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Happy Friday folks! The region got a dose of great news with the announcement of the Atlantic Bubble coming next Friday, but that doesn’t mean you can forget everything we’ve been doing for the last 3 months (just look South for proof). Keep being smart about how you choose to get together with friends and strangers, and above all, spread love and not the virus. We’re taking next Friday off, so we hope this dose of beer news will keep you satisfied until then. And if not, we promise a full refund. Happy Canada Day, and remember that brewery taprooms, restaurants and bars are operating under different circumstances than usual, so check before heading out, and tip as generously as you can!

We want to start this week off with two brewing initiatives that are poised to make an impact on inclusivity and equity in the local brewing community, and beyond.

Good Robot Brewing Co’s brewer Giovanni Johnson, along with members of the Nova Scotian Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour population have come together to form the Change is Brewing Collective. Their first release will be coming mid-July, named Blackberry Freedom, a Pale Ale with blackberries. The group, and beer, is a challenge to other breweries in the province, dare we say everywhere, “to consider how they can be more inclusive for the BIPOC in their communities”. We can see this as a way of encouraging more breweries to engage members of their local BIPOC community for both staffing or patrons. We can get behind that! Look for Blackberry Freedom in July, and we’ll have a ton more with Gio and the Collective then.

And in an out-of-region initiative, but of utmost importance here, is the Black is Beautiful project. Hosted by Austin’s Weathered Souls, it is a worldwide collaboration for breweries to bring awareness and efforts to overcome injustices that many people of colour face. Over 900 breweries have signed up world-wide for the project, brewing a 10.0% ABV Imperial Stout, and directing 100% of the beer’s proceeds to groups focusing on racial justice, equality, and inclusion. So far in Atlantic Canada, we see two Nova Scotian breweries have stepped up to the plate. Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing will be donating the proceeds to GameChangers902, a group of African Nova Scotians coming together to promote and mobilize change in the province, centralizing the experience, culture, and history of Black Nova Scotians. Tatamagouche Brewing is taking part as well, as they are committed to continued education, understanding and supporting people of colour, and are directing their proceeds towards groups educating and promoting awareness in the province. We want to encourage other breweries in the region, both small and large, to take part in this collaboration, because, while conversations on and efforts to remove systemic racism may be difficult and feel overwhelming, Black Lives Matter.

We’ve got big news for the island of Cape Breton, where Island Folk Cider House opened their doors last weekend. Located at 52 Nepean St in Sydney, just a stone’s throw from the Big Fiddle, they are open for retail sales of their initial release blends. Open Thursday and Friday, 12 – 7 PM, and Saturday 11 – 4 PM, you can grab cans of their Good Company 6.5% ABV cider, and Rebel Rosé 7.0% ABV blend of cider and cranberry wine. The cans feature artwork by local illustrator and cartoonist Alison Uhma. Their third release, the smaller batch Easy Beezy featuring local honey, sold out in just a few days, sorry, but more blends are on the way! If you can’t get to their retail location, fear not, as the Good Company is available at 14 NSLC locations across the province, from Yarmouth to Sydney, and Amherst to HRM. Plus kegs of both GC and RR are at several bars and restaurants on the Island as well as the South Shore, check out their Fb page for more details. You can also keep up to date on the fun on their Ig page. We’ll have a full Profile with IFCH up in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, Congratulations to Jill and team!

After months of preparation and planning, Sackville’s Bagtown Brewing Co. finally opened up their new retail store at 45 Main St. last weekend. The new location is also the new home to the brewhouse, and while just across the street from where they were previously, allows them more space to sell more beer! In addition to Bagtown’s rotating offerings, you’ll also be able to grab cans and bottles from other New Brunswick breweries. If you’re in the area and would like to drop in to check out the new space/pick up some beer, they’re open today (Friday) from 12-6 pm, and Saturday 9am-3pm.  

Upstreet Brewing is celebrating a huge milestone this weekend: their brewery has now been operating for 5 years in Charlottetown, PEI. And while the ongoing need for social distancing means that they can’t throw a massive shindig for all their friends in the taproom, it’s not going to stop them from celebrating. The first aspect of that celebration is now traditional: DeNovo V is, appropriately, the 5th iteration of their mixed-fermentation saison birthday beer. Keeping it local, the grist features Island Malt House Pale, Wheat and Rye and the hop side has Island Hop Company Saaz along with some out-of-province Centennial and Ekuanot. Tasting-wise, it starts with an aroma of peppery lemon meringue accompanied by some mild funk, citrus and herbal notes. Lightly toasted sourdough comes through on the palate, leading to a very dry and crisp finish on this beer that weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 15 IBU. This year they’ve elected to bottle it in 500 mL bottles instead of the 750s used in previous years. If you’re on the Island you can definitely grab this one direct from Upstreet (whether that’s the brewery/taproom or Craft Beer Corner), but it looks like it may also make it to Halifax as well, where we’d imagine you’ll find it at some or all of the private stores in the city in the coming weeks.

The other aspect of Upstreet’s birthday celebration is a contest they announced today on social media: they’re offering folks a chance to win a $500 Upstreet gift card for themselves and $5,000 to a charity of their choice! Entering is easy: Post a photo with your favorite Upstreet beer (or Rewind Seltzer or East Coast Soda Co. Soda) on Fb or Ig, making sure to tag @upstreetbrewing and the charity of your choice and add the hashtag #cheersforcharitypei, then use the caption space to say how that charity is doing good in the community. Multiple entries per person are allowed, although each needs to nominate a different charity. There will be one winner of this contest announced July 10th at noon. So grab yourself an Upstreet beverage and your camera/phone, and get snapping for your favorite cause!

Speaking of 5th Birthdays, Breton Brewing is celebrating their own this Saturday! To help celebrate, they’re going to be releasing five beers as part of an Anniversary Series, with each beer being launched at a different date over the summer. A mixture of brand new beers and returning favourites, they’re starting off with one of the latter, Shipwreck DIPA. Hopped entirely with Mosaic, this 7.4% ABV hop bomb is hazy and pale amber in colour, with “aromas of mango, citrus, and peaches”, and lots more on the palate. Always a requested beer at the brewery, this is the first time Shipwreck has been available in cans. It’s available right now in the taproom, as well as for delivery in the CBRM; look for it to pop up at the private stores in Halifax next week, as well as home delivery in that area. And keep your eyes peeled for their next Anniversary release, which should be early July… we’ll keep you posted!

Now that the Good Robot taproom is officially up-and-running, they’re releasing some beers with feelings of summer – one new, and one returning. Seems natural to start off with the new one, so let’s begin with Fanny Pack, a dry-hopped Lager. Designing a brew for those of us looking for something light and refreshing for summer drinking, but with lots of bright hop character, Fanny Pack was brewed with a simple grist of Pale ale malt and flaked corn. Fermented with the brewery’s favourite Mexican Lager yeast strain, it was lagered appropriately and dry-hopped with Comet and Citra. The 4.8% ABV, straw yellow-coloured beer has citrus on the nose and palate, including notes of lemon and grapefruit, with low bitterness. Crushable as advertised, it’s available in cans at the brewery. And while picking up your cans for the weekend, you’ll notice that Viking Holiday is back, also in cans (and on tap)! This 4.2% ABV Pineapple Wheat beer was fermented with a Kveik strain, giving the brew notes of nectarine to complement the aromas and flavours from the pineapple added to the brew. 

Now that Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse is officially at full throttle (it should be noted that the taproom is still open for retail sales only), they’ve gone ahead and added some canned beers to their expanding lineup this week. Those of you who have been following the brewery since their humble, 1-bbl brewhouse days may recognize the names of two of the beers, which were originally released in 2018. The first of these is Orange American Bastard, a 4.7% ABV American Wheat beer that features late-boil additions of orange peel and coriander, as well as a touch of Cascade hops. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, a beer to pound back by your pool, or maybe share with someone ready to dip the toe into the waters of craft beer (“clever” metaphor, not insinuating that the beer is watery). The other returning brew is Call Your Bluff, a 4.9% APA originally brewed in collaboration with Todd Beal that has a “pungent grapefruit character”. 

The new beers are on the darker side of the spectrum, starting with Shady 80, a chocolate stout. Brewed with a variety of dark malts, this 6.3% ABV Sweet Stout has an addition of lactose powder to bump up the sweetness slightly, to balance the roast character in the beer. Rounding everything up is Engine 41, a 6.4% ABV Cherrywood Smoked Porter. “Big on taste, yet balanced and easy to drink”, expect some moderate smoke character, finishing with notes of chocolate and roast. All four of these beers are presently available in cans at the brewery, open regular hours this weekend, and then opening early next week on Tuesday and Wednesday (yes, July 1), 12 – 6 PM, to allow you to stock up for the Canada Day holiday.

Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing has a new beer on the radar, a hoppy, hazy APA named Beachcomber. The latest in their small batch series, the 5.5% ABV beer was intensely dry-hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic, and El Dorado. Hard to go wrong with those varieties! They’ve described it as “light-bodied, flavourful, and aromatic”. Available for delivery, and, of course, for pick-up at the brewery.

The crew at Pollen Angels have teamed up with Fils du Roy to produce Fils D’Abeille (Son of a Bee). You may be already wondering if a meadery teaming up with a distillery means mead + spirit(s), and you’d be right! Fils D’Abeille is a blend of Queen’s Nectar mead and oak-aged Gin Thuya, weighing in at a hefty 10.5% ABV. Described as a harmony of “honey, apples, Thuja occidentalis, juniper berry and coriander”, you can find this beverage at many ANBL stores across New Brunswick; be sure to continue to check the ANBL site for which stores are carrying bottles of the product.

A few more newsbites for you today before we dismiss the class…

There’s a new episode from your favourite hosted-by-three-guys, all about local beer, three digit podcast out for download and listenin’ as of earlier this morning. If you guessed 902 Brewcast, good for you! This is a tasting episode/chat about the latest news/answer social media questions episode, so all bases are covered. Download it wherever you normally download your favourite podcasts.

And in more great news, their faithful sponsor, Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Cellar, has re-opened their doors to the public, for in person shopping (Mon – Wed 10 AM – 6 PM, Thurs – Sat 10 AM – 9 PM), as well as online ordering for curbside pickup or province-wide delivery. (dm us for our address to send that cheque)

CAVOK Brewing has a very small, limited batch newly-available on tap, Dents De Lions. Brewed with local dandelions and citrus fruit, this 4.3% ABV, 6 IBUs brew can also be found online, for local delivery. As a side note, we also would like to invite CAVOK to drop by our homes later in the summer, for more dandelion harvesting. Free!

Unfiltered’s super-hoppy DIPA (well, one of them anyway), Fist of God (7.5% ABV) is back for the weekend. Described by the brewery as a “fruity, citrus, tropical, East Coast DIPA w/ West Coast roots”… well, we don’t know what else to say. On tap and in cans at the brewery now, and delivery options are also available (for orders made before 2 pm).

And with the good news happening around AtlCan, we’re seeing some spots hiring and expanding their scope. Here are two such businesses looking to bring some folks onto their team.

Way up (and we mean waaaaaaay up) in Labrador City, NL, one of the region’s newest breweries, Iron Rock, is looking to expand their team in the form of an Assistant Brewer and Cellar Person. This is potentially a combined position, however the immediate need is on the cellaring side, managing inventory and packaging while maintaining the brewery’s dedication to cleanliness and sanitation. Over time opportunities on the brewing side are expected to grow and so the applicant’s previous brewing experience is certainly a relevant factor. A full-time gig in Lab City, hours will definitely vary. If this sounds like you and you’re in town or willing to make a move, maybe check out the full details and job description and throw your hat in the ring!

Also in Newfoundland, Port au Port’s Secret Cove Brewing is looking to fill a position or two… or four, specifically! There’s a wide variety of jobs available, including working right in the brewing side of things (Brewery Operations – Canning and Distribution), into the taproom with the Taproom Manager position, as well as Bartending and Curb Shop staff, and finally, they’re looking for a cook! You need to be motivated and love everything involved with craft beer, and the cook position does require experience. For more details, check out the full info here, and if you’re interested, send a cover letter and resume to beer@secretcovebrewing.com.

Given the events of the past week or so, we would like to open this week’s post with a message of solidarity to our friends, family, brewery employees, and beer fans, acknowledging that acts of racism and marginalization, both passive and active, continue to occur in our region and in our country. We pledge to speak up and speak out condemning bigotry and hate, and submit that anything but love has no place in our communities. It is through many voices that our lives are enriched, and any oppression of these is unacceptable. “Stop being political; you’re just a beer blog,” some might say, and they’re right about the second part. But we will use our modest platform as we see fit, and right now we see fit to say #blacklivesmatter. 

On a more specifically beery note, with PEI brewery taprooms and restaurants able to open earlier this week, NS following suit today (and word coming that beer deliveries in the province will continue to be legal going forward), and Newfoundland poised to relax restrictions Monday, this is a week of transition for the region’s alcohol producers and licensees. We are anticipating the continuation of safe-distance interactions and PPE for the moments when distancing is not possible, to continue to keep all employees and imbibers safe and comfortable. As usual, it’s best to double-check directly whether your favourite taproom or bar has opened, as not all will be back up and running immediately. And we ask everyone to remember to be understanding: you might arrive at a place and find it full to its revised capacity; you might dislike or disagree with some of the social distancing measures; staff who haven’t worked in nearly three months may have some issues getting back into the swing of things. Breweries and Taprooms are going to do the best they can to remain open and vital, but they absolutely need their public to respect the measures that are in place and be understanding of the hiccups that are bound to happen. Be kind, folks.

It’s always sunny in Newfoundland… ok, not really, but the weather is even getting nicer there, meaning it’s time for some super-refreshing, tasty beers to have on hand for deck drinking. Bannerman is up to the task with Permanent Vacation, a 5.2% ABV Mexican Lager. Brewed with a combination of Pilsner and Vienna malt, along with a large addition of flaked corn, it was lightly-hopped with Motueka to provide just a hint of lime. The beer itself is “light and crisp, with a hint of sweetness”, perfect for warm, spring weather; available now in cans and for growler fills. And if you’re looking for something with a little more “kick” in the flavour department, Bannerman has also brought back Shore Leave, their kettle sour dry-hopped with Mosaic, and conditioned on blood orange and pineapple. Totally drinkable at just 5.2% ABV, expect “bright acidity with heavy tropical fruit flavours”. 

During this worldwide pandemic, the “old days” of large gatherings of people are a distant memory, meaning that many beer events have been, unfortunately, cancelled. One such event would have been the annual party TrailWay has been throwing to celebrate the anniversary of their taproom opening on Main St. in Fredericton (their 4th, this year, if you were wondering). We get you may be upset to miss out on an excuse to drink beer in the sun, but don’t fret… they’re still releasing what would have been a special anniversary beer. It’s the second entry in their wine barrel-aged series, and is named 3rd Room (like the first entry). They brewed up a lightly-hopped base beer and fermented it with a neutral ale yeast strain; once this was complete, they transferred it to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrels and pitched their house culture of Brettanomyces and bacteria. The beer was allowed to condition for 15 months before blending, and was then packaged in 750 mL bottles, where it was left for another 5 months to carbonate and condition further. The final 6.3% ABV beer is tasting “incredibly vinous, with Pinot’s red berry and Chardonnay’s light pear and buttery character”. The Brett and bacteria has provided some complementing funk and acidity to go with the effervescent mouthfeel and dry finish. There’s going to be about 550 bottles going on sale at the brewery only, starting tomorrow at noon. 

In hoppier news (shakes head at leaving a TrailWay post without really mentioning hops), Propeller has just released Strata Double Dry-Hopped Pale Ale. A 5.5% American Pale Ale beer that is… wait for it… double dry-hopped with Strata hops (a new-ish American variety), it’s showing aromas and flavours of passion fruit, melon, fresh berries, and some dank character as well. You can grab cans of this one at all three Prop Shops, or order online for home delivery. Note that this is a one-off release for now, so supplies are limited!

The beer is flowing regularly through the taps at Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing now, and with warm weather finally a semi-regular occurrence in New Brunswick, they’ve been wracking their brains for the perfect patio beer. After some deep contemplation, they’ve decided to bring back Roman Road, a dry-hopped Italian Pilsner that made a brief first appearance last December. Double-dry-hopped with Spalt Spalter and Hallertau Mittelfruh, it’s extremely refreshing and crisp, and 5.5% ABV. You can find it at the brewery right now in cans and on tap.

Hey, were you a fan of a couple of beers from Chester’s Tanner & Co. Brewing, specifically their French Saison and Brut series? Good news! They’ve melded together the best of both worlds into this week’s release of Mandarina Brut Saison. Starting with a base of Pilsner, Vienna, and Wheat malts, enzyme is used pre-fermentation to make as much of the sugars available to the French Saison yeast as possible, resulting in a bone-dry beer. Mandarina Bavaria hops are used throughout for bright and fresh citrus notes, and on the dry base, the 30 theoretical IBUs punch well above their weight. This 6.8% ABV beaut of a brut is available at their retail shop and taproom today.

Upstreet is another brewery missing out on celebrating with another big, annual party this month, but on the bright side they’re releasing 5 new beers to celebrate turning five! They’re not being dropped all at once, so breathe… you’ve got a reasonably good chance at trying them all. This week they’ve launched the first two beers, the first of which is Fireworks Farmhouse Ale 2020, their collaboration with Chef Michael Smith of The Inn at Bay Fortune. Not just a basic Saison (as you may have suspected), the 6% ABV, 10 IBUs beer features additions of smoked applewood and spruce tips, both of which were gathered/harvested at the Inn. The resulting beer is spicy and complex, with “notes of orange, honey, and toasty vanilla”. Next is Limelight Lime Lager, a 4% ABV refreshing lager with a hint of lime from an addition of pure lime juice as well as a touch of salt, meant to be enjoyed in quantity with (hopefully) a background of hot weather. And playing on the “Lite” name, it is only 100 calories, and contains 0 g sugar. Both beers are available now in the Upstreet taproom (in person and online), and at Craft Beer Corner. And hitting the shelves later today is the latest in Upstreet’s Neon Friday series of hoppier beers. Known internally as 3.02 (3rd year of the series, 2nd beer of the year), it’s a pale ale in the New England/Northeastern style. With lots of BC Comet, bolstered by Citra, Mosaic, and Ekuanot for plenty of hop character, it’s hazy and plenty juicy, though a little lighter than an IPA.

Moving from “currently available” to “coming soon,” next week will see the release of Gamay Noir Saison, which started its life as De Novo 4 before being aged for 10 months, before being lovingly conditioned on grape pomace (of the Gamay variety, of course), and then bottle-conditioned. Expect a very dry saison, with a delightful interplay between brettanomyces and red wine character. And if you’re on the hunt for something to provide to your non-beerloving COVID-19 bubble-approved guests this summer, Upstreet is getting into the vodka soda game (makes sense, as they’re already in the soda game) with their Refresh series. Developed in-house and targeted towards being light and refreshing, all three initial flavors, Raspberry & Lemon, Key Lime & Sea Salt, and Blood Orange & Grapefruit, come in at 100 calories or less and leverage a combination of fruit and natural flavors. Available in 6-packs of 355 mL cans some time in the next couple of weeks. Lastly, getting towards the end of June, we’ll see Neon Friday 3.03, which will hop to the other side of IPA to DIPA; we’ll get you further details on that one closer to release.

Let’s keep the fruit beers rolling with Lifesaver, the latest release from Unfiltered Brewing. A 4.2% ABV sour beer, it was re-fermented on 230 kg of wild blueberries, resulting in a bright blue-ish-purple colour, screaming out that there’s plenty of fruit and flavour inside. Tart and refreshing, with a juicy blueberryness that will have you wanting more. Cans and fills are available from noon today, and join the recently-returned DOA aka Double Orange Ale, their 7.5% ABV Citra DIPA. A note that their store hours are now 12 – 9 PM daily, with deliveries happening Tuesday through Saturday, get your order in before 2 PM for some same-day lovin’. No date yet for the re-opening of Charm School next door, btw.

Lazy Bear in Smith’s Cove brought back their First Crush last night. This Saison is fermented on wine grapes grown in their own vineyard right on the brewery grounds, with this year’s release featuring Lucie Kuhlmann grapes. After fermentation, the beer hung out in Oak barrels for a spell before release. Check their site for ordering options at this weekend’s Markets, and they’ll be open at the brewery again Thursday the 11th for bottle sales, as well as pints, for the first time in 3 months!

As friends and frequenters of New Scotland Brewing in Dartmouth are well aware, non-beer beverages get equal billing in their brewhouse and taproom, specifically ciders and meads, and this week marks the first time that they’ll be packaging one of their meads in cans for general sale. Rosehips Don’t Lie is a 5.5% ABV sparkling mead (although some folks might prefer the term “hydromel” at that ABV) that was produced with a natural fermentation: letting the microorganisms in the environment ferment the must instead of explicitly pitching yeast. Aged for 6 months with rosehips, the resulting beverage is a balance of tart acidity and a slight honey sweetness. Get yours either via a visit to the brewery or by ordering online for home delivery.

Halifax’s Garrison Brewing is excited to let everyone know that they’ll be amongst the breweries opening their taprooms today with both their Seaport (12 noon) and Oxford (3 PM) locations geared to allow 50% of their nominal capacity. And what better way to celebrate their re-opening than with the re-release of a fan-favorite beer? Georgia Peach is an APA at 5.0% ABV, with a grist of Maritime Pale malt, oats, and wheat,  hopped with Cascade, and hit with plenty of peach. Not especially bitter at 27 IBU, it’s hazy and orange and bursting with peach flavor. Grab some at either of the aforementioned Garrison locations as of today, but you can also expect to see it at select NSLC stores and private stores in Halifax in the coming weeks.

You can now count Cole Harbour’s North Brewing amongst the breweries who are getting into the hard seltzer game. Our this week is their “sparkling, spiked and fizzy” Pink Lemonade Seltzer. A blended seltzer, it’s gluten-free (tested!), and fresh frozen Nova Scotia raspberries are added, giving an all-natural lovely pink colour, with lemon juice added for a tart kick. It comes in at a light and lively 5% ABV. Available now via the webstore and at the brewery, you can rest assured that this won’t be the only seltzer coming out of North this summer.

You can expect to see a new, summery beer (seeing a pattern with today’s post?) coming from our friends at Good Robot very soon (maybe even as soon as today!). Viking Holiday is billed as a “Pineapple Wheat Ale”, a beer that was brewed with a simple grist of 2-row and Wheat malt, and fermented with a strain of Kveik yeast. Kveik can usually be counted on to offer a wide range of tropical, fruity flavours, but GR boosted that even further with an addition of pineapple puree. With bright carbonation, and pineapple and nectarine notes, it’s very sessionable at just 4.2% ABV.

Speaking of beers-that-should-be-available-very-soon-if-not-right-now, newly-opened Grand Falls Brewing is just about ready to launch their latest, a Helles Lager named Régal. Brewed with German ingredients (including a German Lager strain) and lagered appropriately, it weighs in at 4.6% ABV and 19 IBUs. There’s a bit of bready malt sweetness in this one, balanced by herbal and floral notes from the hop additions. Finishing crisp and dry, this could be a good one for those of you who appreciate a good Lager, and for sharing with your friends or family members who haven’t quite made the full leap into craft beer world yet! Keep your eyes on the Grand Falls social media pages for when exactly this beer will be available.

And a couple of quick final mentions as we leave you to your weekend:

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated…” After whispers and rumours that Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse would be closing, we can report that is not the case. Fresh cans of their signature Box Cutter IPA and Stearman APA are available at the brewery retail shop, located at 515 Parker Condon Road, a stone’s throw from Exit 15 on the 101 Highway. Open 1 – 6 PM daily, you may be able to snag some of the last cans of their Apearently Funky Brett Pear Cider before it disappears.

It looks like the Rockbottom Brewpub, which closed in March like all other restaurants and taprooms, will not be re-opening. However, we hear that it will be reopening as a Nine Locks taproom in the future. Your Father’s Moustache, owned by some of the same group, will be opening their doors now that restrictions have been lifted, and are targeting a June 17th date for their return.

OBB Logo

Fans of good local beer in Lower Sackville, NS, have reason to be excited this weekend, as Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House is making its triumphant return to the suburban community. After originally opening as a nanobrewery out of co-founder Keith Forbes’ home in November 2017 and then closing when juggling the small-scale brewery and full-time job became untenable. Forbes is back, along with childhood friend Chris Balcom, bigger and better than ever. While we know that there are many who aren’t fans of the brewery’s name or their logo, we can absolutely vouch for the quality of the beer and we hope that’s what ends up standing out above all as the brand returned to the local market Saturday. We caught up with Forbes and Balcom as they were putting the finishing touches on everything late last week, just ahead of opening weekend (which continues today, May 18th, 12 – 6 PM), at their Cobequid Road location in Lower Sackville.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Keith Forbes is Head Brewer and founder of the original Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, with 10 or so years of brewing experience under his belt. The 37 year old lives in Sackville with his amazing wife of 11 years Erin and they have two children. In 2018 he partnered up with his old high school friend Chris Balcom. Chris, also 37, is the general manager and lives in Sackville with his wife of six years, Megan, and their two little boys.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Keith started into the world of beer to save a few dollars after his family moved into a new house in the late ‘00s — they had 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. The first few months it was Festa Brew kits which then moved into a couple Best Case kits. After that he discovered the Brewnosers; he picked up a small system and started to formulate his own recipes. He went on to read and learn as much as he could about beer making and went on to apply what he learned and started making some pretty good beer, which evolved into entering competitions, giving him feedback to help with dialing in his product. Chris on the other hand had never brewed beer in his life until he reunited with Keith after 15+ years away working in the oil industry. As an avid beer drinker, Chris had always wanted to own and run a pub, together they have combined their talents to create something great.

Brewery Front

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
Keith’s passion for great beer and wanting to share his product with everyone is the main reason. After the Forbes 500 Tap Takeover at Good Robot in November 2016, he, along with his wife Erin, moved forward to open their own nano brewery in their home and quickly discovered that there aren’t enough hours in the day to run a successful nano brewery, work full time, and still have time for a family. While in early talks with his future partner Chris to expand the business, he decided to take a few months away from brewing to figure out what his future held. After a relaxing summer Chris and Keith had what was supposed to be one last meeting, instead Keith decided he wasn’t ready to leave the world of brewing and partnered with Chris and the two haven’t looked back since. In November 2018 we became Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House Inc. and in 2019 after securing the capital to proceed with our expansion plans, we purchased a 10bbl brewing system and signed a long term lease in Lower Sackville. 

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
At Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House it’s all about the beer, our friends & family, the people behind the pint, and the community we live in. We strive for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House to be a brand that is known in our community as a friendly face with a standard of producing high quality, great tasting beer, and to be a familiar brand that everyone recognizes and looks forward to drinking.

OBB Cans

 

Can you tell us about the beers you have available now?
We are launching with 4 of our 6 mainstay beers along with 4 limited releases.

Mainstays (core brands):

  • Seven Day IPA (6.0% ABV) – Our version of a No Coast IPA – it’s far from a West Coast IPA, but it’s not true to East Coast either! It has the bitterness you expect from a traditional IPA, but it also delivers a juicy tropical fruit and citrus flavour to your taste buds. Think melons, stone fruit, strawberry, pear and grapefruit.
  • Even Gooder Coffee Brown (4.4% ABV)- A balanced, light-bodied, easy-drinking brown ale fermented on whole coffee beans. The chocolate, caramel, and earthy notes of our Even Gooder Nut Brown are complemented by the coffee, taking this beer to the next level. Special thanks to our friends at Apartment 3 Espresso Bar for supplying us with the dark roast beans for this brew!
  • Disco Inferno Red IPA (6.5% ABV) – Our Disco Inferno Red IPA is where malts meet hops. This friends and family favourite is well-balanced with a moderate citrus and floral hop profile and finished with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • Funktown Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) – A hop-forward pale ale. Fermented using a clean American yeast, it finishes dry with lemon and grapefruit flavors and aroma.

 Seasonals/One Off’s:

  • Maisil IPA (6.2% ABV) – Our version of a West Coast IPA. It has the bitterness you’ve come to expect from a traditional IPA with flavours of grapefruit, orange and pine.
  • Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red (5.0% ABV) – Patrick is nothing fancy – a simple, balanced Irish Red.
  • Tall, Dark & Handsome Porter (5.0% ABV) – TD&H is a dark, flavorful and balanced porter. It is medium bodied with chocolate, caramel and roasted notes.
  • Jim Hopper (3.2% ABV) – Jimmy is a low ABV, refreshing wheat ale that finishes crisp and clean with orange notes on the finish. Great for a hot summer afternoon.

What are your plans for distribution? How can folks drink your beer?
With COVID-19 changing the industry overnight we also had to adapt quickly like most breweries in Atlantic Canada. We are currently working with Craft Coast Canning to package our beer into 473 mL cans and plan on taking online orders for curbside pickup at the brewery. Once restrictions are lifted we have a 15-tap taproom with seating for 30 – 50 where you’ll be able to enjoy a pint or flight of your favorites. We will also have growlers and cans to take home and enjoy.

Forbes in Brewhouse

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have some accounts lined up with more to come at a later date once COVID-19 passes.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
This is a long list; most covered in the initial introduction of our nano brewery. But we must fire out a special thank you those below (if we missed anyone we are very sorry).
First and foremost, a huge shout out to our wives, Erin and Megan.
Secondly our parents: Chris & Tim, Mike & Sandy.
And then, in no particular order…

  • Alex McConnachie
  • Mike Orr
  • Paul MacKinnon
  • Ken Sidhu & Chris
  • Steve, Max & Team @ Commercial Electric
  • Dan @ Teklor Controls
  • Matt, Jon, and Al @ Off Track Brewing
  • Joe and Laura @ Triders
  • Matt and Ian @ Brightwood Brewery

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2 – 3 years?
It took us 2 years (really 4) to get to this stage, we plan to grow our brand and expand our team all while sticking to our roots. Mainly just take it 1 pint at a time.

OBB Brewhouse

As always, for the brewing geeks who are reading this, we also asked for some slightly more detailed info about the brewery as well:

What type of system are you brewing on and what is your expected output?
We are operating a 10 barrel electric brewhouse with 8 unitanks. With COVID-19 in full swing we are not sure what our expected output will be.

Care to share some info on your brewing history?
Our head brewer, Keith has over 10 years brewing experience, 8 years home brewing, and a couple years commercial brewing split between the nano setup and assisting at other commercial breweries.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Chris is a big fan of heavily hopped IPA’s and double IPA’s, but his favorite secret indulgence is Church Brewing‘s German porter.
Keith: My favorite style beer presently is a low-SRM (“light coloured” for non-brewing readers) hop forward pale ale. Something light bodied, crisp and refreshing. That said I’m a huge coffee fan and have been craving a Mean Joe Bean from Triders as it has always been one of my favorites.

How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Not so much a favorite style to brew however, in terms of ingredients we would have to go with brewing salts. 

Congratulations to Forbes, Balcom, and the entire OBB family on the brewery launch this weekend. You still have time to grab some of their 8 varieties in cans at the brewery today. Located at 111 Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, the brewery is open 12 – 6 PM today, May 18th. Hours going forward will be Thurs 12 – 6 PM, Fri and Sat 12 – 8 PM, Sun 12 – 6 PM. You can pre-order your cans and learn more on their website (http://www.olbiddys.ca), as well as on their social media pages (Fb / Ig / Tw).