Freak Lunchbox

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Happy Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week! The 41 Bluenoser breweries part of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia are putting their best beers forward, and hosting a slew of events and launching a ton of new beers over the next 10 days. For those of you in the province, or coming for a visit, check out the Calendar and Map we put together, and read below for a small tease of what all you’ll be enjoying.

• Looks like our friends at Propeller are dropping a new beer for the masses today. Common is, as you may expect, their take on the California Common, a lager/ale hybrid that is typically fermented somewhere between warm and cool with a unique yeast strain. Hopped with Northern Brewer, a “woodsy” hop variety quite typical for this beer style, the beer was designed to be approachable for seasoned beer geeks and novices alike. Described by the brewery as having “subtle herbal notes, along with roasted and caramel malt characters and a crisp, refreshing finish”, this isn’t just a one-off, as the beer will be available year-round in six packs of 355 mL cans. You’ll be able to find it starting today at the brewery retail stores, private stores, and the NSLC. In addition, at tonight’s Cask Night, an iteration of Common dry-hopped with even more Northern Brewer will be pouring. Naturally, you’ll be able to find it at various Propeller tap accounts across the city as well. And finally, for those of you who are fans of the brewery’s Organic Blonde Ale and Honey Wheat, we have some sad news – both brands are being dropped from the Propeller line-up. Best stock up if you can get your hands on any that happen to be left!

• Coupla new, small to smaller releases coming out of 2 Crows tomorrow, which simply means you’re going to have to get down there quicker than normal to give them both a try! First off is Field Hand, a Wild Ale brewed in collaboration with PEI’s Shoreline Malting. Brewed with Shoreline’s Pale malt, as well as a touch of raw wheat, it was lightly hopped at flameout with Galaxy and Hallertau Blanc, to the tune of 12 IBUs. Head Brewer Jeremy Taylor fermented the beer with yeast harvested from a bottle of Forward, a Saison from British Columbia’s Coalesce Brewing. Dry-hopped afterwards with more Galaxy and Hallertau Blanc, the beer is “super light, delicate, and easy-drinking; pithy grapefruit, earthy and bright, with the malt performing beautifully”. There are only 600 cans of this beauty available, and they’ll go on sale at the taproom tomorrow; expect to see a few keg-conditioned kegs at your favourite beer-centric spot in the HRM as well. And we hope to share more information about Shoreline Malting in the next couple of weeks.

• These beers sound so delightful, we just have to split them up with a paragraph break. Next up is the smaller batch, brewed on 2C’s pilot system by Assistant Brewer Miles Bishop and a special guest. A close friend of the brewery staff recently found out that his son, Jude, was diagnosed with cancer. In support, an auction in the community was held to raise money for the family, with 2C donating some merch and a brew day at the brewery. Jude’s grandfather Gord was the highest bidder, and joined Miles to help develop the recipe and brew Little Hero. Described as a kinda-mixture of Pollyanna and Bonanza! (Gord’s two favourite 2C beers), this NEIPA was brewed with Pale malt, Wheat, Malted Oats, and a little bit of Crystal 15 L. Hopped in the boil with Columbus, Galaxy, Centennial, and Simcoe, it was fermented with white wine yeast, and finished off with Sacch Trois. Coming in at 6% ABV and 58 IBUs, the beer turned out “mega juicy, with notes of peach, pineapple, passion fruit, and stone fruit; slightly sweet, and a touch funky”. Little Hero will be launched tomorrow, by-the-glass only, in the taproom. And if you don’t make it to 2C for a pint, those of us outside NS will be shaking our collective fists in your general direction.

• Halifax’s Good Robot has a stacked social calendar for NSCBW and they’ve also got some fresh beers hitting the taps at the same time, starting tomorrow with a beer they brewed with longtime metro sugar bears Freak Lunchbox for their Freak Lunchbot event. Look for the brand new I Fink You Freaky Sour Cherry to be pouring along with a variety of candies designed to pair with other brews from the Good Robot stable and a bunch of other candy you’re welcome to try to pair on your own! Next up, on Tuesday, May 1st, GRBC fan Mallory signed up for the Beta Brew program looking to do up a hoppy hefeweizen, and sure enough, a Hopfenweizen was produced! With an ABV of 4.8% and an IBU level in the 45 – 48 range, this beer was based on a pretty traditional hefe grist of wheat, Pilsner and Vienna along with a classic yeast. The hops, on the other hand, took a left (right?) turn, heading south of the equator for fruity tropical goodness from Australian varieties Galaxy, Ella, and Vic Secret. Look for a soft mouthfeel and almost creamy presence to meet a big hop character as you marvel over the brilliance of the beer’s name: Weiß Grips. And on Thursday, May 3, comes yet another new brew out of the GR brewhouse, cutting straight to the heart of the summer with an unapologetic lawnmower beer they’re calling, aptly, Light Beer. At 4.6% ABV and a practically gentle 15 – 18 IBU, this beer is designed for refreshment and relaxation. Toast the season to come by closing your eyes and picturing that warm summer breeze and that hammock you’re swaying in after a long hot day in the yard.

• Bridgewater’s FirkinStein Brewing has a brand new beer flowing at their taproom on King Street these days, a beer that owners Adam and Devin swore they would never brew: a lager. The aptly-named Hypocrite Lager weighs in at 5.1% ABV, and though is fairly pale and light in colour, there is plenty of Firkin Flavour and character to the beer. Currently only available on-site, grab a sample or pint, plus a growler to enjoy at home.

Boxing Rock and Trider’s Craft Beer recently teamed up for their first collaboration, Headstrong. Described as a “Nova Scotian Ale”, the grist was made up simply of Pale malts, with a blend of Noble and Canadian-grown hops used in the boil. Fermented cool with that now-kinda-famous wild yeast isolated from a Cape Breton pin cherry (courtesy of Big Spruce and Escarpment Labs), it was brewed to “embody the spirit of Nova Scotian camaraderie”, and is described as “bright, crisp, clean and dry”. It weighs in at 5.2% ABV and 17 IBUs, you can find it in the typical-for-Boxing Rock 650 mL bottles at their retail store, Seaport and Alderney Farmers Markets, and Harvest Wines locations in the HRM.

• Were you a fan of Cloud Shadow, the Hopfenweisse released by Tidehouse back in November? Well, good news, everyone! The 4.6% ABV brew is making a return today at the taproom, and it’s better than ever… well, according to them, anyway! Still featuring a 50/50 grist of 2-row and Wheat malt, it was fermented with a blend of Hefeweizen and American yeast strains. This time around, however, they increased the Ahtanum and Mandarina Bavaria hop amounts, allowing even more juicy, citrusy, spicy character to come through. In addition to kegs, some of the batch was packaged in 640 mL bottles (for sale at the taproom only); this portion was also dry-hopped with Amarillo. Drop by today for a growler and some bottles, for an in-depth comparison.

• Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing is continuing their Seventh Wave Series with a tidal wave of two new releases this week. Red Sky At Night is another in their foray to Ales, namely an Irish Red. Featuring a full body and clean finish, specialty malts in the form of Double Roasted Crystal from Simpsons and Chocolate Rye Malt (paging TonyW) lend some toasty/sweet notes to the beer. This beer weighs in at 5.7% ABV and a light 21 IBU. Also pouring this week is Piece of Gear, a 5.1% ABV Blonde Ale. Featuring Lemondrop hops (18 IBUs), it’s a crisp and refreshing beer with a nice citrus kick. As with all of their Seventh Waves, these are only available for growler fills at the brewery, so drop by today before they sell out.

• Port Williams’ Sea Level Brewing has brought back their seasonal The Acadian Cross, but made some major changes to the recipe. This Extra Pale Ale weighs in at 5.5% ABV, built from 100% Floor-Malted Maris Otter malt, and hopped in the kettle with Idaho 7. After fermentation, they hopped it further, but with Ahhhroma Hopzoil, a purified hop oil from Montana, made from freshly-harvested cones, for intense aroma and flavour with no bitterness. The Ahhhroma hop is described as having an aroma of Pina Colada, which blends with the Idaho 7 character for a citrus and tropical beer.

• Bedford’s Off Track Brewing has dropped a new beer this week, Jonny-A-Go-Go. Featuring a Wheat Ale base, the addition of mango to the beer brings it up a few tropical notches to be a perfect summer sipper (the 4.5% ABV doesn’t hurt either!). As always, the best place to grab your Off Track fix is at the brewery on Rocky Lake Drive.

• Switching gears away from Nova Scotia, Saint John’s Big Tide has a brand new beer on tap, their first non-collaborative kettle sour, and very positive customer feedback has already ensured it won’t be their last! OH Blackberry Sour was brewed with 2-row, Pale malt, Wheat malt, and a little Carared, and hopped in the boil with Crystal from Darlings Island Farm to just 15 IBUs. When primary fermentation began to slow down, blackberry purée from Oregon Fruit was added to give the beer a light purple hue, and notes of blackberry that pair nicely with the pine, citrus, and spicy elements from the hops, according to the brewery. Easy-drinking at just 4.5% ABV, you can grab some at the brewpub right now (pints and growlers), but it likely won’t last long! Also, a big congrats to Big Tide for winning Gold in the People’s Choice at the Saint John Beer Fest earlier this month, with their Tool Shed Root Porter (also still on tap at the moment).

• And speaking of kettle sours from New Brunswick, Hanwell’s Niche Brewing has one to share as well. Also featuring a fruit addition from Oregon Fruit, Pineapple Persuasion started with lactose powder added in the boil, providing a base sweetness to the wort. It was then fermented with the familiar Amalgamation Brettanomyces blend that has graced several of the brewery’s offerings so far and which is sure to have imparted some tartness and a bit of funk. Once the beer was cooled, Madagascar vanilla bean and pineapple puree were added, yielding an easy-drinking brew that features subtle hints of vanilla and lots of pineapple character in a 4.7% ABV package. Look for it on tap at accounts in Fredericton and Saint John, and maybe, just maybe, showing up in Halifax at some point in the next month or so…

• We told you about the goings on in St. John’s last weekend at the BrewFest, this week we’re reminding you that the Western side of the island cannot be ignored as Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co is continuing to bring it, starting with a new one available for your enjoyment. Dubbed F*#% Off Winter! they’re calling it a Spring Belgian Wheat that’s lemony, grassy, zesty and refreshing. With an ABV of 6.7% and 25 IBUs, this isn’t a light summer quaffer, but a bigger, bolder kiss off to a Winter that just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Featuring the fairly uncommon hop Sorachi Ace that’s known for its ability to impart a distinct lemon character with herbal overtones, but also for occasionally making beers with a distinct dill note, it’s available now in the Bootleg taproom. They’ve got some more new beers planned as well, including an oaty session ale, a series of SMaSH beers, and some more summery light beers in the works. We’ll have more details on those as they become available!

• There’s a new brew about to appear at Maybee Brewing, after a slightly-early debut a few days ago on cask only. Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza is the brewery’s first Black IPA. Hopped entirely with Cascade and Chinook from NB’s Moose Mountain Hops, the beer has “pronounced chocolate, coffee, and a toasted malt profile, with a resinous, piney, and slight citrus hop accompaniment”, according to the brewery. At 7% ABV, this batch will be available in kegs only, for purchase by the pint at select licensees, as well as pints and growlers at Maybee’s taproom in Fredericton.

TrailWay Brewing‘s weekly Friday release for this week is More Better, an American IPA showcasing the wonderful Simcoe hop, the first time the brewery has used this unique, piney, citrusy American varietal. Coming in at 6.5% ABV, they’re describing the beer as having “a pleasant pine front, with a soft, tropical finish”. You can find it in cans and on tap at the brewery only, starting today.

• After a several month hiatus, Half Cut Brewing is back on the New Brunswick scene, with their Tickle Fight IPA flowing once again. Previously brewed at the Picaroons Brewtique on Queen Street (where the initial batches of Grimross were brewed), owner Matt Corey has struck up an agreement with Petit-Sault in Edmundston to brew and package his beer. In addition to the 6.1% IPA, look for his Alter Ego Altbier to be available in the province in the coming weeks. Currently only available in kegged format, Half Cut kegs are now at several bars and restaurants in Fredericton, including 540, James Joyce, King Street Alehouse, and Snooty Fox.

We’ve got plenty of events to the go this weekend, as part of the NS Craft Beer Week, which kicks off today with the Cape Breton Full House, NS Craft Beer Week Pub, and Highway 101 Tap Takeover at Schoolhouse Brewing, as well as the continuation of the Cape Breton Double Header Tap Takeover at Jamieson’s. Tomorrow is the Rotary Pizza Fest and TAPPED! Beer Fest in Truro. Hopefully we’ll see you at Sunday’s Stillwell Open, and again at our Beer Trivia Night May 2nd at The Auction House (Prizes! Fame! Beer! Drawing for tickets to Full House!), and head back up to Schoolhouse for the May 3rd airing of Sociable!. Be sure to check out the stand-alone post for the full details.

• After the dust of Craft Beer Week settles, the folks at Horton Ridge have a series of events on the go in May. On four subsequent Mondays, beginning with the May 14th, will see the Malted malt-focused dinner being held at the Malt House. After a tour of the facility, Chef Christine Fancy of Yesteryear Baking will be serving up several different preparations of Horton Ridge’s malt (hey, it’s not just for beer!), including sweet and savoury items, and malted drinks. Advance ticket purchase is required, and you can learn more on their FB Event and own pages.

• Horton Ridge is also hosting a series of talks on Wednesdays, beginning May 23rd. Dubbed Meet Your Brewer, drop by at 7PM to learn from brewers in the Annapolis Valley to hear their stories and taste their beers. On May 23rd, Cam Hartley from Schoolhouse will be on site, May 30th will have Randy Lawrence from Sea Level, and June 6th will see Horton Ridge’s own brewer Steven Mastroianni join head maltster Alan Stewart for the evening. A few more details are on their FB page, and tickets should still be available here.

• Nova Scotia can’t have all the fun with the events, New Brunswick is certainly pulling their weight! Tickets for the May 25 and 26 Atlantic Beer Festival in Moncton are now available, with more than 150 beers from 70 breweries across the country available for your enjoyment.

• Saturday, June 2nd will be the 2018 edition of Northumbeerfest at Pictou Lodge. Celebrating its Fifth year, beers and brewers from Backstage, Big Spruce, Sober Island, Tatamagouche, and Uncle Leo’s will be on hand and available, along with live music and the Lodge’s own food all evening long. Your $50 ticket pays for your first 12 ounce pour from each of the vendors, with more available after you do the tour. Pictou Lodge is also offering a $115 accomodation package that includes a night’s stay and ticket to the event, based on double occupancy. Check June 2nd rates online for that option. You can also email or call in your request.

And a few last quick mentions before you go get yourself a(nother) beer:

Big Spruce has pulled out all of the stops for the Craft Beer Week, and will have all 5 variants of the 2018 edition of Ra Ra Rasputin Russian Imperial Coffee Stout available for sale at Bishop’s Cellar tomorrow. Drop by at 3PM to grab a taste of the Glenora, American Bourbon, California Cabernet Sauvignon, Cognac, and Nicaraguan Rum barrel-aged expressions, and pick up a bottle or two of your favourites. You’ll also be able to grab cans of The Silver Tart Raspberry Sour, as it has officially landed for the season. And for more fun, head to Battery Park Sunday at 5PM for the launch of the beers on draft, with at least a couple special kegs you’ll only be able to enjoy that afternoon. More details here.
– Speaking of Bishop’s Cellar, you may as well camp out there, at Lucas Mader is holding his latest Brews with Lou Saturday from 1PM, where Mader will share some of the latest beers to hit their shelves. And if you ask nicely, he may even crack open something else you’ve been eyeing up, but wanted a taste before committing to a full bottle. Be sure to tell him ACBB sent ya!
– Our beer-podcast-compadres Kyle, Phil, and Tony from the 902 BrewCast did a full tasting of the Ra Ra Rasputin, including bottles from 2016 and 2017. Sharing the “burden” of the tasting was local beer guru Jeff Pinhey, along with our very own acbbaaron (hey, now we’ve all been on the podcast. Next stop, Hollywood!). Tune in to get their take on the difference a little wood can make, the history of the Brewnosers, and Beer Judge Certification Program in the region. If after listening you’re interested in learning more, hit us or them up on social media, we can help you out!
Breton Brewing has brought back their Imperial IPA Crazy Angus, the big brother to one of their flagships, Black Angus. The malt bills are very similar between the two (albeit it larger for Crazy Angus, bringing it to 7.4% ABV), but the IIPA has higher citrusy hop characteristics. It’s pouring right now at the Breton taproom while supplies last.
Grimross Brewing has released a brand new beer yesterday, featuring maple syrup from Tree Hugger Maple in New Denmark. At 5.5% ABV Tree Hugger Maple Ale is available at the taproom for pints and fills and also in kegs. Act fast, they don’t expect this one to last long.
– The folks at Port Rexton were, luckily for us, slightly ahead of the return of nicer weather, and brewed up a new batch of their orange peel-infused kettle sour, Blue Steel (4.7% ABV), which is ready just in time to enjoy in the warmth! You can drop by the brewery to pick up some cans, along with their T-Rex Porter and Chasing Sun NEIPA.
– Today at noon, Unfiltered will once again be re-releasing their Front Line Rocker, an 8.5% ABV, super juicy DIPA, on tap for growler fills and pints at the brewery.