Another massive news week for you today, as breweries continue to do their best in these extremely tough situations. And with your faithful bloggers dealing with a bunch of their own stuff (read: real work), today’s post is a little late. Sorry ‘bout that, but we’re sure you’ll forgive us. 🙂
We’ve added just a few more updates to our Delivery/curbside pickup options for the region this week, including Breton’s foray into HRM delivery. As always, if we’ve missed something, or just want to chat, get in touch via email or social media (Ig and Tw preferred, but Fb exists too). Take care of yourselves! 💙
We have some sad news to report this week, as Halifax’s stalwart Granite Brewery has closed their doors. Ginger’s Tavern owner Kevin Keefe opened Granite in 1985, well before microbrew/craft/local independent beer was a thing. So far before, in fact, that Granite Brewery was the first brewpub in North America east of the Rocky Mountains! It was more than ten years until the next small breweries opened their doors in the province, with Garrison and Propeller not appearing until the late 90s. After moving locations in the downtown core, Granite called Stairs Street home for ten years until the building came down due to redevelopment last year, and they shacked up on Gottingen Street with Propeller and Stillwell Brewing. Brewing traditional cask-conditioned English styles, many a pint was enjoyed at Ginger’s, Henry House, and Lion’s Head, and more recently Stillwell’s HQ and Freehouse, and the style and quality of these beers garnered a fiercely loyal following. At their best we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that beers like their Peculiar, Best Bitter, Best Bitter Special and Ringwood were some of the best traditional English Ales on this side of the Atlantic. But with the mandated closure of restaurants and bars in the past 2 months and Granite’s nature as a non-packaging brewery, their biggest customers were no longer able to sell their beer. Plenty more details, including comments from Kevin are available on the independent news site AllNovaScotia (note: subscription-based).
We’d like to say a big thanks to Kevin Keefe, his family and all his staff over the years for everything they did to bring good beer to our little corner of the world, and wish him a well-deserved retirement. Our scene will be less for having lost Granite; we can hope that another brewery (or breweries) can fill some of the stylistic holes, but we know nobody can truly replace Kevin and his brewery.
We’re starting to see some new beers lately that are named in an appropriate-for-the-time manner, and Lunenburg’s Shipwright’s latest – Laid Up India Pale Lager – is no exception. Brewed with Belgian Pilsner and Biscuit malt, the wort was generously hopped with Citra and Hallertau Blanc. Lagered for eight weeks, the final beer is showing flavours of “citrus, pineapple, papaya, and herbaceous pine”, with a refreshing crispness in the finish. Coming in at 6.4% ABV and 42 IBUs, it’s available at the brewery in 32 oz crowlers (to-go, of course), as well as daily deliveries in Lunenburg, and Friday deliveries from Bridgewater to Chester, all accessible by a quick phone call (902-634-3300). Check out our delivery details page for more specifics.
Moving west in the province to Lazy Bear, who also have a new beer out this week. Unprecedented Pale is a 5% ABV American Pale Ale that was brewed with a malt bill made up almost entirely of Pilsner malt. Hopped with Columbus in the kettle, it was later dry-hopped with more Columbus, as well as some Southern Cross, a New Zealand variety, to add some citrus character. At 5% ABV and approximately 30 IBUs, it’s available in 500 mL bottles and growler fills; a portion of the proceeds will go towards the purchase of a tablet for residents of Tideview Terrace, to be used for communication with loved ones. They’ve also got other beers available for local delivery and contactless pick-up, so check out their online shop to decide on your order.
On to Tatamagouche Brewing, where, thankfully for us, they’ve continued to brew up a storm and even have a couple new beers for us this week! First up is a style we all need more of in our lives, Grisette. Skiff is a 3.3% ABV representation of the style was brewed with a Pilsner malt base, along with Oats and Spelt. Hopped in the kettle with Aramis, Saaz, and Callista, it was fermented with Escarpment’s New World Saison (which contains both Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces yeast strains) in stainless. Dry-hopped with more Callista and Saaz, as well as some Tettnanger, the final beer was conditioned in 500 mL bottles, and has “refreshing aromas of honeysuckle, lychee, and an earthy funk that brings out flavours of honey, mango, and a drying finish”.
Next up in new beer news is First Light Pilsner, a 4.8% ABV, 30 IBUs Czech Pils hopped with plenty of Saaz and Strisselspalt, and fermented with Czech Lager yeast from Escarpment. Expect a crisp, refreshing beer with a healthy amount of earthy/floral hop character; cans can be ordered from Tata’s online store as of today. And while you’re on there, they’ve also got a new batch of their Dusk Schwarzbier, as well as their popular Dekorum, the 2.9% ABV Light Lager, which is one of the newbies on sale at NSLC. Their store is open Mon – Sat 10 AM – 5 PM, but for those not in the Tata’hood, don’t forget about their free shipping/delivery in the Maritimes for orders over $95, and Canada-wide for orders over $150!
On North Street in Halifax, a new beer from Unfiltered is out, this one going a step further than their Hellevator from last year in exploring the maltier side of things. Like way malty. Way way malty. Like, as hoppy as a typical Nash beer is, this one is that malty. Okay, maybe not that far (you’d be spitting barley husks if it were), but definitely a change of pace for a brewery usually known for hammering in the hops. A Doppelbock, a German monastic style that falls under the general description of “bread in a bottle,” Isolator, was also aged on oak for a time, no doubt providing some tannins to balance the sweet nature of the beer. And if none of that was enough to get you interested, Unfiltered is also using this big beer (10% ABV!) to help raise funds for an important organization in our community, Adsum House for Women and Children. One dollar from every can sold will go to this very worthy cause that brings comfort and assistance to folks in their darkest times, and for many of those people the current COVID situation has only made times darker. So whether or not you know you’re a fan of big bready beers, this would be a great chance to try one and support a great cause.
Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing is bringing us two brand new hoppy beers during their Salter Street curbside pick up event tomorrow, 12 – 5 PM. Kicking it off is the appropriately named Noon Gun, a little 3.4% ABV beer packed with Vic Secret late in the boil, and bumped up with Ella at both the beginning and end of fermentation (biotransformation, anyone?). Fresh as heck but without the hop burn, hazy and juicy, and in a nice light package, this sounds like a perfect beer for enjoying on a May afternoon lounging on Citadel Hill, sufficiently separated from your neighbour, that is!
And a little bit bigger than NG is For Greg About It! Developed, brewed, and named with their pal Greg in mind, this 7.0% ABV beaut features the deadly combination of Galaxy, Mosaic (added at the very end of the boil), and Citra (added during conditioning). Tropical, dark berry, and pine meld together for a 1 Up by using the “cheat code” in hop combinations.
So, how to get your Tidehouse love? You’ve got a new option this week: call in your order this afternoon between 2 – 5 PM, and then drop by tomorrow 12 – 5 PM for a contactless grab and go. Or, if you prefer, you can call them during the pick up time to order and pay, just give them 15 minutes to put it all together for ya. Either way, 902-407-2550 is your path to success!
Inverness’s Route 19 Brewing recently celebrated their 1st Birthday, and while the official celebrations may be over (and in these current times, were likely less exuberant than they should have been), they’ve still got new beer for us, with this week bringing Supernova, a New England IPA. Double-dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado, it’s a 6% ABV hazy brew with lots of citrus and tropical fruit, a soft mouthfeel, and aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, according to the brewery. You should be able to find it at NSLC stores in Cape Breton now, and it will be available further afield at the private stores and a few more NSLCs in HRM and environs later this month; $0.50 of each can sold in May will be donated to the Stronger Together Nova Scotia Fund. And while you’re shopping for Route 19, their Dog Daze Passionfruit Sour just hit the shelves of the HRM NSLCs, and is coming soon to the private shops.
With sightings of American juggernaut hard seltzer brand White Claw in Halifax, and no doubt to follow if not already present in the other provinces here in Atlantic Canada, lots of breweries are taking steps to fend off the potential glut of these fruity and super easy-drinking beverages. While our craft providers have managed to hold their own against lots of similar ready-to-drink products in the last couple of years, given the current situation any deterioration in market is going to be dangerous. So it’s not surprising that we’ve started to see breweries enter that market, with examples so far coming from Trailway, North, Good Robot, and Hell Bay, all of which have brewed with grains and then used techniques to keep “beer” flavor low. Enter Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing, who have stepped up the technical side of things by implementing a proprietary nano-filter resulting in something that they are referring to as a UFO: Ultra-filtered, Fermented Organic beverage. Still “beer-based,” starting with 100% Horton Ridge Pale malt and using clean-fermenting yeast, after the filtering process raspberry essence is added and the result is carbonated yielding a super-crisp and clean fruity bevvie coming in right at 5% ABV. Throw a couple ice cubes in the glass and pour some Bliss in and you’ve got yourself a recipe for relaxing in the sun. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, sure, but we’re not into beverage shaming. We are, however, definitely into pointing folks towards a local option where possible, and this certainly fits the bill. And with Jeremy & Co. promising more flavors coming, we’re happy to keep pointing to Bliss and other local products over megacorporate malternatives.
Back to the mainland, and Garrison Brewing, for a big release of their own this week. Playing off their very popular Juicy Double IPA, but easing back on the alcohol a touch, they have brought us Lil’ Juicy. At a still-solid 6.0% ABV, what it may be lacking in booze, it still keeps up with tons of flavour and aroma from generous hopping from a quartet of lovely hops, namely Citra, Comet, Mosaic, and Simcoe. These meld together for tropical notes, reminiscent of citrus, peach, and pineapple on the nose, and OJ, mango, complemented by a touch of malt sweetness on the palate (that’s 2-row and Oat malt in the grist). Nicknamed the “scrappy little brother” of Juicy, it is available now at their Seaport and Oxford retail locations, delivery in HRM and beyond through the brewery directly, and will be at the NSLC and private stores very soon.
Speaking of Garrison, Sydney’s Breton Brewing teamed up with them for their third annual spring collaboration brew. This year’s entry is West Coast Pale Ale, a 5.4% ABV ode to the classic North American style, featuring bold pine, citrus, and fruit flavours thanks to a ton of classic NA hops Cascade and Simcoe. Breton’s Head Brewer Iain Sutherland, a West Coaster himself, took the lead on this brew, which ended up with “an aggressive bitterness”. In addition to brewing partner Garrison’s shops, Breton is carrying it in their own retail shop on Keltic Drive, as well as through their delivery options in both the CBRM, and now, within HRM! Both are next day delivery, Mon – Fri, with a 12 can minimum (and a discount $0.50 per can discount when ordering more than 24!). The full details are available here!
Looks like there should be two new canned beers freshly available at Tusket Falls Brewing for this weekend. They’ve got a classic Czech Pilsner they’ve named Once Blind, Now I See Clearly; brewed with Czech Pilsen malt and hopped entirely with Saaz, it’s 5% ABV and tasting just like a classic Czech Pils should. The other newbie is While You’re Waiting, a “Peach Mint Sour IPA”, a 6.5% ABV kettle sour that we’re betting you can guess a) some of the ingredients in this beer, and b) what it may taste like. This Sour IPA was hopped with Galaxy and Citra, to add lots of tropical notes to the peach character, thanks to the addition of peach puree. Fresh mint was also added as a dry-hop (“dry-mint”?) to complement. Check out their online shop for delivery options if you can’t make it by the brewery.
For those of you in St. John’s looking for an easy-drinking beer, Quidi Vidi has you covered with American Wheat. Featuring a relatively simple grist of 2-row, Vienna, Wheat malt, and Acid malt, it was hopped with Cascade and Lemondrop to add a touch of citrus character to go with the light wheat presence. Pretty sessionable at 4.9% ABV, you can find it now at their retail shop in the city, and at NLC and convenience stores by this coming Monday.
Moving on to New Brunswick, where Grimross Brewing has just released their first new beer in awhile, Gose German Wheat. Their first take on this German, salted, sour style, they’re calling it an evolution of their Scratch #18: Session Sour, a kettle sour originally released a year ago. This time around, it has the additions of salt and coriander that are typical for the Gose style, all in a 4.5% ABV refreshing package. Available now at the brewery, you can call them for contactless pickup.
While on the topic of Newfoundland, just a quick note that Bannerman has brought back State of Emergency, their 7.2% ABV American IPA that is heavily dry-hopped with Citra, and conditioned on mango puree. Sounds tasty, no? This batch should also be available in the new, “smaller format” cans (read: 750 mL), for those of you looking to reign it in a little bit. Keep an eye on their online store for full pick up details and availability.
Brightwood Brewery has an early summer crusher for you, Mojito Crushable. They’re calling this one a “Kombucha Sour”, as they used the SCOBY probiotic from kombucha to kettle sour the wort, before fermenting it to 4.7% ABV. With an addition of pureed fresh strawberry and mint, it’s got the best of both worlds, if the worlds we’re talking about are fruit and Mojito minty goodness. It’s available as of today, so be sure to grab some for the weekend.
While Good Robot may be taking a hiatus from their Beta Brews, it doesn’t mean we can’t expect to see new releases every now and then from their alpha brewhouse. This week they’re bringing us Infinite Saturday, a 5% ABV Vienna Lager. Not many notes on the recipe, but they’re describing it as a smooth, malty brew, with “honey sweetness, herbs and rye, with a nutty smokiness”. They’d also like to pass on that starting next month, expect to see more cans coming, as they’ve decided to can more varieties of their beer so that it’s a little more accessible to the public. Stay tuned!
Roof Hound in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley has opened their Kingston location for food take-out, to complement their beer offerings. Starting today, and running Thurs – Sat, 2 – 7 PM going forward, call in your order of one of their burgers, sandwiches, or tacos in advance, to pair with their wide variety of beers on offer. Check out the full menu of both food and beer here, and then call 902-765-0102 to get the process started!
And rounding out the news is a late entry from Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing (so you can blame the time of this post on them!), but it sounds like it may have been worth the wait. Their newest beer is a limited batch of a “Brett Pilsner” named Different Kind of Dance. Starting off as a fairly traditional German-style Pilsner, it was hopped with Huell Melon, Saphir, and Hallertau Blanc, and fermented with a traditional German Lager yeast. The beer was lagered for nine weeks, and then took a fairly-traditional 2 Crows turn when they inoculated it with the 261 Brett strain from The Yeast Bay. It was allowed to condition for a further 6 months for this secondary fermentation, and was then bottled and conditioned for 5 *more* months. It’s ready to go now, and is tasting “dry, lemony, and herbal, with classic barnyard funk and a bit of zippy guinep [that’s Spanish lime] and a touch of white grape”. They’d also like to point out that the carbonation is extremely lively, so be sure to chill your bottle for a good 24 hours, and have your glass nearby when opening! Only 400 bottles are available (it’s on the webstore now) so grab ‘em while you can.
May the Fourth (be with you) was a big day in Nova Scotia, as it is the launching day for a new round of products in the NSLC. There were no fewer than 50 new beers and ciders from small independent producers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island hitting the shelves for the first time this month. For a quick hit of what’s new, click these links for beer and cider. While certainly not our favourite retailer and licensing monopoly, their reach and popularity is undeniable, so we’re glad to see more shelf space for local producers, to get more eyes on good products.