A Well Crafted Xmas

All posts tagged A Well Crafted Xmas

Here we are one week into December and the breweries of Atlantic Canada decided to drop a veritable cornucopia of new beer releases on us. There’s lots of big-ass winter sippers, some holiday-themed beers, along with some less season-focused fare. It’s all a reminder that our scene is burgeoning and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. You’re not going to get through this in a trip to the can (not without risking nerve damage anyway), so we encourage you to pour yourself a beer, sit down somewhere quiet, and take some time to go through it all.

Let’s kick off with a reminder that Landwash Brewery is now officially open, pouring their first pints to the public yesterday. Drop by their taproom at 181 Commonwealth in Mount Pearl this weekend for samples, pints, and then grab some cans/growlers of their four core beer and first seasonal. Available now are One Wave Blonde Ale, That Much Ocean NEIPA, Hazures’ Rock Breakfast Stout (with oats and coffee), Brackish Gose, and Home and Away Pale Ale. The taproom and retail spot is open Thursday and Friday 4 – 10 PM, Saturday 12 – 10 PM, and Sunday 12 – 6 PM. To get you thirsty for this evening’s visit, check out the Profile of Landwash we published earlier this week.

Hey, if you happen to be checking out Landwash over the next couple of days for their opening weekend, you may notice a brand-spanking-new beer from Port Rexton Brewing, which should be pouring on one of their guest taps. Long Trek is the brewery’s first lager, a clean, refreshing, crisp, 5% ABV Munich Helles. Fermented with Isar Lager yeast from Escarpment Labs, the beer has a “grainy-sweet, malty backbone” with “subtle, earthy, herbal hop notes”. It took about 6 weeks for this brew to be ready for packaging, and it sounds like the wait was probably worth it! If you can’t quite make it out to Mount Pearl, fear not… Long Trek is also available at PR’s taproom for growler fills, as well as at the brewery’s retail shop in St. John’s starting tomorrow. And cans will be showing themselves over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes open for those.

A couple of tasty new releases from our friends at North Brewing this week, along with a big announcement! Let’s start with the beers, shall we? Yesterday brought us Blanc, a 4.5% ABV Grisette that was fermented on Sauvignon Blanc grape skins from Benjamin Bridge vineyards (located in the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy). Buying cans of this beer won’t just satisfy your need for delicious beer, but will also go towards supporting the new North Brewing Conservation Initiative, “a fundraising effort to acquire ecologically significant land in Nova Scotia in partnership with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust”, with $0.50 from each can (available at the North bottle shops only) going towards the NSNT. How’s it tasting, you ask? Well, the brewery is describing it as “very vinous, tart, light, and with a little lemon and funk”.

Not to be satisfied with only one new beer this week, today they’re also releasing MR. Funky Time. This 5.2% ABV brew was fermented and aged in a single neutral oak barrel (with some grown-up bottle dregs) before being filtered through a blend of mango and raspberry black tea from local World Tea House. As you may have guessed, the mango and raspberry teas really come through with this beer, to complement the touch of funk and tartness from the fermentation character. A limited release of only 220 bottles, you’ll be able to grab yours starting today at both North bottle shops.

Finally, in other North news, they’ve announced that they’re going all-in on Dartmouth, and will be taking over a larger production space located at 899 Portland St. They’re not giving us too many details yet, but it’s safe to say that this move means more North beer, and their very own taproom to boot! Congrats to the entire North team, and we look forward to what 2019 will bring!

Those who pay close attention to branding will know that the logo for Tatamagouche Brewing features a two-headed bull symbolic of a two-headed calf that once came to the town (its skull is in a local museum!). Their latest beer, Polycephaly, makes further reference to this, as it means, “more than one head.” The beer itself is a milkshake IPA at 6.7% ABV and 40 IBU, starting simply with a grist of 2-row barley and oats, then heavily hopped with a world-ranging variety of hops: German Huell Melon, American Azacca, and Australian Galaxy. Add to that the requisite lactose for some sweetness, and fruit in the form of strawberry and plum purees added in the secondary, and you’ve got a hoppy, fruity, somewhat sweet beer with additional hop aroma from dry-hopping with more Galaxy and Huell Melon. A final conditioning on vanilla beans ties it all together with a characteristic smoothness. Growlers and pints are available now at the brewery, with kegs going out to select licensees in the near future and cans expected to be available at the brewery and the private stores in Halifax sometime next week.

If you just so happen to be in the area of MacDougall Settlement, NB (that’s just outside Shediac, btw), this weekend, you might consider stopping in at Valonray Farmhouse Brewery who have a couple of limited releases available as well as a sale on some of their previous releases. The limited releases are two Belgian styles, a Belgian Quad and a Belgian Dubbel, both aged on Brettanomyces for 6 months. The Quad is 10% ABV, with a prominent stone fruit character, and the Dubbel a lighter 7% ABV, with notes of caramel. Both of these are in extremely limited release (less than 100 bottles each). If you head over to get your hands on these, you can also pick up bottles of their earlier batches of Farmhouse Ale, Terroir, and 100% Brett IPA at 2 bottles for $15, and you’ll also be able to grab their latest Farmhouse Ale (batch #3, dry-hopped with Hallertau) and Terroir (batch #2, dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc). Bear in mind they’re only open on Saturdays throughout the Winter.

Nearby, in Dieppe, O’Creek Brewing has their latest NEIPA pouring, following on the heels of Route 117 IPA, their first beer. This new one is named I.P.Address, and, like the style dictates, is yellow-coloured and very hazy, thanks to copious amounts of after-boil and dry-hop additions with the emphasis on Vic Secret, as well as some Mosaic and Centennial. Expect lots of tropical fruit aromas and flavours, as well as a bit of dank in this 6.1% ABV, 60 IBUs beer. The grain bill was kept relatively simple (2-row, Wheat malt and flaked wheat, and Carapils) to really allow all that hop goodness to come through. The beer is pouring on tap right now at the Flying Boats taproom, and should be on the board very shortly at CAVOK Brewing.

There’s a new entry in the Million Acres series from Upstreet now out for purchase, Sour Abbey Ale. With a grist made up mostly of Abbey malt, there was also some CaraMunich and Blackprinz thrown in, as well as some house-made invert sugar in the boil (after kettle-souring, of course). Hopped lightly with Mount Rainier from Moose Mountain Hops to 10 IBUs, this beer was actually brewed and bottled back in February, and has been aging ever since for your enjoyment just before Christmas! It weighs in at 5.5% ABV, and is available at both Upstreet locations for purchase. And stay tuned for a future release of the sibling for this beer, which was aged in Cab Sauv barrels, and was just bottled last week.

Hanwell, NB’s Niche Brewing, is getting a little sour and salty with this week’s brand new release. Hitting the taps now is Passion Fruit Gose, which we supposed is self-evident, but we’ve never been known for our brevity, so let us dive a bit deeper… Starting from a kettle-soured beer with lots of Pilsner and Wheat malts, it was boiled with a light addition of sea salt, very similar to the traditional Gose beers that originated in Germany more than 500 years ago. After fermentation with an American Ale yeast, passion fruit purée was added to the final beer, for a blast of tropical fruit aroma and nose, complementing the lightly tart and salty beer. The 4.8% ABV beer is pouring now, or will be soon, at The Joyce, King Street Ale House, Peppers Pub, Eighty3 Bar Arcade, Tide & Boar and Au Bootlegger.

Shelburne’s Boxing Rock is among the breweries bringing multiple releases this week, starting with a special edition of last year’s U-889 Imperial Stout (2017) that’s been barrel-aged and bottle conditioned. It’s coming out at the perfect time for you to grab a bottle for a share and compare with this year’s version, which is also out very soon. The 2018 vintage features notes of dark fruit, chocolate and mocha, balanced with vanilla, espresso and a rich malt character. At a burly 8.9% ABV, it should pair nicely with desserts, especially those featuring chocolate or Christmassy spices.

And in the “brand new beer” category, BR has two arriving on the shelves. First is their Patricius Irish Stout, a beer named after Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. Creamy and well-balanced, and sporting an up-front bitterness with notes of nuts, chocolate and coffee, it’s 4.9% ABV. And if you’re looking for a lighter-bodied beer with some interesting ingredients, look no further than their other new release this week, The Biggest Spruce (no relation) Christmas Tree IPA, a very sessionable 4% ABV beer with lots of American hops that bring aroma and flavor notes reminiscent of spruce. But just to up the ante a little bit, the beer was also treated with a healthy dose of spruce tip-infused Centennial hops! A bit of a “Christmas Tree in a glass” it could well be the perfect accompaniment to trimming your holiday tree. Or Festivus Pole. Look for these releases at the brewery and Local Source, on tap at Boxing Rock accounts throughout the region, and, we presume, possibly at private stores in Halifax.

And if that weren’t already enough, look for some promos from the BR gang happening in December. The bottle shop at Local Source will be featuring 4×650 mL or 2×650 mL and 2 x 16oz glasses for $20; that covers all of their 650 mL stock excepting Fisticuffs and U-889. Quite a deal for stocking up your fridge for the holidays. Meanwhile, they’ve also given us a heads up that they’ve got a mixed-fermentation saison with Brett currently aging in Chardonnay barrels. We’ll give you the full details on that one for its release in 2019.

The new beers just keep chugging this week, and Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing is no exception. This week they’re giving us Red Rye Ale, which as you can probably guess, is an American Amber with Rye malt in the grist. Lightly hopped with some American varieties at the end of the boil to provide a bit of fruit/citrus character, the Rye provides the typical spicy notes, to go with the malty sweetness background. You can grab some at the taproom this weekend; 5.5% ABV, 28 IBUs.

If you like supporting animal shelters while you drink beer, we have good news for you (especially if you live in Amherst)! Trider’s has brewed a new Session IPA, Gimme Shelter, whose bottle labels feature four adoptable pets from the Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter. While bound to lead to a home for these four lovable, furry beasts, they’re also donating the proceeds from bottle sales directly back to the shelter! Oh, and back to the beer, it’s 4.9% ABV and hopped with Cascade and Centennial, giving high levels of citrus and grapfruit. Quantities are limited, so drop by and pick up a few bottles… and maybe stop by the shelter on the way home for an early Christmas present to you and your family?

Tidehouse has taken their Winter Warmer and stepped it up a notch, just in time for Christmas! The recipe has a few new ingredients, namely cinnamon, rum, oak, and nutmeg, as well as a “pinch” of lactose powder for balance and body. It’s a big beer at 8.3% ABV, and they’ve bottled it in 640 mL bombers. Speaking of those bombers, they’ve teamed up with local furniture company Jampy for the packaging of this one. Known for their Seaflake ornaments, each bottle of this beer will come with its own unique Seaflake, your very own locally-crafted, wooden Christmas tree ornament! It’s two Christmas gifts in one! Or, drink the beer and gift the ornament, that works, too. Drop by the brewery today at 2 pm to grab yours.

Back in Newfoundland, Bootleg Brew Co. has released their very first Stout, Deez Nuts Peanut Butter Stout (trust us, it wasn’t easy typing that). A bit of lactose powder was added to boost the mouthfeel slightly, along with “loads” of peanuts… so suffice it to say, stay away from this one if you have a peanut allergy. They’re describing it as “full-bodied, deep and rich, with a moderate bitterness” balanced by the presence of peanut butter on the palate. It’s pretty easy-drinking at just 4.5% ABV; you can find it pouring at the taproom right now.

In Dartmouth, Spindrift has released the last of their first five beers in their Out of the Hold series of bottle-conditioned beers that we’ve been reporting on over the last month or so. Nanaimo Black Lager was barrel-aged and conditioned on a selection of ingredients that you may recognize as the characteristic elements of Nanaimo dessert bars: cocoa nibs, toasted coconut, almonds and vanilla beans. With some lactose also added to bump up the sweetness a touch, the result is “a sweet, creamy dessert beer with French oak character expressed on the finish.” It’s available sold out at the Spindrift taproom now, but you can most likely expect it to appear at the same private stores that have sold their previous releases in the series, hopefully as early as next week!

It’s not unusual to see breweries releasing a holiday beer this time of year, and Annapolis Brewing decided to go a bit further and release two! The first is a collaboration with Horton Ridge Malt & Grain, a Belgian Tripel named Deep Tripel. With a grist including Pilsner, Wheat and Malted Oats (from Horton Ridge, natch), it may weigh in at a hefty 7.9% ABV and 24 IBUs, but it’s still quite smooth, featuring “banana and apricot notes” with barely a hint of alcohol warmth… so tread lightly! Bottles (660 mL) of this one will be available at both Annapolis Brewing and Horton Ridge taprooms. Next up is Dry Dock, a beer they’re calling a “Brut-style Pale Ale”. Hopped with Mosaic, Vic Secret, Ella, and Motueka (to 20 IBUs), this 6.3% ABV beer is very dry, thanks to the addition of amylase enzymes (just like you’d expect to see in a Brut IPA). Plenty of tropical fruit and citrus, grab some bottles of this at the brewery’s taproom as well.

As if we weren’t busy enough, Nine Locks also had to go and release three new beers this week. Thanks a lot, jerks! There we go again, not using our brain-to-keyboard filter. Ok, let’s get started. The first two beers mark the beginning of the brewery’s barrel-aged program; both beers have been hand-bottled (750 mL) and dipped in wax, and are now available for purchase. The first is Barley Wine, brewed with all Maris Otter malts, and aged for twelve months in Glen Breton whisky barrels. Big and boozy at 11% ABV, it showcases “malty richness, flavours of toast, marmalade, and treacle”, along with some oak presence, and alcohol warmth (well, yeah!), with the 50 IBUs balancing some of the sweetness. The next is another big beer, Russian Imperial Stout. Also aged for twelve months, but in bourbon barrels, expect flavours of “dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, and dried fruit”, along with the bourbon and oak notes. Almost as strong at 10.5% ABV, it has a slightly-higher bitterness (70 IBUs) as expected for the style. Beers like these are always excellent for aging, and make handsome Christmas gifts. Finally, on the opposite end of the spectrum, their third release is Pale Ale, a 5.5% ABV, 35 IBUs amber-coloured brew, featuring “a bittersweet punch of citrus and spice” thanks to hopping with some West Coast varieties. This one is available in cans, as well as on tap, and joins it’s two older brothers as being available at the brewery for purchase.

Not to be outdone by all the other breweries putting out big beers this week (or, y’know, themselves with the recent release of their Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout), Propeller is in on the fun with the release of their Barrel Aged Baltic Porter. Aged in Bourbon Barrels, this beer is dark and complex, with plenty of toffee and roasted coffee aroma and flavors of vanilla and caramel, it’s all brought together by a distinct bourbon overtone. Bottles are $7 at their locations on Gottingen Street and in Burnside, but they’ve got a deal on where you can get one of these, a Barrel-aged RIS and a bottle of their Coffee Porter for $15! And if you hit the tasting room (Gottingen) for bottles, maybe plan to pause for a little while and try a glass of a special edition of the BA Baltic Porter that’s been further conditioned with Chocolate. This one is only available by the pint; no growler fills. And if your plans are going to take you there this evening (or possibly into the weekend, as supplies last), look for a special cask of Russian Imperial Stout with Coconut to be tapped at 5 PM today.

PEI Brewing Company has joined in on the big beer fun this week as well. A new entry in their After Hours Series, their Barrel-aged Barleywine (#barleywineislife) has been aging for months in Kentucky bourbon barrels and is now ready for general consumption. Already on the shelves as of earlier this week, it features plenty of malt character with sweet and toasty notes, paired with a fruity yeast character and herbal English hops and with vanilla and oak notes from the barrel completing the overall picture. At 10.5% ABV and packaged in 750 mL bottles, we highly recommend you find a friend (or two) to share one with lest you risk a visit by the ghost of hangovers past. You’ll find it at the PEI BC taproom and soon (if not already) at PEI Liquor stores as well. Speaking of the taproom, today will see the release of the second of their Christmas Growler Countdown beers. Island Allspice is a red ale to which ginger, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange were added. Their last CGC beer sold out pretty quickly, so get down to the taproom if you want to try this very holiday-themed beer; it goes on tap at 4 PM for growler fills only.

Good Robot has an IPA twist for us next Tuesday, with Green’s Garden IPA. Brewed by mother and daughter team Keri and Drella, this is a “Rosemary IPA” inspired by North Carolina’s Twin Leaf Brewery. Brewed with rosemary (we’re talking sprigs, seeds, and flowers), and hopped with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Sorachi Ace to 31 IBUs. Light and crisp, with a good amount of rosemary presence, it comes in at 5% ABV; look for it at the taproom on Tuesday. And Thursday brings us a brand new Alpha brew, a collab with Halifax’s Antojo Tacos + Tequila named La Luchadora Catrina. This Stout features the addition of house mole sauce from Chef Francisco Rabelo, and they decided to take that heat and bump it up even further by throwing in “a few more chilis”. Expect a bit of heat, maybe? At least the alcohol isn’t too high (4.7% ABV)!  

Over to Cape Breton, where Breton Brewing has teamed up again with the Brathair Brewing homebrew fellas, to brew the first in their barrel-aged Signature Series, Wild Bretton. This is a Belgian Witbier that was brewed with your classic coriander and orange peel additions, and fermented with more than your typical Witbier yeast strain – Amalgamation (that very popular blend of six Brettanomyces strains) was also pitched, before aging the beer in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrels. The 500 mL bottles are being released at the brewery today; grab one of each barrel variant… for science! It’s 5% ABV and 14 IBUs, and “conveys a light body and a tart lemony finish, while offering complex yet refreshing characteristics”. Look for the bottles to hit Halifax private stores sometime next week.

The Christmas beers continue (go figure!), as Petit-Sault and Brasseux d’la Côte teamed up in November to brew a “Belgian Amber Christmas Ale”, which was just released last night at both breweries. Named after St. Nick’s evil twin, Père Fouettard was brewed at Brasseux d’la Côte in Tracadie, and is showing flavours and aromas of “clove, fennel seed, orange peel, caramelized malted sugars, and a touch of smoked malt”. Finishing quite dry, it clocks in at 6.4% ABV and 24 IBUs, and is available on tap only, at both breweries.

Those crazy fellas at the 902BrewCast are continuing their roll of New Brunswick-themed episodes (did they even sleep when they were there?), with the latest featuring a visit to Rothesay’s Hammond River Brewing. Download it wherever you normally get your episodes (you’re subscribed, right?), or they’ll get mad at us!

A couple of very beery events are going on in Halifax in the next seven days that you should think twice about missing:

We told you about this 2 weeks ago, and hopheads in the region are no doubt already salivating, but if you missed it or have been living under a rock this is your final notice that Portland, Maine’s hop heroes Bissell Brothers will be doing their second takeover at Stillwell in Halifax tomorrow starting at noon. Instagram has confirmed 8 beers that will be served, including: The Substance, Swish, Lux, Nuclear Whim with the Fuse of a Mile, Industry versus Inferiority, Preserve & Protect, big small world, and Umbra. We note, however, that Stillwell has 12 taps (15 if you include the hand pumps), and Bissell has a barrel program, soooo… We (honestly!) don’t know anything that hasn’t been posted publicly, and frankly, that lineup above is obviously full of bangers, but greedy bastards that we are we’re hoping a little that maybe we get to see some additional limited releases on the wall and maybe even a touch of Bissell’s first forays into funk! And while you’re drinking the lovely brews, know that the kitchen will be taken over by another Bissell-related joint, Highroller Lobster Co. Curious how rich shellfish pairs with exquisite hoppy beers? You can find out tomorrow!

Two of Halifax’s oldest craft breweries – Garrison and Propeller – are teaming up for a tap takeover at HopYard Halifax next Thursday, Dec 13th. A Well Crafted Xmas will feature six taps for each brewery, with $1 from each pint going to Saint George’s YouthNet, a local youth organization. Lots of vinyl and beer, and a chance to win a craft beer basket – a $5 donation gets you a ballot, or even better, bring an unwrapped gift (art supplies, board games, sporting equipment, or Lego are preferred) for three ballots! It all starts when they open at 11 am.

Did you really read all the way down to here? Good on you, but we’re not done yet; here’s a few last mentions before we let you go get your beer on:

Bathurst’s Four Rivers is now canning some of their small batch brews, including their latest, British Mild. A light-bodied dark ale, with “notes of pumpernickel and caramel balanced by a slight fruitiness”, it comes in at 5% ABV and 20 IBUs. Currently available at the brewery; look for other small batch can releases in the near future.

Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing has completed their first bottling run and are now well-stocked with their core beers. Now you can get some to go without having to purchase (or remember to bring) a growler. Look for Rampant Lion IPA, St. Andrews Cross Pale Ale, and Coat of Arms Scottish Export available now.

Picaroons has been doing their 12 Beers of Christmas growler-only releases for many years now, and they recently announced that two of their regulars in this line-up, The Blitzen Coffee Porter and Xmas Tree IPA, will be bottled for the first time; they’re available now at all Picaroons locations. Also look for the 23rd (!) entry in their PIVOT Imperial IPA series, which features Simcoe and Chinook hops.

Schoolhouse Brewery has just re-released Staffroom Coffee Stout (5.5% ABV), with a few tweaks to the recipe, resulting in a dark brown colour, as opposed to the black of last year’s release (they’re looking for roast character without the astringency). Don’t worry, there’s still coffee in it! Available on tap at the brewery for growlers and pints, and in bombers.

Today, TrailWay is re-releasing Christmas Rascal, their 8.5% ABV Imperial Milk Stout. Brewed with cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cardamom and cayenne pepper, and aged on vanilla beans, you can grab it on tap and in cans at the brewery, with a few kegs heading to some local establishments.

Unfiltered has plenty of cans for you to purchase at their retail shop this week, to help you make it through some family visit, family parties… anything family, really. Look for Double Orange Ale, Riddle of Steel, Exile on North St., Play With Fire, and Daytimer; limited quantities are available.