February is now in full force and it’s another week with lots of news about beer releases and coming events in our region. Have a read and figure out what tasty treats you’re going to put in your sweetheart’s Valentine’s Basket! Because there’s nothing more romantic than beer, right?!
• Despite winning a gold medal at last year’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards for their American IPA, Big Stink, Digby’s Roof Hound Brewing has boldly and bravely gone back to the drawing board to improve on the beer and bring it to the next level. Taking in comments from the judges, they made several procedural changes – including a new carbonation technique – along with some slight recipe adjustments (decreasing the amount of specialty grains), and one “big, bold change” that they’re keeping a secret. It’s still hopped heavily with Mosaic and Columbus, but the brewery is confident that Big Stink 2.0 is better than ever, yet still recognizable to fans of the original. Kegs are going out now to select tap accounts, including for the growler program at Harvest Wines, Rockhead, and WestSide. Bottles will be arriving at those three stores in the near future as well.
• Today, Nine Locks will be releasing the second beer in their Signature Series, Simply A Märzen. As you may have guessed, this one was brewed in the Märzen (aka Oktoberfest) style – a malty, smooth, clean Lager. Head Brewer Jake Saunders brewed this one with malt and hops sourced from Germany, and lagered the beer for six weeks to clean up the beer and allow the flavours to gel. Pouring a copper-red colour, this full-bodied brew has a biscuity aroma and a “rich, elegant malt flavour”, with a restrained hop bitterness in the finish. It weighs in at 5.8% ABV and 22 IBUs, and is available
• Twillingate, Newfoundland’s Split Rock Brewing brought out a new seasonal beer last weekend, their first in the New England IPA style. With a generous amount of oats and flaked wheat in the mash to promote mouth feel and, no doubt, the characteristic New England haze, Lightbringer was fermented with the famous Vermont Ale yeast. Hopped heavily at the whirlpool, active fermentation and dry hop stages with Cascade, Amarillo, and loads of Citra, you should expect plenty of juicy citrus and stone fruit flavours to complement a soft and smooth mouthfeel and some distinct apricot flavours. Designed to be easy drinking, it’s got a “touch” of bitterness and weighs in at 6.4% ABV. You’ll find it at their Stage Head Pub where you can grab a fill or order a pint and raise a glass to the prince that was promised.
• Slowing down a bit after their big 1st Anniversary bash a couple of weekends ago, 2 Crows has nonetheless put a new small-batch beer on tap at their taproom. Universal Mind is a Belgian Pale Ale that was brewed by Assistant Brewer Miles on the brewery’s pilot system. With a grist of Vienna, Wheat, Oats, Spelt, and a little bit of Honey malt, it was hopped with Citra and Hallertau Blanc to 30 IBUs, giving flavours of “bubblegum, pineapple, and spice”. Fermented with the brewery’s house Saison strain to up the fruity esters and spicy phenolics even more, it comes in at 5.8% ABV. Drop by the brewery ASAP to give it a try, as there’s only a couple of kegs available!
• Hanwell’s Niche Brewing is keeping the new beers flowing in their own right, with their sixth release in just seven weeks, hitting the taps in Fredericton this weekend. Ruby Tuesday is their first foray into the Sour Realm, using a pitch of Lactobacillus plantarum (Lacto for short) in the unhopped wort for 36 hours, before boiling to stop acidification and adding a light dose of El Dorado. Fermentation was completed with Amalgamation (a blend of six different Brettanomyces variants), with hibiscus flowers added during the conditioning phase after. The resulting beer features a bright red colour, with floral and berry character in both aroma and flavour, with the tart acidity from Lacto shining through. The beer will debut tomorrow evening at the James Joyce, and will certainly see wider distribution in the province (and beyond?) beginning next week.
• TrailWay is back to American IPAs this week, with the release of a new iteration of one of their more popular beers. DDH Green Island is, as you may have guessed, a double dry-hopped version of the 6% ABV Green Island. Hopped with Cashmere, El Dorado, and Idaho 7, the new version is even more fruity and aromatic than the original, according to the brewery. Releasing today, you can stop by the brewery to pick up your cans for the weekend; it’ll also be available for pints and growlers.
• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing has just released their first Double IPA, Gemini. Weighing in at a hefty 8.8% ABV, there’s lots of bitterness in this package, at a calculated 100 IBUs. Hopped with plenty of the classic Columbus, Simcoe, and Centennial, expect a dank, piney, fruity beer, with a dry, bitter finish. It’s available at the brewery now, and keep your eyes open for it at your favourite Backstage licensee; we can confirm that a keg was sent to Battery Park this week.
• After being closed for renovations, Sackville’s Bagtown Brewing is back open for business, starting today. Their new business hours are Tuesday to Friday (4-6 pm), Saturday (10am-2pm), and Sunday (4-6 pm); you’ll be able to drop by during these hours for growler fills. They hope to have five taps flowing by the end of the month, quite the increase from the previous set-up. Look for their beers to start popping up at bars and restaurants across New Brunswick, as well.
• Next week’s Good Robot Betabrew, Treat Her Like A Lady, is all set to go for its release on Tuesday. Brewed by Kelly Costello and her sister, Hilary, it’s a 4.7% ABV Porter brewed with both Honey malt and real honey (from Fox Hill Market), and hopped to 30 IBUs with Fuggles to balance the sweetness and roasted malt flavours. Also, Steambot Willie, the brewery’s 5.5% ABV, 32 IBU California Common, has returned as of yesterday, and can be found at the brewery’s taproom and other GR accounts.
• Tatamagouche Brewing is bringing back their Oyster Cloister Oyster Stout this weekend, and are throwing a party to celebrate! This Saturday evening, they are holding their own Oyster Cloister party, featuring live music, plenty of oysters from Bay Enterprises (the farm in Malagash that supplies the oysters for this beer), and the launch of the beer. *Tickets are now sold out*, but look for the beer to be available across the rest of province this weekend as well. And keep an eye out for the return of their RR#2 Lager, this year’s batch features hops from their own private hopyard, also in Malagash, with Mount Hood making up the majority of the hopping. And in blatant self-advertising, one of only 2 pins of Crack of Dawn Breakfast Porter (brewed at Tata with acbbchris and 1029Brewing) is in the fridge at Battery Park currently, ready to be put on their nitro tap. This special pin has been aging on bacon for a little bit, to really round out your full breakfast experience.
• More beer in cans seems to be the trend in our region (and probably elsewhere, but we can barely keep up with the local scene at this point!). We saw evidence this week that Bad Apple Brewhouse is packaging their Tom’s Smoked Porter, Propeller their London Porter and Garrison their Pucker Up (this one just in time for Valentine’s Day), all in shiny silver cylinders. And in other packaging news, both Tipsy Toad and Malty Muskrat from Bogtrotter are sporting slick new labels. And the Gahan line from PEI Brewing Company is also getting a brand refresh, modeled after the label change sported for last year’s release of Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale, continuing to their 1772 IPA.
• We received word this week from Spindrift in Dartmouth that they’re on the lookout for another brewer to join Brewmaster Chris Downey on the brewery floor. While an experienced brewer with formal training is preferred, what they are really looking for is an individual who is passionate about both the craft of making beer and the industry. Interested parties are encouraged to peruse the official job posting and submit a résumé.
Lots of new events to keep you busy over the next few weeks!
• Hammond River Brewing is celebrating their 4th Anniversary today at the brewery’s taproom in Rothesay. They’ve come a long way in four years… heck, the difference in the last year particularly has been striking! Join them as they’ll have $6.50 pints all day long, $2 off flights and 1 L growlers, and $3 off all large growler fills. Finally, they’ll be tapping a surprise beer at some point during the day as well. Be sure to drop by and toast their success!
• Just a reminder that Niche Brewing will be holding their official Launch Party tomorrow, February 10th, at the James Joyce Irish Pub at 7 pm. They will be pouring five of the first six beers released by the new brewery (including the brand new Ruby Tuesday that we mentioned above, exclusive to the JJ for the launch); all their beers will be on for Happy Hour prices, and of course flights will be available. Rob and Shawn will be on hand, happy to discuss their beers and their plans for the near future, and merchandise – including glasses, T-shirts, and toques – will be available for purchase. Finally, there will be a draw for two VIP tickets for the afternoon session of this year’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival; if you plan on attending the launch, be sure to enter online before the party!
• The 902BrewCast will be doing something a bit different for February’s Tasting Episode, and they want you to be part of the fun! This episode will feature a panel of women involved in the NS Beer industry, and will be recorded live in front of an audience. The live show will take place at Garrison Brewing February 19th, at 6pm. There are no tickets needed to attend, and the taps will be open during the event ($5 will get you two 12oz pours), so that you can drink along with the hosts and panel. Expect to hear from women involved in all aspects of the beer biz, from brewer to sales folks, to those who just love to drink it! And for those unable to attend, the episode will drop later that week as part of their regular release schedule.
• The team at Lunn’s Mill in Lawrencetown, NS, is finally getting to do something they’ve been thinking about since the days when they were planning their brewery, a “showcase” night, pitting two variations of the same beer against each other to see how a small change can impact the perception of a beer. The beer, in this case, is a Dark Mild brewed by special guest brewer Ian Dares and is called Myld Stallyns (Excellent! ). The variation in play will be packaging and serving style; there will be one version that, in the standard modern fashion, has been force carbonated and pushed to the tap with CO2, and another that will have been put into a cask without external carbonation, pulled using a special pump called a beer engine, and served at a somewhat warmer temperature. This latter presentation, if executed to a certain standard, is known in the UK as “real ale” and, it is argued by its proponents (such as CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale), presents the beer in the most desirable possible way, as a living product that is unadulterated and which changes over time. Here’s your chance to see whether treatment you prefer. The Myld Stallyns Showcase is scheduled for March 2nd at 6 PM and is being touted as the “first” Showcase for Lunn’s Mill, which hopefully means we’ll be seeing more such events.
• Tickets for this year’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival are sold out, but good news if you missed your chance! On Friday, March 9th (the day before FCBF), they’re holding their first Newbie Night, from 6-9 pm at the Fredericton Convention Centre. This event will feature breweries new to the Atlantic Canadian beer scene, who were unable to grab a spot at FCBF due to the limited number of spaces. Up to 12 new breweries will be pouring their beers, and your ticket ($57.50, through the link above) will entitle you to unlimited samples and a special glass to keep. And while we’re on the topic of FCBF, you can still vote for your favourite Atlantic Canadian breweries (if you haven’t already) right here; it may be a bit tough to pick your top three, but it should only take a minute!
Just a couple more things to let you know about this week:
– Riverview’s Celtic Knot is releasing a new variant of their Dark Passage Oatmeal Stout tomorrow. Irish Kiss features additions of cherry and chocolate to the brew, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It will be available in both growler fills and 500ml bottles at the brewery at 23 Biggs Drive. And those who want to celebrate Riverview Winter Carnival with locally-produced beer should drop by the brewery tonight from 8-10 for free samples and $10 growler fills to kick off the final weekend of the event.
– Great news for the folks at Bedford’s Off Track Brewing in Bedford, they have received their full-sized system this week. After brewing on sub-100 litre gear for a couple of months, their 600 litre (5 BBL) system is now on-site and being installed as you read this. Look for the first batches from the big brewhouse to debut in March, with their taproom still open as normal on the weekends (check their FB page for the latest details, of course).