Sea Level Brewing

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Here we are on another Friday and November is coming to an end. We’ve got a big bunch of news from Newfoundland this week, but don’t worry, the rest of the Atlantic Provinces are also well-represented. And we’re somewhat on time this week after last week’s debacle. Huzzah!

There was some big and rather unfortunate news in the regional beer scene this week as it was announced in a joint statement by PEI’s departments of Workforce & Advanced Learning and Economic Development that Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) has entered receivership by order of the Supreme Court of the Province. DME has fitted out some 1,600 breweries in 70 countries over the past number of years, including quite a few in Atlantic Canada. Though we don’t know any names for sure, it is almost certain that there were brewhouses in development whose futures are in question based on having orders in with the company, and it stands to reason that some of those would be in our region. DME has manufacturing facilities in Charlottetown as well as Abbotsford, BC, and South Carolina under the Newlands banner that in total employ over 300 people. There has been speculation that the merger with Newlands had a part to play in this reversal of fortune, however financial details of that transaction are unknown. It has been reported by the CBC that efforts are being made to complete in-progress orders, that the provincial Government is becoming involved in efforts to prevent the demise of the firm, and that the receiver, Alvarez & Marsal intends to attempt to find a buyer. We very much hope that strategy pans out and we can report in the coming weeks and months that DME is back up and running with all of its employees back at work. It is, however, a sobering reminder that even in a booming industry like craft beer, things can go wrong in a hurry.

In a decidedly happier note, brewing and selling beer in Newfoundland will soon be a little bit less expensive, thanks to some changes being implemented by the provincial government January 1, 2019. The remission paid to the NLC (akin to the RSMA charged in Nova Scotia) is currently the highest in the country, sitting at more than $1.50 per litre, three times the next closest provincial rate. The local producers are currently eligible for a 33% reduction on the first 1 million litres, down to roughly $1.10 per litre. The new levels will see an improvement to 50% discount in the remission rate for beer sold at their own facility (taproom or retail), and 40% discount at retail stores (NLC and corner stores), bringing the levels to $0.85 and $1.00 per litre, respectively, for the first 1 million litres annually (roughly 8200 BBL, or much more than the craft breweries are currently producing). The reduced levels are still the highest in Canada, but are at least closer to the rest of the country. Local distilleries, ciderhouses, and wineries will also see further reduced rates in the new year. This will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced fees annually that the breweries will be able to reinvest in their equipment, labour, and infrastructure, in order to better serve the local beer drinking community. These changes are in no small part to the hard work of the Newfoundland & Labrador Craft Brewers Association, formed earlier this year, lobbying lawmakers in the province. And for future/amateur brewers, the introduction of U-Vint/U-Brew at the local homebrew shops is now legal with relaxation of that prohibition. The province has also promised a full review of the positive economic impact the craft alcohol producers are having in the province, and have set a November 2019 timeline for that release. With a dozen independent breweries and cideries now operating in the province, and two or three more set to open before January 1st, things are certainly looking up for the Newfoundland Beer Scene! Check out the full details of the reduction in the press release above.

Speaking of Newfoundland breweries, let’s give you a tease on one of the handful that are opening very soon. Like, very, very soon! Landwash Brewery is located in Mount Pearl, and will be opening their beautiful taproom at 181 Commonwealth Drive next week. We’ve got a full Profile with them lined up for early next week, but in the meantime, you can hear co-owner Chris Conway speaking with VOCM about the positive changes to the remission rate, as well as hints of their starting lineup of beers. Their Brackish Gose, One Wave Blonde, Hazures’ Rock Breakfast Stout, and That Much Ocean NEIPA will be available to enjoy by the pint and flight onsite, to go in cans and growler fills, next Thursday from 4 PM.

On the other side of the Island, you’ll find Bootleg Brew Co in Corner Brook. They’ve released a brand new beer this week, in the relatively new “Milkshake” style. Juice Arse is a 5.0% Milkshake Pale Ale, featuring loads of Amarillo and Simcoe hops, fermented with Foggy London Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs (a favourite of hazy IPAs), with small additions of lactose (milk sugar) and vanilla bean, to complete the Milkshake experience. As with all of their beers, the best place to grab a sample, pint, or growler is at their 92 Main Street location, but keep an eye on their social media (FB/IG/Tw)to see where their beers are being tapped across the province.

After launching last week with kegs at local restaurants and breweries, Crooked Feeder in Cormack, NL, has begun selling growlers. Located at 351 Veterans Dr, about 15 minutes North of Deer Lake, the brewery is only open a few afternoons each week, so it’s best to contact the brewery to ensure they are open (FB/IG/Tw). Visitors will be rewarded with one (or more) of the six beers brewed on their system: Bunker “C” Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (7.1% ABV, 35 IBU), Big Falls Pale Ale (5.6% ABV, 37 IBU), Bonne Bay Blonde (4.9% ABV, 21 IBU), Western Brook Wheat (5.4% ABV, 44 IBU), Spillway IPA (6.4% ABV, 66 IBU), and Rideout Red (5.3% ABV, 22 IBU).

Heading back across the Island to St John’s, where YellowBelly Brewery has released their annual Mummer’s Brew. The 2018 edition is a light-coloured Winter Warmer lager, featuring two special Canadian ingredients: the malt is an Albertan heirloom Barley named Olli, and features the brand new Sasquatch hop, which started as a wild varietal North of Vancouver, and now grown in BC, ON, and QC, under license by Hops Connect. The 6.8% ABV beer features some soft berry character from the malt, with citrus, melon, floral and earthy hop character (to the tune of 30 IBU). The beer is now available at the brewery for pints and growler fills at the Take Away Shop, and in 1 litre bottles at several NLCs in the area. Grab yours today before donning your costume and braving the weather!

In other Sasquatch news, Fredericton’s TrailWay is releasing their own beer featuring this Canadian variety. Sam-Squamptche (enjoy ordering that one at the bar!) is an American IPA that has been hopped entirely with Sasquatch, which we’ve already told you about just above us! TrailWay’s beer comes in at 6.5% ABV, and they’re describing the flavour profile as “uniquely citrus, with an underlying sweetness reminiscent of butterscotch or honey, resulting in an overall juicy character”… definitely sounds a bit different than your typical hop variety. This beer has a light body, to help the drinker focus on the hops. As always with TW’s Friday releases, you can grab it at the brewery immediately upon opening today (growlers, pints and cans), with a few nearby bars and restaurants tapping it likely over the weekend.

After the Antigonish Townhouse changed hands earlier in the year, the future of their on-site brews was up in the air. We are thrilled to note that those have continued, with a steady supply of Terry’s Bitter supplying their taps, but there’s always room for more! Owners Caitlin and Ryan Shimozawa have tapped her father, David Macfarlane, to take over the brewing duties. The latest new beer from their onsite 50 litre brewhouse is available on tap now. Caitlin’s IPA is a 5.0% ABV malt-forward English IPA, brewed using Fuggles and Goldings hops, with three hop additions during the boil. The carbonation level is on the lower side, and coupled with pouring from a stout faucet with Nitrogen, the beer is quite quaffable and perfect for a session in the pub. No word how long this batch of Caitlin will last, but good news that there is another batch fermenting now, and will return to the Townhouse in December.

There’s another beverage pouring over at Meander River, and it ain’t beer! It ain’t cider either, if that was what you were thinking. It’s Perry, and a “true” Perry at that… that is, it was made entirely with pears (many Perry producers blend pear juice with a certain quantity of apple juice). Featuring of blend of Annapolis Valley pears, Perry Noel is a drinkable 5% ABV, and the brewery describes it as “sparkly and delicate”. It’s available in 500 mL bottles starting today at the brewery, at this weekend’s BOTTLED Wine and Spirits Festival in Truro, and soon at Little Oak in Halifax; 750 mL bottles will also be appearing at Bishop’s Cellar in the near future, and they’ll even have kegs pouring on one of the guest taps at Chainyard! If you can get to Meander River itself, try to do so, as they’re currently running a campaign where $1 from every growler fill will go to fighting Period Poverty in Nova Scotia (by purchasing menstrual products for local food banks).

Let’s travel back to Halifax, where Tidehouse has two beers they want us to tell you about this week, one new, and one returning favourite… and both of them named in homage to songs. The new one is Oh! My Darlin’ Lemon Thyme, a Saison brewed with Pilsner, Oats, Dextrin, Wheat, Vienna, and Acid malt. Hopped minimally with Saaz, it was fermented with a Saison strain, with thyme and lemon peel added as fermentation was winding down. The thyme comes through first in the aroma, with the lemon making itself more apparent the more you sip. Very dry in the finish, and 6.4% ABV; this one is available on tap only, at the Tidehouse tasting room, by the flight, pint, or growler. And returning is their NEIPA, Cryo Me A River, hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe, and Ekuanot hops (of the cryo form, naturally). Pretty much all of the hops were added late in the boil and in the dry-hop, so expect low bitterness to go with all of that “tropical fruit and papaya/berry, followed by a pinch of pine”. On tap, of course, but it’s also been bottled for the first time, so you can grab some of those to take home with you as well.

Our friends at Niche in Hanwell, NB, are back again this week with another new beer. After last week’s release of a sour, they’re returning to their other wheelhouse this week with a hoppier offering. A NE IPA featuring nothing but Australian hops, Aussie Aussie Aussie is packed with three different varieties, namely Vic Secret, and Enigma, which they’ve used liberally before, and Topaz which is a new one in the Niche brewhouse. Very juicy and boasting plenty of tropical fruit flavors, it has the requisite low bitterness and easy drinking nature fans of the style have come to expect. Coming in at a quaffable 6% ABV, you’ll find it at The Joyce Pub and King Street Ale House in Fredericton, and at Peppers Pub and Cask & Kettle Irish Gastropub in Saint John, with more accounts to follow soon. Fans of Niche in Halifax will also be happy to hear there are kegs on the way to Stillwell and Hopyard as well. Oi Oi Oi!!

Back in Halifax, Boxing Rock’s Test Kitchen on Agricola Street (in the Local Source Market) has a new release hitting the taps today. Banana Hopsicle is a hybrid beer, bringing together the traditional German Hefeweizen style with the modern Session IPA. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Rob North of Great North Aleworks in Manchester, New Hampshire. North grew up in Halifax before moving south, and had another career before brewing took over his life, first as a highly lauded homebrewer, and now as owner of Great North. The beer features loads of late- and dry-hopping additions of Ekuanot and Huell Melon, fruity hops to complement the banana and clove from the Weiss yeast. And while you’re getting your fills of Banana Hopsicle, check to see if they have any of their Hell Bat, the Imperial Licorice Stout brewed with Battery Park left. It won’t be around much longer! Don’t forget your orange growler!

Maybee Brewing dropped a new beer shortly after noon yesterday, Brut IPA. As you probably guessed, this is the brewery’s take on the Brut IPA style (which continues to gain momentum, based on how many breweries in Atlantic Canada have brewed it the past few months!). It was hopped very minimally in the bittering addition (20 IBUs), with most of the American and European hop varieties being added late in the boil and in the dry-hop. Fermented with a neutral yeast strain, enzymes were added to the brew to bring out the dryness even more, with the final product showing off a long-lasting head, aromas of “bright tropical fruit, herbal/grassy notes, some spice and a hint of floral, white wine and honeydew melon”. With a thin body and high carbonation, it has lots of tropical fruit on the palate, with a very dry finish. It weighs in at 6% ABV, and will be available on tap only – you can find it at Maybee, various tap accounts in the province, and at the ANBL growler stations next Thursday, December 6th.

Down in Yarmouth, Heritage Brewing is pouring a brand new IPA to join their other 11 offerings currently pouring on tap. Norseman is a NEIPA “with a twist”, as it was fermented with a Norwegian yeast strain… specifically, the Voss Kveik strain from Escarpment Labs. These Kveik strains can be fermented at very warm (ok, downright hot compared to what you usually see with fermentation) temperatures. The grain bill for Norseman is made up simply of 2-row, Wheat malt, and Oats, and it was hopped with El Dorado, Amarillo, and Mosaic (all of which was added either in the whirlpool or dry-hop additions, keeping the bitterness low). Lots of fruity flavours and aromas with this one, so why not pop into the brewery’s taproom to give it (and the other beers!) a taste? And hey, they’re also filling growlers now, so they’ve got that going for them, too!

Since Good Robot opened several years ago, they have been consistently adding Clarex to every batch, an enzyme that reduces gluten to levels below 20 ppm (the international threshold for brewing considered “gluten free”). For next Tuesday’s Beta Brew, however, they’ve gone all the way and brewed a “completely gluten-free beer”, First Draught. By using sorghum syrup, buckwheat, and rice, they’ve produced a light beer (4.3% ABV) that still has plenty of hop presence, thanks to the additions of Citra, Cascade and Simcoe (to 37 IBUs). It should be noted, for those of you who are extremely sensitive to gluten, that this beer was brewed on the brewery’s pilot system, which has most-assuredly had glutenous products in its realm throughout its life! In Alpha news, next Thursday welcomes the return of Infinite Saturday, their Vienna Lager (5% ABV). Oh, and we should also mention that they’ve added seating in their upstairs space, meaning it may be a bit easier to actually have a seat in one of Halifax’s hottest taprooms from now on!

Last weekend the 6th annual Big Spruce HomeBrew Challenge wrapped up with the judging and announcement of winners. This year’s competition revolved around styles featuring wheat, namely German Weißbier and Belgian Witbier. The top three beers in each category were named and then an overall top three was selected from those six. This year’s big winner is a name you’ve seen in this blog on several occasions, as he’s brewed beers with Tidehouse and on Spindrift’s pilot system, and, in a “boy is that ever on the nose,” moment, he goes by the brewing moniker “Lil Wheatey.” Yes, Ian Wheatley took first place overall for his hefeweizen (1st place weißbier) and third overall for his witbier (2nd place witbier). George Arnott’s wit (1st place witbier) came in second overall. Additional category nods went to Devin Delaney in 3rd place for wit, Mark McKay in 2nd for weißbier, and David Pepper (2016’s overall winner) in 3rd place in weißbier. A big congratulations to all those who placed and a big thanks to Big Spruce for continuing to support the homebrewing community; look for Ian’s winning hefeweizen to debut at this year’s 10th Annual Eat. Drink. Local. Fest on January 10, 2019 (tickets are already on sale).

And in other Big Spruce news, just like last year, Jeremy is looking to load up the Sprucemobile and play Santa Claus, delivering beer to folks in Cape Breton and the HRM. Big Spruce Holiday Home Delivery will take place on December 15th (that’s a Saturday), but you’ll have to put an order in. Minimum order is 1 case of cans (24) or bottles (12) and, with mixing allowed, that gives you plenty of options. You can also add all manner of Big Spruce swag to that order, including their house-made edibles. Check the Facebook post for details on which beers and other items are available and be sure to get your order in soon.

After celebrating 11 years in business on the weekend, Port Williams Nova Scotia’s Sea Level Brewing has announced that they have broken ground on a brand new brewery, which will be located in Sheffield Mills (about ten minutes-drive away from their current location). Together with local farms, they are forming Millstone Harvest Brewhouse, to create Nova Scotia’s first “Estate Brewery”. Well on their way already, the new facility is slated to open in the spring. They’ll be brewing with their own farm-grown hops and malting barley, and the new location will house a tasting room and retail store. Fear not, the current location in Port Williams will still be operating as usual during this transition, and will remain open as a pilot brewery/retail location after the new brewery opens. The expansion will also allow the brewery to start selling their canned beers in the NSLC, greatly increasing their availability to other areas of the province. And for a sneak peek of the great beers to come, keep an eye out for their High Street Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, using some of the same malt and hops that will be gracing their new releases in the spring.

Details are being kept secret right now, but we did want to mention that those of you living in Miramichi, NB, who have been wondering when exactly the craft beer scene was going to improve in your area, have no need to wonder any longer! Timber Ship Brewing, a 1 bbl (120 L) brewery, should be opening in the area in the near future. They’re realistically aiming for early 2019, and will be producing a variety of beers for sale in kegs to local establishments. We’ll have more information, including a standalone post, for you very soon. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page to follow along with their progress.

This week’s shamefully late message about a new release come from Tatamagouche Brewing who are releasing a Bourbon Barrel-aged version of their Russian Imperial Stout. Built on their base RIS recipe with a little extra chocolate wheat added, the beer was then racked into barrels from two different distilleries. Bottles and pints are available already at the brewery, with kegs going out next week.

A few things to remind you about this weekend, plus a tease of what’s coming in January…

After a bit of a tease last week, those crazy folks at 2 Crows are releasing their latest barrel-aged, bottled beer, Mellarium, tomorrow at noon. No, really, we guarantee*. We’re not about to do them the huge favour of typing out all the info on the beer again (or even cutting and pasting for that matter, we don’t get paid for this, you know!), but here’s a link to last week, where you can check it out there! Buttered Bliss will also be on site from 2-7pm, serving up some delightful fried chicken sandwiches.

*Not a guarantee

Propeller Brewing is kicking off a month of “Black Casks” at their Gottingen Street tasting room, with the first hitting the bartop tomorrow at 3 PM. The first is their Russian Imperial Stout, cask-conditioned and served via gravity, rather than carbonated after the fact/on draught (though they will have this version as well, so we encourage you to get both and compare!). And they will be celebrating throughout the month of December with more interpretations of their Russian Imperial Stout and Porter, with the following offerings being tapped at the next four Fridays: Dec 7: Russian Imperial Stout with coconut, Dec 14: Porter with orange and chocolate, Dec 21: Russian Imperial Stout with smoked black tea, and a special cask on Dec 28, yet to be announced. Take note that beside tomorrow, all of the casks are tapped during their usual Cask Friday timeslot, at 5 PM. And for those of us who can’t get enough of the good stuff, they are raiding the cellar and releasing the last of their 2017 Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout. First released back in February of this year, the 8.5% ABV beer hung out in Bourbon barrels for a few months, picking up both wood and spirit character, complementing the roast and dark fruit character of the underlying beer. Grab a bottle or two to enjoy yourself, or gift to a special someone. And keep your eyes peeled here for the details on another release in the same vein, coming next week…

If you were perusing Instagram stories a couple of days ago and happened upon the right account, you might have gotten a heads-up that Bar Stillwell is planning another Belgian Celebration to take place (tentatively, we expect) on January 5th, 2019!! Thanks to the ephemeral nature of Instagram stories the details of the beer list are no longer available, but amongst those of us who saw it the general reaction was something along the lines of, “Holy Shit!” and/or “Hellz yes!” We’ll have more details as they are released, but for now, maybe block off that afternoon in your calendar, mmkay?

And here we are at the end of the line for this week, but there are a couple last things to mention before we let you go.

It’s not often that their bottles are available outside of the brewery, so we figured we’d let you know that Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar has received a shipment of goodies from Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery. They are hitting the shelves at opening tomorrow morning (that’s 8 AM, so grab a coffee to stay warm in line). With two versions of their Jelly King fruited sours (Pineapple Tangerine Grapefruit [also available online at 8 AM], and Sour Cherry), as well as Skeleton Key 2018 and Barn Owl #16. For those who want to be the first in the know, subscribe to their Behind the Taps mailing list, which hits your inbox about once a month, and highlights the latest beer arrivals and tastings they are hosting. Edited: Only the Jelly King PTG will be available online, BC has altered the distribution of the other 3 due to availability.

We mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but just a last reminder that the Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 1st in Sydney. Looks like there’s still some general admission tickets remaining; you can purchase those right here.

Those who remember the saga of the Beer Garden on the Halifax Waterfront might be interested to hear that a new tender opportunity has been announced by Develop Nova Scotia. Vendors interested in running a food and beverage operation at Summit Place during the summer months (May 15 – Oct 15) for a three-year period from 2019 to 2021 have been invited to submit their proposals no later than December 19, 2018, with the award expecting to be settled by January 18, 2019. The tender document mentions creativity and innovation, although we note that there’s only 10 points available there, whereas the financial portion (i.e., “How much are you willing to pay for the privilege”) gets 25 points. Color us unsurprised. The tender document can be viewed here. It will certainly be interesting to see whether it will remain with the incumbent Stubborn Goat or whether another interest will submit a successful bid.

Welcome to the first full weekend of fall in Atlantic Canada! As is usual for this time of year, wet-hopped beers brewed after harvest a few weeks ago are starting to appear, we’re seeing continued pumpkin ale encroachment, and Oktoberfest celebrations are going on. Meanwhile, there’s also lots of new releases that have nothing to do with fall, traditionally or otherwise. We note that we’re quite a bit earlier than usual with this week’s post; we suggest you don’t expect to get used to that!

Let’s start this week in Dartmouth with Brightwood Brewery. Now well-ensconced in their new digs on Portland Street, they’ve released a new beer that we think marks them as the only brewery in the region (at least in recent memory) to have released two beers in the California Common style. Described as an homage to surfing in Cow Bay, Minutes takes the healthy body and crisp finish traditional to the style and marries it to some white wine character courtesy of a dry hop with nouveau German hop variety Hallertau Blanc. At 5.5% ABV we suspect it will be an interesting contrast to the traditional European styles like Märzens and Festbiers that are prominent at this time of year. You can find it in the taproom for tasters, pints, and fills. Meanwhile, if you’ve been missing getting your Brightwood fix at the Alderney Market since they started their expansion project, we’ve got some great news for you: they’ll be back this coming Saturday for growler fills in their swank ceramic growlers (or, y’know, your tired and boring brown glass)!

On the other side of the bridges, in the Burnside Industrial Park, Spindrift has a couple things on the go. Of course one of them is the American Pale Ale currently being revealed slowly on social media with a contest, so that one will have to wait a week. The second is a little bit of yin to that one’s yang, an American Lager with 10 IBU and 5% ABV in a light-bodied beer with an “unpronounced bitterness” and a fairly high carbonation level. Made with a moderate percentage of adjuncts, namely rice and wheat, expect it to be very easy drinking, especially when served very cold. Called Toller, it will be available exclusively at Harvest, Rockhead, and West Side, in 8- and 24-packs of 355 mL cans. And after last night’s debut at the Hopyard Halifax takeover, you can start looking for their new DIPA, Hurricane Juan, in stores tomorrow, September 29th, on the 15th anniversary of its namesake storm.

Rothesay’s Long Bay has their first new beer out in some time, and it sounds like a beauty! Full Pleasure is the result of months of experimentation with sour beers; kettle-soured with Lactobacillus to a Baby Bear level of tartness (just right!), the wort was then fermented with the brewery’s house Belgian strain, and given an addition of passion fruit puree. Once complete, they dry-hopped it with two marvelous varieties, Galaxy and Mosaic, before packaging. With lots of fruity hop flavour, complemented by the tartness from the Lacto, it comes in at 5.5% ABV. Look for bottles and growlers to be found at the brewery now, as well as bottles and kegs at select ANBL stores and licensees over the next week.

Lawrencetown’s Lunn’s Mill has a new beer out this weekend that will help you harken back to summer even though fall has definitely arrived. A Berliner Weisse featuring rhubarb and raspberry, the recipe was developed by Lunn’s Mill partner and chef Chantelle Webb. Girl, Hold My Earrings has a pinky-orange color and a sparkling effervescent character to match with a tart Berliner character and sassy fruit presence. At 4.4% ABV and a measly 4 IBU, you’ll no doubt be able to slosh back a few of these before you find yourself entangled in a good old scrap. Only available at the taproom it will make its debut at Lunn’s Mill’s second annual Oktoberfest event this evening starting at 5:00 PM. A cover charge of $10 will get you a stein to drink out of (and take home, if you can manage it) and the chance to enjoy a special food menu and the four bands that will be playing on the patio. More information is available on their Facebook Event Page.

We told you about the hop harvests around the region a few weeks ago and it looks like Shelburne’s Boxing Rock have managed to be the first to bring their 2018 wet hopped offering to market (or at least the first one we heard about). Now in its sixth iteration, Many Hands has always been a collaboration beer between Boxing Rock and North Brewing in Halifax, and this year is no different. Released this past Wednesday, this year’s model is a Pale Ale brewed with organic malt from Horton Ridge Malt House and a pile of fresh hops from Wallace Ridge Hop Farm in Malagash, NS. Look for it to be a smooth and easy drinking ale with a malty base and floral and herbal hop notes. You can find it at the retail store in Shelburne and at Local Source, Harvest Wines and Bishops Cellar in the city, along with Liquid Assets at the Stanfield International Airport.

It’s another week chock-full of new beer and re-releases from Big Spruce, who isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Beginning with the new beer, A Marzen Grace, which is released just in time for Oktoberfest celebrations across the world (have you ever known a country/city/town to refuse the chance to celebrate with beer?). Billed by Big Spruce as “100% classic and traditional”, it was brewed with all German malt, German hops, and German Lager yeast. Conditioned and lagered for a period of time, as the style calls for, it’s malty and crisp, and even at 6% ABV is meant to be consumed in healthy quantities, if you can! As for returning beers, put your drinking caps on, because there’s a few: Fake News!, a 5.6% APA hopped entirely with Idaho 7, and fermented with the Foggy London Ale strain; Tag! You’re It!, a fresh batch of the brewery’s immensely popular 6.5% ABV NEIPA, with a “hugely late” hop addition (we’re going to assume that means a huge addition, late) giving boatloads of tropical fruit character; and, in truly bittersweet fashion, the last run this season for The Silver Tart, easily one of the brewery’s biggest crowd-favourites, a 4% ABV kettle-soured beer conditioned on organic raspberries. It’ll most assuredly be back next year, but maybe stock up before it’s gone for 2018! And finally, cans of Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout are now more easily found, as NSLC stores finally have them in stock; you can even get it in New Brunswick, as select ANBL locations are also carrying the beer.

Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing has a new entry in their Neon Friday series of hoppy beers hitting the taps today. Brut IPA with Hallertau Blanc may have a matter-of-fact name, but it’s no plain-jane beer. Manifesting the new “Champagne” or “Brut” style of low-bitterness and extremely dry (minimal residual sugars) IPAs with high carbonation, this one was hopped with Hallertau Blanc, a modern hop variety known for imparting a white wine character along and notes of grapefruit and lemongrass. It’s 7.0% ABV and a paltry 5 IBU and you can find it on tap starting this afternoon at the Upstreet Taproom and at Craft Beer Corner, both for pints and for growler and crowler fills.

Robie Street in Halifax is home to Good Robot Brewing, which means it’s home to two new beers in the coming week, as per usual. The BetaBrewsday release (as always, scheduled for Tuesday at 4 PM), is called Bittersweet Cocoaphony, an ESB with a little verve in the form of cocoa powder added after fermentation. Formulated and brewed by Andrew Seth and Beta Baroness Kelly Costello, the grist was comprised of 2-row, Cara 30, Cara 120 and CaraAroma, while the hop side was a light dusting of classic UK Fuggles and its American descendant Willamette. Easy drinking at 4.5% ABV, even though it’s not too bitter at 25 IBU, we still suspect it will be extra special.

Meanwhile, from the Alpha system comes a collaboration brew done up just in time for the Halifax Pop Explosion! Lizard Queen was brewed in concert with Garrison and Gahan using flaked wheat, oats and barley along with good ol’ 2-row for a solid ale malt presence with enhanced mouthfeel. Hopped with some very big modern varieties, Simcoe, El Dorado, and an especially large dose of Mosaic, expect it to have a heavy tropical fruit presence and be danker than the air outside the Seahorse. Look for this very sessionable 4.5% ABV and 25 IBU beer to appear next Thursday, October 4th, as the city gets ready for HPX later in the month.

New Brunswick’s Picaroons is joining the Oktoberfest fun with a new beer they’re calling Oom Pah! Pah! Oktoberfest Ale. Amber in color, it’s a crisp ale with a bready character matched with earthy and floral hop notes that were kept on the subtle side no doubt to allow the malt shine. It hit the taps on Tuesday at the Picaroons Roundhouse and the Picaroons Brewtique in Fredericton, on Wednesday it showed up at the Picaroons General Store in Saint John, and look for it starting today at the 5 Kings Restaurant in St. Stephen. You’ll also be able to grab it at all ANBL locations as of tomorrow. We’ll warn you though, although it’s widely available, only one batch was made, so when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Chain Yard Urban Cidery in Halifax has a new and special treat on the go, a plum wine that they made with shiro plums harvested in Nova Scotia. Shiro is a sweet and juicy yellow variety that can often be harvested well before other plums are ready. Plummet saw Chain Yard taking the juice from these plums and doing both wild and Brettanomyces fermentations before dry-hopping the result. A “session” wine, it’s a very light 4.3% ABV with no sulfur dioxide and it’s still fermenting a little bit, which should mean a touch of sweetness is still there to be enjoyed. A very limited run is available by the pint only at the tap room on Agricola Street.

Bootleg Brewing in Corner Brook is displaying their Newfoundland sense of humor again this week with a new beer they’ve dubbed Tits Up. Also displaying their disregard for classic beer styles, they’re calling this one an Imperial Session IPA, which, as oxymoronic as it sounds, makes some sense in context. Extremely light in the body, and without the big bitterness you might expect from an IIPA, it prominently features big tropical fruit aromas. Meanwhile, it also prominently features a leg-wobbling 7.8% ABV. So while it drinks like a session ale, it packs the punch of an imperial. It’s been available on tap since last Friday. Be careful, though, the warning label on this one says, “if you start a day boil with this one you probably will end up Tits Up in da rhubarb.”

You may recall that in fall of 2017 Sober Island Brewing on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia hosted a homebrew contest that focused on locally-foraged ingredients. The winning beer in that competition was called Raspberry Beer, Eh! and it was entered by Andrew Deveaux. Like many homebrew comps, one of the prizes for the winner is the brewing of a commercial batch of the winning beer. Well they finally did that, and the result is available! A Raspberry Wheat Ale using 95% Horton Ridge Malt and local raspberries will be on tap this weekend for crowlers at the Alderney Market and Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers Market. Congratulations again to Andrew on his winning beer!

At Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing, the hops, they’re still a-flowin’, with two hoppy brew releases today. The first is a brand new beer, Almost Nuclear, an American IPA hopped with Mosaic T-45 pellets. Differing from their more commonly seen, less-concentrated T-90 pellets, the T-45s are supposed to give even more hop aroma and flavour. Looks like TrailWay is standing by that, describing the beer as “super fruity and tropical, with a big berry-like aroma”. Weighing in at 6.5% ABV, look for cans and pours of this one at the brewery at opening. The second beer is the latest re-release of Emerald, a 5% ABV New Zealand Pilsner. Fermented with a Czech Lager yeast strain, hopped with Southern Cross and Eureka, it also has an addition of fresh lime zest and lime juice, adding even more lime character to that from the hops. Cans and pints/growlers of this one at the brewery as well, starting today, with cans seeing distribution to ANBL stores next week, as well.

We thought maybe 2 Crows was taking it easy with new beers this week… ha, how foolish we were to let our guards down! Sometimes we suspect maybe they’re just doing this to make us work harder. ANYhoo, of course they have two new beers, so let’s get to it. First up is Dare to Dream, a dark Saison brewed with Vienna malt, Wheat, and a combination of crystal and roasted malts. Dark Belgian Candi sugar was added in the boil, as well as some Sterling and Bramling Cross hops (to 21 IBUs). A combination of spices – including coriander, orange peel, cardamom, lime leaf and black lime – were also added at the very end of the boil; the wort was then fermented at warm temperatures with 2C’s house Saison yeast. The end result is a beer with “dark fruit, prune, and plum notes, a smooth and full body, with moderate roast and a very subtle spice profile”, to go with the classic Saison fruit esters. It comes in at 5.4% ABV and will be available on tap and in cans at the brewery tomorrow, and at bars/restaurants in the HRM.

The other beer from 2C was brewed in collaboration with Kanata, ON’s Small Pony Barrel Works (did you get to have some of their beers at Stillwell in late May? Magnifique!). Thunderdome was brewed with Pilsner, Spelt, Oats, and Aromatic malt, and hopped in the boil with a small amount of aged East Kent Goldings. The wort was soured in stainless with Lactobacillus plantarum, and then transferred to one of 2C’s foedres (over fresh lime leaves on the way, to boot!). At this point, 2C added some of their funky house cultures, along with some house blends from Small Pony (now that’s collaboration!). After fermentation and conditioning in foedre for several months, the beer had an addition of lime leaves, before carbonation and packaging. The beer is tasting “assertively tart, bright, with a fun herbal/lime character and a touch of funk”. There will be cans of this one at 2C tomorrow as well, but the supply is limited to 25 cases, so best get in early and grab stock up on both beers!

Propeller has brought back their Pumpkin Ale (5% ABV) for the season, with this year’s release showing up in cans (473 mL), as well as in bottles (341 mL). With a slightly-tweaked recipe (the same spice blend was used, as well as pumpkin sourced from Howard Dill) to darken the brew slightly, you can still expect a pumpkin-y, spicy beer. Not stopping there, they’re also re-releasing Alpha Dog, a wet-hopped Pale Ale brewed in collaboration with Sea Level. Featuring locally-grown (from Fundy Hops) Galena, Willamette, and Cascade, this one will be draft only, so stop by one of the two Prop shops, or Sea Level if that’s closer to you, to grab a pint and/or growler.

As usual, there’s plenty of beer-related goings-on this weekend and beyond that we think you might be interested in:

If you’re in Halifax tomorrow afternoon and feel like letting your lederhosen down, consider heading down to the Stillwell Biergarten for their first (annual, hopefully) Oktoberfest event. With the turning of the season it may be one of your last chances to get a good outdoor downtown drink on in 2018. The cover charge is $7 paid in advance (available at Stillwell HQ on Barrington or at the Beergarden, weather permitting) or $10 at the door. They’ll have an Oompah band, proper steins to get sloppy with, and a German-inspired menu of snacks from Joe Martini for you to be München on (sorry, not sorry!). The tap list is all Euro-centric beers, with plenty of local entries, both brand new and well-established. Put your peepers on the menü below and plan your attack in advance:

  1. Tatamagouche – Dry-Hopped Lagerhosen (European-style Lager – 4.5% ABV – Tatamagouche, NS)
  2. Spindrift – Killick (Munich Helles – 4.7% ABV – Dartmouth, NS)
  3. Stillwell Brewing – Stilly Pils (Unfiltered Dry Hopped Pilsner – 5% ABV – Halifax, NS)
  4. Dieu Du Ciel! – Sentinelle (Kölsch – 5.2% ABV – Montréal, Quebec)
  5. Propeller – Pilsner (Unfiltered Pilsner – 4.8% ABV – Halifax, NS)
  6. Ritterguts – Urgose Märzen (Märzen-Gose w/ Hallertauer Perle, Taurus, Smoked sea salt, Swiss Stone Pine cones, and Ceylon Cinnamon – 6% ABV – Chemnitz, Germany)
  7. Boxing Rock – Märzen (Festbier – 5.4% ABV – Shelburne, NS)
  8. Big Spruce – A Märzen Grace (see above) (Festbier – 6% ABV – Nyanza, NS)
  9. Uncle Leo’s – Altbier (Altbier – 5.2% ABV – Lyon’s Brook, Nova Scotia)
  10. Revel Cider – Lime Apfelgose (Blended spontaneously fermented cider w/ Sea Salt, Coriander, & Lime – 6.5% ABV – Guelph, Ontario)

If you’re near Moncton and haven’t yet purchased tickets for the fourth annual Atlantic Canadian Craft Brew Fest, you may want to strongly consider grabbing some of the few that are remaining! Happening tomorrow, attendees lucky enough to buy their tickets early had the option of VIP or VVIP, which gets you in earlier, and an industry panel discussion and guided beer tasting, in the case of VVIP. But as mentioned, there are still regular tickets available, with doors opening at 7:30 pm. You’ll have 2.5 hours to sample beer, cider, and mead from over 40 local breweries, with food available for purchase as well. As in the past, proceeds will go to the United Way.

A reminder that the Guided Tasting with Stephen Beaumont is happening this Sunday, September 30th at Stillwell, and there are still a few tickets available for the first session, from 12-2 pm. Tickets are $46 (you can purchase through the event link) and include samples of some rare, world-class beers, all discussed with one of the foremost beer authors around. Beaumont will also have copies of his latest book for sale, which he will happily sign at the event.  

The annual Garrison Oktoberfest is coming up on Saturday, October 6th. The all-day event starts at 11 am at 1149 Marginal Rd with plenty of food from Asado Wood Fired Grill, live Oompah music (starting at 2 pm) and, of course, beer! There will also be a free show later in the day featuring Dave Sampson. Feel free to bring the kids (and dogs!), and drop by to take part in the fun.

We hinted at it last week and this week it was confirmed. Fredericton’s Niche Brewing will be featured in a tap takeover at Stillwell on October 13th! Brewers Shawn Meek (hey, we know that guy!) and Rob Coombs will be on hand and feeling reaaaally social and ready to answer all your questions about their beers, their brewery, and their general philosophies of life. Look for the taplist to be posted as the date approaches along with news on the special menu items that will be coming out of the kitchen that afternoon. They’ve promised some favorites from their first 9 months of operation, some newer releases, and some one-offs brewed specifically for the event. We (well, the Aaron and Chris part of “we”) are pretty excited to finally be able to try some of the beers we’ve only been able to write about since Niche started producing beer. We expect we’re not alone amongst fans of great beer in the HRM in our excitement. Meanwhile, the spoiled folks of New Brunswick will continue to be spoiled by the return of Niche’s Single Origin this week. A coffee-infused milk stout, it’s got the usual lactose addition to provide sweetness, creaminess and mouthfeel to balance the bitterness and dark flavors of the coffee. Look for it to appear on tap over the next week or so at the King Street Alehouse, The Joyce, Graystone, and Isaac’s Way in Fredericton, and Pepper’s Pub in Saint John.

And, finally, a few more quick mentions before you get back to your Friday:

Breton Brewing has their non-Pumpkin (!) seasonal back for fall, Celtic Colours Maple Lager (5.5% ABV); brewed with Acadian maple syrup, it’s available now in the Breton taproom for pints and growlers.

– There’s a new draught-only beer from Garrison this week, Pineapple Express. A Witbier with the addition of pineapple, you can find it at the brewery for pints and growlers, and it should be available on tap around Halifax in the near future.

– Looks like Dooflicker (5.3% ABV), a “Coconut Brown Sour” is pouring again at Roof Hound; drop by soon for pints, growlers, and 500 mL bottles, as supplies won’t last long.

– For those with supplies running low on their supply of lovely mixed-ferm concoctions from Stillwell Brewing, we’re afraid you’re going to have to ration what you’ve got for another week. Due to the Oktoberfest celebration mentioned above, there will be NO bottle sales this weekend on Gottingen Street. To make it up to us, though, they’ve promised a brand new release for next weekend. We’re sure we’ll have the details here next Friday.

– Our friends at Tidehouse have re-brewed their Big Bruiser, a 10% ABV DIPA hopped with cryo versions of Ekuanot and Simcoe. It’s available right now for pours at their taproom, as well as in bottles.

Alright folks, this is the big one! For the first time in several years (since Fredericton in 2014, to be precise), our region is once again the epicentre of the Canadian beer scene for the weekend, as Halifax hosts the Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference. Already kicking off last night, the talks and sessions continue today and tomorrow, with the Awards Gala being held tomorrow night. You have to be in the beerbiz to attend, but you can follow along with the Awards results online during the stream, and we will be sure to keep a live feed of all of the Atlantic Canadian winners. We already flooded you with the new collaborative releases from 2 Crows, North, and Propeller last week, and you’re well served to get to their respective retail locations to pick them up before they are gone. Let’s concentrate on the newest info we have regarding another onslaught of releases hitting the taps and shelves now.

• Let’s kick off the week with the first brewery opening in a few weeks, O’Creek Brewing in Dieppe. Brewing on a 1 BBL system means they end up with about 120 litres of beer per batch, so this is a truly small operation. But being small has its benefits, as owner Patrice Daigle is able to stay nimble and brew a wide variety of beers. The first beer to be available is Route 117 NEIPA. Named after the coastal highway that connects Kouchibouguac and Miramichi, this hoppy and hazy 6.5% ABV brew features loads of Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo hops throughout the brewing and fermenting process. In addition, Daigle is launching with an American Pale Ale and Saison, though details are a bit short on those for now. So, how can you try the O’Creek beers this weekend? Easy! Just drop by their booth at this weekend’s Atlantic Beer Festival, held at the Moncton Coliseum. If you don’t already have your tickets, you are in luck, as they are still available for this evening, as well as Saturday afternoon and evening sessions. Check out O’Creek on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news, and tune in to the blog early next week, as will have a full Profile with them, with more details on their brewing history and ethos, and what other beers you can expect from them in the future (and where to find them). Congratulations!

• We’ve got lots of news from Digby’s Roof Hound Brewery, so let’s get you up to date. First off, the latest in their kettle sour series is now available, Fall From Grace. This 4.3% ABV sour is the first beer to be completely designed and brewed by Roof Hound Assistant Brewer Ben, and features notes of rose water and lychee to match and offset the beer’s acidity. Look for it on tap at the brewery and in HRM now. Also available now is Roof Hound’s collaboration with Guelph’s Escarpment Yeast Labs, SafeWord Pineapple Milkshake IPA, which debuted at yesterday’s event at Battery Park (if you’re lucky, some of these will still be on tap today!). This 6.0% ABV IPA was late- and dry-hopped with a massive amount of Azacca hops for tropical notes on top of the vanilla and lactose added to complete the milkshake vibe. Escarpment’s Foggy London Ale yeast was used to keep the beer with a smooth mouthfeel and hazy as heck. In addition to BP, kegs have been delivered to Stillwell and growlers fills will be available at Harvest Wines.  And finally, owner Les Barr has announced that “The Dog House” is open for the season. This two-bedroom rental property is just a few minutes walk from Roof Hound’s brewery and taproom, and is decorated with the same touches as the brewery itself. Folks can learn more and book their stay on Airbnb. No word if Barr will tuck you in, or bring you a coffee in the morning, but knowing his hospitality, we wouldn’t be surprised! And a bonus for early birds, if you are one of the first to book your stay, there are big savings to be had.

• Let’s talk about another beer that debuted at yesterday’s Escarpment x Battery Park event, from Cape Breton’s Big Spruce Brewing. Brett, Actually is a 7.7% ABV IPA, co-fermented with both Cali Ale yeast and Brettanomyces drei and dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra for a big hop presence. You’ll find this one available for pints and growler fills at the brewery, as well as at tap accounts around the Province. Also out this week from Big Spruce is another mixed fermentation beer they’re calling Lucky Pucker, which was hit with both Old World Saison yeast and Brettanomyces bruxellensis. Conditioned for 6 months in Chardonnay barrels, before being bottled and conditioned in glass for another 4 months, this beer finished up at 6.3% ABV and 12 IBU, making it a strong Berliner Weisse. Tart and fruity, it’s only available in bottles, both at the brewery and at the private stores in Halifax. And that’s not all from Jeremy and Co this week, as they’ve got another one they’re calling Hugs Bunny that was brewed in collaboration with Merit Brewing out of Hamilton. It seems Merit and Big Spruce like to make Gose, this is a similar beer to the Gose of Christmas Past from last month, with Indian Coriander and sea salt and landing at 3.8% ABV. In lieu of a barrel treatment, though, hugs bunny got a big ol’ dry hop with Citra for a lemon and citrus aroma. Look for it to appear at the Sprucetique and possibly a few tap accounts as well.

• Even with all of those delightful-sounding collaboration beers released by North Brewing yesterday (which we addressed in detail in last week’s post), they still went ahead and launched another new beer for the Victoria Day long weekend. It’s close to being sold out already, but we’d like to share the info anyway, in case you’re lucky enough to find some! Lawrencetown Surf Session Ale was brewed with Pilsner malt and Malted Oats, and dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe Cryo hops. With lots of citrus throughout, the beer is quite refreshing and definitely lives up to its “sessionable” description, coming in at just 4% ABV. Hopefully there’s still a few cans left at the brewery, and it’ll likely still be available on tap at accounts in Halifax.

Tanner & Co in Chester Basin has a pair of new beers available just in time for the weekend, so start planning your visit now. The first is Sauvage Gose, their take on the sour and lightly salty style originally from Goslar, Germany. After a round of kettle souring to impart some acidity, the beer was fermented with Scotia Sauvage yeast, which was originally isolated from a Pin cherry on the Big Spruce farm and propagated up by Escarpment Labs. Featuring lots of tart citrus and notes of tropical fruit, there is only one keg of this beer available, on tap at the brewery for growler fills. The second release is Dampfbier, a German Steam Beer. While this beer was one of their first at launch in the fall, this release is the first on their larger system. As per the style, this beer is brewed with all malted barley, and with a Weissbier yeast, usually used in Hefeweizens, the iconic German wheat beer. The result is a beer featuring pleasant clove and banana characters from the yeast with a nice malt finish. As with the Gose, the best place to grab a taste of Dampfbier is at the brewery, so drop by this weekend!

• In Sydney, Breton Brewing has their first kettle sour available. Sour Sessions with Guava & Passionfruit is the first in a series of sour, low ABV, summer beers that they’ll be releasing over the coming months under the Sour Sessions banner. This edition comes in at 3.2% ABV and 5 IBU and is flavored, as you probably guessed, using additions of passion fruit and guava. Tart and thirst quenching, you’ll find it at the brewery for pints and growler fills this weekend.

• Do you remember when Garrison Brewing teamed up with Ontario’s Sawdust City Brewing, to brew a special collaboration beer? We didn’t either; there’s just too much going on! [Fortunately the internets never forgets – Ed.] But good news, the beer is ready and it’s being launched this week. Leroy, an Imperial Brown Ale brewed with Sawdust City, was initially released last fall to celebrate Halifax being named this year’s CBA host venue. Some of that beer was saved and aged in bourbon barrels for a year, giving us Bourbon Barrel-Aged Leroy Imperial Brown. A bit of salted caramel was added to the barrels as well, with the final product coming out as a massive (11.5% ABV), deceptively-smooth Brown Ale with aromas and flavours of “bourbon, salted caramel, molasses bread, and milk chocolate.” Available now in limited quantities at Garrison, in 650 mL bottles. And tomorrow, Jalapeno Ale is returning. Remember Jalapeno Ale? It’s back. In can form! At 5% ABV, it’s brewed with a mix of spicy jalapenos, habaneros, Scotch bonnets, and Jamaican hot peppers. Hope you like spicy!

Spindrift continues to remain busy, with another boatload of new beers hitting taps this week. Their one-off Seventh Wave series gives us two entries alone, so let’s get started there. The two beers are an experiment in compare-and-contrast, with America and England going toe-to-toe: Old Salt ESB (5.5% ABV, 35 IBUs) is a light-bodied Extra Special Bitter hopped with East Kent Golding and Experimental Hop #02720, giving the beer a “smooth, malty fruitiness and a sharp hop kick”, while Shoulder Parrot APA (5.1% ABV, 35 IBUs) represents the U.S., and was hopped with Saaz and Falconer’s Flight, for a “rich, pineapple-like fruit palate”. Try both and see which country you’d prefer to emigrate to!

• Moving out of the Seventh Wave series, Spindrift has a new regular that dropped this week, their first Radler. Named Wheelhouse, it’s a beer with a blend of citrus fruit juice, including grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine. Back-sweetened with Stevia to give “a perception of sweetness, without a big, cloying body”, there’s plenty of citrus character in the aroma and flavour; and at just 4% ABV and 8 IBUs, it goes down easy, which all Radlers should! This one is going to be available in 473 mL cans in all Atlantic provinces through the summer.

• Fredericton’s Niche Brewing continues to display the depth of their recipe file with another couple of new ones out this week in addition to the Cool Kid 2 Crows collaboration on tap in Halifax. First up is a summer crusher, called Margarita Gose, a take on a traditional German Gose, but with a Nichean twist (not to be confused with a Nietzschean twist that might lead you to question the existence of beer). Starting with a base beer of wheat and Pilsner that was kettle soured and to which traditional fresh cracked coriander and sea salt were added, a light hopping with Amarillo was also applied. Post-fermentation the beer was conditioned on lime rind ribbons yielding a tart and refreshing beer with an overall lemony-citrus character, notes of lime, and some savoriness from the coriander and sea salt. At only 3.5% ABV you can get away with having a few and still keep your washer toss/cornhole game strong.

• Also available this week is Fiscally Irresponsible, another Milkshake IPA, but this one taken in a different direction than the Orange Creamsicle IPA from earlier this year. Starting with a similar grist, with wheat malt and malted oats contributing body and mouthfeel, lactose powder was added for the sweetness the style is known for, and it was hopped with lots of Galaxy, Citra, and Vic Secret at the end of the boil. Rather than fermenting with an American or English yeast strain as is de rigueur for the style, Shawn and Rob opted to go funky and use the Amalgamation blend of six Brettanomyces strains. From there, the beer was dry hopped with more of the same hop varieties used in the kettle before it was conditioned on Madagascar vanilla beans (hence the beer name; have you seen the price of vanilla right now?!) and passion fruit purée. The result is a beer with “quite a bit going on.” Dominated by passion fruit, there are notes of mango, papaya and subtle vanilla. A low-medium bitterness balances with the slight sweetness and it goes down easy despite 6.2% ABV. It’s scheduled to be tapped at Stillwell HQ this weekend, but tap accounts in New Brunswick will also see it next week. And folks in Halifax who don’t feel they see enough Niche beer should keep their eyes open, as it is known that kegs of Innerstate, Receding Darkness, Pineapple Persuasion, and You Had Me At… Ekuanot are known to be in the queue at Stillwell properties (the Pineapple Persuasion is scheduled to go on tap at the Beer Garden this weekend if the weather holds).

• As if there isn’t enough to do this weekend in Halifax, NOW you’ve got to also set aside time to drop by Stillwell Brewing to get in on their two latest bottle releases. Sorry!* To be fair, they do sound delicious, as usual. The first one is Preach (5.5% ABV), which is a blend of a Saison fermented in a wine barrel, with a foedre-fermented, sour Farmhouse Ale that was re-fermented in oak barrels with 220 g/L of fresh, Nova Scotia peaches. Both of these base beers are currently over a year old, and were already tasting well-developed before blending. Now, however, there’s “oak and wine character, fresh peach skin aromatics, minty, herbal notes, and a wonderfully quenching acidity”, thanks to the blending and additional bottle conditioning time. Sounds great to us! Some of the 716 bottles will be available to drink on-site at both Stillwell locations, and some are going to Copper & Theory in British Columbia for Farmhouse Fest. The rest will be available for purchase by anyone in Halifax tomorrow (Saturday) at the brewery, from noon-3 pm. *notsorry

• Next up from Stillwell Brewing is Disco. Originally aged in a single red wine barrel until the tartness and balance of this tart Farmhouse Ale was in Baby Bear territory (read: just right!), a “modest” amount of equal parts dark sweet cherry and raspberry purée were added into the barrel to kick off fermentation again, and age for another couple of months. The 5.7% ABV beer was then bottled and allowed to condition several more months, resulting in a “well-integrated and balanced Farmhouse fruit beer that is neither cherry nor raspberry, but something where the sum is greater than its parts”. Some bottles going to Stillwell(s) for sale on-site, and the rest for sale tomorrow from 12-3 with Preach. And hey, they’ll also be selling some more bottles of Gosh 2.0! And if you’re a fan of Stilly Pils, they’ve just released their latest batch, and they claim it’s hoppier and meringuier (more-merignuey?) than ever! Look for that one at Stillwell and the beer garden, on tap only.

Fredericton’s Bogtrotter has their first new beer out in a while, Maroon Patch. A 5% ABV American Pale Ale, it was named after the 5th Canadian Division, recognized by the maroon patch worn on the sleeve of soldiers. The beer was hopped exclusively with Denali, a fairly new American variety that is sometimes known as Nuggetzilla (!). The description for Denali mentions characteristics of “pineapple, citrus, and pine”, with spicy notes coming through as well. Look for this one on tap around Fredericton, and in bottles at select ANBL stores.

• Breweries from three different counties in NS have teamed up for a collaboration beer, as a way to indicate their appreciation for the overall open, collaborative nature of the beer community, and to “celebrate craft brewing expertise” in the area. Trider’s, Lunn’s Mill, and Saltbox have created Tridal Bay, a 6.5% ABV Belgian IPA that was heavily hopped with Columbus for bittering, and Saaz and Triskel for the flavour and aroma. With a grist containing some Wheat and Aromatic malt, Belgian Candi sugar was also added in the boil to help dry the beer out. Fermented with a Belgian yeast strain, the beer came out extremely dry in the finish, while “retaining that Belgian fruitiness and citrus, heavy hop bitterness”. All three breweries are pouring the beer at their taprooms, and a few local bars may receive some kegs as well.

Today, Upstreet is releasing the next beer in their Flipside series, California Lager. Brewed in the style of a California Common, it was hopped with Polaris and Northern Brewer to 35 IBUs. Described by the brewery as “toasty, with hints of nuttiness, caramel, and chocolate without the sweetness”, and with “earthy, herbal aromas”, this 5% ABV medium-bodied brew will be available on tap and in bottles at Upstreet today, and will follow at Craft Beer Corner and PEILCC stores sometime next week.

If you managed to get your hands on one of the Red Racer Across the Nation 2018 Collaboration Mixed Packs put out by Surrey, BC’s Central City Brewing, you might have noticed that the the PEI representation was a brew done with Upstreet called Singing Sands, a salted caramel lager. In order to make sure folks in their home province got a decent chance to try it, Mike and Matt decided to do up a small batch at home. A “light dessert beer,” it weighs in at just 5.5% ABV and a slight 15 IBU, perfect for sipping after a meal. Rich with caramel flavors accentuated by aromas of honey and vanilla, a hint of salt provides balance. Look for this one at the brewery for sure, but possibly at tap accounts as well.

Moncton’s Bore City is shipping out kegs of their latest beer, one that they’ve been carefully watching and patiently waiting for several months. Saison LBC was brewed in late 2017 and was conditioning on fresh cranberries for some time. Brettanomyces was added, along with some lemon zest, at a later date, to kick off a second fermentation. Now that it’s finally ready, the aroma has notes of “lemon and light funk”, with flavours of citrus and tarness from the cranberries, and a light mouthfeel and dry finish. Look for this 6.3% ABV, 30 IBUs beer on tap at the Laundromat and Les Brumes du Coude very soon; it’ll also be pouring at the Atlantic Beer Festival this Saturday, during the afternoon session.

And as is usually the case, Halifax’s Good Robot has a bit of news for us this week as well. The release for Beta Brewsday this week is an as-yet unnamed beer put together by Alpha Dawg Doug Kehoe during Good Robot’s Dive Bar event with Afishionado Fish Mongers. It’s a Gose with Oyster Shells added to the boil that weighs in at 5% ABV and with negligible IBUs. You’ll find it on tap this Tuesday, May 29th as per usual for the Beta releases. Meanwhile, in big batch news, DeWolfe of Wall Street, the 6.4% ABV and 29 IBU fruity and hoppy American Pale Ale is making its return to the taps this week as well.

A few final mentions before we leave you to your weekend, and let you get out for a beer:

Sea Level Brewing in Port Williams has brought back their Apple Blossom Ale just in time for the Annapolis Valley’s annual Apple Blossom Festival. Brewed with Pilsner malt and infused with apples, it’s an ideal beer for the season!

– Up in St. John’s YellowBelly Brewing has a new beer on tap they’re calling Maritime Bitter. Hey, you’d be bitter too if you got snow in May! This is a single malt pale ale, it’s 5% ABV and runs to about 60 IBU with an intense berry character. Look for it on tap at the brewery now, with bottles coming next week.

– And don’t forget that Stillwell (both HQ and the Beergarden) is hosting Grand National this weekend, with beers from all across the country pouring, in celebration of the CBAs. Keep an eye on their social media for the latest taplist. If you’re not sure if the Beergarden is open due to weather, check this link for the latest info.

– And drop by The Auction House after 3PM for the PEI Tap Takeover, featuring beers from all five Island breweries. If there’s enough beer, it will last through Saturday as well!