With Fredericton Craft Beer Fest now almost a week in the past, we suspect some of the hangovers it generated are finally starting to ease, just in time to figure out where the next hangover might come from. We’re willing to bet that for many the phrase “St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday” might figure heavily into that calculation. Here’s the latest in beer releases, brewery news and beer-related events for the week that Spring, uh, springs (sprungs? sprongs? steens?) in 2018!
• Quidi Vidi Brewery, located Northwest of downtown St John’s, has seen a lot of change in the past several months. With the end of their legal issues, they are back to focusing on what should be most important in a brewery: beer! With the explosion of small breweries on the island, the reach of well-made flavourful beers is expanding across the province. Recent releases like the Calm Tom’s Double IPA and Mad Mike’s Big Bad Belgian (both award winners at last weekend’s Down East Brewing Awards) signal a sea change in the company, ready to provide exciting beers beyond their traditional offerings. With a 3 BBL (450 litre) pilot brewing system to complement their 20 BBL (2400 litre) brewhouse, and serious renovations happening to accommodate their new taproom, they are looking to expand the width and breadth of their offerings, while not disappointing their loyal fans. With this refocusing, they are looking to hire an assistant brewer, with an attitude on the same wavelength as their Brewmaster Einar Holtet. Check out the job listing here, and be sure to drop them a note soon!
• We’re not sure how much of this will be left, given that it was released last Friday, but Annapolis Cider has a new entry in their Something Different series. Arctic Kiwi combines the juice of locally-harvested Arctic Kiwis with a dry cider made up of McIntosh, Cortland, and Hyslop Crab apples. Unfiltered and sparkling, the resulting cider is quite aromatic, with “bright, tangy notes of fresh kiwi, with a crisp finish”. Best to check with Annapolis to make sure they still have some left! If they do, $0.50 from each refill will go to support Acadia’s S.M.I.L.E. program.
• Montague, PEI’s Copper Bottom launched a new beer last week – their first sour – just in time to pour off-Island at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. Citra SMaSH Kettle Sour is just what you’d expect it to be – a single-malt (2-row), single-hop (Citra, obviously!) beer that was kettle-soured with Lactobacillus. With a firm tartness that is balanced/complemented very well by the fruity and citrus characters from the Citra, it weighs in at 5.4% ABV. FCBF is over (boo!), but you can still find this one on tap at the brewery, and possible still at HopYard, in Charlottetown.
• Speaking of PEI, there’s puh-lenty going on over at Upstreet these days. Let’s start with new beer… first up is the release of the third beer in their Flipside series, Belgian Pale Ale. This one is definitely a different take on the classic Belgian style, with a light malt bill (including some Flaked Oats), and a dry-hop of Cashmere and Citra. Fermented with a Belgian Witbier yeast, this hazy beer has a light bready character, with notes of “citrus, melon, and coconut” in the aroma and flavour. At 5.5% ABV and 30 IBUs, it’s available now in bottles and on tap. Their other new beer is the first in yet ANOTHER series, Neon Friday, a bi-weekly (hopefully!) release that will focus on hops – more specifically, IPAs – in beers that will be released on tap only. Today will see the release of DDH IPA with Azacca (6.5% ABV, 50 IBUs) which was, yes, double-dry-hopped with the wonderful Azacca, giving high levels of mango in this particular beer. Look for it on tap at the Upstreet taproom, and the Craft Beer Corner. That’s right, the latest Upstreet venture should be opening today in downtown Charlottetown on the corner of Great George St. and Kent St. This beer destination will feature 24 taps (12 Upstreet, 5 for other Island breweries, 4 sodas, 2 Heart Beet Organics Kombuchas, and one Receiver cold brew coffee), with all Upstreet and non-alcoholic options available for growler and crowler fills (the first on the Island?). Food will also be available… think munchies like calzones, pretzels, jerky, etc. that will be prepared at Upstreet and cooked to order onsite. Be sure to check it out over the weekend!
• The FCBF saw all kinds of new beers pouring and we did our best to give you a preview of each in our post last week so you’d know what to look for. Some breweries, however, didn’t release the entire list of what they’d have until after last week’s post, with some beers ending up as a partial surprise. Niche Brewing’s Bruges Afternoon fit one of these descriptions, but it also fits another, that of a hybrid Belgian style that can best be described as a Belgian-American Pale Ale. Starting with a rather Belgian grist of Pils, Aromatic and Wheat, almost all the hops were added after the boil, namely lots of Azacca and Mosaic. It was back to Belgium for a Trappist style yeast to promote fruity esters and then, post-fermentation, back across the pond for a large dry hop of more Azacca and Mosaic. Fruity esters, tropical hops, and a medium mouthfeel in a 5.2% ABV package. As always you’ll find it at Niche tap accounts where you might also bump into their Mines of Wallonia, their lovely light Grisette hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Hallertau Blanc, which should see its re-release early next week.
• While lots of breweries do up special beers for St. Patrick’s day, and many of them involve food colouring or wild and wonderful green-tinged ingredients, we suspect that a new beer from Horton Ridge has got to be the greenest green beer that ever greened. Excepting that it’s not green. In colour, anyway. Horton Ridge has made a beer using green malt directly off the malt floor, with no kilning step to remove all the water added to germinate the grain and with the protein-rich rootlets left intact. The only other ingredient in the grist was a few pound of their own malted oats. Trading traditional toasty and malty flavors for fruity ones, this beer has notes of peach and fresh cantaloupe with a red apple nose. More brown than beer made from kilned malt, it’s also quite hazy from the additional protein. Hopped with Saaz, Hallertau, Cascade and Perle, Green Malt Beer weighs in a quaffable 5.5% ABV and a gentle 22 IBU that lets the malt shine. Not green enough for you? Consider this: the barley was grown in the region (Winsloe, PEI), so transport was minimized. Not kilning means 90% of the energy normally put into the malting process was saved. And with so much water left in the grain, much less was needed for the mash! Served on-site (no additional transportation), the environmental footprint of this beer is likely to be amongst the smallest of any in Canada. Now is it green enough?! Launched yesterday at the brewery, it will be flowing freely tomorrow starting at noon for Paddy’s Day at the Malt House and also available in growlers (pre-filled, we believe). Keeping with the theme, you’ll also fine Granite Brewery Greenman Pale Ale along with offerings from Big Spruce and Tatamagouche Brewing. Traditional Irish music from Space Bog Paddy People round out the event starting at 8 PM (tickets for the evening are $5). And we’ve been told to keep our eyes out for more beers from Horton Ridge featuring green malt in the future!
• On the East side of Newfoundland Port Rexton have a new beer out that invokes both St. Patrick’s Day and meteorology. In Newfoundland, the name Sheila (or Sheelah) is associated with St. Patrick as his wife, and cagey Newfoundlanders caught still tippling on March 18th may claim to be continuing the celebration in the name of Sheelah. Meanwhile, weather-wise, it is extremely common for one last big snow to come through Newfoundland in the back half of March following Paddy’s Day and those storms have come to be known as “Sheila’s Brush.” Enter Port Rexton and their desire for something hoppy and crushable to welcome Spring. Featuring Magnum, Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria in the kettle and Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra in the dry hop, Sheila’s Crush still only tips the scales at 4.4% ABV, making it a very sessionable IPA. Look for this light and citrusy brew at the brewery’s retail location on Torbay Road just in time for Sheila’s Day.
• Are you a fan of big, boozy Barleywines? Well, we have great news for you, then! Boxing Rock‘s newest beer, Fisticuffs, is just that, and is available now! Weighing in at a monstrous 11% ABV, the beer was aged for four months in Chardonnay barrels, it exhibits “hints of stone fruits such as prunes, plums and figs, melded with a smooth, biscuit malt flavour and hint of vanilla”. With a fruity finish and “soft” carbonation, it’s smooth enough to be enjoyed now, and big enough to be cellared! Bottles are currently on sale at Boxing Rock’s retail show in Shelburne, with some also on their way to select NSLC stores (and perhaps to the private stores in HRM as well). And keep your eyes open next week for their Juniper Saison, April May Juniper, which was originally brewed as a collaboration with Lunn’s Mill last year. This batch was fermented with a different Saison yeast, and the beer will be a rotating seasonal in the NSLC, so you should be seeing bottles very soon. And mark your calendars for March 29th, when Boxing Rock will be taking over the taps at Lion & Bright from 5PM, pouring a wide variety of suds to make your long weekend brighter.
• TrailWay is bringing back their Milkshake IPA, Velvet Fog, today at the brewery. This latest release is a new iteration on the same vanilla/lactose-driven IPA – hopped with a “generous amount” of Idaho 7 and El Dorado, it was conditioned on both strawberry and mango puree. Expect plenty of fruitiness thanks to all additions, with a “massive, rich, creamy body” to help support the 6.5% ABV. Available today on tap and in cans at the brewery only.
• We have a couple of pieces from Fredericton’s Picaroons news this week. First up, with the warmer weather approaching (right??), the brewing team at Pics turn their thoughts to one of their most fun and popular seasonals, Melonhead, their Watermelon Ale. And every year, a new cat will get the opportunity to grab the spotlight on the front of the label. If you think your kitty is the next Whiskey, Sir Winston Snaggletooth, or Ruby, send their picture vial email before March 27th for a chance at fame, fortune, and unlimited catnip. The winning cat, and the beer, will be available June 1st. Picaroons is also looking to hire a Retail Beer Store Manager, who will oversee the operation of the various retail locations, taproom operations, and designing tour information. To learn more, check out Pics’ Facebook page, and apply for the position via email here.
• The Gahan Pub in Charlottetown is hosting their Fourth Home Brewer’s Challenge, inviting eager Aleanders to brew up their best recipe, for a chance to see their beer pouring at the Sydney Street Pub. There are no style requirements/guideline this year, so entrants are free to choose whichever they like. Fire an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before April 13th to register, and you have until May 28th to brew and deliver your beer to Gahan. The winner will brew their recipe with Gahan Brew Master Trent Hayes, for release in the summer.
• We have more on the latest release from Garrison we teased last week, plus a tease of another new one dropping this weekend. Debuting at the Craft Beer Cottage Party at the end of February, Wicked Good is a North East- / New England- style American Pale Ale (aka, full of hops and haze for dayz). Pale Ale Malt is kicked up with Oats and Wheat (for mouthfeel, head retention, and lending a bit of haze) in the grain bill, resulting in a 5.8% ABV. The star of the show is the hop bill, featuring loads of Idaho 7 and Mosaic early-, late-, and post-boil, plus some super-secret hops that Brewmaster Daniel Girard is keeping under wraps. Currently available on draft only, but will eventually be packaged, grab it at the brewery for samples and growlers, and around town at finer drinking establishments.
• And dropping today, just in time for tomorrow’s drinking holiday, is Oat and About Stout. This is a Strong Stout brewed with students of the NSCC Continuing Education course that visited the brewery in February. As the name would imply, there are oats in the grain bill to complement the 2-Row Pale malt, plus a blend of Crystal with Roasted Barley. At 6.0% ABV and 32 IBUs, it’s a solid alternative to the macro-stouts often touted at the time of year. Be sure to grab all of the details when you drop by today for a sample or growler fill (and tell them the ACBB sent ya!).
In addition to your regularly scheduled St Patrick’s Day celebrations tomorrow, keep an eye out for these events this weekend and in the near future:
• As part of their Saint Paddy’s Day fun, Twillingate’s Split Rock Brewing is hosting a series of tastings in their Stage Head Pub. At 2 PM, 3 PM, and 4 PM tomorrow, try 8 beers from Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Storm Brewing, and YellowBelly and take a tour of the brewery, all while learning about Split Rock’s own offerings, too. In addition to the guided tastings, there will be music in the afternoon and evening (4 – 5 PM, and again at 9 PM), and Irish Stew available 5 – 7 PM. And while you’re there, you’ll be able to enjoy their recent addition Flanker, a rich and malty Smoked Porter, weighing in at 5.8% ABV. 30% Beachwood Smoked Malt was used in the grist, but the smoke level is not overpowering. If you’re unable to visit the Stage Head, it may be available in town after the weekend. Saturday will see the release of a pair of new beers as well, with a 3.8% ABV Dry Irish Stout being served on Nitro, and a brand new American Pale Ale with loads of Cascade and Columbus making its debut.
• Feeling hungry and inflexible? Why not come to the King Street Ale House this Sunday, March 18th, for Lazy Yoga n’ Burgers? Starting at 1 PM, there will be 45 minutes of “lighthearted, gentle” yoga (BYO mat), before launching into the main event… food and beer! Over the next two hours, ticketholders will have four gourmet sliders, each paired with a different beer (5 oz) from Niche Brewing. Tickets can be purchased through the event link above; the price is $45.49 for the full experience, but if you just want to go for the burgers and beer, you can purchase a separate ticket for $27.39. Check out the link for more details, and a full beer list.
• Big Tide Brewing is hosting a Brunch & Brew event on March 25th starting at 10 AM. Your ticket includes food and coffee/tea, a tour of the brewery with plenty of knowledge and insight into the brewing process, plus the opportunity to take part in a brewday with Head Brewer Wendy Papadopoulos and the folks of Uncorked Tours. Advance tickets are suggested, and are available here.
• The latest edition of the St John’s BrewFest is set to happen April 21, at Club One at 33A Gower Street. Featuring 80+ beer not normally available in the province, the hosts are pushing hard to increase the haze-level on the island by inviting Brooklyn, NYC’s, Other Half Brewing, as well as Half Hours on Earth (Seaforth, ON), Blindman Brewery (Lacombe, AB), Left Field Brewery (Toronto, ON), and Hammond River (Quispamsis, NB). Your $30 ticket gets you in the door, your glass for the evening (and to take home) and your first few pours, after which you can buy tokens to fill her up once again. Tickets are just about sold out, so if you were waiting for a sign to buy, this is it! Check out the beer line-up (they’re adding more to the list daily), and grab your tickets, here.
• We’ve been busy trying to keep up with Escarpment Lab‘s social media over the past week, as co-founder Angus Ross returned to his Nova Scotian roots, brewing up a half-dozen collaboration beers across the province. From Shelburne to Nyanza and points in between, Ross has set a wide variety of yeast-driven beers in motion this week (joining some brewed last summer!), which will culminate in a tap takeover during the Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference, being held in Halifax May 24-26. We’ll share more details on the takeover (and the dozens of other events peripheral to the Conference) closer to the date, but rest assured you’ll want to take a few days off of work to stay focused on the mighty task at hand!
• Hell Bay Brewing and Liverpool Adventure Outfitters are hosting a Father’s Day Canoe & Brew event June 16th. It kicks off at 4PM when attendees will go for a paddle along the Mersey River, and then enjoying a beer tasting at Hell Bay. Paddlers of all ages are invited, though the tasting restricted to those of age. The LAO is planning more of these outings, so be sure to sign up to their inaugural event to show that there’s plenty of interest!
Just a few more notes to get you up to speed before we let you go today:
– Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing has opened their taproom this week, allowing visitors to enjoy pints and flights of their Headliner IPA, Nunmoar Black, or one of their 4 other beer pouring currently. They are also adding in a healthy dose of guest beers to round out the dozen taps, which started with Garrison’s Pucker Up!, Uncle Leo’s Smoked Porter, and Sober Island Chanterelle Mild. Drop by today 12-8PM, and tomorrow 11-5PM for your draft and growler needs!
– Good Robot will be re-releasing El Espinazo del Diablo, their International Pale Lager conditioned on lime zest and jalapeño, next week. With a 2-Row and Vienna malt base, flaked corn is also used in the mash for that iconic flavour contribution. At 5.7% ABV, the beer was solely hopped with Tettnang to a light 14 IBU, letting the fruit and chili dominate the flavours.
– Propeller Brewing has brought back their Irish Red this week, just in time for Saturday’s celebration. Available in the 650 mL bomber size, as well as on tap for growler fills and pints at their Gottingen St taproom, it will be available at bars and restaurants around the city shortly.
– Unfiltered has brought back their “New England-influenced” American IPA, Riddle of Steel, for release today at Charm School for pints and growler fills (and likely on tap at several Unfiltered accounts, soon).
And before we sign off today, we wanted to once again say thanks to Lloyd Chambers and the whole Fredericton Craft Beer Festival crew of volunteers for a great time last weekend. From the PEI Tap Takeover at the James Joyce, to the Beer School run by Mike Doucette & Co of CCNB Grand Falls, to the breweries who were kind enough to donate goodies for our Trivia Night (which we will re-schedule soon, stupid power outage!), there were plenty of great events surrounding the Friday Night Newbie Session and Saturday Gala Sessions of the Festival. Congratulations to all of the winners in the Down East Brewing Awards, but extra-special Grats to Garrison for winning Brewery of the Year, and 2 Crows for Beer of the Year, for their I Love You Saison with Rosehips. Meeting with the local brewers, bar owners, retailers, hop growers, and beer fans leaves us with no doubt that the Atlantic Canadian Beer Scene is stronger than ever, and the future is looking quite bright!