Happy Friday, beer lovers! November is quickly winding down, and the stores are getting busier every day; when Christmas gets closer, stress levels tend to rise, and there’s plenty of ways to help relieve that stress. We like to recommend three easy methods to remedy that stress… sit back, open a good beer, and read about beer! You can’t deny that it’s a hell of a lot better than Black Friday shopping! Unfortunately, we have to start off this week’s reading with some sad news…
• Charlo River, New Brunswick’s Shiretown has confirmed that they will be closing their doors at the end of this month, with owner Derek Leslie breaking the news in a Facebook post a few days ago. Shiretown first opened in nearby Dalhousie in 2011, becoming one of the province’s first small commercial breweries. Originally a 1 bbl (120 L) brewery, Shiretown closed down in the summer of 2015, before re-opening a year later with a larger 2 bbl (240 L) brewhouse. Bottles of their beers have been in ANBL stores for some time now, and no doubt there will be some remaining for several weeks for fans of the brewery to pick up. We wish all the best to Derek and the rest of the Shiretown team in the future.
• Today, North will be releasing Reverb, the latest in their Finite Series of one-off beers. This latest brew is a 5.9% ABV, 13 IBUs wine-barrel aged American Wheat Ale; aged in the barrels for 2 months, before undergoing bottle conditioning, the beer has tasting notes of “lemon, grapefruit, peach, light funk and a refreshing effervescence”, according to the brewery. There’s a very limited number of 750 mL bottles available – just 292 – so make sure to drop by either of the North bottle shops to pick up yours, before they’re gone. And while there, note that their Darmouth Dark – a 4.5% ABV Dark Lager – has returned, and is available for growler fills and can purchases.
• If you’re in the Mahone Bay area this weekend, you might as well keep your eyes open for a returning Saltbox brew, and a new iteration on one of their other beers. For the returning brew, their seasonal Balsam Blue is back… billed as a “Specialty Lager”, it’s a celebration of Lunenburg County being labelled as the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree capital of the world (we’re going to take them on their word for that one!). That’s right, real balsam tips were added to this 6.3% ABV beer, along with pureed blueberries, giving it a purplish hue and lots of Balsam on the nose. As for the new take on a previous beer, they’ve taken their Old Foundry stout and aged it in a Bourbon barrel. The result is a higher ABV (7.9% ABV vs. 6.3%), an flavors of bourbon and oak to go along with the roasted, coffee characteristics already in the beer.
• After a hugely successful first-bottle release of Four, their fourth Anniversary beer, last Sunday, Stillwell Brewing is releasing their second beer-in-bottles this weekend… and it sounds equally as delicious! Sport is a “Tart Farmhouse Ale” brewed with sea salt and lime zest. Brewed this past spring, it was moved to oak barrels and matured for several months, before being bottled in early July. At 4.7% ABV it’s very easy-drinking, but still has complex aromas and flavors of “zippy, spicy hops, lime, and barrel notes of coconut and vanilla”. You’ll be able to buy it at Stillwell for on-site consumption starting tomorrow, and then you can hop on down to the brewery on Sunday to buy some bottles to take home. They’re open 12-4 pm, and please keep in mind a limited amount of 30 cases are available, and all of Four sold out before closing last week.
• Up on the Bay of Fundy, Lawrencetown’s Lunn’s Mill has a new beer called Tribute, a tropical session IPA. Featuring two ultra fruity hops in Northern Hemisphere orange bomb Citra and Southern Hemisphere tropical delight Galaxy it’s got a “lively bitterness” and “zingy mouthfeel” coming in at a very quaffable 5.1% ABV but a hefty 73 IBU. It’s on tap at the brewery now for pints and growler fills, and kegs have already gone to Dartmouth’s Battery Park and Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing, although only time will tell when the beer will be tapped at those locations.
• Over to TrailWay, who will be releasing another new beer today at noon, Dank Williams. Named after Travis Tritt, this is – as you may have guessed from the name, and a few of their previous releases – a hop bomb, featuring a selection of some of their favorite dank hops, as well as some that are also in the fruity and spicy zone of the wheel. Columbus, Enigma, and Summit are the focus here, with all three varieties coming together in a perfectly-hoppy 6% ABV package, an American IPA with “a ton of complexity and character”, according to the brewery. Available at the brewery in cans and growlers, alongside the return of their Red IPA, Good Aura, which is back for the season (currently in cans only).
• Down in Antigonish, Half Cocked Brewing has a new beer, this one an IPA called Bury’d Son. Sitting at 6.4% ABV and 50 IBU, it’s got a light golden color and a fruity citrus aroma. American Azacca and Australian Ella hops were used for first wort hops and early kettle additions, while Topaz, Citra and more Azacca and Ella were added late, giving the beer a sharp, even bitterness and a delicate hop aroma. The latest batch of Horton Ridge 2-row malt served as the base of the grist. This is a limited edition brew, not likely to be made again, so if it sounds like something you’d like, head down to the brewery and get yourself a fill.
• The Beta Brews just don’t stop over at Good Robot, with yet another new one being released next Tuesday (and note that Beta Brews can now be filled up in the 0.89 L growler), Chicka Cherry Kölsch. Brewed by Kelly and Georgie, it has a simple grist of Pilsner malt and a bit of Vienna, and was hopped lightly to 19 IBUs with Tettnang. Fermented with a Kölsch yeast, cherry juice was added in secondary, resulting in a clean-tasting beer with a “tart black cherry flavour”. Pretty sessionable at 4.9% ABV.
• It appears that YellowBelly has no intentions of slowing down in the one-off beer department, as there’s yet another new one newly on tap at the brewpub this week. I’se da’ Rye is a Rye Pale Ale brewed with Pale malt, Rye malt, Rye flakes, and CaraVienne. Bittered with Cluster and El Dorado 40-45 IBUs, it was then dry-hopped with more El Dorado, as well as some Citra. Coming in at 5.5% ABV, expect notes of “candy, watermelon, pear, lychee, and red berry, with a bitter finish”, according to YB. You can pick it up in growlers and pints at the brewpub, and bottles should be for sale early next week.
• Holy Whale Brewing in Alma, New Brunswick got some wonderful news recently, as they were notified that were successful in their bid for a grant to open a café in a customized shipping container along the Petitcodiac River in Riverview, NB. Competing against four other plans from local businesses, they were selected on the basis of the business concept, plans for the future and business experience. The funding comes from a grant provided by the provincial government to the municipality to help commemorate Canada’s 150th Birthday. Although licensing and permitting is expected to take some time, they’re hoping to be operational as early as late January, serving a full lineup of Buddha Bear coffee, a local-based menu and Holy Whale beer from a take-out window facing the boardwalk. And for those folks who can’t wait that long for their Holy Whale fix, we can report that HW is now licensed to sell growlers and crowlers from their brewery and taproom, at the Eastern entrance to Fundy National Park, and that should mean kegs will be making their way to licensees in the province soon.
• Amherst’s Trider’s Craft Beer recently took a previous 10 gallon pilot brew and scaled it up to a full-sized batch. Featuring a grist of largely pale ale malt, with some crystal to give it color and 10% Canadian Rye for spiciness, Commander Rye-Ker Imperial Rye IPA was heavily hopped with Amarillo at a rate of 2 lbs or so every 15 minutes through a 75-minute boil. Three quarters of the way through fermentation even more Amarillo was added as a dry hop. Clean American ale yeast ensured a neutral yeast character to show off the malt and, especially, the hops. Although it’s pushing the 8% ABV mark and sporting a hefty estimated IBU range of 80-100, it’s a sneaky one that’s likely to creep up on you. It’s available at the brewery for fills for sure, but given that it’s a full-size batch you might reasonably expect it to show up at tap accounts and who knows, possibly other packaging formats.
• Teensy-tiny Tidehouse in downtown Hal-town has another new beer for us this week, this time a Hopfenweisse called Cloud Shadow. Coming in at a very sessionable 4.6% ABV, it’s based on a grist of half wheat male and half pale malt. Fruity and citrusy Mandarina Bavaria hops from Germany were paired with earthy, floral and also citrusy Ahtanum hops from the USA to provide notes of mandarin orange and a lemony, tart finish. You’ll find it at the Tiny Tasty Beverage Room on Salter Street for fills and 4oz pours. And stay tuned for news of Tidehouse’s 1st Birthday Celebration coming up in December!
• Garrison in Halifax is looking for everyone to pucker up this week, releasing two new draught-only sours. First is Holy Gose, a thirst-quenching brew with light fruit flavors of apple, peach and orange zest paired with a light saltiness typical of the style. Built on a base of Pilsner and wheat malts, and eschewing hops entirely, additions of orange zest and sea salt finished this brew. It weighs in at a fairly light 5.4% ABV. And joining it on the board is La Menta, a beer brewed with mint (“menta” is Spanish for “mint”) provided by local home brewer and beer judge Tim Fletcher. Similar in concept to the Saison Froide made by brewmaster Daniel Girard a few years ago, the mint provides a “cooling” character intended to be refreshing. Using the same grist as the the Holy Gose, there’s no hops in this one either, but the aforementioned mint along with apple and lime juices provide flavour notes to pair with the acidity of this 5.2% ABV sour. As mentioned, these are draught-only releases that you can find now at the brewery or by times at Garrison tap accounts. If you’re super duper keen, you can specifically seek it out using their website’s On Tap feature.
• Bridgewater’s FirkinStein Brewing has a pair of new/returning beer that you will want to check out this weekend, plus a heads up on one coming next week. Returning from a summer off, Set Sail Pale Ale is back in the rotation. At 6.0% ABV, this light-bodied beer receives a heavy dose of hops, but very little in the kettle. The resultant beer has tons of citrus aroma and hop flavour, but very low bitterness. A brand new debut is a pepper beer, Hot as Firk (which is what you’ll be exclaiming after you drink a pint of it, we imagine!). Featuring multiple peppers, including Thai Bird’s Eye, Cayenne, and the infamous Carolina Reaper, this beer is a must-try for chili-heads. No waiver needed to sign before you try it, but best to have one of their other beers nearby in case you need some relief. HaF is only available at their King Street location. And keep an eye out for their as-of-yet-unnamed Black IPA, debuting next week. Weighing in at 7.0% ABV, it features lots of hops, with Cascase, Chinook, and Simcoe coming through with citrus and pine notes, melding with the light roast character of the dark roasted malts. Keep an eye on their social media for the release date!
• 2 Crows Brewing in Halifax, who recently released a delightful little number known as Amateur Hour that you should totally drink, released another new beer from their pilot system on Tuesday of this week. The brainchild of their tasting room’s Graeme, it’s his take on the Dutch Bokbier (differentiated from a German Bock by the use of ale yeast instead of lager yeast) but with a twist. Leveraging hearty Munich as a base malt, to which was added Pilsner, Caravienne, along with small amounts of Wheat and Flaked Oats and some Chocolate malt for color, this beer was hopped with Magnum for bittering and Sterling later in the boil. But the real twist is the use of 2 Crows’ house strain of Brettanomyces for the fermentation, which is likely to balance what would otherwise be a fairly prominent maltiness. If you’re lucky enough to try it, look for notes of toffee, caramel and plum complementing a residual sweetness and finished by the Brett. It’s a hefty 8.2% ABV and 35 IBU. Proost!
• In Yarmouth, Heritage brewing has a new beer available as of last night. Freezing Spray is an IPA that packs a solid hop flavour and aroma thanks to a blend of Chinook, Citra and Equanot hops. At 6.5% ABV and 60 IBU this is right in the sweet spot for IPAs. And we’re told the batch is already half sold, so you best be moving quickly if you want a taste. Available at the brewery as well as select tap accounts in the region, including the Good Robot taproom as of last night.
• After going on hiatus for the summer, Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing has brought back their popular Seventh Wave Series this week. Smaller batches, brewed on their 50l pilot system, give the brew crew a chance at testing out new recipes that may make it onto the big system, try out new ingredients, or just play around with ideas they have. We’re not sure which category the latest brew falls into, but this week’s release is Altbier, an ale from Germany, traditionally known for their lagers, that tends to undergo a long conditioning (lagering) period after primary fermentation. Copper in colour, and usually well-hopped, details are light on Spindrift’s release. That means you’ll have to go and try it for yourself! With the small volume available, we expect Altbier to sell out before they close at 6pm today.
• Our favourite beer podcast buds at 902 BrewCast are celebrating their First Anniversary today, with the release of their November tasting episode. They threw caution to wind and decided to embark on a Garrison Ol’ Fogburner Barleywine vertical. Joined by our very own acbbchris, and fellow frequent shout-out receivers Damian and Duncan, the six drank all years of OFB from 2009-2016 (except for 2014, as there was no release that year). The discussion also turned to how the beer scene has changed since 2009 (and even since 902BC launched in 2016), favourite beers, trends to expect in the future, and everything in between. Tune in, and let them know if you agree if Barleywine Is Life.
Lots of events on the go this weekend, including two brewery anniversary parties!
• We’ll keep it brief since we mentioned it last week, but it bears repeating: tickets for the next Fredericton Craft Beer Festival went on sale today at 11 am. If you forgot to get VIP tickets, you’re likely already out of luck, but remember there’s two sessions (afternoon and evening), and lots of fun to be had! Grab your tickets here.
• In Port Williams, The Port Pub and Sea Level are celebrating their 10th Anniversary tomorrow, November 25th, with a party and new beer release! Kicking off at 10AM with Ice Carving Demonstrations, food and beer discounts, music all day and night, and hourly giveaways from 5PM until close, it will be one heck of a good time! And kicking it up a notch will be the release of The Devils Backbone, the first barrel-aged beer from Sea Level (from our memory). This 8.5% ABV Baltic Porter was fermented in a pair of Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels for nine months, before conditioning and packaging. Available on tap at the Port and in bottles at the brewery to take away, this limited edition beer is sure to be a special gift for the beer lover who has *almost* everything (hint hint blog wives). Congratulations Sea Level and Port Pub!
• Foghorn is celebrating one year in business with their Fog the Parade 1st Anniversary Party tomorrow. The party will be held all day, and includes open mic from 3-6 pm (sing a song and they buy you a beer!); live music not-sung-by-you; beer snacks, cake, and other treats; and, of course, lots of beer! In addition, with every pint or growler purchase during the day, you can enter a contest to win 52 growler vouchers for 2018!
• Sober Island is celebrating their line of Foraged Beers with a joint event this Sunday. The judging has already been done, but the winners will be announced for their Foraged Homebrew Competition. Featuring entries from across the province (and even an entry flown in from Calgary), the top beers will be celebrated (and maybe even poured), at the Henley House in Sheet Harbour, from 1PM. Joining the finalists will be their Chanterelle Mild Ale (now in short supply, so if you were hoping to try it, time is running out), and the debut of their Juniper IPA. At 7.0% ABV and 58 IBU, the beer features local whole leaf hops from Wicked Hops in Stewiacke, to the tune of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Magnum. But the star of the beer may be the Juniper berries, with 1.5 kg macerated and added late in the boil, with another kilogram added during conditioning. All of the beers will be available in “Foraged Flights”, along with a small menu of foraged food items. After its debut, keep an eye out for cans and kegs of Juniper across the province.
• Big Spruce will be taking over the taps at Battery Park December 7th, featuring more than 15 different beers, with plenty of food and cheer to go around. The taplist has not yet been released (but should be added to this event as it is), but we’re sure there will be a good mix of new and cellared beers, and maybe even a new release or two. And prepare yourself, as Bis Spruce is offering a delivery service for those fans unable to make it up to Nyanza to grab their wares. Scheduled to hit HRM December 16th, flats of cans can be ordered in advance, with any combination of Kitchen Party Pale Ale, Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout, Tim’s Dirty American IPA, Bitter Get’er India Black IPA, Tag! You’re It! NEIPA, and One Hundred – Cape Breton Wild Ale. A minimum of one flat is required, and it is attractivel priced at only $98.40 (all in). Bottles of two of their barrel-aged brews are also up for grabs, Ra Ra Rasputin Whisky Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, and Complexified Bourbon Barrel Aged Baltic Porter (both $16 all in). Get your orders in before the 15th to avoid disappointment! Keep an eye out on this page for any updates.
And before you go…
– Picaroons has released PIVOT #9 (8% ABV), the latest in their Imperial IPA series, with this one showcasing Zythos, as well as “some home-grown Moose Mountain hops”. Available in bottles and on tap, also note that their long-running Yippee IPA is now available in cans, for the first time.
– Propeller fans will be ecstatic to hear that their big, dark, and tasty Russian Imperial Stout (8% ABV, 60 IBUs) is back; you can find it pretty much all bottle stores in Halifax, at the brewery, and on tap.
– Fredericton’s Sunset Heights Meadery has some of their holiday meads arriving at ANBL stores, with Queen’s Nectar, Scuttlebutt, Latifah, Punky Pie, and Cinfully Yours – a chocolate cinnamon mead – making the list. Some of these are in quite-limited supply, so be sure to check with your nearby ANBL to make sure they have some in stock.