Here we are at the last Friday Wrap-up of 2017; time flies when you’re drinking beer and taking names. The past 52 weeks have seen our regional scene continue to develop and evolve, with a couple breweries closing up shop, many more than that opening across all 4 provinces, and tons and tons of new beers released, from easy-drinking, lightly-hopped, low-ABV session beers, to intensely complex barrel- and foedre-aged mixed fermentations occasionally featuring fruit, and everything in between. We’ve attended some incredible events at our favourite venues, stood in line for beer releases and even had the chance to read a book about beer in our little corner of the world. And it looks like 2018 is going to bring even more of the same. Halifax will host the Canadian Beer Awards in May, we know of several more breweries in the works with plans to open in the coming year, and we’ve no doubt the regions brewers will continue to up the ante in terms of quality and innovation. Thanks to everyone who continues to read our weekly scrawl (as unwieldy as it sometimes gets when there’s 4,000 words to get through) and we’ll be sure to toast you all with some of our favourite local beers on New Years Eve.
• We’ve mentioned Hanwell, NB’s, Niche Brewing previously, and we can now announce that their beer is available to the public! Their Single Origin is a Coffee Sweet Stout, and hit the taps at a few spots across the province for the first time last night. This 5.0% ABV Stout features lactose in the recipe for a light sweetness (lactose is not fermentable by most yeasts) to enhance the roast and chocolate character of the malt as well as mouthfeel, with an addition of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans from Fredericton’s Jonnie Java Roasters after primary fermentation was complete, to lock in the coffee flavour and aroma. The beer is now available at Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub and Saint John’s Cask and Kettle, with Moncton’s Tide & Boar looking to tap it at any moment. Keep an eye on Niche’s social media for the latest buzz on the beer, and we’ll have a full profile with the gang behind Niche in the next day or two. Congratulations Rob and Shawn!
• A little while ago, Propeller released the latest of their Gottingen Small Batch beers, Hazelnut Oatmeal Stout. This 5.5% ABV stout was brewed with flaked oats, chocolate malt, and roasted barley, and features hazelnuts added to the recipe as well. Chocolate, roast, and nut flavours and aromas punctuate the underlying creamy semi-sweet beer. It is available in growler fills at both Propeller locations, and by the pint at the Gottingen Street taproom, and at a few spots across HRM. And keep an eye open for cans of their Double IPA and Extra Special Bitter on the shelves of an NSLC near you!
• Capping off the Second Anniversary celebration of their sibling beer spot Battery Park, North Brewing released the 2017 edition of Saison de Pinot yesterday. The 7.1% ABV beer/wine hybrid features a Saison as the beer base, with 220 litres of Benjamin Bridge‘s own Pinot Meunier grape must added in secondary. This year’s grape harvest lends a more notable tart acidity to the must, which does translate to the final product. Fermented using two different Sacc. yeasts (Cerevesiae and Boulardii), the finished beer was lightly dry hopped with Hallertau Blanc, and has been bottle conditioning for the past 8 weeks, and is a perfect candidate for further aging in a cellar, to enjoy the flavours and aromas that develop over time. We suggest buying a pair (or more) and enjoying one now, and another in several months when the hops will have faded (maybe even wait until BP’s Third Anniversary!).
• Halifax’s Good Robot Brewing has announced that they are holding their first homebrew competition in Spring 2018. GRBC is already well-known known for encouraging those sometimes passed over or left behind by the modern brewing scene with their CommuniBrews and Goodwill Bot events, and this competition is no different. Female Brewsters are credited with promoting and keeping alive the art and science of brewing, before often being barred from activities involving the production of alcohol. To celebrate the earlier times, they are presenting the The Good Robot FemmeBrew Competition. Open to all women, and female-presenting, non-professional brewers, entrants are encouraged to dig into the past with “pre-prohibition” style recipes, choosing beer styles from before the industrialization of brewing. No “can and kilo” kits, please, an original recipe is the way to go (but modern ingredients such as malt extract are OK to enhance the beer!). There is no fee to enter, and you are asked to register online by Feb 1, with your entries (four 341ml bottles preferred) due March 1 at the Good Robot Retail Shop (aka Beer Later). This is a BJCP-registered competition, and entrants will receive feedback on their entries. For those women previously interested in the hobby, this may be just the nudge needed to try their hand at recipe development and brewing! Winners will be announced at Good Robot’s FemmeBot celebration on March 7th, and there are plenty of prizes up for grabs. If you have any more questions, please contact Kelly C for more details.
• And in new beer news at GRBC, the latest iteration of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie is on tap for growlers and pints now. Version 4.0 is a step in another direction for this Coffee Pale Ale, featuring the use of Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, prepped by the fine folks at Low Point (whoa, twice in one post??). This varietal has notes of honey and citrus, with a floral nose, helping to bring the beer closer to that eponymous “Cherry Pie” flavour, according to the brewery. To launch this latest batch, they are holding a bit of a contest, where a single cherry is hidden somewhere in the taproom every day this week: if you can spot it, you’ll win yourself a gift card for a free beer.
• Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse has released a handful of their full time and seasonal offerings in cans recently, thanks to the Craft Coast Canning mobile unit. Now available in the handy format at the brewery (open 1-6PM daily), are: Alternate Ending, a 5.0% ABV Altbier; Black and Tackle, their 9.0% ABV Russian Imperial Stout; a 6.0% ABV Hard Apple Cider, made from local apples; Honey Wagon, a 5.0% ABV American Wheat; and Mosaic, their flagship 8.0% Double IPA. Many of these will also be available in Halifax at Bishop’s Cellar very soon.
• One of the newest breweries in Nova Scotia, in one of the oldest European settlements in the country, Annapolis Brewing Company, has some big plans coming for 2018. First, they’ve already got a production expansion in the works, with four new 5 BBL (roughly 6 hL) unitanks on their way to the brewery now to meet increased demand as the year goes on. They’re also currently looking for a location to build a new building to house the brewery, which will be even shorter on space with the new tanks. The team is also working on developing a Craft Beer Farmers Market concept for the new year, the first of its kind in the Province. It will see breweries and perhaps craft distilleries set up on the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market grounds on Sundays from May 13th to October 14th from 10 AM to 2 PM and provide a one stop shop for patrons in the area to buy beer. Tables will cost $20 per week and any breweries that are interested can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for more information about the market to be publicized throughout the winter as they prepare for their first Craft Beer Farmers Market in Spring!
• In new beer news, Annapolis have a brew in the works that’s passed out of the testing phase and is scheduled to enter production in 2018. Goodwill Amber is a red-hued beer that strikes a fine balance between malty and hoppy. Vienna malt is featured on the grist side for a bready and toasty character and it’s been hopped with classic American varieties Willamette and Cascade with modern Amarillo completing the picture. Look for it to land on tap at 5.3% ABV and 36 IBU in early 2018. Also in the pipeline, although the recipes haven’t been finalized quite yet, are a Vanilla Coffee Stout and a Hefeweizen.
• On the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co. Brewing has a few new beers on the go these days. Up first is a small batch of their Hefeweizen, this time a little lighter at 4.6% ABV with lots of clove presence and some banana and bready notes. Next up and available is their Milk Stout, a big one at 7.7% ABV with a full mouthfeel and creamy texture. Described as “very filling,” It features aromas of coffee, vanilla and chocolate, with prominent espresso, vanilla, and even a bit of cigar character on the palate. And still available is their Saison, at 6.8% ABV, dry, and with prominent notes of lemon and black pepper. The brewery is considering keeping it in production throughout the year.
What’s going on this weekend???
• Sunday is New Year’s Eve, so expect plenty of extra drinking going on…. just about everywhere. Meanwhile, if you’re in Mahone Bay, drop by Saltbox Brewing for live music from the Eclectic Garage Band. The brewery will also be launching two new ciders on NYE, one made with Russet apples, and the second (being released at midnight) with Burgundy apples.
• Hammond River Brewing in Rothesay is also ringing in the New Year with a Beer Dinner, pairing six courses of food with with six of HR’s own creations (plus a pint of your choosing to start the evening). Brewmaster Shane Steeves and Executive Chef Colin McCarten will be on hand to chat about each course and pairing. With only 30 tickets available, it is sure to be an intimate event. The fun kicks off at 6PM, and you can grab your ticket at the Hammond River taproom, or call ahead to reserve yours today. Check Facebook for the full menu.
• With New Year’s Day comes several Levee Day events in Atlantic Canada, which always amounts to several hours, or even up to a full day of drinking, eating, and celebrating… what better way to bring in the New Year? In PEI, both the PEI Brewing Co. and Upstreet are holding their own activities on Monday, January 1st. PEIBC will be serving up beer and live music from noon-2 pm, and has their PEIBC Levee Bus picking up and dropping off at several locations (check their FB page for exact times and where to be). Over at Upstreet, they’re re-releasing Top Stamp, their crowd-favourite Amber Lager, while celebrating Levee Day with their 2018 Kick-Off, a full day of live music, brewery tours, staff-priced pints, brunch, and beer cocktails. They open at 10 am, with music starting at noon.
• Not to be outdone over in Halifax, Stillwell is holding their own Levee Day Celebration, starting at noon. With special beers pouring all day – including the second release of Stilly Pils, as well as Lambic by the glass – expect a special menu featuring new tasty treats to pair with whatever you have in your glass.
Happy New Year! Have a safe and beer-filled evening on Sunday. Before we go, a couple last things…
– Ol’ Biddy’s has released their newest American IPA that we reported on two weeks ago; look for Saturday Night Fever (6% ABV) at Stillwell, Battery Park, and the Mount Uniacke Pub.
– The latest iteration of TrailWay‘s ever-changing Kettle Sour, El Generico (3.8% ABV), is available as of today. This one was brewed with orange juice concentrate, lactose and vanilla, and was conditioned on fresh orange zest; slightly acidic and reminiscent of an Orange Creamsicle, it’s available in cans and on tap at the brewery.