Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge

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Another Friday is upon us in Atlantic Canada and as usual, we’ve got as much news as we could dig up about beer releases, brewery news and beer-related events throughout the region. So grab yourself an appropriate beverage (perhaps you’d consider a beer?) and we’ll get right to it.

• Today, Red Rover will be releasing the second cider in their new Summer Series, which focuses on different seasonals and Reserve blends from the past, but in 750 mL bottle form. Barrel Reserve #1 is a dry, still cider (7.2% ABV) that has been oak-aged and conditioned in Bourbon barrels for over 6 months. A very limited supply of 250 bottles (which have been corked and wax-capped for aging) will be available at the Cider House and Farmers Markets. Look for Barrel Reserve #2 to follow in the near future.

• Over in Cape Breton, Nyanza’s Big Spruce just brewed up a new seasonal in their “Conspired” (Conspiratorial?) series. Brewed in collaboration with the Ocean Tracking Network, out of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Tag! You’re It! is a “light-bodied, super juicy” American IPA featuring large post knockout additions of the wonderful, tropical Citra and Mosaic hop varieties; look for this one to come in at about 6.5% ABV. This beer will be canned, with 50 cents from every sale going towards research at the OTN, which will help protect endangered ocean species. We’ll let you know when this beer becomes available to the thirsty public.

• Summer officially started a few weeks ago, and the weather has finally improved, so Windsor’s Schoolhouse Brewery will be releasing a Witbier, Summer Break, today or over the weekend. One of the tastiest of the warm-weather beer styles, it was brewed with Maritime Malt and Wheat malt, and also features the traditional additions of coriander and orange peel. Fermented with a Belgian Ale yeast to add spicy phenolics and fruity esters to the contributions from the coriander and orange peel, this 4.9% ABV, pale and hazy brew will be available in kegs only, at the brewery’s taproom and select accounts. And if you’re lucky enough to live near the brewery, stop by this Friday for a visit… not just to try Summer Break, but to watch the brewers brew up some test batches of their Pumpkin beer on the brewery patio (yes, Pumpkin beers are approaching already…sorry).

Petit-Sault has brewed up a brand new beer that will be released to lucky participants in next month’s 12th Annual Roch-Voisine/Knights of Columbus celebrity golf tournament, held for the La Fondation Bob Fife, on August 7th and 8th at the Fraser Edmundston Golf Club. Named, appropriately, Bob Fife, this Pale Ale base beer had 100% locally-sourced and produced Haskap berry juice added, providing a pleasant, refreshing tanginess. At just 4.25% ABV, it should be the perfect golfing beer! If there’s any left after the tournament (only a very small batch was made), look for growlers to be available at the brewery only.

• Ontario’s Beau’s continues to brew beers with other breweries in the country to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday… and next up is a collaboration with Unfiltered! Appropriately named, EPH Bomb is a “Northeast DIPA” brewed with Pilsner and acid malt, oats, and wheat, and hopped (intensely, no doubt) with Wai-iti and Azacca. The result is lots of grapefruit, pine, and papaya in the aroma, followed by a “fruity sweetness” in the flavour, “balanced by a medium bitterness and mild alcohol warmth” in the finish. Weighing in at 9% ABV and 75 IBUs, this is a limited release, and will be available at the NSLC in early-mid August. As well, look for it on tap at the Beau’s Tap Takeover at the Stillwell Beer Garden on August 10th, and at the Beau’s booth at the Seaport Beerfest (August 11th and 12th).

• Lots going on at Good Robot over the next little bit… first off, they’ve released their third SMaSH beer, adorably named SMaSH Meowth. Brewed with 100% Maris Otter, hopped with Rakau, a New Zealand variety, and fermented with East Coast Pale Ale yeast, expect notes of plum, citrus, melon, and pear in this 5.5% ABV, 45 IBU brew. And today is Friday, meaning there’s a new entry in their Cask in the Sun series – Goseface Killah with organic peach and nectarine. Finally, we have some info on their next Beta Brewsday release this coming Tuesday. Sour Mumma Bloomfield was brewed by loyal employee Erica Fraser (who is responsible for sending us beer info every week… thanks for that!). This “hopless, malt-forward herbal beer” was soured from the addition of locally-harvested herbs, including  rose, yarrow, thyme, lavender, sage, rosemary, and marigold. But that’s not all! Some roasted dandelion root, nettle, and a tea blend prepared from herbs harvested from the Mother Oak Permaculture Co-op were also added. Tart, with an apple pie-like character in the taste, drop by the brewery next Tuesday to give this 4.8% ABV brew a try.

• A couple of blocks over, at Agricola and North, Chain Yard Urban Cidery has a new cider available that incorporates gin for a riff on one of the most classic cocktails of summer. Ginx is, at its heart, a dry cider made from a blend of Northern Spy and Jonogold apples. It was then conditioned with gin from Lunenburg’s Ironworks Distillery along with the juice of organic limes. The result is a dry cider with plenty of juniper on the nose, a balance between the cider and spirit components, and a clean and refreshing finish. Chain Yard’s cider maker, Jay Hildybrant, developed Ginx both to prove his belief that a dry cider and gin would play nicely together, but also as a way to incorporate another local product into a fun summer drink. It’s available for 12 oz pours and growler fills at the cidery (although we’ve heard a rumour that some may make it into stubbies in the future), but tread carefully: at 9.5% ABV it’s going to pack a bit of a boozy punch as well!

• And to complete our little tour of North End Halifax this week, we head up to Gottingen Street, where Propeller has some new and renewed things on the go. First is a beer that was released last week in the California Common style, a medium-bodied ale, traditionally fermented with a lager yeast strain that can withstand the higher temperatures favored by ale yeasts. Propeller’s version of this classic is called Sacramento Common and it’s 5.5% ABV, with a rich amber color and 39 IBUs provided by Northern Brewer hops, which are also traditionally the only hops used in this style. Toasty and caramel notes from the malts mingle with light fruits and lingering bitterness from the hops to yield a slightly malty and sweet but not-too-heavy beer.

• Next, released this past Wednesday, is a beer in a very modern style that sees the clove and banana characteristics of German-style wheat beers meet heavy late hopping with modern hop varieties a la a West Coast IPA. The term for the style is also the name of this new beer from Propeller: Hopfenweisse. Generously late-hopped with dank Simcoe and wine-y Nelson Sauvin, you’re apt to taste passion fruit and gooseberry with some tropical fruit and banana. Medium bodied and carbed up nice and high, it’s a hazy golden yellow color. Although pushing 48 IBUs, you should find the mouthfeel and fruity tropical flavors mitigate the bitterness of this refreshing, 5.8% ABV beer. Both of these beers are available at the taproom for pints and, we presume, growler fills as well.

• Moving on, as part of the rollout of their updated brand, Propeller has revisited the recipe for their stalwart Double IPA. Now in 650 mL bottles for 30% more beer, we’re also told they’re adding dry hops at 300% of the old rate! It’s already available in Propeller’s bottle shop and we expect you’ll see it in the same places you saw the original version, including select NSLC locations and the private stores in Halifax.

• Finally (!), during last weekend’s 20th Anniversary celebrations, Propeller held the Brew Patriot Love competition, and they are happy to announce that Brew-Deau Canadian Cream Ale from Trider’s was voted the most Canadian beer. A fun contest, where the beers were judged not solely on taste, but on the story, packaging, and “Canadian” qualities, Brew-deau beat out a dozen other beers to take the title. Congratulations to Trider’s, and learn a bit more about the event here, and if you dispute the results, get ready to brew your own for next year’s event, to coincide with next May’s Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference in Halifax.

• Along with the return of crowd favourites Hu John Hops and Luster earlier this week, Fredericton’s TrailWay also released another new entry in the ever-growing hoppy lineup. Apeel is a supremely sessionable (4% ABV) brew marketed as a contrast to Luster. With more malt character than most of their highly-hopped beers (and a dark tan colour in the body as a result, which definitely is a change from the pale yellow colour we expect from many TW beers!), there’s still plenty of hops popping, thanks to large additions of Ekuanot and Ella, giving “an amazing depth of fruit, berries, and orange peel”. Available on tap everywhere, and in cans at the brewery only (depending on stock, some may pop up at a few ANBL stores).

• Shelburne’s Boxing Rock has two new beers on the go as well as the results of their contest to name the beer they’re dedicating to the Tall Ships visit in mid-August. That winning submission was the appropriately nautical Three Sheets Cream Ale and, quite coincidentally, it was suggested by one Harry MacDonald, who also happened to be Boxing Rock’s very first paying customer four years ago! Look for that beer to make its appearance very shortly before the ships sail into port.

• Meanwhile, the two other beers on the BR docket this week are brand new releases that arose out of this year’s Black Box Challenge. The winning beer, Brian Harvey’s Grafted has already come and gone, but as we mentioned in our report on the event, Henry and Emily told us several of the finalist beers were impressive enough to be considered for production batches. First is Grand Mariner, a Belgian IPA by Kelly Costello. You may recognize Kelly’s name as she currently reigns over Good Robot’s BetaBrew system and is cranking out small batches of unique and tasty treats for their taproom on the regular. The original version of this beer actually had the highest tasting score in the Black Box Challenge event. It’s lower than most IPAs on the ABV side, at a sessionable 5.0%, and it features Bravo and Wild Turkey hops, the latter being a wild cultivar sourced from a hop farm in Ontario. The beer has also been “dry-hopped” with an addition of sweet orange peel after primary fermentation for a perfume of citrus. The second new beer comes in a style we’re not sure has been seen in Nova Scotia, or even Atlantic Canada, at least not any time recently. Tropic Thunder, brewed in collaboration with Jason Currie, is a Tropical Stout, a style that grew up in hot climates where darker beers are found to be quite refreshing. The style is known for marrying roasty dark malt flavours with sweetness and fruitiness while keeping the bitterness well in check. Tropic Thunder delivers all that in a 6.0% ABV package, along with a citrus note from sweet orange peel to finish it all off. Both of these winning beers have been bottled in 650 mL bombers and will be available at the brewery and the private stores in Halifax.

• And rounding out the Boxing Rock news for this week, be sure to listen to the 902 BrewCast which dropped on #902sday this week, when Kyle, Phil, and Tony visited the Shelburne brewery to learn about their beginnings, struggles and successes, and even tease a new brand beer coming in the next couple of weeks.

• Lazy Bear, located in Smiths Cove, NS, has released a brand new beer this week named Punch. Featuring plenty of tropical hops, namely El Dorado, Idaho 7, and Olicana, the beer is big on taste, but small in alcohol, weighing in at 4.6% ABV. Yeast from Imperial Yeast was chosen for this beer, resulting in a hazy juice-bomb. Punch is available at the brewery for their Thursday night events, and will be at their stall at the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market this weekend. Look for it on tap shortly at Battery Park too!

• Saint John’s Loyalist City Brewing Co has a new beer pouring in the city this weekend, Stonehammer Saison. Brewed in the traditional French style, using a simple Pilsner and Wheat malt bill, fermented with an iconic yeast, the spritzy and naturally spicy and fruity beer was complemented with a double round of Mandarina Bavaria dry hopping for extra citrus character. Drop by one of LCBC’s Uptown licensees for a pour, or visit the ANBL growler fill locations to grab it to go, possibly for enjoyment at the Stonehammer Geopark just outside of Saint John.

• Moncton’s Pump House Brewery has announced that they will soon begin filling growlers. From noon to midnight each day, a variety of their year-round and seasonal beers will be available to take away in the popular format. We’ll have more details when available.

• In a late addition to the blog, we are thrilled to announce that the first beer to age in the foedres installed at 2 Crows Brewing in Halifax will be available tomorrow. Crosswired, the 5.3% hazy and pale beer, fermented with both wine and beer yeasts, has been hanging out in the Calvados barrel for a couple of months, and is now ready for prime-time. Cans of the beer will be available exclusively at the brewery beginning tomorrow at noon, and are in short supply, so you are well-advised to get to the brewery this weekend to avoid disappointment. To learn more about Crosswired, check out our post on it from its release in April, and about the foedres from a post in May.

As always, we’ve also got some upcoming events you might want to consider checking out!

• For those of you lucky enough to have tickets to the sold-out Big Axe Craft Beer Festival tomorrow, have fun! Registration starts at 3 pm, so be sure to get there ahead of the 4 pm start time so that you’re ready to start enjoying the multiple varieties of beer, cider, and mead that will be pouring. If you’re in the area and missed out on tickets, fear not… next week we should have details on another beer festival happening in the near future, in the town of Woodstock!

• Dartmouth’s Battery Park is hosting yet another beer event, with their Nine Locks Tap Takeover on Thursday, July 20th. Looks like the official tap list has not been released yet, but rest assured you’ll be seeing plenty of goodies from Nine Locks, and the event will run all day. As usual, no charge to attend, just pay by the pint!

• A reminder that Upstreet with be releasing Year 2 of De Novo next Thursday, July 20th. Their Anniversary beer, De Novo is a light mixed-fermentation (read: blend of several yeasts, including Brett) Saison that has spent the last month bottle-conditioning and is now ready for sale. Drop by the brewery that evening for a fun event and to try both Year 1 and 2 of De Novo, and some other special beers.

• On Saturday, July 22nd, drop by Digby’s Roof Hound Brewery for the latest screening of Sociable!, the Nova Scotia craft beer film. Filmmakers Helen and Chris will be on hand to chat about the film, and the growth in the NS beer landscape since filming. And in the spirit of community, Roof Hound has invited several other breweries to bring a keg of beer to showcase their wares, including nearby Lazy Bear, Yarmouth’s Heritage, Lawrencetown’s Lunn’s Mill, and Windsor’s Schoolhouse. And while there, be sure to try their Full Circle Pizza, which features sausages made from locally-raised pork, which was raised on RH’s spent grain.

• Tatamagouche is a beautiful town and home to a fantastic brewery, so it’s only fair that they’re getting their own beer festival! On Saturday, July 29th, the first North Shore Craft Brew Expo will be held at the North Shore Rec Centre from 6-11:30 pm. There will be at least 12 local breweries and one cidery attending; your ticket price of $42.55 (+ fee) will get you entry and five 4 oz drink tickets; additional drink tickets can be purchased for $2 each. Local food vendors will be onsite, and live music will be playing throughout the night, starting at 8 pm. Tickets are available here.

Hope you all have a great weekend! A few final things before we let you go…

Maybee now has their Orion, a 11.5% ABV Belgian Strong Dark Ale with maple syrup, available at the brewery for purchase in 750 mL corked-and-caged bottles.
North has re-released Little Beast, their 4% ABV “light lagered ale”, as well as a new batch of Malternate Reality (with this version being dry-hopped with Mosaic cryohops, and El Dorado).
– If you’re a fan of the citrus bomb that is DOA from Unfiltered you’ll be happy to know it’ll be back on tap at the brewery for fills and Charm School Pub for pints and fills as of this Friday at noon.

Wow, look what happened over the last couple of days… spring/summer actually arrived! Better late than never, right? We’re sure the sunny rays have helped those of you who were lucky enough to indulge in Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week recover, so it’s now time to dive right in to the usual geyser of beer news that’s been going on over the past week…

• The YellowBelly Brewpub has a new beer on tap, released late last week in conjunction with the NLC’s Beer Expo which took place over the weekend. Ryan’s Fancy IPA was brewed with 2-row, Munich and Carastan malts, and hopped with generous amounts of “an assortment of varietals”, both in the kettle and dry-hop additions. Coming in at 6.3% ABV and 60 IBUs, it has a firm supporting malt backbone, and is described as “resinously bitter” by the brewery. It’s on tap now at the brewpub.

• Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewery has one heck of a big beer out, brewed to recognize the traditions of Maritime sailors. Fog Bank is a rich, chocolatey stout that was aged for five months in rum barrels. The result is an 11% ABV monster of a beer, with vanilla and dark fruit notes, and a deceptively “smooth, mellow finish”… that should become even smoother with some age. It’s available at the brewery for 13 oz pours, and also in bottles, giving you the opportunity to pick up a few; try one now, and throw a couple more in your cellar to try again in several months… or even longer!

• Apparently not tired out by NSCBW one bit, Good Robot is releasing a brand new beer, and a new iteration of another. Let’s start with the new one, the first in their new SMaSH series (single-malt and single-hop), SMaSH No. 1: Dr. Rudi. Brewed with 2-row and the Dr. Rudi hop variety (yes, that’s a thing), it was fermented with White Labs East Coast Ale yeast. With aromas of “cantaloupe, citrus, honey, and pine”, and fruity and herbal flavours, it weighs in at 6% ABV and 47 IBUs. Gluten-reduced like all GR beers, it will be available Monday-ish at GR’s taproom, and will be popping up at fine tap accounts in the HRM.

• Moving along, today Good Robot is releasing version 3.0 of their well-loved-but-difficult-to-type Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie Pale Ale.  This take features Kenya Nyeri Mahiga coffee beans from Java Blend, cold-brewed by Low Point Coffee Co., giving the beer “notes of cocoa, citrus and stone fruit”, according to the brewery. Aside from the coffee used, the rest of the brew is similar to previous releases; 5.5% ABV, 32 IBUs, also available at the brewery and at select tap accounts.

• The third and final beer in Roof Hound‘s Dive Bar Classic Cocktail Series is now available. Harvey Wallbanger is an American Wheat Ale brewed with both Pilsner and Wheat malt, with orange and vanilla beans added during the brew process (juice at the end of the boil, and zest and vanilla bean in secondary) to give you the aromas and flavours normally associated with the classic mixed drink (traditionally made with vodka, orange juice, and Galliano liqueur). Easy drinking at just 4.4% ABV and 16 IBUs, it’s on tap now at the brewery; drop by tomorrow, and you can try it in a mini-flight of all three in the Cocktail Series – joining previous releases Mojito Sour and Fuzzy Navel IPA – for just $5.

TrailWay hasn’t been slowing down with their “small-batch” (read: 10 bbl) releases, as they’ve brought back Ellipse, a crowd-favourite 6.3% ABV American IPA that was originally released early this year. Inspired by the “intense orange-citrus character” from large additions of the very popular Amarillo hop variety, some Columbus was also thrown in to provide some “dankness and spiciness” to complement. Luckily, this batch is also available in cans, which can be picked up only at the brewery taproom (along with growlers) for the time-being. Drop by today for your hazy-and-juicy fix!

• In other Fredericton news, Picaroons is launching a new beer series today, showcasing a brew with a static grain bill but ever-changing hop profile. Pivot is an Imperial IPA that will feature a simple grist of Canadian 2-row and a touch of Toasted Wheat (to 8% ABV) that will allow the changing variety of hops to be front and center. Two batches have already been brewed: Pivot #1 will be released today on tap only, at all four Picaroons locations in NB, and was hopped with Warrior, Azacca, and Hallertau Blanc, giving notes of “melon, pineapple, bubblegum, and white grapes”, according to the brewery; Pivot #2 will be released next week in bottles only, throughout the province. The #2 features Warrior and Azacca only, with a larger dry-hop addition this time around. For bottle purchases, look for the batch number on the side of the label; you can head to this site to check out which hops were used in each batch.

• After an initial release at last weekend’s Full House event for NSCBW, Lunn’s Mill is officially launching their latest American IPA, Purple Grain. A gold-coloured brew featuring a “balanced malt body with notes of honey”, it was hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Citra for “tangy and slightly spicy” flavors.  This 5.5% ABV, Prince-themed beer is available for growler fills at the brewery, but only a small amount is left, so drop by during their opening hours (or request a growler delivery)!

• We’d love to tell you about the Jade Moon APA from Tidehouse, but there’d be no point in that because it’s gone already, thanks to its presence at both last weekend’s Craft Beer Full House and the Timeraiser event at the Halifax Central Library this past Monday. While we wait to see whether that one makes a reappearance, however, the gang has two even newer beers for us this week. First we’ve got another in the APA style, ‘Insert Clever Name Here’ Pale Ale, a 5.5% ABV beer with 56 or so IBU, 97% of which came from post-boil additions of pungent Simcoe and Citra hops. The grist sees 2-Row supplemented with Maris Otter and Munich, which should give it a solid malt base against which passionfruit, lemon zest and light pineapple notes will contrast. This one will be available for fills at the brewery this weekend and is also slated to be on tap at Halifax’s new noodle sensation, Water & Bone, posthaste.

• Also debuting this weekend is the first in a new series of beers brewed by Shannon Higgins (née Rockwell), partner of Tidehouse principal Shean Higgins. Rockwell Series vol. I is a truly big DIPA that comes in at 9%. It’s been heavily hopped (“to high heaven”) with modern American hop varieties Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic, and Citra giving notes of orange, mango and peaches. Shannon also tells us it has a creamy body and thirst-quenching dry finish and it’s the beer she “wants to drink”. We suspect she won’t be alone on that one. Look for it at the brewery today and Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market tomorrow for fills for sure, and possibly on tap elsewhere, if we don’t drink it all first.

Garrison has hopped aboard the canning train after 20 years of their beers being available exclusively in bottle form (outside of kegs, of course!). One of their first beers, Tall Ship, is available now in 473 mL cans, with several more brands – including Seaport Blonde  available this weekend, and Juicy! DIPA following in the near future. Featuring new label designs, the NSLC and Halifax private stores will be the first to receive all three beers (outside of the brewery), but they will also be selling in NB and Newfoundland (and at least one brand in PEI, and parts West as well) by this summer. We asked Garrison man-about-town Jeff Green about the addition of cans to the Garrison brand, here’s what he had to share: “The people have spoken. Cans, specifically the 473ml (16 oz.) cans continue to grow in popularity and we are pumped to finally be bringing something to the party. Cans allow us to offer some favourites like Tall Ship in a second format, move certain seasonals like Seaport Blonde into a better pack for and serve up some new beauties like Juicy! in a more portable, chillable, crushable (see what I did there) package. We also get to design some cool new labels and have fun with the huge array of textures and design highlights available from the great folks at FastTrack Packaging. After 20 years exclusively in bottle format, we are SUPER excited to see what the future holds with cans!”

• Garrison is also proud to release the first of two special releases to celebrate 20 years of brewing craft beer in Halifax. Launched yesterday at the brewery, 20th Anniversary Triple IPA is a hybrid beer, lying somewhere between an extra-strong Imperial IPA and an American Barleywine. It features a simple grain bill of 100% Maritime Pale Ale Malt, with Glacier, Amarillo, Citra, El Dorado, and Crystal hops in the boil and Crystal and Centennial for dry-hop. Cold conditioned for two full seasons, it weighs in at a hefty 9% and 100 IBU. Despite the very strong malt presence, it still manages to be hop-forward, with earthy, floral, fruity hop flavors, fruity yeast esters, and sweet malt notes, including caramel flavours developed during an extended boil. This beer is available now at the brewery in bottles and you’ll also be able to find it by next week at the private stores in Halifax and, eventually, in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Nine Locks will soon be releasing Ginger Rye, a full-bodied, red-colored ale. Brewed with an unspecified amount of Rye and Wheat malt, it features “subtle caramel malts, and a restrained ginger presence on the palate”, according to the brewery. Finishing with some “assertive spiciness” thanks to the addition of real ginger in the brewing process, it clocks in at 5.6% ABV and 15 IBUs, and will be available soon at the brewery only, on tap. And keep your eyes on this space for upcoming details on their first SMaSH beer, brewed earlier this week.

• Rothesay’s Foghorn has re-released The Yellow Dart, a beer we haven’t seen since the brewery originally launched last fall. This India Session Ale (aka Session IPA) has been tweaked slightly in the hop department, now including Vic Secret, Columbus, and Huell Melon, providing lots of tropical character in the aroma. Out just in time for the hot days we’ve finally been experiencing, it’s the perfect summer slammer you’ve been waiting for. At 4.5% ABV and 35 IBUs, it’s available now at the brewery taproom for pints and growlers; keep your eyes open on your favourite Foghorn tap accounts, as it may pop up there as well.

• Shelburne’s Boxing Rock has two new releases out now, and a special launch this weekend for one of them. Dark as Keji is the Black IPA we told you about last month, and is now in wide release. The 6.5% ABV beer is available in sixpacks at the NSLC and private stores, and of course at the brewery in Shelburne. But what better way to enjoy it than under a dark sky in Keji itself? Tomorrow evening at the Sky Circle at Kejimkujik National Park, there will be samples of the beer available from 8PM, followed by a Dark Sky look at the stars at 9:30PM presented by Parks Canada, Friends of Keji, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. And for every sixpack of Dark as Keji sold, Boxing Rock is donating 50 cents to FoK.

• Boxing Rock’s second release this week is the winner of their Second Annual Black Box Challenge. Homebrewer Brian Harvey, who brews under the moniker 1029 Brewing, had used the ingredients provided to put together Grafted, an Orange Peel Sour, which garnered solid marks from the judges, and took the top prize aided by his unique presentation. He visited the brewery in Shelburne last month to brew the full-sized batch, and it is now available to the rest of us. A sour mash was performed to get the beer started on the right foot, with orange peel used in both the mash and the boil for an extra citrus kick. The 5.5% ABV beer has been bottled, and is available now at the private stores in HRM, with growlers available at the Market and brewery. Grab one today to see what all the fuss is about!

Unfiltered‘s popular SMaSH DIPA, Double Orange Ale (7.5% ABV), featuring everyone’s favourite hop, Citra, is back again starting today; drop by Charm School for a pint and/or growler fill.

• Released last night at the brewery in Rose Valley, BarNone has a brand new beer out, using all Island-grown barley. Grown by the Craig family in Tryon, it was malted by Horton Ridge in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and sent back across the bridge for use. Hopped as a Pale Ale, the malt is the key in this 5.0% beer, with the subtle earthy character of the base malt shining through nicely, even giving a slight spice character. Grab Try On next Growler Night at the brewery (Thursdays from 6), and look for it at BN’s regular taps on the Island shortly.

• The St. John’s Beer Tours website went live on the weekend, and tickets are selling fast! The first tours of the season will be held Friday, June 2nd, and typically run in the afternoons of Thursday-Sunday each week throughout the summer. There are deep discounts for the first tours of the season, so be sure to snag one today. Depending on the tour type chosen (anything from Axes & Ales, Scuff & Scoff, Ultimate Townie Brew Tour, or Hoppy Highlights), participants visit different spots in St. John’s and nearby Quidi Vidi. They are also holding a contest on Facebook, to win a day in the brewery with Mill Street St John’s Head Brewer Dan Boldrini.

The PEI Brewing Co. will be opening up a new location for pint purchases and growlers-to-go at the PEI Factory Shops at Cows Creamery. The Beer Station will basically act as an extended, miniature version of the brewery’s taproom on Kensington Rd., with six taps available (featuring five PEIBC core beers, and one rotating seasonal), and a small retail section with various clothing products available for purchase. Customers can enjoy a pint on-site, as well as several food items from a limited menu, and can pick up a variety of cans and bottles (as well as growler fills) to take home. Look for the Beer Station to open by the end of this month.

• Earlier this year, Central City Brewing in Surrey, BC, brewed up a collaboration beer with a brewery from each province. Each of the 12 beers has been brewed at Central City’s Surrey brewery specially for this collaboration and embodies the region they represent. A brewer/representative from each collaborating brewery joined the Central City brewers to brew the recipe that they helped design. These have been trickling out to the stores in each province, either at the provincial stores, or private shops. Highlighting the beers produced with our local breweries, with the full list available here:  Picaroons collaborated on Restored Hop(e) ESB, inspired by the province’s motto Spem reduxit, meaning “Hope is restored”. Garrison came in with “New” Scottish Ale, a lightly peated Scottish Ale. PEI Brewing Company brought together local ingredients for Bière d’ici Honey Ale, using PEI honey and Maritimes-grown hops, a lighter take on the Bière de Garde style. Quidi Vidi Brewing Company went German for Hop To The East Hefeweizen, with new tropical-aromatic hops, for a unique twist on this classic style. To celebrate the releases, they will be holding tasting events at each of the participating breweries during the second week of June: Monday June 12th at Quidi Vidi, Thursday June 15th at PEI Brewing Company, Friday June 16th at Picaroons, and Saturday June 17th at Garrison. Look for more details on these events in the coming weeks. And look for the 12-pack of beer at your local ANBL now, and coming some to the PEILCC and NLC. In Nova Scotia, while the NSLC will not be carrying it, Bishop’s Cellar will have it for sale in June.

Remember to check ahead if your local beer store or brewery is open for this long weekend. We suggest stocking up early and often, just to be sure…

• There are no solid details available as of publishing time, but we have it on pretty good authority that Stillwell‘s Beergarden will be opening this weekend. Before you start beating down their door, however, peep an eye to their Social Media page, as well as the Beergarden page on their site, the banner will proclaim the good news. As it is an outdoor spot, it is very weather-dependent.

• Saint John’s Grannan’s Seafood is holding a special tasting with Picaroons on Wednesday, May 24th. Featuring six courses paired with six Picaroons beers – hosted by Chef Johnny High and Picaroons’ Ian Covey – the opening reception starts at 6:30 pm, with dinner starting at 7:00. Tickets are $50 (+ tax and tip), and can be reserved by calling 506-634-1555.

Lion & Bright is holding a Cider Tap Takeover next Thursday, May 25th, from 6-10 pm. Six cider-makers (Annapolis Valley, Bulwark, Chainyard, Meander River, Planters Ridge, and Red Rover) will be pouring a total of  at least 12 different ciders; “fresh bar bites” will be available, with a live DJ providing your tunes. Early bird tickets are $15 each, and include eight 3 oz samples (additional drink tickets will be available at four for $8); during the first hour, and also allow you entry at 6 pm for a one hour meet and greet with representatives from each cider producer. If you don’t pre-purchase tickets, no worries! You can still drop by after 7 pm to buy drink tickets as you go.

• On Thursday, May 25th, the 85th Annual Apple Valley Blossom Festival will be holding Blossom Brew Night at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market from 5-9 pm. Your $25 ticket (buy now online; $35 if purchased at the door) includes a souvenir glass and your first six beer tickets, with more available for purchase at the event. A variety of local breweries, cideries, and distilleries will be pouring. Food will also be available for sale on-site.

• There are still tickets available for next weekend’s Atlantic Beer Festival, at the Moncton Coliseum. Friday, May 26th 7:30-10PM, and Saturday 2:30-5PM and 7:30-10PM. Your $55 ticket (only $45 for the Sat afternoon session) gets you unlimited sampling of 150 beer from 70 breweries across the Maritimes and beyond. Grab yours today.

Mill Street St. John’s is hosting their Spring Brewmaster’s Dinner May 31st at 6PM. They have invited Mill Street Ottawa’s Brewmaster Tim Hulley to join in the fun, and he will be bringing two new beers with him from the nation’s capital. Tickets are $69.99, and can be reserved by calling 709-383-7070.

• Moncton’s Tide & Boar got their hands on a bottle of this year’s Samuel Adams Utopias (the white whale 27% ABV beer), and they are holding a tasting of said beer on Saturday, June 10th at the brewpub. At 10:45 am, before the pub opens, they will be passing out 18 tickets (one ticket per person, first come, first served), which will entitle you to purchase a 1 oz pour of Utopias for $11. When the bottle is empty (which will be shortly after 11 am, when the T&B opens), all tickets will be entered in a draw; the winner will receive the bottle as a souvenir.

• Ticket’s for this year’s Halifax Seaport Beer Festival have gone on sale this morning, being held August 11 & 12. Featuring sessions Friday and Saturday 7-9:30PM and Saturday 2-4:30PM (with VIP tickets available for an extra hour before the event opens), there will be more than 300 products from around Atlantic Canada, and the rest of the world. Brewery details are a bit thin at the moment, but last year’s list should give you an idea on what to expect. The VIP sessions always sell out, so if you’re so inclined, grab those today! Add too a bonus $5 off the entry price if purchased before the end of May.

Looks like that’s “it”… have a great long weekend!

If you’ve been paying attention to the calendar, you know that Spring has arrived in Atlantic Canada. That said, if you’ve been paying attention to the actual weather, what with school closures twice this week in parts of the province and some bitter cold towards the end of the week, you may be considering taking a Caddyshack approach to the groundhog’s report next year. Embarrassingly stereotypical carping aside, the weather hasn’t stopped our region’s breweries from continuing to pound out tasty beers to soothe our chapped lips and frostbitten livers. We’re going to start this week’s report with news from the amateur side of brewing, where a couple of local homebrew competitions have announced their winners…

• This past Sunday afternoon, Bar Stillwell was taken over by the finale of the Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge 2017. Six finalists, whose beers had been previously selected by beer judges from a pool of 23 (of a possible 25) entries, showed up to make a case for why they should take home the coveted trophy this year. The presentations ranged from the straight-up and matter-of-fact to a brewday video, to a two-man sound effect-laden comedy sketch and a mandolin-soaked musical performance. In the end, and for the second year running, the trophy went to Halifax home brewer Brian Harvey (aka 1029 Brewing). His beer was a Orange peel-infused kettle-soured ale entitled Grafted. Also placing were Jayme Keddy and Gavin Stewart (aka Delta Force Brewing) with their Northeastern IPA, Bad Example for the Others in second place, and Steve Crane with a Bière de Garde he called Meteor that Killed the Dinosaurs in third. Rounding out the top six were Kelly Costello (of the Good Robot family), who’s been brewing a scant 21 weeks but who achieved the highest tasting score for her Belgian IPA Grand Mariner, the kilted Jason Currie and his Jeepers Peepers Springtime Stout in the rare Tropical Stout style, and Marc Perry and Dave Wamback of Shelburne, one of whom was brewing all-grain for the first time and the other who had never brewed before, with their Black IPA, Fish Cop Pop. As is traditional, the winner’s beer will be brewed at Boxing Rock’s production brewery and made available to the public; but if you were paying attention last year you know that the top three were all brewed and this year Boxing Rock President Henry Pedro suggested he was impressed enough that he may not stop at three! We’ll be sure to keep you appraised of releases of any and all Black Box Challenge 2017 brews here.

• In more homebrewing news, Garrison Brewing’s 2017 Home Brew-Off Gala was last night, and we have all of the results. This year’s style was Wee Heavy, and from more than forty entries, three rounds of judging, Fredericton homebrewer Roger Ringuette took home top honours. Second Place went to Mark Power, Third to Ashley Kinsman, and Runner-Up Steve Proulx, all scoring well in yesterday afternoon’s final round of blind judging. Roger will be brewing his recipe on Garrison’s brewhouse early next year, for release in March 2018.

• Last night also served as the launch of the 2016 Garrison Home Brew-Off winning Experimental IPAInfusion Confusion Chamomile IPA brewed by local home brewer Mark Power (yes, a finalist in this year’s competition as well!). Featuring Maritime Pale Ale malt, along with Honey, Munich, and Carapils malts to round out the grain bill, the 6.3% ABV beer uses Amarillo, Cascade, and Citra hops to achieve 50 IBUs. The mind-bending chamomile flowers were added during the brew-day, as well as conditioning (post-fermentation), to preserve the unique flavour and aromatic characteristics. It is available at the brewery retail shop in 650ml bottles today, with stock at the NSLC, and NLC,  in the near future.

• Rounding out the Garrison news are a pair of returning favourites: In Session ISA (India Session Ale) has returned to the lineup for the year. This 4.5% ABV beer is light in alcohol, but big in citrus and tropical fruit flavour with lots of late hopping from BelmaCrystal, and El Dorado, for 30 IBUs of bittering. Remember that the later hops are used in the brewing process, the less bitterness is achieved, but more aroma and flavour is kept. Grab a sixpack at the brewery today, or from your local NSLC in early April. Also returning is the Backlot Bash, Garrison’s epic all-evening concert event in the backlot of their production brewery. This year’s event is happening June 17th, and features headliners The Sheepdogs, with Port Cities, Garret Mason, and The Royal Volts, and is coinciding with Garrison’s 20th birthday. Onsite there will plenty of games, Food Trucks, and of course Garrison beer, plus local cider. The whole event is in support of the Ecology Action Centre, and Early-Bird Tickets are on sale now!

• Continuing with more from the world of homebrewing, last week we told you that HRM homebrew supply store Everwood Avenue Brewshop is moving to a new retail storefront and this week we’ve got more details to share with you. The new space is located at 731 Old Sackville Road in Lower Sackville and will be sporting regular retail hours six days a week, 10-6 on most days Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours into the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everwood owner Dave Gillette says the space is close to twice as large as his previous digs, an expansion he expects will help him increase the demographics served by the business as well as the product lines. Expect to see more beginner equipment (especially introductory kits), commercial kegs, stainless steel conicals in the range of 7 gallons to a full 1 barrel and, later in the year, the possibility of full-on turnkey brewing systems. Dave is hoping to open the doors on Tuesday, April 4th, so if you’re a homebrewer and especially a fan of Everwood, give a thought to heading out and saying hi to Dave in his new spot! And a quick note that Dave is still looking to hire a retail associate, be sure to reach out to him via email, phone, or social media to find out more.

And now for your regularly scheduled beer release news…

• Listen up, 2 Crows fans – there’s several new beers out/coming out from Halifax’s newest brewery, so let’s start plowing through! First up is Linnea, a “Finnish Imperial Stout” (history buffs may get that) weighing in at a heavy 9.1% ABV (and 62 IBUs). Aside from having the typical jet black appearance, thick mouthfeel, and plenty of roasted flavours seen in Imperial Stouts, some liquorice root, star anise, salt, and cardamom pods were added at flameout to mimic Salmiakki, a popular Finnish candy that is essentially very salty black liquorice. Linnea was tapped early this week as a very limited supply, so it may already be gone… but if not, grab some, quickly! Rumour has it a couple more small kegs may pop up at future events…

• Next up from 2 Crows is Fantacity, a dry-hopped Witbier. Described by the brewery as “citrusy, bright, juicy, and refreshing”, it was fermented cool with the Saison strain (grown up from a bottle of De Blaugies La Moneuse) used for the brewery’s Innisfree. With coriander and orange peel added at the end of the boil, and a heavy dry-hop addition of Citra, we probably don’t have to tell you what aromas and flavours to expect with this one! Highly quaffable at 5.1% ABV and 13 IBUs, this was brewed as a larger batch, so is available for pints and growlers at the brewery. Look for it to pop up at several bars in the HRM as well, if it hasn’t already.

• This coming weekend, 2 Crows will be releasing *another* new brew, Midnight Mood. Described as an American dry-hopped Porter, this 6.6% ABV, 39 IBUs beer is “roasty, dank, piney, and smooth”. Hopped with Bramling Cross, Chinook and Columbus, and then heavily dry-hopped with Simcoe, the pine and citrus from all those hops “helps brighten the roastiness” from the dark malts. A Brett-fermented version should be following sometime next week, one that was dry-hopped with Calypso and Citra, and that has an earthy, dry, and slightly funky flavour profile, “with an almost smokey character to it”. Be sure to get down to the brewery to give these beers a try! Also, keep your eyes on the 2 Crows social media – and this blog, of course – for more updates from the brewery, as they plan on releasing new pilot batches fairly regularly for the next while, including one keg of a “Sunflower Seed Brett Saison” that features a kilo of sunflower seeds that were home-malted by brewmaster Jeremy Taylor!

Meander River released a new beer late last week, and we’ve got the details for you now. Barn Swallow Farmhouse Ale was brewed entirely with Horton Ridge malt, a 70/30 mix of Pale and Munich. Mashed “long and slow” over a wide temperature range, the beer was fermented with a dry Belgian yeast strain, and then dry-hopped with Pacific Gem, a New Zealand variety. The result is a 5.5% ABV, dry, golden-coloured ale with fruit and spice in the aroma and taste, “alongside a mild-but-present hop character”. Look for it this weekend at the brewery and Forum Farmers Market.

Hammond River owner/brewer Shane Steeves may be away in sunny Cuba this week, but luckily for us he brewed up a new American IPA before he left us in the cold! Mount Carleton Grapefruit IPA was named after the highest summit in the Maritimes, and was fittingly hopped entirely with the Summit variety, bringing “citrus aromas of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit”. The beer also features the addition of freshly-zested grapefruit peel, to boost that characteristic even more. Coming in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs, it’s available at select HR accounts now.

• Fredericton’s Graystone has a new beer on tap to join their 10+ offerings brewed in-house – Lost Pale is being described as an American Pale Ale that is “light, easy-drinking, with some spicy notes”, thanks to the addition of Czech Saaz hops. Also hopped with Fuggles (no American varieties were used in this beer), it comes in 4.9% ABV and 50 IBUs; you can grab it on tap now at the brewery, and likely find it at a few establishments in the city.

• Since we spotted a tease about trial batches on their Instagram a month or so ago, we’ve been doing our best to get Lazy Bear Brewing to tell us about their latest brew. The time has finally come to give you the goods on Folly, a wild IPA expected to be available this coming week. Using a yeast from South Carolina wild yeast purveyors SouthYeast Labs, who also provided a different yeast strain for the Carolina Saison a few weeks back, this brew comes in at 6.2% ABV and a solid 54 IBU. The yeast provides some fruity characteristics, although more muted that those in the Carolina, and features Ontario-grown Perle and Wild Turkey in a generous dry-hop along with Nelson Sauvin. It’s got a fruity aroma, with elements of peaches, mangoes and berries complementing citrus notes from the hops. It’s hazy and deliciously fruity with a clean, refreshing finish. Look for the official announcement sometime next week on the brewery’s Instagram and/or Facebook pages. We’re told some kegs of this one might make their way to the city, but the only sure way to try it is to head down to the brewery and get it from the source! Brewmaster Erin also tells us they’ve got a third brew using a SouthYeast strain on the go right now, so look for news on that one in the coming weeks.

• In cider news this week, Annapolis Cider Company released the latest offering in their Something Different series yesterday. Toasted Oak & Maple began with their signature dry and cool-fermented cider that was then aged on French Oak and balanced with freshly-pressed juice from the Golden Russet and McIntosh varieties. A touch of Annapolis Valley-sourced maple syrup provided the finish, yielding a 7.9% ABV sparkling cider with notes of toasted oak, caramel and vanilla contrasting with tart apples and a hint of sweet maple on the finish. As always with the Something Different ciders, $0.50 from each refill will support a local cause, in this case the local Acadia University Chapter of Global Brigades, a student-led mobile health and dental initiative that provides annual clinics in Honduras.

• Making their debut at this month’s Fredericton Craft Beer Fest was the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective. The group of breweries and ciderhouses in southern New Brunswick is comprised of Acadie-BroueBeckwith RoadBore CityCeltic KnotFlying BoatsPump HouseScow Cider by Belliveau Orchard, and Tide & Boar Brewing. Their mission is to bring together the local craft brewing community, to support each other and elevate the support of local products. Look for them, and their members at next month’s Saint John Beerfest (April 8th) and Atlantic Beer Festival (May 27 & 28th). The Tide & Boar Gastropub will be the site of the MCBC’s Tap Takeover on April 22nd, featuring beer and cider from their members flowing all day.

• Great news for local beer fans on the South Shore of Nova Scotia! Currently located just outside of Bridgewater, FirkinStein Brewing has announced that they will be opening a satellite location on Bridgewater’s King Street. Aiming for a June opening, the second location will feature a 300 litre pilot system for more fun and experimental small batch brewing, *and* a storefront where folks can purchase bottles and growlers of their beer, and sit for a spell enjoying their selections on tap. We’ll keep you up-to-date with their progress as they aim for a late-spring opening.

• Propeller Brewing Company is hosting Brew Patriot Love, a Canada-wide toast on July 1st. They are encouraging breweries, and homebrewers, to brew up their take on a “quintessential Canadian lager”, and come together on Canada’s 150th birthday to release and share a bottle, can, pint, or glass (or all of the above). For those who want to partake, they are also holding the Great Canadian Lager Challenge, July 14-15, where a team of celebrity judges will choose the most Patriotic Beer and those beers with the best use of local and iconic ingredients. Check it out and sign up today!

• Planning and event details are trickling in for May’s Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week, May 5-14, and we can share that for the first time this year, the CBANS is releasing a special beer to celebrate. Collaboration Ale is an ode to the province’s roots, with an 80/- (Eighty Shilling) Scottish Ale being chosen to represent the more than thirty brewers who are members of CBANS. Brewed at Nine Locks, but with input from many members, the beer is a deep amber colour with caramel sweetness, weighing in at 4.7% ABV and 15 IBUs, and features malt from the province’s very own Horton Ridge Malt & Grain. The beer is pre-launching next Friday, March 31st, at Good Robot Brewing from noon. Drop by to get the first tastes of the beer before its full release, learn more about the full events list for NSCBW, and talk shop with brewers from across the province. Find out more here.

We’ve got lots of events coming in the next few weeks, be sure to check them out!

• Last month we mentioned an event at the Company House in Halifax that featured the beer of Tidehouse Brewing and a night of comedy. As it turns out, the folks at the Company House have been planning this as a regular event. Currently scheduled as a monthly thing, the event is known as Brew Ha-Ha and each time it will see a local brewery paired with comedians booked by Laugh House Comedy. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and entitle you to three 8oz tasters of beer from the featured brewery, a chocolate pairing from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and the comedy show. A designated driver ticket is also available at $10. The featured beers will be available at a discount price for the rest of the night and the pop-up kitchen will be in full effect with flatbreads, specialty tacos, shared plates and more. This month’s event will take place on Thursday, March 30th, and will feature the beers of North End stalwart Unfiltered Brewing along with the comedy stylings of Steve Mackie, Travis Lindsay and Frank Russo. Check out this post on the Brew Ha-Ha page for information on how to attend this months show for $15 if you buy your tickets before Sunday, March 26th. As additional Brew Ha-Ha events are scheduled we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the breweries (and comedians) involved.

• Charlottetown’s HopYard has really been nailing it with tap takeovers lately, and they’ve got another winner coming up soon! Next Friday, March 31st, they’ll be hosting Rose Valley’s BarNone Brewing, who will be pouring 8 of their beers, alongside Unfiltered‘s latest DIPA, Fist of God. The full list includes their Outback Blonde, Pale Ale, IPA, Citra Sessions, Black Eye P.A., RedEye P.A., La Vaca Loca, and Bitter Winter ESB. There will absolutely be a delightful food menu to pair with your beers, and as always, there’s no cost to attend, just pay by the beer/plate.

• In the HRM, Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing is holding a cross-harbour launch of the 2017 version of their award-winning Ra Ra Rasputin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout April 1st. There will be a whole slew of versions and variations of the beer, including a keg of the 2016 release, non-barrel-aged versions of 2017, plus casks of the non-barrel-aged beer with coffee, oak, or a variety of fruit. Starting at 11:30 at Battery Park on Ochterloney, and at noon at Stillwell on Barrington, with each getting at least one unique beer. Check out the event flyer here.

A few more beers have been released, or coming soon, this week:

– Good Robot is bringing back their Extra BIG-ASS Beer, their spin on a Marzen/Oktoberfest lager, with an amber colour, and light bitterness, from Perle and Willamette hops and fermented with an Oktoberfest lager yeast. Look for the re-release of this One-Off (Two-Off, we guess!) next week.
Grimross has added another beer to their canned lineup, Maritime Cream Ale (5% ABV), which joins their Maritime Pale Ale and recently-canned Pugnacious Porter.
Loyalist City‘s flagship Lupulus Interruptus IPA is back, with a slightly-tweaked recipe with even more hops (Cascade, Citra and Simcoe) than before! Look for it at your favourite LC accounts.
– PEI’s newest brewery, Moth Lane, has brewed up a new beer, a Red IPA named Eric the Red. Stay tuned for more details, soon.
– Halifax and Dartmouth’s North Brewing has released version 2.0 of White Lightning, their kettle sour, this time dry-hopped with Belma hops. Brewed in celebration of their super-hero neighbour Renee Lavallee’s The Canteen restaurant, the beer is available in bottles and growler fills on both sides of the harbour.
Pump House has brought back their Best Friend Marzen, which is available now in sixers at ANBL stores across New Brunswick.
Spindrift Blueberry Chai Pils is now available at the brewery, and will see a wider release to the other retail stores in early April.
Unfiltered has brought back their Riddle of Steel, a juicy West Coast-style IPA fermented on Conan yeast.
– Don’t forget that Upstreet will be releasing Go Devil, their American IPA, next Thursday, with a special launch party scheduled at the brewery from 6-8 pm. For more info on the beer, check out our post from a couple weeks ago.

Welcome to the weekend, and it’s looking like a nice one! The start of summer doesn’t appear to have slowed down local beer news in any respect, so let’s get to it…

• Attention Central Newfoundland beer fans, there’s a new brewery scheduled to land in your region very soon! The brainchild of three avid homebrewing pilots, Scudrunner Brewing will be opening soon in Gander. Looking to bring well-made beer to their home base, they will be focusing on brewing flavourful and interesting styles for the local community on a 6hl system. Follow along on their progress on their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages, as they work towards opening before the end of the year.

• Downeast Beer Factory, located at 612 Windmill Rd in Dartmouth, will be launching their house-brewed beers this weekend. While their restaurant and bar have been open for a month and a half, their 18 hl brewhouse took a little bit longer to get up and running. Drop by tomorrow from 11am to grab a pint or growler of their 4.5% ABV Fiddler’s Irish Red Ale, or 6.0% ABV Game Changer IPA. In celebration, Downeast will be donating $5.00 from every bill to the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Mill Street Brewpub’s new St John’s location held their Grand Opening this week, and launched the first of their beers produced onsite. Brewed on a state-of-the-art 10 hl Caspary system, Longshore Porter is the first Mill Street beer produced on the island. Weighing in at 4.8% ABV, this dark amber brew features strong caramel notes from the Carafa and Munich malts (on top of a Pale base), with a balancing bitterness from Clear Valley Hops Cascade and Chinook to 35 IBUs. Burton Ale yeast was used for the fermentation, for a light fruity ester profile and good attenuation, and a dry finish. Their second beer is conditioning now, and will be available late next week. Capelin Session IPA features Cascade, Chinook, and Pacific Gem in the boil, along with lots of Cascade and Mosaic hops added after fermentation. Named after the Capelin fish that can be caught as they swim into shallow water, this Session IPA is the perfect refreshment while waiting for the day’s catch, due to the low ABV despite layers of hops (for about 50 IBUs). The house-brewed beers join the dozen other Mill Street products on tap, a rotating list of which can be purchased to go in growlers. They join the 130+ beers available at the adjacent Bier Markt location.

• Fredericton, your wait is over… Gray Stone Brewing has officially announced the opening date for their brewery/taproom! Next Friday, July 1st, the 10 BBL (~11.5 hL) brewery will open the doors at their 221 King St. location downtown, starting at 11 am and continuing until midnight. Featuring a brewing team of four local brewers (Ian DeMerchant, Mark Budd, Steve Christie, and Ryan Placktis), Gray Stone will be launching with two beers: Patagonia Pale Ale, a light-to-medium-bodied APA with a “bold tropical flavour and aroma”, 5% ABV and 160 theoretical IBUs; and Black IPA, strongly hopped, with “mild roasted malt character and pine/citrus flavours”, and clocking in at 5% ABV and 127 IBUs. The taproom will feature 24 taps; in addition to Gray Stone brews, many other New Brunswick beers will be showcased on a rotating basis. The Canada Day opening will feature plenty of beer, food, and games as a kick-off to summer! After the launch, their regular hours will be Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-12am, and Sunday 12pm-7pm. They will be filling growlers in the future; details are still TBA.

Boxing Rock has released the third beer from their first homebrew competition, the Black Box Challenge. Hop Springs Eternal, a White IPA, was the first runner-up in the comp, brewed by local homebrewers Mark Reid and Sean Ebert. With a malt bill comprised of over 30% Wheat, and “hopped generously” with Columbus, Cascade, Willamette, and Pacifica, expect plenty of fruity, citrusy character in the aroma and flavour. Fermented with “an obscure yeast strain”, the beer weighs in at 5.4% ABV. You can find it at the brewery, at select tap accounts and all four private liquor stores in Halifax, and in growlers at the Halifax Seaport Market and Alderney Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. And in other Boxing Rock news, they’ve also re-released their Professor McDougall’s Oban Heather Scottish Ale, brewed in collaboration with local homebrewer Jason McDougall, and Bottle Blonde, a Blonde ale featuring a healthy dose of rye malt in the grain bill. Look for more details on all three beers at BR’s blog.

TrailWay has released a new Pale Ale, Summit APA. Hopped entirely with the Summit variety, this 4.7% ABV, light-coloured beer has characteristics of garlic and onion in the aroma and flavour, as is typical for this particular hop. Joining it is a fresh batch of their Primetime APA; both beers can now be enjoyed in the hot sun on their newly-opened patio, or purchased in growlers to go. As usual, food trucks will be serving up delicious treats at the taproom location both today and tomorrow.

Schoolhouse Brewery has announced a major expansion, including a move to 40 Water St. in downtown Windsor, where they will be brewing on a repurposed10 BBL, copper brew house. The new location will feature a retail space and taproom with a patio; with 6 taps dedicated to Schoolhouse beers, and another six to other Nova Scotia craft breweries, the local beer selection in Windsor will definitely see a bump! Renovations are planned to start on July 1st, with brewing commencing hopefully by early November. Plans are for the retail store to open in December, with the taproom following next Spring. Congratulations to the Schoolhouse family, and as always, we’ll keep you updated on their progress! In the meantime, they have announced that their beers are now available on tap at Saint-Famille Wines in Falmouth.

• Petit-Pacquetville’s Distillerie Fils du Roy has launched a pair of new beers recently. Late last week, they launched Lady Chaga, an Acadian Pale Ale (inspired by the English IPA style), featuring the locally-harvested Chaga mushroom. Described by Fils du Roy as being very hoppy and bitter, with notes of citrus and a nutty finish, this amber-coloured beer clocks in at 7% ABV and ~60 IBUs. This beer is available exclusively at La Brokerie, a bar in Caraquet, though there may be a keg available elsewhere very soon (coughJamesJoycecough). In addition, this week saw the launch of Gougou, a cranberry-infused beer. This 7% ABV Fruit Beer was inspired by the writings of Samuel de Champlain, who spoke of the Gougou, a monster who would terrorize the native inhabitants of the Baie des Chaleurs. This special brew is only available at La Terrasse à Steve, a seafood restaurant on Miscou Island. Finally, look for the return of La Messe Blanche, their 7% ABV Weizenbock, which was bottled earlier this week.

Propeller has released the latest beer in their One Hit Wonder series – June Bock. A Maibock (aka Helles Bock), this style is a pale-coloured, malty, strong German Lager. Propeller’s take on this classic style features Two Row, Pilsener, Wheat, Munich malts, and is hopped solely with Hallertauer. The resultant beer is 6.8% ABV and 35 IBUs, and features a moderate bitterness, slight floral hop flavour, and a bright golden colour, according to the brewery. As always, it’s available in a limited supply, so get down to either Prop Shop location to fill your growlers ASAP! It will also likely pop up on tap at a few select locations in Halifax, shortly.

Tatamagouche Brewing just released a new SMaSH (single-malt and single-hop) beer, Horton Ridge SMaSH. With a grist made up entirely of Horton Ridge Pale Malt, the 5.4% ABV beer was hopped with Amarillo, a crowd-favourite variety that’s big on grapefruit and citrus. Available at the brewery for growler fills now, and should be following on tap at better beer bars and restaurants any day now.

• Now that the new Authentic Seacoast Distillery and Brewery facility has officially opened at 75 Ferry Lane in Guysborough, we have some more information to share: they have christened their new 35 hl brewhouse, so expect to see product from the new system hitting shelves in the next month or so. The brewhouse will also be creating the mash for their line of GLYNNEVAN whisky. Hours of operation for their tasting room are 11am-6pm daily, with tours running at 2pm throughout the summer.

• Petit-Sault has welcomed a new brewer for the summer – Andrew ‘Esty’ Estabrooks, former brewmaster at Picaroons, will be brewing at the Edmundston brewery over the next couple of months, to help with the transition on the recently-expanded brewery and taproom… which means, more Petit-Sault beer! Speaking of, their beers are now heading to Nova Scotia for the first time, with their Amber Ale, Louis XVII, having the honour of being the first brand! Look for it at NSLC stores across the province shortly.

Lazy Bear Brewing has confirmed that they will be opening their retail location on Thursday, June 30th, from 5-8 pm. Located at 120 West Old Post Rd in Smiths Cove, NS, this will be a “soft opening”, with current plans being to open every Thursday thereafter. Growlers (1 L swing-top) will be available for purchase, and both of their first-release beers will be pouring; of course, they will happily fill clean growlers from other breweries as well! They will also be attending the CD release show for Ramshackle & Scarecrow at the Sissiboo Coffee Bar in Smiths Cove July 2nd, pouring their beer. They are now available in Halifax at the Lord Nelson’s The Arms Public House, and will be on tap at East of Grafton on Argyle when they open June 29th. In the meantime, check out their updated website (link above) for some details on the family behind the beers!

• A for Adventure is holding a contest to raise awareness of the Rogues Roost wilderness area in Nova Scotia. Check out the video, and plan to make a visit this summer. The prize pack is a kayak adventure including lunch from PEI Brewing (including some Rogues Roost IPA), $100 MEC gift card, all guided by the A for Adventure crew.

• Big Spruce and Boxing Rock brewed up a pilot batch of a new Blonde recently, and it is available in Nyanza now. Wigged Out is a 5.0% ABV blonde ale, featuring late addition Cascade hops for a low bitterness, but aromatic character, for an extremely quaffable beer. It is only available on tap at their tasting room this weekend, so be sure to drop by for some, and grab some food from Cruisin’ Cuisine food truck, who are there 12-7pm daily Fri-Sun.

We’ve got a bit on events in the next couple of weeks, including some Canada Day celebrations.

• A couple of final reminders for this weekend: tonight and tomorrow, Upstreet will be celebrating their first birthday with some special parties and an anniversary beer release; check out our previous post for more details. And in Fredericton tomorrow, Maybee Brewing is holding their Grand Opening Party from 6-11 pm, to celebrate the opening of their taproom.

• The second annual Canada Day Bash at the Lighthouse, hosted by the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, will take place at the Lighthouse on the Green from 8pm-11pm. Tickets are $55 each and on sale now, and will get you fourteen 4-oz samples from local breweries TrailWay, Maybee, Red Rover, and Sunset Heights Meadery, as well as a variety of food options served up from the Food at the Crowne. And, of course, you’ll have a prime spot to watch the fireworks when they start after it gets dark!

• The Townhouse Pub in Antigonish is celebrating their 4th Anniversary next weekend. They’ll be releasing the details of the party and events shortly, check their Twitter and Facebook feeds for more details.

Wayfarers’ Ale in Port Williams expects to be opening their doors next weekend as well. Details are slim at the moment, but we’ll share them when we have them!

And a few more things of note this week:
Red Rover has re-released Tinderbox, a 7% ABV cider featuring the addition of bourbon and oak; it’s currently on tap at both the Cider House and James Joyce.
Grimross has launched “Phase One” of a series of expansions; they appear to be embiggening their taproom and retail space currently, and promise that canning of their beers will be commence in the near future.

Good morning, beer fans! After the beer news overload we experienced last week, things have slowed down a bit… maybe the snow and colder weather has something to do with it? Either way, there’s still some news to share for this week!

• Hammond River has a couple of new beers in their pipeline… first up is a revamp of one of their first flagship brews, Hop Flash IPA. Brewer Shane Steeves simplified the grain bill to contain 2-row as the base malt, plus some CaraRed (the original beer also had Munich and Melanoidin malt in the grist). The hops have changed slightly: Warrior is used for bittering, with Chinook, Cascade and Centennial added during the boil for flavour, and Amarillo in the dry-hop (as opposed to Cascade in version 1). It still comes in at 66 IBUs and 6.6% ABV, but as Steeves explains, “The goal is to show how a different grain bill and slightly different hop profile can affect the taste profile of a beer”. Look for Hop Flash 2 to appear within a few weeks. HR will also be brewing a new beer soon, inspired by several Nut Brown Ales that Steeves brewed in his homebrewing days. This one is being categorized as a “Nut Red” Ale (“a cross between an American Amber and Irish Red”, says Steeves), with “lots of toasty, biscuity, and nutty flavours”. The recipe is still being hashed out, but we can expect it to come in at approximately 5.5% ABV. Finally, their Imperial Vanilla Porter is available once again at most HR accounts, with a lucky two (James Joyce and the Barrel’s Head) receiving the 9.2% ABV Bourbon version!

Sea Level has just released their first Belgian-style beer, a Farmhouse Ale named New Moon. Fermented with a Belgian yeast strain to give the beer some spicy phenolics and fruity esters, there was also some Chinese rock sugar and dried orange peel added in the fermentor, with more orange peel added in the brite tank for further conditioning. A strong beer at 9% ABV, it is currently available in cans at the brewery retail store, and should also be at Harvest Wines & Spirits and Bishop’s Cellar today. Look for it to also pop up on tap at select accounts.

Last Friday, we hinted at a big announcement coming from Red Rover, and they confirmed earlier this week that one of their goals has finally been reached! As of Tuesday, 750 mL bottles of their ciders are now available for sale at select ANBL stores. The initial launch includes their Spring, Fall, and Fire ciders, which are available at all four Fredericton ANBL locations, with most stores in Saint John following shortly, along with Dieppe (Regis St.); check online for updates on stock and locations. We can likely expect new seasonal releases to hit stores as well. RR’s Adam Clawson had this to say about the announcement: “We are really excited; it is a major milestone in creating a craft cider industry in New Brunswick. We would really like to thank all of our customers for their continued support, as this will now enable Red Rover to reach people unable to get to our farmers market and The Ciderhouse.”

• While we’re on the topic of new, local releases at the ANBL, both Railcar and Maybee Brewing announced this week that some of their beers should be on shelves very soon. Railcar’s first beers will be their Artisan Brown and Café Buzz Porter; both will be available in 500 mL bottles, and should be for sale by this weekend. Look for Railcar Red to follow in another two weeks. The Perth-Andover and Woodstock stores will likely be stocked first, with stores between Grand Falls and Fredericton hopefully following in the near future before further expansion to Saint John and Moncton by summer. Maybee Brewing will start off with their Work Horse IPA (one of their first two flagship beers), which will be available in 500 mL cans sometime next week. As above, be sure to check online for exact info on stock and locations. While not showing up at publishing time, check out these links for the ANBL’s current inventory of Railcar and Maybee beers.

• Tickets are now on sale for the Fredericton Poutine Festival on Saturday, April 2nd. This is the first time the event has been scheduled outside of the fall season, but after the continuing popularity of recent festivals, it was decided to have another one! April’s event will be very familiar to the most recent one on November 21st: it will take place at the Crowne Plaza, and will feature three different sessions, two of which offer various ticket options for anywhere from 4 to 16 beer tickets for 4-oz samples of a selection of over 20 local craft beer. And, of course, unlimited samples of approximately 15 different types of poutine, even more than last time! The brewery list is still being finalized, but this year’s festival will feature a majority of breweries located in Fredericton. Check out the ticket link for more details, and be sure to buy yours quickly – previous events have sold out quickly, and more than 40% of tickets have already been sold since going on sale yesterday morning at 11 am!

Boxing Rock has released details on the Black Box Challenge, their first homebrew competition… with a twist. After paying a $45+HST entry fee, entrants will pick up their Black Box, which contains eight different malts, five hop varieties, and two yeast strains. Using any or all of these ingredients, you can brew any style that you want (under 9% ABV)… but you can’t use any outside ingredients (well, except water of course!). Each Black Box is identical, and contains enough ingredients to brew a 1-gallon test batch and two 5-gallon batches (depending on the style). Only one entry per person, and the number of entrants is being limited to twenty (you can register and pay online). Judging will take place at Stillwell on Sunday, March 6th; all entrants are required to make a short (<5 min) presentation on their entry for judges, highlighting their recipe planning, the brewday, and your final product. That presentation, along with the beer, will be judged, and the winning entry and brewer will be invited to scale up their recipe at Boxing Rock in Shelburne. The beer will be released in time for Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week in May. Half of the entry fees and proceeds from the full-scale batch will be donated to the Shelburne Loyalist Food Bank. Sign up today (there are only a few boxes left!) and pick up your Box from Stillwell starting Jan 23rd. Good luck!

• We’ve spotted several other new beers in the wild this week, but haven’t been able to gather too much information for you just yet. Rest assured, we’re on the case! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the newest beers from Hell Bay (the return of their very popular R.I.P. (A), their 7.3%, 120 IBU, IPA), Meander River (Cold Porridge Oatmeal Stout), and a pair of new German-inspired beers from Paddys Irish Brewpub (Decem-beer Bock coming in at 6.1% and 15 IBUs, and a 6.8% Weizenbock).

Don’t forget to pick up a growler or pint of Spindrift‘s The Abyss Schwarzbier, being released today (with a special coffee-infused cask debuting last night at the Craft Beer and Local Food event). Check out the fun as Upstreet visits Halifax this weekend, with tickets for their Sunday Beer Pairing Luncheon at Stubborn Goat now on sale. And grab a pint of Johnny Jacks’ latest creation, Showshoe Winter Ale, at Sour Grape Cafe, and now on tap at the James Joyce. Brasseurs du Petit-Sault have re-brewed their Canon Franchetti Cappuccino Stout, and it should be available by mid-February; this batch is also going to be bottled this time around. And look for a trio of AlphaBrews (large scale Experimental batches) from the mind of Good Robot Brewmaster Doug Kehoe: their “Märzen“, a traditional Festbier with a cherrywood-smoked malt twist; a “Saison“, with a chewy plum spice character; and v3.0 of Burban Legend APA, dry-hopped with El Dorado for a citrus and watermelon aroma.