Moth Lane Brewing

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Well, it’s official…September is here. Unofficially, summer is over, the days of Pumpkin Ales are upon us, and wet-hopped beers are approaching soon! If you’re not a fan of one of these (or both), don’t worry…while this week may be a bit slower in the new beer department compared to the last few, there’s still some interesting brews newly released or coming soon that we’d love to get you caught up on…

• Charlottetown’s St. Paul’s Church will be celebrating their 250th Anniversary in 2019, and they’ve partnered up with Upstreet to have a special beer brewed as a means of fundraising for this important milestone. Head brewer Mike Hogan decided to brew a beer similar in style to one you’d see in England in the 18th century…hence, Red Stone Stock Ale was born. The grist is made up of English Pale malt, Medium Crystal, and Chocolate malt. A 60 L grain-soured starter was whipped up, and added to half of the 30 BBL (3500 L) batch, resulting in a pH drop that gave some, but not too much, sourness. After boiling the wort and hopping it with English Fuggles, this half was then blended with the other, non-soured half (brewed with the same hop schedule), and the resulting wort was fermented. Afterwards, house-toasted PEI oak cubes were added, with the final product exhibiting an “oaky and sharp finish similar to the aged beers of the time”. This brew will be released on September 17th, on tap at the brewery and a few select accounts, and in bottles, with all proceeds going to St. Paul’s.

• There’s a new beer flowing at the Foghorn taproom in Rothesay, an Extra Special Bitter named after its proud brewer, Andrew Estabrooks. Esty Special Bitter is a 5.5% ABV, 38 IBUs beer hopped with three new-to-Foghorn varieties: Challenger, Target, and Olicana. Fermented with, of course, an English yeast strain, expect a dry, slightly fruity brew that goes down easy. Available now for pints and growlers, it’s also popping up at a few tap accounts in Saint John.

• More breweries in our region are working with Escarpment Labs – a company in Guelph, Ontario, that produces liquid yeast cultures for breweries – to develop their own unique cultures for fermenting wort. Tatamagouche Brewing has joined this list, with the release of a new Saison, Edel, yesterday. The grist of this new beer is comprised of 70% Pilsner malt, and 20% raw wheat and 10% raw Rye from Horton Ridge, to 5.2% ABV. Hopped with organic French Strisselspalt to 21 IBUs, the wort was fermented with a special blend of yeast that Tatabrew worked on with Escarpment, that incorporates both a traditional Saison yeast, and a North American Brettanomyces strain. The resulting beer was split into two batches; the first, being released today, was dry-hopped with more Strisselspalt, while the second has moved on into Tempranillo wine barrels and will be getting an addition of wine must this fall (look for this half to be released next spring). Edel is a keg-only beer, so look for it at the brewery for growlers and pints, as well as on tap at both Stillwell locations, and Battery Park. Next spring’s barrelled version, however, will also be released in bottles. We’ll be sure to remind you when it’s available!

Loyalist City Brewing has released a variety of hoppy beers since they opened last fall, and this week they launched their third American IPA, Point Blanc IPA. This is a “New England IPA” brewed with a blend of Maris Otter in the grist, which provides a “light toasted malt presence” to balance the hop character provided from large whirlpool additions of Citra, Centennial, and Mandarina Bavaria, along with a heavy dry hop of CentennialHallertau Blanc, and Mandarina Bavaria. Fermented with the brewery’s Vermont yeast strain, expect lots of citrus and grapefruit, and a high bitterness in the finish. Seek it out on tap at your favourite Loyalist City account!

Good Robot is bringing back version 2.0 of their Damn Fine Coffee and Cherry Pie Pale Ale today; to remind you, this is the one featuring the addition of Kenyan Nyeri Gatina coffee beans, roasted by Java Blend Coffee Roasters and brewed by Low Point Coffee Co. The resultant cold brew was added to the beer, along with hop additions of Falconer’s Flight and Cascade, giving you interesting flavours of coffee, chocolate, slight fruit, and some acidity. Look for it on tap at Good Robot, and, of course, other GR-friendly establishments in the HRM. Also, next Tuesday’s Beta Brewsday (brewed by Robyn, Heather, and Kelly C.) will be Low Hanging Fruit Milkshake IPA (6.6% ABV, 54 IBUs)- hopped with Mosaic Cryo hops, as well as pelletized Amarillo, Citra and Columbus. It was then rested on fresh Ontario peaches for a week; the fruity notes from both the hops and fruit help balance the slight sweetness from the addition of lactose powder. And finally, note that there will be no Cask in the Sun release today.

• Nackawic’s Big Axe has finally confirmed that they will be expanding their 1 BBL brewery, which has been operating since April, 2014 out of co-owners’ Peter and Tatiana Cole’s Bed and Breakfast under the same name. The Big Axe Brewery and Saloon will be housed in a “wild west-style log home”, built on the banks of the Saint John River in Nackawic. Scheduled to open in April, 2018, the 10 BBL (1150 L) brewhouse is being built by Charlottetown’s DME. With 20 BBL fermentors also being constructed, expect plenty more Big Axe beer, including bottle and can distribution. The two-level saloon will have a wrap-around deck overlooking the Saint John River; food will be served as well. We’ll be sure to update you as their progress continues. Congratulations to the Coles!

• After backing out of their original plan to open a small batch brewery in downtown Saint John early this year, Moosehead has announced that they will indeed be adding a 20 BBL (2300 L) brewhouse and taproom to the company’s original brewery at 89 Main St. West in Saint John. A 3 BBL (350 L) pilot brewery will also be constructed, with the idea behind both smaller brewhouses being experimentation, according to Moosehead. Current plans are for the new location to be up and running in May, 2018.

• And speaking of crafty (and pumpkin ales!), A. Keith’s Historic Brewery has a new batch out of their pilot system. Brewmaster Stefan Gagliardi, a self-proclaimed pumpkin head, perfected this recipe as a home brewer over many iterations and it’s one of his favorites. Ingredients include Vienna and Munich malts from Horton Ridge, pumpkin purée, and pumpkin pie spices including fresh ginger, Ceylon cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Look for malty, toasty and sweet pie crust elements to meet a full body and smooth mouthfeel highlighted by the spices. This is a small batch, with only three kegs going on the growler station at the brewery today.

• Those who have hops growing on their property are surely aware that the time is nigh for harvesting. Hop flowers, or cones, are starting to sound papery when squeezed, are going a little brown around the edges, and smell of the resinous lupulin that contains the essential oils and acids hops are known and loved for. We know that a couple of hop growing breweries in the region, including Meander River and Big Spruce, have already had their picking parties and other producers will no doubt harvest soon if they haven’t already. Most of the hops harvested in our region will no doubt be processed normally: dried with warm, moving air, before being baled or pelletized and stored cold. But some hops are destined for nearly immediate use with a special technique known as “wet hopping”, “fresh hopping” or “green hopping” – adding freshly-picked, undried hops to a batch of beer during the brewing process. For best effect, wet hops have to be as fresh as possible, ideally within hours of picking, so that they do not spoil. Cold storage and shipping, if necessary, should not exceed 48 hours before the hops hit the beer. This gives breweries with their own on-site hop farms a leg up on making wet hopped beers. Using wet hops is much more risky than processed hops; with no laboratory analysis, alpha acid and essential oil levels are completely unknown. Because of this, to keep some control over the result, some breweries will use processed hops with known alpha levels for bittering and will save the fresh hops for flavour and aroma additions. When picked, hops are ideally still roughly 80% water and aren’t nearly as potent as dried, so significantly higher hop amounts must be used in wet hopping, often as much as 5 or 10 times the dried equivalent. Meanwhile, compounds that lose their potency during the drying process are still present and can make significant, and sometimes unwelcome, flavour contributions. Wet hopped beers, at their best, present a different side of hops, earthy and somewhat grassy, with a more subtle presentation of other flavour and aroma characteristics than usual. Look for wet hopped beers, often termed harvest ales to start appearing in the region over the next month or so!

• Speaking of which, if you’ve got hops growing on your property that you’re not planning to use, and you can get them to Fredericton quickly after picking, Graystone Brewing has put out a call for hops to be used in their Harvest Ale. Proceeds from the beer with go towards the United Way of Central New Brunswick’s campaign.

A bit of a quiet week for beer events and event announcements this week:

• A reminder to those in Halifax that Stillwell is bringing one of the big (but little!) guns of American Farmhouse styles for a two-stage takeover this weekend as Maine’s Oxbow Brewing comes to town. Starting at 4 PM today some of the best Belgian-inspired beers you can imagine will be pouring at Stillwell HQ on Barrington Street. And tomorrow starting at noon the party moves on up to The Stillwell Beergarden on Spring Garden Road. The full tap and bottle list is now available for this evening’s festivities and chef Graeme Ruppel has put together a burger-focused menu that’ll melt your butter. If you’ve found yourself going into withdrawal after the Stillwell Belgian Takeover two weeks ago, if you’re curious how American Farmhouse compares to the original, or if you just like really great beer, you owe it to yourself to get out today or tomorrow. No tickets required at either session.

• If you’re in Charlottetown, PEI, or planning to be there in the next 24 hours, and you don’t already have your tickets for the PEI Beerfest (part of the Fall Flavours Festival) at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel, what are you waiting for?! Tickets are still available for tonight’s 6:30 – 9:30 PM session ($48 + taxes & fees) and Saturday afternoon’s 2:00 – 4:00 PM shift ($36.50 + taxes & fees), but tomorrow evening’s session is now sold out! The brewery list is as up-to-date as it’s going to get and the live entertainment is locked-in. A reminder also that Designated Driver tickets ($13.50 + taxes & fees) are available as well to help you arrange to get home safely.

• The Maritime Honey Festival will be taking place in Fredericton in a couple of weeks, and with beer’s popularity continuing to rise, of course it has to take part! On Saturday, September 23rd, the “Bee-R Garden” will be held between 10 am – 3 pm, at the Capital Exhibit Center. At least seven different local craft breweries will be taking part, each of which has been matched up with a beekeeper, and will be brewing a style of beer different from others attending, featuring, of course, honey. Ranging from a “Brett Honey Saison” from Maybee to an “Imperial Honey Porter” from Foghorn, attendees can expect a wide variety of brews! Be sure to check out the link for the list of styles from breweries who have committed to participate. And what honey-centric festival would be complete without mead? Sunset Heights Meadery will be pouring seven different varieties of mead to satisfy your sweet tooth. Drink tickets can be purchased now – $8 for four 4 oz drink tickets, or $45 for unlimited samples – or at the door, where $11 gets you four drink tickets (no unlimited samples option).

And a few last items before you get on with your weekend…

Garrison‘s Rise ‘n Stein Hefeweizen (5.5% ABV, 13 IBUs) has returned, with this year’s batch being available almost-exclusively in bottles at the brewery and HRM private stores; a limited amount may be available on tap, so keep your eyes open.
– PEI’s Moth Lane has released a new beer, The Gorbine Double Black IPA (8.8% ABV, 85 IBUs), that is available now across the Island at Moth Lane tap accounts, and at the brewery.
Nine Locks Brewing led the pack this year with the release of their Harvest Pumpkin Ale earlier this week. It’s available now in cans at the brewery and will appear at the NSLC in October.
– Bad news for fans of Picaroons Dark and Stormy Night: due to an ongoing legal dispute with “a big name in the spirits world”, the beer has been discontinued and will not be brewed again. It doesn’t appear that it will return under a different name, so if this is a brew you’ve enjoyed in the past, you may want to grab a bottle or two if you can find it.
– In Cask Friday news, the Propeller Organic Blonde on Yuzu we told you about last week is actually going on this evening at 5 PM. Schoolhouse’s cask today is called Oaked Grog Chequers obviously their Chequers Robust Porter aged on Oak, but what’s the “grog” angle? Stop by the brewery this evening and find out!

Happy Friday y’all! We are deep into August now, and the weather in our region has been gorgeous, which bodes well for a healthy hop and grain harvest next month. Let’s take a minute to toast the hard working farmers and growers who keep the brewers fully stocked with great ingredients!

Tatamagouche Brewing is on the lookout for a Head Brewer! Having expanded several times during their first three years in operation, they are looking for an experienced brewer to join their ranks, and help them keep up with the great demand for their beer across the province (and beyond). In addition to day-to-day brewing tasks, familiarity with Quality Control, recipe development, cellaring, and maintenance are also requirements. As in all breweries of this size, the ability to wear many hats, and communicate with co-workers in the brewhouse is key! If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out the full job posting here, and fire off an email to Matt Kenny.

• Wolfville’s Annapolis Cider Company released the latest cider in their Something Different series on the weekend, Raspberry and Rooibos. This 6.7% unfiltered sparkling cider begins with a dry cider base fermented over Red Delicious skins, blended with fresh juice from local, handpicked, raspberries. The blend was then cold-conditioned with Red Rooibos loose leaf tea from their neighbours at Just Us! Coffee. The resultant deep pink cider showcases a tannic structure, with plenty of fresh raspberry flavour and aroma, and a light earthiness from the tea. As with all of their Something Different releases, Annapolis is donating $0.50 from each sale to a local charity, with the Wolfville Children’s Centre being the current beneficiary.

• 90 minutes down Highway 101 from Wolfville is Smiths Cove, home to Lazy Bear Brewing. They have upped the ante this week with the release of Sour Punch Kettle Sour. Featuring a similar hop profile to their Punch Session IPA, this 5.0% ABV Pale first underwent a controlled souring using Lactobacillus, before finishing fermentation with an ale yeast. During conditioning, it was generously dry-hopped with El DoradoIdaho 7, and Olicana, for “a nice balance of tart and tropical fruity from those hops”, according to the brewery. The best way to grab Sour Punch, and its little sister Punch (which we understand will be back shortly), is at Lazy Bear’s Thursday evening Growler nights, and at their Annapolis Royal Farmers & Traders Market stall Saturday from 8AM.

Think Brewing, in New Brunswick’s Southwest region, has added a new beer to their roster, featuring all New Brunswick hops. Named after the area in which they are located, Tweedsider Pale Ale features 2016 harvest Centennial and Columbus hops from Southan Farms and Cascade hops from Lakeview Farm in Think’s neighbouring town of Harvey. Described as a “Classic ‘C’ hop Pale Ale”, with Columbus as bittering and plenty of late Cascade and Centennial for a bright citrus fresh aroma. The area of Tweedside got its name after the River Tweed in Scotland. Tweedsider can be found on tap at The Loch in Harvey (also adjacent to where those Cascade hops were grown), Cask & Kettle in Saint John, and Graystone in Fredericton.

• Over on the western side of PEI, Moth Lane has a new beer available, this one with a name derived from folklore. Called Sidehill Gouger, apparently after a creature said to roam the dunes next to the brewery that has evolved shorter legs on one side of its body, it’s a wheat and barley beer brewed with an American yeast. At 5% ABV and 11 IBU, it should have a clean flavour profile and a refreshing character, perfect for the tail end of summer.

• HRM’s North Brewing sees the release of the second beer in their Finite Series today, with the launch of Oh My Darlin, a Clementine Pale Ale. Coming in at 6.3% ABV, it’s been in development for quite some time. Leveraging a stainless tank from Battery Park, it underwent a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces claussenii for six months before being dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria and packaged into bottles and kegs where it conditioned for another 1.5 months. Described as dry , with a “brilliant” brett funk and notes of clementine, this is an extremely limited release, with only 850 bottles (650 mL) and 3 kegs produced in total. As of noon today you’ll find it at both North bottle shops, and on tap at Battery Park and Stillwell as long as it lasts. So if you love the funk, you know what to do.

• Things are coming together for Split Rock Brewing in iconic Twillingate, NL, with their opening fast approaching. As they count down the weeks and days until launch, they are looking to expand their team, looking for bartenders and servers for their on-site taproom. If you are looking for an excuse to go back home, or want a new adventure where you can watch icebergs and whales from behind the bar, get in touch with the Split Rock family in person at 119 Main Street or via social media.

• Down Digby way in Nova Scotia, Roof Hound is ready to begin another new era for the brewery with the impending arrival of bottles to the packaging mix. Their first offerings in this format will be the Sweet Little SIPA session IPA, at 4.5% ABV, and their aptly-named (for all the right reasons), Big Stink IPA at 6.4% ABV. They’ve gone with the swankily retro 500 mL stubby format and if you check out social media you’ll see their cunningly designed counter pressure bottle filler. Speaking of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), that’s how you’ll best find out when these puppies (yes, we went there) will be available; they’re still technically waiting on NSLC approval after obtaining the nod on recyclability. Once they’ve got clearance, you’ll find the bottles available at the brewery and in the city at Bishop’s Cellar for now, with other avenues potentially developing over time.

• If you’re keeping score on the wonderful things that have already come out of the foedres at 2 Crows Brewing, you’ll have likely notched a win for the Low Point Barrel-aged Burundi Coffee. If you’ve idly wondered what that lovely stuff might taste like if someone had the presence of mind to brew some up and put it in a beer, it turns out you’re not alone. Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing got their collective grubby paws on some of that lovely coffee (no doubt at the mental, emotional, and possibly physical expense of Jeremy Taylor) and put it into an American Porter they’re calling Low Tide Foedre-aged Burundi Coffee Porter (you will be forgiven for ordering “Low Tide”). The grist for this 5.5% ABV brew was comprised of a 2-row malt base, Carafa II for color, and Pale Chocolate malt for roasty and chocolate notes, while the hop side features Magnum for a present, but only just, bitterness, and Bramling Cross for some red fruit and lemon flavour. Ideally this will provide an excellent platform for the sweet, boozy and vanilla components of the coffee. Release is expected to take place this coming Wednesday, August 23rd at 1 PM, where they’ll have a mere 350 bottles (500 mL) available, so if you’re interested, you’d best step lively – once they’re gone, they’re gone!

• And demonstrating how multiple people can have the same great idea and yet execute it quite differently, there’s another beer featuring that 2 Crows/Low Point Foedre-aged Burundi Coffee available today! Debuting at last weekend’s Seaport Beerfest, and now available to the public, is a little collab our very own Chris did with the fine folks at 2 Crows Brewing. Switch Hitter is a 4.5% ABV American Pale Ale, featuring a light, mostly-Pilsner based malt profile, hopped to 35 IBU with Hallertau Blanc, and then fermented with a blend of yeasts (both clean and wild). A bit more H. Blanc was added during active fermentation, and the beer sat on several ounces of the foedre-aged coffee for a week before packaging. The resultant beer shows a bit of yeast-derived funkiness, with some bright hop notes and coffee flavour. With two kegs poured at the Brewnosers/Ladies Beer League Tap Local table last weekend, there’s just one keg available at 2 Crows today, for on-site enjoyment only (aka, no cans or growlers). Be sure to chirp Chris on Untappd or Twitter to let him know what you think…

• With the very many new TrailWay beers that have been hitting shelves and taps this past summer, it’s actually kind of surprising that they haven’t done a true SMaSH beer… until now! Lomah was released earlier this week, and features a grist comprised of 100% Pilsner malt, and a hop schedule made up entirely of Columbus. A hop variety that every brewer is familiar with, Columbus has been around for many years, and always brings more to the table than expected. Lomah in particular is described as “dank, spicy, and surprisingly tropical and fruity”, and weighs in at 6.3%. Available now in cans, pints and growlers at the brewery, TW is calling it “crisp, clean, and completely crushable”.

• As usual we’ve got plenty to tell you about with regards to Good Robot in Halifax’s North End this week. First, the summer tradition continues with yet another new brew on the Gastroturf serving as Cask in the Sun this afternoon. This time it’s Leave Me Blue Popcorn, their Kentucky Corn Beer with house made caramel and lactose added to push it in a caramel corn direction. Next, this weekend will see the release of an almost-new Alpha Brew, previously released as a Beta Brew by Assistant Brewer Jake DeWolfe as his first solo brew at GR. El Espinazo del Diablo (the Devil’s Backbone, after a Guillermo del Toro film) is a Mexican Lager weighing in at 5.8% ABV and a light 14 IBU. With a grain bill of 2-row and Vienna malts and flaked corn, the noble hop Tettnanger for flavour, and the addition of both lime zest and jalapeño peppers for added interest, this is a light, but slightly hazy lager that should be quite refreshing. And lastly, this week’s Beta Brewsday on August 22nd is a collaboration between Beta system queen Kelly Costello and Jana Muise of Motion Bay Brewing (original name: Killick Stone), soon to be open in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. This is a hoppy one called Stella Ella Oh La La with 2-row, Vienna and Flaked oats making up the malt side, for plenty of body and a little haze. On the hop side, there was a bittering jolt of Cascade out of the gate, and then a triple dry hop of Citra at 2 days, Ella (formerly known as Stella) at 4 days, and Citra again at 6 days! At a super-sessionable 4.5% ABV, but a healthy 56 IBU this very well might qualify as a NE Session IPA. There’s only one way to find out and that’s to be at GR next Tuesday when it’s tapped!

Woody Point is located on Newfoundland’s West Coast, in the heart of Gros Morne National Park. That’s where Galliott Studios, the officially unofficial taproom for Western Newfoundland Brewing Company, is located. The cafe/gallery/pottery studio/bar is also home to the Writers at Woody Point event taking place August 15-20th. With readings by authors, live music, and celebration of written and spoken word, the event has also been the perfect time for WNLBC to release a new beer, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the House of Anansi Press. The 3.5% ABV Ginger Wheat Ale features additions of Millet and Sorghum in the mash, as a nod to the legend of Anansi, an African folktale. Complementing the ginger, are locally-foraged Wild Rose and Wild Mint, collected by local group Northern Food Craft. The beer is currently on tap at Galliott Studios, and we don’t expect it will last beyond the weekend, so drop by today for a pint and story!

What’s on the go in the next couple of weeks?

• Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing is throwing their annual Block Party tomorrow, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. With an open-air artisan market, the Most Wanted Pawn Shop’s Retro Video Game parlour, great food, and their own sodas pouring, there is something for everybody. This free event will also feature live music all day, from noon until late night. Check out the full details here, and drop by for a right good time tomorrow!

• Next Sunday, August 27th, the crew from Charlottetown’s HopYard want to take you on an Island Wide Brewery Tour! Meeting at HopYard at noon, the bus will head up West to Moth Lane for a visit, then it’s off to BarNone for a pint, before heading back to town for a pint and bite at HopYard. The fun continues with a visit to PEI Brewing Company, before ending (or just beginning?) the night at Upstreet. Tunes and Trivia will be on the go to keep you entertained between stops. Tickets are available at HopYard now for just $50+tax.

And one last mention before we leave you to enjoy your weekend and, hopefully, some of the exciting releases that are coming this week:

• ANBL is asking its customers for feedback about Online Shopping. Until August 30th at midnight, visit the online survey to have your say. It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes and will, if you provide your email address, enter you in a draw to win one of three $100 gift cards from ANBL.

If you’ve been paying attention to the calendar, you know that Spring has arrived in Atlantic Canada. That said, if you’ve been paying attention to the actual weather, what with school closures twice this week in parts of the province and some bitter cold towards the end of the week, you may be considering taking a Caddyshack approach to the groundhog’s report next year. Embarrassingly stereotypical carping aside, the weather hasn’t stopped our region’s breweries from continuing to pound out tasty beers to soothe our chapped lips and frostbitten livers. We’re going to start this week’s report with news from the amateur side of brewing, where a couple of local homebrew competitions have announced their winners…

• This past Sunday afternoon, Bar Stillwell was taken over by the finale of the Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge 2017. Six finalists, whose beers had been previously selected by beer judges from a pool of 23 (of a possible 25) entries, showed up to make a case for why they should take home the coveted trophy this year. The presentations ranged from the straight-up and matter-of-fact to a brewday video, to a two-man sound effect-laden comedy sketch and a mandolin-soaked musical performance. In the end, and for the second year running, the trophy went to Halifax home brewer Brian Harvey (aka 1029 Brewing). His beer was a Orange peel-infused kettle-soured ale entitled Grafted. Also placing were Jayme Keddy and Gavin Stewart (aka Delta Force Brewing) with their Northeastern IPA, Bad Example for the Others in second place, and Steve Crane with a Bière de Garde he called Meteor that Killed the Dinosaurs in third. Rounding out the top six were Kelly Costello (of the Good Robot family), who’s been brewing a scant 21 weeks but who achieved the highest tasting score for her Belgian IPA Grand Mariner, the kilted Jason Currie and his Jeepers Peepers Springtime Stout in the rare Tropical Stout style, and Marc Perry and Dave Wamback of Shelburne, one of whom was brewing all-grain for the first time and the other who had never brewed before, with their Black IPA, Fish Cop Pop. As is traditional, the winner’s beer will be brewed at Boxing Rock’s production brewery and made available to the public; but if you were paying attention last year you know that the top three were all brewed and this year Boxing Rock President Henry Pedro suggested he was impressed enough that he may not stop at three! We’ll be sure to keep you appraised of releases of any and all Black Box Challenge 2017 brews here.

• In more homebrewing news, Garrison Brewing’s 2017 Home Brew-Off Gala was last night, and we have all of the results. This year’s style was Wee Heavy, and from more than forty entries, three rounds of judging, Fredericton homebrewer Roger Ringuette took home top honours. Second Place went to Mark Power, Third to Ashley Kinsman, and Runner-Up Steve Proulx, all scoring well in yesterday afternoon’s final round of blind judging. Roger will be brewing his recipe on Garrison’s brewhouse early next year, for release in March 2018.

• Last night also served as the launch of the 2016 Garrison Home Brew-Off winning Experimental IPAInfusion Confusion Chamomile IPA brewed by local home brewer Mark Power (yes, a finalist in this year’s competition as well!). Featuring Maritime Pale Ale malt, along with Honey, Munich, and Carapils malts to round out the grain bill, the 6.3% ABV beer uses Amarillo, Cascade, and Citra hops to achieve 50 IBUs. The mind-bending chamomile flowers were added during the brew-day, as well as conditioning (post-fermentation), to preserve the unique flavour and aromatic characteristics. It is available at the brewery retail shop in 650ml bottles today, with stock at the NSLC, and NLC,  in the near future.

• Rounding out the Garrison news are a pair of returning favourites: In Session ISA (India Session Ale) has returned to the lineup for the year. This 4.5% ABV beer is light in alcohol, but big in citrus and tropical fruit flavour with lots of late hopping from BelmaCrystal, and El Dorado, for 30 IBUs of bittering. Remember that the later hops are used in the brewing process, the less bitterness is achieved, but more aroma and flavour is kept. Grab a sixpack at the brewery today, or from your local NSLC in early April. Also returning is the Backlot Bash, Garrison’s epic all-evening concert event in the backlot of their production brewery. This year’s event is happening June 17th, and features headliners The Sheepdogs, with Port Cities, Garret Mason, and The Royal Volts, and is coinciding with Garrison’s 20th birthday. Onsite there will plenty of games, Food Trucks, and of course Garrison beer, plus local cider. The whole event is in support of the Ecology Action Centre, and Early-Bird Tickets are on sale now!

• Continuing with more from the world of homebrewing, last week we told you that HRM homebrew supply store Everwood Avenue Brewshop is moving to a new retail storefront and this week we’ve got more details to share with you. The new space is located at 731 Old Sackville Road in Lower Sackville and will be sporting regular retail hours six days a week, 10-6 on most days Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours into the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everwood owner Dave Gillette says the space is close to twice as large as his previous digs, an expansion he expects will help him increase the demographics served by the business as well as the product lines. Expect to see more beginner equipment (especially introductory kits), commercial kegs, stainless steel conicals in the range of 7 gallons to a full 1 barrel and, later in the year, the possibility of full-on turnkey brewing systems. Dave is hoping to open the doors on Tuesday, April 4th, so if you’re a homebrewer and especially a fan of Everwood, give a thought to heading out and saying hi to Dave in his new spot! And a quick note that Dave is still looking to hire a retail associate, be sure to reach out to him via email, phone, or social media to find out more.

And now for your regularly scheduled beer release news…

• Listen up, 2 Crows fans – there’s several new beers out/coming out from Halifax’s newest brewery, so let’s start plowing through! First up is Linnea, a “Finnish Imperial Stout” (history buffs may get that) weighing in at a heavy 9.1% ABV (and 62 IBUs). Aside from having the typical jet black appearance, thick mouthfeel, and plenty of roasted flavours seen in Imperial Stouts, some liquorice root, star anise, salt, and cardamom pods were added at flameout to mimic Salmiakki, a popular Finnish candy that is essentially very salty black liquorice. Linnea was tapped early this week as a very limited supply, so it may already be gone… but if not, grab some, quickly! Rumour has it a couple more small kegs may pop up at future events…

• Next up from 2 Crows is Fantacity, a dry-hopped Witbier. Described by the brewery as “citrusy, bright, juicy, and refreshing”, it was fermented cool with the Saison strain (grown up from a bottle of De Blaugies La Moneuse) used for the brewery’s Innisfree. With coriander and orange peel added at the end of the boil, and a heavy dry-hop addition of Citra, we probably don’t have to tell you what aromas and flavours to expect with this one! Highly quaffable at 5.1% ABV and 13 IBUs, this was brewed as a larger batch, so is available for pints and growlers at the brewery. Look for it to pop up at several bars in the HRM as well, if it hasn’t already.

• This coming weekend, 2 Crows will be releasing *another* new brew, Midnight Mood. Described as an American dry-hopped Porter, this 6.6% ABV, 39 IBUs beer is “roasty, dank, piney, and smooth”. Hopped with Bramling Cross, Chinook and Columbus, and then heavily dry-hopped with Simcoe, the pine and citrus from all those hops “helps brighten the roastiness” from the dark malts. A Brett-fermented version should be following sometime next week, one that was dry-hopped with Calypso and Citra, and that has an earthy, dry, and slightly funky flavour profile, “with an almost smokey character to it”. Be sure to get down to the brewery to give these beers a try! Also, keep your eyes on the 2 Crows social media – and this blog, of course – for more updates from the brewery, as they plan on releasing new pilot batches fairly regularly for the next while, including one keg of a “Sunflower Seed Brett Saison” that features a kilo of sunflower seeds that were home-malted by brewmaster Jeremy Taylor!

Meander River released a new beer late last week, and we’ve got the details for you now. Barn Swallow Farmhouse Ale was brewed entirely with Horton Ridge malt, a 70/30 mix of Pale and Munich. Mashed “long and slow” over a wide temperature range, the beer was fermented with a dry Belgian yeast strain, and then dry-hopped with Pacific Gem, a New Zealand variety. The result is a 5.5% ABV, dry, golden-coloured ale with fruit and spice in the aroma and taste, “alongside a mild-but-present hop character”. Look for it this weekend at the brewery and Forum Farmers Market.

Hammond River owner/brewer Shane Steeves may be away in sunny Cuba this week, but luckily for us he brewed up a new American IPA before he left us in the cold! Mount Carleton Grapefruit IPA was named after the highest summit in the Maritimes, and was fittingly hopped entirely with the Summit variety, bringing “citrus aromas of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit”. The beer also features the addition of freshly-zested grapefruit peel, to boost that characteristic even more. Coming in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs, it’s available at select HR accounts now.

• Fredericton’s Graystone has a new beer on tap to join their 10+ offerings brewed in-house – Lost Pale is being described as an American Pale Ale that is “light, easy-drinking, with some spicy notes”, thanks to the addition of Czech Saaz hops. Also hopped with Fuggles (no American varieties were used in this beer), it comes in 4.9% ABV and 50 IBUs; you can grab it on tap now at the brewery, and likely find it at a few establishments in the city.

• Since we spotted a tease about trial batches on their Instagram a month or so ago, we’ve been doing our best to get Lazy Bear Brewing to tell us about their latest brew. The time has finally come to give you the goods on Folly, a wild IPA expected to be available this coming week. Using a yeast from South Carolina wild yeast purveyors SouthYeast Labs, who also provided a different yeast strain for the Carolina Saison a few weeks back, this brew comes in at 6.2% ABV and a solid 54 IBU. The yeast provides some fruity characteristics, although more muted that those in the Carolina, and features Ontario-grown Perle and Wild Turkey in a generous dry-hop along with Nelson Sauvin. It’s got a fruity aroma, with elements of peaches, mangoes and berries complementing citrus notes from the hops. It’s hazy and deliciously fruity with a clean, refreshing finish. Look for the official announcement sometime next week on the brewery’s Instagram and/or Facebook pages. We’re told some kegs of this one might make their way to the city, but the only sure way to try it is to head down to the brewery and get it from the source! Brewmaster Erin also tells us they’ve got a third brew using a SouthYeast strain on the go right now, so look for news on that one in the coming weeks.

• In cider news this week, Annapolis Cider Company released the latest offering in their Something Different series yesterday. Toasted Oak & Maple began with their signature dry and cool-fermented cider that was then aged on French Oak and balanced with freshly-pressed juice from the Golden Russet and McIntosh varieties. A touch of Annapolis Valley-sourced maple syrup provided the finish, yielding a 7.9% ABV sparkling cider with notes of toasted oak, caramel and vanilla contrasting with tart apples and a hint of sweet maple on the finish. As always with the Something Different ciders, $0.50 from each refill will support a local cause, in this case the local Acadia University Chapter of Global Brigades, a student-led mobile health and dental initiative that provides annual clinics in Honduras.

• Making their debut at this month’s Fredericton Craft Beer Fest was the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective. The group of breweries and ciderhouses in southern New Brunswick is comprised of Acadie-BroueBeckwith RoadBore CityCeltic KnotFlying BoatsPump HouseScow Cider by Belliveau Orchard, and Tide & Boar Brewing. Their mission is to bring together the local craft brewing community, to support each other and elevate the support of local products. Look for them, and their members at next month’s Saint John Beerfest (April 8th) and Atlantic Beer Festival (May 27 & 28th). The Tide & Boar Gastropub will be the site of the MCBC’s Tap Takeover on April 22nd, featuring beer and cider from their members flowing all day.

• Great news for local beer fans on the South Shore of Nova Scotia! Currently located just outside of Bridgewater, FirkinStein Brewing has announced that they will be opening a satellite location on Bridgewater’s King Street. Aiming for a June opening, the second location will feature a 300 litre pilot system for more fun and experimental small batch brewing, *and* a storefront where folks can purchase bottles and growlers of their beer, and sit for a spell enjoying their selections on tap. We’ll keep you up-to-date with their progress as they aim for a late-spring opening.

• Propeller Brewing Company is hosting Brew Patriot Love, a Canada-wide toast on July 1st. They are encouraging breweries, and homebrewers, to brew up their take on a “quintessential Canadian lager”, and come together on Canada’s 150th birthday to release and share a bottle, can, pint, or glass (or all of the above). For those who want to partake, they are also holding the Great Canadian Lager Challenge, July 14-15, where a team of celebrity judges will choose the most Patriotic Beer and those beers with the best use of local and iconic ingredients. Check it out and sign up today!

• Planning and event details are trickling in for May’s Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week, May 5-14, and we can share that for the first time this year, the CBANS is releasing a special beer to celebrate. Collaboration Ale is an ode to the province’s roots, with an 80/- (Eighty Shilling) Scottish Ale being chosen to represent the more than thirty brewers who are members of CBANS. Brewed at Nine Locks, but with input from many members, the beer is a deep amber colour with caramel sweetness, weighing in at 4.7% ABV and 15 IBUs, and features malt from the province’s very own Horton Ridge Malt & Grain. The beer is pre-launching next Friday, March 31st, at Good Robot Brewing from noon. Drop by to get the first tastes of the beer before its full release, learn more about the full events list for NSCBW, and talk shop with brewers from across the province. Find out more here.

We’ve got lots of events coming in the next few weeks, be sure to check them out!

• Last month we mentioned an event at the Company House in Halifax that featured the beer of Tidehouse Brewing and a night of comedy. As it turns out, the folks at the Company House have been planning this as a regular event. Currently scheduled as a monthly thing, the event is known as Brew Ha-Ha and each time it will see a local brewery paired with comedians booked by Laugh House Comedy. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and entitle you to three 8oz tasters of beer from the featured brewery, a chocolate pairing from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and the comedy show. A designated driver ticket is also available at $10. The featured beers will be available at a discount price for the rest of the night and the pop-up kitchen will be in full effect with flatbreads, specialty tacos, shared plates and more. This month’s event will take place on Thursday, March 30th, and will feature the beers of North End stalwart Unfiltered Brewing along with the comedy stylings of Steve Mackie, Travis Lindsay and Frank Russo. Check out this post on the Brew Ha-Ha page for information on how to attend this months show for $15 if you buy your tickets before Sunday, March 26th. As additional Brew Ha-Ha events are scheduled we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the breweries (and comedians) involved.

• Charlottetown’s HopYard has really been nailing it with tap takeovers lately, and they’ve got another winner coming up soon! Next Friday, March 31st, they’ll be hosting Rose Valley’s BarNone Brewing, who will be pouring 8 of their beers, alongside Unfiltered‘s latest DIPA, Fist of God. The full list includes their Outback Blonde, Pale Ale, IPA, Citra Sessions, Black Eye P.A., RedEye P.A., La Vaca Loca, and Bitter Winter ESB. There will absolutely be a delightful food menu to pair with your beers, and as always, there’s no cost to attend, just pay by the beer/plate.

• In the HRM, Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing is holding a cross-harbour launch of the 2017 version of their award-winning Ra Ra Rasputin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout April 1st. There will be a whole slew of versions and variations of the beer, including a keg of the 2016 release, non-barrel-aged versions of 2017, plus casks of the non-barrel-aged beer with coffee, oak, or a variety of fruit. Starting at 11:30 at Battery Park on Ochterloney, and at noon at Stillwell on Barrington, with each getting at least one unique beer. Check out the event flyer here.

A few more beers have been released, or coming soon, this week:

– Good Robot is bringing back their Extra BIG-ASS Beer, their spin on a Marzen/Oktoberfest lager, with an amber colour, and light bitterness, from Perle and Willamette hops and fermented with an Oktoberfest lager yeast. Look for the re-release of this One-Off (Two-Off, we guess!) next week.
Grimross has added another beer to their canned lineup, Maritime Cream Ale (5% ABV), which joins their Maritime Pale Ale and recently-canned Pugnacious Porter.
Loyalist City‘s flagship Lupulus Interruptus IPA is back, with a slightly-tweaked recipe with even more hops (Cascade, Citra and Simcoe) than before! Look for it at your favourite LC accounts.
– PEI’s newest brewery, Moth Lane, has brewed up a new beer, a Red IPA named Eric the Red. Stay tuned for more details, soon.
– Halifax and Dartmouth’s North Brewing has released version 2.0 of White Lightning, their kettle sour, this time dry-hopped with Belma hops. Brewed in celebration of their super-hero neighbour Renee Lavallee’s The Canteen restaurant, the beer is available in bottles and growler fills on both sides of the harbour.
Pump House has brought back their Best Friend Marzen, which is available now in sixers at ANBL stores across New Brunswick.
Spindrift Blueberry Chai Pils is now available at the brewery, and will see a wider release to the other retail stores in early April.
Unfiltered has brought back their Riddle of Steel, a juicy West Coast-style IPA fermented on Conan yeast.
– Don’t forget that Upstreet will be releasing Go Devil, their American IPA, next Thursday, with a special launch party scheduled at the brewery from 6-8 pm. For more info on the beer, check out our post from a couple weeks ago.

Although it was a short work week due to the holidays, the yeast never sleep, so we’ve got a few new beers to introduce; and with New Year’s coming up this weekend, there’s also some events we think you’ll want to know about. We’ll start off this week, however, with news of a new brewery that launched late last week:

• It was a Christmas Beer-acle! Moth Lane Brewing, on PEI’s Prince County, opened December 24th to satisfy the thirsty folks in the Western region of the island. The 800 litre (7 BBL) brewhouse offers flights and pints in their tap room onsite, and sells growler fills to go. There are three beers available currently: Motorboat’r Blonde Ale, a refreshing and easy drinking 6.5% ABV light ale; The Answer Imperial IPA, a 7.0% ABV, 70 IBU bitter beer with plenty of pine character; and, Oyster Thief Stout, a 5.5% ABV dry stout, featuring local oysters added in the boil. The brewery, located at 101 Mickie Allen Shore Rd in Ellerslie, is open Mon-Wed 12-5, and Thurs-Sat 5-10pm, including live music Saturday evening. For those not able to get West, Charlottetown’s HopYard has all three beers available. Stay tuned to the blog, as we’ll have a full profile next week. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Moth Lane!

• Fredericton’s Graystone Brewing has two new beers on the go this week. The Crown Winter Warmer was released on Boxing Day and is described as a big-bodied holiday ale with seasonal spices. Built on a base of Maris Otter and Vienna malts for a solid backbone, chocolate and crystal malts are included to provide deep colour and chocolatey and caramel flavours. It also features a portion of Simpsons relatively new DRC (double-roasted crystal) malt, known for enhancing the body of dark beers and bringing complex dark caramel and dark fruit flavours without the bitterness or astringency of traditional heavily roasted malts. At 7.4% ABV you’ll almost certainly feel some alcohol warmth, while an addition of allspice and 30 IBUs worth of NB Goldings round out the flavour profile. It’s available at the taproom for pints, as well as growler and crowler fills.

• And hitting Graystone’s taps today will be a Belgian White IPA that they’re calling Mont Blanc, a collaboration with the in-the-works Gore Farm Brewery of St. Stephen, NB. A simple malt bill of Pilsner and wheat provide a canvas for some “cool” West Coast hops that bring 50 IBUs worth of bitterness and no doubt some citrus flavours. And judging by the name, expect to find some Belgian yeast flavours as well. More on Gore Farm in the near future!

• The folks at Lazy Bear have let us know that they’ll be pouring pints at a New Year’s Eve Dance Party hosted by local musician David Chamberland at the Rebekah Music Hall in Bear River. This will give them the opportunity to bring their regular lineup and also hopefully a brand new California Common-style beer. The as-yet unnamed brew eschews the Northern Brewer hops traditional to the style for Nugget from Ontario and Chinook from New Brunswick. Although the grapefruit aspects of the Chinook flavour profile might be viewed as crossing a stylistic boundary, there’s also every chance it will make for a tasty brew. There’s only one way to find out; grab a pint if you can!

• Also in the works from Lazy Bear is an Irish Red that will feature potatoes in the mash. Obvious jokes aside, care will definitely need to be taken to convert the sugars from the potatoes and to lauter the wort from what will no doubt be an exceptionally sticky grist, but the result should be very unique. We’re definitely looking forward to hearing more about this one as further information becomes available. Lastly, we’re told that LB will be featuring a percentage of Horton Ridge malts in all of their beers for 2017; the celebration of local ingredients continues!

Hammond River has released another iteration in their The Vegas SMaSH series, a Single-Malt and Single-Hop beer that has had four versions prior to this release. The newest beer features Mosaic, a very popular and delicious variety that features plenty of berry character, resulting in a truly fruity-tasting beer. As with previous takes, this one weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs; you can find it on tap now at The Barrel’s Head, and it should be popping up at other HR tap accounts in the near future.

• Moncton’s Tide & Boar Brewing has released a brand new beer in their Hop Series. Lemondrop IPA is a 7.5% ABV IPA featuring the eponymous Lemondrop hop, an experimental hop featuring big notes of lemon citrus, and keeping in the hazy tradition of T&B’s other IPAs. Grab a pint now, and enjoy it at their Waterfront Craft Beer Garden event tomorrow (details below).

• We teased last week about Upstreet starting a barrel-aging program, with the recent delivery of a set of barrels from Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery. Well, the barrels have been filled with six different beers, which are now undergoing the first of many days of aging, before being bottled and released to the public next fall. Sorry, we can’t share what these beers are yet, but – as always – we’ll be sure to release that info as soon as we can!

Be sure to check the hours of your local brewery and beer store before heading there tomorrow, as some are on reduced hours. Here are some events guaranteed to help you say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 while enjoying great beer:

• If you’re in the Moncton area, what better way to ring in the New Year than with the NYE Waterfront Craft Beer Garden? Starting at 4 pm on Saturday, December 31st, the Tide & Boar will be hosting seven local breweries, including Acadie-Broue, Beckwith Road, Bore City, Celtic Knot, Flying Boats, Scow Cider, and, of course, their own T&B Brewery. The beer garden will run until 9 pm, and have a view of the concert on the waterfront, which will feature several live bands.

• And what about Fredericton? Well, those behind the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival will be hosting their own NYE Craft Beer Garden on Saturday. Held downtown at Officer’s Square and starting at 4 pm, there will be lots pouring from both Maybee and Sunset Heights Meadery until midnight. As well, select products from Bogtrotter, Graystone, Grimross, Picaroons, Red Rover, and TrailWay will be available. A food truck will be on-site, live music will be playing, and there will be two firework shows (8 pm and midnight). Can’t get away from the family? No worries – kids are allowed in the beer garden with their parents. No charge to attend, just pay by the beverage… and be sure to dress warm!

• Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse is celebrating its third anniversary Saturday from 10-6 and will have a small run of bottles of their APA, Mosaic DIPA, and Black and Tackle Russian Imperial Stout available, and will no doubt have some other treats for those who drop by for the fun.

• Although Stillwell probably shouldn’t be part of your plans for New Year’s Eve (owing to them being closed), you should think hard about making them a destination for your hangover on New Year’s Day. They’ll be opening at noon for their New Year’s Day Levée with some brunchy menu options (Smoked Striped Bass Fishcakes, Triple-threat Breakfast Sandwich, Smoked Meat Hash or Toutons with Lonzino and Molasses, anyone?) and a pretty intense wall’s worth of goodies. Do you like stout served on nitrogen? Sure you do! They’ll have three: Granite Keefe’s Irish Stout, Unfiltered Flat Black Jesus and Dieu du Ciel! Aphrodisiaque. How about one of the three existing kegs of Acadie Broue Zirable, the Geueze-style we waxed poetic about in last week’s wrap-up? You know you want to try that. There’s also taps from Les Trois Mousquetaires , Brasserie Dunham , Trailway , Mikkeller and Bad Apple Brewhouse and the bottle list you know and love.

• Don’t worry, PEI, there’s a local New Year’s Day celebration going on for you, too! Upstreet will be starting their 2017 Kick-Off Sunday at 10 am, and it’ll be continuing all day long! A total of six different bands will be playing live, with the first starting at noon; the music will continue through the celebrations until roughly 10 pm. Beer cocktails, brewery tours, $4 pints, and a special brunch menu will also be available. Last year’s event was the biggest party of the year for the Upstreet taproom, so be sure you don’t miss out! Check out the link above the full details on the bands that will be performing.

• The 5th Annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival is fast-approaching, and several events have been announced. Returning is ACBB Trivia, alongside a Nova Scotia Tap Takeover, at the King Street Ale House on Thursday, March 9th from 6-9 pm. All 24 taps at the KSAH will be dedicated to a variety of NS breweries; your $25 ticket gets you a special glass to take home, as well as ten 5 oz samples to start off. Trivia starts at 7 pm, and we promise this time the questions will be easier (no drawings of chemical structures, please Chris?)! And for those that haven’t yet grabbed tickets to the main event on Saturday the 11th, there are still a few tickets available for the afternoon (1:30-4:00) session.

A few more notes before you head out today:

– You can celebrate NYE with your very own keg of Garrison beer, and on the cheap, as they are offering a 10% discount on all rentals, and they’ll even include a sleeve of cups. Drop by today or tomorrow, as the sale ends after that.
– It looks like Mama’s Brew Pub has finally got their Crowler machine up and running, meaning that 1-L cans to go of their in-house-brewed beers are now available for purchase.
– The canning continues at TrailWay Brewing, with the latest release being their American Pale Ale, Rype, a 5% ABV hazy hop bomb. As of right now, this one is available only at the brewery, but look for ANBL stores to receive shipments, soon.

And be sure to celebrate the New Year responsibly: with a local beer(s), and a safe ride home! As we close out 2016, we want to thank the breweries and readers that we get to connect with on a weekly basis, and we look forward to spreading the Good News about Great Beer in 2017. Cheers!