Cicerone Certification Program

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Welp, this is it, the end of January. It felt like it lasted 6 weeks, what with the epic snow seen across the region shutting down entire cities, but we’re emerging from our snow forts and thirsty as heck! Thankfully the brewers didn’t miss a beat and have plenty to satiate our thirst. Let’s get your weekend started now with brand new releases across the region this week, and what’s on the horizon.

Thanks very much to those of you who entered our giveaway for tickets to next weekend’s Craft Beer Cottage Party as part of Savour Food & Wine. Congratulations to Andy L who won the two tickets with his picture of Propeller Sabro on IG. For the rest of us, tickets are still available for the Feb 8 event at Halifax Seaport Beer Festival, with more than 30 breweries and cideries from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI donning their best cottage ware and pouring goodies from their booths. We hope to see you there!

Let’s ease you out of Dry January with a beer hitting the shelves in New Brunswick at the beginning of next week. Niche Brewing is continuing their limited bottle releases with a debut almost two years in the making. Taking inspiration from the Oud Bruin/Flanders Brown style originating in the Flemish region of Belgium, Quintessential is a 6.4% ABV beer with plenty of history. Beginning life in April 2018, this Brown Ale underwent primary fermentation in a Cab Sauv barrel with Niche’s house blend of Sacch and Brett yeasts, aided by a new pitch of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus bacteria for a complex souring profile. Over the next 18 months, they produced not only lactic acid, the same “clean” acidity found in kettle souring, but also some acetic acid character thanks to extra bugs. After bottle conditioning for a few more months, the beer is finally ready. Think rich balsamic acid, dark plum and cherries, with a light oak character. A special beer deserves a special label, so they tapped Maine fine artist Nico Lebarge (no stranger to the beer scene as a designer with Bissell Brothers in Portland) for a painting fit for the release. Bottles of Quintessential will be available at the York Street and Corbett Fredericton ANBLs Monday, and at Dieppe Wednesday. Ask at your local location, and they may be able to bring it in (though with only one barrel of the beer available, there are only so many bottles to go around!). To keep you satisfied this weekend, thankfully, they’ve got a fresh batch of their Single Origin Sweet Coffee Stout pouring around the region. And ready your livers for a tap feature at The Joyce on February 22nd, with twelve Niche beers flowing, including several small batch one-offs brewed specifically for the event. 

Dieppe’s O’Creek Brewing has one new beer and one returning beer on tap this week. Starting with the newbie, which is appropriately named Raspberry Milk Stout. This is a Sweet Stout (meaning it features an addition of lactose powder in the boil) that had raspberry puree added once fermentation was complete. The result is a dark beer with a smooth creaminess, as well as subtle notes of raspberry. Full bodied, with low bitterness, it weighs in at 5.5% ABV. It’s currently available on tap for growler/crowler fills at the Pump House Fill Station in Moncton. Returning is I.P.Address, a very popular NEIPA that was last seen back in June. Brewed with a simple grist of 2-row malt, wheat, and oats, this batch was fermented with a different yeast strain than previous batches. Hopped with Vic Secret, Centennial, El Dorado, and Mosaic, expect “smooth tropical fruit, citrus notes, and a mild bitterness”; it comes in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs. Look for it at the Growler Bar at the ANBL in Dieppe on Regis St, where it should be pouring alongside Raspberry Milk Stout as well.

Despite the extra crappy weather Newfoundland has been seeing this month, Port Rexton Brewing has been keeping themselves busy, with the result being lots of beer news for this week! Let’s start with their latest bottle release, shall we? Cellar Season – 2019 Barrel-aged Gose is just what you’d expect it to be! Once brewed, the kettle-soured base beer was fermented in stainless before being transferred over to a red wine barrel. The Brett D strain from Escarpment Labs was pitched at this point, and the beer was allowed to age (and develop lots of pineapple and funk character) for 14 months. A limited amount of bottles are available (300, with a limit of 2 pp); the 4.1% ABV beer is showing “hints of oak and red wine” to go with the Brett funk, with all of it being “complemented by a touch of minerality and refreshing tartness” before finishing nice and dry. In draught news, the latest in their hoppy Continuum series is out; Continuum w/ Simcoe has a whole lotta Simcoe in the whirlpool, hop back, and dry-hop additions, accompanied by Mandarina Bavaria, giving this 5.6% ABV IPA a “candy-like sweetness on the aroma, with a distinct piney character on the palate”. Finishing moderately bitter, you can find this one right at the source and at their shop on Torbay Road. And coming tomorrow is their latest foray into Gluten-free beer, Coffee Brown. As the name implies, this 6.5% ABV Brown Ale features an addition of coffee, thanks to their neighbours at Trinity Coffee Company. A touch of malt sweetness and a light mouthfeel meld with the strong coffee aroma and flavour to round out the brew. The Retail Shop kegs will be tapped at noon tomorrow, and with the GF pilot system less than 100 litre capacity, it won’t last long, so be sure to drop by early to avoid disappointment.

We may be in the depths of winter, but the gang at Good Robot in Halifax is on a mission to bring some tropical and sunny times our way through February, beginning with a couple of new beers on the go. First up, from brewer and yeast wrangler Gio comes Boom, a “conch style Bahamian lager” at 5.4% ABV and 20 IBU. Gio wanted to make a beer that reflected his two homes, the Bahamas and Canada, and wisely chose to do so through beer. Starting with a crisp lager base reminiscent of Kalik or Sands, he added lime juice and evergreen needles to take it to another level. Expect an easy-drinking beer that still boasts an unexpected kick. And on the Beta system, Kelly was joined with longtime BetaBrew supporters Cindy and Marilyn to put together another beer with inspiration from warmer climes. Inspired by a sauce they’ve been making for years, Island Punch features grilled pineapple, mango and habaneros. No doubt sweet maybe a little smoky, and bringing some heat, this one is 5.4% ABV and 24 IBU and, in accordance with the prophecy as is traditional for BetaBrews, will no doubt be tapped this coming Tuesday afternoon.

Up in St. John’s, where they’re no longer under a state of emergency but are still no doubt digging out from two weeks ago, YellowBelly has leaned into the storm, so to speak, with a beer they’re calling Flurricane 2020. Nominally an IPA, it’s 6.5% ABV, but only 35 IBU, so maybe more of a Pale Ale? No doubt about it, though, this one contains some hops, namely Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic, largely added as late and dry hop additions. Paired with a sturdy malt backbone, the result is a balanced beer with plenty of hop character and a lingering bitter finish. Look for this one on tap at their downtown location and with bottles to go hopefully available by the time you read this; and it will no doubt feature into the Crafternoon for Australia event you can read about below.

Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has been making their biggest beer, a barleywine they call Ol’ Fog Burner, almost every year for a decade now. This year marks the first time, however, that they’ve produced a batch on their “new” system rather than their old plant in the Seaport Taproom. Owing to that difference in production, there’s been a small change in recipe, with some crystal and roasted malt joining 2-Row Maritime Pale Ale malt for the first time. There’s nothing new about the ABV though, it’s still a big bastard at 10.5% ABV or the bitterness, at 70 IBU. Bold spicy and fruity hop flavors from American varieties Columbus and Citra balance warm brandy-like toffee flavors for a very smooth experience with a long-lasting and warming finish. Look for this one to go in the classic 650 mL bombers (maybe plan to share one with a friend) at the brewery and the Oxford Taproom, and possibly other places you go for your Garrison fix.

In the town of Sussex, NB, just about halfway between Moncton and Saint John, there’s been a bit of a hum generated as local folks played up the idea of (ex-)British Royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle maybe choosing the town home base in Canada. After all, they are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are they not? The tongue-in-cheek “movement” now has a liquid manifestation as in-town brewery Sussex Ale Works has put together a beer they’re calling The Duke in honor of its namesake. Featuring a grist of Maris Otter, Vienna, 2-row, and crystal malts along with a bit of roasted barley, all paired with Saaz hops, this red ale is 7% ABV and 30 IBU. To try it you’ll have to head down to Sussex and check out the awesome tap handle they’ve got for pouring it. While you’re there you can also check out their other new beer, Hindsight 2020, a Golden Pale Ale with 2-row and amber malts and Chinook and Cascade hops. Sounding like a bit of a melding of British malts and American hops, it’s 6.2% ABV and 40 IBU.

Coming out of Tatamagouche this weekend is a brand new release featuring the hottest thing going (literally) yeast-wise, but with a cool (also literally) approach. Kveik yeast is known for its ability to ferment relatively cleanly even at temperatures that would make other beer strains produce things you absolutely wouldn’t want in your beer or your mouth. But what happens if you treat Kveik differently and, say, ferment it much colder than all the cool kids have been doing? Tatamagouche Brewing decided to find out! Cripple Kveik used the Halvorsgard strain, which comes from Ål, quite a ways from the epicenters of farmhouse brewing in Norway. Interestingly, it’s not actually called Kveik there, but “Gong,” which means Tata missed a great opportunity to name this beer Gong Show (but we’ll take a reference to The Band any day!) Cold-fermented at 9°C before being bumped up briefly for a rest at 14°C, it was then lagered for four weeks. With all local malt from Horton Ridge and Willamette and Chinook hops from Wicked Hops in Stewiacke, it’s also a very locally-focused brew. Coming in at 4.7% ABV, it’s described as, “clean and crisp, with nice fruit-forward hop character [and] mango aromas.”

We’ve got some good news for you if you’ve been waiting for a new, funky, bottled release from Propeller Brewing, as their latest is just hitting shelves today. Brett Porter is described by the brewery in three words: “Rustic. Roasted. Stubborn”. Brewed in the style of your typical English Porter, it was initially fermented with a British Ale strain; the beer was then transferred to barrels for a secondary fermentation (and 9 month aging period) with Brettanomyces claussenii. Packaged in 750 mL bottles, the final 6.4% ABV, 25 IBUs beer has “layers of rich, roasted malt” with earthy, fruity, and funky characteristics thanks to the Brett. Bottles likely won’t last long, so be sure to pick yours up at either Prop shop sometime over the weekend. 

It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a release from Stillwell Brewing, no doubt owing a little bit to the craziness of cranes and pub openings and such, but also because you can’t rush beer like this, dammit! However, out this weekend is the latest iteration of their Gosh. Starting life amongst the brewery’s first releases, this was originally a red wine barrel-aged farmhouse dry hopped with Mosaic. When it came out several months later, v2 of this one was a blend of several barrels also hit hard with the hops. This time we had to wait a year and a half for v3, but we’re sure it’s worth it. Originally brewed over a year ago, it sat patiently in barrels getting tasty until September when it was dry hopped and bottled. Since then it’s been resting, waiting for the day when CPR pops a bottle, pours a glass, tastes it, considers it, and utters the fateful words, “It is ready.” Or at least that’s the way it happens in our beer dreams. (You know you have beer dreams too.) Anyways, the time is now. Go get some from their Barrington Street location, open today at noon.

What’s on the go this weekend? Here ya go!

Continuing with their trend of mini-tap-takeovers this month, Stillwell on Barrington will surely be making local cider fans happy tomorrow as they put 5 ciders on tap and serve 4 more by the glass from Guelph’s Revel Cider. Although we definitely believe that the cideries of Atlantic Canada are putting out delicious and innovative products, just as with recent beer events featuring top out-of-region producers, we think Revel’s small batch concoctions deserve your interest. Leaning towards the funky, the sour, the herbal and the unusual, there’s some definite delights to look forward to.

On draught:

  • Time & Place – Farmhouse Cider
  • Ostara Yarrow – Cider with Golden Plums and Yarrow Flower
  • Ostara Elderflower – Cider with Golden Plums and Elderflower
  • Cursive – Blend of perry on Riesling skins, cider on blueberries, and Maréchal Foch
  • Sonata – Cider with Montmorency cherries

And by the glass:

  • Soma – Pétillant Naturel apple wine
  • Petrol – Single barrel funky perry
  • Mirabelle – Cider with lemon verbena and strawberries
  • Revdock – A collaboration beer-cider hybrid with Burdock: tannic apple cider blended with an ale fermented on a sourdough culture with corn and spelt

No doubt Chef Joe Martin will have the tasty food coming out of the kitchen to pair with these, and, being a mini-takeover, there’s sure to be beer taps pouring if cider isn’t your bag (but seriously, try these ciders anyway).

Grey Rock Casino, located in Edmundston, NB, is holding a Beer Fest this Saturday, featuring a handful of breweries from New Brunswick, as well as one visiting from Quebec. On hand with be hometown brewery Petit-Sault, as well as Big Axe, Brasseux d’la Cote, Four Rivers, Grimross, SCOW Cider, and Le Caveau from Trois-Pistoles, QC. This event is a fundraising event for the local food bank, Atelier RADO, who will be receiving all of the profits. Tickets are available here, and also get you into the Izzy Ouellet concert after the beer fest is done.

Not to be outdone by their OG location in Charlottetown*, HopYard Halifax is doing their second annual Battle of the Breweries event over the course of the next couple months as a regular Thursday night thing. Fifteen Nova Scotia breweries have been invited to the dance, with three competing each time with three beers each. The opening round will take place each week from February 6th to March 12th with the winning brewery (the one who sells the most pints) moving on to the semi final round. What’s that you say? There’s 6 Thursdays there and only 15 breweries? That’s because there’s going to be a Cider battle on February 20th to change things up a little! With five winners moving forward, they’ll need a sixth for the semis, so the best of the second place finishers in the first round will also move on. We suspect you’ll see the two semis on March 19th and March 26th with the finals on April 2nd, but we’ll be sure to let you know if we find out that changes. It will surely be interesting to see how breweries play this one. Do they bring their usual retail sellers? Introduce new beers? Or debut something that’s been developing for some time? For now, we invite you to check out the upcoming first round battles below and make a plan to support your favorite breweries in this series. 

* The Battle of PEI Breweries continues the next three Thursdays with the Semi Finals and Finals on Feb 6, 13, and culminating on the 20th.

YellowBelly is holding a fundraising beer fest of their own next weekend, February 8th. The Crafternoon for Australia runs from 2 – 5 PM at the Brewery on Water Street. While Snowmageddon 2020 shut down the city temporarily, the fires, and now flooding in Australia are making life unbearable for thousands in the country. All profits from tickets sales will be going toward Australian Red Cross and WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organization. With plenty of new releases and old favourites from Baccalieu Trail, Boomstick, Dildo Brewing, Iron Rock, Landwash, Ninepenny, Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Rough Waters, Split Rock, in addition to host YellowBelly’s beers, there are plenty of choices to help do some good. Your ticket includes your first four samples, plus admission to the silent auction of many donated items available.

We first mentioned it earlier in the month, but we have some solid details now on the Spring edition of the Certified Cicerone Exam happening in Halifax. On May 6th, at the Stillwell Freehouse, you will be tested on your knowledge of beer storage and serving, beer styles, and off-flavours. Grab your seat at the table here, and best of luck to everyone! Let us know if you need a drinking partner to help “study”.

New beer on the taps from Hampton’s own Gridiron Brewing. Blind Date Brown is a 5.1% ABV Brown Ale made with 2-Row Barley from Island Malt House, and bumped up in colour and character with Biscuit and Amber malts. Not stopping there, however, they also added dates to the brew for the full experience. Available on tap at the brewery for growler fills now. Join them in celebrating those going on Blind Dates everywhere this weekend with a toast (in fact, that’s how the owners first met)!

Just a couple more things before we let you go this week…

In case we haven’t completely filled up your weekly Beer Reading Time, let us suggest another local beer blog that’s worth your time. Especially for those looking to do that exam in May… Malty Media is written by Evan Fougere, Certified Cicerone, beer educator, and all around good guy, as a way to share information on the ingredients that go into, processes that make it taste great, and the people who make that happen. The latest post is with John Webster of Shoreline Malting, located just outside of Summerside PEI. Give it a read, and follow along with MM’s posts and announcements of classes and events through social media.

We didn’t hear about it in time for last week’s post and it already took place last night, but a big congratulations from us to North Brewing on their SEVENTH anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years, and we don’t think we’ve seen any other brewery in the region go through so many changes in that timeframe, from their original little location at North and Agricola (under a different name), to the opening of Battery Park, to their big move to Portland Street and all the various beers they’ve given us in that time. It’s certainly been an odyssey and we’ve been lucky to be able to watch them grow and develop. We share the sentiments of those who toasted them yesterday on social media: “Good Beer made by Good People.”

Quidi Vidi Brewing is looking to hire a Brewer to join their fold, as they ramp up production for a busy spring and summer season ahead of them. Find out all of the details on their job posting. And stayed tuned here next week for the details of the Newfermenters X QV collaboration beers hitting the shelves!

Tidehouse doesn’t have a new beer this week (although they’re promising something “gorgeous” for next week), but there is some news coming out of their Tiny Tasting Room: CANS! They’ve got themselves a single-head canner and will have their first cans available next week. With any luck this will improve on the drudgery and inconvenience of bottling at least a little.

Fredericton’s Trailway  has brought back one of their fruitiest concoctions, Starblast. Sure, it’s got a smattering of El Dorado hops, but what it’s really got is tons of Peach and Raspberry puree and some orange zest as well. “Radler-esque” but still very much beer, it comes in at 5% ABV. In cans and on tap at the brewery.

We’re well into the meat of the winter season now in Atlantic Canada, with it colder than a polar bear’s claws through most of the region and a “bomb cyclone” (sounds menacing!) descending on St. John’s. The good news is that our region’s beer and cider producers are still hard at work ensuring that you’ve got a spectrum of new and familiar potables to get you through, ranging from fireside sippers to reminders of summer. So have a read and make a plan to both stock your fridge for the coming weekend and check out some of the cool beer happenings that are coming this weekend and beyond.

If you’re still on a hazy-and-hoppy kick, Garrison Brewing is keeping up with your needs (well, your beer needs, anyway) with the recent release of No. 1 Squeeze IPA. This NEIPA was brewed with a simple grist of Pilsner and Oat malts, and hopped heavily with Mosaic, Azacca and Comet (to the tune of 40 IBUs). The result is a beer jam-packed with aromas and flavours of apricot, tangerine and passion fruit, “with a smooth and restrained citrusy finish”. Weighing in at 6.2% ABV, this batch will only be available on tap, exclusively at both Garrison locations in Halifax. 

In ciderland, Halifax’s Chain Yard has just released something new at their taproom – Rubintette is a small batch, single apple variety cider. Featuring the Rubinette apple (apparently a cross between Golden Delicious and Cox’s Orange Pippin), the batch was slow-fermented, giving it a “vinous and woody character, with summer fruit flavours”. Pretty hefty at 8% ABV, drop by sometime this weekend for a taste, as it likely won’t be around for very long. And they’ll be hosting a Nova Scotia Snakebite Competition mid-February, in a celebration of the cider-beer blend popular in the UK. Check that link for details on the participating partners.

As we’ve mentioned once or twice over the last couple years, the rural community Hanwell, NB, is the home of Niche Brewing and thus carries a pretty weighty rating if you’re measuring fine beers per-capita; and we suspect this week’s release will only improve that ratio. Speed of Life isn’t a first for Niche; it’s not their first session IPA and certainly isn’t their first beer named for a David Bowie tune. What it definitely is, though, is hazy and juicy, the former owing to hefty amounts of flaked wheat and oats along with some chit malt in the grist, and the latter thanks to plenty of Amarillo and Ekuanot in the kettle and more of the same along with Galaxy at dry hop. Medium-low in bitterness, you can expect plenty of stone fruit and citrus character in a beer that you’ll likely wish you were enjoying on a hot summer day. You’ll just have to close your eyes and imagine while you drink your pint, though, as it almost certainly won’t be around that long (this batch, anyway). Look for it to appear first at The Joyce, Peppers Pub, Cask and Kettle, Sussex Ale Works and the Laundromat. And there are still a few bottles of their Evolution available at ANBLs in Fredericton and Dieppe, but they certainly won’t be around for much longer.

Brand new barrel-aged beer in their Weird Beer series coming at you from Tatamagouche Brewing this week! Ceres is a 4.2% ABV Berliner Weisse brewed with a 60/40 blend of Pilsner and Wheat malt. After being kettle-soured with a pitch of Lactobacillus bacteria, the wort was fermented in stainless with an American Ale yeast strain, and Brettanomyces in the form of Berliner Brett from Escarpment Labs. Once complete, the beer was moved to barrels for aging, and was then blended and refermented on yellow plums from Malagash Cidery. Aged on elderflower for a couple of days before packaging in 500 mL bottles, it’s finally ready! Pouring a hazy, goldenrod colour, it has aromas and flavours of “tart lemon meringue pie”. Accompanying on the nose is “yeast, black tea, and lychee”, as well as “underripe yellow plum, wheat cereal and white pepper” on the palate. Sounds pretty complex to us! The best way to truly experience this beer is, of course, to snag some yourself. How, you may ask? Well, you can find bottles directly at the source (read: Tatabrew), or they can ship them to you via their online store; Ceres should also pop up on the shelves of Bishop’s Cellar sometime in the near future. 

Even more news in the world of hops (does it ever end?) with Tidehouse, who is releasing a new bottled beer today that puts the “Imperial” in Imperial IPA. Big Yacht Money is a 10.5% ABV “DDH Milkshake Triple IPA”. Hopped with very heavy amounts of Azacca, Idaho 7 and El Dorado, lactose was also used in the boil to give that touch of sweetness that goes with Milkshake IPAs. This style of beer is usually fruited as well, and this particular brew was fruited to the extreme, with mango, strawberry, and orange zest, accompanied by an addition of vanilla. As you may imagine, the final result is juicy and boozy, with the fruit quite prominent and complemented with notes of vanilla. Bottles likely won’t last long, so may be a good idea to drop by the brewery today to start your weekend off right.

It’s always nice to see local breweries taking on classic beer styles that are exhibiting a sort of resurgence, and lately, Lagers are gradually coming back. Big Spruce just kegged and tapped Honza’s Boho, their take on the classic Bohemian Pilsner (aka Czech Pilsner). They apparently worked closely with a brewery from the Czech Republic to ensure that they were treating this style with the utmost respect, and brewing it as authentically as possible. With a grist made up almost-entirely of imported Pils malt from continental Europe (a bit of Carapils was thrown in, as well), and hopped with Saaz, it was fermented with the Urquell yeast (that refers to one of the classic examples of the style, not Family Matters) (or even better, this!) from Escarpment Labs. The final beer comes in at 4.5% ABV, and if you’re curious as to how it’s tasting, you can try it at the brewery, or at one of your favourite BS accounts. And check our Events listing below for more info on new beers from them debuting next week…

Not to be outdone, Montague, PEI’s Copper Bottom has launched a Bohemian Pilsner of their own (after all, they’ve been expanding with the purchase of new tanks, so why not brew some new beer?). Their beer is named Flora, and was brewed with PEI-grown floor malt and Saaz hops, before lagering for five weeks. Now that it’s been packaged (cans and kegs), this crisp, 5% ABV beer is available and pouring bright and crystal-clear. You won’t be able to try it until tomorrow when the brewery officially reveals it at a launch party, UNLESS you were lucky enough to be at last night’s edition of HopYard’s Battle of the Breweries, where Copper Bottom took on Moth Lane). If not, it’s off to Montague with ya!

Apparently, Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brewing has had many requests for a “red beer” to be available at their taproom. They’ve finally given in, but it may not be quite the style of beer that most were expecting, but it sounds plenty tasty, nonetheless! Red Beer is a “Red Table Saison” brewed mostly with Red X blended malts, along with a bit of Munich, Wheat malt, and kilned Amber malt. Fermented with a Saison strain, the beer is showing some slight malty/bready character in the aroma, along with some dried fruit. Finishing crisp and dry, this 4.7% ABV brew is meant to be enjoyed in quantity, but it’s got a lot more going on than a lot of your American Amber Ales that some may have been expecting. Currently pouring on tap in Corner Brook!

It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a new beer come out of Unfiltered Brewing on North Street in Halifax. But that itself is nothing new; would you believe they’ve released “only” about 30 beers since they opened in mid-2015? That’s exactly the way NASH said it would be, of course, and he’s managed to stick to it and, near as we can tell, still sell plenty of beer. So if you’re the type to get excited about a new beer release from Unfiltered, you may do so, with Edgy hitting the taps for the first time today. The sixth beer (we think, but we never claimed to be good at math) in NASH’s inimitable SMaSH DIPA series, this one features Centennial hops in great quantity for plenty of citrus and herbal character in the tried and true 7.5% ABV and 100+ IBU format. Pints, fills, and cans available at noon.

In the “beer coming soon” category, and plenty soon at that, is an intra-provincial, cross-bridge collaboration between Nova Scotia’s Spindrift Brewing and PEI’s Lone Oak Brewing. A solid friendship between the two Head Brewers was formed as they both spent time brewing for Gahan Brewing, and the bon ami continues now that they are at the helms elsewhere. Silver Fox is a 5.5% ABV Export Lager, featuring uniquely PEI-sourced ingredients. Shoreline Malting near Summerside provided the Pilsner and Munich Malts, with Island Hop Company supplied the Ultra hops (a descendant of the very-Noble Hallertau and Saaz varietals). Bready malt notes, zesty and floral components from the hops (aided by a hard water profile to accentuate), along with a crisp finish thanks to the two months of lagering, which also allowed it to be unfiltered and naturally carbonated. Look for Silver Fox to debut at both Spindrift and Lone Oak next week, just ahead of LO’s Grand Opening on the 25th.

And in more collaboration news with Spindrift, they brewed with another island brewery, from a different island, Newfoundand’s Dildo Brewing Company. Coming to both the NSLC and NLC at the end of the month is Altbier, a 5.3% ABV ode to the classic German style, which saw the wort first fermented cool with a German Ale yeast, and further lagered for a month before canning. All German ingredients, from Munich, Caramel Munich and Carafa malts, and hopped generously with Hallertau Mittelfruh for a “spicy, herbal hop character”. The official release will be at both breweries on Friday, January 31st, with the beers at the provincial liquor stores in the future.

Annapolis Brewing in Annapolis Royal has a new beer on tap these days, their first foray into the farmhouse/Saison side of things. The Old Mill is 6.2% ABV Saison, and is available for pints and growlers in their taproom now, as well as at Horton Ridge Malt’s taproom for pints as well. This is their first, but by no means last, look at the style, so stay tuned for more iterations as they play in this wheelhouse. And keep an eye out for several other new styles in the coming weeks and months, including an Extra Special Bitter and a Berliner Weisse with cranberries. One or both of those may be out in time for their Cask versus Keg night on Friday, February 24th, comparing a cask of their Double Dry Hopped Rye IPA (aka Keep it on the Rails) to their W & A Railway Rye IPA on draught. Lots of fun and education on the go that evening, and all winter! Keep an eye on the latest news on their Social Media (Fb/IG/Tw).

Newfoundland Cider Company in Clarenville had a major release this week, with seven new ciders dropping yesterday. Their 2018 Pet Nat cider is a low intervention and naturally carbonated cider over a year in the making. They also released six new entries in their Forager Small Batch Series, with Barrel-Aged Applewood Smoked Crabapple, Barrel-Aged Partridgeberry Perry, Orchard and Vine, Barrel-Aged Sour Cherry, Newfoundland Honey Mead, and New England Style on Blueberry Skins. All of these, as well as their Scrumpy are available at the Cider Shop at 24 Balbo Drive in Shoal Harbour, as well as at the Howley Estates NLC in St. John’s.

Big congratulations to Microbrasserie Houblon-Pêcheur who are celebrating their first year of operation today. And whaddya know, they got *us* a present! Loup de Mer Dry Stout is 4.2% ABV, and features a smooth body, dry finish, and plenty of dark chocolate and coffee character. Look for bottles on the shelves of your local ANBL from Bathurst to Moncton, including in MH-B’s own Acadian Peninsula. Details here!

And just making it under the wire this week (because when have we ever been able to say “no” to anyone?) is Propeller, with today’s release of their latest beer, Sweet Orange Sour. Luckily, the name gives you a pretty solid idea of exactly what to expect – it’s a kettle-soured beer that was hit with lots of lots of citrus zest, lending a mixture of sweet and tangy flavours to go with the assertive tartness. Orange and tangerine notes abound in a 4.8% ABV brew that finishes dry. On tap only, at both Prop locations. And for tonight’s cask, their delicious Galaxy IPA, with clementine zest, vanilla, and lactose.

There are some very cool beer-focused events coming up over the next little while that we thought you should know about:

If you’re a craft beer fan in the Northeast New Brunswick area and don’t find yourself getting down to the Moncton region very often, you’re in luck: Dieppe’s CAVOK Brewing (that’s “CAV-Oh-Kay” for those unfamiliar with aviation terms) will be in Bathurst for a tap takeover tomorrow at Au Bootlegger. Starting at 6 PM there will be at least 10 taps of CAVOK’s finest pouring; full details are available on the Fb event page, with the confirmed taps as follows:

  • Petitcoudiac Rye IPA 6.0% 60 IBU
  • Leger Corner Honey Ale 4.8% 25 IBU
  • Foxtrot 33 (Oatmeal Stout) 5.0% 33 IBU
  • Runway 11 Lager 4.3% 13 IBU
  • East Coast Pirates IPA 6.5% 70 IBU
  • YQM Pilsner 4.3% 29IBU
  • Soleil d’Été NEPA 4.5% 15 IBU
  • Echo Saison 6.0% 17 IBU
  • Apricot Belgian Stout 4.1% 23 IBU
  • Terre Rouge (Red Ale) 4.8% 24 IBU

You can check out this post for more details on each of those beers, and be forewarned that there’s been rumours of a “secret surprise beer” as well.

For the second weekend in a row, Stillwell is hitting us with a mini-event on a Saturday without much notice or fanfare even though they’re bringing some of Toronto’s finest beer – last week it was Burdock Brewery, this week it’s Bellwoods. Those who are already familiar will almost certainly head down, and those who do not know, but enjoy really good beer, would do well to join them. Though not a full tap takeover, some of the best of what Bellwoods has to offer across sour, saison, farmhouse and hoppy styles is on offer, to wit:

  • Jelly King (Dry Hopped Sour 5.6%)
  • Raspberry Jelly King (Fruited Sour Ale 5.6%)
  • Justu (Pale Ale 5.6%)
  • Roman Candle (American IPA 6.8%)
  • Farmageddon w/ Niagara Montmorency Cherries (Fruited Barrel Aged Wild Farmhouse Ale 6.3%)
  • White Picket Fence [Peach] (Blended Foedre Saison Conditioned on Peaches 5.7%)
  • White Picket Fence OG (Blended Foedre Saison 6.1%)

As always on Saturdays, doors open at noon tomorrow and the taps will commence pouring (these are all kegged beers), with the usual lovely food coming out of the kitchen as well. So head on down and get another taste of the Big Smoke without having to actually besmirch yourself by going there.

Everwood Ave Brewshop is bringing back their EverBrews Home Brewers Club this month, with their meeting next Tuesday, January 21st. Starting at 6:30PM at their store at 731 Old Sackville Road, the evening will feature social and guided tastings, club business, presentations, and a general Q&A on what form the club will take. Everyone interested in the homebrewing hobby is welcome to attend, whether you currently partake or not. 

Dartmouth’s Battery Park will be host to a Norweigian Invasion next Thursday, January 23rd, as three Nova Scotian breweries will be showing off their favourite Kviek beers for the day. Big Spruce, North Brewing, and Tatamagouche will each bring three (or more) brews fermented with the hottest thing to escape Norway since Darkthrone and Cadaver. Look for hazy pale ales/IPAs, the winner of Big Spruce’s Homebrew Challenge Winter Warmer, Nordic Tea Saison, a co-fermented Lager, and at least one barrel-aged behemoth. The pour party kicks off at 11:30 AM, and runs all day, so be sure to drop by to taste the latest releases from these beauties!

Halifax’s Harbourstone Sea Grill & Pour House is hosting a Battle of the Brews Thursday evening, pitting Garrison and Spindrift against each other to pick the perfect beer to complement a six course tasting menu. Tickets are best reserved via phone or email for the event that kicks off at 6 PM on January 23rd. Grab them here: 902-428-7852 or harbourstone@marriott.com

Details are still very loose right now, but we see that there will be a Certified Cicerone exam being held in Halifax in April May Spring. The exact date has not been finalized, but if this is something you’re interested in, be sure to sign up on the Cicerone website, sign up that you are interested, and pass the Certified Beer Server Exam.

And here be your last few mentions before we leave you to your weekend:

Montague’s Bogside Brewing has a new beer pouring this week, Paint it Black, Jack, a 6.3% ABV Porter featuring loads of additions of chocolate and orange, natch, for a full on sweet, chocolate, and coffee brew. Grab it on tap this weekend!

Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing has their Full Service Double IPA back on tap for pints and growler fills. After selling out *very* quickly upon first release, they have been able to brew up another batch and quell the demands of the masses. Juicy, hazy, and a solid 7.5% ABV, it certainly packs a hoppy punch. Look for more from Tire Shack in next week’s post, as they promise a trio of new beers out before the end of the month.

And finally, a note that the YellowBelly Brewery Takeaway location on Water St will be closing tomorrow while they search for a new location. Upgrades needed in the kitchen area have them out of commission for a while, which means growler fills and their Skip the Dishes will be paused for the time being. They promise to let us know once they are back in action!

Good morning! Welcome to your weekly dose of beer news, let’s kick it off with some new beers and events coming soon…

• Over the past little while, there have been several new beers brewed to be released at the upcoming Fredericton Craft Beer Festival on March 12th. First off is a collaboration brew devised by Andrew “Esty” Estabrooks that included representation from almost every brewery in Fredericton: Grimross, Maybee, Picaroons, TrailWayMama’s Pub, soon-to-open Gray Stone, as well as Red Rover Cider House and Sunset Heights Meadery. The beer brewed was Johnny Be Good, a 5.4% ABV, 21 IBU Nut Brown Ale, in support of local brewer John Evans, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer over the past few months. The brewers teamed up at Grimross to produce the beer; when finished, it will be split between all taking part, and will then be free to put their own individual spin on it. To celebrate the release, a special Pub Crawl (open to the public) will be held next Saturday, March 5th at 6 pm. Starting at the King Street Ale House, attendees will visit several bars, and enjoy the different variations of the beer at each stop. Tickets are $45 + fee and include six 9 oz pours of different variants; proceeds from the pub crawl and sales of the beer will go to Evans.

• Next up, BarNone has brewed up a new iteration of their Little DIPA for the festival. Described as darker than the original version, it was heavily hopped with Cascade and Columbus in the boil, with a large late addition of Amarillo, Cascade, and a bit of Citra. It will, of course, be dry-hopped when fermentation is complete, with an as-yet-undetermined variety. It should clock in around 7% ABV. No need to worry for Islanders not able to attend the festival – while the beer is being released as FCBF, there will be some available at select accounts in PEI afterwards.

• Local Fredericton brewery Picaroons will be taking up permanent residence at Vault 29 in the week leading up the FCBF, March 8-12th. Pics will be taking over half of their 32 taps with a variety of seasonal, specialty, and core brand beers. On the 12th, V29 hosts the official FCBF “Afternoon Session After-Party”, with music from The Hypochondriacs, and food and beer specials starting at 3:30pm. Entry to the event is free, and more details can be found on Facebook.

• Finally, TrailWay teamed up with our local homebrewer and our own Shawn Meek to brew their first Belgian IPA. Currently unnamed, it features a grist made up mainly of Pilsner malt, with some CaraRed, Aromatic, and Wheat malt to bump up the malt character. Hopped in the boil with large whirlpool additions of GalaxyMosaic and Vic Secret, it will be further dry-hopped with Citra and Galaxy for plenty of tropical fruit character. It was fermented with two yeast strains, one Belgian and one American, and should weigh in at ~6.5% ABV. While this one will make its official debut at the fest, look for a possible sneak peak at our ACBB Trivia Night at the King Street Ale House on Thursday, March 10th at 8 pm!

• Back to regular releases, Moncton’s Bore City will be releasing their first Black IPA, Night and Day, in the near future. Described as a very hop-forward version of the style, it was hopped with Cascade, Summit, and Zythos in the boil, and dry-hopped with more Cascade and Summit. Clocking in at 6.4% ABV and 63 IBUs, look for this one to pop up on tap at Marky’s Laundromat any day now. And keep your eyes peeled for the latest version of their Mondo IPA, which should be hitting tap accounts, soon.

Spindrift will be releasing Riptide, their first India Pale Lager, today on tap at the brewery. Described as a Northeast-style hoppy Lager, it has a simple, light grist, complemented by a blend of American and German hop varieties, giving the beer “aromas of pine, prefacing hop flavours of stone fruits and citrus”. Coming in at 6.5% ABV and 40 IBUs, Riptide is joining Coastal Lager and Abyss as a core brand, with this initial release on draft at the brewery and accounts now, and in cans by mid-April.

• There’s an interesting new brew available now from North Brewing: Sauer Sagen Hat is a kettle-soured SMaSH beer brewed with Pilsner malt and Sorachi Ace hops. From North owner Peter Burbridge, “When we asked our four-year-old son Noah what we should call this beer, he yelled: ‘Sauer Sagen Hat! It means sour super hero hat!’ … It actually means “has to say sour” in German, but we like Noah’s translation better.” And so do we! Combining the grapefruit- and pineapple-like acidity/tartness from the bacteria-souring process with the lemongrass characteristics from the hops, it comes in at 4% ABV and 15 IBUs. It’s currently available at both store locations on Agricola and Ochterloney in both bottles and growlers, and will be on tap around HRM, including in rotation on their new nitrogenated tap at Battery Park.

• Over in St. John’s, NL, YellowBelly Brewpub has a couple of returning favourites to talk about. First off, Top Shed Cream Ale is back on tap at the brewpub. An interesting take on the style, it was originally brewed as a collaboration with Top Shed, a brewery in Australia, late last year. The recent brew was tweaked slightly, with a lighter malt grist and shorter dry-hop period. Still with a light body, and brewed with plenty of corn and wheat (as per the style), it was lightly hopped with Pacific Gem and Mosaic, with a “gentle” dry-hop of more Mosaic. This batch will also be available in bottles in a limited run, which should be at YellowBelly and the NLC within a week or so. Second, their Paddy’s Pale Ale – a 5.7% ABV, ~45 IBUs American Pale Ale – will be returning soon. Hopped entirely with Cascade – including multiple dry-hop additions – it should be kegged sometime next week, with bottles following shortly after. And in other bottle news, YB’s cider, Crooked as Sin, should be available for purchase any day now, at NLC stores only.

• Last month, Big Spruce brewed a “simultaneous collaboration” with Stone City Ales out of Kingston, ON. Well, that beer is now available, and it sounds delicious! Watchtower Conspiracy DIPA is a big beer (9% ABV, 85 IBUs) featuring “piles” of late addition AmarilloGalaxy, and Waimea hops, giving lots of tropical fruit character in the aroma and flavours. In addition, the beer was fermented with Vermont Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs. Better known as “Conan” to homebrewers everywhere, it’s a strain well-known for accentuating hop flavours. Available for growler fills now, and on tap at select locations, it will also be pouring at FCBF.

Last week, we reported that this year’s edition of Ice Boat, PEI Brewing Co.‘s barrel-aged stout, would be released this week. However, after some tasting sessions with staff, they’ve determined that the beer is not yet ready for release, and will be allowed to age in whiskey barrels for a longer period (approximately 6-8 months). Kudos to the PEIBC for allowing the beer to reach its greatness with more time! We’ll keep you updated as to its eventual release. Luckily, the next round of Transmitter Coffee Stout will be released March 1st (including a release in Nova Scotia), ReAnimator (their Doppelbock) will be released shortly thereafter, and a new Saison is in the works. Stay tuned!

• There’s a new beer joining the lineup at Maybee Brewing, an “Espresso Stout” named Elevensies. Brewed with lots of organic Italian Roast coffee from Just Us!, a coffee roasters co-op, it weighs in at 5.5% ABV and 41 IBUs. You can find it on tap now for growler fills at the brewery.

• Good news if you’re nearby Unfiltered Brewing today: they’re releasing two beers at noon! The first is the return of the popular SMaSH DIPA, Double Orange Ale, brewed with all Citra hops (7.5% ABV). Next is an oak-aged version of their regular-release DIPA, Twelve Years to Zion. Coming in at 8% ABV, it was aged on oak for 6 weeks to bring out lots of oak flavour. Drop by the brewery and/or Charm School today to fill up your growlers, and then yourself.

• Looking to expand your beer knowledge? The Atlantic Chapter of CAPS is running a training course, designed to prepare you to take the Certified Beer Server exam, which is part of the Cicerone certification program. Running on four subsequent Thursdays, beginning March 10th, the classes are designed to introduce students to the ingredients involved in beer making, style guidelines, history of brewing, and flavour profiles. Class size is limited, so sign up today.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing is releasing the second in their Cellar Series of beers today, Grand Baltic Porter. Black in colour, this lager has a complex body aided by the addition of blackstrap molasses and whole dates, and is balanced with German hops. Like last week’s Ol’ Fogburner Barleywine, and next week’s unnamed release, the Baltic Porter’s robust 9.5% ABV will allow it to be set aside for cellaring and enjoyment for years to come. It is only available in bottles, launched at the brewery today.

• Congratulations to the 40+ entries in this year’s Home Brew-Off, in the Experimental IPA category. The Top 10 has been chosen by a team of BJCP and industry judges, with the Garrison crew now having the tough job of choosing the Final Four. The winners will be chosen next Thursday, and announced that evening at a Gala at the brewery. There are a few tickets available to the public who wish to take part in the fun, including tasting the finalists’ beers, and perhaps the first sips of last year’s winning beer, Mr. Robusto, from NS homebrewer Dave Martin. Contact the brewery for more details.

• Halifax’s Propeller Brewing has brought back their Irish Red Ale, and it is available in bottles and growler fills at both Prop Shops now. This 5% ABV, 25 IBU Red Ale features a pleasant toast character from the Crystal and Melanoidin malts, with a light balancing bitterness from Willamette. And the IRA will be the feature cask at tonight’s Prop’r Cask Night at their Gottingen location, featuring  The Other Bean & Rinaldo’s Italian American Specialties. The last few tickets just sold this morning, so hopefully you’ve already grabbed yours!

• Halifax’s Good Robot Brewery brewed up a beer to celebrate Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month, putting their spin on the Ale to the Chief Honey Porter recipe released by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2012. Converting the extract recipe to all-grain, they used Annapolis Valley honey and Maritime malt, with Hallertau and Nugget hops, and switching to the clean-fermenting Cali Ale yeast to allow the malt and hops to shine through. Sadly (for those not in attendance), the beer was so popular that they blew through the entire pilot-system batch during Tuesday’s launch party! That is certainly an ode to the recipe, brewers, and community involvement behind the release. Want another great excuse to visit GR’s Taproom? Their monthly Silent Reading at the Imbibrary event will be happening this Wednesday, March 2nd, from 6-8pm. Previous evenings have been absolutely full, so be sure to arrive before 6pm, put down your cell phones, and pick up a book.

• A reminder that tomorrow is Péché Mortel Day, and two bars in our region will be taking part: Moncton’s Tide and Boar, and Halifax’s Stillwell. Starting at 11am in Moncton, and noon in Halifax, both bars will be pouring Dieu du Ciel!’s Péché Mortel Imperial Coffee Stout, plus several variants. Look for other rarities like Péché Mortel Dry (higher ABV due to a lower finishing gravity), Péché Mortel Véniel (lower ABV, with a special coffee blend), Péché Mortel Bourbon 2015 (last year’s batch aged in Bourbon barrels for six months), and Péché aux pêches (the original Péché Mortel with an addition of peaches). No tickets are required, and both locations will be offering small pour sizes, to accommodate the wide variety, and high ABV, of brews on tap. A special food menu will also be available at both locations.

• The NSLC has released stats on the three months of 2015, and it was another period of great growth in the local beer segment. Sales of NS-produced craft beer rose by 25% over the previous quarter, while the overall beer market rose less than 1%. While out-pacing the overall segment is heartening, it does highlight the fact that NS-produced beer accounts for just $2.0M in a $66.2M beer market, or 3.0%. Coupled with the fact that there are only 50-odd listings for the 23 local breweries (many do not sell through the NSLC stores for a variety of reasons), there’s still lots of room for growth in the province! The full details are available here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! As usual, a few parting notes…

– BarNone is currently fermenting a new addition in the ‘Sessions’ line; this one, Summer Sessions, is hopped entirely with Summer, an Australian variety that is light on citrus, melon and apricot.
– Edmundston’s Brasseurs du Petit-Sault is hosting an evening of beer and beer-friendly bites tonight at their location on rue de l’Eglise. Drop by at 6pm for the fun, including a tour of the brewery.
Horton Ridge Malt and Grain are approaching the deadline of their second CEDIF offering. With the first malting rounds to take place in the next month or so, look for their products to be available to brewers (commercial- and home-) soon!
– Details are coming into focus for this year’s Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week, being held May 6-14. Early Bird tickets for the Saturday’s Full House Main Event are on sale now, be sure to snap them up now to avoid disappointment.