV beer. Expect this one to be a hoppy refresher for the deck or the dock this summer. And speaking of summer beers, expect to see Blockhouse Blonde back on tap early next week. Brewed with a combination of 7 malts and hopped with modern Ella and classic East Kent Goldings, it weighs in at 5.3% ABV.
In the big city, Stillwell Brewing has yet another double release happening tomorrow from 12 – 3 PM at their usual spot behind Propeller on Gottingen Street. If you’ve been enjoying the Poptones released two weeks ago but have been musing to yourself, “I say, this is a delightful farmhouse pale ale, but I do wonder what it might taste like if someone were to have aged it in oak barrels for a while,” you’re in luck! Adjust your monocle, good sir/madam, and peep the Poptones Remix. This beer went into Burgundy-style white wine barrels at the same time the OG Poptones was first put into bottles, so while it’s the same age, it grew up in a different part of town, so to speak. Still light and refreshing, but with some oak character, a deeper acidity and funkier flavors overall, it’s 5.3% ABV and displaying herbal and lemony notes with hay and funk. Also up on the block tomorrow is version two of Sport, which was a much bigger batch than the original, allowing more flexibility and variety in the blend. At 5.6% ABV, it’s light and refreshing, if a little heavier than last year’s version, and it once again features lime zest and sea salt to complement the subtle coconut character provided by the barrels. And if you want to get into these beers quickly without cracking into bottles, you’ll also find both on draught today at Stillwell HQ on Barrington, the first time they’re featuring Stillwell Brewing oaked farmhouse beers on tap!
Halifax nano Tidehouse is re-releasing their Cloud Shadow hopfenweisse again, this time in smaller bottles (340 mL vs 640 mL), but still packed with the same flavor. A hoppy wheat beer with Mandarina Bavaria and Ahtanum, expect citrus, tangerine and floral aromas and flavors balanced against a solid malt bill of 50/50 wheat and pale malts. There’s a bottle limit of 6 per person and you can only get them at the brewery on Salter Street starting today at 2 PM. And while you’re there, you might consider asking the helpful barperson for a pour (still only 4 oz, sadly, but only for 10 more days!) of another Tidehouse new release, a strong hoppy saison they’re calling Houndstooth. We’ll have more information on that one as its bottle release approaches in a couple of weeks, but you can get yourself a preview today!
A stone’s throw (OK, maybe a long drive on the fairway) up and over from Salter is Brunswick Street, where you can find a pair of new beers from 2 Crows Brewing’s fermenters. First up is a special collaboration with Coady and Griffin from Dartmouth cocktail and foodie hotspot The Watch That Ends The Night. Inspired by mixology, specifically a cocktail called the Last Word, and expressing brewer Jeremy Taylor’s love of gin (and giving him an excuse to walk over to TWTETN for “research”), Last Word started with a basic grist of Pilsner and wheat malts, with some raw wheat for character, and was lightly hopped in the boil with Halltertau Blanc and Calypso. From there it was fermented warm to encourage earthy and pithy grapefruit yeast character from the Brettanomyces strains used. This became the base for additional machinations centered around the various elements of the Last Word cocktail, namely gin, lime, chartreuse and maraschino, each in its own way. The gin is represented through the addition of juniper berries, coriander and orange peel, the lime by 5 cases worth of lime juice and zest, and the chartreuse by bay leaves and lemon verbana. The maraschino was creatively reflected by the use of mahleb, a spice made from cherry pits, that brings marzipan (sweet almond) and light cinnamon notes. Lastly, a small amount of sour beer was blended in for a bit of zip and to accentuate the lime character. For packaging the beer was keg conditioned with Champagne yeast to provide a tight effervescence. The result is definitely a beer, but one with a lot of subtle reminders of the cocktail. Lime is the dominant flavor, but there is also earthiness, the zip of the gin botanicals, some herbaceous notes, and a slight marzipan sweetness. You’ll find this one of a kind beer only on tap at the brewery and, of course, at The Watch That Ends The Night for now, with kegs possibly going out to other places in coming weeks.
The second of the pair is a pilot brew from Assistant Brewer (let’s be honest, these guys and gals do all of the hard work in breweries) Miles, and Assistant to the Brewer Nick. Retrograde is hoppy and hazy New England-style Pale Ale, available now at the brewery, only by the glass. The malt bill started out as one destined for a Saison, featuring Pilsner, Wheat, Rye, and Spelt, but this dynamic duo decided to cross the Atlantic mid-way through the boil and used loads of Azacca, Ella, Hallertau Blanc, and Loral hops, and fermented it with the darling of NEIPA beers, London Ale III. With more of the same hops added on the cold side, the flavour and aromas shoot through the roof, showcasing peach, pineapple and pear notes on a soft and pillowy base. As mentioned above, this 5.5% ABV beer is only available at the brewery by the pint, so don’t delay your visit to grab it!
Niche Brewing in Hanwell, NB, has released a new Belgian-inspired beer this week, but setting aside the wild and funkier side for a classic and clean one. Day Tripper is a Tripel, with a malt bill of primarily Pilsner malt, with a little Aromatic and Wheat malt as well, and hopped with the very traditional Saaz varietal to 24 IBUs. Using a traditional Trappist yeast strain which exhibits fruity esters, it melds well with the spiciness from the Noble hopping. With the light sweetness often found with Pils-heavy beers, it transitions to fruity and spicy, and finishes dry with a touch of alcohol warmth from the 8.4% ABV. It can be found around Fredericton at Graystone, King Street Ale House, and The Joyce, and kegs may be available further afield soon.
Fredericton’s Grimross Brewing has dropped the latest beer in their Scratch Series, this being release #11. 100% Brettanomyces is, you could probably guess, fermented solely with our favourite wild-but-domesticated yeast Brettanomyces. The straw-coloured base was lightly hopped (to 20 IBUs) with locally-grown Hallertau and Magnum from Darlings Island Hop Farm, before fermentation. The resultant beer is quite dry, with bright tropical fruity notes and a touch of funkiness from the yeast. As with the rest of these Scratch releases, this is a draught-only beer, so drop by the brewery, or check out the local haunts for your next pint.
PEI’s Upstreet Brewing is finally releasing a beer they say has been 548 days in the making (but who’s counting?). Part of their Million Acres series of barrel-aged farmhouse and sour beers, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Apple Brett Blonde Ale was brewed on December 21, 2016 and bottled some 9 months later in September of 2017. It’s been aged in those bottles for an additional 9 months, which brings us to today and its availability at the brewery and Craft Beer Corner. Blurring the line between farmhouse and orchard, expect an overall easy drinking beer, but with notes of interest from apples, Brettanomyces and Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon barrel. Although quantities are definitely limited, you might consider grabbing two of these and salting one away to see what another 9 months (or even 18) might bring to it. You can also try a glass on tap at both locations while it lasts.
Unfiltered Brewing on Halifax’s North Street has released their first bottled beer in a spell, Mise en Garde. This 10.8% ABV stunner is a Barleywine fermented with both American and Belgian yeasts, before being aged on oak. Today’s release is available in 500mL bottles (perfect for adding to the cellar), as well as on tap and in growler fills, but as the name implies, proceed with caution.
Good Robot on Robie Street has a pair of new beers hitting the taps next week, hot off the heels of their Halifax Beer North and South Double IPA collaborations, and the perhaps-aptly-named Sorry from the past week. On Tuesday the 26th, they’ll be releasing their latest Beta Brew, Four Freddy Beaches. Assistant Brewer and Beta Brewster Kelly Costello grew up in Fredericton (aka Freddy Beach), and recruited three high school classmates Jenni, Leah, and Ally to brew this one. This 5.3% ABV hoppy Pale Ale has a base of 2 Row, with some Cara Aroma, Red X, and a touch of Rye malts, and hopped in the boil with Warrior and Vic Secret, and dry-hopped with Belma.
On Thursday the 28th, GRBC will be releasing their latest big batch brew, Pterodactyl Song. A 4.8% American Wheat named in honour of comedian Maria Bamford, the malt bill consists of 2 Row and Wheat, along with Vienna, Red Wheat and a bit of Honey Malt. Hopped to 23 IBUs with Warrior and Falconer’s Flight, this beer also received a dry-hopping treatment of Belma after fermentation.
And mark your calendars for their Hair of the Dog event at the Garrison Grounds (think the edge of Bell Rd at Sackville St) June 30th and July 1st. From 11-11 each day, this dog park/beer garden combination will be full of dogs and their owners playing fetch, rolling in the grass, and sniffing each others butts (mostly the dogs, we reckon). Pints of Good Robot will be available for purchase, plus there will be plenty of dog-related vendors as well as food trucks/tables. While admission to the grounds is free, donations and pint sales proceeds will be going to support the Nova Scotia SPCA and Halifax Pop Explosion. And in case you were wondering, no dog is needed to come hang out and pet the friendly mutts.
A couple more new and re-releases to tell you about, before you hit the nearest beer garden, patio, campground, or dock this afternoon
– Spindrift continues their Seventh Wave Series with Pineapple Pear, a 4.7% ABV unfiltered Helles this week. Lightly flavoured with pineapple and pear, the underlying beer is still the star of the show, giving a fine base for the fruit aroma and flavour. As always, these are only available at the brewery, and in short supply, so be sure to drop by today for a fill.
– North Brewing has a fresh batch of their Lawrencetown Surf Session Ale available at both their Halifax and Dartmouth locations, in both cans and on tap. This 4.0% ABV beer is full of hoppy goodness, but is all flavour and aroma with very low bitterness. The oats in the grain bill help to keep the beer from being too thin, despite its dry finish. And check out the Launch Party tomorrow night at Lion & Bright in celebration of East Coast Surf School.
– PEI Brewing Company is continuing their Growlers of Summer with Hopscotch Lager today. Think New England IPA, but fermented with a lager yeast, the beer features plenty of late- and dry-hopping on a base of light malts and oats to enhance the mouthfeel. Drop by at 4PM for your fill to start your weekend.
– Tanner & Co in Chester have a brand new beer on tap at the brewery this weekend. This Double IPA is a big one at 8.9% ABV, and features loads of Citra and Simcoe in the boil, and at multiple times during the dry hopping phase, ending up at 75 IBUs. Take a trip down Angus Hiltz Road this weekend to grab a growler.