Boxing Rock Brewing

All posts tagged Boxing Rock Brewing

 

We’re late today because we’ve got lives and jobs and one of us has all of that and a brewery. And then our regional beer purveyors go and have a busy week. The nerve!! Lots to tell you about in the region today, so let’s not belabor introductions and get straight to it!

• We kick off this week’s post with news of a brand new brewery in Bathurst, New Brunswick. Opening late last week, Four Rivers Brewing is the first large-scale brewery (15 BBL/1800 litre) and taproom to open in the region, capitalizing on the region’s residents’ thirst for well-made, fresh, local beer. We’ll have a full profile with the Four Rivers folks shortly, but in the meantime we can tell you that their taproom is open for samples, pints, and growler fills of their beer, plus glassware and other merchandise, 12 – 6 PM Mon-Wed, 12 – 8 PM Thurs and Fri, 10 AM – 8 PM Sat, closed Sun. As for what you can expect when onsite, they are currently pouring Havre St-Pierre American Amber Ale and Nor’Easter American Pale Ale, with a Black IPA/India Black Ale debuting in the coming weeks. Keg sales are planned for sometime next month, which means the only place you’ll find Four Rivers’ beer is at Four Rivers, so be sure to drop by their spot at 335 Murray Avenue. Keep an eye on their FB and Insta accounts for more details, and keep your eyes locked here for the Q&A with them soon. Congratulations!

• If you head 585 km East Northeast of Bathurst, you’ll reach Corner Brook, Newfoundland, home to the other new brewery opening their doors this week. Located at 92 West Street, the brewery and taproom for Bootleg Brew Co is opening today at 2 PM, open until midnight (with the same hours Saturday and Sunday). While there, you’ll be able to enjoy samples and pints of their first four beer offerings: East Coast Pale Ale (5.5%/25 IBU), Hoppy Roger IPA (6.5%/61 IBU), El Diablo Rojo Amber Rye (6.3%/18 IBU), and Just the Tip Spruce Ale (5.8%/23 IBU). With room for more about 30 patrons in the small location, we imagine it will be blocked, given the enthusiasm for great beer the west coast of the province is seeing. To ensure the taproom is always stocked, they are concentrating on samples and pint sales for the time being, with beer-to-go in the coming weeks. But with local art by Nolan Short hanging in the space (also for sale), and a chill and rustic, yet modern, vibe, you won’t mind sticking around for a spell to try them all (at least once). Keep an eye on their social media (FB/IG/Tw) as they announce their hours for next week, as well as add food options to the taproom. Congratulations to Matt and Morgan on the launch, and we’re excited to have a full Q&A with them soon. ps. Flights from Bathurst to Corner Brook’s closest airport, Deer Lake, are currently $600. If you send us proof that you made the trip, we’ll buy your first beer at both taprooms!

• And in more new/coming soon brewery news, the initial beer release from CAVOK Brewing is debuting this weekend across New Brunswick. Brewed at another facility while they set up their own brewery and taproom in Dieppe, the Leger Corner Honey Ale has been kegged and delivered to Moncton’s Tide & Boar Gastropub and Pump House Fill Station on Mill Road, with Fredericton’s James Joyce and a few others over the next few weeks. They’ve also managed to can a portion of the batch in tall boy cans, destined for the shelves of the ANBL shortly (check that link for availability). Leger Corner is Dieppe’s original name, before being changed to commemorate the soldiers of the Dieppe Raid. The 4.8% ABV beer features wildflower honey (Atlantic Gold) from local producer Lockhart Apiaries. Look for CAVOK to open their facility later this year, and keep up to date on their social media (FB/IG/Tw) for the latest news!

• After a brief hiatus (you drank them dry!), Bedford’s brand new Off Track Brewing is re-opening their taproom for sample, pints, and growler sales today. Back on tap are their  Alias Pale Ale, Crash Course and Hooved a Doo IPAs, the Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Porter, Good Grief Charlie Brown, and the debut of Universal Soldier, a 4.2% Kolsch. First fermented at Ale temperature (17-18 Celsius) for two weeks, the beer then conditioned cool (5 Celsius) for four weeks, resulting in a straw-coloured beer that is clean and refreshing, with a nice mouthfeel. They are also bringing in reinforcements to fill up the taps, with a rotating cider tap (now populated with Chain Yard Foundation), with the other two guests being Lunn’s Mill‘s Anvil Porter (which will then switch to Brickyard Red) and Ol Biddy’s Funktown APA. Open this weekend (today 2 – 10 PM, Saturday 12 – 10 PM, and Sunday 12 – 6 PM), their hours for the week will be posted on social media (FB/IG/Tw) and are dependent on being able to serve you beer.

• We’ve got some news about two new beers available/soon to be available from Lazy Bear Brewing, out of Smiths Cove, NS. First up is a big beer, a Russian Imperial Stout named Avos’, after the Russian word meaning “blind trust in sheer luck” (we’ll take their word on that). A favourite style for sipping in front of a fire on a cold winter night, it clocks in at 8.9% ABV and has “intense chocolate and roast malt notes up front and on the nose”, with flavours of anise, stone fruit, and some alcohol warmth going down, according to the brewery. This medium-to-full bodied brew is available now in bottles around Smiths Cove, and may be heading in keg-form to Halifax in the near future.

• Next up from Lazy Bear is a currently-unnamed Saison featuring wild cherries. The beer started with their House Saison, to which cherries they foraged for one morning back in July were added. After aging for a few months, more Saison was blended in to achieve the desired colour and flavour. The final ABV came in at 5.9% and though the IBUs are unknown, they are assuredly quite low. This beer will make its debut (and likely it’s swan song, only 40 L were produced) at the South West Nova Craft Beer Tasting at Roof Hound this coming Tuesday. And we’ve been advised to be on the lookout for some more limited releases from Lazy Bear in the coming weeks and months.

• Downtown Halifax’s Tidehouse has a new one brewed to commemorate tonight’s opening of the annual PRE-SHRUNK art show at Argyle Fine Art. Featuring over 300 small works of art (just 4” x 5”), nanobrewery Tidehouse, who are also supporters of the arts, seemed a great match for the event. Argyle Fine Ale is a Pale Ale brewed with both Amarillo and Cascade hops along with spruce tips. It tips the scales at 5.8% ABV and features a “snap” of spruce buttressed by citrus hop notes and then yielding to a malty finish with a soft bitterness. You’ll find it at the Tiny Tasty Beverage Room both on tap and in 650 mL bottles with labels designed by Jodie Hansen that incorporate art by Andy McDonald.

• It’s hard to believe, but it’s only been about a year since 2 Crows Brewing opened their doors in Halifax. Since then, they’ve released upwards of 60 different beers – several of which have been collaborations with other breweries, podcasts, and sexy blog writers – and consistently pushed the envelope in the craft beer scene. They’re celebrating next weekend, and on Saturday, January 27th will be selling six special anniversary beers, five of which are brand new. And here they are!
Forever Young – We talked about this beer last week, but as a refresher, it’s an 8.5% ABV “Foedre-aged Brett Saison” conditioned on rosehips and rosewater
Panhandle Slim – Brewed with plenty of oats, spelt, wheat, and rye, this “Foedre-aged multigrain Farmhouse Grisette” spent four months in the brewery’s cognac foedre, and is described as “super dry, earthy, lightly funky, and refreshing”; 4.9% ABV, 17 IBUs.
Magic Touch – Yet another foedre-aged beer, this Golden Ale was fermented with Brett C to give “subtle pineapple and wine-like flavours”, and was dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Centennial to give even more white-wine characteristics.
Sounds pretty delightful! All three of these beers will be available on tap and in cans, and were big batches so there should be plenty to go around. The next three beers, however, are very limited, at only 400 cans each, at the brewery only. Aaaand… all three were can-conditioned!
Bingo Bango (4.1% ABV, 1 IBU) – Blackberry and bay leaf Brett Gose
House Funk (7.7% ABV, 29 IBUs) – Brett Saison
Dynamo (5.1% ABV, 28 IBUs) – Rustic Saison with grapefruit
Pushing the envelope, indeed! Be sure to drop by the brewery next Saturday, or you’re probably going to miss out! There’ll likely be some sort of pop-up food option to keep your stomach happy while you try all of those beers, and some live music to bob your head to at the same time (which has been scientifically guaranteed, we think, to burn significant* calories).

*Significance is relative.

• And really, you may as well stay close by that evening, as 2 Crows will be continuing their celebrations with Sour Sunday the next day (28th), with a whole whack of one-off sour beers, a few Brett beers, and quite possible a tap of cold-brewed coffee to start your day off right.

• And leaving the Halifax Downtown core for the city’s North End, Robie Street’s Good Robot Brewing has news for us this week, as they almost always do. First, from their big batch Alpha system, is the return of Tom Waits for No One, the auspiciously named stout that sits somewhere between the American and a Russian Imperial styles at 7.9% ABV and 58 IBU. Moving from big to little, but only in terms of batch size, this week’s BetaBrew was actually brewed late last year when Kelly Costello was joined by Alicia MacDonald, who is making waves at Newfoundland’s Port Rexton Brewing, and Christina M. Coady, formerly of Toronto’s Folly Brewpub, now back in St. John’s and plotting some hometown waves of her own. Their brewday resulted in what they’re calling an “Alsatian Lager”, where German malts (Pilsner and Vienna), French hops (Strisselspalt) and Bavarian Lager yeast came together to make a beer they’re calling Crispi Boi. A little bit of flaked oats rounded out the recipe, bringing a touch of smoothness and haze. Lagered over the holidays, it finished up at 4.5% ABV and 33 IBU and this coming Tuesday, January 23rd will see its Beta Brewsday release. And after such a tale of girl power killing it in the brewhouse it seems like an excellent time to also remind folks that registration is still open until February 1st for GR’s FemmeBot Home-brew Competition. The competition is open to female and femme-identifying non-professional brewers with the constraint of pre-prohibition styles.

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing released a new beer earlier this week, aptly-named Hangover Helper. No, there’s no medication or tomato juice in this beer, it’s just a straight-up American IPA, hopped with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Amarillo, all wonderful and delicious American varieties. Most of you will be familiar with all four, and likely can already picture in your head how the beer will taste (we’re thinking lots of tropical fruit, along with dank, piney notes). It weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 40 IBUs, and can likely be found at your favourite Backstage beer source… especially the brewery itself!

• Less than three years after opening their brewery, the team at Charlottetown’s Upstreet Craft Brewing has announced that they will be opening a new retail location downtown at the corner of Great George and Kent Streets. Bottled beer and growlers will be available for sale, with a total of 24 taps for pints on-site, featuring a mix of Upstreet beers and other breweries on the Island. They’ll be hiring between 5-10 employees for the new location, which should be open by March. For more info, check out the full story in the Guardian.

Sober Island Brewing has released the third in their Foraged Series of beers this week, with Wintergreen Cocoa Porter hitting the taps as of yesterday. Featuring 46% Horton Ridge malt (both Pale and Munich) along with a wide variety of character malts, including Brown malt, Chocolate malt and Oat malt, it was hopped with Magnum, Willamette and East Kent Goldings. The foraged ingredient this time around was Wintergreen (courtesy of East Coast Wild Foods), a medicinal herb known for its minty aroma and flavour, with 5 pounds added in the last 10 minutes of the boil. Cocoa nibs finished the recipe, added after fermentation was largely complete (at the “dry hop” stage) but before conditioning in the brite tanks. Only 600 L of this beer are available, and in crowlers only, available at the brewery and Sober Island’s three regular farmers market stops: Musquodoboit Harbour, New Glasgow, and Truro.

• And another brewery is starting up a beer series this week, this time it’s Dartmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing. Geared to provide head brewmaster Jake Saunders an opportunity to step outside the core brands and try new things, the Signature Series will boast the same high quality Nine Locks fans are accustomed to while traveling a little further afield in terms of styles. One key element is that each and every beer in the series is intended as a one-time release; so if one strikes your fancy you’d best act quickly, as there’s no telling how long it will last or if it will ever be seen again. The first beer in the series is One Foot on the Wagon, a Session IPA. Very light in weight at 4.2% ABV (have two!), it still sports a solid 40 IBU but is not overwhelmingly bitter. Hopped with generous amounts of Amarillo and Ahtanum hops, both in the whirlpool and dry hop, you can expect to taste citrus, stone fruit, and floral notes. It’s available now in cans and for growler fills at the brewery.

• In New Brunswick, Fredericton’s haven for hop heads, Trailway Brewing has yet another lupulin-packed present for their fans. Ida Hoy was designed to showcase a fairly new hop variety called Idaho 7, first released to a broad market in 2015. Bright and pungent, with tropical fruit and citrus prominent, and more subtle aspects of resiny pine and black tea, it brings a massive tropical juice presence to this beer. No coloured malts at all were present in the grain bill, but the oats were pumped up to unheard of levels at 30%, which yields a pale straw-yellow beer with a very creamy mouthfeel. Available as of noon today in cans at the brewery only, get it before it’s gone!

• It’s been a busy week for the guys from 902 BrewCast, who kicked off #902sday with their conversation with Peter Cole of Big Axe Brewery in Nackawic, NB. Learning about Big Axe’s start, their award-winning beers, their great Big Axe Craft Beer Festival (this year’s event is July 14th, 2018), and all about their on-going expansion. And just dropping this morning, the boys sat down with the Honourable Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia, to talk about the current beer scene, and steps that can (and will) be taken to improve the plight of Nova Scotian breweries. Both episodes can be played on the website, or downloaded for offline commuting. Listen in!

There are quite a few events worth checking out this weekend and beyond, no matter where you find yourself in the region:

Your friends (and ours) at Stillwell Beer Bar in Halifax have achieved another coup, tomorrow at their noon opening you will find no less than 5 taps from Dexter, Michigan brewery Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, one of the breweries responsible for pioneering Belgian-influenced American Farmhouse styles. Confirmed for this draft feature are the Calabaza Blanca oak-aged witbier, the Oro de Calabaza oak-aged sour golden ale, Bam Bière dry-hopped farmhouse, Madrugada Obscura sour stout and Fuego del Otono, a sour amber ale brewed with chestnuts and spices that was brewed in collaboration with Monkish Brewing Co. in Los Angeles. As always, the kitchen will be pushing out tasty treats dreamed up specifically for the event. So if you’re into that kind of thing (and, if you’re reading this you very well might be), get thee to Stilly after 12 noon tomorrow!

• Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub, since building a new keg fridge three years ago, has greatly expanded the availability of craft beer in the city, and introduced and educated many to the world of well-brewed beer. So, if you’re in the Fredericton area this weekend, why not drop by the pub on Saturday, January 20th at 8 PM to celebrate the 3rd Birthday Party of the keg fridge? As always, there will be over 30 taps of New Brunswick-brewed beer a-flowing, and happy hour prices will be on all evening. Plus…cake! No cost to attend of course, just pay by the pint or flight, and raise a glass to one of the province’s finest craft beer establishments!

• The Fredericton Ladies Beer Connection is celebrating their upcoming 1st Anniversary with a Social at Picaroons next Wednesday, January 24th, from 6:30-8 pm. If you’d like to attend, RSVP to freddyladiesbeerconnection@gmail.com to hold your spot; $10 gets your a flight of beer. Of course, you’re more than welcome to hang out afterwards for more beer! Picaroons has released their Pivot #11, with this batch of 8% ABV Imperial IPA hopped with Lemondrop, Zeus (aka Columbus) and Warrior.

• Digby’s Roof Hound is taking over the taps at Dartmouth’s Battery Park next Thursday, January 25th. From 11:30, all 15 taps will be flowing with plenty of their current favourites like Big Stink IPA and Big Brown Roof Hound, and we bet there will be a few special kegs debuting/returning for the big event.

• The latest screening of the feature documentary about the craft brewing industry in New Brunswick, Beerocracy will take place Thursday, February 15th at 6 PM at the Tide & Boar Gastropub in Moncton. Those who backed the film by donating on Indiegogo at the VIP level or higher will have their first drink covered by the organizers. If you’re planning to attend, they ask that you let them know via the event’s Facebook page.

And before we let you go, a few more quick mentions:

– Over the course of 2017 we reported on several events that saw Shelburne’s Boxing Rock paired up with the Friends of Keji Cooperating Association. The brewery brewed a beer that was featured at many of these events, called Dark as Keji, from which a portion of the proceeds were earmarked for the Friends of Keji and specifically their Dark Sky education programs. At year end, in recognition of that commitment, Boxing Rock co-owners Henry Pedro and Emily Tipton were able to present a cheque for over $7,000 to the organization! Look for this partnership to continue into 2018, with new ideas and events on the way.
Hammond River Brewing has released The Vegas SMaSH (Vic Secret Edition), the latest iteration of their popular one-malt-and-one-hop IPA. Brewed with 2-row malt and hopped entirely with the delicious Australian Vic Secret, expect “tons of pineapple, passionfruit, and a little pine”; 6.5% ABV.
Niche Brewing has only been selling beer for a few weeks – and delivery options have been limited – but thanks to a generous soul, a keg of their hoppy Grisette, Mines of Wallonia (3.6% ABV) is heading to Halifax’s Stillwell today! Look for it on tap sometime over the next few days.
– For you teachers out there (or really, any of you frustrated with what winter has brought us so far), Schoolhouse has got the perfect beer to get you through the next 6 months (noooooo…..), Dreaming of Summer Break. Actually a re-release of their Summer Break from last July, this 4.9% ABV Witbier has the style-standard addition of orange peel and coriander.
– Bridgewater’s Firkinstein Brewing have a new batch of their Double IPA, Cut of Our Jib. Leveraging constant hopping throughout the boil with Simcoe and Cascade hops, it’s a big ‘un at 8.6% ABV and 100+ IBUs, but be careful, as it’s surprisingly smooth, almost sneaky.

It’s the last Friday before Christmas, and that means the last chance for gift ideas for the special someone on your list (and you!). We’ve got a new brewery, plenty of new beers, and promises of beers to come in the new year to get you in the giving (and drinking) mood. So grab a beer, put down the wrapping paper, and check it out!

Off Track Brewing is opening today in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Located at 275 Rocky Lake Drive, the brewery opens today at 3 PM for pints, 4 oz samples, flights and growler and grunter fills. Visitors can get a taste of a handful of the beers made right on site, including their Alias Pale Ale, Good Grief Charlie Brown Brown Ale, Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Stout, Crash Course IPA, and Hoover a Dip IPA. They’ve also announced that they will be open on both Christmas Day (12 – 5 PM) and Boxing Day (12 – 9 PM) for beer emergencies. In fact, the only days they’re closed for the rest of the year are Wednesday the 27th and New Year’s Day. Check this Facebook post for their hours on any of the other days and  consider heading on down to sample the wares from HRM’s newest brewery. Congratulations to Allan, Matt, and Jon!

• Moncton’s Bore City has dipped their collective toe into the world of hazy, juicy, tropical IPAs with one of their own. There’s a NEW England? is a New England (or North East, depending on who you ask) IPA, hopped with Azacca and Ekuanot/Equinox. No filtering here, folks, as that would strip out lots of those flavours. So embrace the haze and find this 7.5% ABV beer on tap around town and quite possibly at the James Joyce in Fredericton, as part of their rotating line-up of all-NB beers.

• Halifax’s RockBottom Brewpub is saying “Merry Christmas” to its customers with two new beers on tap this week. First up is Nitro ESB, a 5.6% ABV English Special Bitter hopped with East Kent Goldings and Fuggles. With “sweet toffee notes derived from dark Crystal malts”, and a firm bitterness (at 40 IBUs) to balance, it was carbonated with nitrogen to give a creamier mouthfeel. Next is Japanese Rice Lager, brewed with equal parts malted barley and rice. Thanks to the high amount of adjunct in this beer, it has a very light body, with “a malty sweet, yet slightly tart, fruit finish”. It was lagered at cold temps for over six weeks, and comes in at 4.5% ABV and 10 IBUs.

TrailWay is bringing back their annual holiday brew, Christmas Rascal, which will be released at the brewery today at noon. The recipe has changed since last year, with this Imperial Milk Stout being conditioned on lots of cacao nibs, vanilla, and a “blend of spices”. Expect a creamy and full mouthfeel, plenty of chocolate character, and a background of vanilla and spice. It’s a big one at 8.5% ABV; cans and pints at the brewery, with a few lucky spots around Fredericton pouring it on tap as well. And please keep in mind that 50% of all pint revenues today will be donated to the Fredericton, so do your part to help out and drop by for a beer or three. And if you bring an item for their food drive, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a TW merch package.

• Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub is holding a double-banger of a day today. At 11AM, they will be hosting another one of their Growler Fill Days, featuring a return of their Peach Shake Ale (Peach Milkshake IPA, with peaches, vanilla beans, lactose, and plenty of hops), Young Blood IPA (Hazy yet crisp, with notes of citrus and grass), and the brand new 7.2% ABV Destroyer IPA (featuring Enigma and Mosaic hops, for a meld of tropical, fruit, and dank notes). With 3 kegs of each beer available, they should last until lunch, but there’s no guarantee! And from 1-5PM, their holiday tradition of Free Oysters continues. With the purchase of any drink, you’ll be served a tasty trio of oysters to toast the season. Be sure to drop by!

• The Annapolis Cider Company is releasing Wine and Strawberry, the latest in their one-off Something Different series, today at the cidery. This one is an unfiltered, sparkling blend, bringing together dry cider, red wine, and strawberry juice. The hand-picked apples were juiced and cool-fermented before being combined with red wine from local Leon Millot grapes. Cryo-extracted juice from local strawberries was then added to this blend, resulting in a 5.9% ABV “aromatic, medium-bodied cider with soft tannins and bright notes of fresh juicy strawberries”. Every fill of this one will see $0.50 donated to the Wolfville and Area Food Bank.

• Today, Saint John’s Big Tide is launching a special beer with a party at the brewpub at 8 pm. Darlings Island American Lager was brewed with a grist of Pilsner and Munich malt; the beer was hopped with Saaz from local hop suppliers Darlings Island Farm. The 5.4% ABV, 43 IBUs beer was brewed a couple of months ago, in order to give it the time to lager (cold-condition) before its release. Speaking of its release, the Release Party will happen tonight, as mentioned; your $25 ticket gets you entry and a pint of the beer, with all proceeds going to Broken Earth (a medical relief mission in Haiti). It’s a great cause, so if you’re in the area and looking to get away from the craziness that is shopping during Christmas, head down to Big Tide! You can reserve your ticket by calling 506-214-3311.

• Rose Valley, PEI’s BarNone Brewery has a new beer available this week, Warmer Winter. This 8.2% ABV Brown Ale was brewed with Bryan Carver of DME Brewing Solutions, who boldly loaded up the mash tun with Ginger Snaps, giving it, we imagine, a spicy ginger character to complement an otherwise malt-forward beer. You’ll find a limited supply of bottles available at the brewery as well as at the Charlottetown Farmers Market tomorrow.

• A reminder that Port Rexton Brewing‘s Pop-up Shop at 286 Torbay Road is open again this weekend (4-8PM today, 12-6PM tomorrow). Growlers of Mr. Wheaty Pants are available, as well as cans of Chasing Sun NEIPA and T-Rex Porter. And for those in the area, or would like a bit of a drive, their taproom in Port Rexton will be open tomorrow 2-10PM for Tibb’s Eve, for merchandise, pints, and growler fills, as well as cans of Baycation BlondeChasing SunHorse Chops IPA, and T-Rex Porter.

• And speaking of that T-Rex Porter, it’s the base of a very special holiday beer released today. A couple months back, they put some of that beer in French Oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels to condition along with some locally foraged partridgeberries. The result, which they’re calling Nor’ Easter is 6.5% ABV and 19 IBU and it’s available now in 500 mL bottles at the Port Rexton taproom as well as at their retail outlet in St. John’s. In the interest of letting as many people as possible try this special brew, there’s a 2 bottle limit per-person. So if you’re in Newfoundland and you’ve got a beer lover in your life, we’re guessing this would make a pretty stellar stocking stuffer. Or hey, if you’re the beer lover in your life, maybe skip the stocking and go straight to the enjoyment part.

• At Lunn’s Mill in Lawrencetown, NS, they’ve got a new beer courtesy of their assistant brewer, Peter, who took the lead on all aspects of this new brew. As fans of hoppy amber styles (think MBC Zöe and Trailway Good Aura),  they’ve been wanting to try their hand at making one for some time. Today’s release, Clever Girl is that beer, based on a grist of Maris Otter pale malt, with honey and chocolate malts for sweet and roasty character. For hops, Amarillo and Centennial were used, both known for bringing grapefruit and other citrus presence along with some floral notes (Centennial) and melon and stone fruit (Amarillo). The batch was double-dry-hopped to encourage a smooth hop character; it finished at 5.5% ABV and 40 IBU so it should be an easy drinker, with a well-defined malt backbone balanced against a bright and prominent hop presence. Available on tap at the brewery now for fills and pints.

• And, moving from the Valley to the South Shore of NS, Heritage Brewing in Yarmouth has a brand new collaboration beer hitting the taps, this one done with their downtown neighbours Sip Café. Starting with a porter base, they added fresh-brewed coffee from the gang at Sip along with chocolate soaked in Vanilla Bean Vodka from Annapolis Royal’s Still Fired Distilleries. The result is a smooth beer weighing in at 7% ABV, with plenty of coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavour. Only 180 L was made, however, and some of that has been set aside for Sip Café’s own taps, so if it sounds like your cuppa tea, or, maybe more accurately, cuppa joe, they’ve got a limited amount for growler fills and tasters at the brewery. Otherwise you’ll be waiting for it to appear at Sip, when you might just see a contest to give this brew a name.

2 Crows received a special care package in the mail this week, just in time for a special collaboration beer that they brewed up yesterday! A picture on their Facebook page gave a glimpse of several delicious-sounding yeast and bugs from Escarpment Labs, including a “Lacto Cocktail” and a “Fruit Bomb Saison Blend” (one with Saccharomyces, and one with Brettanomyces). Escarpment has officially teamed up with 2C for this beer, which while we can’t share all of the details yet, we can tell you that it’ll be funky, sour, and fermented in one of their Calvados oak foedres (now empty thanks to the packaging and release of Never Again, which we mentioned last week). As always, we’ll keep you up to date on the progress of this new beer!

Before we sign off today, remember that most (but not all) breweries and taprooms will be closed Christmas Day, and many are adjusting their hours on the 24th and 26th as well. Check social media or call first to avoid disappointment!

Boxing Rock has brought back their Russian Imperial Stout, U-889. Featuring coffee from the Valley’s Just Us! Roaster, and whole Madagacar Bourbon vanilla beans, this 8.89% ABV beer is the perfect pairing for cool nights in front of the fire, or food with friends. Co-owner and -brewer Emily Tipton decided to go the extra mile and cook with it, detailing her recipe and results on their blog. Grab bottles at the brewery, their tables at the Halifax Seaport and Dartmouth Alderney Landing Farmers Markets tomorrow, and at the private stores in HRM.
– Next Thursday, Dec 28, Good Robot will be releasing yet another iteration of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie Pale Ale (5.5% ABV), this time featuring organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (I’m going to trust their spelling of that) coffee beans from Java Blend Coffee Roasters, cold-brewed by Low Point Coffee Co. And a heads up that, due to staff demand, their taproom and brewery will be open regular store hours over the holidays.
– After a little adventure in canning line malfunction last Friday (too many hops!) Unfiltered had a fridge full of cans (Hoppy FingersFlat Black JesusExile on North Street, and DOA) to start the day on Tuesday, but it’s surely been dented if not decimated over the last three days. Also in the fridge are bottles of their Commissar Russian Imperial Stout. They’ve got store hours from 12-8 PM today, from noon tomorrow (until 8 PM, we suspect), and not again until December 29th, so if you want Unfiltered cans to be part of your Christmas week you’d best be getting on that by tomorrow!

Wow, it’s December already! Time flies when there’s so much beer news to collect and share across our region! This week’s news is a mix of new and returning beers, some holiday-themed events, and hints of new breweries set to open in the New Year. Crack open that Advent Calendar beer or chocolate, and let’s dive right in.

• We lead off with lots of new beer news from Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing, who actually sent all this info in days ahead of the post going up (we’re still a bit dizzy with shock)! To start off, they have a new brew on tap at their tiny taproom, a Saison named Sylvan Specter. Featuring some noticeable malt flavours thanks to the use of Munich and Melanoiden malts in the grist on top of a base Pale malt, as well as some Wheat malt to boost the mouthfeel, this 4.9% ABV was hopped with Enigma and Saaz at the end of the boil, for “a blend of earthy, fruity, and herbal components”. Fermented with two Saison strains (Farmhouse Ale and French Saison), expect a very dry beer with some spicy phenolics, in addition to the flavours mentioned above.

• Continuing with the rest of the Tidehouse news, they have brewed three other new beers to celebrate the opening of new restaurant aFrite, which opens tomorrow at 1360 Lower Water St. in Halifax. They are the following, with each designed to pair with specific plates: Bishop’s Porter, a 6.2% ABV “Raspberry American Porter”, the raspberry presence is fairly light to pair with aFrite’s sous vide Side of Beef with Frites and Bernaise sauce; Salter Saison, a 5.4% ABV amber-coloured Saison hopped heavily with Perle and Tettnanger featuring lots of herbal notes, to pair with their Donair Gnocchi; and Morris Ale, a 5.3% ABV American Pale Ale hopped with Citra, with fresh lime zest also added, paired with Fried Cauliflower in curry sauce (featuring cilantro, cumin, ghee, and lemon).

Roof Hound has a new Sour that incorporates a different approach to the souring method, compared to previous releases of theirs in this style. They actually made their own yogurt with a bacteria culture used by a local Nova Scotian family for close to 100 years, according to owner/brewer Les Barr. Built up over several weeks in coconut milk, the resulting coconut yogurt (therefore dairy-free) was added directly to the wort to lower the pH (to just barely above 3). Shredded coconut had also been added to the mash, and the whole thing was fermented with a blend of five yeast strains. Named Dooflicker Tropical Brown Sour, the resulting 5.3% ABV beer hits you “with a jaw-cramping mouth pucker, followed by a good remaining body, and a slight chocolate and coconut finish”.

• The crew at Port Rexton Brewing has had a busy fall, and are ready to unveil several new and returning beers this weekend. At this evening’s 12 Beers of Christmas in St. John’s (more details below), they are debuting Rewind Saison, which is a take on their previously-released Mixed Opportunity mixed-fermentation Saison. The Rewind, however, is fermented solely with Sacchromyces yeast (no Brett here), for a different profile. Light-to-medium in body, with a mild sweetness with herbal notes in the flavour, and fruity esters and spicy phenolics on the nose, the beer ends up at 5.5% ABV. If there’s any left after this evening’s event, it will be available tomorrow at the brewery. Speaking of which, for the next four Saturdays (Dec 2, 9, 16, and Tibb’s Eve), the brewery will be open 2-10PM for all of your sample, pint, and growler needs.

• Also available this weekend at the brewery will be a trio of their beers in cans, following their successful, and sold out, release of Blazing Sun NE-DIPA mid-November. Baycation BlondeT-Rex Porter, and Chasing Sun NEIPA will all be available at opening, and the only spot to grab them is at the brewery.

• And debuting next Thursday, December 7, is a fundraising collaboration in support of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium. The beer was brewed with the folks from the Aquarium, as well as Motion Bay Brewing Company, opening next year in Petty Harbour, as well as the folks from Jack AxesOceans & Orchards is a truly Axe-perimental brew, as the base beer (grist of 2 Row, Oats, Honey, Vienna and a touch of Crystal 60 malts) features 50 litres of fresh-pressed apple juice courtesy of Newfoundland Cider Company (debuting their ciders in 2018 as well). The resultant 4.5% ABV graf (that is, beer/cider hybrid) features notes of honey and apple, enhanced by the El Dorado and Huell Melon dry hopping. O&O is debuting at the December 7th event at 7PM at Jack Axes on Water Street, for an evening of throwing axes and sipping on this and other beers, all while benefiting the new aquarium in PH. More details are available at the FB Event page.

• Ashdale Nova Scotia’s Meander River has a new cider available this weekend, in celebration of their expanded production space. Two 2,000 litre fermenters, and one brite tank, all dedicated to cider production, have been added to their brewery, so as not to inhibit their brewing pipeline, and increase their cider availability. The fermenters have already been filled, so stay tuned for those releases in the New Year. In the meantime, the latest release is Perry Noel, a 5.5% ABV perry cider, made with 100% Nova Scotia pears from Davison Farm in Falmouth. A light and dry cider (no back sweetening used), aromas of earthiness and tropical fruit are present on the nose. Available at the brewery today for growler fills, kegs have been delivered to bars and restaurants in Hants County and HRM, so keep an eye out as you make your way around the area.

• And you can learn even more about the brewing and cider plans if you listen to the latest episode of the 902 BrewCast, as the gents visited Alan and Brenda Bailey (and Angus) to learn about their farm, brewery, cider production, and plans for the future. The latest episode can be streamed directly at their site, or downloaded for offline enjoyment.

• Like clockwork, our pals at 2 Crows in Halifax have got a bunch of new beers to tickle your tastebuds this week and next, so let’s get you the details post-haste. Released earlier this week is their latest small batch brew, Shoreline. A 4.6% ABV Pale Ale, with a base of 2 Row and Oat malts, and hopped with Azacca and Huell Melon, before fermentation with a blend of a dozen different strains of Brettanomyces yeasts, before dry-hopping with Vic Secret, and a final keg conditioning with champagne yeast. Phew! The resultant beer is dry, funky, and fruity, with notes of guava, tangerine, and pineapple. As with all of these small batch brews (the Attempted Murder Series name still hasn’t caught on), this one is only available by the glass.

• Tomorrow, 2C is unleashing the latest of their full canned releases, brewed by Jeremy Taylor in collaboration with a fellow former-BC brewer, and current Manitoba brewery owner, Miguel Cloutier, of Kilter Brewing. Firmly in the Milkshake IPA territory, Hawaiian Ivory has a slew of light-coloured malts at its base, including Pilsner, Wheat, Oat, and Honey, along with the heavy dose of lactose and vanilla, iconic for the style. Playing up on the milkshake idea, bananas, dried coconut, lime zest, mango and pineapple purée were added in the boil and conditioning tank. The hops chosen are also quite fruity and tropical, with AzaccaCitraHuell Melon, and Simcoe in the boil, with all but Huell Melon also added in a dry hop for another aromatic blast. Hawaiian Ivory will be available from opening at noon tomorrow, by the glass and can, and in a first, Kilter and 2 Crows fans in Manitoba will be able to purchase this collaboration in Winnipeg later this month.

• And in upcoming beer news, 2C’s Linnea Finnish Imperial Stout will be released next Wednesday, December 6th. Brewed in celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary Independence Day, the beer incorporates popular flavours from Finnish cuisine, including cardamom and salty liquorice. Taylor lived in Finland for a time, and his brother still lives in the country, raising a family. Linnea is named after Taylor’s niece. Using 95% Finnish-grown and -produced malt from Viking Malt (courtesy of local company Nordic Malz), it features Pale, Oats, Crystal, Chocolate Malts and Roast Barley, with molasses, to 9.1% ABV. Moderately hopped to 60 IBU with Columbus, and Golding (and a touch of Centennial for a light, bright, nose), it features additions of sea salt, liquorice root, star anise and cardamom pods. Drop by the brewery Wednesday to celebrate all things Finnish, and grab a pint to celebrate. And it may even be available to those outside of the province thanks to some holiday-themed boxes many folks have started opening today… Kippis!

• And we’re already behind schedule with today’s publishing, so we do not have time to tell you about the details on the next releases, but rest assured you’ll want to keep an eye out for their next canned release mid-month, as well as the beers they have cooked up for their First Anniversary in January.

• This weekend marks the third straight week of new releases from Stillwell Brewing, with the latest, Gosh, dropping first at Stillwell Beer Bar tomorrow, followed by a bottle release at the brewery on Sunday from 12-4. A pale Farmhouse Ale aged in a red wine barrel, Gosh is described as “bone-dry, with a tropical fruit fermentation character and grippy finish”. Dry-hopped with Mosaic to help boost that tropical fruit character, we’re sure this one will sell out as quickly as the last two, so show up early on Sunday!

• There’s two new beers coming out of TrailWay this week, with the first one being a new winter seasonal. Parallel is a “Session Ale” with a grain bill made up of 100% German Pale malt, and hopped entirely with Mosaic. The brewery describes it as “super-balanced”, with the hop-focus not being quite as strong as in many of their other beers. Indeed sessionable at just 4% ABV, expect a “rather subtle tropical fruitiness with a solid, crackery-malt profile”. It’s available on tap now around Fredericton, as well as in cans (both at the brewery and ANBL stores). The next beer, Good Times in the Fridge, is another hop bomb that released today at noon. A pale-coloured American IPA with minimal bitterness, it was hopped with Galaxy and Motueka. At 6% ABV, cans of this one are available at the brewery only.

• Now that Fredericton’s Bogtrotter is back to full-brewing mode, they’re releasing a brand new beer this week. Cranky Crab Coconut Porter is a 5% dark ale brewed with toasted coconut (added in the mash, boil, and secondary) and chocolate nibs. Also featuring hints of vanilla in the flavour (thanks to the addition of pure extract in secondary), it weighs in at 5% ABV and will soon be available on tap at the James Joyce and Cask and Kettle.

Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden Road in Halifax has a new beer available, an American Wheat that was dosed with raspberries they’re calling Witty Pun. With his feet now firmly under him in RB’s cramped brewing quarters, brewer Ian Kean is starting to exert himself on the beer menu more and though it might not seem “seasonal” in November, this beer is certainly accessible, with a solid wheat presence underlying a lovely raspberry aroma and flavour. Clean American yeast yields an otherwise fairly dry finish to this 5.0% ABV beer, which also sports 12 IBU worth of balancing hop bitterness. As of yesterday, it was available for growler fills and pints at the pub.

Good Robot released a new Alpha Brew, Steambot Willie, earlier this week. With a grist made up of Maris Otter, Amber malt, Carapils, Red X, and Rye, it was hopped with Mt. Hood, Perle, and Magnum to 32 IBUs, and dry-hopped with more Perle, and Tettnang. Fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast strain, think of this one as an Ale-Lager hybrid, similar in a way to a California Common. At 5.5% ABV, and described as an “earthy, malty Lager with a bitter finish”, it’s available on tap now at GR, and will likely pop up around the HRM. And for next Tuesday’s Beta Brew release, we have Alien From Next Door, an American Pale Ale brewed by Kelly C. and Lianne Lessard. Brewed with 2-row, Vienna, Red X and Crystal 30, Polaris was used for bittering (to 27 IBUs), with later hop additions including Galaxy and Willamette, and then a dry-hop with more Polaris. And finally, note that cans of GR’s Extra Big ASS Lager and bottles of Barrel-Aged Mississippi Goddamn can now be purchased at the Halifax private liquor stores.

Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House in Lower Sackville continues to round out their line of easy-drinking beers with a light wheat ale they’re calling Orange American Bastard (we’ve no idea what, or who, that name could be referring to). Boasting orange peel, both sweet and bitter varieties, along with coriander, all added late in the boil for a Belgian flair, it was fermented (we think) on an American yeast for a clean ester profile. This 4.7% ABV beer is built on a base of wheat and pale malts with a little bit of Vienna for character. Crisp and clean with a nice mouthfeel, this is, according to brewer Keith Forbes, “a Summer beer heading into Winter.” It’s available now, but only on one of the guest taps at Good Robot on Robie Street in Halifax.

Heritage Brewing has a follow-up to their popular Citra Session IPA, meaning if you like hops, you should have no problem with this one! White Sands Milkshake IPA was brewed with a “touch” of lactose and ample amounts of Ekuanot and Citra hops, giving lots of “fruity, citrusy, and tropical” aromas and flavours. Available now, it comes in at 6.7% ABV and 60 IBUs.

• Darmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing has announced that they have a new brewer working alongside Head Brewer Jake Saunders. Connor MacLeod is originally from Bridgewater, and has studied in the Certified Brewmaster course at the prestigious VLB Berlin. Previously working at Garrison Brewing in Halifax, he brings several years of experience of homebrewing and passion to his commercial work, which started in part thanks to his father, who is also a beer fan. Welcome aboard, Connor! And perhaps to celebrate their new arrival, 9L has brought back their Vanilla Porter, a 5.0% ABV porter with a touch of vanilla for a light sweetness and aromatic meld with the chocolate and dark malt character. Available in cans and growler fills at the brewery today!

• Last weekend was the party and announcement for the Sober Island Brewing Foraged Homebrew Competition, at the brewery in Sheet Harbour. From 15 entries, Andrew Deveaux’s entry Raspberry Beer Eh! took top honours. Brewed with 95% malt from Horton Ridge, Deveaux’s beer featured late-season raspberries foraged from his own backyard added to a Wheat Beer base. Congratulations to Deveaux, and we expect to see a full release of the winning beer once raspberries make their return next year. In the meantime, look for SIBC’s Winter Rye to debut this month.

• Last Sunday saw an excellent turnout at the Dartmouth location of the Wooden Monkey for the 5th Annual Big Spruce Homebrew Challenge. As announced back in September, this competition was wide open style-wise, as it was instead entered around the use of the “Pin Cherry #1” yeast strain harvested from the property of Big Spruce in Nyanza, Cape Breton. This yeast was identified to have somewhat of a Belgian character, in the Trappist vein of being somewhat spicy and phenolic, with a medium flocculation and attenuation. As organized by ACBB’s own Chris McDonald, 39 entries fermented on the yeast were evaluated and scored by 12 judges, with the assistance of 4 stewards, over the course of the afternoon, culminating in a Best of Show round where the 9 favorites were slowly winnowed down to a top 3 with an honorable mention. Top prize went to Justin Clarke’s Split Personality a North American Saison that was fermented with both the Big Spruce yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces strains before being aged on wood chips. The variety of beers entered was vast, with classic Belgian, North American and even English styles competing against more outré beers featuring additional ingredients as varied as lime zest and tomatillo, habanero peppers, pineapple and coconut, peach and sage, and applewood tea. There was even a mead entry from local meadmaker Nancy Hartling that was not able to be accepted into the competition but which was tasted at the gala and turned out very nicely. The overall quality, according to the judges, was top notch, especially considering the range of beers and the fact that not a single brewer had previously used the yeast. Congratulations to all those who entered, and especially those who placed, and many thanks to Jeremy and the team at Big Spruce, and all those involved in helping reach the result. Sláinte. We look forward to tasting Justin’s winning entry when a production batch is brewed sometime in the future. And don’t forget the Big Spruce tap takeover at Battery Park this coming Thursday, November 7th!

• The Murphy Hospitality Group – owners of the PEI Brewing Co. / Gahan House – have announced that they will be opening yet another Gahan House Restaurant & Brewery location, this time in downtown Fredericton. They have purchased Vault 29, a restaurant/bar at 426 Queen St., for the new brewpub, which will have a 120-seat dining room, oyster bar, two seasonal patios, and a 5 bbl (600 L) brewhouse onsite. The plan is for the brewpub to open sometime in the spring, making it the fifth Gahan location (Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, and soon-to-open Moncton). The full press-release can be read here.

• As we’ve mentioned previously, the ambitious “East Coast Crafted” was released earlier this week, and is available for purchase at book stores across the region, as well as many of the breweries featured in the book. Learning more about the 80+ breweries in our region, authors Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran interviews and visited many of these spots to speak face-to-face with those behind the breweries we talk about weekly. The book also features dozens of photographs by Jessica Emin. Don’t forget that the authors will be celebrating the book with a launch December 9th at Stillwell, with beers from all four Atlantic Provinces pouring, where you can meet the authors and many of the brewery folks featured in the book.

Another weekend full of events for you to enjoy across our region:

• As mentioned above, the 12 Beers of Christmas is taking place this evening in St. John’s. At Club One on New Gower, from 7:30PM, attendees will be greeted with a full glass of beer, plus tokens to enjoy samples of the other 11 onsite. In addition to the debut of Port Rexton’s Rewind, Mill Street YYT is debuting their Crooked Cow Latte Stout, and you will be able to enjoy many beers not otherwise available in the province (Big Spruce Cereal Killer, 2Crows Pollyanna, Upstreet Eighty Bob and White Noize, and Maybee Stone House Tripel. Check this page for the full list of what will be pouring. After you’ve tried them all, you can purchase more tokens for samples or full pours of your favourites. Grab your tickets now, dust off your ugly Christmas sweater, and head out for a party!

• Good news, thirsty Cape Bretoners! The 2nd Annual Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 2nd, at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still some general admission tickets available ($55 + tax, each), which gets you entry into the festival at 7-9:30 pm. A special glass and unlimited beer samples are included, and many local breweries will be on hand to pour their creations, and chat beer! Note that Designated Driver tickets ($15 + tax) are also still available; all tickets can be purchased from the event website above.

Tidehouse Brewing is turning one, and are celebrating in style with a Tap Takeover at Tom’s Little Havana next Saturday, December 9th. All eight taps will be dedicated to Tidehouse, which they’ll be filling with some of their best beers brewed over the past year. The fun starts at 5 pm and will continue until close; stay tuned to their event page for a full taplist release next week.

• Christmas is just around the corner, with Boxing Day of course right behind it; if you’re in the Fredericton area, what better way to celebrate Boxing Day than a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover? Being held on Tuesday, December 26th at the King Street Ale House, there’ll be tons of BR beers pouring, starting at 5 pm. You can just show up and pay by the pint, but if you reserve your spot now for $15, you’ll get a flight of beer and a pound of wings. Sounds like a good deal to us! Tickets can be purchased on the event page.

And a couple more returning favourites this week:

– Following last week’s release of Midnight, their Glenora Distillery Barrel-aged Strong Dark Belgian beer, HRM’s North Brewing has teed up the non-barrel version. Dark Sky is available today in 650 mL bottles at both their Halifax and Dartmouth bottle shops.
– And down the road on Gottingen Street, Propeller has a new cask for us this evening, a version of their Double IPA dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Ekuanot hops. They’ll be cracking into that at 5 PM as usual.
Red Rover has brought back their festive Jingleberry Cider, featuring additions of wild blueberry, cardamom, and nutmeg paired with notes of caramel, you’ll find it at the Ciderhouse and ANBL locations around the province.

 

It’s another big weekend for beer in our region, with a beer release that’s very pertinent to our interests here at the ACBB, a sudden (and welcome!) rush of canned products we totally didn’t see coming, and some killer events going on in the downtown core of Halifax. So we’ll skip the traditional commentary on the weather this week and get right into it…

• There’s a cool new beer being released tomorrow from 2 Crows, a collaboration brewed with some pretty awesome guys… us! Named Amateur Hour (well, I guess that put us back in our place), the beer features a light-coloured primarily Pilsner grist with healthy amounts of Wheat malt, Malted Oats and Spelt, and heavy whirlpool-hopped with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. Thanks to two dry-hop additions of those same varieties (during active fermentation, and again during conditioning), you can expect notes of orchard fruit and melon, further accentuated by a light funk resulting from fermentation with the Yeast Bay’s glorious Brett Amalgamation, a combination of six Brettanomyces strains. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV and 29 IBUs, we’re thinking of this as a Brett Session IPA, or even a Brett Session Ale. Available on tap and in cans (check out that label by Midnight Oil Print & Design House!) at the brewery tomorrow, expect to see it around Halifax at the private stores shortly after. And a big thanks to Jeremy, Miles and the rest of the gang at 2 Crows for inviting us to participate in brewing a beer!

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing is sporting a rockin’ new logo this week and they’ve also got a new beer available today, one that goes to eleven. Nunmoar is a Black IPA, big and bitter, that’s been heavily hopped with Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe. Tipping the scales at 6.5% ABV and a hefty 75 IBU, expect it to marry a distinct roastiness to a prominent hop presence. How much more black could it be? NUNMOAR BLACK. Meanwhile, AJ and the gang have settled on opening hours for the brewery – for the foreseeable you’ll be able to visit for growler fills and merchandise Wednesdays from 2-6 PM, Thursdays 12-6 PM, Fridays 12-8 PM and on Saturdays from 11-5 PM. Even better, they’re now able to accept debit and credit transactions and the dreaded “cash only” sign has been taken down. Expect those hours to shift and hopefully expand a little once they’ve got all the permits in place for their taproom. And, speaking of growler fills, also available right now are the 5.1% ABV Pale Ale known as Daydreamer and two, count ‘em two, versions of the Headliner IPA. The first batch, where efficiency was better than expected, clocks in at 7.3% ABV and the second, matching the original specs for the beer, is 5.9% ABV. Maybe sample them both and let AJ know which version should top the marquee.

• After launching their new Takeaway shop last week, YellowBelly also released a pair of brand new bevvies. We already told you about their Blueberry Hill Milkshake IPA last week, and now we can share more details on their latest cider on tap. Bakeapple Cider is a 7.0% ABV blend, featuring a base of apple cider with the elusive bakeapple (aka cloudberry, aka if you want some, you’d better know someone!) added for a lovely crisp and tart fruit blend. Back-sweetened ever-so-slightly with some of the original cider to reduce a bit of the dryness, the cider is on tap now, and should see limited release in bottles too. And speaking of their Takeaway location a few doors down Water St from their home base, in addition to bottles and 1.89 L growler fills (new for YB), you can stay a while to enjoy samples and pints, as well as pizza from their kitchen.

North Brewing is releasing the Fall 2017 edition of their Canadian Brewing Awards Gold Medal-winning Midnight today. They took a batch of their Strong Dark Belgian and let it sit in barrels from Glenora Distillery straight from the source (i.e., still wet and with plenty of single malt whiskey flavour and aroma to go around) for the past several months, before packaging recently. Look for a melding of Belgian Abbey flavours (fruity esters with a light toasted bread character) with the barrel and whiskey character (vanilla, caramel, wood), resulting in a 10.5% ABV fireside sipper. Midnight marks the first in a series of several special Barrel-Aged bottles releases coming from North, which will featuring some beers in the coming weeks with funkier beginnings and unique aspects.

• Up in Amherst, NS, Trider’s Craft Beer has released their newest offering, Chaga-Lug Brown Ale. Focusing on local ingredients, this earthy and crisp beer in the Northern English Brown Ale style boasts additions of honey, Chaga and hops that were all sourced locally. Fifteen pounds of Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) were harvested by Shawee, a real life lumberjack; this provided the beer with its distinctive deep brown color. Wildflower honey (over 100lbs) from nearby Nappan, NS, was added during the whirlpool for a slight tartness. And the hops came from Jeff Smith, a member of the Brewnosers homebrew club from the area, who provided roughly four pounds of backyard-grown Cascade, Galena, CTZ and Centennial to this 5.1% ABV brew. Bitterness was kept low to allow the character of the other special ingredients to shine through. It’s available for growler fills now with 500 mL bottles in the works.

• A few weeks ago, TrailWay hinted that they would soon be releasing their first Milkshake IPA, and the day is today, with the launch of Velvet Fog. Brewed with plenty of oats in the mash, to enhance the haziness of the beer (although, really, when have they ever had a problem with that?), as well as the mouthfeel, the addition of a “healthy dose” of lactose powder boosts the body even more, and adds just a touch of residual sweetness. Hopped entirely with El Dorado, the brewery also threw in some peach and apricot purees, as well as some vanilla, to bring everything together with aromas and flavours of “tropical fruit, peaches, bubble gum, and vanilla”. Cans, pours and pints at the brewery starting at noon, and this one will also be pouring at their Tap Takeover at Stillwell today.

Firkinstein has a new beer, one that features the addition of fresh ginger. Added to a Pale Ale base for a unique twist, Root Pale Ale has just a subtle hint of ginger, with a light malt backbone and a minimal hop presence. At 6% ABV, you can find it now wherever Firkinstein beers are sold. The brewery is also now applying for a beverage room licence, so expect to see them able to sell pints of their own beer (as well as guest taps for other breweries) in the not-too-distant future.

• In our weekly “heads up for the Tuesday’s Beta Brew” Good Robot blurb, we’ve got an Irish Extra Stout dropping on the 21st. Extra Sass is a 5.8% ABV brew featuring 2-Row and Vienna with Caramel 30 for sweetness and Caramel 120, Roasted Barley and Black Prinz for colouring. The balancing bitterness, to the tune of 53 IBU, is thanks to East Kent Goldings and Summit hops. Notes of coffee and dark chocolate are punctuated by a light addition of Sarsparilla root. As always, the Beta Brews are only available at the taproom for enjoyment onsite, so drop for a taste. And if you’ve got a killer idea for a beer, be sure to let them know, they’d love to have you in the brewery! No brewing experience required.

• And in other Good Robot news, after several weeks of conditioning, their first canned offering is hitting the shelves today. We’ve mentioned Craft Coast Canning, a mobile canning business based in Fredericton previously, and it’s this new business that has made this new format possible. Extra BIG-ASS Beer is the first GR beer to get the treatment, their 5.2% ABV amber Marzen/Oktoberfest style beer (and recent ACBA medal winner). Featuring Vienna, Coffee, Flaked oats and a touch of memoirs malt on a 2-Row base, the hopping is from traditional German Perle and Willamette varietals. This won’t be the last canned offering from Robie and the Robots, as they’ve hinted that more of their lower-ABV/approachable/crushable beers will soon be available this way, including their Goseface Killah Gose and Leave Me Blue Kentucky Common. Cans are available at noon at the brewery (single and four-packs), and at private stores around HRM.

• It’s also a big weekend for Bad Apple Brewhouse, as they too release their first canned products. And why not shoot for the stars, as their first two beers to get the silver bullet treatment are the Mosaic, their award-winning, and charity-benefiting, Double IPA, and their also award-winning Black & Tackle Russian Imperial Stout. Showcasing its namesake Mosaic hops, the Mosaic is an 8% bitter and aromatic brew that has been an off-and-on favourite for years, whenever owner Jeff Saunders can get his hands on those hops. All sales from Mosaic go towards Down Syndrome Nova Scotia, who make possible the Maritime Down Syndrome Family Camp at Brigadoon Village. These organizations are close to Saunders’ heart, as his son Hunter lives with Mosaic Down Syndrome. On the deep and dark side, Bad Apple’s Black & Tackle, which has won awards as both a “regular” Russian Imperial Stout and in a barrel-aged variation, is also now much more portable, so you can it lots of places and enjoy its big roast presence and 9+% ABV as winter approaches. Cans of these beers are available this weekend at the brewery in Berwick Somerset, and are also headed for the private stores in the HRM. Follow along on their social media for the exact availability details. We’ve also seen hints on Bad Apple’s social media accounts that canning these two beers is just a start and other tasty things are on the way in that format in the coming weeks.

• And lastly, but perhaps most uncanny of all (not even sorry), Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing made a splash on social media yesterday when it was revealed that they’ve gone ahead and put four of their beers into cans now available at the brewery and very soon (as in very possibly this afternoon) at Bishop’s Cellar. The flagship IPA Exile on North Street and DIPA 12 Years to Zion are joined by fall/winter seasonal Flat Black Jesus West Coast Stout and everybody’s favorite Citra bomb Double Orange Apocalypse Ale in a hoppy quadfecta. Interest was immediate from folks far and wide as the prospect of shippable Unfiltered became a sudden and unexpected reality. We suspect few will breach the borders of the province or even HRM, at least at first, as having these beers unbound from growlers will be a novelty that takes some time to wear off.

• Last week we told you about the Garrison and Boxing Rock collaboration Courage brewed in honor of Gord Downie. The response to that bear was pretty impressive, with both brewery locations and the private stores all selling out within 24 hours or so! To date, just shy of $11,000 has been raised for two charitable causes: Brain Tumour Research and Indigenous People’s Reconciliation. And hopefully that number is only going to grow, as the beer will be available in 11 NSLC stores by next week (want to know which ones? Go here and click “Check Store Availability”). It will also be hitting PEI LLC this week, and ANBL and NLL stores soon after that. And in other Garrison beer news, their Dirty Ol’ Town Black IPA has been canned and will be available at the NSLC and private stores shortly and their fall/winter seasonal Winter Warmer will be at the NSLC in bottles very soon as well.

• Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax has a new beer of their own on the go this week, called Northumbeerland. Brewed partially as a trial for a new local malt, this beer is in the saison style, and the grist is a single pale base malt. In the kettle, Warrior hops were used for bittering while Saaz were added at the end of the boil and later, post-fermentation, for a dry-hop. The saison yeast strain used was selected for its ability to dry the beer out, and it has, while also yielding subtle hints of hay and berries along with a slight tartness. This is a very sessionable beer at 4.1% ABV and you’ll find it for growler fills at tiny tasters at the brewery’s operation on Salter Street.

A few events to tell you about this weekend and beyond, with a clear concentration of activity in downtown Halifax:

• A little bar named Stillwell opened on Barrington Street in November, 2013, and has been helping to grow the enthusiasm (and number) of breweries and drinkers alike in Halifax. They’re celebrating their Fourth Anniversary with a weekend full of events. Today from noon, the beers (and people) from Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing will be taking over, with a full dozen beers available on tap. Old favourites and new releases (including the Velvet Fog Milkshake IPA mentioned above) will be pouring; there will be free glassware for the first 100 to show up, and the full taplist can be found here. Saturday will see the annual Stillwell Birthday event, featuring an absolutely ridiculous tap, bottle and cask selection that celebrates the best of local offerings, highlights from other parts of Canada and the U.S. and very special treats from Europe. The full list can be found here (try not to drool) and it also includes the first public pourings of Stillwell Four, the first bottle release from Stillwell Brewing Co. which, as a matter of fact, will also be available the very next day for sale at the brewery’s warehouse around back at 2015 Gottingen Street. We’ve been advised that the Four is in somewhat short supply, so there will be a signup sheet at the bar during Saturday’s festivities so you can ensure you don’t miss out. We’ll should also warn you, especially those from out of town, if you’re planning to hit the birthday celebration on Saturday, that the 22nd Annual Parade of Lights is going on downtown that evening. It has been called a “traffic apocalypse” and “the worst traffic of the year”; things start getting nutty at about 4:30 PM and really don’t start to clear up until close to 9 PM or later. So maybe plan to take a bus or cab downtown, get good and settled in, and really explore what’s on offer.

• We mentioned that Montague, PEI’s newest-and-first brewery, Copper Bottom Brewing, would be holding their official grand opening soon, and looks like “soon” is even sooner than we thought! The Grand Opening is happening tomorrow from noon-close, there’ll be live music going on all day, a TBA food truck will be onsite, and lots of other fun stuff throughout the day, including kick-the-keg prizes, brewery tours, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 pm. And if you’d like to get out to the party without having to commit to driving, the brewery has teamed up with a local company to bring you the Copper Bottom Brew Bus, which leaves from the Peakes Wharf in Charlottetown at 5:15 pm, and departs Copper Bottom at 10 pm; contact Sonya or Loralei at 902-213-5177 if you’d like a ticket, which is just $15 round-trip.

• Yes, it’s months away, but we really need to let you know that tickets for the 6th Annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival officially go on sale next Friday, November 24th, at 11 am. This event, which is being held on Saturday, March 10th, 2018, continues to grow in breweries represented, beers poured, and overall excellence every year, so we can’t even imagine how awesome it’s going to be next March! And did we mention that Maine’s Orono Brewing will be pouring? Have this ticket link all ready to go next Friday at 11 sharp, especially if you want to get your hands on VIP tickets (which sold out in something like 2 minutes last year… no, we’re not joking). We’ll have lots more information on the event as the date approaches!

And a couple of last mentions before we let you get started on your weekend:

– A reminder that the launch party for 100 from Big Spruce, their beer made with 100% Nova Scotia-produced ingredients, is taking place at Horton Ridge Malt House tomorrow at 2 PM. Big Spruce beers will also will be taking over the guest growler taps during this kitchen party-styled event. The 100 is now available now in cans at Westside in Halifax, where a Big Spruce 5-tap mini-takeover of their growler station (including fills of the 100) started last night and is likely to continue into the weekend.
– Halifax brewpub Rockbottom has a new beer on the menu this week, an American Pale Ale dubbed Mostly Maris for the use of the venerable British malt called Maris Otter. It lends a biscuity note and a sweetness that should pair nicely with the very American hop schedule that includes Cascade, and Columbus. This beer is balanced to the hoppy side of the spectrum and comes in at 5.5% ABV and 55 IBU.

It’s been another busy week for news in the region, with no fewer than a dozen new and returning beers and ciders on the shelves, draft lines or coolers across the region. And to kick off this week’s edition, let’s dive right in with another new small-batch brewery opening.

• Bathurst, New Brunswick has now joined the ranks of brewing communities, with the opening of AKA Beer late last week. Brewing small scale 55 litre batches on location at the local craft beer bar Au Bootlegger, their Prohibition Ale is now available for purchase. Strictly available on tap at the bar, this 5.0% ABV Amber Ale is a complement to the other NB beers already available. Look for more information and an interview with the crew behind AKA shortly!

• There’s a new beer available from Bagtown Brewing in Sackville, NB these days, their second brew featuring tea. TEAse the Senses is a 5.0% ABV orange-hued beer, with loose Blackcurrant tea leaves added during the mash for a distinctive rich and smooth taste. A healthy dose of Mosaic hops offer plenty of citrus and fruit aromatics, as well as a solid 46 IBU bitterness. TEAse, as well as their flagship Wobbly Duck English Pale Ale, Crown Vic Belgian Pale Ale, and Suble Tea Session IPA (their first beer to feature tea) are available for growler fills at the brewery, open Thursday, Friday (both days 3-7PM), and Saturday (9AM-1PM), located at the Sackville Commons.

• One of the more anticipated collaborative releases is hitting the shelves across Nova Scotia today. In October, inspired by the By The Numbers piece by local artist Erin McGuire, Boxing Rock and Garrison teamed up to brew a beer in honour of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. Courage (For Gord Downie) is that beer, a 6.0% ABV Amber Wheat Ale. Available today from noon at Boxing Rock’s Shelburne location, there is also a release party later today, starting at 5PM, with local musicians paying their respects to Downie. In Halifax, Garrison released their share of bottles at opening (10AM), and there will be a Live 105 event at the brewery, for those able to win their way in through social media/call-ins, and will feature raffles and tshirt sales, with all funds going to charity. Speaking of which, $1.00 of the bottle price is going to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and Downie/Wenjack Fund for Indigenous Peoples Reconciliation. If you are unable to make it to either brewery, the private stores in HRM will also be receiving deliveries, and should have the beer on shelves today. And reaching across the Atlantic Provinces (and beyond), through the NSLC, ANBL, PEILCC, NLC and MBLL before the end of the month.

• Riverview’s Celtic Knot Brewing will soon be offering their beers in bottles, for a more portable way to enjoy their beers. Beers like their Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout, Ryetious Rye IPA, Dubh Loki Black IPA, and new Choc Wort Orange, a Chocolate Orange Stout, will be packaged in 500 mL bottles. Initially for sale only at the brewery, keep an eye here, or on their Facebook page, for exact release details (should be within the next 1-2 weeks). And don’t forget to drop by Marky’s Laundromat tonight to meet with Celtic Knot and other members of the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective during their weekend-long Tap Takeover.

• Fredericton’s TrailWay is releasing another SMaSH beer today at noon, Binary American IPA. Brewed with Golden Promise malt and hopped generously (as usual) with El Dorado, one of the new favourite varieties at the brewery, they’re describing it as “super complex” despite the seemingly-simple recipe. SMaSH beers are always fun to experience, as it’s a great way to see what exactly single ingredients can offer. “Incredibly bright and juicy, with a definite candied fruit/mango element”, this 6% ABV beer will be available at the brewery’s taproom for pints, growlers, and cans.

Port Rexton Brewing is releasing their first canned beer, and first packaged beer since bottles of last winter’s Belgian Tripel. Blazing Sun is an amped-up version of their popular Chasing Sun NEIPA, featuring plenty of the same juicy hop aroma and flavours, with the added piney notes of a Double IPA. Cans of the 7.0% ABV, 45 IBU beer, are available exclusively at the brewery this long weekend: Sunday Nov 12 from 11-10PM, and Monday Nov 13, 11-2PM. If there are any left, we’ll be sure to let you know where you can grab a couple. And keep in mind that the brewery taproom is now into off-season hours, which means keeping an eye on their website for exact details.

• We’ve got a couple of news items from Halifax’s Propeller this week, starting off with the latest (and second) release of their Gottingen Small Batch “Hop Series”, Idaho-7 XPA. Focusing on Idaho 7, an American hop variety that’s been making its way into a few beers in our region over the last year or so, this “Extra Pale Ale” has “complex fruit and citrus aromas of apricot and orange, and finishes with a subtle backdrop of resiny pine and the slightest things of black tea”. Coming in at 5% ABV and 40 IBUs, it’s available now at both Propeller locations for growler fills. Moving on to tonight’s Cask Night, they’ll be tapping a cask-conditioned Honey Wheat Ale, aged with black raspberries; if you’d like a taste, be sure to show up at the Gottingen Tasting Room at 5 pm sharp, when the cask is tapped.

• There’s a brand new cider in the popular Something Different series from Annapolis Cider Company, Juniperry. Made from local, hand-picked Flemish Beauty pears, the juice had an arrested fermentation, before the addition of crushed juniper berries which were foraged from Peggy’s Cove and Prospect Bay. The resulting unfiltered, sparkling Perry has a light, pale colour, with a “delicate, woodsy aroma and a complex palate of sweet pear and balmy pine, with a hint of citrus”. Drop by the cidery for your fill of this 6.5% ABV beauty; $0.50 of each refill will be donated to the Town of Wolfville Volunteer Fire Department.

• The Western Newfoundland Brewing Company has been paying attention to the demands from their demographic in Pasadena (and beyond), who have been requesting a beer on the lighter side, somewhere between an American Pale Ale and a light Lager. Well, the brewery has responded with… Beer! Yes, that’s the name! As expected, it’s minimally hopped at 16 IBU, with a simple grist of Pale and Pilsner malt (achieving 5.0% ABV), making it easy-drinking, while “retaining the full body” that the brewery proudly notes is in all of their beers. Drop by the brewery for a taste, and don’t worry about trying to remember the name of what you wanted to order!

• Coming off their big ACBA wins, Chain Yard Cider has a new product pouring at the cidery, Petal to the Metal. A blend of a wild-fermented Baldwin base cider with rose water, it was matured with a ferment of Spy and Jonagold apples. A touch of Ironworks gin was added to bring out more floral aromatics, and a tiny amount of cherry wine gives the final cider its pink-rose colour. Described as “crisp and smooth”, it’s quite dry (like most ciders from Chain Yard), as very little sugar is left in the final product. Packing a nice punch at 8% ABV, drop down to Chain Yard to give this beautiful cider a taste!

• We mentioned that YellowBelly had brewed up a “Blueberry Milkshake IPA” last week, and had a few details to tide you over… well, looks like that beer is now on tap at the brewpub, and we have more information to share! They’ve finally settled on the name Blueberry Hill, fitting for a beer that features the addition of over 100 kg of blueberries (some in primary, some in secondary). Fermented with the excellent Funktown yeast blend, and dry-hopped heavily with Citra, expect lots of mango, pineapple, citrus, and passionfruit, along with a smooth, silky body (thanks in part to the typical-for-a-Milkshake-IPA addition of lactose powder). Blue-hued, 6% ABV, and high-20s IBUs, it’s available on tap at the brewpub as we speak, and will also be in growlers at the new YellowBelly Takeaway (just down a few doors at 264 Water St) that starts today from 1-7 pm… just buy a YB growler or bring your own branded, CLEAN 64 oz one.

• Next week’s Good Robot BetaBrewsday is just about ready to go, brewed by Travis Lindsay, Dan Hendricken and Kelly C. Named Funk You Saison (tsk), it’s golden-coloured, with a dry finish, and hints of “raspberry, clove, honey sweetness and bready funk”. Releasing at the brewery on tap on Tuesday, it weighs in at 5.7% ABV and 23 IBUs. And I’d just like to note this may be the shortest Good Robot post we’ve had since… when did they open again?

Grimross isn’t taking much of a breather with their one-off Scratch Series lately, as after releasing a couple of news ones over the past few weeks, they already have another in store! Scratch #8 is a hoppy Saison which is dry-hopped with a healthy dose of Simcoe and Sorachi Ace. This one won’t be released until the beginning of the week of November 20th, so ABV, IBUs and tasting notes aren’t available yet, but based on the hops used, we’re thinking a blend of citrus, pine, and lemongrass, with some spicy phenolics and fruity esters from the yeast, followed by a dry finish.

Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax has been beavering away on several things in the past few weeks and it looks like this is the week for you, gentle beer drinker, to benefit from many of them in a very short timespan. First is the debut of two bottled beers at The Guy Show this weekend at the Halifax Exhibition Centre. First is the Winter Warmer, a 6.3% ABV beer geared towards the season with spruce tips, cinnamon, bitter orange peel and blackstrap molasses. Citra hops provide an additional citrus kick. Also at the show will be Night Shift on the Palisade, and IPA featuring Topaz and (surprise!) Palisadehops. So if you find yourself at the Guy Show (even if it’s because you got roped into going to the Christmas Craft Village next door, do check out these two new brews!

• Meanwhile, at Tidehouse’s Tiny Tasty Beverage Room on Salter Street, another new beer is hitting the taps called Do Make Say Drink, another IPA, this one built on a malt base of 2-Row barley to which Vienna and Melanoidin were added for a balancing malt character and body. Hops were largely Citra and the beer was fermented with clean and neutral American ale yeast. And already on tap from earlier this week is the Cosmic Blonde, a mash-up of the Belgian Blonde style with very new world hop varieties including Amarillo, Galaxy, Citra, and Mosaic. Multiple Belgian yeast strains were used in this one to develop fruity, spice and peppery notes to complement the tropical and citrus hop presence. Lastly, it was announced this week that Tidehouse will be hosting a tap takeover event to celebrate their first birthday at Tom’s Little Havana. on December 9th. We’ll have more information on that, hopefully including a tap list, in the coming weeks.

• Although the release date is not yet set in stone, Sober Island Brewing on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore is expecting to bring out a new beer very soon. Juniper IPA is an IPA in the West Coast style that’s been loaded with dry hop additions from Wicked Hops near Stewiacke, including Magnum, Chinook, Centennial and Cascade varieties. Also added in the last 10 minutes of the boil were three pounds of macerated juniper berries. The beer looks to be coming in at 6.3% ABV and some 58 IBU, and it may yet see a little bit of tweaking, as two more pounds of juniper berries are still available for additional dry hopping. Look for this one to be available as early as next weekend.

• And if you’ll recall, Sober Island also has a homebrew competition for beers featuring foraged ingredients, with the entries due on Wednesday, November 15th at Bramoso Pizza on Quinpool Road in Halifax, or Thursday, November 16th, at Cavicchi’s Meats on St. Margaret’s Bay Road in Tantallon during their Bangers & Beer event. We’ve also heard some rumours that drop-off may be possible at Noble Grape locations, but you’ll probably want to verify that before you go trying to drop your beer off as described in this Facebook post right here. Keep your eye on Sober Island’s social media (Facebook, Twitter) and the Facebook event page for any last minute details, and we’re looking forward to hearing the results announced on Sunday, November 26th, at the competition finale at Henley House in Sheet Harbour.

Plenty on the go this weekend, but do keep in mind that the provincial beer stores will be closed tomorrow in observance of Remembrance Day, and private stores and breweries are closing or delaying their opening:

• Don’t forget that the James Joyce Irish Pub in Fredericton is holding Deja Brew, their second New Brunswick Tap Takeover, today from noon till close. They’ve installed new draft lines and made the use of jockey boxes to have over 30 beers on tap, with just about every brewery in the province representing. It’s pay as you go, with flights available as usual. Coincidentally, the NBCBA (New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association, the local homebrew club in the region) is holding a Meet and Greet at the JJ from 6-10 pm, so flag one of the members down if you have any questions about brewing beer at home!

• Members of Foghorn‘s new KV Beer Club have the opportunity to participate in KV Beer School, a one-hour learning experience on the subject of beer, on Tuesday, November 14th from 7-8 pm. Brewer/co-owner Andrew Estabrooks will be discussing a brief history of beer, beer styles, and basically answering any beer-related questions you have on your mind. Club members can RSVP by emailing steve@drinkfoghorn.ca; it’s first-come, first-serve, to RSVP today!

• Dartmouth’s Battery Park continues their run of dedicating tap lines to a local brewery with their Boxing Rock Tap Takeover on Thursday, November 16th from open till close. Featuring Shelburne, Nova Scotia’s favourite brewery, Boxing Rock will be bringing 15 different beers to pour until they’re gone! There’s a good chance a brewery member or two will be on hand to answer any BR-related questions you may have. Keep an eye on the event link above for a taplist to be revealed in the near future.

• The original Gahan House in Charlottetown, PEI, is releasing a beer next Thursday that celebrates the coming winter, or at least the shorter days on the way to winter. Shortest Day is a spiced milk stout, black, opaque, and topped with a dark, lingering head. It features a prominent vanilla aroma with toasty undertones and it’s been spiced with nutmeg for a festive flair. It comes in at a very drinkable 5.3% ABV and you can be among the first to try it by attending the Shortest Day Celebration at the Gahan House on November 16th. At the event you’ll find live music, sampling of the beer, and a chance to win a prize package that includes a night at the Great George Hotel and dinner for two at Sims Corner Steakhouse on the official shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice on December 21st.

Big Spruce is celebrating the release in cans of their 100% Nova Scotia-made beer, One Hundred, with a special Launch Party at Horton Ridge on Saturday, November 18th at 2 pm. For those who’ve forgotten, the beer features grain grown and malted at Horton Ridge, together with wild yeast and hops harvested at the Big Spruce farm in Nyanza. There’ll be live music at the event from 3-6 pm, and pizza from The Rustic Crust at 4 pm. More details to come, stay tuned to the event page as the date gets closer.

• If you’re in the Charlottetown area and would love to learn more about the aromas and flavours you’re experiencing in your beer, HopYard has just the answer! On Saturday, November 25th, they’re holding a Guided Tasting with PEI’s only certified-Cicerone, Bryan Carver, at 11 am. Bryan will lead you through four beers brewed in Atlantic Canada, and will help you discover aspects of beer you never knew existed! The perfect way to make you a better friend of your favourite beverage, tickets are just $25 and can be picked up in advance at HopYard.

• It’s quite a ways off, but Halifax Curated already has the date for their East Coast Cider Festival, which will happen on Saturday, June 16th, 2018. There’ll be two sessions (1-4 pm, and 6-9 pm) pouring plenty of cider, with 16 cideries from Nova Scotia already signed up, as well as a couple from New Brunswick and one from Ontario. Early-bird tickets are already on sale ($30 + tax and fees) through the link above, so if you’re a cider fan, it makes sense to buy yours today! The event will be held at the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Centre, and will also have food vendors on-site.

Just a few more things to get you up to speed before we let you go today:

Bulwark has re-released their Winter Cider, a 7% ABV blended cider infused with cinnamon and nutmeg; available in bottles now.
Lazy Bear has brewed up another batch of their Norwegian, a take on a traditional style from, you guessed it, Norway, brewed with juniper-infused water and a yeast that ferments at almost unheard-of temperatures. It comes in at 7% ABV and should be around at the Annapolis Royal market tomorrow morning.
– One of Picaroons most popular seasonals, Winter Warmer (7.3% ABV, 35 IBUs) is back for the colder weather; look for it in bottles and on tap wherever Picaroons beers are normally found.

Fans of great beer in Halifax are no stranger to the name Stillwell. Since 2013 the bar has been pouring the best in local beer, bringing in tasty treats from other parts of the country and beyond, pioneering the modern beer garden concept in HRM, and putting on events that have spoiled our little city for world-class beer. Throughout that time they’ve teamed with local breweries for collaborations and contract brews under the Stillwell brand, including several mixed fermentation beers that have showcased the tastes and interests of Christopher Reynolds, one of the three primary owners of the bar. Back in spring of this year word got out that Chris had decided to take another leap of faith and start Stillwell Brewing in the spirit of some of his own personal favorite breweries. Although we’ve already seen the release of Stilly Pils, a hoppy, rugged and eminently drinkable brew that was a highlight of the late summer season at the Stillwell Beer Garden, we are quickly approaching the first bottle releases from the brewery, the culmination of many months of fermenting, aging and blending, bottling, and aging some more. We caught up with Chris to find out more about who and what his inspirations are, why he (finally!) decided to start the brewery, and what we’re likely to see from Stillwell Brewing in the coming weeks, months and years.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is the team involved in your brewery?
The brewery is mainly a project of mine (Chris), borne out of a desire to create the sorts of beers that I a) really love to drink and b) aren’t available locally. Namely, mixed-fermented, bone-dry beers. De La Senne, Oxbow, Jester King, etc. I am the main brewer, recipe maker, yeast steward and squeegee operator.

I made the first 10 batches with brewer Kyle Jeppesen, but unfortunately he’s had to take a job abroad, kind of an offer he couldn’t refuse. He was very bummed leave SBC, but given the experimental nature of the brewery, it was not (and may never be) in a position to pay anyone a salary, myself included.

Nikki Lockington, my lady, is also a daily contributor to the brewery. She helps me to plan beers and label designs, and takes care of a lot of logistics in terms of materials, and (eventually) sales.

I would say that the staff at Stillwell are officially and unofficially involved, too. Sam Fraser made our logo (from her tap wall handwriting, a ubiquitous feature of the bar), and Graeme, our chef, made a joke suggestion for a beer, which will be one of our first releases (“Sport”). Everyone kind of weighs in and offers support and feedback.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Being lucky enough to drink great stuff around people passionate about great stuff. Bar Volo was a real influence, as were a lot of the great beer books out there (Beaumont, Pashley, etc.), and finally and most importantly, traveling. We opened Stillwell in 2013 and beer has been my full time life ever since.

What made you decide to take the step of opening a brewery?
I’ve always enjoyed making beer. Homebrewing, as you would probably agree, is a wonderfully meditative process, and is something that makes me use a different part of my brain (and body – it is a workout). Personally, I find I’m happiest when I’m making or creating something, and unfortunately making bars and restaurants all the time, though I’ve certainly tried, is incredibly difficult and risky. Brewing a beer, as risky and big a process as it is at the commercial level, allows me a creative outlet. For several years, brewing my beers in other people’s breweries fully scratched the itch, but eventually I found that the beers suffered a little by not being fully in my control (and, mostly, on my timeline). I always said I would never open a brewery, but listening to an episode of The Sour Hour featuring Troy Casey of Colorado’s Casey Brewing and Blending, I realized that his set-up is actually attainable and manageable by me. Basically, a lot of oak, bottles and time, and some years of experience with yeasts and recipes, and it finally clicked that I could – and should – take the leap. In business and in life, if something is a foregone conclusion, like I just know it will work, I have to listen to that and take the leap.

What is the ethos of the brewery?
I’m looking for the brewery to be just like the bar, i.e., a “workshop” that will hopefully sustain us long enough to realize some goals in beer. I want to produce beers of character that are super drinkable, but immediately special. I’m very inspired by the family-sized breweries of Belgium, places like Cantillon and De Dolle. I love that they’re run by a small handful of family and friends, they make what they like, sell what they can, and aren’t bound by a group of stakeholders, production schedules and crazy equipment loans looming over their heads. When I hear someone is opening a brewery, I want to know that they have something to say with their beer, and I believe that I and we do, in this case.

Do you have an approximate opening date?
I would say that we’re technically “open” as of April, i.e., we’ve been brewing in our own space since then. We released Stilly Pils in August, which went great, but I was only able to get around to brewing a new batch in mid-September, which, of course, won’t be ready for months. On November 18 and 19 we will finally have a bottle release at the bar and brewery, and once we have bottles out, with the promise of more to follow, I think it’ll feel a little more real.

Can you tell us about the beers you’ll be offering initially?
Stilly Pils is something we want to make over the long haul, with tweaks along the way. A house beer for our bar and beergarden, we’ll try to have it on as much as possible. It’s my quest to make the ultimate pilsner, which, of course, can never end.

Most of the rest of our beers are and will be blends of barrel aged and/or barrel fermented farmhouse ales. We have bitter things, sours things, funky things, pale things, darker things, complex things, clean things, etc., in various stages of fermentation, and from those we’re blending and bottling.

The very first bottle release will be Stillwell Four, this year’s beer to celebrate the birthday of the bar. It’s a tart and effervescent farmhouse ale aged in a single sauvignon blanc barrel. We’ll be pouring it at our 4th Birthday Party before selling bottles the next day from our warehouse location.

Another of the earlier releases is called Sport, a tart barrel fermented farmhouse ale with sea salt and lime zest added. It’s margarita, gatorade and sour beer all in one, with notes of coconut and vanilla, and is bright as all get-out, with a big, rocky, long lasting head. It’s awesome and almost ready.

Possibly released on the same day will be Gosh, a tart red wine barrel aged farmhouse ale heavily dry-hopped with Mosaic. There’s a lovely fruit-meets-dankness of the hops on the nose, with tons of fruit character also showing through from the fermentation. The beer is very sparkly and, near the finish, the grapey, red wine character starts to show itself, and really comes out in the tannic, grippy finish. You immediately want another sip.

In mid-September I brewed a beer which, other than Stilly Pils, might be our first beer that won’t see oak. It’s my quest for Taras Boulba, or even young Stillwell 3. Hops and restrained fermentation character. It may see kegs, but I’m not sure yet.

Everything is a one-off until it’s not!

What are your plans for distribution (aka, how can people try your beer)?
A lot of this will be decided by the reception. If the beers are good and people buy them, then we’ll have a better idea of how this could look. I’ll say we’re making pretty niche beers and we’re not planning to get into the licensee keg game at all. We will likely have to export to sell all of our bottles, and we’ve been speaking to some agents in provinces abroad. We’re predominantly packaging bottles and most kegs will be just for Stillwell and the Beergarden, locally. We will never do growlers. Bottles will be available via our bottle release days (i.e., out of the brewery on certain afternoons), and very possibly available to-go from Stillwell (working on that licensing). We might look at figuring out a separate-from-Stillwell tasting room in a year or three, if that ever makes sense. I have some ideas!

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We don’t, but there are some restaurants in the city who I think may carry our beers, mostly pals. We won’t really be on tap anywhere.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries or people along the way?
100%. I owe a debt to North Brewing for hosting a whole slew of contract and collab brews, to Boxing Rock, Big Spruce & Bar Volo for making collabs with me in the early days, and to Propeller for renting me the space on Gottingen to work. Greg Nash from Unfiltered lent me some stuff yesterday. It’s true that we have a very collaborative and friendly industry. In terms of knowledge, there have been many brewers, especially in the U.S. and Belgium who’ve been willing to have a chat and throw me an opinion or two.

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
I’d love to see us have a solid reputation for great farmhouse-style beer. We kind of have that already, so I guess I just hope we don’t frig that up! I’d like to create a job or two. I’d like to attend some cool festivals. I’d like to be happy drinking our beer!

What type of system are you brewing on, and what is your expected output?
We’re brewing on a very old, very manual 15bbl, two-vessel steam-powered brewhouse. The same kit Propeller brews their one-offs on. We have no expectation of yearly or monthly output.

Care to share some info on your homebrewing history?
Sure – I first started with kits in Toronto in 2010ish, then moved to Halifax and started really playing with mixed fermentations. I won something in a Brewnosers home brew competition, which was a real honour. I pretty quickly moved from homebrewing to collab brewing commercially — having a bar to buy the beer is pretty helpful when convincing a brewery to do a collab, and luckily they were all great. Definitely learned lots doing this — anytime one co-brews either at home or in a brewery one learns something, of course.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery whose beers you particularly enjoy drinking?
I like dry beers for the most part. I like hoppy beers and bitter beers. I like drinkability in beer most. Give me De La Senne Taras Boulba, Birrificio Italiano Tipopils and Mahr’s Brau Ungespundet and I’m a very happy man. Granite Ringwood. A good cask bitter or mild. A vintage barleywine. A geuze – any will do. Saisons from the classics to Quebec.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Yeast first, then hops. I like Noble hops primarily, or their hybrid descendants. Saison & Pils.

How can folks keep up to date with the latest news and brews?
@stillwellbrewing on Instagram

A big thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer our many questions and hopefully give the uninitiated a good idea of what he’s got planned for Stillwell Brewing. If you like the sounds of what you read here, you should probably mark your calendar for later this month when the first bottled beer, Stillwell Four, becomes available, first for pours during the Stillwell (bar, not brewery) fourth birthday party on the 18th, and then the next day for retail sales at their warehouse location on Gottingen Street (entrance at the rear parking lot of Propeller Brewing). We’re looking forward to sampling not only this release, but the releases of the others Chris mentioned above, as well as those he hasn’t brewed or even dreamt up yet.

Crikey! It looks like the celebrations and shenanigans associated with this past weekend’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards Gala and Reception (check the list of winners here) might have finally taken the edge off the local beer scene for a week, allowing your faithful beer bloggers to catch our collective breath. That’s not to say that there isn’t anything exciting going on, just that there’s a little less to talk about this week. Enjoy the relatively short read (only 2000 words!); we don’t figure it’ll stay this way for long!

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing reached a milestone this week, finally opening to the public and selling beer! Wednesday and Thursday of this week saw AJ Leadbetter with two of his own beers, Daydreamer Pale Ale and Headliner IPA, available for grunter (900 mL) and Growler (1.89 L) fills. They’ll be open again today from 2 – 6 PM for the same, but do note that until their point-of-sale system arrives it’s cash-only. Grunters are $7 for a fill and Growlers are $12. If you don’t have any to fill, grunters and growlers are both available for purchase, as are a selection of swanky Backstage branded fauncy paunts beer glasses, including the Rastal, the Belgian tulip, the Spiegelau IPA, and the Teku 2.0. Congrats to AJ and Beth and everyone who’s worked so hard to make the brewery a reality! Peep our Profile with AJ for a reminder of their beer and learn more about going Backstage…

2 Crows released one of their coveted small batch brews yesterday, Mountain Sounds, a Hopfenweisse brewed by Assistant Brewer Miles Bishop. With a malt grist of Pilsner malt, Wheat malt, and raw Wheat, it was fermented with a Hefeweizen yeast strain to give the banana and clove notes we all expect in the style. Being a Hopfenweisse, however, demands hops, so Miles dry-hopped the beer “judiciously” with Azacca, Citra, and Huell Melon. The end result features “huge notes of fruit salad, tinned peaches, banana, and pear”, accompanied by a full mouthfeel. Pours only for this one at the tasting room, so get down there quick! And as a bit of a heads up, they will be sporting a new release next Saturday (November 4th), I Love You, a Brett– fermented Saison, infused with lemon verbena, care of Phil Holmans of World Tea House. We’ll have all of the nerdy details next Friday.

• Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing has an au courant brew ready for All Hallows’ Eve and, perhaps, reminiscing about classic Halifax haunts from the 80s. GothStout is an American Stout, featuring citrusy Centennial hops added at both the beginning of the boil, for bitterness, and towards the end, for a flavourful hop presence and aroma. The body is dark and roasty from the use of roasted barley, kiln coffee and pale chocolate malts. Said to pair well with Bauhaus or The Cure, we’ll wager it also wouldn’t go amiss with a little Sisters of Mercy or Siouxsie and the Banshees either. Head on down to the Tiny Tasting Room and see whether GothStout is really as black as your soul. And while this beer will have come and gone by the time it opens, the TH family have announced that they will be filling the three beer taps at aFrite Restaurant on Lower Water, when it opens in late November.

• Continuing on the popular release of their DDH Luster in late summer, TrailWay is releasing DDH Hu Jon Hops today at the brewery. Their flagship 6.5% ABV American IPA, HJH is typically packed full of hop flavour and aroma, and TW promises an experience at the next level with this double-dry-hopped version. A second dry hop with Citra and Mosaic was added, giving a flavour of “saturated hop juice”, coming across as “very fruity with some dankness”, according to the brewery. Available today at noon at the brewery on tap and in cans, and likely a few kegs will pop up around Fredericton, as is usual for these limited releases.

• Erica and Kelly C. continue their exploits on the Good Robot pilot system with another new BetaBrewsday release next Tuesday. Falling on Halloween, they were reminded of Dia de Muertos, or “Day of the Dead”, a multi-day, annual holiday in Mexico; Erica was lucky enough to attend the celebrations in Oaxaca a few years ago, and was introduced to a wide variety of molé sauces, with her favourite being molé negra. With chocolate and spices working so well in certain beer styles, she created (with help from Kelly C. and Maria Josey) Holy Molé, a 5.3% ABV Brown Ale brewed with 2-row, Crystal 120 L, Wheat malt, Roasted Barley, and Chocolate Wheat malt. Hopped lightly with East Kent Goldings to just 11 IBUs, of course the ingredients didn’t rest here – a small amount of thyme, cumin, cinnamon, clove, and sesame were added in the boil, with fire-roasted peppers and avocado leaves being thrown into the fermenter.

• Be on the lookout for Sober Island Brewing‘s small (relatively speaking) cans to be hitting the shelves next week. 473 ml cans of their Blonde Ale (renamed Marigold) and Oyster Stout (now known as Beth’s Blackout) will both be found at Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar beginning November 2nd. They will be running a tasting that afternoon from 4-6pm, where you can grab a taste before grabbing a can (or two). They are still using the crowler format for on-demand fills, but the smaller format will allow them to have packaged beer more readily available in the HRM area.

• As part of this weekend’s Devour! The Food and Film Fest, the 2017 Taste of Nova Scotia Awards were announced yesterday, with all of the winners sharing close ties to the cider and beer world. Congratulations to Product of the Year Something Different from Annapolis CiderRestaurant of the Year The Grand Banker in Lunenburg, Server of the Year Nicole Raufeisen of Little OakCulinary Ambassador of the Year Chris and Melissa Velden of The Flying Apron Inn & Cookery , and Producer of the Year Benjamin Bridge.

• And a big congratulations to Alicia MacDonald and Sonja Mills of Port Rexton Brewing, who were recognized with the Trailblazer Award by Newfoundland And Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs. Opening a brewery in a small town more than 3 hours from the closest city takes a special passion that these two entrepreneurs are demonstrating. Building both their local community in Port Rexton, and the community of breweries opening in other small towns in the province, their win is much-deserved. Celebrate with the entire PR crew this weekend at the brewery, as they celebrate the end of the season. The bar is open 2-10PM today, 1-10PM Saturday, and 11AM-6PM Sunday, for you to enjoy samples, pints, music (Saturday night), and then grab a few growlers to enjoy at home during the week. Costumes are highly encouraged!

We have two exciting developments in “coming soon/not-so-soon” beers in our region:

• In planning for months, a collaboration between artist and breweries will come to fruition next month. Artist Erin McGuire is the man behind “By The Numbers“, a piece of art he created inspired by The Tragically Hip. Being a beer fan from the South Shore, McGuire reached out to Boxing Rock (who in turn wanted to collaborate with Garrison) to turn his art into a beer label, with a portion of proceeds of the beer going to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. The collaborative beer, Courage (for Gord Downie), will be a 6.0% Amber Wheat Ale, with a limited run of just 2000 bottles, coming in late November. For those Hip and beer fans looking to pay tribute, and help fund brain tumour research before then, prints of “By The Numbers” are available through McGuire now.

• In the not-so-soon department, the crew from North Brewing took the first steps of a multi-month (multi-year?) journey last weekend. After preparing a low-ABV-potential, high-wheat wort using the turbid mash method (put on your beer goggles, take a deep dive and prepare to lose a few hours while researching!) at their Agricola Street location, they trucked the wort to the vineyard at Benjamin Bridge Winery. At that point, the still-hot wort was pumped into a shallow metal container named a coolship. The vessel’s large surface area and shallow depth allow for a quick cooling (normally requiring lots of water and a heat exchanger). At this point, yeast would normally be added by the brewers, but in taking advantage of the wild yeast and flora growing on the grapes and leaves in the vineyard, the wort was allowed to spontaneously ferment (or innoculate). An overnight process to ensure enough yeast found their way through the cheesecloth (to keep any insects or other nasties out!), the beer was then pumped into Benjamin Bridge barrels, and brought back to HRM. The beer will now ferment and condition over the course of many months, and could potentially lead to a multi-year blend of future brews (think Gueuze, from Brussels). We’ll be keeping you up-to-date with this beer as it develops

In addition to your own Halloween-themed parties this weekend, here a few others to keep in mind in the coming weeks!

Horton Ridge will be hosting a special event for Halloween this year, featuring one of the Gold Medal-winning beers from this year’s ACBAs. Hortonville’s Pumpkin Ale, which we told you about a few weeks ago, was brewed by Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery brewer Stefan Gagliardi using hefty amounts of Horton Ridge organic Vienna and Munich malts as well as home-smoked pumpkin and plenty of spices. The beer will be available for pints and as part of flights on Tuesday Oct 31 from 1 – 9 PM while supplies last. Of course there will be other Horton Ridge-brewed and guest beers on tap for this event.

Lion & Bright will be hosting Charlottetown’s Upstreet for an 8-tap takeover next Thursday, November 2nd. Featuring some of their core beers, plus plenty of special and one-offs, there will be food and drink deals from 5PM. Come and meet the Upstreet crew, jam on some tunes, and have a fun night out!

• Not quite getting your fill of New Brunswick beer? The James Joyce in Fredericton has been a strong supporter of breweries in the province over the past couple of years, but on Friday, November 10th, they’re pushing the envelope – and adding taps! – to try and have beer available from every brewery in New Brunswick. The event is currently unnamed, but they’re doing all they can to ensure every brewery is able to participate, including adding lines, jockey boxes, and kegerators! The last time they attempted this it was a bit easier, with only 18 breweries open in the province; now, it’s over 30. There’s no charge to attend, just show up when they open at 11:30 am, and pay by the pint or flight!

Just a couple more things before we send you off:

Grimross has released Scratch #7: Skinny Pale Ale at their brewery in Fredericton; they’re describing it as a 5.8% ABV mix of a “Belgian meeting a California Pale Ale”. Scratch is available now, and/or drop by on Saturday for a taste, when they’ll also have their Schwarzbier on cask, featuring additions of orange peel and Citra hops.
– We teased a few weeks ago that Rothesay’s Long Bay would be bottling soon, and that day has come! One of their flagship beers, Bantam APA, is the first to be available in bottles, which you can find for sale at the brewery, as well as KV and Saint John ANBL stores (check inventory). Look for their first Belgian beer, Chalice, to follow suit over the next couple of days.
– While Uncle Leo’s mixed 4-pack of German Ales is still available at select NSLC stores in the region, it looks like the next local variety pack will be a 6-pack featuring two bottles each of three different ciders from Bulwark, going on sale as of November 20th.