Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House

All posts tagged Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House

OBB Logo

Fans of good local beer in Lower Sackville, NS, have reason to be excited this weekend, as Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House is making its triumphant return to the suburban community. After originally opening as a nanobrewery out of co-founder Keith Forbes’ home in November 2017 and then closing when juggling the small-scale brewery and full-time job became untenable. Forbes is back, along with childhood friend Chris Balcom, bigger and better than ever. While we know that there are many who aren’t fans of the brewery’s name or their logo, we can absolutely vouch for the quality of the beer and we hope that’s what ends up standing out above all as the brand returned to the local market Saturday. We caught up with Forbes and Balcom as they were putting the finishing touches on everything late last week, just ahead of opening weekend (which continues today, May 18th, 12 – 6 PM), at their Cobequid Road location in Lower Sackville.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Keith Forbes is Head Brewer and founder of the original Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House, with 10 or so years of brewing experience under his belt. The 37 year old lives in Sackville with his amazing wife of 11 years Erin and they have two children. In 2018 he partnered up with his old high school friend Chris Balcom. Chris, also 37, is the general manager and lives in Sackville with his wife of six years, Megan, and their two little boys.

How did you get into the world of beer?
Keith started into the world of beer to save a few dollars after his family moved into a new house in the late ‘00s — they had 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. The first few months it was Festa Brew kits which then moved into a couple Best Case kits. After that he discovered the Brewnosers; he picked up a small system and started to formulate his own recipes. He went on to read and learn as much as he could about beer making and went on to apply what he learned and started making some pretty good beer, which evolved into entering competitions, giving him feedback to help with dialing in his product. Chris on the other hand had never brewed beer in his life until he reunited with Keith after 15+ years away working in the oil industry. As an avid beer drinker, Chris had always wanted to own and run a pub, together they have combined their talents to create something great.

Brewery Front

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
Keith’s passion for great beer and wanting to share his product with everyone is the main reason. After the Forbes 500 Tap Takeover at Good Robot in November 2016, he, along with his wife Erin, moved forward to open their own nano brewery in their home and quickly discovered that there aren’t enough hours in the day to run a successful nano brewery, work full time, and still have time for a family. While in early talks with his future partner Chris to expand the business, he decided to take a few months away from brewing to figure out what his future held. After a relaxing summer Chris and Keith had what was supposed to be one last meeting, instead Keith decided he wasn’t ready to leave the world of brewing and partnered with Chris and the two haven’t looked back since. In November 2018 we became Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House Inc. and in 2019 after securing the capital to proceed with our expansion plans, we purchased a 10bbl brewing system and signed a long term lease in Lower Sackville. 

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
At Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House it’s all about the beer, our friends & family, the people behind the pint, and the community we live in. We strive for Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House to be a brand that is known in our community as a friendly face with a standard of producing high quality, great tasting beer, and to be a familiar brand that everyone recognizes and looks forward to drinking.

OBB Cans

 

Can you tell us about the beers you have available now?
We are launching with 4 of our 6 mainstay beers along with 4 limited releases.

Mainstays (core brands):

  • Seven Day IPA (6.0% ABV) – Our version of a No Coast IPA – it’s far from a West Coast IPA, but it’s not true to East Coast either! It has the bitterness you expect from a traditional IPA, but it also delivers a juicy tropical fruit and citrus flavour to your taste buds. Think melons, stone fruit, strawberry, pear and grapefruit.
  • Even Gooder Coffee Brown (4.4% ABV)- A balanced, light-bodied, easy-drinking brown ale fermented on whole coffee beans. The chocolate, caramel, and earthy notes of our Even Gooder Nut Brown are complemented by the coffee, taking this beer to the next level. Special thanks to our friends at Apartment 3 Espresso Bar for supplying us with the dark roast beans for this brew!
  • Disco Inferno Red IPA (6.5% ABV) – Our Disco Inferno Red IPA is where malts meet hops. This friends and family favourite is well-balanced with a moderate citrus and floral hop profile and finished with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • Funktown Pale Ale (5.0% ABV) – A hop-forward pale ale. Fermented using a clean American yeast, it finishes dry with lemon and grapefruit flavors and aroma.

 Seasonals/One Off’s:

  • Maisil IPA (6.2% ABV) – Our version of a West Coast IPA. It has the bitterness you’ve come to expect from a traditional IPA with flavours of grapefruit, orange and pine.
  • Patrick O’Neil’s Irish Red (5.0% ABV) – Patrick is nothing fancy – a simple, balanced Irish Red.
  • Tall, Dark & Handsome Porter (5.0% ABV) – TD&H is a dark, flavorful and balanced porter. It is medium bodied with chocolate, caramel and roasted notes.
  • Jim Hopper (3.2% ABV) – Jimmy is a low ABV, refreshing wheat ale that finishes crisp and clean with orange notes on the finish. Great for a hot summer afternoon.

What are your plans for distribution? How can folks drink your beer?
With COVID-19 changing the industry overnight we also had to adapt quickly like most breweries in Atlantic Canada. We are currently working with Craft Coast Canning to package our beer into 473 mL cans and plan on taking online orders for curbside pickup at the brewery. Once restrictions are lifted we have a 15-tap taproom with seating for 30 – 50 where you’ll be able to enjoy a pint or flight of your favorites. We will also have growlers and cans to take home and enjoy.

Forbes in Brewhouse

Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
We have some accounts lined up with more to come at a later date once COVID-19 passes.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
This is a long list; most covered in the initial introduction of our nano brewery. But we must fire out a special thank you those below (if we missed anyone we are very sorry).
First and foremost, a huge shout out to our wives, Erin and Megan.
Secondly our parents: Chris & Tim, Mike & Sandy.
And then, in no particular order…

  • Alex McConnachie
  • Mike Orr
  • Paul MacKinnon
  • Ken Sidhu & Chris
  • Steve, Max & Team @ Commercial Electric
  • Dan @ Teklor Controls
  • Matt, Jon, and Al @ Off Track Brewing
  • Joe and Laura @ Triders
  • Matt and Ian @ Brightwood Brewery

Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2 – 3 years?
It took us 2 years (really 4) to get to this stage, we plan to grow our brand and expand our team all while sticking to our roots. Mainly just take it 1 pint at a time.

OBB Brewhouse

As always, for the brewing geeks who are reading this, we also asked for some slightly more detailed info about the brewery as well:

What type of system are you brewing on and what is your expected output?
We are operating a 10 barrel electric brewhouse with 8 unitanks. With COVID-19 in full swing we are not sure what our expected output will be.

Care to share some info on your brewing history?
Our head brewer, Keith has over 10 years brewing experience, 8 years home brewing, and a couple years commercial brewing split between the nano setup and assisting at other commercial breweries.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Chris is a big fan of heavily hopped IPA’s and double IPA’s, but his favorite secret indulgence is Church Brewing‘s German porter.
Keith: My favorite style beer presently is a low-SRM (“light coloured” for non-brewing readers) hop forward pale ale. Something light bodied, crisp and refreshing. That said I’m a huge coffee fan and have been craving a Mean Joe Bean from Triders as it has always been one of my favorites.

How about your favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
Not so much a favorite style to brew however, in terms of ingredients we would have to go with brewing salts. 

Congratulations to Forbes, Balcom, and the entire OBB family on the brewery launch this weekend. You still have time to grab some of their 8 varieties in cans at the brewery today. Located at 111 Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, the brewery is open 12 – 6 PM today, May 18th. Hours going forward will be Thurs 12 – 6 PM, Fri and Sat 12 – 8 PM, Sun 12 – 6 PM. You can pre-order your cans and learn more on their website (http://www.olbiddys.ca), as well as on their social media pages (Fb / Ig / Tw).

This has been a week of transitions in Atlantic Canada, with plenty of good news across the four provinces… We marked the opening of two breweries, New Brunswick has loosened restrictions allowing taprooms and restaurants to open for sit-down service (No Touching!), Newfoundland breweries are now allowed to do deliveries of their products (only 6 weeks after the rest of the Atlantic Provinces!), Nova Scotia has allowed taprooms to be open seven days a week now (pickup and delivery options have changed for some), and most importantly, Prince Edward Island hasn’t sunk into the ocean. Happy Victoria Day weekend! Plenty of details below, and in our Delivery/curbside pickup options page. As always, two months on, if we’ve missed something important there, or just want to chat, get in touch via email or social media (Ig and Tw preferred). Take care of yourselves! 💙

The first brewery to open in AtlCan this week was Grand Falls Brewing Company, in Northwest New Brunswick. Operating a 1200 litre brewhouse at 651 Main Street, they are currently open for retail sales of cans, 2 – 8 PM Monday through Saturday. For all of the juicy details on their four three offerings (Hop Dam IPA is sold out, thanks to their thirsty local fans!), check out our Profile of them from earlier this week. Their 175 seat taproom will be opening in the coming days/weeks, once the final touches are complete, and physical distancing protocols can be maintained. Keep an eye out here or on their FB and IG pages. Congratulations!

The other brewery opening this week could perhaps be better described as a re-opening of a re-imagined brewery, in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. First opened in owner Keith Forbes’ basement in 2017, Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House was definitively a nano-scale brewery, selling beer a few kegs at a time to licensees in that area. The OG OB himself was juggling a full-time job outside of brewing, and shuttered the brewery mid-2018. Now back full-time, and with business partner Chris Balcom as GM, OBB is opening tomorrow at 111 Cobequid Road. Their hours this weekend will be 12 – 8 PM Saturday and 12 – 6 PM Sunday & Monday. While the taproom is closed due to the pandemic, cans of their eight launch beers will be available to grab and go. Look for our Profile with Fobes and Balcom coming later today.

The great news keeps coming this week, with Propeller Brewing launching a new beer, opening a new location, and switching to seven-days-a-week delivery! Let’s start with the beer….
A fun melding of two tastes are coming together in their Earl Grey Pale Ale. Using Idaho 7 and Citra hops which complement the Earl Grey tea leaves in the beer, and a first on the blog, we think, with the use of Cookie Malt, for a “tea and biscuits” flavour profile. Black tea, bergamot orange, citrus, and floral, perfect for an afternoon break from whatever you’re doing. Cans of the 5.5% ABV beer are available at the Prop Shops, or for home delivery. Pinkies up!
The next big news from Propeller is that their location at The Keep Condominiums [condominia?] (6112 Quinpool Road) will be opening this Sunday, May 17th. While the taproom will remain closed until it is safe to do so, the Propeller Quinpool retail space of cans and bottles will be open for no-contact and safe distancing sales from 12 – 8 PM, seven days a week. This is the site of their 300 litre pilot system, which will be used to test the waters of some cool experimental and one-off brews, mostly for sale onsite in pints and growlers, so the first releases of those will come when it is safe to do so.
And with the NSLC requirements of Sunday closure lifted, Propeller’s three locations will be on the same 12 – 8 PM schedule, and they are expanding their delivery to every day as well. Orders placed online before 3 PM will see same-day delivery to much of HRM, with orders to Bedford, the Sackvilles, and Eastern Passage on a Tues, Thurs, Sat schedule. So plenty of time to submit an order for the Earl Grey Pale Ale, any of their hazy hoppy offerings like Galaxy and Sabro, as well as take advantage of this weekend’s deal of Commons, where you can enjoy $10 off a flat of 24. 

Newfoundland’s Bannerman Brewing just celebrated their first birthday, so happy birthday to them! Of course you can’t have any type of celebration in the beer world without launching a new beer (or if you do, you’re basically dead to us), so Bannerman has kindly given us Youthful Daze, a sour IPA. Brewed with Pilsner malt and flaked oats, it was kettle soured and then hopped with heavy amounts of Sabro, Citra, and Galaxy. They also added a small amount of lactose to the boil to make the beer “more cocktail-like”, and with flavours of “citrus, tropical fruit, and coconut”, it sounds like they may have succeeded. This 6.5% ABV tart and hoppy wonder is available right now, so do what you can to get your hands on some (we recommend checking out their online store). 

We enjoy getting news from Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing, as it’s quite often more than one or two new beers that they have hitting taps… and this week is no exception! We’ve got four new beers to report on, all of which will be available from the brewery as of today. It’s easier and neater to separate them so no one gets confused:
Love at Midnight (7% ABV) – a “Pina Colada IPA” featuring additions of pineapple and coconut, to add tropical notes to those already present from the hop additions.
Hip Hop Series Vol. 2 Citra (8% ABV) – the second entry in their Hip Hop series of DIPAs, Volume 2 features all Citra hops (oh come on, you know you still love them) used both in the kettle and dry-hop, so except lots of juicy and dank flavours.
Pump Up the Jam (7% ABV) – a kettle sour dry-hopped with Idaho 7, it sports a “nice, citrusy bitterness on top of a smooth sour taste”.
Pump Up the Jam: Pink Guava Sour (7% ABV) – another kettle sour (obviously), this one had an addition of pink guava purée to give “super-refreshing and amazing tropical flavours”. This one in particular is in extremely limited supply, so that’s your warning!
All of these beers will be available for growlers and cans, with the exception of the last one, which will be growlers only. Ok, Monctonians, start your beer engines!

Let’s skip back across the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and visit the lovely Port Rexton, where, coincidentally, you will find Port Rexton Brewing Co. How’s that kismet for you?! They are celebrating the Victoria Long Weekend with this year’s release in their ongoing Ten Eighty series. Back in December, they brewed up an Imperial Milk Stout, starting specific gravity 1.080 (like the name of the beer series!), with plenty of chocolate and roast malt used to bring out those same flavours and aromas in the finished beer. The addition of lactose, aka milk sugar which is unfermentable by most yeasts, allows some sweetness to remain in the final beer, enhancing the milk chocolate feel of the beer, complementing the coffee and darker chocolate malt-derived flavour. After packaging in February and the lovely nap these bottles have taken for the past few months, the 8.5% ABV beer is for sale now! If you live near Port Rexton itself, you can email (sales@portrextonbrewing.com) to organize a contactless patio-side pickup, but for those not so fortunate, order up online now, and drop by their St. John’s Retail Shop for a pickup, or, for the first time, delivery this afternoon! Those within 20km of the Torbay Rd location can opt for that, with a $40 minimum order and a $5 delivery fee.

Up in Cape Breton, you wouldn’t know there was a pandemic ruining the economy by the beer flying out of Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing. And to up the ante that much higher, this week they’ve got four, yes FOUR new things for you to try plus a returning summer favorite. It’s like they think they’re 2 Crows or something… Anyways, first up is the second in their line of hard seltzers: Bliss Zesty Lime is made just like the Bliss Raspberry we told you about last week: water, malt, and a touch of hops fermented clean and then passed through an ultrafine filtration process to remove almost all color and malt flavor. Add some organic lime essence and you’ve got ZIMA! We kid. What you really get is a crisp and super clean beer-based beverage with a refreshing lime flavor; and like all Big Spruce products, it’s certified organic. We anticipate there will be lots of these downed over the course of the coming summer along with Big Spruce’s returning beer this week, Silver Tart. Don’t expect anything to have changed with this one, it’s still a sour wheat beer with plenty of raspberry essence, and it’s still, we’d wager, super easy-drinking and refreshing.

From those light and refreshing beverages we move onto the remaining three new releases from Big Spruce this week, none of which we’d recommend crushing too many of on a summer afternoon unless you’re looking for life to get unnecessarily interesting. First up is a collaboration between the brewery and Halifax homebrew maven Ian Wheatley (that guy collaborates with errybody). A Belgian ale weighing in at a beefy 9.3% ABV, it was fermented with Escarpment Labs’ Saint Lucifer strain. Called Tripel because, well, that’s what it is, you can safely expect plenty of classic stylistic character, smooth and malty with some banana bread character and a touch of citrus along with a balancing bitterness of 30 IBU or so. Available in 650 mL bottles, you might want to plan to share one; or have a nap afterwards. And continuing with the continental European bent, the next beer up is also a beast, this one from the other side of the Franco-Belgian border, stylistically speaking. Bière de Garde is known as “keeping” beer from Northern France: brewed in the cool weather of late winter or early spring to avoid off flavors from the yeast getting too warm and then “guarded” (kept) for the summer season. Plainly named like the tripel, Bière de Garde is also plenty dangerous at 9.5% ABV and packaged in 650 mL bottles. Malt-driven, but with some hop character from the French variety Aramis to the tune of 22 IBU, expect some aromas of honey and ripe apricot along with a prominent toffee character and a long finish. And if those two bruisers weren’t enough for you, perhaps something a little lower in ABV but with more bitterness and a lot more hop character would suit your needs? Enter Old School a West Coast IPA that harkens back to the early days of West Coast IPA when it wasn’t about who could blow out their customer’s taste buds with bitterness and malt was still a thing you expected to taste quite a bit of in an IPA. At 6.7% ABV and 60 IBU, expect this beer to be, above all things, balanced. That said, don’t get the idea that there’s nothing modern about this beer: the hops used, Amarillo, El Dorado, and Mosaic, certainly don’t date back to the 80s, nor does the Vermont Yeast strain (at least not in its current form), but we suspect nobody’s going to complain about that! This one has also been packaged in bombers ready for you to order for delivery anywhere in NS!

Montague, PEI’s Bogside Brewing has a new beer in the fridge and on their virtual shelves this week, Tropical Storm Nor-Easter IPA. At 8.1% ABV it’s a commitment, but it’s also a commitment to hops, as it took a “boatload” to put this one together. In the kettle at whirlpool were Galaxy and Simcoe, followed by Vic Secret and more Galaxy pre- and post-fermentation. The result is lots of juiciness and mango, pineapple, passionfruit, and stonefruit character with a lush mouthfeel and not too much bitterness. Did you also guess hazy? Well if you did, you got it in one. Bogside Brewing is open for pickup of this beer or any of their other eleven or so canned offerings Tues – Sun, 1 – 6 PM, and The Wheelhouse in Georgetown has temporarily set up in their kitchen offering take-out options Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 – 7 PM (which means the brewery is open then too!). Check the menu here and call in your food order!

Has it been awhile since a brewery around here has brewed an all-Simcoe-hopped DIPA? We’re honestly not sure, but now that we know that Backstage Brewing has released one, we’re in the mood for one! Brewed with a majority of malt from Shoreline Malting, Pour Some Simcoe On Me is a 7.5% ABV, 100+ IBU beer hopped entirely with, yes, Simcoe. Ah, Simcoe… you’re actually a pretty ancient hop variety in comparison to so many of the new, cooler kids, but we still adore you! You know, like your favourite grandfather, but better-smelling! Oh right, the beer. Backstage is describing it as showing off “huge, sweet citrus and pine, with a solid bitterness”. Check it out if you’re able!

Brand new hoppy beer from TrailWay this week, an American IPA named ?. No, it’s not that we don’t know what it’s named, it’s just a question mark. Personally, we’d love to be flies on the wall of a local bar to see exactly how people are ordering this beer… but we digress. ? is hopped entirely with Enigma, with a grain bill designed to showcase flavours in the bready, spicy, and toasty areas. The beer also features an addition of raw wildflower honey in the boil, with the final 6.6% ABV product showing off “loads of juicy tropical fruit, apricot and cantaloupe, while the honey introduces complexity with a sweet, floral touch”. Currently available at the brewery, they’ve also got a fresh batch of Ooz, their 8% ABV DIPA hopped with Sabro and a mix of other varieties.

Quidi Vidi continues to push out the small batch beers, with two new releases this week, both available in their retail shop for pickup. The first beer is Belgian Pale Ale, a 4.6% ABV BPA brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, CaraVienna, Victory, Dark Munich, and Acid malt, and hopped with Sterling and Saaz. Next is another European style, Biere de Garde, brewed with a wide variety of specialty malts to give the beer its signature amber colour. It was hopped with Galena and Mt. Hood, and comes in at 6.2% ABV. Unfortunately, we do not have any tasting notes for these two, so if you’re in St. John’s, you’ll have to try them yourselves!

This week marks the Fifth Anniversary of Good Robot, who burst on the scenes ala Kramer back in 2015, bringing their fun attitude, killer taproom events, charitable endeavours, oh, and beer! While the party hats and streamers were donned and tossed remotely, plenty of good vibes are flowing. No brand new beers out for them this week, though their Creature Feature Biotransformation IPA is back in cans. 6.4% ABV, hazy NEIPA with plenty of tropical vibes. GRBC is also marking this weekend by opening their doors for retail and delivery Sundays, with their new hours Mon – Thurs, 2 – 7 PM, Fri – Sun, 12 – 7 PM. Order by 6 PM for same-day delivery. And if you want to take part in the fun with one of their neat-o-rama offerings, you can order up their The Fizz, their 4.7% ABV fermented seltzer. Use code MOREFIZZNESS at checkout to save 30% off your growler fill, today until Sunday.

Your favorite beer nerds (besides us, we mean), have a new episode out this week, and it looks like if nothing else, COVID-19 has allowed them to get back to talking to actual breweries thanks to the advent of Zoom! This week’s guest is Cam MacKinnon, one of the principal folks behind Sydney’s Breton Brewing. Tune in to hear them discuss (among other things), the impacts of the pandemic on the brewery and the beer industry as a whole; just dial up “902BrewCast” on your favorite podcast app or hit their homepage here.

A couple last things to keep you busy before beer time!

Annapolis Brewing just released Dunkel, a 5.1% ABV, 21 IBUs dark German Lager; with some sweetness thanks to the addition of specialty malts, it’s well-balanced with a touch of bitterness in the finish. Their retail shop is open Saturdays, 12 – 4 PM for bottles to go!

Unfiltered has growler fills and cans available of their latest batch of Riddle of Steel, a 7% ABV NEIPA, available as of today, so be sure to load up for the long weekend. And again Monday, as they’ll be open, in case you drink it all Sunday!

So, ok, we’re a bit late today, but hey, Christmas IS only a few days away, and when you throw in work getting busier, staff parties being inconveniently scheduled for Thursday evenings, and just the general crap-storm that is preparing for the holidays, on top of a seemingly-extra large amount of brewery news/new beers, it’s tough! Ok, that’s enough wallowing in self pity for today. A note that this is the last Friday Wrap-Up for us this year, as we’ve decided to take a little break next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on our social media as we will be pushing out a Profile or two (fingers crossed!), as well as shorter blurbs as we learn of new releases to share. We’ll definitely have a full post Friday January 4th, as we begin our 8th (EIGHTH!!) year of bringing you the freshest beer news from across Atlantic Canada. Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Let’s start the news rolling this week with some fantastic news from the west coast of Newfoundland. Port au Port East is located on the outskirts of Stephenville, 2 hours from the Port aux Basques ferry terminal to the mainland. Located at 92-96 Main Street in Port au Port East is Secret Cove Brewing, which opened its doors yesterday for the first time. Operating a brewery and taproom in the former Viking Lounge location, they have four beers for enjoyment onsite and to take away in growlers: James Blonde 00709 Belgian Blonde, Malt Water Joys Brown, When in Stout Stout, and Hard Case in your Face DIPA. The brewery is open today and tomorrow 4 – 11 PM, with Sunday’s, and beyond’s, hours to be determined. Drop by to welcome the newest of your Island breweries to open, and we will share a full Profile with Secret Cove very soon! Congratulations Jason and Sheila! This marks the 5th brewery to open in Newfoundland in 2018, bringing the number across the Island to 13.

In other great news for breweries opening in our region, we mentioned a few weeks ago that Sussex Ale Works had opened their taproom on Main Street in Sussex. This week, for the first time, they have been able to serve their own house-made beers on tap and to go in growlers. Their first beer is Who’s Your Daddy Red Ale, a 6.8% Red Ale featuring 20 IBUs. It is complementing their all-New Brunswick offerings, including local Matchstick Beer Factory’s Matchstick Pale Ale, Long Bay’s Full Pleasure Passonfruit Sour, and several from Hammond River, Maybee, Niche, and Graystone, as well as Yip Cider. Look for more from Sussex Ale Work’s own 1 BBL (120 litre) brewhouse in the New Year, including their Holstein Milk Stout, and Picadilly Pale Ale. Congratulations Rick and family!

Back to the Rock for the next new beer to hit the taps, we’ve got Home and Away American Pale Ale from Landwash Brewery. Located in Mount Pearl, this is Landwash’s first release since their launch earlier this month. This 5.8% ABV American Pale Ale is a tribute to the iconic style which helped fuel the North American beer renaissance. Featuring loads of American Cascade and Citra hops, the aroma and palate are full of orange and grapefruit character, with bitterness to balance the malt. Home and Away is available on tap for pints and flights now, and for growlers to take away, along with their core lineup of beers.

Off Tracking Brewing in Bedford, Nova Scotia, is celebrating their First Anniversary this weekend, and are releasing a couple of new beers to celebrate, as well as a special collaboration with a brewing pal. First up is Charles in Charge, a hopped-up version of their 5.0% ABV Good Grief Charlie Brown Brown Ale, increasing the hopping rate to more than 50 IBU. They are also releasing Frank Citra-Natra, a 4.7% ABV American Pale Ale, featuring nothing but, you guessed it, Citra hops (to the tune of 40 IBU).

These two new Off Track beers are gracing the newly-expanded tap offerings, which now sits at 15, and also includes a few guest offerings. The latest collaboration-guest-hybrid beer to hit the chalkboard is the first from Sackville brewery Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse in several months, Funktown American Pale Ale. Brewed with OBB owner Keith Forbes at Off Track, this 5.1% ABV APA features loads of Centennial and Falconers Flight hops for a floral, lemon, and grapefruit character on the nose and flavour, with a light body and clean and dry finish. Grab a flight or pint, and then take a growler to go to enjoy in front of your holiday tree.

And in more Off Track news, they are keeping with the tradition of being open regular hours (Thursday through Sunday) during this holiday time, including next Monday and Tuesday (Christmas Eve and Christmas), 12 – 6 PM. If you need a break from the family, you’ll be sure to find some friends in the same boat there next Tuesday! They’ll also be open 12 – 6 PM on New Year’s Eve. And while you’re there, check out their new line of bottles, with their Crash Course IPA, Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Stout, Alias Pale Ale, Universal Soldier Kolsch, and Not About You ESB all available in singles or 4-packs.

The elves over at 2 Crows have been extra busy lately, as we’ve got three new beers to report this week, two of which will be hitting your mouth this weekend. The big release today at noon is Waltz, a 5.5% ABV, 22 IBUs German Pilsner. Brewed with 100% German Pilsner malt, no shortcuts were taken in brewing this one to style. Using de-aerated brewing water, a low oxygen brewing environment (don’t worry, no one passed out!), and a multi-step mash, let’s just say the brew day was a little longer than usual. Hopped with German varieties (Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc, and Saphir), it was then fermented with the classic German Lager strain, Weihenstephan, and then allowed to lager for more than 8 weeks. Sounds like the wait/hard work was worth it, with the final product being “beautifully crisp, doughy, with some lovely lemony and herbal notes”. The good news is there’s lots of this one, as it was a full 40 bbl batch, so you can find it on tap and in cans at 2C today, and it should also be hitting the local private stores soon.

You could always wait to head to 2 Crows tomorrow, when you’ll be able to grab one of the very few bottles of Razzle Dazzle, a “Champagne Brett Lager”. Brewed nine months ago with Pilsner malt and rice, the wort was hopped with Hallertau Blanc in the boil to just 12 IBUs. It was then fermented with the Weihenstephan strain, lagered for 7 weeks… and then that’s when things got a bit weird! They added glucoamylase and Brett C, and allowed the beer to condition for another 5 months, where it was finally packaged in 750 mL cork-and-caged bottles, with Champagne yeast. It’s tasting “super dry, crisp, and funky, with notes of pineapple, hay, and pear”. It finished at 6.1% ABV, and if you’d like to try it, get there when they open… there’s only about 90 bottles or so available, and there is a 2 bottle-per-person limit.

And finally, 2 Crows has got one more humdinger dropping next Saturday, and were kind enough to give us the inside scoop early on Biere de Champagne. Follow along with this one closely, it ain’t the simplest beer. Originally brewed over a year ago, in October, 2017, it started off as two beers: 1) a lower-ABV beer brewed with Pilsner and Oat malt, and fermented with TYB207 (a Brett brux strain), and 2) a high-ABV beer brewed with Pilsner malt and Nova Scotia honey, and fermented with Omega All The Bretts (that’s a blend of at least 10 Brett strains!), and Champagne yeast. After both beers fermented out, they were blended and bottled in Champagne bottles, and dosed with Champagne yeast and priming sugar, aiming for a carbonation of 6.8 vol CO2 (for those of you not in the know, that is a LOT of carbonation… your typical APA or IPA is likely somewhere around 2.5). Head brewer Jeremy Taylor can do a better job of explaining the next long process: “The bottles were conditioned horizontally for 2 months, then very gradually moved until they were sitting cap-down, riddling them every day or so over a period of many months. The beers were then chilled for several days, then the neck of the bottles was super chilled with dry ice; we removed the cap and shot out the yeast plug that had settled in the neck, then bottles were corked and caged.” Yikes! Sounds like it came out tasty, extremely effervescent (ya think?!) with “big honey notes, funky, cantaloupe, earthy”, 8.4% ABV. Releasing next Saturday (Dec 29) at 2C, there’s only 140 bottles available.

If you were a fan of Propeller’s recent one-off NEIPA, Galaxy (and we’re guessing those of you who tried it ARE fans of it, considering it’s currently the brewery’s highest-rated beer on Untappd), we’re sad to say that it is now sold out. On the upswing, they do have another once-a-one-off IPA returning, Skyrocket DIPA. Showcasing the experimental Skyrocket hop variety (related to Chinook) from the Gorst valley, it was originally brewed as a Gottingen small batch brew in January, and is now returning in cans. This 8% ABV beer is “intensely aromatic, with big, beautiful notes of mango, papaya, and pineapple”. Look for it at your nearest Propeller location! We should also mention that today’s cask release is Russian Imperial Stout, with smoked black tea, which gives the already-big-and-bold beer a “powerful smoky aroma and flavour”.

In Mahone Bay, NS, Saltbox Brewing has two releases for you this week. The first is a beer, Storm Surge, that they’re referring to as a “Maritime Ale”. They describe it as a 5.4% ABV brew that is “a prime example of a malt-forward beer, beautifully balanced by the subtle, spicy citrus of hops”. We’re guessing something along the lines of an American Pale Ale, perhaps? Either way, you’ll have to try it yourself to decide for sure; you can stop by and grab a growler right now. They’ve also just released a cider, Backyard Cider, which is made up of 100% Heirloom Gravenstein apples (grown locally in NS). Exhibiting “a balance of sweet and tart”, just like the apple that it came from, it finishes dry and crisp with floral notes. Also available in growlers, both Backyard Cider and Storm Surge should be making an appearance in cans in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned for that.⠀

With the changing of the seasons, Meander River is giving us a changing of the seasonals. The latest in their Farm Cider series is First Frost, which will be taking over from Fall’s offering, Dusty Road. Made from the freshest press of the year’s apple harvest, it’s a 5.5% ABV cider that’s citrusy, tart and juicy while being very dry. Scheduled for release on the first day of Winter (hey, that’s today!), you’ll be able to grab some this weekend at the Halifax Forum Farmers Market, and it will also go on tap at Tusket Falls, Stubborn Goat, Battery Park and Chain Yard.

Summerside, PEI’s Evermoore Brewing has a new offering that started pouring earlier this week. Called Smokey Double IPA it’s exactly what the name indicates, a double IPA with a touch of smokey character thanks to some smoked flaked barley in the grist. On the hop side, it features Brewer’s Gold, Hallertau Blanc, and Amarillo in the kettle during the boil before being hit with Simcoe and Tettnanger in the whirlpool. At 8% ABV and 60 IBU it’s a bigger beer and fairly bitter. You’ll find it at Evermoore’s taproom at 192 Water Street if you fancy a taste.

You may recall that in celebration of their 20th Anniversary last year, Garrison released XXX IPA, a Double IPA, for a brief run. They’ve just released a barrel-aged version of the same beer, where it spent 12 months in Glen Breton Rare Single Malt Whiskey barrels. They’re referring to this one as an Imperial IPA/American Barleywine hybrid, as it comes in at a whopping 11% ABV. If you’d like to decide for yourself, it’s available at the brewery only, in 650 mL bottles. They’ve also brought back their Imperial IPA in bottles and on tap at their retail store; this time around they’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, and hopped it with 100% Cascade.

Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing is keeping up with the new brews lately, as they’ve just released a DIPA, Golden Horse. Named after the Golden Horse Fountain located in the community of Milton, the beer was hopped heavily with a blend of three high alpha acid hops. Early, late, and dry hop additions contribute to high bitterness (130 calculated IBUs) and “plenty of dank, pine, and citrus flavours”. Hazy and alarmingly drinkable (even at 7.6% ABV), sneak into Heritage before the holidays for a pint/growler, and satisfy your hop urge!

Those crazy folks at Tidehouse must have found a sale on bottles, as this is the… I don’t even know how many consistent weeks of bottle releases they’ve had, and I certainly don’t have the time to check! It’s a lot. But hey, that means more take-home beer for all of us, right? And this week brings the release of Bonny Stormer, an Extra Special Bitter hopped with Progress and First Gold. Coming across as “a pinch earthy, with notes of sweet tangerine and orange”, it finishes fairly bitter (expected with this style), and comes in at 5% ABV. In addition to being available in bottles (limit 6/person) today at 2 pm, you can also find it on tap at Tidehouse.

It’s almost December 23rd, and you know that everyone in Newfoundland (well, the fun ones, anyway!) are gearing up for Tibb’s Eve on Sunday. Those characters at Port Rexton Brewing are no exception, of course, and have a couple of brand new beers to help you celebrate, just in time. First up is Tibb’s the Saison, a “Festive Saison” that was hopped with both French and Czech hop varieties, and fermented with the Fruit Bomb Saison yeast blend from Escarpment Labs. Containing both a Saison Saccharomyces strain and two Brettanomyces strains, the combination of the three ensures lots of tropical fruit character in the finished beer. This particular Saison features “gingerbread aromas and a light rye spice” and weighs in at 6.6% ABV. This was a small batch, and half of it is already resting peacefully in a grape brandy barrel; the current iteration can be found on tap at PR for their Tibb’s Eve party Sunday, and also at their St. John’s retail shop for growler fills today and tomorrow.

Next up from Port Rexton is Round Table, a nice, big, Bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout. Designed by head brewers Les and Chris shortly after trying some similar beers at the 2018 Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax, the oak character from the barrel comes through nicely, blending with the Bourbon found on the nose and palate, as well as some “dark chocolate-covered berry and coffee flavours”. Smooth and quite drinkable even at 8.8% ABV, the carbonation was purposely kept fairly low, and is best enjoyed served at a slightly-warmer temperature. This one is available in 500 mL bottles only, and was released yesterday evening with a limit of 2/person. Seek it out at both PR locations this weekend!

TrailWay has a new iteration of Beans coming out today when they open, with this batch being dosed with cocoa nibs and 250 lbs of cherry puree, to help complement the regular addition of freshly-roasted coffee beans from Whitney Coffee Company. The coffee character is prominent as usual, along with “rich and deep chocolate in the aroma, with a subtle, fruity, tart cherry component”. Available on tap and in cans at the brewery. They’ve also got fresh kegs and cans of one of their crowd-favourite American IPAs, Green Island (6% ABV).

One of the region’s newest cideries, Maritime Express in Kentville, NS, has a brand new cider available that features an ingredient better known for its use in beer. Train Hopper is made from 100% Annapolis Valley apples across four varieties: Cortland, Macintosh, Gravenstein and Spartan. To that base was added three types of hops, all sourced locally, to provide a decidedly citrusy and hoppy aroma. On the palate, look for grapefruit, floral and lemon notes that lead to a strong tart finish. Look for it at the cidery, both pouring from the taps and in bottles.

Antigonish’s Half Cocked Brewing is excited to have their first bottle release and they’re doing it in style with a big one. Tapped & Feathered is being called a “maple sap imperial stout,” as it was brewed using sap from Haveracres Maple Farm in nearby St. Joseph’s in place of water, a handy way to extract additional sugars from the mashing process and thus not lose significant efficiency on a big beer. Once fermented, the beer was aged for several months in a Glenora whiskey barrel. Coming in at a hefty 10.3% ABV, it features aromas of candied orange rind and dark chocolate, with flavors of figs, brown sugar, dark chocolate and vanilla. Expect it to be available at the brewery very soon; to find out exactly when check out their social media (Fb, Ig, Tw), where the release will be formally announced.

CAVOK in Dieppe, NB, has been doing some experimentation with their Stout. So far they’ve released salted caramel, cold-brewed coffee and peanut butter variations. These are small batches, each about 1 BBL, aimed at testing the flavourings and getting a feel for the appropriate levels. As such, they are only available by the pint in their taproom. All three are 4.9% ABV. Meanwhile, in terms of bigger batches, they’ve also got a light American lager on the go that they’re calling Joe Blow Lager. Crisp and refreshing, it’ll be a great beer for a holiday party and guests who might be looking for something a little lighter. At 4.5% ABV and very low bitterness, we think they might be onto something!

Boxing Rock continues to push out some new beers from the Test Kitchen location in Local Source Market on Agricola Street in Halifax. Late last week, they released the Blue Collar Blonde, a collaborative 5.0% ABV Kolsch brewed with the fine folks at Halifax’s HopYard, which debuted during last weekend’s YMCA fundraiser at the bar. It was deemed so popular that it will be brewed again very soon, this time at their big system in Shelburne, for a full release in the New Year. Out this week is another collaboration, this time with the crew from Canopy Creative, who came in and brewed Canopy Cane Chocolate Milk Stout, which features lactose, chocolate, and peppermint in the boil for the full Christmas experience. As with all of these releases, they are very small, so if you see something you like, best get there ASAP to grab it! And keep your eyes peeled for the re-release of their 4% ABV Winter Session Ale, The Biggest Spruce Axe-worthy, brewed with spruce tips right in the boil.

If you manage to get away from the family in the couple of weeks, be sure to double check that your favourite brewery, bar, or watering hole is open, as many are adjusting their schedules over the course of the next two weeks. We’ve got a pair of events you’ll certainly want to check out if you’re in the area!

Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub is hosting their annual Free Oyster Day today, with oyster shucking happening all day to complement your beer and food. As well, they’ve released a pair of new/returning favourites on tap, with a limited amount available to go in growlers: Herbies Coffee for Breakfast Stout, Special Blend IPA, and Melting Mountains IPA. Plus there may be a couple of bottles of their cellar-aged sour for you to take home! Details on their FB Event page.

Big Spruce is celebrating the release of their latest batch of One Hundred Wild next Saturday, December 29th, at Horton Ridge Malt & Grain. Obviously an important of this 100% Nova Scotia equation with grain/malt, hops, and yeast (isolated from a fruit tree on their property in Nyanza), Horton Ridge is the perfect place to host the event, and will have the beer flowing from 1 PM, with live music 3 – 5 PM, and 7 – 9 PM. Cans can also be pre-ordered for pickup the day before. More details on their FB page. And in more Big Spruce news, they’ve just announced that they will be a permanent part of the Halifax Seaport Market, beginning tomorrow, with bottles and growlers.

Stillwell Beer Bar in Halifax is once again holding their New Years Day Levee, when they will be opening their doors at noon January 1st, and will be pouring up a dozen special beers, holding super sales on many of their cellar bottle list, and a slew of hangover-curing brunch items to help you forget the night before. Pop by to see what they’re sharing to celebrate the beginning of 2019!

Just a couple more things to finish off the year, before you head out and grab that eggnog stout or nutmeg blonde…

Lazy Bear Brewing in Smiths Cove has bottled up a few of their beers, and now have the Norwegian Kviek Ale available at YHZ Airport’s Liquid Assets. Look for those to hit the shelves elsewhere in HRM soon. And keep an eye out at their market stall for their 10.1% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, available this weekend.

Niche Brewing in Hanwell has their Chromatic By Design Red IPA available again throughout New Brunswick. This 6.6% ABV beer features load of Ekunanot, Mosaic, and Citra, for a bold blast of tropical, dank, and citrus hops, with a touch of toffee and caramel flavours from the specialty malt. And hitting the taps next week is Wayfarer, their 6.0% ABV Sour IPA, featuring Centennial and El Dorado hops, for a lovely hybrid of sour and tropical.

Sea Level Brewing in Port Williams has released the latest version of their High Street Wee Heavy. This 6.3% ABV classic Scottish Ale is the first beer to feature barley and hops from their Millstone Harvest farm, the future site of their estate brewery, set to open next year. We hear that the next batch of their barley is actually being malted at Horton Ridge currently, for use in future Sea Level brews. High Street is available on tap at the Port Pub, and to go in cans and growlers today.

And finally, in a bit of humour around this Holiday time, St. John’s YellowBelly Brewery is looking for your unwanted/extra fruitcake! They’ll be brewing up a beer in the New Year, and would to use your un-loved fruitcake in the mash. With all of the sugars, and a little booze, that these divisive holiday baked goods contain, they are sure to lend plenty of character to the final beer. Check out this article for more information.