All posts by acbbchris

While it may not exactly look it today, we marked the end of Winter, and beginning of Spring, this week. Apparently no one told the meteorologists! Let’s hope these are the last throws of the white stuff for another 9 months, and the weather can turn a bit warmer, with all of those great local hop and grain crops beginning their journey up from the soil, and (eventually) into our glasses. Cheers!

• Yesterday, Lunn’s Mill introduced two new one-offs to their taproom line-up in Lawrencetown. The first is You Can Call Miel, a Saison brewed with Pilsner malt and hopped with Hallertau. When fermentation with French Saison yeast was about complete, they added some locally-produced honey from Sophie’s Bees to allow the beer to dry out even further. After a long aging period (3 months) the beer was finally packaged, exhibiting “delicate honey aromatics and a soft, funky finish” to go with it’s 7.5% ABV package. Next up is 2×4, the brewery’s 100th batch, and their first Double IPA. Incorporated in the grist was some Rye malt from Horton Ridge, to add just a touch of spiciness to the flavour. The beer was double-dry hopped with four different varieties – Azacca, Ekuanot, Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria – giving “bold notes of resin, orange pith, tropical fruit, and pine”. This is another big beer, at 8.6% ABV and 100+ IBUs, and both one-offs have very limited availability, with samples and pints only pouring at the taproom (no growlers, sorry). Those of you in Halifax just may see a keg or two pop up, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

• There’s a whole lot of Good Robot beer flowing at the brewery’s popular taproom on Robie St., with ten different brews pouring as we speak (read?)! And in new beer news, they’ve got one in Alpha, and one in Beta. Let’s start with Alpha, which is Into the Warmth, their latest collaboration with the gents behind the Sickboy Podcast. Falling loosely in the English IPA category, the grist is made up of Maris Otter and Flaked Barley, with a wide variety of hops (some not-so-traditional for an English IPA) being added, such as Belma, Centennial, and Fusion. Fermented with the classic London ESB yeast, it comes in at 6.1% ABV and approximately 60 IBUs; proceeds will benefit Out of the Cold, an emergency winter shelter in Halifax. In Beta news, The Mac was brewed with local homebrewer John MacPhail. Loosely (again?!) based on a White IPA, the beer was brewed with 2-row, Wheat malt, Flaked Corn, and a touch of Vienna, and hopped with El Dorado, Wai-Iti, Mandarina Bavaria, and Zythos. They also took the “why not?” approach for a change (it’s about time!) and threw in some orange peel and Grains of Paradise, and fermented the whole thing with California Ale yeast. Easy-drinking, dry, and crisp at 4.4% ABV and 60 IBUs.

• Fredericton’s TrailWay has their latest American IPA, Good Weather, hitting taps today. If you’re angered by the name, settle down, it could hit any day now, right? As for the beer, this is another of their pale-coloured, easy-drinking hoppy beers, with some candied melon notes thanks to the addition of one of the brewery’s favourite hop varieties, El Dorado. A new experimental variety, BRU-1, was also thrown in; this Yakima Valley hop has been reported to give characteristics of pineapple and stone fruit, with a bit of spice in the background. Now’s your chance to see for yourself, with cans and growlers of this 6.5% ABV IPA available at the brewery starting today.

• The fine gentlemen at Niche Brewing are bringing out yet another new beer this week, marking four weeks in a row (and six of the last seven!) for Niche beer releases. And if you consider there’s been at least one two-release week in there, they’re averaging at least one new beer a week over that span; we’re starting to think just maybe they had a collection of tried and tested recipes all ready to go when they opened last Fall… This week’s new one, Chromatic by Design is in the Red IPA style, a solid 6% IPA beer that’s dark amber and lightly hazy with some toffee and light caramel notes. The body is balanced by a big, juicy tropical presence brought by Citra, Equanot, and Mosaic. Look for it where you usually find Niche beers, at tap accounts in Fredericton and other New Brunswick environs, but occasionally in Nova Scotia (and PEI soon maybe?) as well.

• Down at the far end of the Valley in Annapolis Royal, small batch specialists Annapolis Brewing have two new beers on the go. The first, M*A*S*H Valley Pale Ale, is sort of named for the old TV show but really for the Mosaic, Amarillo, Simcoe and Horizon hops that went into brewing it. The 5.7% ABV beer sports 41 IBU with a grain bill of mostly 2-row accented by a bit of Maris Otter and some medium crystal. A big addition of Mosaic at flameout defines this beer, giving a hoppy jolt on the nose and palate. The other new beer is a Black IPA they’re calling Big Shot. Weighing in at a hefty 7.1% ABV and 60 IBU, it’s a heavy hitter with Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade hops all bringing their own characters to the mix. The final hit, a dry hop of Amarillo, accentuates the hint of smoke. The team is confident enough in this beer that it’s been entered for judging in the Canadian Brewing Awards that will be hosted in Halifax in May.

• And not to be outdone, our downtown big city small batch brewery, Tidehouse, has two beers coming out this week as well. The first is an exclusive beer for Tidehouse’s regular tap account showcase, aFrite Restaurant, just in time to accompany their Apple Burger being served up for Halifax Burger Week. Belcher’s ESB was brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal Wheat and Flaked Corn with a touch of Pale Chocolate. Hops-wise, it’s flavoured with the American version of the classic British Fuggle strain, known as Willamette (for the river valley in Oregon in which it took hold) before fermentation with a blend of ester-y British yeast strains. We’re told that it’s “fruity, with a pleasant lightly roasty malt flavour” and that it comes in at a very quaffable 5.5% ABV. Also on the go is a second beer from Tidehouse in the Norwegian Farmhouse style. NORDWAVE is a simple beer, with only a base of 2-row pale malt, a touch of aromatic malt and Warrior hops creating a wort that was fermented by the Sigmund Voss Kveik strain. Super sessionable at 4.4% ABV, it’s got notes of sweet orange on a tart base with a hint of funkiness. This one’s available for tasters and fills at they #TinyTastyBeverageRoom on Salter Street.

Trider’s has brought back one of their most popular beers, Maccan Maple, for the season. With fresh, Cumberland County maple sap replacing water in the brew process, the brewery describes this as an Amber Ale. A sweet-tasting Amber Ale, thanks in part to the addition of pure maple syrup during both fermentation and conditioning, it was hopped with English Fuggles to help complement the “intense earthiness” of the brew. Easy-drinking at just 5% ABV, they brewed twice as much this year compared to last, but it’s still expected to go fast. It’s available now in growlers and bottles, with some kegs being sent out to select tap accounts.

• The folks at Halifax’s 2 Crows brewing have a pair of releases set to launch tomorrow at their taproom. First teased at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest earlier in the month, Maestro is set to make its full debut. This 4.0% ABV Gose was brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malts, along with a touch of raw wheat. Keeping in line with the tradition of the style, the hopping rate is very low, lightly dosed only in the mash tun. There were boil additions, however, consisting of sea salt and coriander. Transfered directly to one of their foedres (large volume wooden barrels), it was first soured with Lactobacillus Plantarum, and then further fermented with the “Amalgamaton” blend of Brettanomyces strains. After a few months of conditioning, allowing the Brett to express themselves, the beer is now ready for our enjoyment. Maestro will makes its debut tomorrow at noon, available on tap, and in cans to take home.

• 2C’s second beer release this weekend is a by-the-glass only release named Heartbreaker. At 5.2% ABV, this hoppy Brett beer features a malt bill of Pale malt, along with Flaked Oats and Barley. Hopped to 40 IBU with BelmaCitra, and Hallertau Blanc in the boil, it was dry-hopped with healthy dose (2kg/hl) of Galaxy and Simcoe before release. In between all of those hops, the fermentation profile was nothing to scoff at: First fermented with “Hothead” yeast from Omega Yeast Labs, and then conditioned for three months with “All The Bretts”. Originally destined for a canning run, the dry-hopping proved so aggressive that they lost more than anticipated to trub (hop matter), and decided to flip the script and release it on draught only, saving all of those hearts from being broken completely. Grab this tropical, funky, dank, yet dry brew from opening at noon tomorrow. And while you’re grabbing the two new releases, check out the pop-up restaurant, by friends Buttered Bliss, featuring several different grilled sandwiches on their menu.

Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville introduced their Cider Club to the general public earlier this week. Membership allows access to special releases selected by their cidermaker, Melanie Eelman, many in very limited quantity. Twice a year, there will be 6 different ciders made available, either exclusive to the Club, or a re-visit of previous “Something Different” releases. During those bottle pick-up events, a guided tasting of the ciders, as well as discussion and the sharing of ideas on what future releases may be. Open to members across the country, those unable to attend can have their bottles shipped to them. While the initial membership run has filled up, check out their page for further details and to sign up to the waitlist.

Just a few events to tell you about this week, so be sure and get out to support your local brewery and good beer bar!

• A reminder that tomorrow is Peche Mortel Day at Fredericton’s King Street Ale House, Halifax’s Stillwell, and Moncton’s Tide & Boar. Featuring a half-dozen different iterations of the Imperial Coffee Stout, including different coffee, hopping levels or alcohol content, there should be something for everyone looking for a solid pint of stout.

• Halifax’s Lion and Bright will be hosting a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover on March 29th, featuring eight different beers from the Shelburne brewery. While the taplist has not yet been released, we expect to see a wide variety of brew pouring, with the BR crew on hand to chat and share the latest news and views from the South Shore. Check the FB Event page for more details leading up to next Thursday.


• On March 31st, Stillwell is welcoming eight (*!) London breweries to their wall, the latest in their efforts to give the local good beers fans exposure to brews from around the world. New wave London breweries including Brixton, Canopy, and Partizan have sent over a slew of kegs for enjoyment from noon on Saturday, so be sure to drop by for a taste from across the pond. Check out the full brewery list here, with the taplist reveal expected next week.

• Due to overwhelming response, a second session of the St John’s BrewFest has been added. Coupling with the Saturday evening session is one from 6-10 PM Friday, April 20th, with all other details being the same. Your $30 ticket gets you in the door, your welcome beer and a couple of tokens to get you going on your next beer. Additional beers will require tokens, sold in books of ten. The beer list is still expanding, but take a gander at their site and Facebook for the latest updates.

Welcome to March, when Mother Nature is making up her mind on whether to shine, snow, or rain (or all three)… Plenty of brand new beers and events to tell you about this week, spanning all four Atlantic Provinces. Let’s get right to it!

• There’s plenty going on in the world of Good Robot over this next week… so much, in fact, that we were thinking of making it a Good Robot-only post! Especially since all of the new beers being released were designed by the FemmeBots in the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8th. Let’s start things off with a brand new Alpha Brew, We’re Not Bitter. A Black Lager, it was brewed with Pilsner, Munich Dark, and “pure feminine rage”. Despite that, it’s described as creamy and smooth, with a good amount of roasted character. This one weighs in at 5.3% ABV and 26 IBUs.

• Let’s move on to the Beta Brews, of which there are three being released on a daily basis, starting March 6th. On that day we’ll see Blood, Sweat, and Cheers, a 5.1% ABV Blood Orange Witbier brewed by the two Kellys (Costello and Lucas). Following on the 7th is One Tuff Mother, brewed by Linda and Elaine Tuff. This one is a citrusy American Pale Ale, brewed with a simple grist of 2-row and Vienna malt, and hopped “gently” with Tettnang, to 19 IBUs. After some thought, the pair decided to dry-hop the 4.6% ABV beer with Zythos, and add some Sweet Orange Peel to boost the citrus character even more. Finally, the releases culminate on the 8th with Treat Her Like A Lady, which actually made its first appearance just a couple of weeks ago. To refresh your memory, it’s a 4.7% ABV Porter featuring Honey malt and real, local honey. You’ll be able to find all three of these beers at GR from March 6th-8th, but that’s not all! In further celebration of women in the brewing industry, the taproom will be pouring beers from other brewing ladies in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick! Watch GR’s social media thingies for teasers of which beers you can expect. And on March 7th, the winner of their Femmebrew Competition will be announced, so look for that result as well.

• Actually, speaking of guest Femmebot beers, we can give you some info on one of them. Tidehouse co-owner Shannon Higgins brewed up a tasty number for the event, Hibiscus City. A kettle-soured Gose with additions of hibiscus and lime, it’s a “refreshingly tart beer with a balance of saltiness, and a major blast of lime”. Very drinkable at just 4.5% ABV, there are only two kegs in existence, so make sure to check it out on tap at Good Robot! But for those of us who just don’t like to wait, there is a limited number of bottles available today at the brewery when it opens at 2PM.

• Today, North Brewing will be releasing their latest beer, a collaboration brewed with Braden Nelson and Sean Clancey of local band Moonwake, in honour of the release of their EP, “Placement”. The beer – named, appropriately, enough, Moonwake – is a 5% ABV, 29 IBUs American Brown Ale. With tasting notes that include “hazelnut, roast, cocoa, and pine”, it’s available today both on tap and in cans. In fact, those lucky enough to be at the band’s release show last night at the Carleton were treated to a sneak peak! If you plan on picking up some cans, be sure to scan the QR code on the side, which will link you to the band’s EP and play songs for you. Ain’t technology grand?

• Speaking of collaborations, you may remember us talking about a beer being brewed by 2 Crows and the fine people at Bishop’s Cellar (no, we didn’t not use the word “fine” with 2 Crows because we don’t think they’re fine, what’s wrong with you? Sheesh!). Well, that delightful beer is being released tomorrow, so no more waiting! Passion Trip really DOES sound delightful – it’s a sour beer brewed with passion fruit, lactose, and vanilla. The grist is made up mostly of Pilsner and Wheat malt, with a bit of Flaked Oats and raw wheat thrown in to help boost that mouthfeel. After souring with Lactobacillus plantarum, it was then fermented very warm to help promote overripe mango flavours. Dry-hopped with Citra during fermentation, and then more Citra and Galaxy afterwards, it was conditioned with a “ridiculous” amount of passion fruit, and vanilla beans. If you’re not drooling now, there’s something wrong with you. Described by 2C as “tart, fuzzy, creamy, and smooth, with huge tropical fruit notes”, the beer weighs in at a cool 4.7% ABV… and 0 IBUs. You’ll be able to pick up cans at both Bishop’s and 2 Crows, and it’ll also be pouring at the Craft Beer Cottage Party tomorrow as well.

• Amherst’s Trider’s Craft Beer has a brand new beer hitting the taps, and it’s a unique one. While there have been plenty of dark beers featuring coffee in our region over the past couple years, including browns, porters, and stouts, there have only been a few that have paired that flavour with a light-bodied beer. Enter Mean Joe Bean, a light and crushable coffee blonde ale featuring Morning Mantra coffee from Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters in Lunenburg.. Although it’s yellow and “clear as anything”, it still boasts a massive coffee aroma and flavour. Truly lightweight at only 4.2% ABV, you can definitely feel free to have a couple and really savour the coffee flavour. It will make its first appearance at the Craft Beer Cottage Party (where Trider’s will be defending their Best Booth title from last year) and then will be available in bottles at their store and their usual market locations. And while you should be surprised if kegs make appearance at accounts around HRM, don’t sleep on it: only one batch has been made for now.

• You might remember last year’s Collaboration Ale, a product of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, brewed last spring to celebrate the convivial atmosphere of craft brewing in Nova Scotia and released in time for Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week. Well it’s that time of year again and sure enough another beer is being brewed – #nscraftbeer social media was awash on Wednesday with photos of the brew day at Tatamagouche Brewing where a collection of brewers from across the province brewed a beer called Made Here By Us. Few details have been released to this point (we all love a little suspense) but we do know that it’s being fermented with the unique Scotia Sauvage yeast strain isolated at Big Spruce. The beer will be available at the NSLC and all profits will go towards funding NS craft beer initiatives. We’ll have more information as release approaches or whenever we can get someone who participated drunk enough to talk!!

• Up in Fredericton, or just outside in Hanwell if we’re being pedantic about it, Niche Brewing is releasing another new brew, a showcase of their love for farmhouse ales. Ethos was made in the classic Saison style, but also features the characteristics of a Brettanomyces fermentation thanks to the use of the Amalgamation 6-strain culture to a classic French Saison yeast. This 6.3% ABV pale-hued beer saw late-hopping with Huell Melon in the kettle and a “light” dry-hop of German Hallertauer for a whiff of cantaloupe alongside a balanced presentation of spicy phenolics and fruity esters, all buoyed by a light barnyard character and culminating in a dry finish. You’ll find this one at tap accounts in Fredericton and Moncton, and don’t be surprised if a keg is tapped at one of the FCBF sessions (our magic eight ball suggests the evening session would be good bet).

• Sticking with New Brunswick’s capital, and why not, seeing as how that’s where all the fun is going to be next week, Trailway has another new release today, this one a fruit-forward Double IPA they’re calling In the Mist. Over 100lbs of pink guava went into this beer alongside some fresh lime zest, and we’ve been advised that the result is extremely flavourful. Tropical El Dorado hops provide background complexity to a dangerously smooth beer that packs an 8% ABV punch. Look for it in cans and available for fills and pints at the brewery as of opening today. And speaking of Trailway, they’re on the hunt for a cellarperson; if you’re into Atlantic Canadian craft beer and are considering making your career in the industry in this region, check out the job posting here.

Maybee Brewing is following last week’s new beer release with another one, Brett de Mars. Fans of European beer styles will almost certainly recognize the name as a play on Biere de Mars, a sub-type of probably the most well-known French style of beer, Biere de Garde. While Biere de Garde was traditionally brewed in early spring and kept cellared at cool temperatures for consumption in warmer weather, Biere de Mars was brewed in March (Mars) to drink relatively fresh. Maybee took a different spin altogether with their interpretation, fermenting it with a Saccharomyces strain, as well as a Brettanomyces strain. Fairly strong at 7.2% ABV, it has “notes of banana, bubble gum, a noble hop spice, and clove, with a punch of fruity and earthy Brett funk”, and finishes quite dry. It’s available on tap at the brewery now, with bottles coming sometime next week.

Upstreet is releasing another entry in their Million Acres series today, Wild Blueberry Imperial IPA. The focus here is on, as you may have expected, blueberries. Local, wild blueberry juice was added to the beer, which was hopped entirely with the blueberry-forward Mosaic. Pouring a “golden blue” colour, expect aromas of “blueberry, grapefruit and pine”. Highly carbonated, it finishes dry and fairly bitter, with perhaps a touch of alcohol warmth thanks to the 8.5% ABV. It’s being released today at the brewery at noon, where it will be available on tap for pours, or in bottles to go.

• From one Island to Another, the Port Rexton Brewing retail spot on Torbay Road will be open once again this afternoon, distributing cans and growler fills of their Chasing SunT-Rex Porter, and Baycation Blonde, as well as a brand new collaboration release, Next Generation. Brewed with Twillingate’s Split Rock, this 5.4% Saison was brewed with lots of Strisselspalt hops in the boil, and then dry-hopped with two rounds of Citra, for a citrus, floral, and lightly spicy Belgian beer. Future releases under the Next Generation moniker will feature fellow Newfoundland breweries that have opened in the previous year, sharing stories and “promoting positive vibes all around”. Grab cans today from 4-8PM and tomorrow 12-6PM.

• The folks at Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Co are celebrating a collaboration brew of their own this weekend, brewed with the North Shore’s own Tatamagouche Brewing. Atlantic Pale Ale is in the American Pale Ale style, featuring 100% Atlantic-grown grains (both barley and rye), malted onsite at HR. With classic American hops Amarillo and Chinook throughout, and finishing at 5.9% ABV. Celebration for the launch of the beer will happen tomorrow at the Horton Ridge taproom, during an event called Weekend at the Shore. From noon, drop by for pints (and for the first time, cans) of APA, as well as three other Tata beers on tap (with enough stock to last the whole weekend, we’ve been advised!), plus snacks from the shore courtesy of Select Seafood (who will also have fish for sale). And from 3-5PM, the Space Bog Paddy People will be entertaining the crowd with their Irish music.

• Homebrewers in the region will be excited to hear of a brand new brewing competition being held by Horton Ridge in partnership with Noble Grape. Horton Ridge has a brand new very aromatic malt they’re calling “Newdale” and they want to give home brewers the first crack at turning it into delicious beer. The Horton Ridge Malt House Open is $25 to enter and welcomes amateur competitors to enter beers containing at least 70% Newdale malt, with no more than 50 IBU, and with no sour or wild fermentations allowed. These guidelines will ensure that the entered beers will truly showcase this new malt variety. This will be a BJCP certified competition with the winners announced at an awards ceremony on May 12th. According to the contest info, Newdale malt is available for purchase at the Burnside, Oxford Street, Bayers Lake, Kingston, Coldbrook, and Fredericton Noble Grape locations, but we highly recommend calling ahead to ensure your preferred store has some in stock before heading over. Homebrewers, start your brew kettles, and submit your beer by April 20th!

Lots on the go these next couple of weeks, here’s a few details:

• A reminder that Lawrencetown’s Lunn’s Mill is hosting their first Showcase Night this evening, starting at 6PM. Featuring a friendly head-to-head of Myld Stallyns, a Dark English Mild brewed with local homebrewer Ian Dares, the beer will be available in kegged format as well as cask-conditioned, an ode to the traditional serving format of the style. And when you drop by, be sure to wish the Lunn’s Mill crew a happy birthday, as they opened March 2nd, 2017. And continue the LM love by downloading the latest episode of the 902BrewCast, as Mark and Sean sat down with the boys for a chat.

• As has been their wont one weekend in late winter/early spring over the past couple years, Big Spruce is doing a tap takeover at Bishop’s Cellar this weekend, and amongst the bounty they’re bringing is a brand new beer. Brewed as a collaboration with the folks from Tool Shed Brewing in Calgary, Six Borders was described to us (ironically? we couldn’t even tell) as “tropical pineapple yum sauce”. It’s a Northeastern IPA featuring the Waimea, Mosaic and Citra hop varieties, including a massive dry hop. Tipping the scales at 6.3% ABV and 40ish IBU, it’ll be vying for belle of the ball honours from 1 – 4PM both Saturday and Sunday alongside Thrice Wild Ale, Whole 9 Yards Scotch Ale, Chamba Cherry Vanilla Milkshake IPA, and Blood Donair Imperial Stout with Raspberries. They’ll also be sampling cans of Better Git’er India Black IPA, Kitchen Party Pale Ale and Tim’s Dirty IPA.

• As we wrote about a couple weeks ago, and have alluded to a couple of times here in today’s post, tomorrow is the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia‘s annual Craft Beer Cottage Party at the Seaport Market on the Halifax waterfront. As we understand it, some tickets are still available for unlimited samples from 35 breweries and cideries from NS (and a few from beyond our borders). Live music, great food and plenty of beer are on the menu, so put on your best “dreaming of summer” face on and come out to play with the plaid-clad crew.
• Only one week to go till the 6th Annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, March 10th! While tickets for both the afternoon and evening sessions are sold out, there are plenty of events going on in Fredericton during the days leading up to the main event:

Tuesday, March 6thLet’s Talk Beer, held at the King Street Ale House at 7 PM, will be a general kick-off to the week. Stop in to chat beer, with Niche Brewing on tap for Happy Hour prices all evening. There will also be FCBF swag for sale, so you can pick yours up ahead of time!
Wednesday, March 7th – the James Joyce and the Fredericton Ladies Beer Connection are hosting Island Invasion!, a tap takeover with all five PEI breweries participating. It starts at 6 PM, with no cost to attend… just pay by the flight or pint.
Thursday, March 8th – back to the King Street Ale House for the Down East Tap Takeover & Trivia Night. Starting at 5 PM, 32 taps at the bar will be dedicated to breweries from Nova Scotia and Maine. And starting at 7 PM, your friends at the ACBB will be hosting yet another year of trivia! We promise great prizes (in the form of brewery swag), hard-to-hear and sometimes overly-difficult questions, and just a general blend of overall goodness. It’s fun! While you don’t need tickets to attend the tap takeover or trivia, you CAN pre-purchase tickets ($27.39 each) for the tap takeover, which gets you ten 5 oz sample pours.
– Thursday, March 8th – if you’re not into trivia, you just don’t think you can handle a couple hours of Chris’ handsomeness, or you’re going but you’re not ready for your night to be over after flexing your beer knowledge, also on Thursday night there will be a tap takeover by PEI Brewing Company & Gahan at The Snooty Fox. They’ll be featuring $5 pints from 12 taps, with Keith Hallet providing live music from 9 PM to 12 AM.
Friday, March 9th – if you missed out on tickets for FCBF, or just want to spread the party out more, you can still buy tickets to Newbie Night. Held from 6-9 PM at the Fredericton Convention Centre, your $62.20 ticket will get you a glass and unlimited samples from up to 12 of the newest breweries in Atlantic Canada.

• For those of you in Newfoundland unable to attend the FCBF, the fine folks at White Hills Resort (just outside of Clarenville) are hosting BrewSKI next weekend, March 9-11. A full weekend of #NfldCraftBeer events, including an ’80s Night on Friday, Beer Yoga, Cooking with Beer, Beer 101 all on Saturday, and a Brewer’s Breakfast Sunday morning. Of course, the highlight of the weekend is Saturday night’s Beer Festival, with beers flowing from six Newfoundland Craft breweries: Bootleg Brew Co (Corner Brook), Port Rexton (Port Rexton), Quidi Vidi (St. John’s), Split Rock (Twillingate), Storm (Mt. Pearl), and YellowBelly (St. John’s). Your $59 ticket will get your first 12 samples, a souvenir pint glass, and live entertainment all night. Or you can opt for the all-in weekend pass for just $119. Either way, grab your tickets here!

A few more beers and news items before you head out:

Garrison Brewing has released the 2018 edition of their Ol’ Fog Burner Barleywine this week, and the 11.3% ABV beer is available in 650ml bottles at the brewery now.
– In addition to the tasty treats listed above, Good Robot also released another beer this week, one that’s possibly equally bad for your arteries and your liver: All You Can Eat Coconut IPA. Get those saturated fats into ya!
– Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing has a new beer pouring this week… Hoppy Wheat is a 5.0% ABV American Wheat Ale, lightly hopped with Mosaic, concentrating on tropical and fruity aromas, rather than bitterness, as the goal.
Meander River has brought back their Black IPA, known as Shiner. Look for it at the brewery in bottles and available for fills.
– Those who look forward every year to the release of PropellerIrish Red need wait no longer; the beer is now available for fills and pints at both locations. Look for bottles to appear in the next week or so and also at the FCBF next week. If you’re a lover of this beer you’d best act fast, though, only a limited quantity has been produced.
Spindrift Brewing in Burnside came with not one, but two beers in their 7th Wave series this week. Assuming they didn’t disappear yesterday afternoon, look for Show Me the Honey Ale, an amber that features a sweet malt body and smooth finish, and Lukey’s bOatmeal Stout, a smooth-bodied, bold and dark beer with a major roasted character, and a crisp, medium bitter finish.
– And finally, yesterday Unfiltered Brewing in Halifax made it known that they’re not taking the court’s decision laying down. They’ve announced their intention to appeal the decision against their case that the Retail Sales Markup Allocation is an unconstitutional tax levied by an arm’s-length agency with no mandate to tax.


Another week of wild weather in our region (hey, it IS still winter), but that hasn’t slowed down the beer news one bit. Plenty of new and returning favourites this week, and some events to give you an excuse to shake off the snow and ice and get out for a local beer. No matter who you’re rooting for in this weekend’s Big Game, we figure you’ll find something in this week’s Wrap-Up to celebrate.

• After a brief hiatus, Stillwell Brewing is (thankfully) back with not one, but TWO new bottles releases tomorrow starting at noon. Let’s start with Solo, a 4.7% ABV Farmhouse Ale (think Grisette-like) that was brewed last March and fermented in a Chardonnay barrel. Bottled as-is in July for another 6 months of aging, it is very light, and lightly-carbonated… “a pure expression of our house yeast cultures at work in one barrel at one time” according to the brewery. Next is Dang, a 7.2% ABV Saison hopped generously in the kettle with Sterling, and fermented with the brewery’s house cultures in French Oak white wine barrels. Once fermentation was complete, the beer was blended from select barrels and dry-hopped “massively” with more Sterling, and Saphir, resulting in a final product best described by the brewery as “zesty”. Both beers will be available for purchase from 12-4 pm at the rear entrance behind 2015 Gottingen St. , along with Stilly Pils T-shirts. Oh, and it definitely bears mentioning that they’ll also be selling the last few cases of their other hoppy Saison, Saazbier… and really, if you haven’t tried this beer yet (and even if you have!), you owe it to yourself to pick some up. You’ll also be able to enjoy Solo and Dang at Stillwell-proper from Saturday at noon as well (bottles on-site only).

Foghorn Brewing recently brewed their 100th batch, and decided to tackle something special to mark the occasion – their first New England IPA. Brewed with 2-row, Oats, and Wheat malt, Tabula Rasa was bittered to only 20-25 IBUs with a small addition of Topaz. The high majority of the hops were added late in the brew, where lots of Azacca and Mosaic were added for the whirlpool addition, with even more in the dry hop, along with Citra and Galaxy to give even more tropical fruit, mango, and pineapple on the nose. With a big juicy flavour and low bitterness, this 7% ABV will go down dangerously easy. Best to enjoy this one fresh, so hop over to the Foghorn taproom now for a pint or growler; you can also find it on tap at a few select establishments.

• Speaking of New England IPAs, Niche Brewing has just released their first as well, coincidentally named Apt Pupil. Brewed with a fairly simple grist that includes a good portion of Malted Oats, the hop stars for this beer are Galaxy, Simcoe and Equinox, which were added late in the boil, mainly in the whirlpool. Two large dry-hop additions were thrown in (one when active fermentation began to slow), with the emphasis on the Galaxy, resulting in lots of “passion fruit, mango, pineapple, and tropical fruit” in both the aroma and flavour. Finishing with a fairly-firm bitterness at 65 IBUs, this 7.0% ABV one-off is available now in Fredericton at the Palate and James Joyce, with one or two other tap accounts joining suit next week. And if you’re in Halifax and missed out on the opportunity to give this new brewery a try last weekend, a keg of Apt Pupil and Orange Creamsicle IPA (the brewery’s Milkshake IPA) will be dropped off at Stillwell later today.

• Next week’s Good Robot Beta Brew will be a dark Saison named Spice In My System. []Community member Dina Lobo joined Kelly Costello in the brewhouse, and the two drew inspiration from Lobo’s heritage as a half-Syrian and half-Indian woman, choosing ingredients and flavours used in the food and drink of those cultures. Lightly-hopped (to just 8 IBUs) with Saphir and Wai-Iti to give a mild, citrus aroma, the beer was fermented with a Belgian yeast strain that contributes “banana bread, mild clove, and funk” to the nose. Toasted coconut was added to smooth out the mouthfeel in this 4.5% ABV brew, which finishes with a “subtle, curry warmth”, according to the brewery. As with all Beta Brews, it will be tapped Tuesday afternoon. In GRBC Alpha news, Dave & Morley has returned, the brewery’s 6.0% ABV Coffee Porter brewed in collaboration with Low Point. This batch features Ethiopian Guji coffee, which brings “mild cherry and blueberry notes” to the beer, on top of the toasted caramel and malt flavours.

• In celebration of Sports Ball Game Sunday, Garrison has two new draft-only releases to consider for your game day planning. Six Rings is a 5.8% ABV New England APA that was heavily dry-hopped to give lots of “grass, pineapple, stone fruit, and lemon” in the aroma and flavour; and It’s Always Hoppy in Philadelphia is an American Amber. Both beers are on tap at the brewery for both samples, growlers, and specially-priced party kegs ($90/20 L or $200/50 L, taxes – and a sleeve of cups – included); Bishop’s Cellar will also be taking both beers for their growler program, and Six Rings should pop up on tap at a few licensees in the HRM.

• Earlier this week, Heritage Brewing released Under the Patio Imperial IPA, a beer whose recipe originated in the planning days for the brewery. Named after the turkey fryers used on homebrewing days on their back patio, the brewery has a soft spot for this beer, as it is one of the first recipes that excited them… meaning they knew it would, eventually, be brewed on their professional system. Hopped with Cascade, Chinook, and Citra, this 7.5% ABV has notes of citrus and fruit on the nose and palate. Drop by the brewery today for a growler.

• Saint John’s Loyalist City has brought Craft Coast Canning into their brewery, and now has three of their brands packaged and ready for sale! Sixteen oz cans of Black 47 Stout, Point Blanc IPA, and Three Sisters American Pale Ale can now be purchased at Hammond River‘s taproom, and all Picaroons locations in New Brunswick, and at Long Bay Brewery in Rothesay. All three breweries were kind enough to give Loyalist City an outlet to sell their cans, while they patiently wait for the ANBL to provide them with a listing so that cans can be sold at their stores. While they continue to wait, be sure to drop into the nearest Picaroons or HR location near you!

• Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing has released their take on the Scottish Wee Heavy style this week, named Broken Bagpipe. A collaboration with local homebrewer (and Scot) Jason McDougall, this 7.5% ABV beer is decidedly malt-focused, featuring rich mouthfeel, full body, and flavours of caramel and toast, with a light floral note from the East Kent Golding added sparingly in the boil. The beer will be on tap around the province shortly, with growlers available at the brewery and Farmers Market stalls, and bottles at the brewery and private stores. Speaking of McDougall, Oban Heather, another of his collaborations with Boxing Rock will be returning later this month.

• So, do you want to join the likes of McDougall, and other Nova Scotian homebrewers, and brew with Boxing Rock? Now’s your chance, as their third annual Black Box Challenge has just been announced. Starting out from the same ingredients provided to all entrants, this is the perfect way to flex your recipe-making muscles and coming up with a great beer. While you don’t need to use *everything* in the box, you must limit your starting materials to those provided (plus water). Previous prize-winnings beers include Where There’s Smoke (a smoked beer with cinnamon), Grafted (orange peel Sour), Tropic Thunder (tropical stout), and Hop Springs Eternal (White IPA). Sign up today, grab your ingredients next week, and drop off your beer mid-March, in time for judging. The live finals will take place at Stillwell March 25, when the top 6 finishers will give a presentation on their recipe, brewday, beer, and equipment. These presentations are always exciting and a great way to share more creativity with the judges (and fellow homebrewers). Full rules and dates are available here. There are only a couple of entry spots left, so act NOW to avoid disappointment!

• Port Rexton Brewing‘s retail shop is sure to be a busy spot again this weekend, as they debut another new beer today. Blue Steel is a 4.7% ABV kettle sour, their first of the style. After mashing, the wort is kept warm in the kettle while Lactobacillus work their magic over a day or two, producing lactic acid, before the mixture is boiled to stop the reaction. The wort is cooled, and yeast is pitched like a standard beer, and allowed to ferment and finish. This initial foray into the style features an addition of orange peel for a moderate citrus character to match the acidity and refreshing base beer. Due to the small batch size, there is a 2-can limit of Blue Steel, to ensure there’s enough to go around. And for those who drop by, there are still some cans of Mixed Opportunity available, their 5.6% ABV mixed-fermentation Saison (first with Escarpment Labs Fruit Bomb Saison, and then with a special blend of Brett strains). Joining these two are cans of their Horse Chops IPA, and growlers of Horse Chops and T-Rex Porter. Located at 286 Torbay Rd, the retail shop is open today from 4 – 8 PM and Saturday from 12 – 6 PM (or until they run out of beer).

• Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing has a pair of new brews to share this week, two brand new reasons to check them out at their Tiny Tasty Beverage Room. The first is Eagle Energy, an IPA in the American Amber style, where malty notes from Vienna and crystal wheat malts combine with a touch of roast and deeper color from kiln coffee malt to balance bold bitterness and tropical and piney hop flavors. Four different hops, Azacca, Columbus, Cascade, and Amarillo were all added to the kettle post-boil. Amarillo and Azacca were additionally joined by Citra during the dry hop. Second we have Mosey Along, a Saison featuring a hazy straw color that comes from a simple malt bill of Canadian 2-row and Vienna. The Mosaic and Hallertauer Blanc hop varieties used are likely to provide a tropical and gentle white whine character as counterpoint against the French Saison yeast strain, known for drying out a beer while still providing a sense of body. Described as “fruity, spicy and refreshing,” it’ll give you a reason to mosey along to Salter Street.

• Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing has announced the return of a beer for which they received a Gold Medal at the 2016 Atlantic Canadian Brewing Awards. Then part of their One Way Series, it is being re-released in bottles as part of their Flipside Series, and continuing to go by the simple Black IPA moniker. Very slightly higher in ABV this time at 6.7%, but still coming in at 65 IBU, it pours deep black with an off-white caramel-coloured head. Plenty of hop bitterness is balanced by coffee and chocolate notes from the specialty malts used in the grist. Look for it to appear where other entries in the Flipside Series have appeared, at the very least at the brewery beginning today. In other Upstreet news, we reported recently on their plans to open a “Craft Beer Corner” retail space and taproom and those plans are forging ahead — they’re looking for taproom managers and have posted a pair of positions. So if you’re looking for work in Charlottetown or prepared to move there, have service industry experience, and craft beer is your jam, you might consider sending in a resumé.

• In Fredericton, hop savants Trailway have yet another new one out, taking a step in a truly different direction for them while still playing to their strengths. Abstract Clouds is what they’re calling a “Euro-inspired” IPA, built on an all-German grist and hopped (heavily, make no mistake), with German Hallertauer Blanc and a new experimental French variety known as GJ2. Together they produce a big citrus presence with pineapple, floral, herbal and melon notes underpinned with a spicy character from the yeast. You’ll find it at the brewery and nowhere else starting today.

• As you may be aware if you’ve consumed any amount of media in the last couple of weeks, there’s a Superb Owl this weekend; and, as is tradition for many, such an event calls for beer. Some of Nova Scotia’s craft breweries have decided to help you out with that by featuring discounts on some of their products to help enable your Magnificent Strigiform celebration (or just your enjoyment of independent local beer). First up is Dartmouth’s Spindrift, who are featuring their easy-drinking Killick Session Lager at $40 for a flat of 24 cans until end of day on Saturday. Meanwhile, across the water in Halifax, Garrison has deals on party kegs (contact the brewery for details) and is selling cases of 24 bottles (341 mL) this weekend for $50, letting you mix and match whatever they’ve got on hand. And up the North Shore, Tatamagouche Brewing has a deal on their summer seasonals, with Sunrise Trail session IPA, Lagerhosen traditional European lager, and Philaroma Berliner Weiss with Cherries all available while supplies last at $3.50/can (500 mL) or a case of 12 for $36. We’d suggest assuming tax is extra on any of these great deals and, if you’re going out of your way, maybe checking ahead with the brewery about availability.

We’ve got events all around the region to keep you busy this weekend:

• Dartmouth’s Jamieson’s Irish Pub is holding a Double Header Tap Takeover this weekend, featuring eight taps each from Boxing Rock and Upstreet. The official launch is today, and it runs all weekend, with live music on Saturday at 7:30 pm, and brewery personnel will also be present that evening to chat all things Boxing Rock/Upstreet. Check out the event link above for a full tap list and schedule.

• Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing is turning the big 2, and celebrating with a birthday party tomorrow, February 3rd. Join them at the brewery from 7 pm on for live music (starting at 8 pm), plenty of Maybee beer, an on-site food truck, and a free shuttle to take you back downtown when you’ve had your fill. Cost to attend is $10 at the door.

• Back to tap takeovers, as Garrison is holding their own at Battery Park on Thursday, February 8th. They assure us that they’ve been planning their tap list for the past year, so expect some special beers to be flowing. The doors open at 11:30 am sharp, with all 15 taps dedicated to Garrison, with plenty of employees sure to be on-site joining in the fun.

• With the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival just five weeks away (March 7-11), they are adding a few more volunteers to their roster, to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you are interested in taking part, check out this page for the tasks and schedule for when you could assist. There are plenty of perks, above and beyond a free beer or two, so check it out and sign up today! And in case you didn’t realize, there are still tickets available for the Thursday Trivia & East Coast Tap Takeover at King Street Ale House, Friday Newbie Night, and the Saturday Afternoon Session.

A couple more nibbles before you head out the door:

– Saint John’s Big Tide has released a new IPA, combining the best hops from both sides of the country. Using Magnum from Darling’s Island Farm (who also lent their hops to Loyalist City’s Black 47 mentioned previously) and CascadeChinook, and Triple Pearl from Topp’s Hops in Abbotsford, the Best Coasts IPA is 6.8% ABV, and a juicy 67 IBUs. Grab it on tap, or to go in a growler, at the brewery today.
– For those of you entering the Garrison Home Brew-Off Challenge, just a quick note to let you know that the Gala date has been changed to Wednesday, March 28th Thursday, March 29th (we originally got that wrong, SORRY!!). And remember, entries are due by end of day, Monday, February 12th.
Grimross has released a pair of new cans this week, making your favourite lagers a bit easier to enjoy at home, or on the local frozen lake in your shelter while you fish: Braunschweig German Pilsner and Crabbe Mountain Après Lager. Both are available at the brewery now, and will be hitting the regional ANBL shelves soon. And speaking of the brewery, they are looking to add a Taproom Server to their family, so check out the job posting and drop by to apply.
Hammond River Brewing has brewed up a couple of old favourites: Nut Your Everyday Red Ale, an “English Red”, and Imperial Breakfast Stout, which includes the addition of chocolate, coffee beans, and homemade Applewood-smoked bacon. Look for both on tap in the near future (and note that the Imperial Breakfast Stout was brewed on their 1-bbl pilot system, so kegs will be limited!).
Picaroons has brought back their beer for lovers just in time for February 14th. Afterglow Aphrodisiac Ale features roasted cacao nibs, chili peppers, licorice and gingseng root, on top of a 7.0% ABV base. Bottled for the first time this year, find bottles at the Brewtique and across the province beginning today. Worry not, it’s also available on draft.
– Halifax’s Rockbottom has a new kettle sour on tap at the brewpub, Sour of Love. Soured with Lactobacillus until nicely tart, the beer then had cherry and rhubarb puree added, giving it a bright, reddish-pink colour, and a “pleasant, fruity aroma”.
– Chester’s Tanner & Co Brewing are debuting the latest entry in their Small Lot series, Belgian Tripel. At 9.3% ABV and 37 IBU, this is sure to keep you warm on these cold winter nights. Find this and a quartet of other beers in growlers at the brewery at 50 Angus Hiltz Rd 12-5PM both Saturday and Sunday.
Unfiltered is bringing back their Hops and Dreams (7.5% ABV) – a SMaSH beer brewed with 2-Row and Amarillo hops, today; look for it at the brewery and at Unfiltered tap accounts in the Maritimes.


After a brief lull in the new beer releases last week (we figure the brewers in Atlantic Canada may have needed time to fully recover from the holiday festivities), we are back with a full complement of news in the region, ready to fill your growlers and glasses with the best beer going.

• Fredericton’s Grimross has the ninth entry in their Scratch series available for pints and growlers at their taproom on Bishop Drive. Scratch #9: Golden Ale is “light, earthy, and dry”, and was hopped with all-Maritime-grown hops. Dry-hopped with Chinook to give some spice and pine to go with the floral notes, the brewery describes the beer as well-balanced between malt and hop flavours. Coming in at just 4.7% ABV, like all Golden Ales it’s meant to be enjoyed in quantity.

• Halifax’s Ladies Beer League has teamed up with Lunn’s Mill to add yet another collaboration beer to their ever-growing list. Hopper’s Bazaar is a Belgian Dubbel brewed with Pilsner, Amber, Dark Munich, Special B, and Chocolate Wheat malt, with an addition of Dark Belgian Candi sugar. Hopped lightly with Saaz and Tettnang, they even threw in a late addition of Garam Masala, an Indian blend of spices, for good measure. This very dark Belgian Ale comes across as “rich, semi-sweet, and spicy, with hints of cumin and cardamom”, and weighs in at 6.7% ABV. It’s available right now at the brewery, and select licensees for pints.

• While it may feel a heck of a lot warmer now than it did a few days ago, no mistake, it’s still winter! Which means you can still enjoy Trider’s newest beer, an 8.5% ABV Winter Warmer called Hibrrnation. Described as a “deep chestnut brown”, the beer was brewed with demerara sugar and unfiltered local honey, to give it extra sweetness to go with the warmth from the alcohol. Hopped with earthy Willamette to prevent it from getting too sweet, this is a one-batch wonder until next year, so grab it while you can!

• We have a new beer alert for this week for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, as they will be releasing their Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red. Brewed with Pale malt, Melanoiden, Crystal 30 and 60 L, and a bit of Black Malt for colour adjustment, the beer was hopped to 28 IBUs with Columbus and Willamette to help balance the sweetness from the malts. Coming in at 4.0% ABV, this reddish-coloured brew is medium-bodied with a “caramel, biscuit, and light roast finish”. Look for it to hit the taps at Battery Park and Stillwell very, very soon. New batches of Orange American Bastard and Funktown APA will also be popping up at local tap accounts, as well as Disco Inferno Red IPA and Saturday Night Fever IPA within a couple of weeks. And for OBB fans in Halifax, look for them to be available at another location before the end of January, we’re hoping to reveal exactly where that is next week.

• Your favourite Halifax brewery named after a duet of birds (that would make a great trivia question) is releasing a brand new beer tomorrow. That’s right, 2 Crows launches Forever Young on Saturday, a beer brewed with Pilsner, Wheat and Vienna malt. Hopped in the boil with Sterling and Hallertau Blanc, it was fermented in their cognac foedre with their house Saison culture, along with TYB 207, an experimental Brettanomyces strain. Further conditioned for 3 months on local rosehips, the beer was then transferred back to stainless for further conditioning on a small amount of rosewater, and then finally carbonated and packaged. Cans of this 8.5% ABV, 29 IBUs beauty will be available at the brewery and private stores, and a few kegs will be popping up at Stillwell (and probably a couple other lucky places). Described by the brewery as “earthy, floral, lightly funky and dry”, don’t miss out on your chance to try this one!

• Hanwell, NB’s recently opened Niche Brewing is releasing their third beer today, but actually the first one they brewed, and one of their expected flagship brews. Called Something Different, the name acknowledges that this isn’t a style we see a lot of in our region: the table beer. Low in ABV and considered excellent for accompanying a meal, this is a classically Belgian style that is usually balanced towards the malty side. Niche’s offering takes the style in a slightly different direction, using the Amalgamation blend of Brettanomyces strains from the Yeast Bay to provide a citrus and slightly funky character to a fairly dry beer accented by Hallertauer Blanc in the kettle and a small dry hop of Amarillo.  At 3.6% ABV and 20 IBU you’ll be able to have a few without too many effects, which should give you plenty of opportunity to savour the interesting combination of yeast and hop characters. It’s available to Niche licensees as of today, with the Saint John Ale House already confirming that they’ll be taking a keg.

• Northern Nova Scotia’s Tatamagouche Brewing has a couple of new beers to tell you about this week that each feature a different unique ingredient. First is Mussed Up, a Double IPA in the Northeast style. Starting with a grist of pale malt from Horton Ridge and some oats and hopped with Enigma and Hallertau Blanc, this beer was dosed with the must of Petit Milo grapes after two days of fermentation. Although the hop varieties were chosen specifically to drive the wine character of this beer, they also add plenty of pineapple and other tropical notes characteristic of the style. At a hefty 7.9% ABV and 60 IBU, it’ll pack a punch in more ways than one. Look for it at the brewery for pints, fills, and in cans, at tap accounts in NS and some in NB, and next week in the private stores in Halifax. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who has a ticket, you’ll also find it being served next week at the Halifax Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration!

• Tata’s second new beer announcement this week is on the other end of the spectrum, a “breakfast” Porter called Crack of Dawn. Coming in at 8.4% ABV and 35 IBU, this is a big beer built on a solid base of Horton Ridge pale malt and plenty of oats, with color, character, and mouthfeel provided by chocolate rye and chocolate wheat malts. It was hopped with Chinook and with some lactose added in the kettle for a balancing sweetness, but the feature ingredient of this beer is cold-brewed barrel-aged coffee. The gang took 150 lbs of green Ethiopian coffee beans and aged them in a rye whiskey barrel for 3 months before taking them down the road to Meeting Waters coffee, where they were given a dark and smooth roast. The coffee was then cold-brewed to maximize flavour and smoothness and keep the bitterness under control; this cold brew was added to the finished beer before packaging. The resulting brew is big-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel providing counterpoint to the acidity and roastiness of the coffee and the darker malts, with definite notes of whisky and fruit from the coffee aging process. Our own Chris McDonald and homebrewer extraordinaire Brian Harvey were part of the prototyping process for this beer, assisting with the process of figuring out the coffee dosing level and also helping brew the production batch (ed: no really, we did work!). Look for kegs of this one to start appearing late next week, with 500 mL bottles on their way as well, after its debut along side the Mussed Up at the aforementioned event next week (in cask, with an additional special secret ingredient added for the evening’s festivities).

• Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing just put a new beer up on the board today, a New Zealand Pilsner named Captain Cook’s Goat. A crisp, 5.5% ABV lager hopped with New Zealand (of course) hop varieties including Rakau, Motueka, and Pacific Jade to 20 IBUs. In case you’re wondering about the name, our Foghorn source says it was inspired by the story of a Captain Cook who supposedly brewed the first beer in New Zealand, but more importantly, traveled the world with his beer-drinking (we assume) goat companion. If that’s not worth a beer name, we don’t know what is! It’s on tap at Foghorn right now, and will be at licensees sometime next week.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has brought back a pair of beers this week, at the two ends of the flavour and ABV spectrum. Their Hopyard American Pale Ale has returned, melding the hoppy focus of a West Coast IPA (thanks to Amarillo and Cascade hops in both the boil and dry-hop) with an East Coast/British-influenced sensibility (featuring Maritime Malt with 2 Row and Carastan). The 5.5% ABV beer is available for the next few months in six-packs at the brewery and NSLC stores across the province. And launching today is the next in their Cellar Series (big and bold beers that are usually wood-aged and worthy of enjoyment now or in a few months/years), Rum Barrel-Aged Spruce Beer. Last year’s release of this historically-inspired beer spent 12 months in Ironworks Rum barrels, picking up plenty of spirit character, combining with the bold flavours of spruce, and touch of molasses. This barrel-aged edition also picks up a significant amount of alcohol from the wood, increasing from 7.5% ABV for the standard release, to 11.0% ABV for its bigger sister. 650mL bottles are available today at the brewery, with a $15.95 price tag.

• We’ve got Alpha and Beta news from Good Robot Brewing Company this week. First off, Extra Big-Ass Oktoberfest Camacho Lager is once again available on tap for pints and fills (and, no doubt, making appearances at GR tap accounts). Just remember to order it (respectfully, mind) in ALL-CAPS. This week’s Beta Brewsday, on the other hand, is a feelgood brew dreamt up and brewed by Kelly and Glee Club member Rebecca, along with Rebecca’s brother Joseph. Dubbed Cuddle Up, this coconut porter started with a grain bill of 2-row barley, flaked oats and Vienna malt, with both roasted and black barley for color and deep roasted flavour. Bittered to 26 IBU and very lightly kettle hopped with East Kent Goldings before being fermented with London Ale yeast to preserve a malty character, toasted flaked coconut was added for a lingering coconut flavour. Everything about this 4% ABV beer was designed to be comforting, so if that’s your jam, grab your favourite blankie and head on down to Good Robot this Tuesday when it’s tapped.

• Montague, PEI’s Copper Bottom Brewing has announced that they will officially be releasing their third flagship beer, The Rabble Rouser Red, next Thursday. Brewed “with a rich malt profile in mind”, this 5% ABV, 25 IBUs American Amber Ale has a grist made up of five different malts, giving a flavour of slightly-toasted malt, “with a residual sweetness to round out the body”. Check out their Facebook page for the back story on where the name came from, and plan to drop by the taproom on January 18th, from 6 – 10 PM for the launch party, which will feature live fiddle music and Sneaky Cheats BBQ, with a custom-created food menu to pair with the beer.

Horton Ridge Malt & Grain in Hortonville, NS, has another new beer coming out next weekend, brewed on their small system. Beer of Fundy celebrates the Bay of Fundy and the Annapolis Valley by being made with malt, hops and water that are all from that region. The barley (75%) and rye (25%) were grown and malted by Horton Ridge and the hops used were Galena and Centennial sourced from Fundy Hops down the road in Berwick. At 6% ABV and 63 IBU, this beer is admittedly the hoppiest to come out of Horton Ridge and treads “perilously close” to IPA territory. This is a nod to Fundy Hops, who will be at the malthouse and brewery to celebrate the launch of this beer a week from tomorrow on Saturday, January 20th from 2 PM, at an event that’s being called Songs and Suds of the Valley. Look for lots of musical entertainment from Space Paddy Bog People and artists featured on This Place, Songs from the Annapolis Valley, along with lots of beer, of course!

Hammond River Brewing has teamed up with Josh Mayich from Darlings Island Farm to brew their first Bohemian Pilsner. Currently unnamed, it features Bohemian Pilsner malt and Carapils, and was bittered with Magnum to 43 IBUs, followed by three later additions of Saaz. As you likely expected, both hop varieties are from Darlings Island. Look for this one to finish at about 5.6% ABV; since it naturally needs to undergo a lagering period, look for this one to hit taps around mid-February. And meanwhile, HRB’s Shane Steeves and Darlings Island’s Josh Mayich are hosting a “Hop Seminar” to talk hops and beer. Want to know which hops match well with which styles of beer or maybe which hops grow well in our region, but especially New Brunswick? These are just the gentlemen to tell you about that! Look for it to happen at the HRB Beer Bar on Sunday, January 21st, at 1 PM: grab a pint and learn a little about what’s in it and where it came from!

And one last mention before we go, you may have heard that Loblaw’s is giving away $25 gift cards as a measure of “atonement” for their bread price-fixing scandal. You may also have heard that there’s been a groundswell of support for collecting those cards and getting them to organizations who can put them to good use. You may not have heard, though, that our pals at the 902 BrewCast have taken it upon themselves to help this process, calling it the #RobinHoodChallenge. Over the past couple of days they’ve been enlisting breweries from across NS to agree to be drop points for the Loblaw’s gift cards, which will help the process by making it easy for the folks who can afford to do so to donate their gift cards, knowing that those cards will make their way to an important organization like Feed Nova Scotia. Be sure to check the 902BrewCast Instagram and Twitter feeds for more details and information about which breweries are participating. And big kudos to the Kyle, Phil and Tony at 902BC for organizing, the breweries for taking part, and everyone who takes the time and makes the effort to help out with such a worthy initiatve!

The town of Hanwell, New Brunswick, is just a few minutes southwest of the province’s capital city, Fredericton. A small community of fewer than 5000 residents, with many working in town, in Fredericton, or in other nearby communities, it can now also boast that it is home to the province’s newest brewery, Niche Brewing. Founded by two award-winning longtime homebrewers, Rob Coombs and Shawn Meek, Niche aims to expand the palate of the local community and the province at large. The brewery itself is located on Millennium Drive, but there is currently no retail location for growlers or pints; they’re opting instead to sell kegs direct to licensees for the time being. We managed to chat with Rob and Shawn to learn more about how they got into beer, their brewery’s ethos, and plans for the future of Niche Brewing.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Shawn – I’m originally from PEI, and moved to New Brunswick after meeting Jill (now my wife) when I moved to Ottawa after graduating from pharmacy school. I’ve been living in Fredericton and working here as a pharmacist since the summer of 2005. We have a 5-year-old daughter, love to travel, and love beer (Jill and I, not Zoe… yet).

Rob – I was born and grew up in Labrador City. I moved to New Brunswick for school and was planning to relocate afterwards but work kept me in Saint John as an X-Ray technologist. I met my wife there and we moved to Fredericton nearly 10 years ago where I’ve been working as an MRI Technologist ever since. We have two young boys, Cameron and Oliver, ages 5 and 2, respectively. They share our love of travel and tolerate my love of photography.

Niche's Sign, courtesy of Zoe Meek

Niche’s Sign, courtesy of Zoe Meek

How did you get into the world of beer?
Shawn – I was never a beer person until a trip to Belgium in the winter of 2009. I had no idea that beer was available in so many styles, and when I returned home… I wasn’t able to find many of them. Keep in mind this is over 8 years ago, long before there were many breweries in the area. I started reading about beer online, and quickly discovered that it was possible to brew these styles at home. Rather than just jumping into the hobby of homebrewing, I bought John Palmer’s How to Brew and did a lot of reading; eventually, I bought a simple homebrewing setup and brewed my first batch on November 29th, 2009 (yep, I still remember the date). Like a lot of people, I was immediately hooked, and have been brewing regularly since then (I think I’m at 155 or so brews now). My love of beer and brewing lead to me writing a homebrewing blog in 2011, and a couple of years later I started co-writing the Atlantic Canada Beer Blog.

Rob – About six years ago I was introduced to quality craft beer by a friend on a trip to Portland, Maine. He told me about Dogfish Head and Stone and my love for beer grew from there. When I returned from that trip I did some research online about those breweries and found that Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione had a mini-series on Discovery called Brew Masters. Sam’s explanation of the brewing process conveyed the simplicity of making beer and also his passion about the creative and intuitive aspects of the process. I found this very inspiring, so much so that I started home brewing that same week. A couple of years later I joined the NBCBA which was a great resource for the practical aspects of brewing as well as feedback on beers I had brewed. That club helped me progress and I eventually started a homebrew blog a couple of years ago. This gave me an excuse to brew more interesting beer such as 100% Brett, mixed fermentations, sours and New England styles which I could subsequently post about.

What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
We met about four years ago – our kids were going to the same daycare – and got into your typical homebrewing relationship soon after that: sharing recipes and ideas, trading homebrew, etc. Looking back, it’s really hard to actually pinpoint when we started discussing opening a brewery, but it was about a year ago that the idea was sparked. Neither of us were looking to open a brewery for any reason other than because we love to brew. It wasn’t because friends were saying they loved our beer, it wasn’t because the beer scene has improved so much the last few years… it’s because we’re both passionate about beer, about brewing it, and sharing this passion with others.

What is the culture of the brewery?
Really, this can be found in our brewery name, as well as our tagline “Find Your Niche” (which, as intended, can be interpreted in two ways!). The idea behind starting this brewery stems from a belief we share regarding finding a passion that speaks to you and fully immersing yourself in it. We believe this can apply to everyone within their own context and interests. Find something that you love to do more than anything and focus on applying your own creative character to it. It’s also important not to take any hobby, job, or even yourself too seriously, and to have fun in what you do! Even when it involves writing business plans, securing loans, and dealing with the 1001 things that will inevitably go wrong when opening a business. Wait, where were we going with this again?

Niche Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout

Niche Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout

Can you tell us about the beers you are offering initially?
We have three flagship beers that we’re launching with, and will keep these in rotation if demand (and ingredient availability) allows. All three of these beers have been homebrewed by both of us, and tweaked over many attempts for each:

Single Origin – a Coffee Sweet Stout, we took a Sweet Stout recipe that we’ve liked in the past (featuring lots of roast character, with a healthy amount of lactose added to boost the mouthfeel and provide a bit of residual sweetness), and added local coffee. The coffee presence is pretty apparent, and those who aren’t big on Stouts shouldn’t shy away from giving it a try.

Something Different – a “Brett Table Beer”, this one is a pale-coloured, low-alcohol brew hopped lightly with Hallertau Blanc and fermented with Amalgamation (a blend of six Brettanomyces strains); dry-hopped with Amarillo, we wanted to showcase Brett in an easy-drinking package, complemented by some light hop character.

Orange Creamsicle IPA – a Milkshake IPA featuring the addition of lactose, vanilla bean, orange zest, and hopped with plenty of CitraEl Dorado, and Ekuanot. Probably pretty obvious what flavour/aroma characteristics we’re going for here, and I guess the name gives it a way a bit as well! This is a beer we started brewing over a year ago, and have played with it a little bit to get it where we really wanted.

We’ll definitely be experimenting with one-offs (while at the same time focusing on keeping the flagships in rotation), and have a Grisette hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Nelson Sauvin; that one should be available very soon.

What are your plans for distribution?
We’ll definitely be keg sales to licensees only… at least for a while. Growlers or packaged beer may come in the future, but we’re in no hurry.

The Niche Brewhouse, from Stout Tanks

The Niche Brewhouse, from Stout Tanks

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have at least two locations in Fredericton who have agreed to serve our beer – the James Joyce and King Street Ale House – as well as Moncton’s Tide & Boar and Saint John’s Cask and Kettle. We hope to be at least occasionally on tap at other great beer bars/restaurants in Saint John, Halifax, and Charlottetown at some point!

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada?
We’ve had lots of help from plenty of people in the brewing industry, and we’re extremely grateful to all of them. During the months of business plan writing, equipment selection, dealings with licensing, etc., we had lots of help from Shane at Hammond River, Marc at Flying Boats, and Scott at Think Brewing. When we announced the brewery in late September, several people were quick to provide support, advice, and equipment when needed, including Jeremy at 2 Crows, Mark McGraw at Loyalist City, Paul at Maybee Brewing, and Dan and Jake at TrailWay. Ken at Beer Tech has been beyond generous with helping us get our CO2 and kegging equipment set up, and Chris McDonald (of some blog, forget which) has been more than a lifesaver with too many things to mention, least of all muling equipment from Halifax on his work trips to New Brunswick (which didn’t necessarily include Fredericton!), as well as setting up/building various pieces of brewery equipment.

Do you have  favourite beer styles you enjoy drinking?
Shawn – I enjoy a wide range of beer styles, but tend to focus most on hoppy ones, as well as funky, sour beers. I love a well-brewed Saison, and really do have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of other Belgian styles (since they’re kind of what got me here to begin with).

Rob – Like most beer geeks I enjoy a variety of styles. I love the current NE hoppy beer available from breweries like Bissell Brothers. Mixed fermentation beers really interest me, as well as those time-honoured Flanders and spontaneous sour styles. Finally, I enjoy some styles that tend to be harder to find, such as Grisette and Gose.

Niche fermenters and brite tank

Niche fermenters and brite tank

How about a favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
We’re both very like-minded when it comes to brewing (luckily). We love hops. We love Brett. We love brewing sour beers, whether it be kettle sours with a fast turnover, or barrel-aged brews that take 1-2 years (or more) to be ready. We recognize that those aged beers will be difficult to brew on our system, but we hope to get access to at least a few vessels in the near future to make this a reality, so that we can get started on at least a couple Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins, etc.

Tell us about the brewery: What type of system are you be brewing on?
We have a 2 BBL (240 L) brewhouse from Stout Tanks and Kettles: three vessel system (HLT, mash tun, and boil kettle), with four 2 BBL fermenters and a brite tank. Since both of us are keeping our day jobs, full-time, we can’t say for sure what our output will be, especially launching during the slow beer season; probably somewhere in the 1000-1200 L range monthly to start.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next few years?
It’s probably safe to say we really aren’t sure where we’ll be… hopefully still open and brewing beer that people really enjoy. At some point we’ll obviously have to sit back and take stock about where we are and where we ultimately want to go; for right now, we want to focus on brewing good beer and continually improving in that regard.

Congratulations to Rob and Shawn on their launch, and having their first beer out in the wild! Single Origin is available now at Moncton’s Tide & Boar, Saint John’s Cask and Kettle, and Fredericton’s James Joyce Pub. Keep on eye on Niche’s social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest news on their releases, with the Grisette expected in the first week of January.

Niche kegs waiting to be filled

Niche kegs waiting to be filled

It’s the last Friday before Christmas, and that means the last chance for gift ideas for the special someone on your list (and you!). We’ve got a new brewery, plenty of new beers, and promises of beers to come in the new year to get you in the giving (and drinking) mood. So grab a beer, put down the wrapping paper, and check it out!

Off Track Brewing is opening today in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Located at 275 Rocky Lake Drive, the brewery opens today at 3 PM for pints, 4 oz samples, flights and growler and grunter fills. Visitors can get a taste of a handful of the beers made right on site, including their Alias Pale Ale, Good Grief Charlie Brown Brown Ale, Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Stout, Crash Course IPA, and Hoover a Dip IPA. They’ve also announced that they will be open on both Christmas Day (12 – 5 PM) and Boxing Day (12 – 9 PM) for beer emergencies. In fact, the only days they’re closed for the rest of the year are Wednesday the 27th and New Year’s Day. Check this Facebook post for their hours on any of the other days and  consider heading on down to sample the wares from HRM’s newest brewery. Congratulations to Allan, Matt, and Jon!

• Moncton’s Bore City has dipped their collective toe into the world of hazy, juicy, tropical IPAs with one of their own. There’s a NEW England? is a New England (or North East, depending on who you ask) IPA, hopped with Azacca and Ekuanot/Equinox. No filtering here, folks, as that would strip out lots of those flavours. So embrace the haze and find this 7.5% ABV beer on tap around town and quite possibly at the James Joyce in Fredericton, as part of their rotating line-up of all-NB beers.

• Halifax’s RockBottom Brewpub is saying “Merry Christmas” to its customers with two new beers on tap this week. First up is Nitro ESB, a 5.6% ABV English Special Bitter hopped with East Kent Goldings and Fuggles. With “sweet toffee notes derived from dark Crystal malts”, and a firm bitterness (at 40 IBUs) to balance, it was carbonated with nitrogen to give a creamier mouthfeel. Next is Japanese Rice Lager, brewed with equal parts malted barley and rice. Thanks to the high amount of adjunct in this beer, it has a very light body, with “a malty sweet, yet slightly tart, fruit finish”. It was lagered at cold temps for over six weeks, and comes in at 4.5% ABV and 10 IBUs.

TrailWay is bringing back their annual holiday brew, Christmas Rascal, which will be released at the brewery today at noon. The recipe has changed since last year, with this Imperial Milk Stout being conditioned on lots of cacao nibs, vanilla, and a “blend of spices”. Expect a creamy and full mouthfeel, plenty of chocolate character, and a background of vanilla and spice. It’s a big one at 8.5% ABV; cans and pints at the brewery, with a few lucky spots around Fredericton pouring it on tap as well. And please keep in mind that 50% of all pint revenues today will be donated to the Fredericton, so do your part to help out and drop by for a beer or three. And if you bring an item for their food drive, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a TW merch package.

• Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub is holding a double-banger of a day today. At 11AM, they will be hosting another one of their Growler Fill Days, featuring a return of their Peach Shake Ale (Peach Milkshake IPA, with peaches, vanilla beans, lactose, and plenty of hops), Young Blood IPA (Hazy yet crisp, with notes of citrus and grass), and the brand new 7.2% ABV Destroyer IPA (featuring Enigma and Mosaic hops, for a meld of tropical, fruit, and dank notes). With 3 kegs of each beer available, they should last until lunch, but there’s no guarantee! And from 1-5PM, their holiday tradition of Free Oysters continues. With the purchase of any drink, you’ll be served a tasty trio of oysters to toast the season. Be sure to drop by!

• The Annapolis Cider Company is releasing Wine and Strawberry, the latest in their one-off Something Different series, today at the cidery. This one is an unfiltered, sparkling blend, bringing together dry cider, red wine, and strawberry juice. The hand-picked apples were juiced and cool-fermented before being combined with red wine from local Leon Millot grapes. Cryo-extracted juice from local strawberries was then added to this blend, resulting in a 5.9% ABV “aromatic, medium-bodied cider with soft tannins and bright notes of fresh juicy strawberries”. Every fill of this one will see $0.50 donated to the Wolfville and Area Food Bank.

• Today, Saint John’s Big Tide is launching a special beer with a party at the brewpub at 8 pm. Darlings Island American Lager was brewed with a grist of Pilsner and Munich malt; the beer was hopped with Saaz from local hop suppliers Darlings Island Farm. The 5.4% ABV, 43 IBUs beer was brewed a couple of months ago, in order to give it the time to lager (cold-condition) before its release. Speaking of its release, the Release Party will happen tonight, as mentioned; your $25 ticket gets you entry and a pint of the beer, with all proceeds going to Broken Earth (a medical relief mission in Haiti). It’s a great cause, so if you’re in the area and looking to get away from the craziness that is shopping during Christmas, head down to Big Tide! You can reserve your ticket by calling 506-214-3311.

• Rose Valley, PEI’s BarNone Brewery has a new beer available this week, Warmer Winter. This 8.2% ABV Brown Ale was brewed with Bryan Carver of DME Brewing Solutions, who boldly loaded up the mash tun with Ginger Snaps, giving it, we imagine, a spicy ginger character to complement an otherwise malt-forward beer. You’ll find a limited supply of bottles available at the brewery as well as at the Charlottetown Farmers Market tomorrow.

• A reminder that Port Rexton Brewing‘s Pop-up Shop at 286 Torbay Road is open again this weekend (4-8PM today, 12-6PM tomorrow). Growlers of Mr. Wheaty Pants are available, as well as cans of Chasing Sun NEIPA and T-Rex Porter. And for those in the area, or would like a bit of a drive, their taproom in Port Rexton will be open tomorrow 2-10PM for Tibb’s Eve, for merchandise, pints, and growler fills, as well as cans of Baycation BlondeChasing SunHorse Chops IPA, and T-Rex Porter.

• And speaking of that T-Rex Porter, it’s the base of a very special holiday beer released today. A couple months back, they put some of that beer in French Oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels to condition along with some locally foraged partridgeberries. The result, which they’re calling Nor’ Easter is 6.5% ABV and 19 IBU and it’s available now in 500 mL bottles at the Port Rexton taproom as well as at their retail outlet in St. John’s. In the interest of letting as many people as possible try this special brew, there’s a 2 bottle limit per-person. So if you’re in Newfoundland and you’ve got a beer lover in your life, we’re guessing this would make a pretty stellar stocking stuffer. Or hey, if you’re the beer lover in your life, maybe skip the stocking and go straight to the enjoyment part.

• At Lunn’s Mill in Lawrencetown, NS, they’ve got a new beer courtesy of their assistant brewer, Peter, who took the lead on all aspects of this new brew. As fans of hoppy amber styles (think MBC Zöe and Trailway Good Aura),  they’ve been wanting to try their hand at making one for some time. Today’s release, Clever Girl is that beer, based on a grist of Maris Otter pale malt, with honey and chocolate malts for sweet and roasty character. For hops, Amarillo and Centennial were used, both known for bringing grapefruit and other citrus presence along with some floral notes (Centennial) and melon and stone fruit (Amarillo). The batch was double-dry-hopped to encourage a smooth hop character; it finished at 5.5% ABV and 40 IBU so it should be an easy drinker, with a well-defined malt backbone balanced against a bright and prominent hop presence. Available on tap at the brewery now for fills and pints.

• And, moving from the Valley to the South Shore of NS, Heritage Brewing in Yarmouth has a brand new collaboration beer hitting the taps, this one done with their downtown neighbours Sip Café. Starting with a porter base, they added fresh-brewed coffee from the gang at Sip along with chocolate soaked in Vanilla Bean Vodka from Annapolis Royal’s Still Fired Distilleries. The result is a smooth beer weighing in at 7% ABV, with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavour. Only 180 L was made, however, and some of that has been set aside for Sip Café’s own taps, so if it sounds like your cuppa tea, or, maybe more accurately, cuppa joe, they’ve got a limited amount for growler fills and tasters at the brewery. Otherwise you’ll be waiting for it to appear at Sip, when you might just see a contest to give this brew a name.

2 Crows received a special care package in the mail this week, just in time for a special collaboration beer that they brewed up yesterday! A picture on their Facebook page gave a glimpse of several delicious-sounding yeast and bugs from Escarpment Labs, including a “Lacto Cocktail” and a “Fruit Bomb Saison Blend” (one with Saccharomyces, and one with Brettanomyces). Escarpment has officially teamed up with 2C for this beer, which while we can’t share all of the details yet, we can tell you that it’ll be funky, sour, and fermented in one of their Calvados oak foedres (now empty thanks to the packaging and release of Never Again, which we mentioned last week). As always, we’ll keep you up to date on the progress of this new beer!

Before we sign off today, remember that most (but not all) breweries and taprooms will be closed Christmas Day, and many are adjusting their hours on the 24th and 26th as well. Check social media or call first to avoid disappointment!

Boxing Rock has brought back their Russian Imperial Stout, U-889. Featuring coffee from the Valley’s Just Us! Roaster, and whole Madagacar Bourbon vanilla beans, this 8.89% ABV beer is the perfect pairing for cool nights in front of the fire, or food with friends. Co-owner and -brewer Emily Tipton decided to go the extra mile and cook with it, detailing her recipe and results on their blog. Grab bottles at the brewery, their tables at the Halifax Seaport and Dartmouth Alderney Landing Farmers Markets tomorrow, and at the private stores in HRM.
– Next Thursday, Dec 28, Good Robot will be releasing yet another iteration of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie Pale Ale (5.5% ABV), this time featuring organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (I’m going to trust their spelling of that) coffee beans from Java Blend Coffee Roasters, cold-brewed by Low Point Coffee Co. And a heads up that, due to staff demand, their taproom and brewery will be open regular store hours over the holidays.
– After a little adventure in canning line malfunction last Friday (too many hops!) Unfiltered had a fridge full of cans (Hoppy FingersFlat Black JesusExile on North Street, and DOA) to start the day on Tuesday, but it’s surely been dented if not decimated over the last three days. Also in the fridge are bottles of their Commissar Russian Imperial Stout. They’ve got store hours from 12-8 PM today, from noon tomorrow (until 8 PM, we suspect), and not again until December 29th, so if you want Unfiltered cans to be part of your Christmas week you’d best be getting on that by tomorrow!

Wow, it’s December already! Time flies when there’s so much beer news to collect and share across our region! This week’s news is a mix of new and returning beers, some holiday-themed events, and hints of new breweries set to open in the New Year. Crack open that Advent Calendar beer or chocolate, and let’s dive right in.

• We lead off with lots of new beer news from Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing, who actually sent all this info in days ahead of the post going up (we’re still a bit dizzy with shock)! To start off, they have a new brew on tap at their tiny taproom, a Saison named Sylvan Specter. Featuring some noticeable malt flavours thanks to the use of Munich and Melanoiden malts in the grist on top of a base Pale malt, as well as some Wheat malt to boost the mouthfeel, this 4.9% ABV was hopped with Enigma and Saaz at the end of the boil, for “a blend of earthy, fruity, and herbal components”. Fermented with two Saison strains (Farmhouse Ale and French Saison), expect a very dry beer with some spicy phenolics, in addition to the flavours mentioned above.

• Continuing with the rest of the Tidehouse news, they have brewed three other new beers to celebrate the opening of new restaurant aFrite, which opens tomorrow at 1360 Lower Water St. in Halifax. They are the following, with each designed to pair with specific plates: Bishop’s Porter, a 6.2% ABV “Raspberry American Porter”, the raspberry presence is fairly light to pair with aFrite’s sous vide Side of Beef with Frites and Bernaise sauce; Salter Saison, a 5.4% ABV amber-coloured Saison hopped heavily with Perle and Tettnanger featuring lots of herbal notes, to pair with their Donair Gnocchi; and Morris Ale, a 5.3% ABV American Pale Ale hopped with Citra, with fresh lime zest also added, paired with Fried Cauliflower in curry sauce (featuring cilantro, cumin, ghee, and lemon).

Roof Hound has a new Sour that incorporates a different approach to the souring method, compared to previous releases of theirs in this style. They actually made their own yogurt with a bacteria culture used by a local Nova Scotian family for close to 100 years, according to owner/brewer Les Barr. Built up over several weeks in coconut milk, the resulting coconut yogurt (therefore dairy-free) was added directly to the wort to lower the pH (to just barely above 3). Shredded coconut had also been added to the mash, and the whole thing was fermented with a blend of five yeast strains. Named Dooflicker Tropical Brown Sour, the resulting 5.3% ABV beer hits you “with a jaw-cramping mouth pucker, followed by a good remaining body, and a slight chocolate and coconut finish”.

• The crew at Port Rexton Brewing has had a busy fall, and are ready to unveil several new and returning beers this weekend. At this evening’s 12 Beers of Christmas in St. John’s (more details below), they are debuting Rewind Saison, which is a take on their previously-released Mixed Opportunity mixed-fermentation Saison. The Rewind, however, is fermented solely with Sacchromyces yeast (no Brett here), for a different profile. Light-to-medium in body, with a mild sweetness with herbal notes in the flavour, and fruity esters and spicy phenolics on the nose, the beer ends up at 5.5% ABV. If there’s any left after this evening’s event, it will be available tomorrow at the brewery. Speaking of which, for the next four Saturdays (Dec 2, 9, 16, and Tibb’s Eve), the brewery will be open 2-10PM for all of your sample, pint, and growler needs.

• Also available this weekend at the brewery will be a trio of their beers in cans, following their successful, and sold out, release of Blazing Sun NE-DIPA mid-November. Baycation BlondeT-Rex Porter, and Chasing Sun NEIPA will all be available at opening, and the only spot to grab them is at the brewery.

• And debuting next Thursday, December 7, is a fundraising collaboration in support of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium. The beer was brewed with the folks from the Aquarium, as well as Motion Bay Brewing Company, opening next year in Petty Harbour, as well as the folks from Jack AxesOceans & Orchards is a truly Axe-perimental brew, as the base beer (grist of 2 Row, Oats, Honey, Vienna and a touch of Crystal 60 malts) features 50 litres of fresh-pressed apple juice courtesy of Newfoundland Cider Company (debuting their ciders in 2018 as well). The resultant 4.5% ABV graf (that is, beer/cider hybrid) features notes of honey and apple, enhanced by the El Dorado and Huell Melon dry hopping. O&O is debuting at the December 7th event at 7PM at Jack Axes on Water Street, for an evening of throwing axes and sipping on this and other beers, all while benefiting the new aquarium in PH. More details are available at the FB Event page.

• Ashdale Nova Scotia’s Meander River has a new cider available this weekend, in celebration of their expanded production space. Two 2,000 litre fermenters, and one brite tank, all dedicated to cider production, have been added to their brewery, so as not to inhibit their brewing pipeline, and increase their cider availability. The fermenters have already been filled, so stay tuned for those releases in the New Year. In the meantime, the latest release is Perry Noel, a 5.5% ABV perry cider, made with 100% Nova Scotia pears from Davison Farm in Falmouth. A light and dry cider (no back sweetening used), aromas of earthiness and tropical fruit are present on the nose. Available at the brewery today for growler fills, kegs have been delivered to bars and restaurants in Hants County and HRM, so keep an eye out as you make your way around the area.

• And you can learn even more about the brewing and cider plans if you listen to the latest episode of the 902 BrewCast, as the gents visited Alan and Brenda Bailey (and Angus) to learn about their farm, brewery, cider production, and plans for the future. The latest episode can be streamed directly at their site, or downloaded for offline enjoyment.

• Like clockwork, our pals at 2 Crows in Halifax have got a bunch of new beers to tickle your tastebuds this week and next, so let’s get you the details post-haste. Released earlier this week is their latest small batch brew, Shoreline. A 4.6% ABV Pale Ale, with a base of 2 Row and Oat malts, and hopped with Azacca and Huell Melon, before fermentation with a blend of a dozen different strains of Brettanomyces yeasts, before dry-hopping with Vic Secret, and a final keg conditioning with champagne yeast. Phew! The resultant beer is dry, funky, and fruity, with notes of guava, tangerine, and pineapple. As with all of these small batch brews (the Attempted Murder Series name still hasn’t caught on), this one is only available by the glass.

• Tomorrow, 2C is unleashing the latest of their full canned releases, brewed by Jeremy Taylor in collaboration with a fellow former-BC brewer, and current Manitoba brewery owner, Miguel Cloutier, of Kilter Brewing. Firmly in the Milkshake IPA territory, Hawaiian Ivory has a slew of light-coloured malts at its base, including Pilsner, Wheat, Oat, and Honey, along with the heavy dose of lactose and vanilla, iconic for the style. Playing up on the milkshake idea, bananas, dried coconut, lime zest, mango and pineapple purée were added in the boil and conditioning tank. The hops chosen are also quite fruity and tropical, with AzaccaCitraHuell Melon, and Simcoe in the boil, with all but Huell Melon also added in a dry hop for another aromatic blast. Hawaiian Ivory will be available from opening at noon tomorrow, by the glass and can, and in a first, Kilter and 2 Crows fans in Manitoba will be able to purchase this collaboration in Winnipeg later this month.

• And in upcoming beer news, 2C’s Linnea Finnish Imperial Stout will be released next Wednesday, December 6th. Brewed in celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary Independence Day, the beer incorporates popular flavours from Finnish cuisine, including cardamom and salty liquorice. Taylor lived in Finland for a time, and his brother still lives in the country, raising a family. Linnea is named after Taylor’s niece. Using 95% Finnish-grown and -produced malt from Viking Malt (courtesy of local company Nordic Malz), it features Pale, Oats, Crystal, Chocolate Malts and Roast Barley, with molasses, to 9.1% ABV. Moderately hopped to 60 IBU with Columbus, and Golding (and a touch of Centennial for a light, bright, nose), it features additions of sea salt, liquorice root, star anise and cardamom pods. Drop by the brewery Wednesday to celebrate all things Finnish, and grab a pint to celebrate. And it may even be available to those outside of the province thanks to some holiday-themed boxes many folks have started opening today… Kippis!

• And we’re already behind schedule with today’s publishing, so we do not have time to tell you about the details on the next releases, but rest assured you’ll want to keep an eye out for their next canned release mid-month, as well as the beers they have cooked up for their First Anniversary in January.

• This weekend marks the third straight week of new releases from Stillwell Brewing, with the latest, Gosh, dropping first at Stillwell Beer Bar tomorrow, followed by a bottle release at the brewery on Sunday from 12-4. A pale Farmhouse Ale aged in a red wine barrel, Gosh is described as “bone-dry, with a tropical fruit fermentation character and grippy finish”. Dry-hopped with Mosaic to help boost that tropical fruit character, we’re sure this one will sell out as quickly as the last two, so show up early on Sunday!

• There’s two new beers coming out of TrailWay this week, with the first one being a new winter seasonal. Parallel is a “Session Ale” with a grain bill made up of 100% German Pale malt, and hopped entirely with Mosaic. The brewery describes it as “super-balanced”, with the hop-focus not being quite as strong as in many of their other beers. Indeed sessionable at just 4% ABV, expect a “rather subtle tropical fruitiness with a solid, crackery-malt profile”. It’s available on tap now around Fredericton, as well as in cans (both at the brewery and ANBL stores). The next beer, Good Times in the Fridge, is another hop bomb that released today at noon. A pale-coloured American IPA with minimal bitterness, it was hopped with Galaxy and Motueka. At 6% ABV, cans of this one are available at the brewery only.

• Now that Fredericton’s Bogtrotter is back to full-brewing mode, they’re releasing a brand new beer this week. Cranky Crab Coconut Porter is a 5% dark ale brewed with toasted coconut (added in the mash, boil, and secondary) and chocolate nibs. Also featuring hints of vanilla in the flavour (thanks to the addition of pure extract in secondary), it weighs in at 5% ABV and will soon be available on tap at the James Joyce and Cask and Kettle.

Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden Road in Halifax has a new beer available, an American Wheat that was dosed with raspberries they’re calling Witty Pun. With his feet now firmly under him in RB’s cramped brewing quarters, brewer Ian Kean is starting to exert himself on the beer menu more and though it might not seem “seasonal” in November, this beer is certainly accessible, with a solid wheat presence underlying a lovely raspberry aroma and flavour. Clean American yeast yields an otherwise fairly dry finish to this 5.0% ABV beer, which also sports 12 IBU worth of balancing hop bitterness. As of yesterday, it was available for growler fills and pints at the pub.

Good Robot released a new Alpha Brew, Steambot Willie, earlier this week. With a grist made up of Maris Otter, Amber malt, Carapils, Red X, and Rye, it was hopped with Mt. Hood, Perle, and Magnum to 32 IBUs, and dry-hopped with more Perle, and Tettnang. Fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast strain, think of this one as an Ale-Lager hybrid, similar in a way to a California Common. At 5.5% ABV, and described as an “earthy, malty Lager with a bitter finish”, it’s available on tap now at GR, and will likely pop up around the HRM. And for next Tuesday’s Beta Brew release, we have Alien From Next Door, an American Pale Ale brewed by Kelly C. and Lianne Lessard. Brewed with 2-row, Vienna, Red X and Crystal 30, Polaris was used for bittering (to 27 IBUs), with later hop additions including Galaxy and Willamette, and then a dry-hop with more Polaris. And finally, note that cans of GR’s Extra Big ASS Lager and bottles of Barrel-Aged Mississippi Goddamn can now be purchased at the Halifax private liquor stores.

Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House in Lower Sackville continues to round out their line of easy-drinking beers with a light wheat ale they’re calling Orange American Bastard (we’ve no idea what, or who, that name could be referring to). Boasting orange peel, both sweet and bitter varieties, along with coriander, all added late in the boil for a Belgian flair, it was fermented (we think) on an American yeast for a clean ester profile. This 4.7% ABV beer is built on a base of wheat and pale malts with a little bit of Vienna for character. Crisp and clean with a nice mouthfeel, this is, according to brewer Keith Forbes, “a Summer beer heading into Winter.” It’s available now, but only on one of the guest taps at Good Robot on Robie Street in Halifax.

Heritage Brewing has a follow-up to their popular Citra Session IPA, meaning if you like hops, you should have no problem with this one! White Sands Milkshake IPA was brewed with a “touch” of lactose and ample amounts of Ekuanot and Citra hops, giving lots of “fruity, citrusy, and tropical” aromas and flavours. Available now, it comes in at 6.7% ABV and 60 IBUs.

• Darmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing has announced that they have a new brewer working alongside Head Brewer Jake Saunders. Connor MacLeod is originally from Bridgewater, and has studied in the Certified Brewmaster course at the prestigious VLB Berlin. Previously working at Garrison Brewing in Halifax, he brings several years of experience of homebrewing and passion to his commercial work, which started in part thanks to his father, who is also a beer fan. Welcome aboard, Connor! And perhaps to celebrate their new arrival, 9L has brought back their Vanilla Porter, a 5.0% ABV porter with a touch of vanilla for a light sweetness and aromatic meld with the chocolate and dark malt character. Available in cans and growler fills at the brewery today!

• Last weekend was the party and announcement for the Sober Island Brewing Foraged Homebrew Competition, at the brewery in Sheet Harbour. From 15 entries, Andrew Deveaux’s entry Raspberry Beer Eh! took top honours. Brewed with 95% malt from Horton Ridge, Deveaux’s beer featured late-season raspberries foraged from his own backyard added to a Wheat Beer base. Congratulations to Deveaux, and we expect to see a full release of the winning beer once raspberries make their return next year. In the meantime, look for SIBC’s Winter Rye to debut this month.

• Last Sunday saw an excellent turnout at the Dartmouth location of the Wooden Monkey for the 5th Annual Big Spruce Homebrew Challenge. As announced back in September, this competition was wide open style-wise, as it was instead entered around the use of the “Pin Cherry #1” yeast strain harvested from the property of Big Spruce in Nyanza, Cape Breton. This yeast was identified to have somewhat of a Belgian character, in the Trappist vein of being somewhat spicy and phenolic, with a medium flocculation and attenuation. As organized by ACBB’s own Chris McDonald, 39 entries fermented on the yeast were evaluated and scored by 12 judges, with the assistance of 4 stewards, over the course of the afternoon, culminating in a Best of Show round where the 9 favorites were slowly winnowed down to a top 3 with an honorable mention. Top prize went to Justin Clarke’s Split Personality a North American Saison that was fermented with both the Big Spruce yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces strains before being aged on wood chips. The variety of beers entered was vast, with classic Belgian, North American and even English styles competing against more outré beers featuring additional ingredients as varied as lime zest and tomatillo, habanero peppers, pineapple and coconut, peach and sage, and applewood tea. There was even a mead entry from local meadmaker Nancy Hartling that was not able to be accepted into the competition but which was tasted at the gala and turned out very nicely. The overall quality, according to the judges, was top notch, especially considering the range of beers and the fact that not a single brewer had previously used the yeast. Congratulations to all those who entered, and especially those who placed, and many thanks to Jeremy and the team at Big Spruce, and all those involved in helping reach the result. Sláinte. We look forward to tasting Justin’s winning entry when a production batch is brewed sometime in the future. And don’t forget the Big Spruce tap takeover at Battery Park this coming Thursday, November 7th!

• The Murphy Hospitality Group – owners of the PEI Brewing Co. / Gahan House – have announced that they will be opening yet another Gahan House Restaurant & Brewery location, this time in downtown Fredericton. They have purchased Vault 29, a restaurant/bar at 426 Queen St., for the new brewpub, which will have a 120-seat dining room, oyster bar, two seasonal patios, and a 5 bbl (600 L) brewhouse onsite. The plan is for the brewpub to open sometime in the spring, making it the fifth Gahan location (Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, and soon-to-open Moncton). The full press-release can be read here.

• As we’ve mentioned previously, the ambitious “East Coast Crafted” was released earlier this week, and is available for purchase at book stores across the region, as well as many of the breweries featured in the book. Learning more about the 80+ breweries in our region, authors Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran interviews and visited many of these spots to speak face-to-face with those behind the breweries we talk about weekly. The book also features dozens of photographs by Jessica Emin. Don’t forget that the authors will be celebrating the book with a launch December 9th at Stillwell, with beers from all four Atlantic Provinces pouring, where you can meet the authors and many of the brewery folks featured in the book.

Another weekend full of events for you to enjoy across our region:

• As mentioned above, the 12 Beers of Christmas is taking place this evening in St. John’s. At Club One on New Gower, from 7:30PM, attendees will be greeted with a full glass of beer, plus tokens to enjoy samples of the other 11 onsite. In addition to the debut of Port Rexton’s Rewind, Mill Street YYT is debuting their Crooked Cow Latte Stout, and you will be able to enjoy many beers not otherwise available in the province (Big Spruce Cereal Killer, 2Crows Pollyanna, Upstreet Eighty Bob and White Noize, and Maybee Stone House Tripel. Check this page for the full list of what will be pouring. After you’ve tried them all, you can purchase more tokens for samples or full pours of your favourites. Grab your tickets now, dust off your ugly Christmas sweater, and head out for a party!

• Good news, thirsty Cape Bretoners! The 2nd Annual Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 2nd, at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still some general admission tickets available ($55 + tax, each), which gets you entry into the festival at 7-9:30 pm. A special glass and unlimited beer samples are included, and many local breweries will be on hand to pour their creations, and chat beer! Note that Designated Driver tickets ($15 + tax) are also still available; all tickets can be purchased from the event website above.

Tidehouse Brewing is turning one, and are celebrating in style with a Tap Takeover at Tom’s Little Havana next Saturday, December 9th. All eight taps will be dedicated to Tidehouse, which they’ll be filling with some of their best beers brewed over the past year. The fun starts at 5 pm and will continue until close; stay tuned to their event page for a full taplist release next week.

• Christmas is just around the corner, with Boxing Day of course right behind it; if you’re in the Fredericton area, what better way to celebrate Boxing Day than a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover? Being held on Tuesday, December 26th at the King Street Ale House, there’ll be tons of BR beers pouring, starting at 5 pm. You can just show up and pay by the pint, but if you reserve your spot now for $15, you’ll get a flight of beer and a pound of wings. Sounds like a good deal to us! Tickets can be purchased on the event page.

And a couple more returning favourites this week:

– Following last week’s release of Midnight, their Glenora Distillery Barrel-aged Strong Dark Belgian beer, HRM’s North Brewing has teed up the non-barrel version. Dark Sky is available today in 650 mL bottles at both their Halifax and Dartmouth bottle shops.
– And down the road on Gottingen Street, Propeller has a new cask for us this evening, a version of their Double IPA dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Ekuanot hops. They’ll be cracking into that at 5 PM as usual.
Red Rover has brought back their festive Jingleberry Cider, featuring additions of wild blueberry, cardamom, and nutmeg paired with notes of caramel, you’ll find it at the Ciderhouse and ANBL locations around the province.