Schoolhouse Brewery

All posts tagged Schoolhouse Brewery

We’ve had another big week of beers and events in Nova Scotia, thanks to the continuation of Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week. Check out our Map and Calendar to help you plan this weekend’s escapes, plus we’ll summarize them below.

• One of the consistently stellar events during NS Craft Beer Week is the Stillwell Open, where teams of breweries conspire with local homebrewers in a friendly competition for flavour domination. This year’s event was no different, with Team North taking top honours again, with their top showing in two categories. Consisting of breweries Big Spruce, Breton, Tatamagouche, and Uncle Leo’s, they teamed up with homebrewers Brian Harvey, Bràthair Collective, Mark McKay, Duncan English, and Dave Martin to produce another batch of highly regarded beers. They hoisted the cup and will hold onto it until 2019, when the Dartmouth, Halifax, and South teams will be fighting to win it. Here is a summary of the winners, plus some other honourable mentions that are now (or will be shortly) available to the public:

  • Tatamagouche and Mark McKay took top honours in the American category with their Amrita, an American IPA with Passionfruit and Mango, fermented with Brettanomyces. This bright yellow beer featured a solid hop bitterness, along with tons of tropical fruit character. Look for it at the Full House event tomorrow, and on tap around the province this weekend/next week, with 500ml bottles available at the private stores next week as well.
  • Taking Gold in the Belgian category was conspiracy between Breton Brewing and the Bràthair Homebrew Crew, Wild Bretton. This Brett Amalgamation-fermented Witbier was aged in Chardonnay barrel for a couple of months, and packaged up for limited release. We understand it will see further distribution in the near future!
  • Team Dartmouth member Brightwood Brewery teamed up with Chain Yard Cider to take Gold in the English category with a cask of Goosebite, a 5.7% ABV Porter/Cider hybrid known as Graf. The base beer and cider also featured cranberries and raspberries, resulting in a fruity and chocolate mix that the judges (aka the public) voted their favourite. We believe this was a limited release, but may pave the way for future experimentation from Brightwood and cider partners.
  • And in the German category, Boxing Rock and Tusket Falls debuted their Rauch Star, a dark Rauchbier (German Smoked beer). Malt forward with light but solid smoke flavour. At 6.5% ABV, it still features a light crisp mouthfeel and a light bittering to finish it off. Look for kegs of Rauch Star around the province, and in bottles at the private stores in HRM.

Among the other dozen beers pouring that day, there were several more available to the general public now or shortly:

  • Tidehouse went the New England IPA route with their entry, Champions Regardless, which took second place (very fitting for the name!) in the American category. Swapping into the brewhouse for this batch were co-owner Shannon Rockwell and frequent collaborator/homebrewer Ian Wheatley. Brewed with 2-row and a combination of Flaked Wheat, Oats, and Barley, they also added just a touch of Honey malt for complexity, and dextrose to help dry the beer out a bit more. Galaxy and Kohatu hops were used for the first-wort, hop stand, and dry-hop additions, with Vermont Ale yeast taking over fermentation duty. Plenty of tropical fruit deliciousness, without the high bitterness, in this 6.2% ABV beauty,
  • A collaboration brew between Lunn’s Mill and Heritage Brewing will be appearing on tap this week at Good Robot. Named Paradise Found, it’s an Imperial IPA hopped with hefty amounts of three American varieties: Chinook, Simcoe, and pretty-new-to-the-scene Tahoma. To “spice” things up a little, the breweries decided to add a “generous amount” of Grains of Paradise and Lemongrass near the end of the boil. The result is an 8.9% ABV, 89 IBUs beer with a “delightful piney punch, and a smooth, tropical finish”, with a “sharp spiciness and lemony finish”. In addition to taking over one of GR’s fine guest taps, it should also be pouring at Heritage, currently.
  • Halifax’s Propeller Brewing teamed up our very own acbbchris to brew two beers in one. Back in March, the brew crew of Head Brewer Cameron Crerar, Assistant Brewer Denys Ploughman, and Chris brewed up Doppelbock, a 6.0% ABV malty German beer, featuring a base of Munich and Pilsner malts, along with Vienna and Cara 120 for some residual sweet notes. Hallertau and Northern Brewer hops were used to offset the sweetness and offer some traditional woody notes. This Gottingen Street Small Batch is now available at the Gottingen and Windmill locations for pints and growler fills. On the day of the Stilly Open, there were a pair of Eisbock kegs available for enjoyment, created by partially freezing the Doppelbock to remove some of the water content, and upping the alcohol to 7.0% ABV and rich malt character.
  • Lazy Bear debuted their Dubbel on Sunday, which will be available in bottles shortly. This 6.7% ABV Belgian style features a complex malt bill and an iconic yeast. Inviting in students in the Industrial Microbiology program at Universite de St Anne, both brewers and students enjoyed the learning and brewing process that day, and those who missed out on Sunday’s event will soon have a chance to enjoy the final product. We’ll update with more information once we know it!

• Switching gears from the Open, it looks like North Brewing has a couple of releases today, one new and one returning. Let’s start with the new, shall we? Actually, maybe we’re using the word “new” a little loosely, here, but Finite Series: Midnight is just that… their popular Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Midnight, in their limited edition Finite Series. To be more specific, they took one barrel of Midnight and added peaches, nectarines, and Shiro plums, and Escarpment Lab‘s Brussels Brett (a Brett brux strain that exhibits “plum, red berry, citrus, and red apple, alongside subtle acidity”). Aged for 8 months in the barrel, and then bottle conditioned, the brewery is describing it as “smooth, with lots of peach character, a little cherry, and a bit of toffee on the finish”. There’s just over 20 cases available, so don’t wait to grab a bottle or two! As for the returning beer, Twinkle Pony, a “Cookie/Tiramisu Stout” is back today. This 7% ABV beer was brewed with lady finger cookies, Chocolate malt, lactose, vanilla, and cold brew coffee from Manual Food & Drink Co. It’s available in cans at both bottle shops, and will be on tap at a few lucky locations (including tomorrow’s Full House event).

• Moving on to New Brunswick, Niche Brewing released the details on their latest beer, Innerstate, earlier this week. Described by the brewery as an “Amber Brett Saison”, the grist included a healthy portion of Rye malt. Fermented with Niche’s house blend (French Saison yeast and a variety of Brettanomyces strains), the beer was allowed to age for some time, in order for the Brett character to develop. Dry-hopped with Saaz before packaging, the result is a copper-coloured brew with a touch of caramel sweetness, citrus and spice from both the yeast strains and Rye malt, some spicy/floral character from the dry-hop, and, finally, a “touch of barnyard character from the Brett”. It’s available on tap now at a couple of Niche accounts, with others likely having it over the weekend.

• In other Niche new beer news, look for their first Session IPA sometime next week, which will also be the first in a series of one-hop beers. You Had Me At… Ekuanot was brewed with 2-Row, Wheat malt, Malted Oats, and a touch of CaraRed, to keep the beer light-coloured, while at the same time boosting the mouthfeel of this low-ABV (4%) beer. Hopped entirely with Ekuanot (with all additions occurring at the end of the boil, and in the dry-hop), it was also fermented with a new-to-the-brewery yeast blend meant to work best with hop-forward beers. The beer will have your typical Ekuanot characteristics – melon, orange, lime, green pepper – in a hazy, light-golden package. Look for it mid-week at your favourite Niche tap accounts.

Flying Boats has comfortably settled into their new location – with a much-expanded 15 bbl brewhouse and taproom in Dieppe – and they’ve released a new beer to join their flagships on tap. A Session IPA, Coastal Good Life was bittered with Magnum, with Galaxy making up the rest of the hopping schedule for both knockout and whirlpool additions, as well as in the dry-hop. With a simple grist to allow the Galaxy to shine, expect aromas and flavours of passion fruit, with a dry finish. Coming in at just 4.8% ABV, it’s just the sort of beer to enjoy a pint of in the afternoon… although, the evening works perfectly fine as well! Drop in at the brewery today for a taste and/or growler fill.

• Now that Spindrift‘s Seventh Wave series is officially back, they’re upping the ante and aiming to have two different batches available each week. For this week, they’ve succeeded with that goal! Let’s start with Full Steam Ahead, a Steam beer (natch), aka California Common. Golden-coloured, with a “slight caramel toast presence, backed by an assertive, yet complementary hop program”, it weighs in at 6.2% ABV and 34 IBUs. Thousand Ships Wildberry Wheat is next, and was brewed with patio weather in mind, with notes of “tart cherry, smooth strawberry, and thick blueberry” coming through in this reddish-coloured beer, thanks to the a blend of cherry, strawberry and blueberry purees (at 50:25:25, respectively). At 4.2% ABV and 7 IBUs, this one is available right now, along with Full Steam Ahead, at the brewery for growler fills. We’ve been warned that both are in very short supply due to a busy Thursday apres-work crowd, so we suggest getting to their retail location at 21 Frazee as soon as you can! And keep your eyes peeling to their Twitter and Instagram Thursday morning for the latest release details.

Schoolhouse has brought back their summer thirst-quencher, Skratch Plaskett, an American Wheat Ale. Staying true-to-style, they’ve altered the recipe slightly and increased the amount of Wheat malt in the grist (to 33%), keeping the colour of the beer a very-light golden colour, with the emphasis on the malt character as you’d expect. Bittered with Warrior to just 18 IBUs, with a “healthy splash” of Galena at knockout for a touch of citrus character, it comes in at 5.2% ABV and is available now on tap and in bottles.

• Further down the 101 Highway is Paddys Irish Pub, who have several new beers on the go, as well as the return of their seasonal cider. Foote’s Cider is a truly local cider, made with fresh-pressed apples from Foote’s Farm in Centreville, who also handled the fermentation there at the Farm. It was blended with Paddys’ own Hard Cider, which is quite dry, for an expression that is balanced, delicious, and weighs in at 6.5% ABV.

• On the beer side of things, there are a pair of new beers also available currently at their Wolfville and Kentville locations (and hopefully pouring at this weekend’s Full House Fest). Their first Sour IPA started as a light-bodied and -coloured base, and was inoculated using Organic yogurt to get the Lactobacillus bacteria necessary for the acidic kick. After completing the fermentation with a clean yeast, the beer was dry-hopped with a blend of Mosaic, El Dorado, and Citra hops, resulting in a lemonade tart character with plenty of grapefruit-like hop character, in a 6.6% ABV package. And continuing the IPA theme is the bigger brother of the Sour IPA, but without the kettle sour treatment. This clean IPA features the same blend of hops, and will hit the taps shortly for plenty of chances for comparing and contrasting. You can also keep any eye on Paddys’ Facebook for details and teases on a few more Spring beers, including a Light Domestic Lager, Maibock, and a Blonde Ale, with a Saison coming soon.

Big Spruce has paired up for yet another collaboration brew, and as usual, they’re not letting us down when it comes to producing an interesting take on a classic style. Inter-Provincial Bureaucracy was created along with the fine people of Newfoundland’s Port Rexton Brewing and Wolfville’s L’Acadie Vineyards, and is being described as a “Red Wine Barrel-Aged Co-Fermented Wild Tripel” (told ya!). Let’s get a little deeper in details of this one, because that’s a lot to wrap your head around. The beer was fermented with two of Big Spruce’s wild yeast strains in stainless; once complete, fermented red grape skins, seeds and stems from L’Acadie’s 2017 Passito vintage were added for conditioning. Finally, the near-finished product was moved into red wine barrels for some further oak aging, before being packaged. Described by Big Spruce as being “funky, full of NS terroir, and altogether a unique hybrid beer”, the only bad news is that it will be available on tap only, at the Sprucetique in Nyanza and a very select number of BS tap accounts in the province. So, if you have the chance to taste it… get it!

Good Robot‘s Adjunct Lager, El Espinazo del Diablo, is making its return next Thursday (May 10th). With the addition of lime peel and jalapenos during conditioning, this isn’t your father’s Lager… it’s spicier! As for Tuesday’s Beta Brew, being tapped May 8th, we don’t have a lot of details this time around, but we can tell you it’s a “Coffee Kolsch” named Ground Skor. Local businesses Low Point Coffee Co. and Dilly Dally Coffee Cafe teamed up for the brew, concocting a pale, cold-brewed coffee added to the Kolsch base. The beer was brewed with GR’s own Katie Whitlock, and comes in at 4.7% ABV and 20 IBUs. And apparently tomorrow, there’s a “special surprise treat” coming out at the brewery… we assume it’s a beer?

Unfiltered has a brand new beer released today at noon for you lucky Haligonians, and it’s the first beer officially brewed by Assistant Brewer Emily Keeler. Sunday Morning is best described as a New England Pale Ale, meaning that you can expect a hazy beer big on hop aroma and flavour, without necessarily a lot of bitterness to go with it. The ABV with this one is kept quite low (4.5% ABV), meaning that you can experience all of that hop deliciousness (with an emphasis on orange/orange pith) and still be coherent (depending on the person) afterwards. No details from the brewery on which hop variety/varieties was/were used for this one, so you’ll just have to try it yourself and take a guess or three! Available at the brewery for pints and growlers.

• St. John’s YellowBelly launched a new beer, Downtown Brown, late last week. Described by the brewery as a “Fennel Brown Ale”, it is exactly that, as roasted fennel bulbs and a vodka-based tea of fennel seeds were both added to the Brown Ale base beer. At 5% ABV, it has “strong notes of chocolate and biscuit, and a subtle, lingering black licorice finish”. You can still find it on tap at the brewpub now, with growlers and bottles also available for takeaway at their Shop down Water Street.

• On Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Melanie of Hell Bay and Amanda of Firkinstein decided they’d like to do a beer together. Raising the level of difficulty on that plan was that Amanda doesn’t really like beer, but she wanted something with strawberries that was creamy. Tapping Melanie’s greater experience with beer, the pair decided on a strawberry cream ale, a light-colored beer to which a large amount of strawberries were added. A very large amount. A “shit ton” even. But for some reason they didn’t quite make it through to the taste, so they’re calling it, Hell, We Firked Up! Strawberry Cream Ale. Lightly hopped, expect this to be a refreshing cream ale coming in a 6% ABV; and you’d be forgiven if you thought perhaps maybe you might possibly be tasting a slightly strawberry flavor!

• You may recall last year when Dartmouth’s Low Point Coffee took the opportunity provided by 2 Crows to age some coffee in their Calvados foedres. This year, with 2 Crows recently coming into possession of a whole lot more wooden vessels formerly used to age wine and spirits, they again offered Low Point the chance to put some green beans in a barrel before roasting. Available at the Halifax Crafter’s Spring Market tomorrow and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM, you’ll find two such coffees: Invicta! a Colombian Tolima aged in Port barrels, and Quetzalcoatl! which is a Mexican Tapachula Chiapas that spend time in Tequila Barrels. If it’s anything like the last batch, there’s not a ton of this to go around, so best make plans to act on it if you’re interested. And if you’re wondering why we’re including this in the beer blog, consider that we know of at least one commercial beer and one batch of homebrew made with the last barrel-aged coffee from Low Point and let’s just say we’d like to encourage that to happen again!

• We have some early news from Montague’s Copper Bottom concerning a new beer which will likely be brewed sometime next weekend. Parkman Ave DIPA will feature a grist of mostly 2-row, with a little Carafoam and Acid malt, allowing the brewery to focus on what should be focused on in an Imperial IPA… hops, baby! In this particular case, lots of Ekuanot will be used at knockout, with a very heavy dry-hop of El Dorado, Mosaic, and even more Ekuanot. Expectations are for an 8% ABV, 70 IBUs beer with lots of tropical, orange, and citrus notes throughout. Follow along with CB’s social media for details on the release party for this one. And in other good CB news, they’re now officially canning their beer! All three of their flagships are available for takeaway at the brewery and select PEILCC stores; the Parkman Ave DIPA will also be canned when it is ready for packaging. And finally, a big congratulations to the brewery for making the list of this year’s Beer Advocate’s 50 Best New Breweries, along with Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing!

This is the last weekend of NS Craft Beer Week, so be sure to get out and support the more than 40 breweries, and supporting bars, restaurants, and stores that carry their products.

• Day 2 of the Origins and Evolution of NS Beer is happening today at Battery Park Beer Bar, with 20 beers embodying where beer in the province is now, and where it will be going. Several of the Stillwell Open beers will be there, for those who missed out, as well as other small-batch brews.

Propeller Brewing is hosting a May the Fourth Cask Day today at their Gottingen Taproom, featuring all things Star Wars, including a cask of their ESB (you get the connection, right?) fermented with Empire Yeast from “a galaxy far far away”. Kicking off at 5pm, there will be Star Wars pinball, Humble Pies, Star Wars doughnuts from Vandal Doughnuts, giveaways, and plenty more fun. It will also be a great excuse to drop by for a taste of that great Doppelbock we told you about (hint, hint!). And keep an eye here for details on the rest of May’s Cask Nights, as they will be featuring different treatments of Prop’s iconic ESB with a variety of different hopping and yeast choices.

The Grand Banker is hosting their Fourth Winemaker vs. Brewmaster this evening, pitting Benjamin Bridge vs Uncle Leo’s. Alex Morozov, of Benjamin Bridge and Karl Whiffen of Uncle Leo’s Brewery, will each receive the 5 course menu in advance, with the mission to put their best pairing forward for each course and present them to the guests! Tickets are still available for this fun beer, wine, and food event, which starts at 6:30PM.

• Tomorrow marks the culmination of NS Craft Beer Week, with the Full House Craft Beer Fest, at the Halifax Forum. 39 breweries from across the province are bringing their favourite beers to share with their fans, and it should prove to be another fun event. Tickets are still available for both the afternoon and evening session, but do tend to sell out before go-time.

• In Newfoundland, today is the day that many beer fans have been waiting for: Port Rexton Brewing has opened their brewery taproom again for the season! Located at 6 Ship Cove Rd, their taproom will be open 12-10pm daily for the summer, and are taking this weekend as an opportunity to welcome their fans to come out for a boo. Today they are toasting the great news by releasing a brand new beer, Firehouse Red Ale. Brewed in collaboration with the Port Rexton Area Fire Department, this 4.7% ABV Red Ale features some sweet caramel notes, with a fresh toffee and moderate malt aroma. The beer will also be a fundraiser to help in the PRAFD efforts in acquiring safety equipment to better serve the region. In addition to the beer itself, those wanting to help can take part in tomorrow‘s Cutthroat LEGO Competition, with 4 teams of three compete and sabotage to build the best models from the blocks given. Register your team at 7:30pm sharp, and enjoy the evening! There will also be pop-up shops on site all day tomorrow, with East Coast Glow and Two Whales selling their wares.

• For those who can’t make it to the brewery, fear not, their retail store is open today and tomorrow. Take note, however, that this is the final day for cans until the fall, so if you were waiting for a sign, this is it! Horse Chops West Coast IPA and Chasing Sun NEIPA are both available in cans, with growler fills of discomHOPulated and T-Rex Porter both available. And fear not, the retail shop will remain open all summer, but only for growler fills and merchandise sales.

In honour of this weekend’s St John’s BrewFest, we wanted to lead this week’s post with the great beery news from The Rock. While the number and reach of locally-owned breweries in Newfoundland and Labrador was lacking for many years, the past few years have seen an explosion in number and variety of offerings available to the public. For a more thorough overview of that history, as well as the present and future of beer in Newfoundland (and soon Labrador), check out the Newfoundland Beer History site, and the latest post from writer Chris Conway (himself part of the opening-late-2018 Landwash Brewery in Mount Pearl). The local alt-paper The Overcast also keeps an eye on the latest Nfld Beer News, and has summarized the history in The Overcast’s Guide to Beers of Newfoundland, out this month. After reading those and getting excited for the rest of 2018, here what’s new this week:

• Port Rexton‘s retail shop on Torbay Rd is open again this weekend (Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-6pm), and will have 3 varieties in cans: Chasing Sun New England IPA, T-Rex Porter, and the return of Mixed Opportunity, their 5.6% ABV mixed fermentation Saison, employing multiple strains of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces yeasts to ferment, giving funky farmhouse flavours and aromas. On growler fills are Baycation Blonde and T-Rex Porter. With their brewery taproom opening May 4th, they will continue to operate the retail location in town, concentrating on growler fills and merchandise sales, as they will be winding down their canning offerings.

• Also keep an eye open this weekend for Port Rexton’s Barrel-aged Brett Porter, which was a collaboration brewed back in September with Jana of Motion Bay Brewing (coming soon to Petty Harbour), and our own acbbchris. This beer was fermented in a freshly-emptied red wine barrel with Brett D (a specific strain of Brettanomyces bruxellensis), where it sat for several months before conditioning and packaging (sorry, kegs only!). The lovely wine notes complement the funky nose and flavour from the Brett fermentation, with the dark malt providing a pleasant base. It debuted at the Melee in the Market Port Rexton x 2 Crows Tap Takeover last night, and should be available this weekend.

• YellowBelly Brewery launched a new beer earlier this week, Patridgeberry Wheat. The Wheat Ale base was enhanced by the addition of local partridgeberries, known for their tart kick and full flavour, for a true taste of the Island. At 5.0% ABV, and quite quaffable, you could certainly be forgiven for going back for a second. It is on tap at the brewery and Takeaway (down the street at 264 Water) now, and in 1 litre bottles at the Takeaway and select NLC locations this weekend.

• Renovations continue at Quidi Vidi Brewing, as they expand their retail shop and transform their event space into a full-time taproom, which will offer visitors great views of the gut, and a fine pint to pair it with. The recent additions to their beer line-up, Calm Tom’s Double IPA and Mad Mike’s Big Belgian, will be around for the summer months, and complemented by beers brewed on their 350 litre pilot brewing system. We’ll let you know when the renos are done and the beer is pouring once again.

A few NL events for you this week, too:

• Believe it or not, a few tickets for tonight’s St John’s BrewFest are still available, and if you don’t already have yours, you’re best served to grab one now. In addition to beers from Mill Street, Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Split Rock, Storm, Western Newfoundland, and YellowBelly, there is a good showing from the rest of the Atlantic Provinces, including New Brunswick’s Hammond River, Loyalist City, Maybee, TrailWay, and Yip Cider; PEI’s Gahan and Upstreet; Nova Scotia’s 2 Crows, Bad Apple, Big Spruce, Garrison, No Boats on Sunday, and Spindrift. Plus from (further) away, Blindman, Flying Monkeys, Half Hours on Earth, and Other Half. The full list is available here. And all attendees receive a code for the pre-sale for the St John’s Cider Fest, which is June 22nd and 23rd.

• For those wanting to meet up with other beer fans in the area, The Brewnettes Beer Appreciation Club are holding a bottle share next Thursday, April 26th at 7pm, at Common Ground on Harvey Rd. This is a BYOB event, where you can share your latest homebrew or a cool bottle you picked up while traveling or your current fave from around town, and talk with friendly folks who love beer as much as you!

• If this weekend’s BrewFest isn’t enough, the NLC’s Beer Expo is happening May 11 and 12th at the Delta Hotel. As it is an NLC event, most of the beer will be those currently available at the stores and/or available after the event, though Quidi Vidi will be debuting several small batch beers at the event. The full list is available here, to plan your attack. The ticket includes pub grub, and a $10 Taxi Voucher to get home safe. There is also a separate Saturday afternoon Tasting Panel from 5:30-7pm, with speakers tasting and discussing 9 products in a more relaxed setting. Tickets are available online, or at the Mile One Box Office.

Let’s jump into the rest of our region now. Not surprisingly, with the weather warming up, we’re seeing a steady increase in the beer release frequency, the patios of the region are being set up and enjoying a beer outside seems like a fine plan, and not the crazy idea my neighbour yelled at me for last week.

• Starting a ferry ride from Newfoundland in Nyanza on Cape Breton Island, we mentioned last week that Big Spruce had some big releases coming up and we weren’t kidding. They’ve clearly been busy preparing to make a splash for NS Craft Beer Week. As we mentioned (late) in our Friday Wrap-up last week, The Gose of Christmas Past is already pouring at the Sprucetique and tap accounts around the Province. This is a 3.8% ABV beer in the Gose style, of course, brewed with Indian Coriander and French Sea Salt back in December with Merit Brewing of Hamilton before being racked into Tequila barrels for 2 months of aging. Also released this week, to strong reactions of every stripe, is The Real McNeil a Red IPA that was brewed with our Province’s Premier, Stephen McNeil. Weighing in at 6.8% ABV and 48 IBUs, however bitter the beer actually tastes, it’s almost certainly not nearly as bitter as some of the public response to it. Seemingly forgotten is the open letter to the province owner Jeremy White penned last year, detailing many of the frustrating laws in place holding back the flourishing of small business, and is still actively pushing for changes in those. While some progress has been made on these issues, further improvements aren’t likely to come without education and engagement, which is the stated point of this exercise. And if it also yielded tasty beer? Well, that’s surely a bonus. If you can stomach it, you’ll find it in red cans featuring a typically masterful caricature of the Premier by Bruce MacKinnon at the private stores in Halifax and coming on April 30th to 35 select NSLC stores around the province. Probably only in Liberal ridings, wha? Meanwhile, those who’ve pledged never to buy Big Spruce beer again surely won’t care that the first batch of their incredibly popular Silver Tart Raspberry Kettle Sour is ready and will be available at the Sprucetique this coming Wednesday, April 24, before hitting the private stores in Halifax next Saturday.

• Speaking of next Saturday, fans of Big Spruce’s Ra Ra Rasputin Barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout are probably feeling the itch, knowing that it’s traditionally released around this time each year. But this year Jeremy White and the gang have upped the ante considerably. Yes, you’ll be able to buy the Ra Ra you know and love, aged in Whiskey Barrels from Glenora Distillery in Cape Breton. But you’ll also see a version aged in French Cognac barrels. And another in California Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. And another in good ol’ American Bourbon Barrels. And finally one that spent time in Nicaraguan Rum barrels. Yes, that’s five, count ’em FIVE different variations of Ra Ra Rasputin available for your dilection. Whether you’re an existing fan of Ra Ra Rasputin, a fan of big beers in general, or just BA-curious, we can vouch for all five of the variations. Have you ever done a bottle share? It’s a great way to try several beers without a serious financial commitment. Consider getting some friends together to split a set of 2018 Ra Ras and figure out which are your favorites before going back for more. Tasting the same beer with 5 different treatments can also be an excellent beer education experience that shows just how much influence a single variable (barrel type in this case) can influence otherwise identical base beer. These will be available a week from tomorrow, Saturday, April 28th, at the brewery and in private stores in Halifax! Some bottles of the 2017 vintage are still around if you want to do a comparison and some tap accounts may see the 2017 version on tap to open craft beer week!

• And lastly in Big Spruce news is the release of another annual spring tradition, Cerberus Double IPA. Brewed this year with Tatamagouche Brewing and Port Williams’ Sea Level Brewing, this is an organic beer whose recipe has been rejigged for 2018. Weighing in at 7.5% ABV, it’s described as “abundantly bitter and deeply aromatic,” with late-addition hops in “lip-smacking” quantities that produce a complex, yet balanced beer. Also new for this year is availability in cans. You’ll find them as of today at the private stores in Halifax and, we believe, at each of the participating breweries.

• Continuing with Tatamagouche Brewing, after more than a year’s hiatus, they’ve brought back Square One, their 6.2% ABV dry-hopped Saison. With a fairly simple grist made up mostly of Pilsner malt, with some Oats, Spelt, and Rye in there as well, it was bittered with Chinook to 32 IBUs, and dry-hopped with a blend of Citra, Hallertau Blanc and Amarillo, giving tons of fruity, citrusy goodness. Fermented with the New World Saison blend – which includes both Sacch and Brett – from Escarpment Labs, this year’s bottles have been bottle-conditioned to let the Brett funk develop further with time… so, buy some now to enjoy the hops, and cellar some to compare over the coming months! Don’t want to wait? Stillwell has a keg of this year’s batch AND one from the last batch, both of which will be tapped alongside one another today. For bottles, pick up yours at Tatabrew now, and at the private stores in the HRM next week.

• Halifax’s Garrison Brewing was among several breweries in the region to brew a beer with Angus Ross from Canadian Yeast producer Escarpment Labs and theirs is, we believe, the first to come ready. Country Road Farmhouse Ale was brewed with Honey from Wolfville’s Cosman & Whidden Honey and dry-hopped with modern German variety Huell Melon hops. Slightly funky from the use of the Brettanomyces-esque Saccharomyces strain known as Sacch Trois provided by Escarpment, and deliciously hoppy from the healthy dry hop, this is a refreshing beer at 6% ABV. In other Garrison news, their traditional spring seasonal maple beer has undergone a metamorphosis this year as Sugar Moon Maple Ale is now Sugar Moon Maple Porter! Featuring a base grist of Maritime Pale Ale, with Crystal,Chocolate and Amber Malts for color and character, it was hopped to 28 IBUs with Polaris. But the key ingredient, as always, is Maple Syrup from Sugar Moon Maple Farm in Earltown, NS. With dark and sweet flavors and an ABV of 6.3%, this is one to sip under a cold sugar moon as you anticipate the turn of Spring that will almost certainly happen any month now…

• Earlier this week, 2 Crows released another of their one-off, taproom-only beers, created by Assistant Brewer Miles Bishop on the brewery’s pilot system. Great Plains is a 6.2% ABV, 22 IBUs American Wheat Ale brewed with a high percentage of Wheat malt to help boost the mouthfeel, as well as provide a dough-like character to the beer. Hopped with Falconer’s Flight and Mandarina Bavaria to give a burst of citrus, it was fermented with wine yeast and Brett C, lending “subtle grape and pineapple notes, as well as a small amount of funk”. If there’s any left, it’ll be available for by-the-glass only at 2 Crows; stop in today to give it a try before it’s gone!

• Not too far away, at Good Robot, you can expect the return of Awesome Beer, Great Job!, an “Autumn Saison” originally released by the brewery back in 2016, next Thursday. At 6.4% ABV and in the low-20s for IBUs, it has notes of plum, banana, and burnt sugar. For next week’s Beta Brew, Frank Robb from the Lion’s Head helped design Clifford the Big Red Brew, an American Amber Ale. Aiming to have lots of malt character and low bitterness, they went with Pale malt, Red X, Vienna, Crystal 60 L, and a “secret malt” in the grist, and threw in a little Green Bullet to get to about 18 IBUs. It should come in at about 4.5% ABV, and will be available on tap next Tuesday.

• It’s another second Friday (arguably, isn’t it always?), which means it’s time for another entry in Upstreet‘s Neon Friday, a series of hoppy beers. This week gives us West Coast Session IPA, a 5.5% ABV, 65 IBUs golden-coloured brew that was hopped solely with Falconer’s Flight. Some Melanoidin was included in the mash to provide a “nice, round malt finish”, complemented by the citrus character from the FF. You can find this one today at Upstreet and the Craft Beer Corner, and a couple of kegs may even be heading to Halifax. Upstreet is also releasing a limited number of bottles of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy with Spruce Tips, the next beer in their barrel-aged series, Million Acres. Head brewer Hogie made a concentrated spruce tip tea, which he blended with the 9.5% ABV beer at bottling, to help balance that massive malt character from the base beer. Bottles are available at both Upstreet and the CBC (the beer CBC, not the other one), and a small amount will also turn up in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

• If you live near/in, or are passing through Chester, Nova Scotia, drop by Tanner & Co. Brewing to give their new Saison a try. The grist was made up of Pilsner, Vienna, Munich and Wheat malt, with the wort being hopped in several stages with East Kent Goldings (a dry-hop addition was made with the same hop as well). Fermented with the lovely French Saison yeast, giving aromatics of pepper and lemon, the EKG additions also lend some earthy, spicy notes to the beer. The brewery describes the entire experience as having “flavours of lemon, honey, cereal, and roasted pear, with a dry finish”, which is definitely more eloquent than we would may have come up with! It’s available right now, and weighs in at 6.8% ABV and 34 IBUs.

• A blast from the not-so-distant past is back at Spindrift Brewing in Dartmouth’s Burnside Industrial Park. After brewing stints at Gahan Harbourside in Halifax and consulting to help get The Good Word Brewing up and running in Atlanta, Georgia, Kyle Jeppesen is back where he spent time as Quality Manager and Assistant Brewer earlier in his career. With a new brewer in the fold there are bound to be some changes and we’ve been advised that though Spindrift will remain a primarily lager brewery, some ales are definitely going to creep into full production. If you’re in attendance at the NS Craft Beer Week Full House event you’ll have a chance at a first taste of two new brews, the core Hurricane IPA and the seasonal Wheel House Radler. Look for more info on those in coming weeks. We’ll keep an ear to the ground for any other new brews or tweaks to existing brews as time goes on.

• Meanwhile, Steve Crane, Spindrift’s Assistant Brewer and Admiral of the Seventh Wave Pilot Batch Fleet has a new brew available today that he’s calling Fill Yer Boots. Born of a deal with Mother Nature to hasten the arrival of Spring (we think you might’ve been played there, Steve), it’s a lovely and light 4.0% ABV wheat-based beer bittered to a barely-there-but-you’d-miss-it-if-it-wasn’t 6.6 IBU and backed with a serious Blood Orange kick. As with all entries in the Seventh Wave series, this one is available for fills only at the brewery.

• The PEI Brewing Co. has brought us their latest IPA and After Hours entry, Snowbird Juicy IPA (just in time for most of Canada’s “snowbirds” to arrive back to give it a taste). This 6% ABV, light-coloured beer was brewed with the type of grist – Pale malt, Wheat, and Oats – that you just know will allow the hops to be the star of the show. The hops chosen for this one were El Dorado and Ella, giving big aromas of tropical fruit and floral/spice, with low bitterness in the finish. It’s available on tap at all the Gahan House locations (including Gahan House – Riverside, which just opened in downtown Fredericton earlier this week), and in cans in PEI and New Brunswick.

• And speaking of Gahan, we managed to track down the very busy Spencer Gallant, who has been splitting his time brewing at the Gahan locations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to find our what’s on next on tap at each location. Let’s start in Fredericton at the Riverside, with the first two beers brewed on their 5 BBL (600 litre) DME system debuting next week. The first is a 5.2% hoppy lager, with a malt bill of Belgian Pilsner malt and Oats, and features loads of Mosaic, Citra, and Columbus for hopping to about 30 IBUs, and plenty of flavour and character. The second beer is a 6.0% ABV mixed-grain IPA, with barley, oats, rye, and rice, featuring Azacca and Simcoe for a 45 IBU bitterness and flavour. Down Highway 7, you’ll find Gahan Port City, where Gallant brewed up a New England-style IPA, featuring Pale Ale and Wheat malts, and oats for a creamy and smooth mouthfeel, and iconic haziness. Using Vermont Ale from Escarpment, and generously hopped with Amarillo, Vic Secret and Palisade. This 6.8% ABV beer will be debuting next week as well.

• Looks like Loyalist City is giving us their first new beer in some time, after weeks of brewing and packaging several of their core brands. Refraction is a Session IPA, a style that head brewer Mark McGraw has been working on tirelessly to pack in plenty of flavour and aroma, while keeping the mouthfeel from becoming too thin, always an issue with low-ABV beers. Well, low-ABV this beer is (4%), and with Perle and Citra used in the boil, and two dry-hop additions of Vic Secret, expect “an intense aroma of tropical fruit, with some awesome pineapple and passion fruit notes that are accompanied by moderate citrus aromas of grapefruit and tangerine”. Yellow and hazy, with a medium-light body, you can find it on tap only, at your favourite Loyalist City account.

• We’ve got the details on the latest release in the Something Different series from Annapolis Cider Company, which is coming out today. Mixed Berry & Pear is a 7% ABV sparkling cider that features a blend of strawberry, black currant, and Bosc pear juices with their signature dry cider. The black currants help darken the colour of the cider, as well as add tannins, resulting in a medium-bodied cider with a rose colour, and “vibrant notes of ripe strawberries and subtle hints of aromatic pear”. Drop by to get your fill, where $0.50 from each will help support The Ross Creek Centre for the Arts.

• Fredericton’s TrailWay is taking a breather from the hoppy beers – for a moment, at least – with the release of Beans, their latest Coffee Stout. Returning to their earlier days by brewing what they describe as basically the same recipe as their Whitney Coffee Stout from 2014, Whitney Coffee is still featured in the brew, with a “slightly-adjusted technique of adding the coffee” to create a stronger coffee aroma. It comes in at 6.3% ABV and is available as of today, at the brewery, on tap and in cans. And look for their hugely popular Hu Jon Hops in the fridges of the four private stores in HRM in the next few days.

• Back to Nova Scotia, Annapolis Brewing Company has been brewing up a storm on their new 5 BBL (600 litre) system, preparing themselves for the warmer months, and the opening of their taproom next month. A 1500 square foot location, it will have seating for 60 people, and feature 20 taps (including 4 for nitro beers!), for a showcase of their own lineup, plus guest beers. They will be offering growler fills, 355mL stubby bottles (their first packaged product), and kegs to go, as well as merchandise. They are currently looking for craft beer and hospitality fans to join their taproom team on both a full- and part-time basis, so email them today! And look to their social media (Tw, FB, IG) Sunday for the fun as they join with the crew from Horton Ridge for a collaborative brew day, with all Maritime-grown malt and hops, to be released in time for the Craft Beer Farmers Market in Annapolis Royal, which opens for the season May 13th. We’ll have lots more details on the Market, and the beer, next month.

• As yet another school year starts to wind to an end, it’s the perfect time for some news from Windsor’s Schoolhouse Brewing. First, Schoolhouse is the latest brewery to bring in mobile canning company Craft Coast Canning to fill 5 pallets worth of cans with their Principal Ale. You’ll see these in NSLC locations across the province by the end of the month with a pre-release event scheduled at the brewery for this coming Tuesday, April 24th. Brewer Leigh Davison has also been working on some tweaks to a couple of beers, with both Skratch Plaskett and Vice Principal IPA getting recipe re-works. The Skratch Plaskett now features organic Horton Ridge Wheat and Pilsner malts and is heavily hopped with Galena and New Zealand Summer hops; you’ll be able to try the new formulation of this “slightly hazy, subtly fruity, refreshing and easy drinking ‘Festival Ale'” in early May. And already on the market, and quickly becoming the brewery’s best seller, the latest batch of Vice Principal IPA has twice the hops of previous batches, with a heavy dose of Simcoe leading the way and Amarillo also in the mix yielding a piney and juicy hop character with “just the right amount” of bitterness. At 5.6% ABV it comes in a bit higher than previous batches, no longer fitting the Session IPA label. Regardless of classification, if it sounds like the kind of IPA you like to drink we recommend looking for it at the brewery.

• Last year, British Columbia’s Central City Brewing celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday by releasing Across the Nation, a variety of collaboration beers brewed with all ten provinces and two territories, each represented by one of their local breweries. Released as a 12-pack, it was extremely popular and the beers sold out quickly, and as a result, they’ve – luckily for us! – decided to do it all again for 2018! With this year’s 12-pack (which will be in 355 mL cans this time around) scheduled to be released in May, let’s get into what our regional breweries who were selected to participate have brewed up!

• New Brunswick (TrailWay) – Keeping true to form, the TrailWay folks brewed up something pale and hoppy with Central City, an American IPA named Three Beasts. The name refers to three of TW’s favourite hops to brew with, Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy, all of which were used in copious amounts. As with most of their beers, expect one with low bitterness, yet plenty of tropical fruit in the aroma and taste. And don’t worry if you’re anxious to try this one and don’t get to purchase a 12-pack… TW has assured us they will be brewing the same beer on their own system in the future, to be released sometime in June.

• Newfoundland (YellowBelly) – Brewmaster Liam McKenna of YellowBelly made the long trip West to Central City, and brewed up Me Ol’ Trout, a Cream Ale. Partially based on a previous collaboration McKenna had brewed with Australia’s Top Shed Brewery, this version is a new take on the style, with plenty of Mosaic hops used to keep you excited. At 4.8% ABV, 18 IBU, the Newfoundland-brewed release is currently available at the brewery and Takeaway shop, and in 1 litre bottles at select NLCs.

• Nova Scotia (2 Crows) – Jeremy Taylor travelled to Central City to brew Coast 2 Coast, an “Ancient Grain Rustic Saison”. Borrowing off an idea from one of his earliest small batch beers at 2 Crows, Sunny Days – a Brett Saison brewed with sunflower seeds – Jeremy concocted the recipe, taking a grist that included Flaked Rye and Spelt, and added a pretty-healthy percentage of malted sunflower seeds. It wasn’t long before everyone involved regretted that decision, however, as we can now confirm that sunflower seeds are a b**** to brew with. Let’s just leave it at that, emotions are still too high to get into details. Regardless, the resulting wort was fermented with Wallonian Farmhouse II (from The Yeast Bay), with Sacch Trois being pitched at roughly 60% attenuation as well. The goal is a 6.6% ABV beer with an “earthy, restrained ester profile, and a touch of rustic fruitiness”.

• PEI (Upstreet) – Moving from hops to Belgian to Lager, Upstreet certainly didn’t go with what most people think of when they hear the “L” word, with their collaboration, Singing Sands, being entirely different. Described as a “Salted Caramel Lager”, a high amount of Medium Crystal malt was used in the mash, with brown sugar and lactose added to the beer to up the sweetness even further. But they didn’t stop there! Salt, vanilla, and Cholaca (a pure liquid cacao) were also added, post-fermentation, giving you an idea of the flavours and aromas you can expect to experience with this beer. Upstreet plans on brewing their own batch of Singing Sands for a mid-May, draft-only release in Charlottetown.

If you’re wondering when and where all the Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week events will be, look for a separate post on those this coming week. Until then, here’s what’s happening in the next few days:

• This Sunday, April 22nd, is Earth Day, and Picaroons is celebrating with the release of likely their most popular seasonal, Dooryard. Rather than just making this 4.5% ABV American Wheat Ale available to the masses, however, they’re holding a special Launch Party that involves more than just drinking beer. Starting at 11 am, you’ll be taking part in Clean Up Fredericton, where you’re encouraged to pick up trash around the city, before returning to the Picaroons Roundhouse for lunch. Then, at 2 pm, there’ll be plenty of live music thanks to the Flourish Festival, which will continue until the Roundhouse closes up shop for the day at 6 pm. Of course, beer will be available throughout the day, and Monks & Jonesie Gastro Truck will be on hand if you get hungry again. Your entry fee is by donation.

We are mid-way through April, which means the first signs of life are being spotted on our local hop farms. These ambitious little sprouts will grow to more than 6 metres in height, and produce enough cones to make any beer a little hoppier (and happier). Plenty to tell you about today, so let’s go!

• It seems like it’s been a while since Stillwell Brewing has had any of their tasty, tasty new releases, but fear not! Their latest beer, Glou, will be available for purchase this weekend. A blend of barrel-aged Saison and a sour, foedre-aged beer (both of which were originally brewed in May of 2017), Glou then had New York muscat grape skins from Blomidon Estate added, to the whopping tune of 200 g/L. The final 6.3% ABV beer is being described as “hugely aromatic, floral, woodsy and bright, with a great acidity and tannic structure”. Sounds great to us! Bottles of Glou (along with Dang, and maybe even another brand or two!) can be purchased at the rear entrance behind 2015 Gottingen St. from 12 – 3 PM both tomorrow and Sunday; if you can’t wait till then (we get it!), drop by Stillwell (the beer bar) today if you’d like, where you can try Glou on-site. And keep it locked here for more info on another new release, plus fan faves, in the coming weeks.

• Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewing has a new beer available this weekend, a collaboration with local kombucha producer Pop Culture. Starting with the malt bill of a Wheat Ale, Brightwood used the Scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from Pop Culture to start the process of souring. After this first wave of fermentation was complete, the beer was boiled, with grapefruit and Palisade hops added during that process, and fermentation completed with a clean yeast. A further addition of Palisade during a dry-hopping step complements and increases the grapefruit character from the citrus fruit. The resulting RadBucha is available at their Alderney Farmers’ Market stall tomorrow, and will be part of the “Evolution” Tap Takeover at Battery Park Thursday (more details below).

• Fredericton’s Coastliner Cider will soon be releasing their fourth cider, Full Steam Ahead. This entry definitely takes your typical cider in a completely new direction, thanks to the addition of coffee beans roasted by local Whitney Coffee Company. Quite drinkable at 5.4% ABV, this semi-dry cider has notes of coffee in the aroma and flavour, but still retains its complementary cider character. It will be officially released this Saturday for the Saint John Beer Fest, and will follow shortly thereafter in kegs at select accounts on Monday. If you can’t make it out to try it, fear not – it will eventually be packaged in bottles, hopefully sometime in the not-too-distant future.

• The folks at Tidehouse continue to come up with new beer ideas, with their latest brew, Grisette Jungle, available on tap now. Brewed with Horton Ridge Pale and Wheat malt, the wort was bittered to ~30 IBUs with Warrior, with some Belma also being throw in at the end of the boil for a touch of fruit character. Fermented with a blend of Belgian and French Saison yeasts, it comes in at just 4.3% ABV and pours a light-straw colour with a bit of haziness. Coming across as “floral, fruity, with a nice grainy note and a little spicy zing”, you can find it at the Tidehouse taproom for growlers and small pours; look for it to pop up on tap at Stillwell in the near future.

• Over at Good Robot, you can soon expect the return of last year’s Falstaff, an American Pale Ale, next Thursday. Just-about-sessionable (always a debatable subject!) at 4.4% ABV, this one was brewed with plenty of Pilsner malt, and a bit of Red X, Rye, and Flaked Barley throwing in for good measure. It was dry-hopped with Azacca and Jarrylo to add some notes of tropical fruit, and at 30-35 IBUs, should have a moderately-bitter finish. And for this week’s Beta Brew, they bring us the winning entry in their successful FemmeBrew, an all-female homebrew competition. I Love My Dog was brewed by Drella Green-Simony, and is a “Liquorice Stout” that features a grist of Pilsner, Belgian 2-row, and Black malt. It was hopped in the boil with Willamette to the tune of ~50 IBUs, with star anise thrown in the kettle as well, giving it a mild but present liquorice character. You’ll be able to grab this 5.1% ABV Stout on tap at GR next Tuesday.

• Looks like Spindrift Brewing has a new entry in their Seventh Wave series on tap right now at the brewery. White Whale Wheat Pale Ale is a light-and-hazy brew hopped with Hallertau Blanc, a wonderful hop variety that lends “citrus overtones of grapefruit and lemongrass” in this particular beer. With a smooth mouthfeel thanks to the generous addition of Wheat in the grist, this is an easy-drinking, 4.5% ABV beer that blends perfectly with the slowly-but-surely-getting-better weather out there. Limited amounts only, of course, so grab a growler before it’s gone!

TrailWay Brewing in Fredericton is dropping another juicy and hazy Double IPA at their taproom today, All is Well. Featuring some super-fresh Amarillo hops, along with Idaho 7, it all comes together for a blast of tropical and orange notes, in an 8.0% ABV package. This release is only available at the brewery, enjoyed at their bar or in cans to go.

PEI Brewing Company has released a pair of new beers in their After Hours series, just in time for last evening’s launch event. Earlier in the week they released Mango Smoothie IPA, a 6.5% ABV featuring loads of vanilla fruit puree for a hazy and lovely bright orange appearance. The hops used complement the fruit character as well. And yesterday saw the release of Raspberry Sour, a 5.0% Sour Wheat Ale (using the kettle sour technique) with raspberries added. Both beers are still available at the brewery, but won’t be around forever, given the nature of the styles, and batch size.

• When you drop by Port Rexton’s Retail Shop on Torbay Road today, you’ll be greeted by a brand new beer in the fridge. Though the beer started out with the same malt bill as their Chasing Sun NEIPA, through a series of “weird and wonderful events” (we can only imagine!) on brewday, it didn’t end up that way! Enter DiscomHOPulated, still in the New England IPA style, weighing in at 6.0% ABV, generously dry-hopped with Amarillo, El Dorado, Mandarina Bavaria, and Mosaic, and still just as delicious as its original direction. The beer is available at the Shop for growler fills only, joined by Baycation Blonde for growler fills, with cans of T-Rex Porter and Blazing Sun also available to go, today 4 – 8 PM and tomorrow 12 – 6 PM.

• Rothesay’s Long Bay Brewery is releasing Amplified Kölsch in celebration of Record Store Day on April 21st. Using authentic yeast imported from a brewpub in Cologne, this 5.0% ABV beer features a malt bill of primarily Pilsner, for a bright yellow appearance. The bitterness of the beer is quite light, at less than 20 IBUs, but features a large whirlpool addition of Mandarina Bavaria after the boil was finished, in order to extract some lovely citrus aromatics. Teaming up with Backstreet Records, there will be live music by Christina Martin in store at 2PM, plus t-shirts of the beer logo available for purchase. You can also drop by the brewery to get your fix, and keep an eye out at local ANBL locations as well. Turn it up to 11!

Here’s what we’ll be trying to squeeze into our calendars in the next week or two:

• As we mentioned last week, if you’re in the environs of Lower Sackville tomorrow, give a thought to heading down to Freeman’s to celebrate Sackvegas’ own nanobrewery, Ol’ Biddy’s. Eight of Keith Forbes’ brews will be on tap, including the much loved Sackvegas Sour. Look for the rest of the taplist to be posted on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram); the event starts at 10 AM and runs until close. Come celebrate the belated grand opening of Ol’ Biddy’s and show your support for Freeman’s, who continue to show their dedication to local beer on tap!

• Dartmouth’s Battery Park will be hosting a “small batch brewery” takeover next Thursday, April 19, from 11:30 AM until close. Dubbed “Evolution Part II”, it follows on from last year’s event, which was the last opportunity to try Sober Island and Schoolhouse before their respective evolutions out of the small batch market space. This year the taps will be populated by Halifax’s Tidehouse, Yarmouth’s Heritage, and Dartmouth’s Brightwood, who are the brewery undergoing an expansion this year. You’ll find the Facebook event page here, which will no doubt be updated with tap info as the day approaches. Head on down and remind yourself that great beer can be brewed on any size system.

• Also taking place April 19 is the first event of the #weekendofbeer in St John’s, courtesy of the folks behind the St John’s BrewFest. Featuring local favourite Port Rexton Brewing going head to head against Come From Aways 2 Crows, the taps at the Sundance SunDeck Bar will be flowing with 14 great AtlCan beers. Kicking off at 6:30 PM, a $5 cover charge gets you in the door, and started on your way to a great evening. The full taplist is available on the FB Event page, and we can tell you that both breweries are bringing their A-game, with at least one brand new release debuting, and plenty of new-to-the-region beers available. To keep you going round after round, there will be live music and food available as well.

• Friday evening (April 20th) tickets are still available for the St John’s BrewFest at Club One. In addition to the slew of great beer being brought to the Island (updated beer list here), there will be a strong showing from Newfoundland breweries, including Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Split Rock, Storm, Western Newfoundland, with Scudrunner on site with their merchandise for sale. Grab your tickets today to avoid missing out!

• Good news, New Brunswick (especially those of you in the Moncton area)! If you’re still sore over missing the Mikkeller takeover at Halifax’s Stillwell last January, the people behind the Tide & Boar have the perfect “analgesic” for you. Yes, Denmark’s most famous brewery will be pouring six of their delicious creations at a Mikkeller Tap Takeover at T&B Saturday, April 28th, from open till close (or the beers run out!). If you’re lucky enough to be able to attend, expect to see the following on tap: Jackie Brown, Citra IPA, Mosaic IPA, Black, Monk’s Brew, and Green Gold. But that’s not all – several other beers will be available in bottles, including Spontanbeetroot, Spontanlingonberry, Spontanyuzu (all three of which are funky, sour offerings), and their French Oak barrel-aged Barleywine, Foret Limousine. There’s no charge to attend, just make sure you’re there bright and early when they open at 11 AM, if you want to “Maximize Your Mikkeller” (™ pending)!

And a couple more little bits before we let you get on with your Friday:

– We have it on fairly good authority that Niche Brewing’s extremely popular Orange Creamsicle Milkshake IPA will be back early next week. Look for it to appear at the James Joyce for sure and, as other craft beer pubs savvy up, there too!
– The Gose of Christmas Past that Big Spruce brewed up with Hamilton’s Merit Brewing back in December is just now being seen in the wild. A gose brewed with Indian coriander and French Sea Salt before being aged in Tequila Barrels, look for it to appear at the Sprucetique and at tap accounts around the province this week. And keep your eyes out over the next couple weeks for some other big releases from Jeremy and the gang!