Big Spruce

All posts tagged Big Spruce

Oh hey, it’s Thanksgiving. Already. Given that many of you folks will probably be spending time with family and friends this weekend, don’t be surprised if the staff at your favorite breweries and/or taprooms are given some time to do the same. As always, check social media before you make any special trips to get beer lest you find yourself disappointed. Provincial liquor authorities will definitely be closed on Monday, so if your plan includes one of them, plan to stock up by Sunday afternoon. We should also mention that with two of our three authors away on vacation for the next two weeks (and the third consumed by seething resentment at the other two), chances are extremely high that we won’t be posting much, if at all, on the next two Fridays; these posts are definitely not a one person job! Breweries who have big news that they really really want to share are welcome to contact us and we’ll do our best to provide a bump via social media. Cheers!

This weekend is the 2nd Anniversary for Tanner & Co. Brewing (2 years already, when the hell did that happen?), and that pretty much means in this industry that you’ve got to release a special beer for the occasion! Enter Reserve Sauvage, a special version of their Sauvage, a “Nova Scotian Ale” that is most-closely aligned with a Saison. Brewed with local malts from Horton Ridge (Pale, Vienna, and Wheat), and fermented with NS yeast from Big Spruce in Chardonnay barrels, where it was aged for about three weeks. The beer is giving notes of “pineapple, banana, buttery Chardonnay, and a bit of spice and straw in the finish”. It’ll be available this weekend at the brewery on tap (as well as at Battery Park with some other Tanner goodies), with bottles following sometime next week. And keep an eye on their social media for big announcements coming soon regarding their town of Chester Tasting Room!

Two new beers comin’ ‘atcha from TrailWay this week, one of which is a play on their house Pilsner, Yada Yada. This new iteration, named Yoo Hoo (Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm reference? And, go!) features a dry-hop addition of European Mittelfruh, giving the 5% ABV Lager an aroma of “subtle floral, herbs, and delicate spices”, according to the brewery. Their next beer is yet another iteration, being the next entry in their rotating Kveik IPA, Oculus. This time around they decided to employ Citra, Cashmere, and Idaho 7 hops, lending lots of tropical fruit and citrus character (which is upped even more thanks to the warm fermentation with Kveik yeast). This one comes in at 6% ABV; cans/pints/growlers of both beers will be available at the brewery as of today, and look for cans of Yoo Hoo to start appearing at various ANBL locations.

If you’re in the mood for something fruity, jammy, and sour this weekend, 2 Crows has got the cure for what ails ya. Paradise is their latest foedre-aged sour, brewed with Barley, Wheat, Spelt, and a touch of Rye malt. Lightly hopped with Nelson Sauvin (to just 6 IBUs) and some aged noble hop varieties, the wort was fermented and soured in one of their foedres with a blend of their house cultures. After conditioning for several months, they added a whole whack of raspberries (560 lbs), and a lesser amount of passionfruit (210 lbs, keeping in mind that a little passionfruit can go a long way). Once the secondary fermentation (thanks to all the sugar from the fruit) was complete, they packaged the beer in 355 mL cans, where it was allowed to carbonate naturally over two months. Tasting “super jammy, lush, bright, and lovely”, it has a strong tartness, a touch of funk, and a bit of mineral character. The raspberry comes through in the extreme, with the passionfruit backing it up. Super drinkable at just 4.7% ABV, you can drop by the brewery this weekend to pick up some cans; it’s also available on tap, and will likely be popping up at a few better beer establishments in the HRM.

In Hanwell, NB, Niche Brewing is releasing a new IPA this week that reaches back a little bit to a time before IPAs were hazy and juicy. Described as more of a “West Coast” IPA, North Park features a classic American hop profile, with citrusy notes of grapefruit and orange meeting a bit of dankness thanks to the liberal use of Columbus and Simcoe hops. The ABV is up a little (6% ABV) and bitterness is moderate (45 IBU), and specialty malts bring the maltier character that one would expect from a beer in this style. Find it soon, if not already, at  The Joyce Pub, 540 Kitchen & Bar, CAVOK Brewing Co., Tide and Boar Gastropub, Cask & Kettle Irish Gastropub, Peppers Pub, and at Stillwell in Halifax.

Nova Scotia’s Tatamagouche Brewing is switching from a Continental-heavy first half of October (with their German-inspired Lagerhosen and Daybreak Kellerbier released over the past two weeks) to an English release this week. English Dark Mild features the use of complex malts in the brew for a wide variety of toast and biscuit character, complemented with yeast-derived esters reminiscent of jam and currants. Light residual sweetness keeps this 3.6% ABV from being too thin, and is the perfect accompaniment to a quiet evening by the fire in a cozy pub. Look for it on tap at Tata now, and around the province this weekend.

Propeller is once again getting a little funky with it, with the release today of their newest beer, Harvest Brett Saison. This 6% ABV mixed fermentation brew – featuring a blend of Saison and Brettanomyces yeast strains – is described by the brewery as having “complex spice, dried red fruit and citrus flavours, balanced by subtle earthy and funky Brett characteristics”. It finishes very dry, as any good Saison should, with a slight tartness. This is one of their Gottingen Small Batch beers, meaning you can find it at both Prop shops for growlers, pints, and flights (no bottles/cans, sorry). And P.S., tonight’s Friday cask is ESB w/ Coffee, tapped at 5 PM to kick off your weekend with a jolt!.

Two new beers from Yankee Line Road just outside of Nyanza to tell you about this week. Big Spruce has a hop farm onsite, and are releasing their ode to the hops harvest, and hops harvester, this week. Passion of the Chris is named in celebration of landscaper and hopyard guy Chris, who spends many an hour trimming, weeding, training, and overall caring for the plants during the growing season. The hops using in PotC were picked and then promptly added to the boil, with nary a minute to allow for any of that fresh hop goodness to escape. The resulting 7.9% ABV Harvest IPA features a wide blend of hop varietals used, and the aroma and flavour reflects that, with orange and lemon zest, floral notes, fresh pine, and cut grass. The beer is full bodied and light in bitterness, remaining well balanced. This beer is only available at this time of year, so be sure to grab a growler or pint wherever you run across it!

Big Spruce is also debuting a second beer this week, decidedly on the lighter side of things. Festival Club is a 4.2% ABV Session Ale, light-bodied, displaying a touch of haze, and finishing dry. Wild flowers and grass dance on the nose and palate, finishing in a crisp fashion, encouraging a second sip (or pint!). Festival Club is on tap at the brewery for pints and growlers, as well as in cans, perfect for grabbing for a hike or taking you to your next kitchen party.

And for those homebrewers interested in this year’s 7th Annual Big Spruce Homebrew Challenge that we told you all about last week, the Voss Kveik yeast from Escarpment Labs that’s being used exclusively for the competition beers this year has landed at both the brewery and Everwood Ave Brewshop in Lower Sackville (registration fees must be paid in order to get yeast). If you can’t make it to one of these locations to pick it up, go ahead and contact the brewery and they’ll help you figure something out.

One of Newfoundland’s newest breweries, Bannerman Brewing on Duckworth Street in the city of St. John’s, has a new beer pouring, their first in the Porter style. Late Shift is a 6.0% dark ale featuring a blend of caramel and roasted malts for sweetness and a bit of roasty bite along with plenty of flaked and malted oats that no doubt lend a soft mouthfeel and smooth body. Described as “thick and creamy with notes of coffee and chocolate,” you should be able to find it on tap at the brewery. And stay tuned for news of another beer in the works, as Mike “Hogie” Hogan, of Upstreet Brewing fame, was spotted at the brewery this week wearing his brewing overalls (although to be honest we’re not sure he doesn’t wear those everywhere…). We’ll be sure to tell you all about that one as soon as we know more!

One of St. John’s most-regarded seafood restaurants,  The Adelaide Oyster House, is celebrating their 5th Anniversary this month, and have teamed up with Port Rexton Brewing (a brewery that the restaurant has supported since their early days) to concoct up a birthday beer, Mango Guava Sour. The beer, a 5% ABV  kettle sour, features additions of mango and pink guava puree, giving a mixture of fruit punch and “sour cocktail” notes. It’s available now, exclusively at the brewery’s taproom in Port Rexton, and at TAOH, naturally. And great news for those patiently awaiting their return: cans are now available for sale at the brewery and the St. John’s Retail Shop on Torbay Road, so be sure to grab some before you head to your turkey dinner Sunday (or Monday!). And big congratulations to PRBC team members Terra and Nicole, who were awarded scholarships for the Certified Beer Server and Certified Cicerone®︎, as awarded by the Canadian Brewing Awards. Only a handful of folks across the country were selected, clearly there’s something special in the water in Port Rexton!

Sticking within the Rock, Quidi Vidi Brewing has completed a collaboration brew of their own. They recently teamed up with Ontario’s Muskoka Brewery to brew Chocolate Orange Kveik, which… kinda tells you a lot from the name. Unfortunately, we don’t have a whole lot of details for this one, but we can tell you that it’s a hazy beer was fermented with a Kveik yeast strain, and weighs in at a pretty-hefty 8% ABV. Exhibiting “roasted notes of chocolate swirled with zesty orange”, it definitely sounds to be on the interesting side! Best way to get it is probably dropping by this weekend at QV.

And switching to NL cider from NL beer, Newfoundland Cider Company up in Clarenville, NL, is releasing four, count’em FOUR, new small batches of cider this weekend that would seem to suggest they’ve got a real appreciation for seasonal flavors and some serious foraging skills (or know someone who does). The ciders in question are: Strawberry + Chuckley Pear, Gooseberry, Pin Cherry, and Chuckley Pear. What’s a Chuckley Pear? We don’t know either, but Wikipedia says it’s a family of shrubs and small trees in the rose family that’s also known by many other names, including Saskatoon Berry. All feature the same base cider, and then the berry additions, a perfect way to see the expression those offer. If you’re in the area and like cider, this sounds like quite a lineup to try (and note that they also have their Honey Cyser, Old Tilt and Hopped Cider available to go). Also, this weekend will be your last chance to enjoy their taproom before they close for the season; they’re open Saturday from 2 – 7 PM, with five different ciders pouring. But don’t worry, their retail shop will still be open Mon-Sat, 11 – 4:30 PM, all winter, with a rotating selection of 8 on the go right now.

Though at this point it’s probably more pertinent to breweries than to the region’s beer drinkers, the registration process for this year’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards is now in full swing. Breweries are welcome to submit pretty much as many beers as they like (the official scale goes from 1 to Big Spruce), although they must limit themselves to a single beer in each official sub-category. Registrations will be accepted until October 25th at which point the door will be closed and let the best beers win! Judging will take place on November 2nd and 3rd, with the gala awards ceremony happening at HopYard Halifax mid-November. As always, we’ll do our level best to get the results to you as soon as possible after they’re announced. If you’re a brewery from Atlantic Canada and you’re interested in entering, check out that first link, or shoot an email to suzanne@withzest.ca

Some beery things happening this weekend and beyond:

Halifax’s Stillwell never ceases to disappoint with their seemingly-endless number of brewery tap takeovers, ranging from local breweries to those that are decidedly *not* local! And starting tomorrow, October 12th at noon, they’ll be featuring one of Maine’s finest craft breweries, Oxbow Brewing, from Newcastle (although it should be noted they also now have locations elsewhere in the state, in Portland and Oxford). For those of you lucky enough to be able to drop in tomorrow, you can expect six taps and ten different beers in bottles, several of which are debuting at Stillwell! While not a complete takeover, exactly, we’re fine with it! Don’t miss out, Oxbow has been brewing some delightful Farmhouse Ales since they opened years ago, and this is a great excuse to give a bunch of them a try! 

The original Hopyard – that’s the Charlottetown, PEI location, for those of you not in the know – has always done an excellent job of not only serving up the best beers on the Island, but also bringing in excellent beers from NB and NS that are otherwise not readily-available to Islanders. Next Friday, October 18th, they’re going even further in Atlantic Canada with their first ever Newfoundland Tap Takeover. Nine taps will be dedicated to Port Rexton (4 beers), Quidi Vidi (3) and Landwash (2) when they open at 11 am. In addition to these fine beers, there will be a special Newfoundland food-themed menu from Chef Jane Crawford, as well as live music in the evening. And mainlander beer fans, fear not! The Halifax location will be hosting their own Newfoundland Tap Takeover on November 2nd, with the same great variety of breweries being represented.

It’s that time of year again soon, when many of Nova Scotia’s breweries throw open their doors and let in massive crowds of adoring fans. Ok, maybe there was a little embellishment there, but next Saturday, October 19th is NS Open Brewery Day! Hosted by the Craft Brewers Association of NS, all breweries affiliated with the organization have planned or are planning events to occur throughout the day, ranging from brewery tours to free samples, special beer releases to small batch brews for you to take part in, live music to food trucks, etc etc etc. We could list everything that is going on, or you could just check out the event link above! We’re going to go with the latter, as we’re already running late here.

And just a couple little newsbites before the long weekend begins!

As we mentioned last week, Good Robot has two new beers on the go this week, the latest in their Creature Feature series of biotransformation IPAs, and number VII for those keeping track, subtitled, The Storm Beer (5.3% ABV, 50 IBU). Also out is their Scottish Ale brewed with some appropriately Scottish friends, Go Kart Jackass (4.8% ABV, 19 IBU). Check them out at the GR taproom.

Your intrepid beer-swilling pals at the 902BrewCast have released their October Tasting Episode this week, with lots of chat between the guys about beer-related topics like rolling cans, dregs, and their long-promised packaging torture test, as well as some not-exactly beer-related topics including politics. But don’t let that scare you away, check it out at their site or your favorite podcast provider.

Batten down the hatches! Grab your storm beers! We’re in for quite a weekend because of unwelcome visitor Dorian, who has already carved a path of destruction through the Caribbean Sea, hitting The Bahamas especially hard. If you are looking for a way to help out those affected the worst, instead of sending beer, partner with some legitimate charities with people on the ground assisting, such as the Red Cross. We don’t think the storm has anything to do with it, but this week is much-noticeably lighter on beer news for Atlantic Canada; we’re pretty sure brewers are taking a very slight break after the craziness of July and August. And we’re not complaining! There’s still some new beers to chat with you about, so take a break from prepping your home for Dorian and have a read…

(Editor’s Note: Despite their recent popularity, at least in Nova Scotia, this post contains zero spicy beer memes)

Hanwell’s Niche Brewing has a new release this week, focusing on family, community, and togetherness. Named Ohana, the Hawaiian word for family, this is a pale-coloured kettle sour featuring pineapple and toasted coconut, two fruits found throughout the Hawaiian islands. And in a unique twist, an addition of Hawaiian lava black salt lends a light salinity to the brew to help temper the tartness and increase its refreshing character. With the tropical fruit reminiscent of pina colada, this 5.4% ABV beer will help to extend those summer vibes. Grab a pint with your family, however you define them, across Fredericton, Saint John, Sussex, and Moncton, as well as Stillwell in Halifax.

Portland, Maine is home to many a fine brewery, and one of those is Lone Pine Brewing, in operation in the city since early 2016 (they also have a tasting room in Gorham, ME). They recently travelled up to Canada and teamed up with Halifax’s own Good Robot to brew S’Kettin’ Dark, a “summer stout” that weighs in at a very reasonable 5.2% ABV. While the beer has the expected roasted aromas and flavours, they also added a “restrained” amount of blueberry and cranberry, to take it in a slightly different direction from your normal stout. The result is a brew that tastes “like a dark chocolate bar, with a hint of dried fruit”. Grab it on tap at the GR taproom this weekend (or the beginning of next week, if you’re staying at home!). 

Over in Newfoundland, the BonRexton Grandondo – a 133 km cycling route around the Bonavista Peninsula – is still scheduled for tomorrow (as of this posting). This year’s race will be ending at Port Rexton Brewing, which has naturally brewed up a special beer just for this event! Headwind is a hop-forward APA that features Galaxy, Mosaic, and Columbus, all in a 4.9% ABV package. With “dank stone fruit, pineapple, and subtle floral notes” in the aroma, backed up by all that goodness – plus a little pine – in the flavour, it’s the perfect, easy-drinking beer to enjoy after a long (and hopefully mostly dry) bicycle race. Don’t worry, you don’t have to bike in order to enjoy this one, as it’s currently on tap exclusively at the PR taproom as of yesterday (growler fills are also available). And while you’re in Port Rexton, keep an eye open for notices of the great events on the go for next weekend’s Port Rexton Pride! With events kicking off next Thursday, we heard from a little birdie (ok, it was Instagram!) that Queer Beer NL teamed up with the PRBC crew to put together a special beer for the weekend, to pair well with the karaoke, their Amazing Race competition, or bands playing Saturday evening.

Elsewhere in the province, Bootleg Brew Co. has a new beer of their own, Pils ‘N’ Acid. Brewed with a simple grist made up of Pilsner and Acidulated malt (hence the beer’s name), the beer was dry-hopped with Huell Melon, Enigma, and Mandarina Bavaria. Billed by the brewery as a “Session Ale” (it’s 5% ABV, so begin your arguments now!), the dry-hop addition provides a “delicate hop profile, with subtle notes of honey dew melon and a slight grassiness on the nose”. Basically a beer brewed for those looking for something light and easy-drinking – without delving into Lager territory – you can find it at the brewery right now for pints, growlers and grunters. 

Propeller’s experimental brews have taken them into the “White Stout” territory with their release of Flat White, hitting taps today. As you undoubtedly know by now (or may have even guessed, if you hadn’t already tried this style), a White Stout is a pale beer that manages to exhibit aromas and flavours that would normally go hand-in-hand with a darker beer… namely, roasted and chocolate characteristics. Flat White was brewed with lots of flaked oats to boost that body, and with the addition of fresh, cold-brewed Java Blend coffee (and cocoa nibs), the chocolate and mocha flavours abound. It comes in at 5% ABV and 30 IBUs; check it out at one of the Prop shop locations (and likely at a few licensees). And good news for those lovers of Prop’s Stone Fruit, it is back now, and returns as a full-time part of the lineup. Cans will continue to be available in the Prop Shops as well as private stores and NSLC. And today’s cask is their Galaxy IPA, with an addition of Black currant, lactose, and vanilla. That, and pies from Humble Pies, are available from 5 PM.

Although Jeremy has run to the other end of the country, no doubt to avoid Dorian, Big Spruce is still putting out new beer. Of course they are, they don’t seem to stop! This week’s release is a Hawaiian-themed number they’re calling Tiki Freak, no doubt after the idol that nearly killed off the Brady Bunch (we’re showing our collective age with that one, aren’t we?). A mixed-fermentation pineapple sour bearing a fairly hefty 6.3% ABV, it’s highly carbonated and refreshing, with a dry finish, a little bit of funk, plenty of tartness, and lots of pineapple flavor. If the gang won’t let you put pineapple on your pizza, this would be a fine workaround. Available for pints at the Spruce-tique, of course, and possibly on tap in the city; if single-serve packaging has taken place you’ll no doubt find it at the places where you usually find Big Spruce’s beers.

If you’re a fan of very bitter DIPAs, Heritage Brewing has the beer for you. Golden Horse is an Imperial IPA brewed with a blend of three hop varieties high in the alpha acid department (no specifics on which three, sorry!). All three were used in early boil additions to impart plenty of bitterness (130 calculated IBUs for this brew), as well as lots more at the end of the boil, and in the dry hop, to give dank, pine, and citrus flavours in the final product. Light, hazy, and 7.6% ABV, look for this one at the source in Yarmouth.

Between keeping up with a busy summer schedule, and launching their new taproom in downtown Shelburne, the fine folks at Boxing Rock have still found time to continue their small-batch brews at their Test Kitchen location in Halifax. Partnering with Local Source Market on Agricola, these batches are all about innovating and pushing the limits. To that end, the latest release on tap is White Hot Whitbier, a 4.8% ABV Belgian-style wheat beer featuring habanero peppers and using the cooling citrus of lime to help put out the fire. As with all of their Test Kitchen releases, this is only available for growler fills, so you’ll want to act quickly to grab it before it is done. And keep an eye out for their next small batch release, a lemon verbena tea-infused IPA, pairing tea and lemon notes with a hazy NEIPA style brew. Peep their social media for the latest news!

Summer is wrapping up, which is bad news for those of you in Dieppe who have been enjoying the beer and atmosphere at the town’s newest beergarden, Le BarBu. On the bright side, however, they are now set up just outside of Moncton at Belliveau Orchard (makers of Scow cider). They’ll have nine taps, four dedicated to Belliveau, and five rotating, and featuring craft breweries in the area. Keep an eye on their social media for their taplist, which will be updated before each weekend. They’ll be at this location until the end of October, when they’ll finally have to take a break until next summer. 

Just one upcoming event to mention this week:

The Rotary Club of Hampton, New Brunswick is hosting the Hampton Hops Festival next Saturday, September 14th. Featuring breweries and cider from across the province, the concentration will be on local, with Foghorn, Gridiron, Hammond River, Hampton Brewing, Long Bay, Loyalist City, Sussex Ale Works, Yip Cider, as well as the Moosehead Small Batch Brewery taking part. Your $45 ticket gets you in the door and sampling the products, along with some snacks. Beer Daddy BBQ will also be onsite, for those needing a little more sustenance to keep them going. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Rotary Club on Facebook, and/or via email.

And lastly, a one bite brownie of a newsbites section:

TrailWay has two returning favourites this week, both of ‘em American IPAs. Ellipse (6.5%), one of their “oldest” recipes, is hopped with lots of Amarillo, giving lots of orange juice notes; available at the brewery on tap and in cans, and cans will also be showing up at ANBL stores across NB. Urban Sabrero (6%), one of their newer beers, features the pretty-new Sabro hop, already well-known for providing beers with interesting coconut flavours and aromas. In cans at the brewery only, and on tap there and at a few bars in the area.

Once again it seems that our local beer producers know when we’ve got a writer on vacation and have gone out of their way to make our lives difficult. Or maybe there’s  just a summer long weekend coming and it’s totally normal for Chris to abandon us to the wolves. Sigh. But Happy Canada Day anyway!! It seems that breweries are maybe not quite into their traditional July/August panicked production mode as there are a TON of new releases coming this weekend. And whether or not we have info below on a specific Canada Day event at your favorite local, you can likely rest assured that they’ll have something going on. But our usual warning for long weekends applies: be sure to check social media for events we missed, modified hours, or slackers (we kid!) who are taking the holiday off!

Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co has a new small Saison available this week, Danger Zone Light. At 4.3% ABV, this is definitely in the Table Saison category, but with a New World twist. Yeast-driven notes of orchard fruit and banana, and loaded with Sterling hops added after fermentation for bright and grassy notes. Step inside the Danger Zone and grab a pint today!

Plus it’s the return of their ESB, the 4.6% ABV Drunken Muppet. A malt-forward pale ale, featuring notes of toffee, caramel, toast, and biscuit, balanced with light hop bitterness to keep it from being too sweet. Pop in this weekend Fri, Sat, and Mon for flights, pints, and growler fills, and keep your Canada Day party going Tuesday night with live music Youngtree & The Blooms from St John’s, taking the stage at 9 PM. 

All sorts of goodies coming out of 2 Crows Brewing this weekend, which we always like to see! Let’s start with two new beers they’ve got for us, shall we? The first release is a style that some brewers – and beer drinkers, of course! – are really digging lately, the super-low-ABV hoppy beer. Matinee was brewed with Pilsner, Golden Promise, raw wheat, and flaked oats (for those of you who don’t brew, the latter two ingredients help increase mouthfeel, a must for low-ABV beers that run the risk of coming across as watery/thin). Hopped in the hopback with a large amount of Simcoe, the wort was fermented with Foggy London (a NEIPA yeast strain) from Escarpment Labs, and then dry-hopped twice with “obscene” amounts of Galaxy, Citra, and Idaho 7. The result is “big papaya, pineapple, and tangerine notes, finishing dry with a touch of dankness and pine”, all in a supremely sessionable 3.1% ABV. What else could you ask for in a hoppy beer? More alcohol, you say? Bah, says we! This little beauty is going to be available at the brewery today, on tap and in cans (355 mL cans, at that!).

The next beer is their latest addition to their ever-growing line of barrel-aged, bottled beers (and we’re not complaining, keep them coming!). Fans of the brewery’s first bottle release, Dandy, will definitely feel their gin barrel-Spidey senses tingling with the details on Spritz, a beer brewed last November with a grist of Pilsner, Wheat, Spelt, oats, and Special Aromatic malt. Soured with two strains of Lactobacillus, it was fermented in a third-fill gin barrel with many 2C house cultures, and aged in the same for over four months. The juice and zest of three cases of grapefruit and two cases of limes were then added, before bottling the 6% ABV beer with Champagne yeast, where it was allowed to condition for another two and a half months. It’s finally available as of today, and it’s tasting “bright, citrusy, and zippy, with soft gin aromatics and a firm minerality”. Might as well stop by the brewery to grab bottles and cans of both beers, and hey, they’ll also be tapping four guest kegs from B.C.’s Dageraad Brewing tomorrow at noon if you need a re-up, so they’ve got that going for them, too.

Those Sour Lads at Sourwood Cider have a pair of new ciders out over the past couple of weeks. After opening their taproom just two weeks ago (congrats guys!), they’ve been keeping the new releases coming. Dirty Rosé is a 6.5% ABV release, starting from a blend of apples aged on Pinot Noir skins, aged in red wine barrels. Available on tap at their tasting room for a very limited time, cans very soon, and kegs are also circulating to their licensees in town. And new in bottles is Haskap, which features the locally-grown berry adding during aging also in a red wine barrel. 750 mL bottles are available for purchase at their taproom/retail spot at 5576 Cornwallis, and on tap too. And just on tap yesterday was Honey Babe, a 7.0% ABV barrel-aged sour with raw honey, with cans coming post haste. 

Halifax’s Propeller Brewing continues their campaign of shock and awe with releases we never would have seen coming from them a few short years ago. This week they’ve got two, both in rather limited releases. The first comes out of their Gottingen Small Batch Series, a big bugger they’re calling Imperial Haze Lord IPA. Plenty of dank hops bring a piney and herbal aroma with a backdrop of passionfruit and citrus, but, as is de rigueur for an Imperial IPA, there’s also plenty of expressive malt character. Very hoppy, full-bodied, and with a pillowy mouthfeel, this 7.0% ABV and 70 IBU beast will not be packaged, so grab growler fills on Windmill Rd or at the Propeller Tasting Room in Halifax for pints and fills, from 5 PM. And hot on the heels of last weeks’ release of Brett IPA comes another special big bottle just in time for Canada Day. Celebration Pils isn’t a new beer per se, it’s Propeller’s highly-regarded Pilsner. “What makes it special, then?” you might ask. Firstly, it’s the unfiltered version, which the gang at Bar Stillwell showed us is an extra delight when they specially requested that beer for their 4th birthday bash in 2017 (and a couple of times since). Next, it’s been bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast for an extra effervescence and a mouthfeel you only get from tiny tiny bubbles. Only 200 of these beauties were filled and they’ll go on sale today from opening at both Prop locations, along with t-shirts with the beer’s logo. Once your Celebration is over, you can also return the bottle for a $2 refund. This one is a surefire hit for your Canada Day party if you can get to the brewery in time before they’re all gone!

Tatamagouche Brewing has brought back their Crack of Dawn Breakfast Porter, a collaborative effort with neighbouring coffee roaster Meeting Waters, award-winning homebrewer Brian Harvey, and your friendly neighbourhood blogger Chris McDonald. Starting from a big Porter base featuring Munich and Horton Ridge Pale malt, with Chocolate Wheat and Chocolate Rye malts for colour and flavour, lactose was added for some residual sweetness and to cut any harsh roast character. Green coffee beans of Ethiopian origin were aged in a Bulleit Bourbon barrel, before receiving a light roast at Meeting Waters, and the subsequent cold brew was blended with the Porter to bring it to a reasonable 8.4% ABV. Available on draft only currently (we’re told bottles coming next month!), the best place to grab it is at the brewery, or at better licensees in HRM. 

Lawrencetown’s own Lunn’s Mill is releasing their latest Berliner Weisse tomorrow, Mon Cherri. With a recipe designed by Jana Dellapinna, winner of the brewery’s Summer Patio Beer Homebrew Competition, this kettle sour was lightly hopped with Bravo (to 8 IBUs) and fermented with Cali Ale from Escarpment Labs. This 4.4% ABV beer was aged on dark, sweet cherries before packaging, resulting in a brew that’s “fruity, slightly sour, with a lingering, wheaty finish”, while staying refreshing and easy-drinking. Grab it at the brewery for pints and growlers; it’ll also be pouring at tomorrow’s Curated East Coast Craft Beer Festival in Halifax (we’ll see you there, it’s going to be a blast!). 

Bedford’s Off Track Brewing has big plans for your Canada Day weekend starting tomorrow with the release of 4, count’em FOUR beers (some people clearly don’t have any use for sleep) during a special fundraising event! Up first is Good Intentions Pale Ale, a light and easy drinking brew at 4.2% ABV that’s been primarily hopped with Mandarina Bavaria for hints of tangerine and citrus. A healthy dry hop ensures that the hops are present on the aroma as well as the palate, while a paltry 14 IBUs ensure that this one remains smooth, clean, and crisp. Then we have the Pinky Swear, another summer-beckoning beer in the form of a fruited wheat beer. With Haskap and Cherry puree providing the fruit, and Mandarina Bavaria and Citra giving a balancing citrus presence, it finishes tart and light at 4.7% ABV. For those looking for something a little on the deeper and darker side, Bounty Hunter will also be on the go, it’s a Chocolate Coconut Stout weighing in at 5% ABV but with plenty of flavor thanks to cacao nibs and lightly toasted coconut. The overall impression might remind you (in a good way!) of haystack macaroons. And lastly is Boatload of Nerve, a double IPA boasting a massive 95 IBU and carrying 7.1% ABV. Using a blend of El Dorado along with Mosaic (a favorite hop of Off Track staff), there’s plenty of pear, mango, and pine punch in both the aroma and the flavor. We would say you’ve been told! Add to that the return of Loco-Coco, their toasted coconut Kölsch and a regular tap lineup (they’ll likely be pulling out jockey boxes to handle all the beers they’ll be serving), and you’ve got the makings of a beer bonanza. Lest you think, however, that this is just for Canada Day weekend, you should know that tomorrow’s event, which will also feature fare from the Jamaica Lee Style Cuisine food truck and all kinds of live music, and more, will be for the benefit of Bedford Challenger Baseball, part of the Nova Scotia Challenger Baseball initiative, which is focused on, “an adaptive program that provides an opportunity for children and youth with cognitive and/or physical disabilities to enjoy the full benefits of participating in organized baseball at a level structured to their abilities.” One dollar from every pint sold will go directly to supporting this organization. The event runs all day, from opening at 12 PM to close at 11 PM, so head down to the brewery, check it out, and support a great organization in one of the best possible ways, by having a beer! 

Upstreet is turning four this month, which means another release of their annual Anniversary Saison, De Novo, a beer whose recipe is slightly altered each year. De Novo IV was brewed with 2-row from Shoreline Malting, as well as some Red Crystal Rye and regular Rye malt, resulting in a beer that is slightly darker in colour compared to previous iterations, and exhibits more haziness and a little more spiciness in the flavour. This year’s iteration (6.5% ABV) was also dry-hopped with Belma, giving the beer some “strawberry, earthy, and lightly herbal/dank notes.” You can grab your bottles at the brewery today, and give them a crisp, happy-birthday high five while you’re at it. You might as well pick up some of their latest Neon Friday release as well, Neon Friday 2.06: IPA with Slovenian Wolf, Calypso, Idaho 7, Hallertau Blanc (good luck ordering that one in a bar!). You can probably figure out which hop varieties they used with this batch, the combination of which contribute “aromas of orange peel, spicy mango, pear and vanilla, with a balanced, soft bitterness, and a clean fruitiness”.

Stillwell Brewing… they love Saisons, and we do, too! Therefore, we love them, in part because they keep brewing Saisons. Makes sense, no? One such Saison, Campaign, is being newly released at the bar tomorrow at noon, both on tap and in bottles. Billed as Easy’s big sister (a beer we’re quite fond of), by “big” they mean higher ABV (5.8%) and more bitterness. They’ve experimented with bitterness, actually, with this beer, crossing a threshold for their house cultures. Stillwell’s house culture features a wide range of microorganisms, including strains of Brettanomyces (fruit, funk, and a little sour) and Lactobacillus (lactic acid-forming; quite sour). But Lactobacillus are quite inhibited by hops, so by increasing hop additions in the kettle (resulting in more bitterness), the Lacto portion of the culture was inhibited enough for the resulting beer (which spent three months in one of the brewery’s oak foedres) to be less acidic than many of their other releases, and therefore more likely to meet your definition of a “classic” clean Saison. If that’s a bit confusing, best to drop by Stillwell tomorrow and taste it yourself (and take home a bottle or two)! They’ll also have some Campaign T-shirts for sale, promoting the glory that is Saison, and encouraging others to ask questions, and become informed. 

Summer releases continue to abound, with Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing joining in with their latest release, Summer Slam. A light-bodied American Pale Ale brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, and Honey malt, along with some malted wheat, it was hopped with El Dorado, along with a “splash” of modern German hops – Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria – for an aroma addition. Fermented with a neutral American yeast strain, it weighs in at 5% ABV and 42 IBUs, and is exhibiting aromas of “tropical fruit, red berries, pine/resin, bread, honey, and toast”, more of the same following through on the palate, and a fairly dry finish with a lingering bitterness. It’s officially on tap and in cans at the brewery as of yesterday (with a launch party happening there today), and will be available at tap accounts (including ANBL growler stations) in the very near future. 

Good news, Saint Johners (is that a thing?)! After lots of hard work, and plenty of waiting for the proper paperwork to go through, be triple-stamped, etc., Loyalist City Brewing is finally launching their retail store at the brewery (60 Water St.) today, with a soft launch from 1 – 9 PM. Excited? You should be! For starters, you can expect to see eight taps pouring for growler fills: four Loyalist City beers, and four Hampton Brewing beers (which are still currently being contract brewed right at LC), as well as LC cans for take-away. No on-site consumption of beers yet, sorry. One of the brews you can expect is the latest version of Point Blanc IPA, which has been dry-hopped with higher-than-usual amounts of Citra, Mosaic, and Mandarina Bavaria. In the near future, they’ll be offering merch for sale, and should be carrying beers from other breweries on tap, as well as can/bottle purchases. Starting next week, their regular hours will be 12 – 9 PM, Wednesday to Friday. Congrats, Loyalist City!

If you’re moseying by the Port Rexton taproom today, you’re in for a treat, as they’ll have several barrel-aged beers pouring on tap. The first is 2019 Brett Chops; the second year this beer has been released, it’s their Horse Chops IPA that has aged in a bourbon barrel for 15 months with Brett Q yeast from Escarpment Labs. Coming in at 6.3% ABV, it features oak character and vanilla notes, as well as “brilliant bourbon and Brett funk in the aroma and on the palate, with notes of cinnamon and red apple”. They’ll also have another iteration of a previous beer, 2019 Oatmeal Stout. Aged for 12 months in a red wine barrel; think a merging of dark chocolate and red wine with this 6.3% ABV, rich, full-bodied beer. Two other previously-released barrel-aged beers – Ten Eighty Series: 2019 Barrel-Aged Imperial Saison and Nor-easter – will accompany the two newbies. Enjoy!

Fredericton’s Grimross has a new beer this week, a scaled-up version of an earlier small batch that hearkens back to a simpler time of Saaz hops and Bohemian Pilsner malt standing tall on their own in the Bavarian style. Although a touch of acid malt was added to adjust the pH, this beer is a straight-up representation of a classic style. Praha Bohemian Lager is very light, only 3.8% ABV and 29 IBUs, with a classic clean malt character paired with a traditional noble hop and an overall softness thanks, in part, to the natural carbonation provided by spunding before fermentation completed – no CO2 was added to this beer, it was all provided by the yeast. More tiny tiny bubbles! It’s available from the brewery in cans, for pints, and for growler fills, you can hopefully expect to see this one at Grimross tap accounts as well.

Although they may have been slightly out-crazied by Off Track’s four beer weekend, Tusket Falls Brewing way down on Nova Scotia’s South Shore are game to prove themselves no slouches either with 3 small batch releases hitting the taps for this weekend. First is Ramped Up (*working title), a porter that will see a full 20 BBL batch released later this month. Light, as the style goes, at 5.5% ABV, it boasts plenty of roasty and dark chocolate character along with a slightly savory note in both aroma and flavor. Leveraging brown, chocolate and black specialty malts against a base grist of slightly sweet Golden Promise, hop presence is provided by Willamette. And continuing Tusket’s exploration of the NE IPA style is A Bit of Citra, another beer on the lighter end of its respective style, coming in at 5.2% ABV. Lime, lychee and grapefruit rind on the nose and palate come courtesy of Citra and Galaxy hops. Pilsner malt provides the base, with plenty of oats to give the characteristic haze and creamy mouthfeel one would expect, though the beer finishes clean and crisp with a slightly bitter aftertaste. And last, but not least, comes a summery brew, a raspberry sour they’re calling Raspberry Dreams. Smoothed out with additions of lactose and vanilla beans, but still tart and refreshing, this 4.5% ABV beer will make sure you’re tasting summer this weekend even if the weather isn’t cooperating. Look for all three of these beers on tap at the Tusket taproom this weekend.

Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co Brewing has a new and interesting beer on tap this weekend, one that reflects the history of the local area and gives you a chance to taste something that very few folks have in quite a long time. Mystery Hop Pale is aptly named, given that it uses an essentially unknown hop. Most likely a German variety planted way back in the 19th century, relatives of the farm family have said that the hops were likely added to the wort to introduce wild yeast and kick off fermentation. Family lore also suggests one member was a teetotaller and attempted to eliminate the hops, but they were rescued and replanted in the woods elsewhere on the property where they’ve been growing ever since. How’s that for terroir? The beer itself is a SMaSH featuring only the mystery hop and Maris Otter malt and comes in at 5.3% ABV. Only two kegs have been made as a test to see what the hop is like, and if you can get down that way this weekend you can be one of the first to find out! Also on release this weekend is a big batch of a lesser-known style, Kottbusser, from the city of Cottbus in the northeast part of the country. Although Tanner’s research indicates a wide range of interpretations of what a Kottbusser is, the main characteristics they’ve chosen to work with are the use of wheat in the grist (the style predates the Reinheitsgebot) and additions of molasses and honey (both locally sourced) to provide some additional fermentables and complexity. Fermented with a German ale yeast, the result is a fairly light beer at 5.6% ABV and 20 IBU. You’ll find this one at the brewery in bottles, with some kegs hopefully hitting Halifax in the next week or two.

In addition to the Canada Day goings-on noted above, you can pretty much be sure that most of the breweries in the region will be celebrating the long weekend somehow. Here’s a couple more we have details on this weekend and an exciting takeover coming next weekend: 

If you haven’t been down to The Auction House in a while you might be pleasantly surprised by their renewed dedication to local taps. They’ve also been putting on some excellent beery events, including our own ACBB Trivia Night during NS Craft Beer Week back in May. This weekend they’re continuing that trend, bringing a whole other bunch of fun by teaming up with Propeller for a Pop-up Arcade. Two pinball machines, some arcade classics, and a whole bunch of consoles will be available to play, with plenty of Propeller (and, no doubt, other local beer) on tap. This event will be going all weekend, giving you a chance to come down at your leisure and check out the games and beers on offer. Meanwhile, things will still be going strong at the Propeller Arcade HQ on Gottingen, including a rare Monday opening starting at 2 PM (normally Mondays are reserved for league play).

Quidi Vidi Brewing is among the breweries throwing a bash for Canada Day with a brand new beer on tap to help celebrate. RDL (Rain Drizzle Lager) will make its debut at this event, which starts Monday at noon. There will be live music and other entertainment all day, plenty of beers on tap, and Quidi Vidi Fish & Chips will have you covered for laying down a solid base.

Stillwell is continuing their trend of tap takeovers by out-of-province breweries with another one coming up on Saturday, July 6th. As is well known amongst those who’ve been lucky enough to get to Left Field Brewery in Toronto, or lucky enough to have friends bringing back their brews from trips to the Big Smoke, Left Field has been making some very fine beers and rocking a delightful baseball motif in the Leslieville neighborhood since 2013. Starting, as usual, at 12 PM, the tap list for the takeover looks mighty fine:

  • Glorioso – Italian-style Pilsner
  • Sun Delay – Grisette
  • Bang Bang – Sour Ale
  • Squeeze Play – Black Currant Sour Ale
  • Lo Visite – Mojito Sour Ale
  • Greenwood – New England IPA
  • Whip – Piña Colada Smoothie IPA
  • Laser Show – Double IPA
  • Eephus – Brown Ale

That’s no Mudville 9, that’s a bona fide All-Star team! And if that weren’t enough, there will also be plenty of relief coming out of the bullpen in the form of additional beers in cans. Ballcaps optional (but when in Rome…)

And the hits just keep on coming; a few final mentions to inform your beer buying and beer drinking over the next three (or maybe more!) days:

Nyanza’s Big Spruce is finally answering the prayers of many of their fans by putting their long-running Regatta Red in cans. Although we know that Irish Red Ale doesn’t exactly meet a lot of people’s definition of “exciting” (side-eye shoutout to the 902BrewCast gang, who dropped a new tasting episode this week; go listen!) it’s pretty obvious from the social media response that there are plenty of people who are excited about this one. The jaunty red can is also timely for your Canada Day celebration. Available at the Sprucetique now and out of the fridge at the Halifax Seaport Market this weekend. Also of note, if you’ve been missing the Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout at your local NSLC, you might want to have a good look around as it’s now being sold in 4-packs instead of singles.

Shelburne’s Boxing Rock continue to carry the standard for brown bottles in the age-old beer industry battle between aluminum and glass. And to (gently) push that agenda a little further, they’re undertaking a bit of a repackaging and rebranding exercise, with a fond goodbye to their iconic white boxes. The first two beers to get this treatment are the hoppy Temptation Red, now in a bright red 6-pack box and matching label, and the debut of their Double IPA Vicar’s Cross,in 6-packs (for the very first time) with a very orange look. No more eying that big bomber on a weeknight and wondering if you should! We’ve also heard that there’s some bigger news in the works for the brewery in terms of physical space; we hope to have all the details for you in the coming weeks.

Garrison is continuing to put out beers in their new-this-summer Hop Trip series and though we don’t have details on all of them, we know that the Brut IPA has been seen in the wild. Extra dry and bubbly, with an ABV of 6.2% and 24 IBU, it features Mandarina Bavaria, Simcoe, Ekuanot and Mosaic hops. Available in 4-packs of 355 mL cans from the brewery and possibly other places in the city. We hope to catch up with the rest of the Hop Trip offerings, as well as a collaboration they’ve got on the way, in the next few weeks.

Good Robot isn’t bringing a new beer this weekend, but they are bringing a big batch of a previously Beta-sized brew. Brewer Gio’s ode to the national bird of his native Bahamas, Pink Flamingo, is a pale pinky-orangey radler at a light and refreshing 4.5% ABV and a barely-there 15 IBUs, featuring watermelon and kiwi. Perfect for a sunny day on the Gastroturf.

Niche Brewing in (for all intents and purposes) Fredericton, NB, has their Pineapple Persuasion back this weekend. A kettle sour with a touch of lactose and plenty of pineapple puree, it’s 4.2% ABV. Kegs of this one are going to tap accounts in NB (including the ANBL growler stations in Moncton North and Saint John Wellington) and we have it on fairly good authority that Stillwell has spoken for a few, mayhaps destined for the BG on SG.

Cape Breton’s Route 19 Brewing will be putting their new Dog Daze on tap this weekend. At 5% ABV and plenty tart, this kettle sour features passionfruit and a bit of mango, just the kind of beer your summer needs.

We’re not sure how long it was gone, but if you were already missing DOA at Unfiltered in Halifax, fear not, it’s back today at noon, with cans, fills and pints all available. And if you happen to be reading this from Europe, specifically Germany, and worrying that you’re missing out, you should hop on over to The Muted Horn in Berlin for their Canada Day bash where you’ll find Unfiltered beers (and a number of others from Canadian craft breweries, including Stillwell Brewing) pouring!