Crikey! It looks like the celebrations and shenanigans associated with this past weekend’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards Gala and Reception (check the list of winners here) might have finally taken the edge off the local beer scene for a week, allowing your faithful beer bloggers to catch our collective breath. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything exciting going on, just that there’s a little less to talk about this week. Enjoy the relatively short read (only 2000 words!); we don’t figure it’ll stay this way for long!
• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing reached a milestone this week, finally opening to the public and selling beer! Wednesday and Thursday of this week saw AJ Leadbetter with two of his own beers, Daydreamer Pale Ale and Headliner IPA, available for grunter (900 mL) and Growler (1.89 L) fills. They’ll be open again today from 2 – 6 PM for the same, but do note that until their point-of-sale system arrives it’s cash-only. Grunters are $7 for a fill and Growlers are $12. If you don’t have any to fill, grunters and growlers are both available for purchase, as are a selection of swanky Backstage branded fauncy paunts beer glasses, including the Rastal, the Belgian tulip, the Spiegelau IPA, and the Teku 2.0. Congrats to AJ and Beth and everyone who’s worked so hard to make the brewery a reality! Peep our Profile with AJ for a reminder of their beer and learn more about going Backstage…
• 2 Crows released one of their coveted small batch brews yesterday, Mountain Sounds, a Hopfenweisse brewed by Assistant Brewer Miles Bishop. With a malt grist of Pilsner malt, Wheat malt, and raw Wheat, it was fermented with a Hefeweizen yeast strain to give the banana and clove notes we all expect in the style. Being a Hopfenweisse, however, demands hops, so Miles dry-hopped the beer “judiciously” with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. The end result features “huge notes of fruit salad, tinned peaches, banana, and pear”, accompanied by a full mouthfeel. Pours only for this one at the tasting room, so get down there quick! And as a bit of a heads up, they will be sporting a new release next Saturday (November 4th), I Love You, a Brett– fermented Saison, infused with lemon verbena, care of Phil Holmans of World Tea House. We’ll have all of the nerdy details next Friday.
• Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing has an au courant brew ready for All Hallows’ Eve and, perhaps, reminiscing about classic Halifax haunts from the 80s. GothStout is an American Stout, featuring citrusy Centennial hops added at both the beginning of the boil, for bitterness, and towards the end, for a flavourful hop presence and aroma. The body is dark and roasty from the use of roasted barley, kiln coffee and pale chocolate malts. Said to pair well with Bauhaus or The Cure, we’ll wager it also wouldn’t go amiss with a little Sisters of Mercy or Siouxsie and the Banshees either. Head on down to the Tiny Tasting Room and see whether GothStout is really as black as your soul. And while this beer will have come and gone by the time it opens, the TH family have announced that they will be filling the three beer taps at aFrite Restaurant on Lower Water, when it opens in late November.
• Continuing on the popular release of their DDH Luster in late summer, TrailWay is releasing DDH Hu Jon Hops today at the brewery. Their flagship 6.5% ABV American IPA, HJH is typically packed full of hop flavour and aroma, and TW promises an experience at the next level with this double-dry-hopped version. A second dry hop with Citra and Mosaic was added, giving a flavour of “saturated hop juice”, coming across as “very fruity with some dankness”, according to the brewery. Available today at noon at the brewery on tap and in cans, and likely a few kegs will pop up around Fredericton, as is usual for these limited releases.
• Erica and Kelly C. continue their exploits on the Good Robot pilot system with another new BetaBrewsday release next Tuesday. Falling on Halloween, they were reminded of Dia de Muertos, or “Day of the Dead”, a multi-day, annual holiday in Mexico; Erica was lucky enough to attend the celebrations in Oaxaca a few years ago, and was introduced to a wide variety of molé sauces, with her favourite being molé negra. With chocolate and spices working so well in certain beer styles, she created (with help from Kelly C. and Maria Josey) Holy Molé, a 5.3% ABV Brown Ale brewed with 2-row, Crystal 120 L, Wheat malt, Roasted Barley, and Chocolate Wheat malt. Hopped lightly with East Kent Goldings to just 11 IBUs, of course the ingredients didn’t rest here – a small amount of thyme, cumin, cinnamon, clove, and sesame were added in the boil, with fire-roasted peppers and avocado leaves being thrown into the fermenter.
• Be on the lookout for Sober Island Brewing‘s small (relatively speaking) cans to be hitting the shelves next week. 473 ml cans of their Blonde Ale (renamed Marigold) and Oyster Stout (now known as Beth’s Blackout) will both be found at Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar beginning November 2nd. They will be running a tasting that afternoon from 4-6pm, where you can grab a taste before grabbing a can (or two). They are still using the crowler format for on-demand fills, but the smaller format will allow them to have packaged beer more readily available in the HRM area.
• As part of this weekend’s Devour! The Food and Film Fest, the 2017 Taste of Nova Scotia Awards were announced yesterday, with all of the winners sharing close ties to the cider and beer world. Congratulations to Product of the Year Something Different from Annapolis Cider, Restaurant of the Year The Grand Banker in Lunenburg, Server of the Year Nicole Raufeisen of Little Oak, Culinary Ambassador of the Year Chris and Melissa Velden of The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery , and Producer of the Year Benjamin Bridge.
• And a big congratulations to Alicia MacDonald and Sonja Mills of Port Rexton Brewing, who were recognized with the Trailblazer Award by Newfoundland And Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs. Opening a brewery in a small town more than 3 hours from the closest city takes a special passion that these two entrepreneurs are demonstrating. Building both their local community in Port Rexton, and the community of breweries opening in other small towns in the province, their win is much-deserved. Celebrate with the entire PR crew this weekend at the brewery, as they celebrate the end of the season. The bar is open 2-10PM today, 1-10PM Saturday, and 11AM-6PM Sunday, for you to enjoy samples, pints, music (Saturday night), and then grab a few growlers to enjoy at home during the week. Costumes are highly encouraged!
We have two exciting developments in “coming soon/not-so-soon” beers in our region:
• In planning for months, a collaboration between artist and breweries will come to fruition next month. Artist Erin McGuire is the man behind “By The Numbers“, a piece of art he created inspired by The Tragically Hip. Being a beer fan from the South Shore, McGuire reached out to Boxing Rock (who in turn wanted to collaborate with Garrison) to turn his art into a beer label, with a portion of proceeds of the beer going to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. The collaborative beer, Courage (for Gord Downie), will be a 6.0% Amber Wheat Ale, with a limited run of just 2000 bottles, coming in late November. For those Hip and beer fans looking to pay tribute, and help fund brain tumour research before then, prints of “By The Numbers” are available through McGuire now.
• In the not-so-soon department, the crew from North Brewing took the first steps of a multi-month (multi-year?) journey last weekend. After preparing a low-ABV-potential, high-wheat wort using the turbid mash method (put on your beer goggles, take a deep dive and prepare to lose a few hours while researching!) at their Agricola Street location, they trucked the wort to the vineyard at Benjamin Bridge Winery. At that point, the still-hot wort was pumped into a shallow metal container named a coolship. The vessel’s large surface area and shallow depth allow for a quick cooling (normally requiring lots of water and a heat exchanger). At this point, yeast would normally be added by the brewers, but in taking advantage of the wild yeast and flora growing on the grapes and leaves in the vineyard, the wort was allowed to spontaneously ferment (or innoculate). An overnight process to ensure enough yeast found their way through the cheesecloth (to keep any insects or other nasties out!), the beer was then pumped into Benjamin Bridge barrels, and brought back to HRM. The beer will now ferment and condition over the course of many months, and could potentially lead to a multi-year blend of future brews (think Gueuze, from Brussels). We’ll be keeping you up-to-date with this beer as it develops
In addition to your own Halloween-themed parties this weekend, here a few others to keep in mind in the coming weeks!
• Horton Ridge will be hosting a special event for Halloween this year, featuring one of the Gold Medal-winning beers from this year’s ACBAs. Hortonville’s Pumpkin Ale, which we told you about a few weeks ago, was brewed by Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery brewer Stefan Gagliardi using hefty amounts of Horton Ridge organic Vienna and Munich malts as well as home-smoked pumpkin and plenty of spices. The beer will be available for pints and as part of flights on Tuesday Oct 31 from 1 – 9 PM while supplies last. Of course there will be other Horton Ridge-brewed and guest beers on tap for this event.
• Lion & Bright will be hosting Charlottetown’s Upstreet for an 8-tap takeover next Thursday, November 2nd. Featuring some of their core beers, plus plenty of special and one-offs, there will be food and drink deals from 5PM. Come and meet the Upstreet crew, jam on some tunes, and have a fun night out!
• Not quite getting your fill of New Brunswick beer? The James Joyce in Fredericton has been a strong supporter of breweries in the province over the past couple of years, but on Friday, November 10th, they’re pushing the envelope – and adding taps! – to try and have beer available from every brewery in New Brunswick. The event is currently unnamed, but they’re doing all they can to ensure every brewery is able to participate, including adding lines, jockey boxes, and kegerators! The last time they attempted this it was a bit easier, with only 18 breweries open in the province; now, it’s over 30. There’s no charge to attend, just show up when they open at 11:30 am, and pay by the pint or flight!
Just a couple more things before we send you off:
– Grimross has released Scratch #7: Skinny Pale Ale at their brewery in Fredericton; they’re describing it as a 5.8% ABV mix of a “Belgian meeting a California Pale Ale”. Scratch is available now, and/or drop by on Saturday for a taste, when they’ll also have their Schwarzbier on cask, featuring additions of orange peel and Citra hops.
– We teased a few weeks ago that Rothesay’s Long Bay would be bottling soon, and that day has come! One of their flagship beers, Bantam APA, is the first to be available in bottles, which you can find for sale at the brewery, as well as KV and Saint John ANBL stores (check inventory). Look for their first Belgian beer, Chalice, to follow suit over the next couple of days.
– While Uncle Leo’s mixed 4-pack of German Ales is still available at select NSLC stores in the region, it looks like the next local variety pack will be a 6-pack featuring two bottles each of three different ciders from Bulwark, going on sale as of November 20th.