Aaron Mills

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We are officially in holiday season, which means the breweries in our region are working overtime to keep you well stocked for however you celebrate, or don’t, the season. Check out what should be in your mug or glass below, in between pints of eggnog.

Tanner & Co Brewing in Chester has a pair of new beers on our radar, available for purchase at both their taproom at 59 Duke Street right in town, as well as their Chester Basin brewery on Angus Hiltz Rd. The first is Field Blend, the second of their Harvest Release lime featuring Nova Scotia grape skins (the first being Millot, which is still available in limited quantities). Field Blend is a Belgian Saison fermented on a blend of 50 kg of Riesling & Viognier grapes skins from Planters Ridge in Port Williams. Spicy notes from the yeast meld with notes of pear and apple, in a nice and dry finishing 6.8% ABV beer. And released last week is Cherry Almond Milk Stout. No, it doesn’t contain Almond Milk, but cherries, almond, and lactose (aka, milk sugar). After initial fermentation with London Ale yeast, this beer spent time in rum barrels from Lunenburg’s Ironworks Distillery. This 8.0% ABV beauty is available in bottles and on tap at the brewery and taproom.

Fredericton’s Picaroons Brewing Company dropped a bomb on the Capital City last week with the release of five different barrel-aged beers. All of them are available in limited quantities in bottles, with a pair of them also available on draft. Here’s the lowdown:
#1: Their Plaid to the Bone Scotch Ale aged for 12 months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Plenty of bourbon character, and will be available in kegs for draught at select licensees as well as in bottles.
#2: Their Plaid to the Bone Scotch Ale aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for several months, but showing the spirit less-so than #1. Also available on draught and in bottles.
#3: This is the Plaid to the Bone from a single Jim Beam barrel, showing a bold and unique character from the blend found in #2, and so they wanted to highlight it on its own. One keg was packaged, complementing the bottles.
#4: This is a departure from the PttB, as they’ve taken their Winter Warmer and aged it in a Jim Beam Rye barrel. Something different also happened during the aging process, as this beer has turned lightly acidic, with a tart quality on the nose palate. Just one barrel, so this is limited to bottles.
#5: The only blend of the releases is two-thirds Winter Warmer aged in barrels, blended with one-third 2019 Winter Warmer. Plenty of the dried fruit and spice notes from the base beer, with lighter oak and vanilla notes than the other releases.
All bottles are available at their retail locations in Fredericton, Saint John, and St Stephen, with select kegs of a few of these at their own taprooms and a couple of licensees around the province.
Also keep an eye out for a pair of Holiday themed releases out now, their Blitzen Coffee Stout, made with Java Moose Coffee’s Hazelnut and French Vanilla beans, and Xmas Tree IPA, a take on their Pivot brewed with spruce tips.

Sticking not-too-far-from-Fredericton, the town of Harvey is home to Off Grid Ales, who has done their first canning run, and promptly sent the brand new release to ANBL shops. Morning Light is a 4.2% ABV English Amber Ale, featuring a base of Maris Otter malt and hopping from traditional Noble hops to the tune of 25 IBUs. Light and nutty malt is complemented by spice and woody notes from the hopping. In addition to being their first canned offering, it’s actually a can exclusive, with the majority of the beer sent to local ANBLs in six-packs of 355s. Find it close to you by checking this link, with it now available in Fredericton, Oromocto, and Saint Andrews, with ANBLs in Saint John and Moncton coming soon. Plus Black’s Grocery & Cafe in Harvey Station.

Yesterday was a special day for the Battery Park and North Brewing families, as they celebrated the 4th Anniversary of BP’s opening with a full North Tap Takeover. If you’re lucky, a few gems will still be pouring by the time you read this. No tap takeover is complete without a few special releases, and this was no different, as it marked the latest in the series of collaborations between North and Benjamin Bridge winery in Gaspereau Valley. Saison de Petite Pearl began life as a clean saison, and then got the BB treatment: for the first time, the crew at North received whole grapes (rather than must or pomace) of the Petite Pearl variety, which they crushed by hand (by foot) at the brewery before adding the entire ~220 litres of must and skins to the beer for a second fermentation. After completion, the 7.4% ABV hybrid was bottle conditioned and is now available for purchase at both North retail spots (at Battery Park and their new location at 899 Portland Street). Also available now is the barrel-aged version of last year’s collab release, Saison de Chardonnay. Just a single French oak barrel was filled with last year’s SdC, and sat for 10 months, before packaging and release. This release is in very limited quantities, with just 20 cases available (there’s only so much room in a barrel!), and is also 7.4% ABV and available now at both spots.

This week Propeller in Halifax is releasing a collab between the brewery and the Propeller Arcade called Polybius, named after a mysterious game of that name around which an urban legend involving the FBI and/or CIA developed in the early 1980s. Did US government agencies really create a mind-control experiment in the form of an arcade game in the early 80s? Nobody knows for sure, or if they do, they ain’t talkin’. Regardless, over the past year or so the Propeller Arcade has become an urban legend of its own in a positive way, bridging beer and a love of retro (and not so retro) gaming. Polybius is a hazy and juicy pale ale that’s sure to pair well with blips, bleeps, dings, and dongs. It’s available at the brewery in cans and for fills and pints, as well as in the Arcade itself, of course. This weekend also marks another all-ages afternoon at the Arcade, with kids welcome on Sunday from 12 – 8 PM (ed: we were originally told 12 – 4), as well as the appearance starting tonight of a special surprise game and a corresponding high-score competition that will see the winner go home with a Sega Genesis. And if you’re planning on heading down after work this afternoon, today’s cask will be their Porter with smoked black tea. Lastly, if you know anyone who’s a financial whiz and looking to get into (or stay in) the beer industry, Propeller is advertising for a Controller, responsible for all financial aspects of the business. If that sounds like you (or maybe someone you know), you can check out the full job ad on Career Beacon.

Up in Nyanza, Big Spruce is releasing a beer with a name that’s an ode to one of the colorful expressions of Cape Breton dialect. Conniption Fit is a Golden Ale at a gentle 4.0% ABV, so you can have a couple and not blow your chances at winning Meat Darts. Crisp and refreshing, and only 10 IBU, it’s designed to be an easy-drinking option for the holidays. So really a beer that’s all about kicking back, relaxing, and strictly NOT having a conniption fit. Also in Big Spruce news, they’re once again running their Holiday Home Delivery service this season. December 20th will be the Cape Breton run and 21st will be the HRM. You can order any combination of cases of 24 cans or boxes of 12 bottles (mixing allowed for both!) as well as any swag they’ve got going on from the Sprucetique. Full details on what’s available can be found on the Fb event page and you can place and pay for your order by calling 902.295.ALES (2537). Then all you need to do is wait for the magic yellow van to reach your driveway on the appointed day with all your goodies tucked inside.

Niche Brewing in Haaaanwell, NB, have a new beer on the go this week, a bit of a departure from their usual mix of hoppy and yeast-driven styles. Cocio might very well be named after a chocolate milk drink from Denmark, but what it turns out to be is a 5.5% ABV porter brewed with Chocolate Rye (a “healthy portion”, per their wont). Neutral American yeast was leveraged to ensure that the focus of this beer is solidly on the malt flavors, yielding a beer with strong notes of milk chocolate, an undertone of spicy rye, a smooth mouthfeel, and a slightly sweet, roasty finish. The first pours of this one are most likely to be found at The Joyce, Ringo’s Grill, Peddler’s Creek BBQ and CAVOK Brewing.

Today sees the release of TrailWay Brewing’s first barrel-aged beer, 3rd Room. This particular beer started off in one of the brewery’s stainless steel fermenters, and was then moved to conditioning tanks and inoculated with a blend of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus strains. The beer was then moved again, this time to Chardonnay barrels where it was allowed to age for a little over a year before packaging in 750 mL bottles. Bottle-conditioned for a further 6 months, the 6.3% ABV beer is exhibiting “moderate acidity, buttery Chardonnay character, plenty of oak; overall quite clean but with some background fruity funk”. There’s only 200 bottles of this one available; they go on sale at the brewery starting today. If you’re grabbing a bottle this weekend, they’ll also have a new iteration of their 8% ABV fruited DIPA, Hopical Trop; this batch was hopped with Mosaic and conditioned on blueberries and oranges. It’ll be available on tap and in cans.

Sticking with beer and wood*, 2 Crows is releasing a new foedre-aged beer this Saturday, Run By Night. This beer, a Grisette, was brewed back in July with Pilsner, wheat malt and raw wheat, and was hopped lightly in the boil with Huell Melon and Azacca. After fermentation with a blend of the brewery’s house cultures in one of their oak foedres, they added 700 lbs of whole Damson plums from Noggins Corner Farm. The beer was allowed to condition on the fruit for eight weeks before packaging in cans, where it carbonated naturally. The final product comes in at a highly-sessionable 3.4% ABV (and 12 IBUs), and is tasting “bright and tangy, with a cool marshmallow and marzipan vibe from the plum pits”. *

Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing has a wood-aged, wild beer release of their own this week, The Vanishing. They started with their Winter Warmer, Old Forte, and aged it for approximately six months in a red wine barrel from Dunhams Run (Kingston, NB). At this point the funk was coming through strongly, and the beer was allowed to sit for another six months before it was moved into a stainless tank… where it was conditioned on 50 lbs each of blueberries and raspberries, along with a pitch of Lactobacillus bacteria for souring. It was finally packaged in 650 mL bottles, and is tasting “funky, fruity, sour and crisp”. These types of beers are understandably difficult to replicate, so best get yourself to the brewery’s taproom to grab a bottle or two, as it’s a very limited release and won’t be available again.

Montague, PEI’s, Bogside Brewing has released the first in their SMaSH series of beers, featuring different malts from the island’s own Shoreline Malting. This week’s release is a Munich Dunkel, incorporating only Munich Malt and Northern Brewer hops. Copper in colour, and a happy 4.7% ABV and 22 IBUs, while the beer is malt-driven in flavour, it finishes dry and crisp, true to the original style. It is pouring from the Bogside taps now, and may hit a couple of licensees across the island over the next week, when cans will also be available thanks to the roving merry band at Craft Coast Canning.

As the air gets colder and the snow starts to fly, the Winter Ciders start to make their appearance across Atlantic Canada. Maritime Express Cider has got you covered with Snowed In, a Winter Cider that is big (8% ABV) and spicy. With notes of “cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and nutmeg”, along with aromas of fresh apple pie, it tips toward the sweet side for a cider, and reportedly goes down just a touch too easy… so drink in moderation! You can find it on tap and in bottles at the cidery; they also recommend giving it a try warmed up (the cider, not you).

Up in Mount Pearl, southwest of St. John’s, NL, Landwash has released the second batch of a beer that they acknowledge as one of the silliest beers they’ve ever brewed (and they’re counting the 100+ brews they did at Folly Brewing in Toronto). Is it a Milkshake IPA? A Pastry-like Pale Ale? A Sour IPA? A Key Lime Pie Sour Pastry Pale Ale? We don’t know either, but it’s something alright. Brewed in collaboration with the Merb’ys (aka the Newfoundland & Labrador Beard and Moustache Club), Bellyshake is oat-heavy, uses a Vermont yeast-strain and contains lactose, so it’s bound to be hazy and very smooth on the palate, but is also hopped with Sorachi Ace, a Japanese hop known for very herbal and lemony notes. And if that weren’t enough, it was conditioned on strawberry puree, vanilla, and “lots” of key lime juice. A true plethora of flavors vying for palate space. You can grab this ones in very swankly labeled cans at the brewery along with One Wave Blonde, Burn Your Boats (Bourbon barrel-aged RIS), and, as of yesterday, their Home & Away APA. We suggest moving quickly though, and/or keeping an eye on Landwash social media, as their beers move fast and holidays are a-comin’.

Back downtown in St. John’s, Bannerman Brewing has released their first dark lager, Only Shadows. Going traditional, they have embraced the Schwarzbier style, choosing Pilsner, Vienna, and dark and roasty malts to complete the grist. As such, big flavours of coffee and chocolate shine through on a light bodied beer with a dry finish. This 4.8% ABV beer is available now by the glass and in growler fills to enjoy there or take away. Take note that they’re closed for a private event this afternoon after 5 PM, so maybe leave work a few minutes early (or heck, we give you permission to take the whole afternoon off) to avoid disappointment.

Let’s keep the Bannerman connection going, but talking about a beer available in Nova Scotia, thanks to Wolfville’s Church Brewing. There’s a strong connection to Nfld as Church’s brewer Andrew Bartle is from Grand Falls, and is friends with Bannerman’s Dave Bridger and Phil Maloney. It only makes sense, then, that they’d team up for a collaboration brew. Enter Best Kind IPA. Playing in the Hazy IPA field, this bright light coloured beer started from pale malts and was fermented with Escarpment Labs’ Voss Kveik yeast, one of the famous Norwegian farmhouse yeasts to emerge in the last couple of years. Already bursting with bright citrus notes thanks to the yeast, these Best Kind pals took it to another level with generous hopping from El Dorado, Mosaic, and Idaho 7, to the tune of 2 kilos per hectolitre. Best Kind is launching at the brewery and restaurant on Main Street Wolfville tomorrow, available on tap for flights and pints, as well as their retail shop in cans and crowler fills, with cans also available at everyone’s favourite retail spot in Halifax, Bishop’s Cellar. And for those pals reading this post in Newfoundland, we have great news: Santa will be delivering a few kegs to Bannerman, so you’ll be able to grab a pint of it there soon enough.

In Halifax, Good Robot has a new beer on the go, but you’ll only be able to get it at the brewery. The first of Kelly Costello’s Beta Brews to be put into a cask, it was brewed with a couple of local beer nerds Steve Crane and Chris McCain who it turns out, like Kelly, are originally from New Brunswick. What better name for this one, then than Drive Thru Province. Nominally an ESB, with an emphasis on the ‘B’, it was brewed with British Pale malt, Flaked Barley, and Brown Malt, hopped with Cluster and Magnum, and fermented with a yeast known variously as London ESB and the Fuller’s strain. At 5.6% ABV, it’s definitely up there for a British style ale, but it’s the 104 (calculated) IBUs that should really set this one apart. Set for tapping on the traditional Beta Brewsday this coming Tuesday, December 17th at the GR tap room on Robie Street in Halifax. And keep your eyes open for Et Tu? Brut IPA which we told you about last week, it’ll actually be tapped next week.

A couple of events happening in Fredericton you should check out this weekend…

The folks behind the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival are once again hosting the Christmas Beer Garden at the Market, taking place this Sunday, December 15th. Between 10 AM – 2:30 PM, pop by Boyce Farmers’ Market for a little break from the hustle and bustle of the season. Your ticket get you a glass to take home and your first 4 beer tickets (refills after that are $5). You can grab food from any of the dozens of vendors and bring it into the beer garden, it seems like the perfect opportunity to graze your way through the market while enjoying a pint! We do not yet have the full brewery list, but do know that Cross Creek Brewing and Big Spruce beers will be pouring, plus a few more New Brunswick breweries. Grab your tickets here right now!

And there are still a limited number of tickets for Saturday’s Christmas Brewery Tour of Fredericton, with buses doing tours of both the South and Northside of the city, hitting up perennial favourite breweries and cideries. Your ticket gets you a flight of beers or ciders at each stop, enough to wet your whistle and keep you going. Grab your tickets here!

And just a few more newsbites before we dismiss you from class this week…

Digby’s (and Kingston’s, more recently) Roof Hound Brewing has a pair of new beers pouring this week, on different sides of the flavour spectrum. Philosophers Pineapple Sour is a 3.6% ABV fruity, acidic, yet dry kettle sour bumped up with plenty of pineapple, with a touch of sage on the go as well. And keeping with the season, Chicken Bone Stout, yes, those chicken bones, done with a nitro touch, which you can grab now at Kingston, and at Battery Park sometime very, very soon. In-house enjoyment only, no growlers or bottles. Ed: after posting, we were informed that Roof Hound’s Digby location is open by appointment only over winter, while Kingston is open during the season.

Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing is releasing their Third Place Imperial IPA this weekend, available for the first time in cans. This 8.5% ABV features loads of Mosaic, Galaxy, Idaho 7, and Azacca, for a mix of tropical notes for those holding on to the last vestiges of nice weather. Grab it tomorrow at Upstreet’s spots on tap and in cans, with cans hitting the shelves of the PEILCC next week. And head into the taproom this evening at 6 PM to see the Upstreet crew light their Christmas Tree, sing some carols, and drink some hot chocolate (and/or beer!).

With the holidays fast approaching, we thought we’d let you know about the new option that breweries and cider houses in our region are exploring, online shops! While you still need to be 19+ to order and receive the goods, and it’s not yet a thing in all provinces, the progress is welcome for those of us not able to visit breweries or better beer shops across the land. We know that these breweries are currently rocking and rolling with online sales, are there any others that we’ve missed? Let us know! 2 Crows, Lunn’s Mill, Stillwell, Tatamagouche

The crew at 902BrewCast have released a new episode this morning, with two active members of the Nova Scotia beer community. Kim Hart Macneill has been writing about beer in the province for several years, with a regular beer column in Halifax Magazine, plus a person. Jesse Hitchcock is a former employee in a Maritime brewery, avid beer fan, and human. They joined Phil and Tony to drink some beer and shoot the breeze about the goings on in the beer scene and beyond. Grab the episode here!

And finally, do you remember the call for wild hops that AgCan scientists Jason McCallum and Aaron Mills made a couple of years ago? Well, they have released that research this week, in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. Together with Spencer Gallant of Lone Oak Brewing, who was completing his Masters in their lab, they have summarized their work on the characterization of hops, and looked at novel ways to do non-invasive identification of the subspecies of the plant. Or as they put it much more elegantly, “The native lupuloides accessions examined possess only trace amounts of this compound in their leaves (<0.10 total flavonols), suggesting its potential utility as a novel, leaf-derived chemotaxonomic marker for subspecies identification purposes. A leaf-derived taxonomic marker is useful for identifying wild-growing accessions, as leaves are present throughout the entire growing season, whereas cones are only produced late in summer. Additionally, the collection of cones from 10-meter tall wild plants in overgrown riparian habitats is often difficult.” If you’re as keen as we are about learning more, download the article here! Congrats to wortly, spirko, and jaymac (I just made one of those up, you decide which one).