Happy Friday folks, and welcome to February! The region is once again under the cold, wet, and unpredictable blanket of winter, with one of our writers struggling to find alternate travel plans south due to flight cancellations. Thankfully, we’re all more than ready for this with our fine ales and lagers that the region’s brewers have on the taps and shelves this weekend. One final reminder that the very fun Craft Beer Cottage Party at the Halifax Seaport is tomorrow, and there are still a few tickets available. We’ll be there taking it all in, and have the important job as one of the judges of the brewery booths (liquid bribes graciously accepted!). Grab your ticket and say Hi! if you spot us.
Speaking of the CBCP, one of the many new debuting beer and ciders will be a collaboration between Lake City Cider and Bishop’s Cellar. Pretty Please is a special blend of cider, wine, and spice, perfect for warming you up and reminding you of cottage weather. Starting with an apple blend base, they added in some house-fermented cherry wine, and steeped the whole thing with a bit of real vanilla bean, for good measure. It comes in at a moderate 5.5% ABV, and is showing “delicate, earthy cherry tones” along with subtle aromas of vanilla, almond, and marzipan. It’s extremely dry, which is going to leave you wanting more.
And speaking of Bishop’s Cellar, they have dropped six new German beers in the store (online and IRL) from monastery brewery Weißenohe. With a traditional Pilsner, Helles, Dunkel, and more, all of us lager lads and lasses are definitely encouraged to check out this Reinheitsgebot-observing brewery on the shelves in Halifax.
The folks at Upstreet in Charlottetown are also scheduled to be at the CBCP again this year, and here’s hoping they bring some of their new French Saison. Using 5 varieties of malt from Island Malt House (2-row, wheat, rye, oat and amber), it’s got a bit of a New World/Old World hop thing going with Motueka from New Zealand meeting classic Continental varieties Perle and Magnum and a classic dry character from the use of French Saison yeast. Landing at 5.5% ABV and 25 IBU, you can expect a bit of orange zest and a little spicy banana and a big carb to accentuate it all. Only a little is being released to the wild right now, with some staying local at the Upstreet Taproom and Craft Beer Corner and some hopefully making it to Nova Scotia (perhaps Upstreet BBQ Brewhouse for on-site enjoyment, perhaps some other venues), but the bulk of the batch is in for some barrel love, so we’ll no doubt be talking about a different version of this beer in a few weeks or months.
But that’s not all that’s coming out of Upstreet this week. On Tuesday, February 11th, they’ll be hosting a launch party for Island Hop Company, the first commercial-scale Hop Farm ever to be established on the Island. We’ll no doubt have more to say about that in coming months, but for now, get your taste buds ready for the latest beer featuring their hops: YYG Lager. On the grist side of this traditional lager are Pilsner and Vienna malts from another Island producer, Shoreline Malting, with Magnum, Saaz, and Perle comprising the hop side. Full-bodied and substantial, though a fairly light 4.5% ABV, there’s some residual sweetness balanced by 25 IBU. It’s got a deep golden color and a frothy, persistent head, and brings notes of fresh bread and floral hops with a bit of spicy character to balance. Hopefully we’ll see it around the region as well!
Boxing Rock has released another beer that medaled in their annual homebrew competition, the Black Box Challenge. Common Sense, originally brewed by Mike and Brenden (we’re unsure of their last names, unless it’s like a Cher thing?), is a traditional California Common, meaning it was hopped with Northern Brewer (to 29 IBUs) and fermented cool with an ale/lager hybrid strain. This 5% ABV golden-amber beer features some pleasant “minty and pine resin” flavours (thanks to the NB) to go with the toasted malt and caramel notes in the background. You can find it on tap at Boxing Rock and local licensees, and it’s also available in bottles (those of you in the HRM can find these at the private liquor stores).
Up in Deer Lake, NL, Rough Waters Brewing Company is super excited for their WinterFest event tonight as it will represent the first time they’re serving their own beer in the tap room! Starting at 6 PM, there will be live music, charcuterie available, and, of course, beer! And what better way to celebrate than with a brand new brew, one they’re calling Down South. Acknowledging the snow birds who spend their winters in warmer climes, the travelers who manage a week or two’s vacation during the winter months, and the rest of us schmoes who can only dream, this is a moderately bitter IPA coming in at a rather light 5.1% ABV. No dry hops in this one, but there sure is a whole bunch of pineapple for a little taste of sunnier places. If you’re in the Deer Lake area tonight, it sounds like a great time and a fun beer to celebrate with.
Whatcha got for us this week, Big Spruce? Looks like they’ve got not one, but two new beers, both of which involve some barrel-aging, making them good sippers to have on hand for this craptacular weather we’re in the middle of. Let’s start with To Mars ‘N Back Again, a 6.8% ABV Bourbon barrel-aged Marzen.If you’re thinking you haven’t had a barrel-aged Marzen before, there’s a good chance you’re right. This amber lager aged for four months in Buffalo Trace barrels, and is exhibiting plenty of oak on the palate, with “notes of Bourbon, spice, and dried flowers on the nose”. It’s tasting fairly sweet, with hints of vanilla and butterscotch to complement. Bottles and kegs for this one, as it’ll be pouring on tap at the brewery and beyond. The next brew is even bolder: Just Peachy! is a Barleywine aged for over a year in peach brandy barrel. “Fruity, subtle vanilla notes, and smooth as silk”, it’s big (as expected) at 11% ABV; available in bottles only, you can find it at the Sprucetique, Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, and Bishop’s Cellar.
Brand new hoppy beer debuting at TrailWay’s taproom in Fredericton today, an American IPA named Perfect Landing. This 6% ABV brew exclusively features a new-to-TW hop variety, Callista. A German hop variety that came on the market about ten years ago, it’s described as “intensely fruity”, making it a natural for IPA styles. In this beer, TW describes it as providing “huge stone fruit, particularly peach and mango, with plenty of juicy red berries”, with extremely low bitterness. Grab your pints, growlers and cans at the brewery when they open today (weather-permitting, of course). Oh, and while we’re on the topic of ultra-hoppy IPAs, their all-Citra American IPA, Seeing Citra, has made a return and can also be picked up at the taproom; it’ll also be on shelves of select ANBL stores any day now.
If you were a fan of Port Rexton Brewing’s Salted Porter that they released last year, we’re happy to report that it’s making a comeback… albeit with a slight twist. While the base beer is still the same, providing delightful, roasty goodness in a 5.4% ABV package, the salt used is different. It’s still from the Newfoundland Salt Company, but this batch features coffee salt. Yeah, apparently coffee salt is a thing! The addition provides “a subtle minerality”, with “lingering black coffee” notes, to go with the touch of bitterness in the finish. Sounds great to us! If you’re curious too, you can find the beer on tap at the brewery for pints and growlers; you can also grab growler fills at their retail shop in St. John’s.
Barely outside Fredericton, in Douglas, 3Flip Brewing has released their newest beer, El Fuego Chipotle Porter. This dark ale was brewed with a grist of Maris Otter, Caramel malts, and a bit of Chocolate malt, and was hopped with Mt. Hood to 28 IBUs. As you might have guessed from the name of the beer, chipotle peppers were added during the brew process; specifically, the peppers were chopped up, de-seeded, and thrown in at the end of the boil. The peppers provide the roasty malt profile with “just a little heat”, and a touch of smoke in the finish. Weighing in at 5.1% ABV, stay tuned to their social media pages if you’re interested in where you can track some down… we CAN tell you that the first keg is currently pouring at Sussex Ale Works. 3Flip will also be celebrating their 1st Anniversary with an event at The Joyce next Saturday, Feb 15th; there’ll be several of their beers pouring, including El Fuego.
And in other 3Flip news, co-owner Alicia (and her beer) will be attending the “Babes and Brews” event tomorrow at Miramichi’s Apero Lounge. She’ll be joining Gill and Erin from the ‘chi’s own Timber Ship Brewing, and highlighting their wares. Hosted by WOMEN of Miramichi, an entrepreneurial and networking group for women in the region. Tickets are available here for the 6 – 9 PM event, with beer and food pairings, tasting notes, learning more about beer in general, trivia, and meeting some like-minded folks. Everyone is invited.
We’re light on the Good Robot news this week, but it’s their fault, we promise! But in all seriousness, they’re prepping hard for their Heat Wave event next weekend (Sunday, February 16th), which will see the release of three one-offs, so rest assured that we’ll earn our stripes with them next week. In the meantime, we do want to remind you homebrewers out there that registration for their FemmeBrew competition will close on February 10th. There’s no set beer style for this one, but you do need to incorporate a “local or foraged ingredient” into your brew. Check out the full form here.
It’s not normal for Tidehouse Brewing to release a beer in the middle of the week, but since when has anyone accused Tidehouse of being normal, amirite? Well, they DID release a new beer, Sotil, on Wednesday, and as a result it’s all gone and now I’m typing this as basically an exercise in futility to show you what you may have missed out on and no I am NOT bitter. The beer started as a simple Pilsner wort that was “very lightly soured” with a pitch of Lactobacillus, before being fermented with the lovely French Saison yeast. Once complete, freshly-pressed Marquette grape skins from Bent Ridge Winery were added, starting a secondary fermentation to dry out the beer further. The final beer comes in at 4.5% ABV, that “drinks very much like a hard seltzer”, with hints of blackberry, cherry, and black currant. Oh, did we mention they released it in cans? Well… maybe you know someone who was able to grab a few? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The fine folks at Quidi Vidi Brewing have released the winning beers from their Newfermenters Homebrew Club competition held in the fall. The four top brews are: Half Nelson Sour Lager (4.5% ABV), Mother of Mangoes Farmhouse Ale (6.0% ABV), White Out White Stout (6.0% ABV), and Wild Rover Wee Heavy (8.4% ABV). The beers are available as a mixed four-pack at their retail shop and select NLCs, as well as on draught at the QV taproom and possibly at licensees around St John’s.
Brand new episode from the 902BrewCast fellas today, just how you want to start out your weekend (maybe?)! Listen to them hang and chat with Bishop’s Cellar’s Lucas Mader and Evan Fougere from the Malty Media blog; rumour has it they also drank a buncha beers, so you can live vicariously through them… at least until you get home to your OWN beers and REALLY start your weekend off right! Available right now wherever you listen to your podcasts.
We’ve got a pair of events to remind/inform you of this week, both happen to be in Newfoundland (assuming you’re able to dig out after today’s dump of ice/snow!).
Don’t forget about tomorrow’s Crafternoon Experience at YellowBelly, where there will be a whole whack of new and old beers pouring, from lots of Newfoundland breweries. We could wax poetic about it, but why not just check out last week’s post? It’s easier! We should also note that there will be an Australian Gose from YellowBelly’s own Nardia.
Do you like to drink beer, listen to live music, and eat tasty food, all while supporting a local ski hill? Hey, good news! The Newfoundland Craft Beer Festival, Port Rexton Brewing, and White Hills Resort are teaming up to present BrewSKI 2020 on Saturday, February 22nd. This is a small event (only 125 tickets available) that will feature unlimited sample pours of beers from multiple Newfoundland craft breweries; sampling will run from 7-9:30 pm, but there will be a cash bar open until midnight, in case you want to keep imbibing! 3 Shades of Gray will provide the live music (right until midnight), and Oh My Cheeses will be on hand to provide you with a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches for purchase. Tickets are $55 (you can grab yours here), with proceeds going to support White Hills, which is a community non-profit.
And here’s our last few items for the week; drive safe, stay warm, drink beer!
New Scotland has a pair of Lagers out this week to tickle your fancy (or your liver, whichever works). Alderney Dry, a 5.2% ABV, 22 IBUs Zwickelbier, and a currently-unnamed, 5% ABV, 25 IBUs, dark-copper-red-coloured Marzen; both are available on tap at the brewery.
Niche Brewing has brought back – after a fairly long hiatus – one of their more popular kettle sour releases, Boysenberry Persuasion. This Lactobacillus-soured, 4.2% ABV brew was conditioned on lots of boysenberry puree, giving the final beer a mix of tartness and sweetness. It should be on tap at several of their NB accounts now/soon, and will be making an appearance at Halifax’s Stillwell (along with Ethos and Single Origin).
Tatamagouche Brewing has (thankfully) brought back Square One, their dry-hopped, mixed-fermentation Saison. Great to drink fresh and great to age, you can find bottles right now at Tata, or in Halifax at Bishop’s Cellar. They’ve also re-released super fresh cans of Gold Lotus, an 8% ABV DIPA hopped with Lotus, Citra and Galaxy, at the brewery today; it’ll be heading out elsewhere next Thursday.
Expect 3-4 new kettle sours on tap at Moncton’s Tire Shack this weekend if you’re dropping by; details are slim, but Sour Bite Apricot, Sour Bite Pink Guava, and Sour Bite Kiwi are currently flowing, with Sour Bite Pineapple possibly popping up on tap as well. Details are less than slim, but we’re pretty confident you can guess on what to expect!