Battery Park

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We are mid-way through April, which means the first signs of life are being spotted on our local hop farms. These ambitious little sprouts will grow to more than 6 metres in height, and produce enough cones to make any beer a little hoppier (and happier). Plenty to tell you about today, so let’s go!

• It seems like it’s been a while since Stillwell Brewing has had any of their tasty, tasty new releases, but fear not! Their latest beer, Glou, will be available for purchase this weekend. A blend of barrel-aged Saison and a sour, foedre-aged beer (both of which were originally brewed in May of 2017), Glou then had New York muscat grape skins from Blomidon Estate added, to the whopping tune of 200 g/L. The final 6.3% ABV beer is being described as “hugely aromatic, floral, woodsy and bright, with a great acidity and tannic structure”. Sounds great to us! Bottles of Glou (along with Dang, and maybe even another brand or two!) can be purchased at the rear entrance behind 2015 Gottingen St. from 12 – 3 PM both tomorrow and Sunday; if you can’t wait till then (we get it!), drop by Stillwell (the beer bar) today if you’d like, where you can try Glou on-site. And keep it locked here for more info on another new release, plus fan faves, in the coming weeks.

• Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewing has a new beer available this weekend, a collaboration with local kombucha producer Pop Culture. Starting with the malt bill of a Wheat Ale, Brightwood used the Scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from Pop Culture to start the process of souring. After this first wave of fermentation was complete, the beer was boiled, with grapefruit and Palisade hops added during that process, and fermentation completed with a clean yeast. A further addition of Palisade during a dry-hopping step complements and increases the grapefruit character from the citrus fruit. The resulting RadBucha is available at their Alderney Farmers’ Market stall tomorrow, and will be part of the “Evolution” Tap Takeover at Battery Park Thursday (more details below).

• Fredericton’s Coastliner Cider will soon be releasing their fourth cider, Full Steam Ahead. This entry definitely takes your typical cider in a completely new direction, thanks to the addition of coffee beans roasted by local Whitney Coffee Company. Quite drinkable at 5.4% ABV, this semi-dry cider has notes of coffee in the aroma and flavour, but still retains its complementary cider character. It will be officially released this Saturday for the Saint John Beer Fest, and will follow shortly thereafter in kegs at select accounts on Monday. If you can’t make it out to try it, fear not – it will eventually be packaged in bottles, hopefully sometime in the not-too-distant future.

• The folks at Tidehouse continue to come up with new beer ideas, with their latest brew, Grisette Jungle, available on tap now. Brewed with Horton Ridge Pale and Wheat malt, the wort was bittered to ~30 IBUs with Warrior, with some Belma also being throw in at the end of the boil for a touch of fruit character. Fermented with a blend of Belgian and French Saison yeasts, it comes in at just 4.3% ABV and pours a light-straw colour with a bit of haziness. Coming across as “floral, fruity, with a nice grainy note and a little spicy zing”, you can find it at the Tidehouse taproom for growlers and small pours; look for it to pop up on tap at Stillwell in the near future.

• Over at Good Robot, you can soon expect the return of last year’s Falstaff, an American Pale Ale, next Thursday. Just-about-sessionable (always a debatable subject!) at 4.4% ABV, this one was brewed with plenty of Pilsner malt, and a bit of Red X, Rye, and Flaked Barley throwing in for good measure. It was dry-hopped with Azacca and Jarrylo to add some notes of tropical fruit, and at 30-35 IBUs, should have a moderately-bitter finish. And for this week’s Beta Brew, they bring us the winning entry in their successful FemmeBrew, an all-female homebrew competition. I Love My Dog was brewed by Drella Green-Simony, and is a “Liquorice Stout” that features a grist of Pilsner, Belgian 2-row, and Black malt. It was hopped in the boil with Willamette to the tune of ~50 IBUs, with star anise thrown in the kettle as well, giving it a mild but present liquorice character. You’ll be able to grab this 5.1% ABV Stout on tap at GR next Tuesday.

• Looks like Spindrift Brewing has a new entry in their Seventh Wave series on tap right now at the brewery. White Whale Wheat Pale Ale is a light-and-hazy brew hopped with Hallertau Blanc, a wonderful hop variety that lends “citrus overtones of grapefruit and lemongrass” in this particular beer. With a smooth mouthfeel thanks to the generous addition of Wheat in the grist, this is an easy-drinking, 4.5% ABV beer that blends perfectly with the slowly-but-surely-getting-better weather out there. Limited amounts only, of course, so grab a growler before it’s gone!

TrailWay Brewing in Fredericton is dropping another juicy and hazy Double IPA at their taproom today, All is Well. Featuring some super-fresh Amarillo hops, along with Idaho 7, it all comes together for a blast of tropical and orange notes, in an 8.0% ABV package. This release is only available at the brewery, enjoyed at their bar or in cans to go.

PEI Brewing Company has released a pair of new beers in their After Hours series, just in time for last evening’s launch event. Earlier in the week they released Mango Smoothie IPA, a 6.5% ABV featuring loads of vanilla fruit puree for a hazy and lovely bright orange appearance. The hops used complement the fruit character as well. And yesterday saw the release of Raspberry Sour, a 5.0% Sour Wheat Ale (using the kettle sour technique) with raspberries added. Both beers are still available at the brewery, but won’t be around forever, given the nature of the styles, and batch size.

• When you drop by Port Rexton’s Retail Shop on Torbay Road today, you’ll be greeted by a brand new beer in the fridge. Though the beer started out with the same malt bill as their Chasing Sun NEIPA, through a series of “weird and wonderful events” (we can only imagine!) on brewday, it didn’t end up that way! Enter DiscomHOPulated, still in the New England IPA style, weighing in at 6.0% ABV, generously dry-hopped with Amarillo, El Dorado, Mandarina Bavaria, and Mosaic, and still just as delicious as its original direction. The beer is available at the Shop for growler fills only, joined by Baycation Blonde for growler fills, with cans of T-Rex Porter and Blazing Sun also available to go, today 4 – 8 PM and tomorrow 12 – 6 PM.

• Rothesay’s Long Bay Brewery is releasing Amplified Kölsch in celebration of Record Store Day on April 21st. Using authentic yeast imported from a brewpub in Cologne, this 5.0% ABV beer features a malt bill of primarily Pilsner, for a bright yellow appearance. The bitterness of the beer is quite light, at less than 20 IBUs, but features a large whirlpool addition of Mandarina Bavaria after the boil was finished, in order to extract some lovely citrus aromatics. Teaming up with Backstreet Records, there will be live music by Christina Martin in store at 2PM, plus t-shirts of the beer logo available for purchase. You can also drop by the brewery to get your fix, and keep an eye out at local ANBL locations as well. Turn it up to 11!

Here’s what we’ll be trying to squeeze into our calendars in the next week or two:

• As we mentioned last week, if you’re in the environs of Lower Sackville tomorrow, give a thought to heading down to Freeman’s to celebrate Sackvegas’ own nanobrewery, Ol’ Biddy’s. Eight of Keith Forbes’ brews will be on tap, including the much loved Sackvegas Sour. Look for the rest of the taplist to be posted on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram); the event starts at 10 AM and runs until close. Come celebrate the belated grand opening of Ol’ Biddy’s and show your support for Freeman’s, who continue to show their dedication to local beer on tap!

• Dartmouth’s Battery Park will be hosting a “small batch brewery” takeover next Thursday, April 19, from 11:30 AM until close. Dubbed “Evolution Part II”, it follows on from last year’s event, which was the last opportunity to try Sober Island and Schoolhouse before their respective evolutions out of the small batch market space. This year the taps will be populated by Halifax’s Tidehouse, Yarmouth’s Heritage, and Dartmouth’s Brightwood, who are the brewery undergoing an expansion this year. You’ll find the Facebook event page here, which will no doubt be updated with tap info as the day approaches. Head on down and remind yourself that great beer can be brewed on any size system.

• Also taking place April 19 is the first event of the #weekendofbeer in St John’s, courtesy of the folks behind the St John’s BrewFest. Featuring local favourite Port Rexton Brewing going head to head against Come From Aways 2 Crows, the taps at the Sundance SunDeck Bar will be flowing with 14 great AtlCan beers. Kicking off at 6:30 PM, a $5 cover charge gets you in the door, and started on your way to a great evening. The full taplist is available on the FB Event page, and we can tell you that both breweries are bringing their A-game, with at least one brand new release debuting, and plenty of new-to-the-region beers available. To keep you going round after round, there will be live music and food available as well.

• Friday evening (April 20th) tickets are still available for the St John’s BrewFest at Club One. In addition to the slew of great beer being brought to the Island (updated beer list here), there will be a strong showing from Newfoundland breweries, including Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Split Rock, Storm, Western Newfoundland, with Scudrunner on site with their merchandise for sale. Grab your tickets today to avoid missing out!

• Good news, New Brunswick (especially those of you in the Moncton area)! If you’re still sore over missing the Mikkeller takeover at Halifax’s Stillwell last January, the people behind the Tide & Boar have the perfect “analgesic” for you. Yes, Denmark’s most famous brewery will be pouring six of their delicious creations at a Mikkeller Tap Takeover at T&B Saturday, April 28th, from open till close (or the beers run out!). If you’re lucky enough to be able to attend, expect to see the following on tap: Jackie Brown, Citra IPA, Mosaic IPA, Black, Monk’s Brew, and Green Gold. But that’s not all – several other beers will be available in bottles, including Spontanbeetroot, Spontanlingonberry, Spontanyuzu (all three of which are funky, sour offerings), and their French Oak barrel-aged Barleywine, Foret Limousine. There’s no charge to attend, just make sure you’re there bright and early when they open at 11 AM, if you want to “Maximize Your Mikkeller” (™ pending)!

And a couple more little bits before we let you get on with your Friday:

– We have it on fairly good authority that Niche Brewing’s extremely popular Orange Creamsicle Milkshake IPA will be back early next week. Look for it to appear at the James Joyce for sure and, as other craft beer pubs savvy up, there too!
– The Gose of Christmas Past that Big Spruce brewed up with Hamilton’s Merit Brewing back in December is just now being seen in the wild. A gose brewed with Indian coriander and French Sea Salt before being aged in Tequila Barrels, look for it to appear at the Sprucetique and at tap accounts around the province this week. And keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks for some other big releases from Jeremy and the gang!

With the warm-ish weather we’ve been experiencing in the region this week we’re almost wondering if the Groundhog might have been right this year, which probably means an apocalyptic storm or four is just around the corner. To take your mind off this dreadful inevitability and the zombie apocalypse that will no doubt follow, we’ve once again collected all the beer news we could find in the region this week and put it all in one place.

• It looks like Boxing Rock has been playing around in the brewhouse lately, as they’ve just released Plum Crazy, a “plum-infused sour Porter”. Starting with a slightly-tweaked recipe of their Sunken Ledge Porter, where a portion of the mash was soured in the mashtun for 48 hours, with the remainder of the grist mashed in as normal. The resulting two worts were then combined in the kettle, and boiled as usual. After primary fermentation was complete, 120 lbs of plum puree were added for about a week, where the beer was then carbonated and packaged. The result is a 5% ABV brew that is “smooth, tart, and malty, with a bit of tannic character from the plums”. You should be able to find it in bottles now at the private liquor stores, in growlers at the brewery and farmer’s markets, and on tap at select licensees.

• Late last week, Big Axe managed to release a new beer despite receiving several new pieces of brewing equipment for their expansion. A Rye IPA, Aces & Eights was brewed with two types of rye malt: Flaked Rye and Pale Rye malt. Hopped with Amarillo and Citra, this 5.8% ABV beer is a light amber colour, with “reddish hues” (the picture we saw looked quite red!), and has a “slight peppery aroma” from the Rye additions. Look for it on tap at your favourite Big Axe account, and at the brewery taproom (which very well may BE your favourite Big Axe account, naturally!) for pints and growler fills.

• Halifax’s Propeller has a brand new beer available in cans, XPA. This “Extra Pale Ale” is their latest seasonal, hopped with Citra and Idaho 7, giving the beer “complex hop aromas of orange and apricot, finishing with a backdrop of resiny pine with hints of black tea”, according to the brewery. These 473 mL cans are available right now in both Propeller retail stores, and should be following at the NSLC sometime next week. Of course, it’s on tap at Propeller for growler fills as well, and will likely show up on tap around the HRM very soon.

• There’s another new Alpha Brew being released by our friends at Good Robot this week: All You Can Eat is being billed as a Coconut IPA. Featuring a “boatload” of toasted coconut (meticulously toasted by Kelly Costello herself), the beer has a base of Golden malt, and was hopped with both Topaz and Wai-Iti. It’s “smooth and creamy” and has an aroma matching a tropical fruit salad, with coconut! Keep your eyes open for it around Halifax, and of course you can find this 6.2% ABV, 43 IBUs newbie at the source (read: brewery taproom). But we’re not done… naturally there’s a new Beta Brew coming out next Tuesday! Creamsicale was brewed with local entrepreneur Krishna Parmar, and has a grist made up of Wheat malt, Oats, and barley, and hopped with Magnum, Mandarina Bavaria, and Zythos (to 32 IBUs). At 5.8% ABV, it tastes of “citrus and vanilla ice cream, with a very subtle hop profile”. Finally, the brewery has just finished their second canning run, so you can now pick up Tom Waits For No One American Stout in 16 oz cans at the brewery.

• Bucking tradition slightly, TrailWay released their weekly one-off a bit early this week, on Wednesday. This is their latest rendition of Binary, their rotating SMaSH (single-malt and single-hop) brew. Golden Promise is the malt of choice, and this time around they went with the Australian hop variety Ella. This hop has been seeing more and more action in many brews in Atlantic Canada, and is known for the floral and spicy aromas it imparts in beer, along with a grapefruit and tropical flavour. This batch is bigger than their typical one-off, so expect to see some cans of this 6% ABV hoppy brew at select ANBL stores, in addition to at the brewery taproom.

• Today Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing is bringing back a summer favourite a little early, possibly in the hopes of inspiring this unseasonably warm weather into even more unseasonable territory. You might remember Sour MFer, the kettle soured wheat beer aged on a metric fuckton of tart cherries. Well it’s back, and this time it spent some time refermenting with Brettanomyces lambicus, which is known for tending to impart a cherry-pie like character. Even better, the beer also spent several months aging on oak. Available from noon for pints and fills at the brewery and/or Charm School Pub next door. Speaking of growler fills, did you know if you bring another brewery’s growler to Unfiltered, they’ll fill it? And they’ll even slap on a high-quality vinyl Unfiltered sticker before they send you on your merry way. How incredibly controversial!!

• If you head down to Tidehouse’s tinytastybeverageroom in downtown Halifax this weekend, you’ll find a brand new beer. The Atomium is a Belgian blond that comes in at 6.4% ABV. It was brewed with Pilsner, Vienna and a touch of Aromatic malt, bittered with Perle and flavoured with noble Czech Saaz. Brewmaster Peter Lionais then chose to ferment with a pair of Belgian yeasts to create a beer with a largely fruity profile contrasted with a touch of phenolic spiciness. This beer is also expected to hit the taps at the Stubborn Goat in the coming days.

Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse continues to churn out beer, belying their nano scale. Brewer/owner Keith Forbes has a couple brews bubbling away to keep the tap accounts happy. As mentioned last week (or was it the week before?), there’s a batch of Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red coming for St. Patrick’s Day and a coffee-less version of Even Gooder Brown will be ready mid-next week, this one with a light-ish body, and chocolate, caramel and nutty flavors and an overall earthy presentation. And if you’ll be at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest, look for Ol’ Biddy’s to make its debut at Newbie Night on March 9th. They’ll be bringing four beers at the event, Sackvegas Sour, Orange American Bastard, Disco Inferno Red IPA and a brand new one, brewed by Keith’s longtime homebrew buddy Michael Orr, Salty Fog Coconut Porter, a dark roasty beer with hints of chocolate, caramel and coconut, and finished with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt.

Maybee Brewing is launching a new beer today, which will be the first of three over the next few weeks. Today’s newbie is Whistle Stop Belgian Pale Ale, a 6.5% ABV twist on the classic Belgian style. Amber-coloured, this brew was fermented with a Saison and Brettanomyces yeast blend, giving “upfront notes of biscuit, stone fruit, and bubblegum, with a European hop spice and citrus hop accompaniment”. Finishing crisp and dry, it will be released in kegs only for now (so look for it on tap at the brewery for growler fills, and at Maybee tap accounts in the province), but will also be available in bottles during Fredericton Craft Beer Week (starting March 5th).

• We mentioned last week (eventually…sorry guys!), that the 902BrewCast boys would be hosting a live recording of their Women in the Beer Industry Panel, an open discussion featuring Meghan Brennan (Garrison Brewing), Rebecca Atkinson (Sober Island Brewing), Laura MacDonald (Stillwell), and Kelly Costello (Good Robot Brewing). The event took place this past Monday evening and the team has already sliced ’n diced the raw tape into an episode available now. Get it direct from their website here, search it out in iTunes or your favourite alternative Podcast app, or twist the dial of your favourite podcast appliance (those exist, right?)

On top of the many events we’ve mentioned over the past couple weeks, there’s a couple new ones to throw out there today:

• Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co. is celebrating reopening this week with an all-NL tap takeover. Beginning last night with a ticketed event that sold right out, it will continue into Friday and Saturday. Head down to the brewery during regular hours (4 PM to Midnight) today or tomorrow and find taps pouring from Port Rexton Brewing, Split Rock Brewing Co., Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., Yellowbelly Brewery, Storm Brewing and, of course, the hosts themselves! Flights will be available at $12 per and they’ll have 16oz pints besides. So head on down and experience a taste of the burgeoning beer scene on the Rock!

Battery Park is holding another one of their all-day tap takeovers next Thursday, March 1st, but this one will feature six Nova Scotia breweries, instead of just one. Small but Mighty will bring you kegs from Half Cocked, Lazy Bear, Off Track, Ol’ Biddy’s, Tanner & Co., and The Townhouse. Beers will be pouring from 11:30 am for the whole day, until the beer is gone! As always, there’s no charge to attend, just show up and enjoy some pints from some of the province’s smallest breweries! Many of the brewers will be there to soak up the praise, so don’t be shy!

• Interested in learning more about the brewing process? Saint John’s Big Tide will be hosting a Brunch & Brew on Sunday, March 25th from 10 am-1:30 pm. Head brewer Wendy Papadopoulos will educate attendees on the magic behind brewing, and you’ll also get the opportunity to take part in an actual brew day. Luckily, a two-course brunch and flight of beer is included in the ticket price ($40 + HST and fee), to keep you going! You can book your tickets here.

That’s it for this week!

– Harvey, New Brunswick’s Think Brewing has started bottling, and the first bottles (500 mL) of their Revelation IPA can be found at the Corbett Centre ANBL in Fredericton this weekend, with more locations to follow, soon.

 

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.