Big Spruce

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What a week! We’ve had wild weather across the region, big news from the Nova Scotian government on personal alcohol importation limits (good news at that!), and more than a dozen brand new beers pouring in the region. Let’s get right to it, so you can get out the door and pick up those gifts for the beer-lovers in your life (but start with yourself first!).

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen a new bottle release from Stillwell Brewing (the last was Five, brewed to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Bar Stillwell), but thankfully they’ve got a brand new one dropping for us all tomorrow. The high majority of Stillwell’s beers require time and patience on the brewery’s part, but tomorrow’s beer, Auld, takes that level of waiting even further. An Old Ale, the beer was brewed in early June of 2017. Fermented with their house culture, and aged in their smallest former-Cognac foeder for one year, it was then packaged and bottle-conditioned for another six months. Sure, it’s a strong one (at 9.5% ABV), but all this time has smoothed out the beer wonderfully. They’re describing as having “lots of oak, balanced acidity, some pleasant oxidized notes [ed: yeah, you definitely want that in an Old Ale!] and a big malty nose and palate”. It still finishes nice and dry, making this the perfect evening sipper for these brutally cold nights we’ve been experiencing. Think of this one as a combination of English and Belgian traditional beers. Still a bit unsure how to approach this one? We highly encourage you to read the BJCP description of the style (skip to page 30), and swing by the brewery tomorrow from 12-4 to pick up a few bottles (you know they’ll age spectacularly)!

While on the topic of delightful Halifax bottle releases, let’s move over to Brunswick St., where 2 Crows has their own tasty brew coming out tomorrow, Blackberry Collins. Brewed 9 months ago with a grist of Belgian Pilsner, Spelt, Wheat, Oats, and Special Aromatic malt, it was kettle-soured with Lactobacillus plantarum. Lightly hopped in the boil with Calypso, Bramling Cross, and Hallertau Blanc, it was fermented in freshly-emptied American gin barrels with a blend of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces yeast strains. It was allowed to sit in the barrels for six months before being transferred onto 128 kg of blackberry purée (yep, that’s a lot) and “a couple of cases” of lemon zest and juice, where it conditioned for three more months before packaging. Finally, it was bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast for two and a half more months, and is now tasting “super jammy, rich, bright, and lively, with nice juniper aromatics and a great level of acidity”. We’ll take it! Like we said, available in a limited supply in 375 mL bottles at the brewery tomorrow as soon as they open.

North Brewing, the Halifax/Dartmouth bridge-spanning brewery, has hit us with not one, not two, not even three, but four new releases this week, making your choices for beer purchasing either much easier, or infinitely harder. Released earlier this week in cans is Soleil Saison, a 5.0% ABV mostly-traditional Saison brewed with 2-Row, Wheat, and Torrified Wheat malts, and hopped with Saaz, for a melding of Noble hop earth and spice, complementing the crisp, zesty, and light citrus and spicy notes from the Old World Saison yeast blend from Escarpment Labs. Released yesterday were the one-two punch of their continuing wine/beer collaboration with Benjamin Bridge winery in Gaspereau Valley, NS. The 2017 Barrel-Aged Saison de Pinot was limited to about 200 litres of last years beer/wine hybrid, which spent an extra 11 months in a BB Pinot barrel, before being packaged and allowed to bottle condition before release. Think tart, dry, a little funky, and with an extra bit of je ne sais quoi from the barrel contact since last year. We suggest trying this bottle with that of the original 2017 release to compare and contrast. Be sure to grab yours today, as they will surely sell out over the weekend, due to the limited volume. Also released yesterday was this year’s version of the collaboration, Saison de Chardonnay. 200 litres of Chardonnay must was added to the beer, fermented with Saccharomyces Trois, a yeast known for providing many of the “wild-like” funky and fruit characters more commonly attributed to Brettanomyces strains. The change of grape must was two-fold: playing with the different flavour profile of a new liquid, and the unfortunate fact that the Pinot crop was negatively affected by early frost, severely limiting this year’s yield. The 7.4% ABV beer features some spiciness on the nose and palate, with orange and floral notes coming through as well. These bottles are perfect for enjoying (or gifting) now, and will continue to develop in the bottle, so be sure to lay one down for enjoyment with the inevitable barrel version to be released next December. And finally, hitting the fridges at both locations today, is the latest in their Twinkle Pony series, Twinkle’s Chocolate Orange. Think of the traditional English sweet as you sip this one, as the 7.0% ABV beer features loads of chocolate malt, and a ton of fresh orange zest (RIP their elbows and forearms from all that work!). We strongly suggest dropping into Battery Park today to grab a glass of one or all of these, as they were pouring during BP’s Third Anniversary Tap Takeover yesterday (congratulations folks!).

Niche Brewing in Hanwell has a brand new beer returning to the taps in New Brunswick this week. Huh? Let us explain: during their Tap Takeover at Bar Stillwell in October, they prepared a single one-off keg of Moderation, a Milkshake IPA with passion fruit. It went over well (really well), and thankfully the stars have aligned and they were able to sell off enough body parts to afford the vanilla beans (and passion fruit!) to brew a full batch, so that Moderation could see wider release. This 5.9% ABV beer features the aforementioned real Madagascar vanilla beans as well as lactose for the base Milkshake IPA style, with Enigma and Mosaic in the kettle and dry-hopping. Adding in lots of passion fruit puree kicks it up several notches, for a tropical fruit, lightly floral, smooth mouthfeel and low bitterness beer. Look for it on tap at your favourite watering hole in Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton.

The bottle releases at Tidehouse seem to be pretty consistent lately, and this week is no exception with the release of a Belgian Tripel, Hey Abbot! They’re referencing this name as an homage to the Mel Brooks movie, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, but our astute acbbaaron has correctly pointed out that THAT reference is actually an homage to the classic comedy team Abbott and Costello (Google it, it’s probably easier than trying to explain it all). Anyway, the beer. Coming in strong (as Tripels should) at 8% ABV, it was hopped with Saaz and Tettnang, giving some spicy/floral notes to accompany those provided by the Belgian yeast strain. With a thick white head and high carbonation, it has “just a touch of clove/banana” and finishes dry, with a light bitterness. No kegs of this one, so you’ll have to stop by the brewery starting today to pick up some bottles.

Nackawic’s Big Axe Brewing has been known to dabble with flavoured kettle sours in the past, and they’re continuing this tradition with the release this week of Blackcurrant Sour (not to be confused with Black Currant Sour, a beer they brewed in the summer of 2017 that actually had a blend of blackcurrants and blackberries). Soured with the brewery’s house Lactobacillus blend, it was fermented with a “fruity yeast strain” and conditioned on 16 kg of black currants. They’re describing the final product as having aromas of “fuzzy peach, with a blend of citrus and cherry, offset by earthy notes of black currant”, to complement the tartness. Pretty darn drinkable at 4.8% ABV, this release will see bottles heading to various ANBL stores in the very near future.

Back in Fredericton, TrailWay is releasing the latest iteration of their rotating Milkshake IPA, Velvet Fog. Conditioned on vanilla beans as usual, and dry-hopped very highly – also as usual – this one features the addition of both peach and cherry (peach>cherry), both of which burst through on the nose and palate. Accompanied by the aromas/flavours from the hops and vanilla, expect a smooth mouthfeel in this 6.5% ABV beer, thanks to the addition of lactose powder in the boil. Cans of this one will be available at the brewery only, starting today at 11 am, with kegs also on hand there and at local pubs and restaurants.

The team at Port Rexton Brewing continue to experiment with their latest new brew, Salted Sour Pale Ale. You probably have a pretty good idea of what this beer will be like based on the name, but let us help you expand that a little bit. They took a Pale Ale base and kettle-soured it with Lactobacillus, before boiling it and adding plenty of hops (including Belma, an American variety that has been popping up over the last several years). Salt from the Newfoundland Salt Company was also added in the bottle, blending nicely with the aromas and flavours of “strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, tropical mango, melon, and pineapple” (that’s a lotta fruit goodness!) from the hops. Looks like they plan to continue experimenting with this beer, so don’t be surprised if you see some different iterations in the future. As for this batch, it’s on at tap at the brewery and St. John retail shop this weekend.

If you’re a Nova Scotia native, or even a long-term resident, or heck, even a well-informed visitor, perhaps you’ve heard of Blueberry Grunt, a classic (so I’m told) NS baked dessert. Well, Heritage Brewing has created their own eponymous beer-version! Blueberry Grunt is a 5% beer that includes the addition of locally-grown blueberries, giving a mixture of sour and sweet, along with flavours of “baked biscuit, to emulate the crust flavours in traditional Grunt”. They also added a bit of salt tie the flavour profile together. If you’re into beery desserts, drop by Heritage to give this one a taste.

Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse is releasing a very special beer today, in celebration of someone very dear to the Nova Scotia beer family. Allie’s Fearless is a wet-hopped Kveik yeast-fermented IPA, brewed in memory of Olivia Jollota, part of the Jymline Glassware family. Olivia passed away in 2015, and the Olivia Jollota Memorial Trust has been set up in her name, awarding scholarships to graduating high school students based more on their community and social work than academics, celebrating Olivia’s passion for helping her fellow students, community, animals, and making the world a better place. This limited bottle release features Olivia’s signature tree logo, and is available at the brewery in Somerset and The Core in Wolfville, as well as on tap at a few bars and restaurants, including Stillwell and Jamieson’s Irish Pub, with the proceeds supporting more scholarships and outreach events for years to come.

Halifax’s Good Robot has quite a bit going on over the next week before things quiet down over the holidays. Yesterday marked the canning of another big batch of El Espinazo Del Diablo, their 5.7% ABV Mexican-style lager with jalepeño peppers. Look for it at their retail outlet and onsite at the taproom and the Mousetrap. On Tuesday, look for another spicy beer, their collaboration with Antojo Tacos + Tequila that we told you about last week, La Luchadora Catrina, to be available at the restaurant before it goes on tap at Good Robot the following day. Also available next Wednesday, December 19th, will be a BetaBrew called Sugar Boots. Brewed with Sara Panchaud from GR’s design team, the idea in mind was a “Neapolitan Stout” featuring flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry reminiscent of the original three-flavor ice cream. Using real strawberries for real strawberry flavor, it’s a sweet sipper at 4.6% ABV and 28 IBU. And lastly, fans of GR’s Tom Waits for No One American Stout will be happy to hear that they’ve kegged another batch of that one for release on Thursday, December 20th.

Foghorn in Rothesay, NB, brought back their Imperial Porter with local honey, The Monk, in late November, but it’s still around for you to try. At 7.5% ABV and 40 IBU, it’s got some weight to it and, we presume, some honey character. Meanwhile, Foghorn is the latest brewery to enter the gluten-reduced space with their new JJ Pattycake. Leveraging Clarity Ferm, an enzyme known to prevent long-chain proteins like gluten from forming during fermentation. Brewed in support of a friend of the brewery who has discovered a gluten sensitivity, the lab results aren’t back yet, but the brewery is hoping it tests low enough for him to drink it. A pale ale at 5.5% ABV and 65 IBU, it was dry-hopped with the Falconer’s Flight hop blend for a classic American hop profile. Look for it on tap at the brewery.

Big Spruce will be making the rounds in Halifax tomorrow for those who ordered beer for holiday delivery and one of the beers that will no doubt be delivered is their Barrel-aged Baltic Porter, Complexified. Meanwhile, they’re releasing a new beer called Simplified. If you’re wondering whether those names indicate that the two beers are somehow related, you can go ahead and treat yourself to a beer: Simplified is the same beer without the barrel treatment. Still big, bold, and smooth, it’s a hefty 10.9% ABV. It made a brief appearance at Battery Park this week and is now available in bottles at the brewery (and hopefully soon at the private stores in Halifax). And seeing as how Complexified is also available, this would be an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the beers and get a feel for what some time in a barrel can do.

With things finally slowing down a little for the holiday season we don’t have any big beer events to highlight this week, but do check out your favorite brewery’s website and social media to see what they might have on the go. Meanwhile, here’s a final few mentions to lead you into the weekend:

In terms of Nova Scotia Craft Beer traditions, Garrison’s Spruce Beer has to be considered part of the old school, which is fitting, considering that Spruce Beer is one of the oldest beer styles in North America. Featuring locally harvested spruce tips from Meander River Farm along with Crosby’s blackstrap molasses, it comes in at 7.5% ABV with a fairly gentle bitterness at 35 IBU. Look for it at the brewery in 650 mL bottles and, hopefully, in the coming days and weeks at some of the private stores in the city.

Sticking with our longest-running regional craft breweries, Propeller continues their Black Cask Month today with another special treat. Porter with Chocolate & Orange is just that: their porter with orange and chocolate flavors added. Reminiscent of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, a classic Christmas confection, it will be tapped earlier than usual today at 3 PM to accommodate Propeller’s holiday party. Also of note to fans of Propeller, starting tomorrow, Saturday, December 15th, the tasting room and retail shop on Gottingen will be open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays!

For those of you living in Saint John that are fans of local brewery Loyalist City, they mentioned some good news earlier this week… they’ve finally got a taproom! The brewery has partnered with the Bunkhaus Hostel down the street; the two have opened a taproom/cafe at 36 Water St. over the past few days. They’ve started with four taps dedicated to Loyalist City, with more to be added shortly afterwards, as well as several guest taps.

The fairly-new Upstreet BBQ Brewhouse in Dartmouth is releasing a new brew today, Sailor’s Dream. We don’t have a lot of details on this one, but we can tell you it’s a dry-hopped Lager, “light with a mild sweetness, with a subtle fruity aroma and a finish of melon”. Find it on tap at that location this weekend, where they’ll also be launching their Mug Club there tomorrow… grab one of the 150 memberships available for all sorts of discounts and exclusive club events and promotions, plus your own personal hand-made mug, of course!

Here we are on another Friday and November is coming to an end. We’ve got a big bunch of news from Newfoundland this week, but don’t worry, the rest of the Atlantic Provinces are also well-represented. And we’re somewhat on time this week after last week’s debacle. Huzzah!

There was some big and rather unfortunate news in the regional beer scene this week as it was announced in a joint statement by PEI’s departments of Workforce & Advanced Learning and Economic Development that Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) has entered receivership by order of the Supreme Court of the Province. DME has fitted out some 1,600 breweries in 70 countries over the past number of years, including quite a few in Atlantic Canada. Though we don’t know any names for sure, it is almost certain that there were brewhouses in development whose futures are in question based on having orders in with the company, and it stands to reason that some of those would be in our region. DME has manufacturing facilities in Charlottetown as well as Abbotsford, BC, and South Carolina under the Newlands banner that in total employ over 300 people. There has been speculation that the merger with Newlands had a part to play in this reversal of fortune, however financial details of that transaction are unknown. It has been reported by the CBC that efforts are being made to complete in-progress orders, that the provincial Government is becoming involved in efforts to prevent the demise of the firm, and that the receiver, Alvarez & Marsal intends to attempt to find a buyer. We very much hope that strategy pans out and we can report in the coming weeks and months that DME is back up and running with all of its employees back at work. It is, however, a sobering reminder that even in a booming industry like craft beer, things can go wrong in a hurry.

In a decidedly happier note, brewing and selling beer in Newfoundland will soon be a little bit less expensive, thanks to some changes being implemented by the provincial government January 1, 2019. The remission paid to the NLC (akin to the RSMA charged in Nova Scotia) is currently the highest in the country, sitting at more than $1.50 per litre, three times the next closest provincial rate. The local producers are currently eligible for a 33% reduction on the first 1 million litres, down to roughly $1.10 per litre. The new levels will see an improvement to 50% discount in the remission rate for beer sold at their own facility (taproom or retail), and 40% discount at retail stores (NLC and corner stores), bringing the levels to $0.85 and $1.00 per litre, respectively, for the first 1 million litres annually (roughly 8200 BBL, or much more than the craft breweries are currently producing). The reduced levels are still the highest in Canada, but are at least closer to the rest of the country. Local distilleries, ciderhouses, and wineries will also see further reduced rates in the new year. This will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced fees annually that the breweries will be able to reinvest in their equipment, labour, and infrastructure, in order to better serve the local beer drinking community. These changes are in no small part to the hard work of the Newfoundland & Labrador Craft Brewers Association, formed earlier this year, lobbying lawmakers in the province. And for future/amateur brewers, the introduction of U-Vint/U-Brew at the local homebrew shops is now legal with relaxation of that prohibition. The province has also promised a full review of the positive economic impact the craft alcohol producers are having in the province, and have set a November 2019 timeline for that release. With a dozen independent breweries and cideries now operating in the province, and two or three more set to open before January 1st, things are certainly looking up for the Newfoundland Beer Scene! Check out the full details of the reduction in the press release above.

Speaking of Newfoundland breweries, let’s give you a tease on one of the handful that are opening very soon. Like, very, very soon! Landwash Brewery is located in Mount Pearl, and will be opening their beautiful taproom at 181 Commonwealth Drive next week. We’ve got a full Profile with them lined up for early next week, but in the meantime, you can hear co-owner Chris Conway speaking with VOCM about the positive changes to the remission rate, as well as hints of their starting lineup of beers. Their Brackish Gose, One Wave Blonde, Hazures’ Rock Breakfast Stout, and That Much Ocean NEIPA will be available to enjoy by the pint and flight onsite, to go in cans and growler fills, next Thursday from 4 PM.

On the other side of the Island, you’ll find Bootleg Brew Co in Corner Brook. They’ve released a brand new beer this week, in the relatively new “Milkshake” style. Juice Arse is a 5.0% Milkshake Pale Ale, featuring loads of Amarillo and Simcoe hops, fermented with Foggy London Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs (a favourite of hazy IPAs), with small additions of lactose (milk sugar) and vanilla bean, to complete the Milkshake experience. As with all of their beers, the best place to grab a sample, pint, or growler is at their 92 Main Street location, but keep an eye on their social media (FB/IG/Tw)to see where their beers are being tapped across the province.

After launching last week with kegs at local restaurants and breweries, Crooked Feeder in Cormack, NL, has begun selling growlers. Located at 351 Veterans Dr, about 15 minutes North of Deer Lake, the brewery is only open a few afternoons each week, so it’s best to contact the brewery to ensure they are open (FB/IG/Tw). Visitors will be rewarded with one (or more) of the six beers brewed on their system: Bunker “C” Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (7.1% ABV, 35 IBU), Big Falls Pale Ale (5.6% ABV, 37 IBU), Bonne Bay Blonde (4.9% ABV, 21 IBU), Western Brook Wheat (5.4% ABV, 44 IBU), Spillway IPA (6.4% ABV, 66 IBU), and Rideout Red (5.3% ABV, 22 IBU).

Heading back across the Island to St John’s, where YellowBelly Brewery has released their annual Mummer’s Brew. The 2018 edition is a light-coloured Winter Warmer lager, featuring two special Canadian ingredients: the malt is an Albertan heirloom Barley named Olli, and features the brand new Sasquatch hop, which started as a wild varietal North of Vancouver, and now grown in BC, ON, and QC, under license by Hops Connect. The 6.8% ABV beer features some soft berry character from the malt, with citrus, melon, floral and earthy hop character (to the tune of 30 IBU). The beer is now available at the brewery for pints and growler fills at the Take Away Shop, and in 1 litre bottles at several NLCs in the area. Grab yours today before donning your costume and braving the weather!

In other Sasquatch news, Fredericton’s TrailWay is releasing their own beer featuring this Canadian variety. Sam-Squamptche (enjoy ordering that one at the bar!) is an American IPA that has been hopped entirely with Sasquatch, which we’ve already told you about just above us! TrailWay’s beer comes in at 6.5% ABV, and they’re describing the flavour profile as “uniquely citrus, with an underlying sweetness reminiscent of butterscotch or honey, resulting in an overall juicy character”… definitely sounds a bit different than your typical hop variety. This beer has a light body, to help the drinker focus on the hops. As always with TW’s Friday releases, you can grab it at the brewery immediately upon opening today (growlers, pints and cans), with a few nearby bars and restaurants tapping it likely over the weekend.

After the Antigonish Townhouse changed hands earlier in the year, the future of their on-site brews was up in the air. We are thrilled to note that those have continued, with a steady supply of Terry’s Bitter supplying their taps, but there’s always room for more! Owners Caitlin and Ryan Shimozawa have tapped her father, David Macfarlane, to take over the brewing duties. The latest new beer from their onsite 50 litre brewhouse is available on tap now. Caitlin’s IPA is a 5.0% ABV malt-forward English IPA, brewed using Fuggles and Goldings hops, with three hop additions during the boil. The carbonation level is on the lower side, and coupled with pouring from a stout faucet with Nitrogen, the beer is quite quaffable and perfect for a session in the pub. No word how long this batch of Caitlin will last, but good news that there is another batch fermenting now, and will return to the Townhouse in December.

There’s another beverage pouring over at Meander River, and it ain’t beer! It ain’t cider either, if that was what you were thinking. It’s Perry, and a “true” Perry at that… that is, it was made entirely with pears (many Perry producers blend pear juice with a certain quantity of apple juice). Featuring of blend of Annapolis Valley pears, Perry Noel is a drinkable 5% ABV, and the brewery describes it as “sparkly and delicate”. It’s available in 500 mL bottles starting today at the brewery, at this weekend’s BOTTLED Wine and Spirits Festival in Truro, and soon at Little Oak in Halifax; 750 mL bottles will also be appearing at Bishop’s Cellar in the near future, and they’ll even have kegs pouring on one of the guest taps at Chainyard! If you can get to Meander River itself, try to do so, as they’re currently running a campaign where $1 from every growler fill will go to fighting Period Poverty in Nova Scotia (by purchasing menstrual products for local food banks).

Let’s travel back to Halifax, where Tidehouse has two beers they want us to tell you about this week, one new, and one returning favourite… and both of them named in homage to songs. The new one is Oh! My Darlin’ Lemon Thyme, a Saison brewed with Pilsner, Oats, Dextrin, Wheat, Vienna, and Acid malt. Hopped minimally with Saaz, it was fermented with a Saison strain, with thyme and lemon peel added as fermentation was winding down. The thyme comes through first in the aroma, with the lemon making itself more apparent the more you sip. Very dry in the finish, and 6.4% ABV; this one is available on tap only, at the Tidehouse tasting room, by the flight, pint, or growler. And returning is their NEIPA, Cryo Me A River, hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe, and Ekuanot hops (of the cryo form, naturally). Pretty much all of the hops were added late in the boil and in the dry-hop, so expect low bitterness to go with all of that “tropical fruit and papaya/berry, followed by a pinch of pine”. On tap, of course, but it’s also been bottled for the first time, so you can grab some of those to take home with you as well.

Our friends at Niche in Hanwell, NB, are back again this week with another new beer. After last week’s release of a sour, they’re returning to their other wheelhouse this week with a hoppier offering. A NE IPA featuring nothing but Australian hops, Aussie Aussie Aussie is packed with three different varieties, namely Vic Secret, and Enigma, which they’ve used liberally before, and Topaz which is a new one in the Niche brewhouse. Very juicy and boasting plenty of tropical fruit flavors, it has the requisite low bitterness and easy drinking nature fans of the style have come to expect. Coming in at a quaffable 6% ABV, you’ll find it at The Joyce Pub and King Street Ale House in Fredericton, and at Peppers Pub and Cask & Kettle Irish Gastropub in Saint John, with more accounts to follow soon. Fans of Niche in Halifax will also be happy to hear there are kegs on the way to Stillwell and Hopyard as well. Oi Oi Oi!!

Back in Halifax, Boxing Rock’s Test Kitchen on Agricola Street (in the Local Source Market) has a new release hitting the taps today. Banana Hopsicle is a hybrid beer, bringing together the traditional German Hefeweizen style with the modern Session IPA. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Rob North of Great North Aleworks in Manchester, New Hampshire. North grew up in Halifax before moving south, and had another career before brewing took over his life, first as a highly lauded homebrewer, and now as owner of Great North. The beer features loads of late- and dry-hopping additions of Ekuanot and Huell Melon, fruity hops to complement the banana and clove from the Weiss yeast. And while you’re getting your fills of Banana Hopsicle, check to see if they have any of their Hell Bat, the Imperial Licorice Stout brewed with Battery Park left. It won’t be around much longer! Don’t forget your orange growler!

Maybee Brewing dropped a new beer shortly after noon yesterday, Brut IPA. As you probably guessed, this is the brewery’s take on the Brut IPA style (which continues to gain momentum, based on how many breweries in Atlantic Canada have brewed it the past few months!). It was hopped very minimally in the bittering addition (20 IBUs), with most of the American and European hop varieties being added late in the boil and in the dry-hop. Fermented with a neutral yeast strain, enzymes were added to the brew to bring out the dryness even more, with the final product showing off a long-lasting head, aromas of “bright tropical fruit, herbal/grassy notes, some spice and a hint of floral, white wine and honeydew melon”. With a thin body and high carbonation, it has lots of tropical fruit on the palate, with a very dry finish. It weighs in at 6% ABV, and will be available on tap only – you can find it at Maybee, various tap accounts in the province, and at the ANBL growler stations next Thursday, December 6th.

Down in Yarmouth, Heritage Brewing is pouring a brand new IPA to join their other 11 offerings currently pouring on tap. Norseman is a NEIPA “with a twist”, as it was fermented with a Norwegian yeast strain… specifically, the Voss Kveik strain from Escarpment Labs. These Kveik strains can be fermented at very warm (ok, downright hot compared to what you usually see with fermentation) temperatures. The grain bill for Norseman is made up simply of 2-row, Wheat malt, and Oats, and it was hopped with El Dorado, Amarillo, and Mosaic (all of which was added either in the whirlpool or dry-hop additions, keeping the bitterness low). Lots of fruity flavours and aromas with this one, so why not pop into the brewery’s taproom to give it (and the other beers!) a taste? And hey, they’re also filling growlers now, so they’ve got that going for them, too!

Since Good Robot opened several years ago, they have been consistently adding Clarex to every batch, an enzyme that reduces gluten to levels below 20 ppm (the international threshold for brewing considered “gluten free”). For next Tuesday’s Beta Brew, however, they’ve gone all the way and brewed a “completely gluten-free beer”, First Draught. By using sorghum syrup, buckwheat, and rice, they’ve produced a light beer (4.3% ABV) that still has plenty of hop presence, thanks to the additions of Citra, Cascade and Simcoe (to 37 IBUs). It should be noted, for those of you who are extremely sensitive to gluten, that this beer was brewed on the brewery’s pilot system, which has most-assuredly had glutenous products in its realm throughout its life! In Alpha news, next Thursday welcomes the return of Infinite Saturday, their Vienna Lager (5% ABV). Oh, and we should also mention that they’ve added seating in their upstairs space, meaning it may be a bit easier to actually have a seat in one of Halifax’s hottest taprooms from now on!

Last weekend the 6th annual Big Spruce HomeBrew Challenge wrapped up with the judging and announcement of winners. This year’s competition revolved around styles featuring wheat, namely German Weißbier and Belgian Witbier. The top three beers in each category were named and then an overall top three was selected from those six. This year’s big winner is a name you’ve seen in this blog on several occasions, as he’s brewed beers with Tidehouse and on Spindrift’s pilot system, and, in a “boy is that ever on the nose,” moment, he goes by the brewing moniker “Lil Wheatey.” Yes, Ian Wheatley took first place overall for his hefeweizen (1st place weißbier) and third overall for his witbier (2nd place witbier). George Arnott’s wit (1st place witbier) came in second overall. Additional category nods went to Devin Delaney in 3rd place for wit, Mark McKay in 2nd for weißbier, and David Pepper (2016’s overall winner) in 3rd place in weißbier. A big congratulations to all those who placed and a big thanks to Big Spruce for continuing to support the homebrewing community; look for Ian’s winning hefeweizen to debut at this year’s 10th Annual Eat. Drink. Local. Fest on January 10, 2019 (tickets are already on sale).

And in other Big Spruce news, just like last year, Jeremy is looking to load up the Sprucemobile and play Santa Claus, delivering beer to folks in Cape Breton and the HRM. Big Spruce Holiday Home Delivery will take place on December 15th (that’s a Saturday), but you’ll have to put an order in. Minimum order is 1 case of cans (24) or bottles (12) and, with mixing allowed, that gives you plenty of options. You can also add all manner of Big Spruce swag to that order, including their house-made edibles. Check the Facebook post for details on which beers and other items are available and be sure to get your order in soon.

After celebrating 11 years in business on the weekend, Port Williams Nova Scotia’s Sea Level Brewing has announced that they have broken ground on a brand new brewery, which will be located in Sheffield Mills (about ten minutes-drive away from their current location). Together with local farms, they are forming Millstone Harvest Brewhouse, to create Nova Scotia’s first “Estate Brewery”. Well on their way already, the new facility is slated to open in the spring. They’ll be brewing with their own farm-grown hops and malting barley, and the new location will house a tasting room and retail store. Fear not, the current location in Port Williams will still be operating as usual during this transition, and will remain open as a pilot brewery/retail location after the new brewery opens. The expansion will also allow the brewery to start selling their canned beers in the NSLC, greatly increasing their availability to other areas of the province. And for a sneak peek of the great beers to come, keep an eye out for their High Street Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, using some of the same malt and hops that will be gracing their new releases in the spring.

Details are being kept secret right now, but we did want to mention that those of you living in Miramichi, NB, who have been wondering when exactly the craft beer scene was going to improve in your area, have no need to wonder any longer! Timber Ship Brewing, a 1 bbl (120 L) brewery, should be opening in the area in the near future. They’re realistically aiming for early 2019, and will be producing a variety of beers for sale in kegs to local establishments. We’ll have more information, including a standalone post, for you very soon. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page to follow along with their progress.

This week’s shamefully late message about a new release come from Tatamagouche Brewing who are releasing a Bourbon Barrel-aged version of their Russian Imperial Stout. Built on their base RIS recipe with a little extra chocolate wheat added, the beer was then racked into barrels from two different distilleries. Bottles and pints are available already at the brewery, with kegs going out next week.

A few things to remind you about this weekend, plus a tease of what’s coming in January…

After a bit of a tease last week, those crazy folks at 2 Crows are releasing their latest barrel-aged, bottled beer, Mellarium, tomorrow at noon. No, really, we guarantee*. We’re not about to do them the huge favour of typing out all the info on the beer again (or even cutting and pasting for that matter, we don’t get paid for this, you know!), but here’s a link to last week, where you can check it out there! Buttered Bliss will also be on site from 2-7pm, serving up some delightful fried chicken sandwiches.

*Not a guarantee

Propeller Brewing is kicking off a month of “Black Casks” at their Gottingen Street tasting room, with the first hitting the bartop tomorrow at 3 PM. The first is their Russian Imperial Stout, cask-conditioned and served via gravity, rather than carbonated after the fact/on draught (though they will have this version as well, so we encourage you to get both and compare!). And they will be celebrating throughout the month of December with more interpretations of their Russian Imperial Stout and Porter, with the following offerings being tapped at the next four Fridays: Dec 7: Russian Imperial Stout with coconut, Dec 14: Porter with orange and chocolate, Dec 21: Russian Imperial Stout with smoked black tea, and a special cask on Dec 28, yet to be announced. Take note that beside tomorrow, all of the casks are tapped during their usual Cask Friday timeslot, at 5 PM. And for those of us who can’t get enough of the good stuff, they are raiding the cellar and releasing the last of their 2017 Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout. First released back in February of this year, the 8.5% ABV beer hung out in Bourbon barrels for a few months, picking up both wood and spirit character, complementing the roast and dark fruit character of the underlying beer. Grab a bottle or two to enjoy yourself, or gift to a special someone. And keep your eyes peeled here for the details on another release in the same vein, coming next week…

If you were perusing Instagram stories a couple of days ago and happened upon the right account, you might have gotten a heads-up that Bar Stillwell is planning another Belgian Celebration to take place (tentatively, we expect) on January 5th, 2019!! Thanks to the ephemeral nature of Instagram stories the details of the beer list are no longer available, but amongst those of us who saw it the general reaction was something along the lines of, “Holy Shit!” and/or “Hellz yes!” We’ll have more details as they are released, but for now, maybe block off that afternoon in your calendar, mmkay?

And here we are at the end of the line for this week, but there are a couple last things to mention before we let you go.

It’s not often that their bottles are available outside of the brewery, so we figured we’d let you know that Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar has received a shipment of goodies from Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery. They are hitting the shelves at opening tomorrow morning (that’s 8 AM, so grab a coffee to stay warm in line). With two versions of their Jelly King fruited sours (Pineapple Tangerine Grapefruit [also available online at 8 AM], and Sour Cherry), as well as Skeleton Key 2018 and Barn Owl #16. For those who want to be the first in the know, subscribe to their Behind the Taps mailing list, which hits your inbox about once a month, and highlights the latest beer arrivals and tastings they are hosting. Edited: Only the Jelly King PTG will be available online, BC has altered the distribution of the other 3 due to availability.

We mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but just a last reminder that the Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 1st in Sydney. Looks like there’s still some general admission tickets remaining; you can purchase those right here.

Those who remember the saga of the Beer Garden on the Halifax Waterfront might be interested to hear that a new tender opportunity has been announced by Develop Nova Scotia. Vendors interested in running a food and beverage operation at Summit Place during the summer months (May 15 – Oct 15) for a three-year period from 2019 to 2021 have been invited to submit their proposals no later than December 19, 2018, with the award expecting to be settled by January 18, 2019. The tender document mentions creativity and innovation, although we note that there’s only 10 points available there, whereas the financial portion (i.e., “How much are you willing to pay for the privilege”) gets 25 points. Color us unsurprised. The tender document can be viewed here. It will certainly be interesting to see whether it will remain with the incumbent Stubborn Goat or whether another interest will submit a successful bid.

We’ve got another full complement of beer and cider news to get you excited for the weekend. Several new producers on the radar across the region are now open, plus plenty of new and returning favourite beers from established breweries too! Let’s keep this opening paragraph short, and spend our time on the real news. No one reads these intros, do they?

Arisaig, Nova Scotia should already be on the radar for you alcohol beverage fan, as it is the home to Steinhart Distillery, an award winning spirits maker. Located 30 km Northeast of Antigonish along the 245 Highway, they have entered the brewing space under the name 9zero2 Brewing. Owner and distiller Thomas Steinhart comes by his love of beer honestly, having grown up in Germany, and is bringing some favourite styles and recipes from his birth country to life. Beers now available include a Hefeweizen, Pilsner, Cold Smoked, Arisaig Ale, Summer Party, and very soon, their first IPA. We will have a full Profile with 9zero2 shortly, but in the meantime, be sure to drop by the distillery/brewery for pints and growler fills, as it’s the only place you can taste the beer! They are open Monday to Friday, 10 – 7 PM.

In Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, Two Islands Brewing Company recently opened their doors at 169 Main Street. With Rising Tide Bakery operating in the same space, the taproom and kitchen has been open for a couple of weeks, initially serving beer and cider from other producers in the province. They now have an Irish Red and Blonde of their own, and should be pouring this weekend. Growlers of their own beer will be available, along with pints and flights of all beer and cider on draught. The brewery is open 10AM-6PM (Tue, Wed, and Sun), and 10AM-10PM Thu-Sat. The bakery is open 8AM-6PM Tue-Sun. Drop by this weekend to check out the brewery!

Let’s turn our eye to cider, as Maritime Express Cider has just opened their location in Kentville, Nova Scotia. Housed in a railway hotel at 325 Main Street, Maritime Express boasts onsite cider fermentation and a beautiful taproom. Their cider is built from 100% Annapolis Valley apples, pressed locally, and fermented cool and slow. They are currently pouring a pair of their ciders in the taproom: The Flying Blusenose, a 6.0% ABV dry and crisp cider, and The Dayliner, a 5.0% ABV sweet and smooth blend. They will be adding a third blend, featuring rhubarb, in the near future. Their taps are rounded out with six Nova Scotia beers, and mix and match flights of all are available for enjoyment. Open 11 AM – 9 PM Mon-Thu, 11 AM – 11 PM Fri-Sat, and 11 AM – 5 PM.

And in the “mostly open” department is Sussex Ale Works, located at 597B Main Street. This week they have brewed up their first beer, but while they wait for it to be ready, they’ve been sharing great NB beers from other breweries with their thirsty patrons. Rick Lockhart has been working with Sussex Craft Distillery and Holy Whale Brewing in Alma for several years, and he is running the show at Sussex Ale Works, on their 1 BBL (120 L) system. We’ll have lots more details on Sussex soon, but in the meantime, drop by this weekend to check out the new digs and toss back a pint. Open 12 – 10 PM Fri-Sun, and 5 – 10 PM Mon-Thu.

The gang at Tatamagouche Brewing has plenty going on this week, starting with the launch of their online store. You can now shop for and order your favorite Tata brews and merch from the comfort of your own home! All the pertinent details are available on the site (especially the FAQ), but to answer the most obvious questions, beer must be purchased in multiples of 12 cans and/or 6 bottles, but yes, you sure can mix and match. Shipping is available to all Canadian provinces (but none of the territories) and ships via Canada Post. Even better, orders over $150 ship free! Meanwhile, earlier this month we mentioned Stillwell Brewing’s Make 1, 2 and that the correct term for such a blend of older and newer beer is a bière de coupage. As it turns out, we’d written about another one in the region only a month before when we told you about Tata’s Cahoots. Well available this week is another one from Tata that they’re calling Bliss, again a mix of beer out of two barrels, one old and one young. Coming in at 6.3% ABV and more sour than its predecessor, it’s being released this weekend as a bière de marriage (sorry; not sorry) in celebration of the nuptials of Tata’s own Matt and Christiane, two of the nicest folks in our region’s craft beer scene. A hearty “Cheers” and a big congratulations from us here at the blog! (Also, in related news, the brewery is closing early on Saturday (3 PM) and will be closed Sunday.

One of Newfoundland’s original craft breweries, Storm Brewing in Newfoundland in Mount Pearl, got its start in Carbonear on the east side of the Avalon Peninsula (and the west side of Conception Bay), in 1995. In 1998 they brewed a batch of beer for the first time that led to six months of bureaucracy before the brewery was able to package and sell it. The problem? It was full of hemp seeds. Although hemp won’t get you high, it’s certainly a member of the cannabis family and sourcing good quality seeds became difficult owing to political climate in the early 2000s, so the beer was discontinued. Right up until the other week, that is. Now that cannabis is entirely legal in this fine country of ours, it seemed to the folks at Storm that it would be a fine time to revisit that beer. Sourcing high-quality hemp seeds from Ontario, which were added to the mash, Hemp Ale, known locally as Weed Beer, is a light and refreshing 4.5% ABV brew with a balanced, earthy flavor and a nutty and herbal aftertaste. Packaged with the original labels from 20 years ago, they’re not entirely sure what the future of this beer will be, but they do know that the 650 mL bottles delivered have already have sold out, leaving 6-packs available for purchase at select NLC locations and convenience stores (the NLC site is a bit slow to update inventory, but here is the shortcut for your reference). It’s also on tap at the Ship Pub and the Quidi Vidi Brewery tap room.

Those of you who have been following the evolving nature of North Brewing are well aware that the brewery has released a fair number of different beers since they opened in 2013. Yesterday, they officially added their very first Pilsner to their lineup, with Sparrow. Crisp and refreshing, yesterday’s launch will trickle into today, when cans of the 4.8% ABV beer will be available at both bottle shops. Look for it on tap around the HRM, as well, including their partner in the beer formulation, Agricola Street’s Bar Kismet.

Niche Brewing from Hanwell is continuing their one-hop beer series, with a favourite Australian varietal taking centre stage. You Had Me At… Vic Secret continues the tradition that began with Ekuanot and transitioned to Mosaic, with a 4.4% ABV all Vic Secret Session IPA. Fermented with a blend of yeasts, but cleanly to allow the hop character to shine through. And it does, with tropical fruit and pine notes coming through, on top of a hazy, yet dry, base beer, enhancing the 30 IBU bitterness. Look for it on tap at their regular tap accounts in Fredericton, Saint John, as well as at the HopYard in Charlottetown.

The march of the Pumpkin Ales continues (like it or not!), with Newfoundland’s Bootleg Brew Co. throwing their hat in the ring with Basic Bee. This light-bodied, dry, 5% ABV beer features the addition of local pumpkin from Wright’s Family Farm (Pasadena) and 40 lbs of honey from the Newfoundland Bee Company (Little Rapids). Lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, the honey makes this one a slightly-different take on the Pumpkin Ale style; look for it on tap right now at Bootleg.

Halifax’s annual sci-fi and gaming convention, Hal-Con, is happening this weekend, and Garrison is once again launching a new beer to celebrate. Billed as a four brewery, three nation collaboration, they teamed up with Mason’s Brewing and Lone Pine Brewing from Maine, and Gæðingur Öl Brugghús from Skagafirði, Iceland to brew Hipster Viking during the Seaport Beer Festival in August. This unfiltered “Atlantic IPA” was brewed in the New England style, and was hopped with Mosaic, Ekuanot, and Idaho 7. Featuring a “dank, tropical aroma and flavour” it weighs in at 6% ABV, and will be available starting today at both Garrison and Hal-Con, and at the private liquor stores next week. Note that the label artwork has been done by Ben Bishop, a well-known comic book artist.

Over in Good Robot Land™, next week’s Beta Brew is another fruited kettle sour, this one concocted by Corey Crocker (hey, that wasn’t planned!). Inspired by “the shiny satin shirts and well-bottomed pants of the ‘70s disco era”, Electric Dynomite (misspelling intentional) features the addition of strawberries and rhubarb (4.2% ABV, 6 IBUs). Drop by the brewery on Tuesday, where we (and surely, they) encourage you to wear your favourite disco outfit… and with Halloween right around the corner, you may not even get too many curious stares. And on Thursday, Leave Me Blue (4.5% ABV) is back on tap yet again. Corn!

Fredericton’s Grimross Brewing has a new beer in their series of more experimental offerings that they’ve dubbed Scratch. Now up to number 13 in the series, the latest entry is Lemondrop Saison, named for the use of a fairly-recently developed hop variety from the United States that features a citrusy lemon character (of course), but melded with a herbaceous, almost green tea-like presence. Dry hopped to bring out maximal aroma, this 5.8% ABV and 19 IBU beer features a complex grist that supports a round mouthfeel and subtle spicy notes. This one appears to have made it into cans, so look for it on sale at the brewery!

Port Rexton Brewing is back in full effect at their St. John’s retail location this month. Open for business every Thursday (5 – 8 PM), Friday (12 – 7 PM) and Saturday (12 – 6 PM) for the foreseeable, they’re happy to save you a three hour drive from St. John’s to get your fix. This week the supply of cans is getting a little low, so you’ll be limited to 4 cans of each style, but they’ve got Blazing Sun (Double NEIPA; see below), Horse Chops (IPA), and T-Rex Porter. But as always, they’ve also got growler fills, and the lineup there looks like Sweater Weather (Double IPA), T-Rex Porter, Firehouse Amber, and Baycation Blonde, with The One With the Citra waiting in the wings for when one of the others kicks. The Blazing Sun is a notable return, as it was the first beer that PR put into cans last year. A big sister to their Chasing Sun NEIPA, it’s super hazy and super juicy with tons of hop character, low bitterness, and a full mouthfeel from plenty of oats and wheat in the grist. It takes its name from the oldest living Newfoundland Pony Stallion, a 27 year old named Blaze who lives in Champneys West just across the beach from the brewery. Blaze is always quite happy to munch on the spent grain from Port Rexton’s brewing endeavors, but we suspect most people will prefer the beer. You can keep yourself apprised of what’s available at the retail shop by scoping its dedicated Instagram on the regular and while you’re at it, you might want to follow the brewery’s main Instagram as well.

Dieppe’s CAVOK Brewing has been brewing up a storm in their new space at 250 Dieppe Blvd, and as we wait for them to be released, they are extending their opening hours to include Thursdays. Their hours are now 6 – 10:30 Thu, 2 – 11:30 PM Fri and Sat, and 2 – 7 PM Sun. And to keep up with all of these hours, they are looking to add some more team members to join them. Send them an email to learn more! Just a note that they are not yet filling growlers due to permitting issues, but have five of their own beers on tap, plus five more guest taps, to keep you happy.

Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing has a trio of new beers waiting in the wings to share with all of us this weekend. Let’s start with Saint James, a Fruitcake-inspired Stout. Brewed in Winter 2018, this 11.5% ABV stout has been aging in Glenora Whiskey barrels on BS-farm-grown cognac-soaked Organic purple plums. Assistance for the beer concept, recipe, and brewing came from Nova Scotian music Donald MacLennan, an accomplished violinist who had frequently held court in the Big Spruce taproom. Saint James, in case you are wondering, was MacLennan’s Father in Law, and a wonderful part of their family. The beer is full of iconic fruitcake notes of dark dried fruits, chocolate, and coffee, with a significant heat from the high alcohol and barrel-aging.
Something Sophisticated is a 6.4% ABV bottle-conditioned Saison, co-fermented with Brettanomyces, featuring a balance of fruit, spice, and light malt, with the Brett funk shining through.
And finally Pile-It License, which is a Sherry Barrel aged Chocolate Porter, weighing in at 7.0% ABV. Chocolate and sherry and wood come together in a smooth beer worth enjoying before, during, or after, a great meal. All three beers will be available in bottles very soon.

In between new brewery and cider-house hopping this weekend, check out the other events on the go…

The Auction House is teaming up with Garrison Brewing for a Halloween Bash tomorrow, October 27th, with 15 taps at Auction House being taken over by the brewery. Several of Garrison’s “specialty brews” will be pouring, and of course there’ll be lots of tasty food available. You can also expect live music and prize giveaways, as well as, ‘tis the season, a costume contest with prizes. There’s no cover charge, so dig out your finest white sheet with two eyeholes and truck on down to Argyle St. tomorrow night to take part in the fun.

Next Saturday will see a full dozen offerings from Annapolis Cider Company on tap at Halifax’s Stillwell Beer Bar, as they celebrate their diversity of offerings. Always using Annapolis Valley juice as their base, the different blends and expressions follow the seasons and will sometimes feature other fruits or adjuncts added to enhance the flavour. For those new to Annapolis, or cider in general, may we suggest checking out their appearance on the 902 BrewCast this week, with co-owner Sean Myles talking the crew through their beginnings, how they choose which apples to use, their cider philosophy, and about their Cider Club. Listen in to get ready for Saturday November 3rd!

A note regarding the FemmeBot Beer Fest we mentioned last month: due to a date conflict, it has been moved to April 27, 2019. With the aim to highlight female brewery employees, and/or members of the public creating beer, Good Robot is hosting a 15 brewery Fest at the Mayflower Curling Club. More details are available for breweries looking to be part of the fun, and we will share ticket details once available.

A few more bites before we leave you this week:

Horton Ridge has brought back their Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (6% ABV) in time for the cooler weather; roasty, chocolatey and smooth, drop by the taproom now for a taste.

Picaroons is still churning out new iterations of their PIVOT (8% ABV) Imperial IPA, with the latest (#21) featuring Sorachi Ace and Denali hops. You can find it on tap at all Picaroons locations, as well as select ANBL growler stations.

Propeller has a special cask on tonight, a sneak preview of this year’s upcoming Coffee Porter release. Chocolate was added for this very small release (20 L only), to put a bit of an extra twist on a crowd favourite.

Roof Hound is now pouring their popular Keltic Devil Pumpkin Spiced Latte Strong Porter (as fun to drink as it is to say!), a Porter which is how you might expect it to be from the name. It’s a strong one at 9% ABV, and has plenty of coffee added from Sissiboo Coffee Roaster, as well as pumpkin, vanilla bean, lactose, and pumpkin pie spices.

Sober Island Brewing on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore has launched a Kickstarter campaign to push them to the ultimate goal of building their brewery on Sober Island itself. Check out the offerings, and contribute to help further their expansion!

Tanner & Co. first released their Belgian Tripel as an entry in their Reserve Series, back in February. This 8.9% ABV, 35 IBUs brew, which was fermented with a variety of Belgian yeast strains, has just been bottled for the first time. With “lots of complex aromas and flavours”, you can pick up a bottle or two (or more!) at the brewery itself this weekend; note that kegs are also filled and awaiting to go on tap.

TrailWay dropped new cans and kegs of Beans, their 6.3% ABV Oatmeal Coffee Stout, today when they opened. “Sweetness balanced against roasted malts”, with lots of coffee and chocolate in the aroma, you can grab cans or pints at the brewery starting at noon; look for cans to also hit select ANBL stores sometime next week.