Stillwell Beer Bar

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Wow, what a #NSCraftBeerWeek so far! Aaron and Chris had a blast competing in the Stillwell Open last Sunday and hosting Craft Beer Trivia on Wednesday night at Timber Lounge, and everyone is getting excited for this weekend’s conclusion, the Full House Craft Beer Fest in Halifax, which will see beer from 30+ breweries from across the province! Here’s your latest news on what to keep an eye open for this weekend in Nova Scotia, and across our region:

• Starting off the Nova Scotia new beers, uh, news, North Brewing released a couple earlier this week. Midnight, their Glenora barrel-aged Belgian Strong Dark Ale (aged with Brett Q, a Brettanomyces strain isolated from a barrel-aged sour beer from Quebec), was re-released yesterday in 650 mL bottles. This 10.5% ABV monster has notes of dark chocolate, tart cherry, stone fruit, oak, vanilla, and whisky, and is one of those beauties you know will benefit from picking up an extra or two for aging; it’s available at both bottle shops. And last Sunday saw the release of Betroth Ale, a Braggot (think beer and mead mixture) created for North employee Brad’s wedding. Brewed with honey, heather, and yarrow, this was North’s Stillwell Open entry last weekend. Weighing in at 5.4% ABV and 9 IBUs, it’s available in bottles and for growler fills at both locations.

• Another debut at Sunday’s well-attended event was from Breton Brewing. They teamed up with homebrew collective extraordinaire Brathair Brewing to put together the winner in the Amber category, Seven Years, a New England Amber Ale hopped to the gills to produce notes of juicy tropical fruit, citrus and pine. Although more heavily hopped than Breton’s flagship Black Angus IPA, it’s less bitter, at only 25 IBU. And at 5.2% ABV it’s fairly sessionable, with slightly sweet flavours and soft mouthfeel contrasting with the hops to give an overall gentle impression that suggests, “maybe I’ll have another one of those…” This one won’t be canned, but it will be available in kegs and growlers from the brewery, and likely for growler fills in the HRM at some point. You’ll also see it appear at various tap accounts throughout the city as well.

• Also claiming a win at the Stillwell Open, this time in the pale category, was the collaboration between Annapolis Valley upstarts Lunn’s Mill and South Shore stalwarts Boxing Rock, April, May and Juniper, a saison style ale. This brew features juniper berries, a primary component in gin, with an aromatic profile that marries nicely with the classic French Saison yeast used for fermentation. This 6% ABV beauty sold out awfully quickly at the Open, but is available in bottles at the private liquor stores in HRM, and for growler fills at Boxing Rock’s Seaport Market and Alderney Farmer’s Market stalls (both formats are available at the brewery in Shelburne, natch).

• Let’s continue on with Schoolhouse, who will be releasing their latest beer, Staffroom Stout, at this weekend’s Full House Craft Beer Fest. Brewed with 40 L of cold-brewed coffee from local roasters T.A.N. Coffee, the brewery describes it as a “rich and smooth Oatmeal Stout, full-bodied with a mild coffee bitterness”. Quite drinkable at 5.5% ABV, it should also be available starting today at the brewery’s taproom (open 3:20-8 pm today, 11-8 Saturday and Sunday) for samples and growlers, and in bottles. Schoolhouse will also be re-releasing their previous collaboration with Good Robot, Scratch Plaskett – Electric Tambourine Wheat Ale, next Wednesday, also in bottles and on tap. And hopefully joined by their patio shortly thereafter! And be sure to drop by their booth at the Full House event Friday and/or Saturday, as they will be making a big announcement to their loyal fans!

• Debuting late last week, and pouring at this weekend’s Fest, is a brand new offering from Smiths Cove’s Lazy Bear Brewing. Brier Rose is a 4.5% fruit beer, featuring rose hips harvested from Brier Island. The malt bill uses a combination of Pale and Munich malts (totaling 85%) from Horton Ridge, and the beer was fermented European Ale yeast. The combination of fruit and malt come together for a vibrant hue to enjoy while sipping the beer. If you’re not able to catch the Full House, it will also be available at their booth at the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Winter Market Saturday morning.

• Reminding us that it’s not always about beer, Annapolis Cider Company has released the latest in their Something Different series. Earl Blue is a blend of cool-fermented dry cider made from local apple varieties (including Golden Russet and McIntosh), along with juice from NS-grown wild blueberries, and freshly-pressed apples. Not stopping there, the blend was cold-steeped with Earl Grey tea leaves (a black tea flavoured with the addition of oil of bergamot), “to add tannins and structure”, according to Annapolis. The result is a sparkling, “blush-hued cider with aromatic notes of citrus and earthy, wild blueberries that finishes with a hint of bitterness from the tea”. Coming in at 6.8% ABV, it’s available now at the cidery. The recipient of the $0.50 from each refill will be the Wolfville School Playground Fundraiser.

• One of the grand-daddies of Nova Scotia craft beer, Propeller Brewing in Halifax, announced yesterday the hiring of a new Head Brewer. Cameron Crerar is a native of Tasmania, Australia, where he cut his teeth as an Assistant Brewer with Moo Brew . From there, he travelled halfway (or more!) around the world to take a spot as Brewer with Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in the hamlet of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. The Propeller gig is Cameron’s first as a Head Brewer and he brings with him from his previous positions a combination of creativity and large-scale brewing experience. Look for him to continue the 20-year tradition begun by Propeller President John Allen while bringing new ideas and interesting limited edition beers to the taps. We suspect Cameron might be somewhat recognizable by an accent…if you run into him, consider buying him a beer and asking about his celebrity beer story that features Justin Timberlake.

• On Robie Street, Good Robot is bringing a new beer out this week that’s geared for the hot summer weather (which we’re assuming will happen; at some point; eventually). Koji Kondo named for the man who composed many of Ninendo’s classic video game themes, is a “Sake Beer” containing a preponderance of rice, with only a small portion of barley (2-row and Pilsner) in the mash. It’s also a single hop beer, leveraging the divisive Japanese variety Sorachi Ace for bittering and flavor/aroma in the kettle, as well as whirlpool and dry hop additions. And if that wasn’t Faaaar East Coast enough for you, the yeast used to ferment this beer is the same used to ferment sake, Japanese rice wine. We don’t suggest you drink this beer warm though. At 5.2% it’s fairly sessionable, and it’s certainly not a bitter bomb at a paltry 9 IBUs. What it is likely to be is an exceptionally crisp, dry, fruity and light, possibly non-beer-like beer that might be just the thing for a sweltering summer day on the Gastroturf.

• If you’ve been worried about a lack of three-brew release and double tap takeover weeks from 2 Crows, you can rest easy. Jeremy and the gang are still up to all kinds of no good, starting with the release of In Theory, the kettle-soured, Brett-fermented, dry-hopped (with Dr. Rudi) 5.8% ABV beer brewed with the crew from 902 BrewCast. This pilot batch will only be available for on-site enjoyment, and at this weekend’s Full House, and not much of it, so be sure to drop by today. But good news, the guys dropped by earlier this week to brew a full batch of In Theory, which will be available in wider distribution next month. And if you drop by soon enough, you may be able to grab a pint of Nervous Waters before it kicks, a 6.6% Belgian Dubbel released during last weekend’s Open Brewery Day. Also look for a couple of small canning runs of two of their seasonal beers, the Fantacity (note pronunciation) Witbier and the Midnight Mood porter. You’ll find these on the shelves in the fridge at the brewery as long as supplies last.

• During your drive/walk/toktok to 2 Crows, listen to the latest podcast of theirs to drop, featuring Peter Burbridge, Emily Tipton, and Brian Titus of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, during which they talk about the mandate and goals of the CBANS, NS Craft Beer Week, and plans their respective breweries have for the near future. After getting your fill at 2C, take a turn towards the water and hit Bishop’s Cellar, who the 902BC gang partnered with for the release of a curated 7-pack of beer, including an exclusive run of Cedric the Great Double IPA from Bad Apple Brewhouse.

• In bigger news, however, and news that is shared with both 2 Crows and new kids on the block Stillwell Brewing, the next time you find yourself on Brunswick Street, poke your head in and check out the beautiful wooden vessels now on display in the brewery. These are foeders, big-ass wooden barrels previously used to age spirits. 2 Crows have four, two of which formerly held cognac and two that housed the classic French apple brandy Calvados (for 65 years!). Stillwell Brewing have two, both from cognac. And you know what folks? These things are going to be filled with beer. And then that beer is going to sit there in those barrels while we wait. And wonder. And wait. And wonder some more. Chances are it’s going to come out even tastier than it was when they put it in. And then that beer is going to be made available for sale and we are going to be a happy, happy beer-loving region. FULL STOP.

• Pivoting away from Nova Scotia now, Fredericton’s TrailWay has released another brand new small-batch beer this week, their second iteration of a Hoppy Sour Ale. El Generico was kettle-soured with a Lactobacillus pitch, and heavily-hopped with Hallertau Blanc, a German variety that has been referred to as the country’s version of Galaxy. Expect notes of grapefruit, passionfruit, and a unique flowery-fruity character from this hop, to go along with the sourness and crispness of the beer. At 3.8% ABV, it’s available right now at the brewery only, in cans and on tap for pints and growler fills. Expect this brew to change constantly for awhile, as the brewers at TW experiment with the hop profile.

• Beer fans in New Brunswick have likely noticed Tatamagouche Brewing beers popping up on tap at various bars and restaurants across the province. If you’ve been upset you haven’t been able to take Tata home with you, good news! The first Tata cans should be appearing in ANBL stores any day now. The brewery’s Kolsch, North Shore Lagered Ale, will be the first brand to hit. While it may be awhile before other Tata beers follow, rest assured it WILL be happening!

• In St. John’s, Mill Street Brewpub has been busy getting some beers ready to go – three offerings hit their retail counter earlier this month, and have been moving to the main draught system ever since. The first was Rowhouse, a lager in the Czech Amber style. It features big aromas of caramel, coffee, and graham crackers in a 5.5% ABV and 12 IBU package. The subtle hop aroma from the noble continental Saaz variety should complement the malt flavours nicely. This one is named for the famous “Jellybean” row houses in downtown St. John’s and might be just the thing to get you through Sprinter.

• Next is the Round Da’ Bay, an American Pale Ale, which will hit the taps earlier this week. This style emerged as a New World adaptation of the classic English Pale and Mill Street’s version has big American hop aromas of Pineapple and Grapefruit thanks to a hefty addition of Mosaic hops. It’s 5.3% ABV and a fairly hefty 50 IBU, with a solid malt bill and some sweetness characteristic of the style; it’s also got a touch of wheat to smooth things out and provide some extra body, perfect for a day of dreaming about camping out “Round Da Bay”.

• And finally, we have the return of an old favourite, RDF Hefe. “RDF” stands for the triumvirate of Newfoundland weather, “Rain, Drizzle and Fog.” It’s 5.7% ABV and 25 IBU, same as it ever was, and is a wheat-based ale in the classic Hefeweizen style. With a bright golden color, long-lasting foamy head and classic banana and clove esters from the yeast, this is a malty and refreshing brew. They have also put together a special cask for Mothers Day, with RDF as a base, but adds strawberries and partridgeberries and was primed (carbonated) with an addition of Purity Syrup! Even better, Moms can enjoy a free pour from the pin when they drop by Sunday.

Here are the latest events on our radar:

• The culmination of NS Craft Beer Week is the Full House, taking place at the Halifax Forum Multipurpose Room over the course of three sessions: tonight 6-9PM, and Saturday 1-4, and again at 6-9PM. 32 breweries from across the province will be pouring their best beers, with plenty of great food to keep you happy as well. We don’t have to sell you on this one, we know you’ll want to go! This is your chance to check off beers from across the province that are not normally available in HRM, and to chat with the passionate folks who make them. Also keep your eyes open for booths from Mashed In Beer Gear, The Brewnosers, 902 BrewCast, and Ladies Beer League.

• If you won’t be able to make it into town Saturday for the Full House, we highly suggest dropping by the Townhouse Pub in Antigonish to grab a pint of Half Cocked Brewing’s beer. Located in North Grant, and launching this summer, HC has been brewing up some pilot batch with Terry on the small system upstairs, and is debuting another one Saturday in the Pub. And of course, while you’re there, be sure to grab a pint of Terry’s Bitter, or Stout. Keep an eye on Half Cocked’s Twitter and IG to find out when it goes on tap.

• Whatchagonnado on Sunday morning when the grim reality that Craft Beer week is over and your white charger-pulled carriage has turned back into a pumpkin hits you like the proverbial ton of bricks? We suggest you give some consideration to heading on down to Good Robot where they’re promising to triage that hangover and maybe help you get ready to face interaction with normal people again. Festivities start with Yoga in the beer garden at 11am (Yeah, 11am. You think you’re going to be up before 11? Pffffft.) From there, it’s coffee and beer pairings featuring Bottleneck Coffee Co. (strangely now spelled “Low Point Coffee”) and some of the most crushable and sessionable (read: low alcohol) beers from various NS breweries. Rinaldo’s will be there to help you get some food in that troubled tummy and there will be an oxygen bar to recondition those lungs after that pack of darts that you totally don’t remember buying. This event is “Come as you Are”: wear your hangover outfit, whether that’s bathrobe, pyjamas, loungewear, three-piece suit with tails, whatever. But come out, and lament the end of Craft Beer Week in style.

• Up on the Rock, the ladies of Port Rexton Brewing are planning a big presence for the BBQ tap takeover tomorrow, Saturday, May 13th, at the Merchant Tavern in St. John’s. A bevy of PR beers will be available, along with Texas BBQ from Toronto’s renown Smoke Signals Barbecue, and additional libations from Lot 40 (Canadian Whisky of the Year) and JP Wisers while brand ambassador Dave Mitton teaches a master class on Whisk(e)y. If any of those things strike your fancy, let the Merchant Tavern know, remaining bookings for this one are likely pretty low!

• As if they need to reinforce their status as utterly mad men and women, the motley crew of saucy suds slingers at Stillwell have upped the ante once again by scheduling, get this, a Tuesday Tap Takeover for May 16. Seriously. Tuesday. And this isn’t some mincing, fraidy-cat, “not-sure-how-this-brewery-will-go-over-in-Halifax thing,” this is the very successful, multi-award-winning Sawdust City Brewing Co. out of Gravenhurst, Ontario (“Gateway to Muskoka” is the phrase you’ll recognize if you’ve ever driven that stretch of highway). Bringing core favorites like the Lone Pine IPA and Twin Pines IIPA, as well as collaborations that became regular offerings like Little Norway Pale Lager originally brewed in Norway with Arendals Bryggeri, and some new school collaborations with Southern Ontario bright lights like Burlington’s Nickelbrook, Toronto’s Bar Hop and Ottawa’s Tooth & Nail, Stillwell’s going to do their very best to get you fired on a Wednesday morning. Maybe be careful with the Long Dark Voyage to Uranus (Imperial Stout, 9.5%), the 11.05 (Belgian Tripel w/ Brett, 11%), the Princess Wears Girlpants (American Saison, 9%), and the Old Dirty Bastard (Barrel-aged Saison w/ Brett, 10%)? There’s lots more besides those ones, the full tap list is on Stillwell’s Twitter feed.

• The Moncton Beer League is holding their second Flights ‘n Bites: Whisky and Beer edition on Thursday, May 25th at Bistro 33 in downtown Moncton, from 6:30-9:30 pm. Featuring a variety of pairings of Whisky, Scotch and Bourbon with craft beer, food items from Chef Marc Surette will also play a role. Tickets are $55 each and are available now, and also include a custom-made Belgian-style glass to keep.

• And in other MBL event news, tickets are also now on sale for the next Urban Beer Hike, being held on Saturday, June 17th. This downtown Moncton walking tour will take you to five beer bars where you will sample multiple craft beer and food pairings at each location. The event runs from 1:15-5:30 pm; tickets are $49 each. Follow along on the event page for updates as to which bars will be visited, and where to meet for the beginning of the tour.

A few more beer-droppings to tell you about before signing off this week:

Hammond River has released a new iteration of their Two Rivers Black IPA (originally brewed with Big Axe), with this one being hopped entirely with Citra. Look for this one (7% ABV, 77 IBUs) at your favourite HR tap account.
Petit-Sault now has their summer seasonal Witbier, Tante Blanche (4.7% ABV, 18 IBUs) back on shelves and on tap in local bars, just in time for warmer weather (it IS coming, right?).
– Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewing has canned up a small run of their Dynamite Trail Hefeweizen, Holy Mackerel Pale Ale, and Nun on the Run Cream Ale. Grab them from the brewery for the perfect cottage accompaniment, and ask for them at your favourite local establishment, including Oh My Cod.
– There are rumors afoot that Stillwell is gearing for the opening of their Beer Garden on Spring Garden Road, possibly as soon as later this month. Stillwell Brewing is also apparently brewing up something special in the lager vein specifically for the venue, and communication with Backoos Korean Food about a Beer Garden pop-up have allegedly taken place. Summer 2017 is fixing to be immense.
Unfiltered‘s monster of a DIPA, Warning Label (10% ABV, 100+ IBUs), has returned; big, bold, and hoppy, this batch differs from the first in that no oak has been added this time around. Drop by Charm School today to get your fill (but go easy, ok?).

If you’re in NS, we hope you’ve been either resting your liver up or have had it in training, because it’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week is kicking off today and will be in full swing this weekend. It’s every NS beer geek’s favorite 11-day week, although for some it will no doubt feel like 14 (or more!). There’s a ton of beers to tell you about, a ton of events we’ll point you towards, as well as all the other beer-related news going on in the other three Atlantic provinces, so let’s start there…

• It may not really feel like patio season yet, but trust us, it’s coming (maybe?)! In preparation, TrailWay released a new beer – of sorts – yesterday in cans at the brewery. Beyond Reality is a “juiced up” version of their popular summer seasonal, Raspberry Wheat. Even more raspberries were added in this beer (as well as a different technique of getting that raspberry character into the beer), but that’s not all! TrailWay being TrailWay, they decided to go ahead and dry-hop the beer, with the wonderful El Dorado variety. The result? A 4% ABV brew with a “unique, crazy, juicy berry/raspberry character, while remaining dry and crisp”. The cans dropped yesterday at the brewery only; this, like all first batches at TW, is a limited release, so whether it’s sunny or pouring, drop by to pick a few up today!

• There’s a new beer hitting taps from Moncton’s Beckwith Road, that originally appeared at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival in March. Care Package is best described as a New England APA, brewed to be hazy, hoppy, and juicy! Hopped entirely with Citra, this 5.5% ABV, 35 IBUs, downright-cloudy ale has a big aroma of citrus and tropical fruit, with a dry, not-too-bitter finish. It recently made an appearance at the Tide & Boar, and you may still be able to get it at the James Joyce in Fredericton.

Tide & Boar Brewing, another member of the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective, are holding another Growler Day today, offering up three new beers: Robot Food IPA (a hazy NEIPA), a Double-Dry-Hopped version of their Forum Pale Ale featuring Nelson Sauvin, and Layback Lager. Drop by right now to get your fill of these three beers, only available at T&B.

Hammond River Brewing is still picking away at their major expansion, and with construction being completed, equipment arriving and being installed, things are looking great! In the meantime, owner/brewer Shane Steeves doesn’t want to let his loyal fans go thirsty, so there’s not one, but *two* new beers that were brewed earlier this week! First up is Naval Daze, a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse with real peaches added in secondary. Tart, light and refreshing, it comes in at a supremely-drinkable 3.2% ABV and 4 IBUs. Next is yet another iteration of the Vegas SMaSH IPA, with this one featuring the fantastic Galaxy hop, an Australian variety. With aromas of citrus and passion fruit, this 6.5% ABV, 60 IBUs brew should satisfy all of you hopheads out there. Look for both of these newbies at your local HRB account within the next couple of weeks.

• In other nearing-expansion NB news, Celtic Knot is getting closer to receiving their 3.75 bbl (~435 L) brewhouse at their new location, which will also mark the beginning of growler sales from the brewery! Not to be outdone by Hammond River, they’ve also announced the upcoming release of two new beers: Summer Daze is a 5% ABV “lightly hopped” American Pale Ale, brewed with the intention of welcoming non-craft drinkers into the fold; and Ryetious is a 6% ABV, 60 IBUs Rye IPA featuring 18% Rye malt in the grist, and hop additions of Nugget and Simcoe in the boil, as well as Amarillo in the dry-hop. Look for these two to appear at CK accounts very soon!

• As mentioned briefly last week, PEI’s Gahan House Restaurant and Brewery (a subsidiary of sorts of the PEI Brewing Co.) are adding yet another brewpub to join their locations in Charlottetown and Halifax, as well as the upcoming Moncton location. The latest location will open in Saint John on Prince William St. in September, 2017. It will house a 7 bbl (~800 L) DME brewhouse, as well as a 120-seat dining room and 30-seat seasonal outdoor patio. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on its development, but no doubt you can expect to see PEIBC/Gahan favourites on tap, as well as one-offs brewed specifically at the Saint John location.

• The New Brunswick craft beer documentary, Beerocracy, hasn’t been officially released in its entirety yet, but if you have Bell Aliant, you can watch it as a four episode series! Shauna Chase and Alex Vietinghoff have been hard at work over the last 12+ months putting the final touches on their production baby, so be sure to tune in and check it out! Here’s how to find it: “The series can be viewed on Bell Media TV1 Atlantic – Channels 1 and 401 on Fibe TV cable in the ‘Lifestyle’ folder of the VOD store”. If that confuses you as much as it did me, push your On Demand button and search for Beerocracy. There it is! A launch party and screenings of the documentary in full will be coming soon, and if you were one of the many backers on the production’s successful Indiegogo campaign, you’ll be receiving your DVD/digital copy as well.

• Last night, PEI’s Upstreet Craft Brewing held a tap takeover at Battery Park; along with a bunch of goodies, they debuted a very limited brew, Strawberry Banana Milkshake IPA. This one is their White Noize White IPA, but with additions of lactose powder and vanilla, to help give that light sweetness and extra body indicative to the Milkshake IPA “style”, along with the character from the flavours of banana and strawberry. If you’re in PEI and disappointed you missed out, fear not – there are two additional kegs in existence, both of which soon be pouring at the Upstreet taproom. And for you New Brunswick Upstreet fans, good news! Bottles of their White Noize and Do-Gooder APA are on their way to ANBL stores, and should be selling within the next couple of weeks. Look for the Commons Pilsner to appear by the end of the month.

• You may notice some new Shiretown beers popping up at select NBLC stores, with a generic, green label. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you sort this out a bit! The same label is being used for Shiretown’s latest seasonal releases; look closely, and you can see that several beers are listed on the side of the label, with the corresponding beer checked off. In addition, each seasonal has a colour-coded bottlecap. Two new ones have been released: La Vie Continue (yellow cap) is a 4.5% ABV “Summer Wheat Ale” lightly hopped to 9 IBUs, and Cartier’s Columbus (green cap) is a 6.5% ABV, 38 IBUs “hop-forward Golden Ale” hopped entirely with, you guessed it, Columbus. Look for up to four more seasonal releases from Shiretown in the near future.

• There’s a new beer from Foghorn that should be popping up any day (minute?) now at the brewery’s taproom. Raiders of the Night is a Black IPA that could be the brewery’s most heavily-hopped beer yet! Brewed as a classic Black IPA, meaning enough black malts to give some roasted, coffee aromas and flavours (but not too much!), it was hopped with Comet and Azacca in the boil, and dry-hopped with copious amounts of Citra, and even more Azacca. When you’re talking high amounts of those two varieties, you can definitely expect lots of citrus, tropical fruit, and basically lots of other fruit characteristics in the beer! It weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 65 IBUs; this batch will likely be available at the brewery only, for pints and growlers.

• Nackawic’s Big Axe just released their newest kettle-soured beer, Partridgeberry Sour. Thanks to the addition of plenty of local Patridgeberries (which the beer was aged on for four weeks), this 4.5% ABV beer has a beautiful pinkish-red hue, and plenty of fruit flavour, along with a refreshing tartness from the Lactobacillus souring effect. You should be able to find it on tap at the usual Big Axe accounts, as well as at the brewery during their retail hours.

• Also released right about now from Big Axe is Florganic Pale Ale, the brewery’s first 100% organic brew. Brewed with Horton Ridge malt and Centennial hops from Southan Farms, organic lavendar and several types of locally-foraged flowers were added to the beer during the brewing process, including Queen Anne’s lace. Coming in at 5% ABV and 40 IBUs, it should be popping up on tap in Fredericton at 540 and the James Joyce.

• A reminder the Port Rexton Brewing is opening their tap room for the season today! They are open from 2-10pm today and tomorrow, and 2-6pm Sunday. With the new season, it’s the perfect time to launch a new beer, which they’ve done, to the tune of Mixed Opportunity. The mixed fermentation saison features a special blend from Escarpment Labs in Guelph, featuring both Scchromyces and Brettanomyces yeasts. Drop by for that and plenty more beers to kick off the season, and stay a while!

OK, we’ve put it off long enough, time to hit Nova Scotia for the rest of the news this week!

• Let’s start our tour of Nova Scotia with one of the first small local breweries, opened 20 years ago, who have big news this week. Propeller Brewing has completed renovations at their Gottingen Street location, and are now set up to serve samples in their newly opened taproom. Featuring more than a dozen taps, they are looking forward to inviting folks to sit down for a drink before grabbing a sixpack or growler, in addition to holding tasting events, educational sessions, and more in the new space. Last night also saw the rollout of their new branding, their first major one in 20 years in business. That also has spilled over to their labels, which now sport the same look, with a different colour for each beer. Learn more about both (and their future plans) in this week’s 902 BrewCast, when owner John Allen, and marketing guy Aaron Emery sat down with Kyle, Phil, and Tony.

• New taproom and brand, new beer! Also debuting last night was the latest One-Hit Wonder, MoppleBock. Using Horton Ridge Malt as the base, the Propeller crew brewed up an Imperial Maibock, their take on the German style. Medium-bodied, and malt-heavy, the beer features the iconic Noble hop peppery/spicy hop flavour and aroma. At 7.5% ABV and 50 IBUs, this is well beyond what may be expected in Bavaria, but still a nod to the original brews in character.

• And leading us into the rest of Nova Scotia is the return of their tri-brewery Organic release, Cerberus Double IPA. With collaboration and assistance from Big Spruce and Tatamagouche, the 7.9% ABV Double IPA features lots of late-addition hops for a solid 60 IBUs, from AmarilloCentennial, Simcoe and Zythos hops in the boil, and a serious dose of dry-hopping of Citra. The beer debuted on tap at Propeller yesterday, will see wider release today (including kegs at all three participating breweries for growler fills), with a portion of it also rolling out in bottles at the private stores this weekend.

• After a bit of a quiet period during their expansion and the installation of their canning line, Nyanza’s Big Spruce is back with a vengeance just in time for Craft Beer Week. First, they’ve advised us that all deliveries of their 3 wide-release canned brands have been made to the NSLC and to all four private stores in the HRM (Bishop’s Cellar, Cristall Wine Merchants, Harvest Wines & Spirits, and Rockhead Wine & Beer Market); that’s the Tim’s Dirty IPA, Kitchen Party Pale Ale and the Bitter Get’er Black IPA. You can start looking for them on the shelves as soon as today, although the scheduled date for the 35 participating NSLC stores is May 8th.

• Jeremy White and the gang also have 4 (count ‘em, four!) beers coming out this week. First we have Un Tabou, a collaboration with Harvest Wines. Fermented using The Escarpment Labs Old World Saison strain, it has copious late additions of tropical New World hop varieties El Dorado and Mosaic along with a healthy dry hop of both. We expect to see this one on tap at Harvest for sure, but as with other Big Spruce collabs, you may well see it appear elsewhere, especially with Craft Beer Week coming up.

• Next we’ve got Tiger Lilly, a session IPL (India Pale Lager) with 70% Horton Ridge malt in the grain bill and single-hopped with “massive” amounts of Mosaic both in the kettle and as a dry hop. This one will make its debut at the Horton Ridge Tap Takeover at Battery Park tomorrow, and hopefully after that at NSCBW events, with tap accounts also a possibility.

• This week marks the return of She’s Maibock, brought out this time every year, made with 100% imported German malt and noble hops it comes in at 6.1% ABV and 26 IBU. This style is a harbinger of spring in Germany and its heavier hop presence and lighter malt balance are heralded as a bit of a relief from the heavier bock styles of the lenten season. The not-so-traditional infusion of lemon zest during both the boil and the lagering process, should accentuate the refreshing nature of the style.

• Last, but not least, Silver Tart, the Raspberry Sour beer that was found on many patios and beergardens last year. Fermented on more than a hundred kilos of local raspberries, the refreshing sour finish keeps you wanting more. Well, want no more, as the 4.5% ABV beer hits the taps in HRM this week. They’ve also ordered the cans for their first canning run in the summer; we’ll keep you posted on where you might expect those to start popping up.

• Keeping the new beers flowing is a full-time job for the folks at Tatamagouche, too! Cellar Slammer, their Session IPA collaboration with Bishop’s Cellar, will be debuting tomorrow at their Tap Takeover (drop by from noon to meet the Tata crew and get first tastes and growler fills of it), with cans of the beer going on sale Sunday at BC. For those in Tata, samples, cans, and fills will be available all weekend.

• Hitting the taps and shelves next week is a brand new one from Tata, Flat Liner English IPA. Inspired by the traditional English hop East Kent Golding, this 5.6% ABV beer features a healthy base of local Horton Ridge Malt, with some Caramel 60 for colour and malt flavour. All EKG throughout the boil, to about 50 IBUs, with another dosing of them in the secondary for a redoubling of the aromatics. This release will no be canned, so be sure to seek it out at the brewery, or at their licensees across the province, starting mid-next-week.

• And also hitting the shelves next week will be the latest in their Giant Beer series, Baltic Porter. The 8.0% ABV full-bodied beer was fermented with a lager strain of yeast, and conditioned (lagered, even) for several weeks before release. Featuring Czech Saaz hops, bottles will be released on Thursday at the brewery.

• Ashdale’s Meander River Farm and Brewery released a new beer recently, Seeing Double IPA. The 8.0% ABV beer features all Citra hops throughout the boil, for a firm bitterness and plenty of citrus and refreshing aroma. Grab it at the brewery this weekend, as well as their Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market table. And for someone in the area looking for a job that will have you working both inside and out of a brewery this summer, they are filling a full-time position assisting in the brewery and retail space, as well as working on the adjacent farm doing landscaping and gardening work. Check out the full details here.

• Good Robot comes screaming into Craft Beer Week with their collective hair on fire, bringing out 3 beta brews thanks to Kelly Costello, who brought a different guest assistant brewer along for each batch. Strangely Black, brewed with Brent Braaten, is a Black IPA with cold-steeped grains that will be released at the Good Robot Taproom today. Later Gator is a White IPA brewed with Dani Alarie that was dry-hopped with Amarillo hops and that will be released on Sunday, May 7. And lastly, Klezmer Kölsch was brewed with members of 2b Theatre Company. This one will be released on Wednesday, May 10, for the company’s Ambassador Night, featuring cast members of Old Stock, A Refugee Love Story, currently running (until May 14) at The Waiting Room. And if that wasn’t enough, this weekend will also see the return of DeWolfe of Wall Street, GR’s other pale ale, this one less bitter, less malty and definitely boozier than their flagship Burban Legend. It’s very crisp, gluten-reduced and comes in at 6.4% ABV.

• In Dartmouth, Spindrift is once again playing, “anything you can do we can do lager,” with their latest release, Plimsoll. Brewmaster Kellye Robertson enlisted a helping hand from former colleague Kyle Jeppesen and the pair took the summer crusher Berliner Weisse style and gently tweaked it into a lager. Featuring a grist of local Horton Ridge Pilsner and German Pale Wheat malts, the mash was soured for three days to achieve a complex fruity, tart and citrusy palate before fermenting and then finishing with a light dry hop of the modern German hop varieties Mandarina Bavaria and Hallertau Blanc. This 3.6% ABV beer should go down extremely easily, a very light 5 IBU of bitterness mingling with tartness and hop character, leading to a crisp lager finish. Available since at the brewery, it’s available for growler fills there and is likely to turn up at licensee taps as well. Given the malt bill it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that it might also be Spindrift’s entry at the Horton Ridge Tap Takeover at Battery Park on Saturday.

• Staying on the Dark Side with another member of #teamdartmouth in this Sunday’s Stillwell Open, Brightwood Brewery is releasing a new beer this weekend. The cleverly-named Halifornia Commons is a California Common-style beer, a style that dates back to the turn of the 20th century and one of the two styles widely held to be truly American. Brightwood went with a grist of 97% Horton Ridge malt and fermented the beer with the classic San Francisco yeast, a lager strain that tolerates ale temperatures. Clean and crisp, it was late- and dry-hopped with Green Bullet hops from New Zealand to provide fruity aromas that complement those coming from yeast esters, and at 6.0% ABV and 49 IBU, it should be a solid, flavourful brew for summer. Available tomorrow at Alderney Market, you’ll also find it on tap at Battery Park if you attend the Horton Ridge Tap Takeover!

• Across the harbour, or not, as the case may be (we note they’re #teamdartmouth in the Stillwell Open…), North Brewing has a new beer that they’re releasing this week. Made with wheat malt from Horton Ridge, it’s a dry-hopped American Wheat they’re calling Reverend Horton Wheat (cue psychobilly riff). Though low in bitterness at 13 IBU, the Simcoe and Cascade used in the dry hop should give this 5.9% ABV beer a noticable hop character. It was also fermented using the same Yeast Bay Funktown Ale blend that was used in their recent Malternate Reality brew, providing a hazy appearance and accentuating the hop presence. If you guessed that this one will be part of the Horton Ridge takeover at Battery Park, go ahead and reward yourself with a beer. It will also be available for growler fills, at least on the Dartmouth side.

• Next Wednesday, on May 10, you’ll also see two bottle releases from North. First is a version of their Midnight Glenora Barrel-aged Strong Dark also aged with the Brettanomyces bruxellensis strain known as Brett Q, which is known to impart a subtle Brett character with ripe fruit notes and underlying funk. You’ll also see their Milk Stout that’s been aged in Glenora Barrels. Both beers will be available in 650ml bottles; expect to see them at the North bottle shops and more than likely at select private liquor stores in the HRM.

• Halifax’s 2 Crows is releasing a brand new pilot batch brew (we like to call it their Attempted Murder Series, can that catch on?) in their taproom tomorrow to celebrate Open Brewery DayPromiseland is a super-juicy 8.3% ABV Double IPA, featuring a next-load of late- and dry-hopping, for a nose- and mouth-full of hoppy goodness, beyond its 64 IBUs datasheet. With all of these releases, they are *only* available at the brewery, so don’t delay in dropping by tomorrow. During OBD, be sure to drop by and have a chat with the Brewery Crew and take a tour of their location. And early next week will mark the release of two of their draft-only beers in cans: Fantacity Witbier and Midnight Mood Dry-Hopped American Porter. Look for those to be on sale at the brewery Tuesday or Wednesday.

• After several test batches, Garrison has finalized the recipe for their (no longer Code Name:) Juicy! Double IPA. With a grist of 2-row pale malt and flaked oats, this hazy Northeastern-style DIPA is hop-heavy, featuring several varieties including CitraCometMosaicEkuanot and at least one “secret” hop. It’s got aromas of citrus, pineapple and tangerine, with tangerine and citrus flavors on the palate. At 8% ABV it’s firmly in DIPA territory, but with a somewhat tame (for the style) 65 IBU, the soft mouthfeel of the style and the fruit flavors it’s likely to go down pretty easily. It’s being released today on tap at the brewery for tasting and growler fills and will head to select licensees later this weekend or early next week. We’ll have more details packaging plans over the next few weeks.

Annapolis Cider Co has some exciting news to share this week: they took home no less than SIX medals from the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP), the world’s largest cider competition! With 1200 ciders entered, competition was stiff, but ACC took home hardware with every product they entered: Their Heirloom and Toasted Oak and Maple were bronze winners, Old-Fashioned Gravenstein and Sour Cherry garnered silver medals, and Muscat Infusion and Hopped Pear took home gold. Even better, both gold medal winners took Best in Class status in their respective groups! You can purchase the Heirloom at your local NSLC and at the private liquor stores in HRM, but you’ll have to visit the cidery in Wolfville to try the others. For most Nova Scotians, truly World Class cider is only a lovely drive to the Valley away!

A few more events to get you excited for the weekend…

• NS Craft Beer Week is in full swing, with tickets still available for this evening’s Cape Breton Kitchen Party at Centre 200 in Sydney. Henley House and Sober Island are hosting two events tomorrow, so make a trip to the Eastern Shore to check out their new digs, and drink some great cask beer. Drop by Stillwell Sunday for the Stillwell Open, a province-wide competition pitting more than a dozen breweries, plus a handful of homebrewers (our own Aaron and Chris brewed up beers for competing teams!) in the quest to produce some killer brand new/one-off brews.  During the week, we are hosting a Trivia Night at Timber Lounge Wednesday evening, and then you can cap it all off with the Full House Craft Beer Festival, during which there will be 32 breweries in attendance. Tickets for Saturday are sold out, but Friday night session is still available!
If all of that is too much to remember, don’t worry! We’ve put together a Calendar of the events happening over the next 9 days to keep you straight, and even mapped them all out, perfect for an epic beery roadtrip across the province. Check that out here, and if we’ve missed anything, let us know!

• With both National Homebrew Day and Nova Scotia Open Brewery Day being celebrated this weekend, one of Halifax’s sources for homebrew supplies is marking the occasion with a homebrewing demo. Maritime Wine & Beer Emporium on Lady Hammond Road will be setting up three different all-grain brewing systems on their front lawn, with three different brewers each doing a different recipe. If you’re at all interested in the hobby, this is an excellent chance to see how it’s done, get a feel for the variety of equipment and techniques that are available to the homebrewer, and to talk to some folks about their passion for the craft. The festivities will start at 9am and are expected to go until 1pm. And if you venture into the store, you’ll find all regular-priced items are 15% off for the duration of the weekend! So stop by and see how water, grain and hops become wort, the first step on the road to beer!

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve read somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 words. We suggest you mark this achievement with a beer! Crack one open or order one up and see if you can’t push your brain to the point of being totally brimful of beer stuff – we’ve got a few more quick hits to send you on your way.

– Halifax’s Chain Yard Cider has released their first product to the NSLC, Foundation. The 6.0% ABV cider is available across the province, and they are expecting to open their Agricola Street taproom/tasting bar later this month. We hope to share more information on the ciderhouse and their products soon.
First City has re-released their award-winning Fruit Beer, Raspberry Wheat (6% ABV); you can find it on tap now at Pepper’s Pub, as well as other accounts in the near future.
Grimross has added yet another crowd favourite to their available-outside-of-pints-and-growlers lineup, as one of their first beers, Cheval D’Or (5.2% ABV, 18 IBUs), a Saison, is now available in cans.
– In Liverpool, Hell Bay has a new beer available. Sour Apple was kettle soured with organic yogurt before being fermented on Pazzazz apples. At 4.5% ABV it should be a lovely quaffer for the summer patio season. It’s available at the brewery for fills and is on tap at selected licensees, but it’s not (yet) in bottles.
Loyalist City in Saint John has a new beer coming as soon as the paperwork can wend its way through the labyrinthine ANBL licensing process. Their first DIPA, it is as yet unnamed, but they’re already planning a special small batch with their friends at New England Distilling. Watch this space for more information on this release!
Wayfarers’ Ale Society has canned up a few of their offerings, and their One-Eyed River Hog IPA is currently available at the NSLC. You can also grab Hellene, their 4.2% ABV Blonde Ale at the private stores.

Good morning, and welcome to another Friday… as usual, chock-full of news on beer releases, events, and more! Let’s skip the chit chat and dive right in:

• It’s another week, which means at least one new 2 Crows beer is being released! Tomorrow at noon, they’ll be tapping Sunny Days, a “Sunflower seed Brett Saison”. Brewed with home-malted sunflower seeds (which made up 20% of the grist) as well as Pilsner, Vienna, Acid, and Wheat malts, the beer was fermented with a combination of Brettanomyces bruxellensis and a “funky Saison yeast”, bringing it to 7.1% ABV (and hopped to 27 IBUs). We’re not sure what exactly to expect with this one, but as usual for many 2 Crows special releases, you can’t deny that it sounds interesting! There’ll only be one keg of this beauty pouring, so get down to the taproom to give it a try. In addition, two kegs of a new, “slightly spicier” batch of Lil’ Miguel Aztec Stout will be tapped next Friday (April 14th), followed by a keg of Crosswired – a beer fermented with a mixture of a “wild” yeast strain and a wine yeast strain – on Thursday, April 20th; look for some Crosswired to also appear at the 2 Crows Battery Park Tap Takeover on April 13th.

• This week in Smith’s Cove, Lazy Bear Brewing made two new brews available. The Folly IPA with wild yeast that we wrote about two weeks ago has finally meandered its way through the system and was released last night at the brewery during their weekly growler night. This tropical fruity delight may not make it to the city so you’ll have to head down to the brewery or catch it at the Annapolis Farmers and Traders Market or one of the brewery’s regular tap accounts. Earlier in the week, as they waited for the Folly to finish, The Once-Over was released. This is a version of their Bear Bones IPA that was different enough to justify a new moniker. Still brewed with Wild Turkey hops from Ontario, this 5.9% ABV brew was dry-hopped with that variety along with classic American Cascade and Chinook that are sure to bring citrus and pine to the aroma. Like the Folly, this one is available in the usual places, but some apparently also made its way to Battery Park in Dartmouth, so keep your eyes out for it to appear there.

Mill Street Brewpub in St. John’s has been busy, with a few new beers on tap now, or coming very soon. Lukey’s Bock is a traditional-style German Helles/Mai Bock, meaning light in colour with Munich malt-derived sweetness and aromatics. Named after the ship in the harbour of the same name, the 6.5% ABV Bock is on tap at their Mill Street/Bier Markt location only. Coming very soon from them is Right Off the Hop, a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) featuring El Dorado hops. This Double IPA took more than 6 kilograms of hops in their 8 hL system, for big bitterness and a massive pineapple aroma and flavour.

• Debuting next Wednesday, April 12, is a collaboration that Mill Street did with the Port Rexton Brewing Crew. Planned months ago during a trip to Port Rexton, and brewed in mid-March when PR made the return trip, the cross-province Dunkelweizen will be launched in a big way. At 5.2% ABV, 22 IBUs, the Dark German Wheat beer features the iconic banans and clove aromatics, reminiscent of banana bread. The debut is a ticketed event, which gets you a pint of Port Rexton new IPA, a pint of Mill Street’s Black Bart’s, plus a celebratory pint of their collaboration. A Mac & Cheese bar, featuring the wares of St. John’s own Five Brothers Cheese, will be set up to keep your stomach from growling, and going all night. Tickets are available by phone (709-383-7070), and are selling quickly, so be sure to grab them today!

• Fredericton’s Graystone Brewing recently launched their second Lager, an India Pale Lager named Alpen IPL. Described by the brewery as an “earthy, amber IPL with amble bitterness and a clean, soft mouthfeel”, the grist contains Crystal and Munich malt to achieve the beer’s colour and malt character. Hopped with Columbus and Centennial to 70 IBUs, it was fermented with a dry German Lager yeast, and then lagered at cool temperatures for 5 weeks before packaging. Coming in at 6% ABV, it’s on tap now at the brewery for pints and growlers/crowlers, and is likely showing up at licensees across the city.

• Sticking with Fredericton beers, TrailWay released their Porter a couple nights ago, a one-off that will only be available on tap at the brewery’s tasting room for the first week. Sessionable at only 4.7% ABV, it shows off some roast and chocolate character, with a medium-bodied mouthfeel and a dry, slightly bitter finish from the use of dark malts. Look for it to pop up around New Brunswick for next weekend’s ANBL growler program. And be sure to grab some cans of Luster, which has just returned and is as fresh as you can get it right now!

• And not to be left out, Maybee Brewing also has a new beer available! Tailwind is a “New England Session IPA” (read: cloudy/hazy with big hop aromas and flavours, but not big bitterness) that was hopped heavily with Mosaic, as well as additions of Amarillo, Cascade, and Chinook. Fermented with a Vermont Ale strain from Escarpment Labs to give even more tropical, citrusy, stone fruit characteristics, it all comes together in a highly drinkable 4.8% ABV, 45 IBUs package. And speaking of packaging, it’s available now in 16 oz cans at the brewery (and soon at other brewery stores in NB), and on tap at Maybee accounts.

• And even more Fredericton news, as Red Rover is releasing a very special cider next week. They’ve “carefully chosen the best apples New Brunswick has to offer,” including their favourite heritage Russet and Crab apples, to bring a very limited, 400 bottle production of Orchard Reserve 2016. An English Extra Dry cider that clocks in at 7.2% ABV, this one involved a slow fermentation process, followed by an additional 6 months of aging, enhancing the “subtle spice and delicate honey notes”. These 750 mL bottles ($16.50 each) will be sold only at the Ciderhouse and participating Farmers’ Markets, so be sure to grab a couple before they’re gone! They’ll be officially released next Wednesday at noon.

• Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing should have a brand new one-off popping up today or through the weekend, a Saison named Pied de Lapin. Described by the brewery as a dry, “French/Belgian Saison”, it was hopped predominantly with Wakatu (WHACK-a-tu? wah-KA-tu?), a New Zealand variety, as well as some Centennial. The Wakatu comes through with “prominent notes of lime zest, backed by subtle melon”. Highly drinkable at 5.6% ABV, look for it on tap at Stillwell and Battery Park, as well as available for growler fills at the brewery retail store, and Halifax Forum Farmers Market.

• In Saint John, Loyalist City is bringing out a new beer in their One Hop Series, but let us know there’s been some changes to the recipe for that series. First, they’ve found a supplier for the yeast made famous by John Kimmich’s Alchemist Brewery in Vermont and have decided to ferment all their One Hop beers with it. Known in brewing circles as Conan, this yeast is known for producing an ester profile featuring stone fruit and light citrus notes that is very complimentary to modern American and New World hop varieties. It’s also known for producing a hazy final product consistent with the New England IPA style. Second, they’ve tweaked the recipe to give the beer a little more body and increased hop flavour and aroma. The first beer to be made with the new recipe is Summer named, as always, after the single hop used in producing it. Summer hops are an Australian variety known for imparting citrus and stone fruit flavours and aromas. Look for melon and apricot on the nose and for the hops and yeast to complement each other nicely. Summer comes in at 5.5% ABV and 65 IBU. It will be available at the Cask & Kettle and other local tap accounts this week.

• Loyalist City has also released another new brew, Württemberg Weissbier. A classic German Hefeweizen, this cloudy, light golden, refreshing ale was brewed with 100% German malt, hops, and yeast. The Wheat and Pilsner malt enjoyed a three-part step mash (three temperature rests) to increase the development of banana and clove flavours expected in the style, which are also produced during fermentation from the Weizen yeast strain. Brewed with soft water in an attempt to replicate the low-mineral-content water of Plzeň, Germany, the resulting 5% ABV beer features a “pleasing banana-clove aroma that is complemented by a moderate bready malt flavour”. And for you history buffs, the beer is named after Württemberg, the historical German territory that was home to the majority of the German-Canadian settlers that helped to colonize the Atlantic Canadian provinces. This highly-carbonated beer should be available now at your favourite LC tap account, and is also at select ANBL growler stations this weekend (check out which ones here).

• In Dartmouth, Spindrift released their highly anticipated Barrel O’ Cherries this week. Winner of the Gold Medal at the DownEast Brewing Awards in Fredericton last month in the Experimental Beer category, this is their Abyss dark lager that was aged in red wine barrels for 12 months and then racked onto sour cherries for further aging before being bottled with help from North Brewing and their bottler. Those who tasted it at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest or the Savour Food & Wine Festival Craft Beer Cottage Party in Halifax have the inside scoop on this one. At 4.5% ABV it’s not a heavy hitter, but flavour wise you’ll taste big cherry notes married to bold chocolatey and roasty dark malt flavours. Some have likened the overall character to that of a Black Forest Cake. This is a limited edition beer with only 78 cases produced, and you can only get it at the brewery in Burnside.

• Acadie-Broue has brought back a blast-from-the-past, recently releasing La Boloxée, best described as a dark Saison. Brewer Patrice Godin took the base of his Tintamarre Saison and darkened it by steeping a large amount of Midnight Wheat malt, to “stain” the wort. This gives a minimal roast character in the finish, while preserving the Farmhouse flavours of orange and pepper. Expect this beer to finish extremely dry, as a longer-than-usual fermentation brought the final gravity all the way down to 1.000, a reading usually reserved for ciders! The final numbers are 6.6% ABV and 30 IBUs. It’s currently on tap at Le Coude, James Joyce, and should pop up at Marky’s Laundromat, if it isn’t on already.

As always, there’s plenty of beer-related events going on in our region; here’s a few you should be paying particular attention to:

• The annual Saint John Beer Fest is tomorrow, April 8th; while tickets are sold out, you can add your name to the waiting list here, just in case! In the meantime, those of you lucky enough to currently have tickets can check out the full beer list here, and plan your attack! Plenty of beer and cider will be pouring, including a few special releases.

• Leading into the Saint John Beer Fest tomorrow, PEI Brewing Company will be taking over the taps this evening starting at 5:00 pm at McGill’s. Pints will be $5 all night, with 8 PEIBC brews on the go, including some new ones. Look for Big Don Belgian Coffee Blonde, Tasman Pale Ale and Black Lager in particular along with some Gahan faves. And if you miss that, rest assured that PEIBC will be in full effect at the beer fest on Saturday.​

• Since opening their doors in July of 2016, Port Rexton Brewing Co. has been inundated with emails and calls asking, “How do I start a brewery in Newfoundland?” In response, they’ve decided to take the amazingly forthcoming step of hosting an open house/open books event on April 14th and 15th. On Friday night there will be a social at the brewery from 1800 – 2200h. Saturday will feature a brewday, with mash in commencing promptly at 0700h after which Port Rexton will open their books and their database to answer as many questions as they can from the group, likely ending around 1400h. On the table are questions about the NLC, suppliers, equipment, funding opportunities, regulatory considerations and provincial requirements. It’s no secret that Newfoundland is a very difficult place to open a brewery and this outreach to the brewing community by Port Rexton less than a year into their operations is commendable. So if you’re very serious about opening a brewery in NL and actively working towards that goal, and you’re interested in hearing from some folks who’ve managed to do it, you can email beer@portrextonbrewing.com to register. Space is limited.

• The Brewnettes, a Ladies Beer League in Newfoundland, has scheduled their April event, a Pizza Party on Thursday, April 20th. The event will take place at Quidi Vidi Brewery in St. John’s and will consist of a brewery tour at 1830h, a tasting at 1900h and finally pizza at 2000h. It’s $15 to attend, and you’ll want to check in on the event’s Facebook page to show your interest. After the highly successful axe-throwing event in March, this is sure to be a blast for everyone involved.

• Not content to limit themselves to the Dark Side of the harbour with their tap takeover at Battery Park next week, 2 Crows will aim for total HRM domination by following that up with another takeover a week later at the Stubborn Goat! On Friday, April 21st, starting at 1900h, you’ll find 8-10 2 Crows beers on tap at the Goat with samples and a special price on flights. No cover and live music round out the package. Buy a flight and you’ll receive a ballot to win tickets to the 2 Crows Brewer’s Brunch. “Brewer’s Brunch?” you ask? Yes, the very next day, Saturday, April 22, from 1300-1500h, you’ll find another 2 Crows event at the Goat where Jeremy Taylor will prove he’s not actually chained to his mash tun by making an appearance. Tickets are $39 per person and entitle you to four 12oz beers, each a 2 Crows offering that’s been paired with a course from the kitchen. You can see which beers and the food they’ve each been paired with on the event’s Facebook page. Space is limited, so if you’re interested you’ll want to email tyler@stubborngoat.ca.

• In Stillwell news, they’ve got another premium European tap takeover in the works for April 22 that’s got fans of forward-thinking beers all a-titter. To Øl is a gypsy brewery from Denmark. Started by students of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller (not just beer-wise, he taught them in high school!), Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther started brewing with their Bjergsø in their school’s kitchen (high school is different in Europe, apparently) in 2005. While he moved on to start Mikkeller, they continued to hone their brewing craft before opening their own brewery in 2010. In addition to their beer, they’ve got Scandinavian brewpubs BRUS in Copenhagen, the recently-opened BRUS Bar Oslo, and, with Mikkeller, are part of the group behind the lambic-focused Koelschip. To quote the gang at Stillwell, “Quality is guaranteed, mind-expansion highly likely.” From Brett-aged Table Beer, Dry-hopped Sours, Gose, to Barrel-Aged Saison and Imperial Coffee Stouts, there is something for everyone pouring on the 22nd. If you liked the Mikkeller takeovers in December and January or are sad you missed them, this is another chance to drink on the leading edge of beermaking.

• It’s too late if you don’t already have a ticket, but Stillwell is hosting a Tastes of the World event on Sunday, April 23. Hosted by Stephen Beaumont, author or co-author of ten books, including The World Atlas of Beer, two editions of The Great Canadian Beer Guide, and The Beer & Food Companion, it will be a guided tasting of eight of the world’s best beers, several of which have never been available in NS. Four of the beers will be paired with thoughtfully selected cheeses. As you sip and munch, Mr. Beaumont will provide tasting notes, some history about the beers, and details on how they were made. Tickets are were $36.50 each – they sold out extremely quickly. If you didn’t get one, but wish you had, maybe let the fine folks at Stillwell know; perhaps if enough additional interest is shown we’ll see another such event scheduled (can you tell none of us acted quickly enough to get tickets?). The good news for those who are missing out on the tasting is that some of the beers that will be served (including Stilly’s last keg of Nectarous from Four Winds Brewing) will be available after the event. And a few new-to-the-province bottles will hit the fridge that day, Blond d’Esquelbeq from Brasserie Thiriez and Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba, classics in the Saison style.

Garrison will be co-hosting a Brew and Bites Dinner with Harbourstone Sea Grill & Pour House on Thursday, April 27. It will feature an IPA tasting menu that pairs 5 courses from Executive Chef Trevor Simms with beers from Brewmaster Daniel Girard. Tickets are $55 and can be reserved by calling 902.428.7852 or emailing harbourstone@marriott.com. You can see details on the food and beers in this post on Garrison’s Instagram.

A few more things today:

– The ANBL has expanded their Growler Program further recently. When opening their new location at Corbett Centre in Fredericton (after closing the Prospect Street location), they upraded to 4 taps. The ANBL in Newcastle now features a growler station as well.
Flying Boats is releasing their Stagecoach Amber Ale just in time for this weekend’s Saint John Beer Fest. This collaboration with Craig Pinhey features strong caramel and raisin/dark fruit characteristics from the malts, and was bittered using NB-grown Cascade. The 5.5% ABV and 29 IBUs brew is available at the Shediac Beach brewery’s local accounts as well as at the Fest.
Picaroons is looking for the cutest, smartest, or most distinct cat to once again grace the label of their MelonHead Watermelon Wheat beer. Submissions are open until May 2nd, with all of the details available here.
– Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewing released The Loyalist, a beer they are describing as a “Yorkshire Olde Ale”. At 6.7% ABV, it has notes of biscuit and light herbaceous qualities from the traditional Fuggles hops used in the boil. Fermented with Nottingham for a dry finish.

If you’ve been paying attention to the calendar, you know that Spring has arrived in Atlantic Canada. That said, if you’ve been paying attention to the actual weather, what with school closures twice this week in parts of the province and some bitter cold towards the end of the week, you may be considering taking a Caddyshack approach to the groundhog’s report next year. Embarrassingly stereotypical carping aside, the weather hasn’t stopped our region’s breweries from continuing to pound out tasty beers to soothe our chapped lips and frostbitten livers. We’re going to start this week’s report with news from the amateur side of brewing, where a couple of local homebrew competitions have announced their winners…

• This past Sunday afternoon, Bar Stillwell was taken over by the finale of the Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge 2017. Six finalists, whose beers had been previously selected by beer judges from a pool of 23 (of a possible 25) entries, showed up to make a case for why they should take home the coveted trophy this year. The presentations ranged from the straight-up and matter-of-fact to a brewday video, to a two-man sound effect-laden comedy sketch and a mandolin-soaked musical performance. In the end, and for the second year running, the trophy went to Halifax home brewer Brian Harvey (aka 1029 Brewing). His beer was a Orange peel-infused kettle-soured ale entitled Grafted. Also placing were Jayme Keddy and Gavin Stewart (aka Delta Force Brewing) with their Northeastern IPA, Bad Example for the Others in second place, and Steve Crane with a Bière de Garde he called Meteor that Killed the Dinosaurs in third. Rounding out the top six were Kelly Costello (of the Good Robot family), who’s been brewing a scant 21 weeks but who achieved the highest tasting score for her Belgian IPA Grand Mariner, the kilted Jason Currie and his Jeepers Peepers Springtime Stout in the rare Tropical Stout style, and Marc Perry and Dave Wamback of Shelburne, one of whom was brewing all-grain for the first time and the other who had never brewed before, with their Black IPA, Fish Cop Pop. As is traditional, the winner’s beer will be brewed at Boxing Rock’s production brewery and made available to the public; but if you were paying attention last year you know that the top three were all brewed and this year Boxing Rock President Henry Pedro suggested he was impressed enough that he may not stop at three! We’ll be sure to keep you appraised of releases of any and all Black Box Challenge 2017 brews here.

• In more homebrewing news, Garrison Brewing’s 2017 Home Brew-Off Gala was last night, and we have all of the results. This year’s style was Wee Heavy, and from more than forty entries, three rounds of judging, Fredericton homebrewer Roger Ringuette took home top honours. Second Place went to Mark Power, Third to Ashley Kinsman, and Runner-Up Steve Proulx, all scoring well in yesterday afternoon’s final round of blind judging. Roger will be brewing his recipe on Garrison’s brewhouse early next year, for release in March 2018.

• Last night also served as the launch of the 2016 Garrison Home Brew-Off winning Experimental IPAInfusion Confusion Chamomile IPA brewed by local home brewer Mark Power (yes, a finalist in this year’s competition as well!). Featuring Maritime Pale Ale malt, along with Honey, Munich, and Carapils malts to round out the grain bill, the 6.3% ABV beer uses Amarillo, Cascade, and Citra hops to achieve 50 IBUs. The mind-bending chamomile flowers were added during the brew-day, as well as conditioning (post-fermentation), to preserve the unique flavour and aromatic characteristics. It is available at the brewery retail shop in 650ml bottles today, with stock at the NSLC, and NLC,  in the near future.

• Rounding out the Garrison news are a pair of returning favourites: In Session ISA (India Session Ale) has returned to the lineup for the year. This 4.5% ABV beer is light in alcohol, but big in citrus and tropical fruit flavour with lots of late hopping from BelmaCrystal, and El Dorado, for 30 IBUs of bittering. Remember that the later hops are used in the brewing process, the less bitterness is achieved, but more aroma and flavour is kept. Grab a sixpack at the brewery today, or from your local NSLC in early April. Also returning is the Backlot Bash, Garrison’s epic all-evening concert event in the backlot of their production brewery. This year’s event is happening June 17th, and features headliners The Sheepdogs, with Port Cities, Garret Mason, and The Royal Volts, and is coinciding with Garrison’s 20th birthday. Onsite there will plenty of games, Food Trucks, and of course Garrison beer, plus local cider. The whole event is in support of the Ecology Action Centre, and Early-Bird Tickets are on sale now!

• Continuing with more from the world of homebrewing, last week we told you that HRM homebrew supply store Everwood Avenue Brewshop is moving to a new retail storefront and this week we’ve got more details to share with you. The new space is located at 731 Old Sackville Road in Lower Sackville and will be sporting regular retail hours six days a week, 10-6 on most days Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours into the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everwood owner Dave Gillette says the space is close to twice as large as his previous digs, an expansion he expects will help him increase the demographics served by the business as well as the product lines. Expect to see more beginner equipment (especially introductory kits), commercial kegs, stainless steel conicals in the range of 7 gallons to a full 1 barrel and, later in the year, the possibility of full-on turnkey brewing systems. Dave is hoping to open the doors on Tuesday, April 4th, so if you’re a homebrewer and especially a fan of Everwood, give a thought to heading out and saying hi to Dave in his new spot! And a quick note that Dave is still looking to hire a retail associate, be sure to reach out to him via email, phone, or social media to find out more.

And now for your regularly scheduled beer release news…

• Listen up, 2 Crows fans – there’s several new beers out/coming out from Halifax’s newest brewery, so let’s start plowing through! First up is Linnea, a “Finnish Imperial Stout” (history buffs may get that) weighing in at a heavy 9.1% ABV (and 62 IBUs). Aside from having the typical jet black appearance, thick mouthfeel, and plenty of roasted flavours seen in Imperial Stouts, some liquorice root, star anise, salt, and cardamom pods were added at flameout to mimic Salmiakki, a popular Finnish candy that is essentially very salty black liquorice. Linnea was tapped early this week as a very limited supply, so it may already be gone… but if not, grab some, quickly! Rumour has it a couple more small kegs may pop up at future events…

• Next up from 2 Crows is Fantacity, a dry-hopped Witbier. Described by the brewery as “citrusy, bright, juicy, and refreshing”, it was fermented cool with the Saison strain (grown up from a bottle of De Blaugies La Moneuse) used for the brewery’s Innisfree. With coriander and orange peel added at the end of the boil, and a heavy dry-hop addition of Citra, we probably don’t have to tell you what aromas and flavours to expect with this one! Highly quaffable at 5.1% ABV and 13 IBUs, this was brewed as a larger batch, so is available for pints and growlers at the brewery. Look for it to pop up at several bars in the HRM as well, if it hasn’t already.

• This coming weekend, 2 Crows will be releasing *another* new brew, Midnight Mood. Described as an American dry-hopped Porter, this 6.6% ABV, 39 IBUs beer is “roasty, dank, piney, and smooth”. Hopped with Bramling Cross, Chinook and Columbus, and then heavily dry-hopped with Simcoe, the pine and citrus from all those hops “helps brighten the roastiness” from the dark malts. A Brett-fermented version should be following sometime next week, one that was dry-hopped with Calypso and Citra, and that has an earthy, dry, and slightly funky flavour profile, “with an almost smokey character to it”. Be sure to get down to the brewery to give these beers a try! Also, keep your eyes on the 2 Crows social media – and this blog, of course – for more updates from the brewery, as they plan on releasing new pilot batches fairly regularly for the next while, including one keg of a “Sunflower Seed Brett Saison” that features a kilo of sunflower seeds that were home-malted by brewmaster Jeremy Taylor!

Meander River released a new beer late last week, and we’ve got the details for you now. Barn Swallow Farmhouse Ale was brewed entirely with Horton Ridge malt, a 70/30 mix of Pale and Munich. Mashed “long and slow” over a wide temperature range, the beer was fermented with a dry Belgian yeast strain, and then dry-hopped with Pacific Gem, a New Zealand variety. The result is a 5.5% ABV, dry, golden-coloured ale with fruit and spice in the aroma and taste, “alongside a mild-but-present hop character”. Look for it this weekend at the brewery and Forum Farmers Market.

Hammond River owner/brewer Shane Steeves may be away in sunny Cuba this week, but luckily for us he brewed up a new American IPA before he left us in the cold! Mount Carleton Grapefruit IPA was named after the highest summit in the Maritimes, and was fittingly hopped entirely with the Summit variety, bringing “citrus aromas of orange, tangerine, and grapefruit”. The beer also features the addition of freshly-zested grapefruit peel, to boost that characteristic even more. Coming in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs, it’s available at select HR accounts now.

• Fredericton’s Graystone has a new beer on tap to join their 10+ offerings brewed in-house – Lost Pale is being described as an American Pale Ale that is “light, easy-drinking, with some spicy notes”, thanks to the addition of Czech Saaz hops. Also hopped with Fuggles (no American varieties were used in this beer), it comes in 4.9% ABV and 50 IBUs; you can grab it on tap now at the brewery, and likely find it at a few establishments in the city.

• Since we spotted a tease about trial batches on their Instagram a month or so ago, we’ve been doing our best to get Lazy Bear Brewing to tell us about their latest brew. The time has finally come to give you the goods on Folly, a wild IPA expected to be available this coming week. Using a yeast from South Carolina wild yeast purveyors SouthYeast Labs, who also provided a different yeast strain for the Carolina Saison a few weeks back, this brew comes in at 6.2% ABV and a solid 54 IBU. The yeast provides some fruity characteristics, although more muted that those in the Carolina, and features Ontario-grown Perle and Wild Turkey in a generous dry-hop along with Nelson Sauvin. It’s got a fruity aroma, with elements of peaches, mangoes and berries complementing citrus notes from the hops. It’s hazy and deliciously fruity with a clean, refreshing finish. Look for the official announcement sometime next week on the brewery’s Instagram and/or Facebook pages. We’re told some kegs of this one might make their way to the city, but the only sure way to try it is to head down to the brewery and get it from the source! Brewmaster Erin also tells us they’ve got a third brew using a SouthYeast strain on the go right now, so look for news on that one in the coming weeks.

• In cider news this week, Annapolis Cider Company released the latest offering in their Something Different series yesterday. Toasted Oak & Maple began with their signature dry and cool-fermented cider that was then aged on French Oak and balanced with freshly-pressed juice from the Golden Russet and McIntosh varieties. A touch of Annapolis Valley-sourced maple syrup provided the finish, yielding a 7.9% ABV sparkling cider with notes of toasted oak, caramel and vanilla contrasting with tart apples and a hint of sweet maple on the finish. As always with the Something Different ciders, $0.50 from each refill will support a local cause, in this case the local Acadia University Chapter of Global Brigades, a student-led mobile health and dental initiative that provides annual clinics in Honduras.

• Making their debut at this month’s Fredericton Craft Beer Fest was the Moncton Craft Brewers Collective. The group of breweries and ciderhouses in southern New Brunswick is comprised of Acadie-BroueBeckwith RoadBore CityCeltic KnotFlying BoatsPump HouseScow Cider by Belliveau Orchard, and Tide & Boar Brewing. Their mission is to bring together the local craft brewing community, to support each other and elevate the support of local products. Look for them, and their members at next month’s Saint John Beerfest (April 8th) and Atlantic Beer Festival (May 27 & 28th). The Tide & Boar Gastropub will be the site of the MCBC’s Tap Takeover on April 22nd, featuring beer and cider from their members flowing all day.

• Great news for local beer fans on the South Shore of Nova Scotia! Currently located just outside of Bridgewater, FirkinStein Brewing has announced that they will be opening a satellite location on Bridgewater’s King Street. Aiming for a June opening, the second location will feature a 300 litre pilot system for more fun and experimental small batch brewing, *and* a storefront where folks can purchase bottles and growlers of their beer, and sit for a spell enjoying their selections on tap. We’ll keep you up-to-date with their progress as they aim for a late-spring opening.

• Propeller Brewing Company is hosting Brew Patriot Love, a Canada-wide toast on July 1st. They are encouraging breweries, and homebrewers, to brew up their take on a “quintessential Canadian lager”, and come together on Canada’s 150th birthday to release and share a bottle, can, pint, or glass (or all of the above). For those who want to partake, they are also holding the Great Canadian Lager Challenge, July 14-15, where a team of celebrity judges will choose the most Patriotic Beer and those beers with the best use of local and iconic ingredients. Check it out and sign up today!

• Planning and event details are trickling in for May’s Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week, May 5-14, and we can share that for the first time this year, the CBANS is releasing a special beer to celebrate. Collaboration Ale is an ode to the province’s roots, with an 80/- (Eighty Shilling) Scottish Ale being chosen to represent the more than thirty brewers who are members of CBANS. Brewed at Nine Locks, but with input from many members, the beer is a deep amber colour with caramel sweetness, weighing in at 4.7% ABV and 15 IBUs, and features malt from the province’s very own Horton Ridge Malt & Grain. The beer is pre-launching next Friday, March 31st, at Good Robot Brewing from noon. Drop by to get the first tastes of the beer before its full release, learn more about the full events list for NSCBW, and talk shop with brewers from across the province. Find out more here.

We’ve got lots of events coming in the next few weeks, be sure to check them out!

• Last month we mentioned an event at the Company House in Halifax that featured the beer of Tidehouse Brewing and a night of comedy. As it turns out, the folks at the Company House have been planning this as a regular event. Currently scheduled as a monthly thing, the event is known as Brew Ha-Ha and each time it will see a local brewery paired with comedians booked by Laugh House Comedy. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and entitle you to three 8oz tasters of beer from the featured brewery, a chocolate pairing from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and the comedy show. A designated driver ticket is also available at $10. The featured beers will be available at a discount price for the rest of the night and the pop-up kitchen will be in full effect with flatbreads, specialty tacos, shared plates and more. This month’s event will take place on Thursday, March 30th, and will feature the beers of North End stalwart Unfiltered Brewing along with the comedy stylings of Steve Mackie, Travis Lindsay and Frank Russo. Check out this post on the Brew Ha-Ha page for information on how to attend this months show for $15 if you buy your tickets before Sunday, March 26th. As additional Brew Ha-Ha events are scheduled we’ll be sure to keep you posted on the breweries (and comedians) involved.

• Charlottetown’s HopYard has really been nailing it with tap takeovers lately, and they’ve got another winner coming up soon! Next Friday, March 31st, they’ll be hosting Rose Valley’s BarNone Brewing, who will be pouring 8 of their beers, alongside Unfiltered‘s latest DIPA, Fist of God. The full list includes their Outback Blonde, Pale Ale, IPA, Citra Sessions, Black Eye P.A., RedEye P.A., La Vaca Loca, and Bitter Winter ESB. There will absolutely be a delightful food menu to pair with your beers, and as always, there’s no cost to attend, just pay by the beer/plate.

• In the HRM, Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing is holding a cross-harbour launch of the 2017 version of their award-winning Ra Ra Rasputin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout April 1st. There will be a whole slew of versions and variations of the beer, including a keg of the 2016 release, non-barrel-aged versions of 2017, plus casks of the non-barrel-aged beer with coffee, oak, or a variety of fruit. Starting at 11:30 at Battery Park on Ochterloney, and at noon at Stillwell on Barrington, with each getting at least one unique beer. Check out the event flyer here.

A few more beers have been released, or coming soon, this week:

– Good Robot is bringing back their Extra BIG-ASS Beer, their spin on a Marzen/Oktoberfest lager, with an amber colour, and light bitterness, from Perle and Willamette hops and fermented with an Oktoberfest lager yeast. Look for the re-release of this One-Off (Two-Off, we guess!) next week.
Grimross has added another beer to their canned lineup, Maritime Cream Ale (5% ABV), which joins their Maritime Pale Ale and recently-canned Pugnacious Porter.
Loyalist City‘s flagship Lupulus Interruptus IPA is back, with a slightly-tweaked recipe with even more hops (Cascade, Citra and Simcoe) than before! Look for it at your favourite LC accounts.
– PEI’s newest brewery, Moth Lane, has brewed up a new beer, a Red IPA named Eric the Red. Stay tuned for more details, soon.
– Halifax and Dartmouth’s North Brewing has released version 2.0 of White Lightning, their kettle sour, this time dry-hopped with Belma hops. Brewed in celebration of their super-hero neighbour Renee Lavallee’s The Canteen restaurant, the beer is available in bottles and growler fills on both sides of the harbour.
Pump House has brought back their Best Friend Marzen, which is available now in sixers at ANBL stores across New Brunswick.
Spindrift Blueberry Chai Pils is now available at the brewery, and will see a wider release to the other retail stores in early April.
Unfiltered has brought back their Riddle of Steel, a juicy West Coast-style IPA fermented on Conan yeast.
– Don’t forget that Upstreet will be releasing Go Devil, their American IPA, next Thursday, with a special launch party scheduled at the brewery from 6-8 pm. For more info on the beer, check out our post from a couple weeks ago.

Happy Friday, and happy St. Patrick’s Day! If being a Friday wasn’t a good enough excuse to drink, now you have two reasons! But before you reach for that beer (stay away from food colouring!), let’s take a few minutes to get caught up with our local beer news…

• The 2017 Fredericton Craft Beer Festival – the 5th year for the fest – was a huge success, and – as we can personally verify – one hell of a good time! With two sessions on Saturday, there were 58 breweries pouring over 220 beers, ciders, and meads, 5200+ L of beer served to ~1,750 people. Thanks to organizer Lloyd Chambers and 50 loyal volunteers, everything went smoothly, proving that the festival does indeed improve with every year. Several other events were also going on through the week (and even into Sunday), with plenty of beer lovers turning out to take part. This was also the first year for the Down East Brewing Awards, which had close to 140 different beers and ciders entered by commercial breweries in Atlantic Canada. The winners were announced at the FCBF afternoon session, and Fredericton’s TrailWay took home Brewery of the Year, thanks to winning three gold medals and Best of Show (check out the link for the full list of winners). Congratulations! Thanks again to everyone who helped to make FCBF such a success, and we’ll see you next year, with a date of March 10th already set! And don’t forget to vote for Best of the Fest, rewarding your favourite breweries that attended this year’s event.

• Attention Newfoundland Beer Fans! Split Rock Brewing Company is coming soon to Twillingate, on the island’s Northeast shore. Allison and Matt Vincent are residents of the town, and were living and working away from home for several years. In the mid-2000s, while living in Halifax, they caught the craft beer bug, and began homebrewing. Starting with wine and beer kits, they graduated to brewing All Grain in 2010, and haven’t looked back since. Like many avid homebrewers, the idea of starting a brewery in their hometown was always in the back of their mind, but at that time, just a dream. An opportunity for Allison to move back home in 2014 brought them back to Twillingate, and, as Allison puts it, “with the tourism industry booming and many young people moving home, we knew it needed a microbrewery!” Local businesspeople Tim and Robin Vatcher share their vision to bring a growth industry back to the region, and are helping to bring Split Rock Brewing Co to fruition. Brewmaster Matt will be brewing on a 500 litre (4 BBL) system from Colorado Brewing Systems, capable of a full brewday in only four hours, with 3800 litres of fermentation capacity for a wide variety of beers on the go simultaneously. Speaking of which, they are fans of brewing (and drinking) English-style beer, and will be launching with a variety of those, including a Bitter, Red Ale (with Rye), Brown Ale, Stout, and IPA, as well as a Belgian Witbier and Cream Ale. Split Rock will be hitting the local taps late spring; stay tuned to their social media and here for the full scoop!

• Down in Digby, NS, Roof Hound has taken taken one of the truly formative steps in the life of a young brewery by hiring an assistant brewer. Magen Powell is a veteran of the restaurant industry where she has worked on and off since she was 19 years of age, serving, bartending and managing. Her stint with Nova Scotia draught and tap experts BeerTech helped her develop a solid technical understanding and the skills needed to install and maintain dispensing systems. This also helps her bring another perspective to brewing in terms of how beer and other carbonated liquids behave and the influence of different gases (CO2, “beer gas”, Nitro, etc.) in dispensing. Magen’s first foray in the brewhouse is the Dive Bar Classics series, beginning with the Mojito Dry-hopped Sour that was released on March 4th. This series reflects her passion for being a “bar chef” and her interest in craft cocktails featuring local ingredients. The next in the series, Fuzzy Navel IPA was brewed this week and you can expect it to debut in April. We’ll be sure to get more details about that one as the release date approaches.

• Meanwhile, Roof Hound is also putting on something special for your St. Patrick’s day celebration today – they’ve taken their Handsome Devil Coffee Milk Porter and jazzed it up with almonds, vanilla bean and Irish Whiskey. The result is 7% ABV and there’s only one keg of it down at the brewery. So if you’re in the Digby area tonight and fixing for something dark, smooth and sweet, this one sounds like a good bet!

• In other St. Paddy’s Day beer news, Fredericton’s Picaroons just released The Leprechaunundrum, a dark, bitter, 6.5% ABV ale that doesn’t appear to fit into any particular style of beer. Described by the brewery as “dry and full-bodied, yet fruity due to the generous amounts of Galaxy hops”, it’s now on tap at all Picaroons locations across New Brunswick, and may pop up at select bars/restaurants in the near future.

Bulwark Cider’s special People’s Cider Project is ready for prime-time! We first mentioned it in October, when they put out the call for folks with hobby orchards, abandoned orchards, or just some apple trees on their property to bring apples to Ross Farm Museum for Cider Days. The original hope was simply that enough cider would be made to share with all the apple-givers who were issued People’s Cider Memberships in exchange for their apples. In the end things went a whole lot better than that and the first community-driven cider project in Nova Scotia (at least in recorded memory) is a great success. The People’s Cider has arrived and was launched this week. A rustic cider coming in at 7.8% ABV, it features aromas of apple blossom, pear, and clover honey and has a crisp, dry finish. Given the many varieties of apples it contains, some of which have surely been all but forgotten, it expresses true terroir; future versions are bound to be different, but this is your chance to taste the very first. Available in 500ml bottles, you’ll be able to find it at the private liquor stores in Halifax as well as the NSLC Port of Wines store. If you’re not in Halifax, or even in Nova Scotia, and you want to get your hands on this special batch, fear not! Bulwark has now launched an online store shipping cider and branded merchandise country-wide. This is great news for both Bulwark and cider fans across the land; now if only breweries were allowed to do the same thing…

• After a brief hiatus, Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing has brought back their Killick Session Lager this week, but in a big way. The 4.7% ABV Munich Helles-style beer, originally released as Kinobier last fall to celebrate Devour! Film Fest, is now available in six-pack format. The Helles (“Bright” or “Pale”) style is a traditional German style of beer, known to be supremely drinkable, and the local version does not disappoint. Featuring Heidelberg Malt as the sole grain, and a light bitterness from Herkules hops (with Huell Melon for aroma and flavour), these ingredients keep the beer authentically German. Six-packs are available now at the brewery and at Bishop’s Cellar on the Halifax waterfront, and debuting at the NSLC Monday, April 3rd. And in an update for you Blueberry Chai Pils fans (or soon-to-be fans), packaging of this beer will be happening early next week, with release mid-next-week at the brewery, and with the standard Spindrift Tall Boy cans debuting at the NSLC April 3rd.

• Moncton’s Tide & Boar Brewing is holding another Growler Day today, with a pair of beers available to go. Method IPA is a hazy and juicy, orange hoppy beer with lots of citrus and peach notes, according to the brewery. Clocking in at 7% ABV, the brewery assures us it’s “new and improved”! T&B’s latest sour beer will also be pouring – Sour Otis Tangelo Oranges features, yes, tangelo, a citrus fruit that is a hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit. The details stop there, but assuming this beer follows the trend set by the others in the Sour Otis series, it was likely kettle soured to give plenty of tartness to complement the character from the fruit addition.

• We’ve got lots of news to share about Sober Island Brewing, who are putting the final touches on their major expansion at their brewery (new building, and a 820 litre (7BBL) brewhouse, up from 50 litre). They expect to be brewing on the system before the end of the month, which means an April launch. In the meantime, however, they will be adding a brand new beer to their core lineup, a Blonde Ale very soon. Described as a “bread and butter sort of beer” by owner Rebecca Atkinson, the easy drinking brew uses a different yeast than the rest of their year-round offerings, low in hop profile, but with plenty of character. The approachable beer is meant to introduce local drinkers to the wonderful world of small batch beer. First sips and samples will be available at the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market this Sunday.

• This week’s edition of The Coast, Halifax’s alt-weekly, is beer-centric, so be sure to grab it to learn about what local brewers are drinking, an interview with Propeller Brewing’s John Allen, and some suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day drinking from the 902BrewCast guys. Speaking of which, they have released their March Tasting Episode this morning, so be sure to grab that in your favourite podcasting method.

• The annual Saint John Beer Fest is coming up fast (Saturday, April 8th), and Flying Boats will be attending with a brand new beer in tow. Brewed in collaboration with local beer writer Craig Pinhey, it’s being stylized as a “hybrid Amber Ale” brewed to feature the Special B malt. Known for imparting raisin-like, dark fruit characteristics when used in brewing, Special B is more often seen in dark, Belgian-style ales. Flying Boats’ beer also has NB-grown Cascade hops added for bittering and flavour, and will come in at around 29 IBUs and 5.5% ABV. If you can’t make it to the SJBF – there are a few tickets still on sale, by the way – fear not! This one will also be on tap at Flying Boats accounts.

• The NB maple beers continue to flow, as Foghorn just released their take on the style. Described by the brewery as a “Maple Rye”, Xylem has a subtle maple flavour thanks to the addition of 20 L of maple syrup from local producer Briggs Maples. Hopped to 35 IBUs with Southan Goldings, giving a moderate bitterness in the finish. The beer weighs in at 5.7% ABV, and is available now for pints and growler fills at the brewery’s taproom; keep your eyes peeled, as it may pop up on tap at your favourite Foghorn licensee, soon. And keep an eye out for more Maple Beers, launched as a Tourism NB partnership between maple producers and brewers. Also on the list is Distillerie Fils du Roy‘s Monseigneur Paquet collaboration with their Pacquetville neighbours, Sucrerie Chiasson.

• In Nackawic, you’ll find Big Axe putting out their Maple Bourbon Porter, a 5.4% ABV brown porter with a light to medium body and a mild bitterness. The maple syrup for this beer came from Dumfries Maples across the river. Bourbon-soaked oak chips were added to the secondary along with a second shot of maple syrup. Continuing the maple theme, Big Axe will also be doing their annual Maple Wheat Amber as soon as the sugaring season starts, with their usual partner Stone Family Maple Products providing the syrup for that one. We’ll update you on that one as the season goes on.

• And speaking of Fils du Roy, they will be releasing a new beer next weekend, as part of an event in Bathurst. Capt. Craig Brown Ale is a 5.5% ABV, 28 IBU beer named after famous/infamous Capt Craig, a maurader in the Baie de Chaleur, and whose phantom ship is thought to sail the Baie to this day. Le Soiree Noir & Blanc is a fundraising supper happening in Bathurst Mar 25th, in support of food security and assistance for the region’s youth. After the launch, bottles of the beer will be more widely available at the region’s ANBL locations.

In addition to today’s excuse to grab a few pints at your local, we’ve got a few more reasons to celebrate local: 

• Happy One Year Anniversary to Fredericton’s York County Cider! Drop by their retail location at 418 York Street this afternoon from 4-7pm for free sampling, snacks, and prizes.

• Wolfville’s La Torta Pizzeria will be hosting a very special event tomorrow, Saturday the 18th, their first (we think!) tap takeover, as Tatamagouche Brewing comes in from the North Shore. Twelve, count ’em, 12 taps will be flowing with Tata’s signature brews starting at 2pm. There will be door prizes, swag, live music featuring Steve Lee, and no cover charge. The tap list has been slowly revealed this week via social media, with taps 1-4 showcasing the lighter side and taps 5-8 banging the hops. Taps 8-12 are yet to be revealed; check Tata’s Twitter throughout the day for the announcement. And plan to bring an appetite, as La Torta’s Neapolitan-style wood-fired oven will be in full swing.

PEI Brewing Co. will be holding a special Tap Takeover at HopYard on Saturday, March 25th, where they will be launching their dry-hopped Brett Saison. Aptly named Patience, this beer was brewed almost six months ago. With a grist of 2-row, Munich malt, and wheat, it was fermented with a Saison strain, as well as the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces, which can continue to develop funky flavours and aromas when given enough time. Once it was about ready, it was then dry-hopped with the tropical Citra and Mosaic varieties, and primed (carbonated) in the bottle for several weeks. This is the first Brett (and bottle-conditioned) beer for PEIBC, so be sure to grab a few bottles when you can! Aside from the PEIBC tap takeover, the event will feature lots of live music, as well as a limited edition menu collaboration with Chef Jane Crawford and Chef Adam Loo. Bring your appetites! It all starts at 4 pm, with no cover.

• On April 2nd (rescheduled from March 25 due to shipping issues), Halifax’s Stillwell Beer Bar will be hosting a BC Brewery Tap Takeover, featuring 3 heavy-hitters from the West Coast: Brassneck Brewery in Vancouver, Four Winds Brewing from Delta, and Dageraad of Burnaby. Featuring a wide variety in styles of beer, including Brassneck’s Changeling Raspberry Sour, Four Winds’ Featherweight Session IPA, and Dageraad’s Sri Lanka Dubbel. No tickets required for the event, and the doors open at noon. For the full taplist, check out the Brewnosers Forums for the salivating details.

• Now that FCBF is over, it’s time to start planning for the next beer-themed Fredericton event – Poutine Fest! Scheduled for Saturday, April 29th, like past events it will feature three different sessions, with two of them (late afternoon and evening) pouring over 12 different beers, ciders and meads. There are different ticket options which determine the number of drink tickets you receive (click out the link for details); of course, all tickets include all-you-can-eat poutine, with 12+ different varieties being available! Tickets go on sale today at 11 am; the event has sold out every time since its initial launch, so be sure to grab yours ASAP.

• And if summer doesn’t feel too far away for you, we have news on a new festival coming up! The first Big Axe Craft Beer Festival will be held in downtown Nackawic, NB on Saturday, July 15th from 4-8 pm. Organized by Peter and Tatiana Cole of Big Axe Brewery, exact details are still being ironed out, but there will be 20+ breweries from NB, NS, PEI and Maine on hand, as well as live music (including David in the Dark), and food vendors offering “an assortment of foods grown and sourced in NB”. Tickets are already on sale, and are $50 each; there is also a limited-availability $65 option, which includes a bus ride to and from the festival from Fredericton or Woodstock. Breweries confirmed so far include Grimross, Maybee, Hammond River, Picaroons, Sober Island, Foghorn, Upstreet, Petit-Sault, Red Rover, Sunset Heights Meadery, and Portland, Maine’s Urban Farm Fermentory. Be sure to buy your tickets ASAP, before they’re gone!

And before we go this week…

Good Robot will have their Dave & Morley Coffee Brown back on tap as of today in version 2.0 form, this time featuring Rwanda Kanzu (from Java Blend, of course) as the coffee component. So pull up a stool, order one up, and maybe lift your glass to the late, great Stuart McLean, who inspired this brew. Meanwhile, the gang has installed their Buffalo Trace whiskey barrels and will shortly be pouring things into them; we’ll let you know what when the appropriate time comes.
Mill Street St John’s has brought back their Jigger’s Delight Cali Common (5% ABV, 14 IBUs), a hybrid between lager and ale that is described as “fresh and zingy, with medium body and toasty caramel notes”.
– Needing a Nine Locks Fathom fix? Good news, it’s back in cans again! This 8% ABV DIPA recently won a medal in the Down East Brewing Awards, so stock up while you can!
– Picaroons has announced that they’re looking to fill two brewing positions, one at the Saint John brewery, and one in St. Stephen. Both breweries are 2.5 hL in size, double-batching into 5 hL. For a full list of qualifications and contact info, check out this link.
– The region’s Homebrewers, especially those in the HRM, will be excited to hear that Everwood Avenue Brewshop is relocating out of owner Dave Gillette’s basement and into a retail space in Lower Sackville. This will mean regular retail hours six days a week, and only closing on Mondays. The space is roughly twice as large and will allow the shop to expand its product lines and better cater to different market segments. We’ll have more details before the expected opening on April 5th, but for now can tell you that they’re looking for a full-time employee for the new space. You can find the details of the position posted on the Brewnoser’s forum.

Happy Friday, beer enthusiasts! The weekend is upon us, and we’ve got a slew of new beers to share with you today. For those of you in and visiting the Fredericton region, we’ll see you at this weekend’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival (*ahem* Saturday afternoon tickets are still available), and the accompanying events. Be sure to say hi to Shawn and Chris, especially if you see them at the “Drink Like a Judge” table during the afternoon session. And be sure to bring some non-perishable food items (and/or cash) to the Propeller table, as they are collecting donations for Greener Village. For your donations, you’ll get some great Prop merchandise. And again, thanks for all of you who came out for our ACBB Trivia / NS Tap Takeover at the KSAH last night; we had a blast, and thanks to those breweries who generously contributed prizes!

• Good news, Lazy Bear fans! They’ve just released a brand new beer, Carolina, a Belgian Saison. With a simple grist of Pilsner malt and wheat, it was fermented with a special Farmhouse yeast strain that was isolated from South Carolina blueberries by Southyeast Labs. Producing “notes of straw and spice”, there is also a subtle tartness thanks to the light production of acid by the yeast. It was also hopped with Hallertau, and comes in at 5.5% ABV. It was pouring at Good Robot‘s Femmebot event earlier this week, as well as in growlers at the brewery; it may pop up at other tap accounts in the near future. In other Lazy Bear news, we’ll be seeing another beer from them soon, also featuring a wild yeast from South Carolina, but in the IPA style. We’ll definitely have more on that one once it has an official name and full details are available.

• Breweries around the region are using more and more Horton Ridge Malt these days and the Paddy’s Pub locations in Kentville and Wolfville just up Highway #1 are no exception. Horton Ridge Rye IPA was brewed using not only barley malted at Horton Ridge, but Rye that was grown, malted and brewed within a 7 kilometre radius. “A juicy, fruity IPA with a light rye spiciness,” according to brewer Kirsten MacDonald, the Horton Ridge malt provides an aromatic element not as present with other malts. The hops are a mixture of the classic American Cascade, the recent new world favourite Amarillo, and relative newcomers El Dorado and Triple Pearl, all blending together for a citrusy nose and flavour. It comes in at 7.2% ABV and a healthy, but not overpowering, 65 IBU.

• Halifax nano Tidehouse wanted to head up to Fredericton to enjoy the FCBF, but when you’re a 3-person show and everyone’s hitting the road, how do you keep the shop open and not miss a weekend of sales? Enter local home brewer and friend of Tidehouse, Ian Wheatley, and his pal Nick Snell. They’ll be minding the store on Salter Street starting today, providing growler fills to thirsty patrons. To sweeten the deal, Ian was offered the opportunity to do production runs of two of his own beers on the Tidehouse system and sell them alongside two regular TH offerings. You may even see Ian’s beers available on taps around town in the coming weeks; if we hear anything more on that we’ll be sure to let you know.

• The first brew from Lil’Wheatey is The Bellhop, a classic American IPA. This beer took a bronze medal in Hamilton, Ontario, at the Because Beer National Homebrew Competition this past summer. With a restrained malt bill to showcase the hops, and featuring prominent stone fruit and citrus flavorus, the beer weighs in at 6.2% ABV and a reasonable 60ish IBU.

• Ian’s other contribution to the lineup, Tic Lac Toe, is a kettle sour based on a Belgian wheat beer recipe that traditionally uses spice and fruit additions. Blueberries provide a characteristic pink colour and provide a complement to the sourness of the style. A pure strain of Lactobacillus buchneri was used to achieve a very clean sourness. Additional fermentables were added post-souring to bring the ABV into the 5% range, while maintaining a low final gravity for a crisp finish. As with many examples of the style, some spicy hops were added, but with a light hand, resulting in a very mild 7-8 IBU.

• A brand new beer will be available at the PEI Brewing Company today with a solid slate of events to mark the occasion. Big Don Coffee Belgian Blonde juxtaposes a pale, yeast-forward style with coffee flavours more commonly associated with darker brews. The PEIBC team worked with their friends at Receiver Coffee Co to select a bean and roast that would accentuate the fruity and spicy notes of the beer while adding chocolate and citrus elements to the finish. This 7.5% ABV brew will be available in cans from the brewery and, to celebrate the release, Receiver will be running a pop-up shop in house from 11am to 5pm, followed by a sampling of Big Don and a Songwriter’s Circle from 5-7pm. And keep an eye on local PEILCCs for the return of cans of their 8 Cord Double IPA this week, and a special new release coming in a couple of weeks (hint, this required quite a bit of Patience to put together).

• There’s two brand new beers coming out of TrailWay Brewing this week, both of which will be appearing at FCBF. First up is Maple Drip, a 9% ABV “Maple Imperial Stout” released a couple of days ago. We initially mentioned this beer in an earlier post, in conjunction with the NB government providing benefits to breweries that produce beer made with local maple syrup. TW used approximately 60 L of syrup from Briggs Maples, and also added some bourbon-soaked oak chips to complement to give “subtle maple, oak and bourbon undertones”. Next up is a new American IPA, Green Island. It weighs in at 6% ABV and features large additions of three relatively-new-to-TW hop varieties: Cashmere, El Dorado, and Idaho 7. Based on this, we can likely expect citrus, melon, and candy-like notes in the beer, but we won’t know for sure till we try it! In addition to being at FCBF (where they’ll also have Hoppy McHazy and Hu Jon Hops) and tap accounts across Fredericton, both beers are available in cans (Green Island is releasing today).

• There’s a new beer out from Saint John’s Loyalist City, and it should still be pouring in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Fittingly, Black 47 is an “Irish Coffee Stout” that was brewed with Maris Otter and Flaked Barley; the sweet wort from this mash was then blended with wort from another mash of Roasted Barley and black-kilned malt. A small portion of Chocolate malt was added as well, with the resulting blend receiving hop additions of both East Kent Goldings and Fuggles, to 35 IBUs. Fermented cool with an Irish yeast strain, the beer then had some freshly-ground, dark roasted coffee beans added in secondary, along with some cacao nibs. The result of all this work? A jet-black, “medium-bodied dry Stout with a pronounced roasted flavor, reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate that complements a moderate bitterness and a hint of sweetness on the finish”. Easy-drinking at 4.7% ABV, look for it on tap at the Cask & Kettle, as well as at the Uptown, Eastpoint, and KV ANBL growler stations next week for fills.

• There are two new small batch beers available at 2 Crows Brewing this week, available only on tap at the taproom on Brunswick Street. Neon Nights is an 8.5% ABV Brettanomyces-conditioned beer, featuring some funky and tart characteristics, which was conditioned on burnt orange peel. (Luckily for you FCBF-folks, they will be pouring this one tomorrow) The next truly taproom-only release (can we coin the Attempted Murder Beer Series??) is Panhandle Slim, a Grisette. Grisette is the little sister to Farmhouse Saisons, originally brewed to satisfy miner’s thirst after a long day working underground. Panhandle Slim features a variety of grains in the malt bill, including spelt, wheat, oats and rye, and has been conditioning for 7 months on Brettanomyces, resulting in a refreshing beer with a light body and funkiness. With only one small keg available, this beer will be sure to kick this weekend.

• Does your palate and/or nose like to be challenged when drinking beer? If so, Boxing Rock‘s latest beer, My Mate, may be what you’re looking for! Billed as a “Secret Recipe Stout”, this was brewed as a collaboration with former Gahan/Rogue’s Roost head brewer Karen Allen. As advertised, it contains a secret ingredient; your job is to identify it. Tweet a picture of the beer with your guess of the secret ingredient, and you win a – of course – “secret” prize! The contest closes this Monday at noon. This “savoury, sweet, and well-seasoned” Stout is available at the brewery, and should also be available in bottles today at Rockhead, Bishop’s Cellar today or tomorrow, and on tap this weekend at the Henry House, Battery Park, and Stillwell. (We’re pretty sure they won’t mind you bringing in a box of oranges or rolls of cinnamon or bushel of cucumbers to capture that pic 😉  )

Upstreet will be at the FCBF this weekend, pouring their latest collaboration beer, Rye’D On, brewed in conjunction with Picaroons. That beer will be released next week in PEI, and we can also expect another new one at the end of the month. Go Devil is an American IPA that was brewed with a single malt, Maritime Pale, and generously hopped with Citra, El Dorado, and Simcoe. Weighing in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs, the brewery promises that it packs a “juicy, tropical, piney, and citrus punch”; with those hop varieties, we’re not surprised! Islanders can expect this one to be released at the end of the month, on March 30th.

• Fredericton’s Graystone Brewing is also releasing a brand new beer at this weekend’s FredCraftBeerFest, Patagonia IPA. Based on their Patagonia Pale Ale, they boosted the body, bitterness, and alcohol to bring it up to what they look for in an IPA style. Featuring plenty of tropical fruit and piney resin from the hops, the full-bodied 6.6% ABV, 80 IBU beer is launching tomorrow, with it hitting draft lines at the taproom shortly as well.

• Nackawic’s Big Axe has been very busy lately! They have four new beers, all of which that will be debuting at FCBF tomorrow. First up is their Sumac Sour (4.8% ABV), a kettle-soured beer that has locally-harvested sumac berries added after fermentation was complete. Dark amber with a crimson hue, this tart beer was also dry-hopped to add some fruity hop notes on the nose.

• Let’s move on to their first Lager. Currently unnamed, this is an amber-coloured beer that was fermented cool with a Lager yeast strain, before being lagered at cold temperatures for a period. With a light maltiness in the flavour, it has more hop flavour than expected, thanks to a dry-hop addition. It still comes out with very good clarity, and is quite refreshing at 5% ABV and 25 IBUs.

• The third beer Big Axe will be pouring is a variation on a special one-off brew they poured at last year’s festival, Bootlegger v 2.0 Imperial Stout. The 8.0% ABV beer was brewed with molasses and bitter orange peel, to complement the big body and roast character from the underlying Stout. A pair of casks have been further aged on American oak chips, with those being tapped at the James Joyce Saturday as well.

•  Last, but not least from B.A., is Oatmeal Cream Ale, featuring Extra Pale malt and Oats for a light straw colour, notes of hazelnuts, and a full, silky mouthfeel thanks to the oats. Extremely drinkable, with nice character to keep you wanting more. After the Festival, all four beer will be available at their taproom in Nackawic, and at their tap accounts in Fredericton.

• In important news for Nova Scotia breweries, the lawyer representing Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing appeared in court earlier this week, following up on their challenge of the legality of the Retail Sales Markup Allowance (RSMA) collected by the NSLC. Arguing that the NSLC (a) does not take part in the production, packaging, or delivery of the beer that Unfiltered (and many other breweries in the province) brews, and (b) does not have the authority to collect what is effectively a tax, lawyer Richard Norman requested the refund of more than $35,000 in funds that had been paid, and that the RSMA be declared invalid. The judge has yet to render a decision, and will do so within the next six months. You can rest assured we’ll pass along information as we receive it, as this will affect all breweries and beer drinkers in the province! You can read more about the original filing, and this week’s hearing online.

Here’s what’s going on this weekend in our region:

• This year’s Péché Day – a celebration of one of Canada’s highest-rated beers, Dieu du Ciel!‘s Péché Mortel – is happening Saturday, March 11th. Luckily for all of us, this year three Maritime bars have been selected to participate! What does this mean? It means that these three locations – the King Street Ale House, Stillwell, and Tide & Boar – will have six different variants of the coffee-infused Imperial Stout on tap for you to enjoy (check out the event poster for a list of all expected). It’ll simply be pay-as-you-go at all three spots, but be warned, this is a big beer!

• After tomorrow’s Beer Fest at the Convention Centre in Fredericton, stumble over to The Snooty Fox for a Tap Takeover by PEI Brewing/Gahan, with live music by The Hypochondriacs starting at 9:30pm. They’ll be bringing ten different beers, including some special releases, so there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

Before we leave you for this week, here are a few parting shots:

– British Columbia’s Central City Brewers and Distillers is releasing a special 12-pack of collaborative brews in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary. Atlantic Canadian breweries Quidi Vidi, Garrison, Picaroons, and PEI Brewing are all part of the Red Racer Across The Nation Collaboration, which we expect to be available at local LCs in the spring. We’ll have details on the four local beers when available, in the meantime here’s a bit more information.
Good Robot managed to get a keg of Red Moon Landing on tap for their FemmeBot event on Wednesday, but due to a chiller issue, the remainder of that AlphaBrew batch won’t be available until this coming Wednesday. Meanwhile, you can enjoy their March Madness Cribbage Tournament on Sunday, March 12, with 32 players and a potential $150 pot, or this month’s Silent Reading event on Thursday the 16th.
– For those of you in the Annapolis Valley, be sure to request your Lunn’s Mill Growler Delivery ASAP, and ask for their brand new Eclipse Black IPA. Hoppy, roasty, and with plenty of bitterness, it’ll get you warmed up after shovelling out from the snow that may be coming our way this weekend.
– Mil Street St John’s has released their Black Bart Brown Ale earlier this week, featuring El Dorado hops. The 5.5% ABV and 35 IBU beer is named after Black Bart, a pirate who terrorized Newfoundland, starting in the 17th century. Look for the beer to be released at the end of the month, or early March.
– If you love the DOA from Unfiltered Brewing, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s back at the brewery and next door at Charm School as of today at noon. Same 100+ IBU. Same 7.5% ABV. Double Orange Apocalypse.

Happy Friday, beer lovers, and welcome to a warm weekend! Whether it’s freezing out or everything is beginning to thaw, there’s always plenty to report on beer news in our region, and this week has been no exception. Let’s get right to it…

• Starting off with some brewery expansion news, Bruce Barton, owner/brewer of Riverview, New Brunswick’s Celtic Knot Brewing, has confirmed that he will be increasing production, from the current 80 L system to a 3.75 BBL (~435 L) within the next couple of months. The current Celtic Knot brewery is located within Bruce’s home, but the new system will be in a separate location in Riverview, where you will be able to drop by to have growlers filled of your favourite CK beers! We’ll be sure to keep you updated on their progress.

Tidehouse will be releasing another of their one-off beers today – Oaked Island is an American Pale Ale, solely and heavily hopped with Centennial, and fermented on French oak (previously soaked in Russian vodka). This unique combination results in flavours of “citrus, pine, and floral notes” from the Centennial, with a “soft, subtle vanilla character” thanks to the oak. Coming in at just 4.9% ABV, it will be available at the TH retail shop on Salter, as well as on tap at Stillwell, Battery Park, and Water & Bone. Look for future one-offs to be released on Fridays in the future – this is a change from previous releases, which have occurred on Wednesdays. Hey, we definitely benefit from that!

• The gang at Good Robot has some news and new beers for us this coming week, but also slipped a new beer onto the taps the other day. Dubbel Trubbel came about when Kelly Costello and a co-worker were inspired by a recipe in a homebrew magazine that included star anise and dates. Leveraging GR’s unofficial beer knowledge program that allows employees to try out brewing for themselves, they put the recipe into action, albeit minus the star anise and the dates. Featuring Pilsner, Aromatic, Munich, Vienna, Special B, and Cara-Munich malts, along with Belgian Candi sugar, the beer weighs in at 5.7% ABV. It was fermented with a Belgian Saison yeast, so a little outside the traditional Dubbel style. Brewed on their Beta System, be sure to drop by right away to avoid missing this limited release.

 

• The big news for Good Robot this week is that they’ve found themselves an assistant brewer. Jake Charles DeWolfe is now on the scene, and to celebrate there will be a twin pack of new releases in the GR taproom on Tuesday. The first is DeWolfe of Wall Street, in the American Pale Ale style, a complementary beer to brewmaster Doug’s Burban Legend, mirroring the yin Jake will bring to Doug’s yang. We presume. With a simple malt bill of 2-row, Pilsner and Vienna underpinning a hop schedule that includes Cascade for bittering, Mount Hood for dry hop and both for aroma during a whirlpool, this 6.3% ABV pale comes in high and hard with citrus hop flavours and a dry, crisp finish, but only 29 IBU. Joining that beer will be a BetaBrewed Mexican Lager for which a suitably Good Robot name has not yet been determined. At a very light 4.7% ABV and a barely there 14 IBU, it’s built around pale malt, flaked corn and Vienna for a touch of biscuity flavor, and agave nectar, all paired with the noble Tettnang hop variety, and fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast. This one is likely to be dangerously crushable and reminiscent of a summer day at the lake.

• Over in Burnside, Spindrift has some releases in the coming months that they’re teasing on social media. The Killick is labeled as a “session lager” but has been referred to elsewhere as a Munich Helles, a classic German style that is fairly low alcohol, light-bodied, malt-balanced and designed to go down easy. This will be their first packaging in 355ml cans and it will be available in six packs from the brewery sometime around mid-March and then the NSLC later on. Spindrift are also going to have a seasonal single serve slot at the NSLC and the first two offerings will be the Blueberry Chai Pils we mentioned last week from April to June (also available a the brewery in mid-March) and the Blood Orange India Pale Lager from July to September. We’ll surely have more details for you about these beers and their availability as their official release dates approach.

• Digby’s Roof Hound has brewed up an interesting new beer, which will be the first in their upcoming Dive Bar Classic Cocktail series, where all the beers will be inspired by well-known cocktails. This first brew is a Mojito Sour – “partially kettle-soured” (meaning half the batch was soured, and then blended with the non-soured half), it will be dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial, and also feature the addition of fresh mint, and lime zest and juice. The official launch party for this brew will be held on Saturday, March 4th; we’ll keep you updated on the official stats for this one when they’re confirmed.

• Word hit the street last week that Greg Nash has brought his Russian Imperial Stout, Commissar to Unfiltered. Last seen during his time at the Hart & Thistle, many have lamented that it was on tap when that establishment closed and the last batch was never properly finished. This time around, the beer was aged on oak for months and fortified with J.D. Shore Black Rum from Halifax Distilling Co.. Promising a slightly sweet flavour with lots of dark fruit and hints of bitter chocolate, it is said to be reminiscent of rum cake. It will be available as of noon today at the brewery for growler fills, Charm School for pints, and both the brewery and Bishop’s Cellar for bottles ($16/500ml). This one is likely to get even better with age, so definitely consider grabbing a couple bottles for your cellar when you pop in for your first taste. But be aware, at 11.6% ABV and full of rum, this one is likely to have you throwing rocks at your own house if you’re not careful!

Red Rover has a new, very-limited batch cider pouring at the Cider House in Fredericton. Just released earlier this week, Blood Orange is a 7% ABV semi-dry cider infused with blood orange juice. Tart and crisp, yet balanced by the accompanying sweetness, it’s available for pours only (no flagon fills) due to the limited supply; however, if feedback is quite positive, there’s a good chance a larger batch will be made in the future. Look for it on tap at James Joyce and Graystone, as well.

• Look for a new beer to be released from FirkinStein very soon – Project Orange is described as a “light, easy-drinking ale with a slight orange tang” by the brewery, despite weighing in at a fairly hefty 7% ABV. With a slight citrus hop presence in the background thanks to the addition of Cascade, there was also plenty of orange juice added. It will be making its debut at tomorrow’s Craft Beer Cottage Party, and should also be pouring at Battery Park shortly afterwards.

Big Tide and Picaroons have joined forces to brew a collaboration beer, a Doppelbock named The Uphill Battle. The recipe was concocted between the two breweries, and the beer mashed-in on Big Tide’s system (featuring a grist of Bohemian Pilsner, Munich, CaraMunich and Carafoam). Half of the resultant wort stayed at Big Tide, and the other half was transported to the Picaroons General Store location; both were then boiled, hopped (with Magnum and Perle), and fermented at their respective homes with a dry Lager yeast. Coming in at 6.5% ABV, this malty, toasty brew will be going on tap at the Big Tide brewpub and the General Store tomorrow.

• Big news in Halifax from what will be one of the smallest breweries in the region by design – brought to you by the folks behind Stillwell Beer Bar, Stillwell Brewing will be focused on small-batch mixed-fermentations and oak barrel aging, and might possibly be the first brewery of its kind in Canada. Taking up some space in the back area of Propeller Brewing in the North End of Halifax, expect very small scale, periodic bottle releases, and very rare keg tappings (most of which will happen at SW and their Beer Garden). We’ll keep you updated on this exciting bit of info as it develops! In the meantime, follow Stillwell Brewing on Instagram for some pics on behind the scenes activity.

• The NSLC released their third quarter financial results covering the three months ending December 31st, 2016, and the news for Nova Scotia Craft Beer continues to be good. While overall beer sales were down 0.4%, craft beer sales continued to grow, with a 29.5% increase to $2.5m over the same quarter in the previous year. Though this increase isn’t quite as large as seen in first (48.4%) and second (39.7) quarters, it shows the industry still has room to grow. It will certainly be interesting to see whether Q4 shows a continuation of this trend and also whether additional shelf space for craft beer will carry the trend into the next fiscal year.

There’s a whole whack of events going on over the next few days, especially in the HRM… take your pick from below and be sure to head out over the weekend!

Tonight, the Stubborn Goat will be holding a tap takeover with Charlottetown, PEI’S Upstreet, in the Flight Night at the Goat. Eight Upstreet beers will be on tap, including Smoked Porter from their One Way series. There’s no cover; just show up for plenty of beer, plus food pairings and flight specials! All of the Upstreet crew will be there, anxious to meet you and chat about everything beer!

• Been too long since the last <insert amazing brewery here> tap takeover at Stillwell for ya? Well, it really hasn’t been that long at all, but good news! Tomorrow, February 25th, they’ll be hosting a Le Castor takeover, with 12 amazing beers pouring all day. One of Quebec’s highest-regarded breweries, they’re bringing some real winners, such as Colorado (a “dry-hopped Wild Ale”) and Sanctuaire (a Tripel aged in red wine barrels with Brett). No charge to attend, just show up and pay by the pour!

Bishop’s Cellar is holding a Big Spruce tap takeover tomorrow, February 25th, which should last all weekend. Their collaboration with Bishop’s, Anaphylactic Choc – a 5.5% ABV “Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter” that features Nutsmith organic peanut butter added in the boil and that was aged on organic cocao nibs – will be pouring. Drop by in the afternoon between 1-4 pm, and don’t forget to bring your growlers! In addition to the new brew, they’ll be have Tim’s Dirty American IPA, Kitchen Party Pale Ale, Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout and Liquid James Brown Milkshake IPA available for fills, with samples of some special one-offs while your jugs are being filled.

• Also tomorrow, February 25thHell Bay is holding Cocoa & Malt, a special pairing of dark beer and hand-crafted chocolate desserts and sweets. Originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day, it had to be postponed due to weather… and luckily, there’s still some spots left! It’s $25+tax per person; reserve your spot by calling 902-356-3556.

• Halifax’s Jamieson’s Irish Pub is currently holding a Bad Apple Brewhouse and Propeller tap takeover, which will continue until this Sunday, February 25th. With eight beers from BAB (including their wonderful Mosaic DIPA), and seven from Propeller (including a cask of their ESB), it’s pay-as-you-drink all weekend. BAB’s owner/brewery Jeff Saunders will be on hand for beer questions/chatting tonight, and Propeller’s brewer/sales manager Pat Robichaud will be available on Saturday night. Check out the full tap list here.

• It’s another busy week coming up for Good Robot, starting with their participation at the Craft Beer Cottage Party tomorrow night, followed by an after-party luau featuring beers and buddies from Upstreet Brewing back at the taproom, with Koconut Kings providing musical entertainment. As mentioned above, Tuesday, February 28th, will see the debut of beers from Jake DeWolfe, Assistant Brewer, paired with a Mardi Gras Cajun menu from Black Sheep and a soul playlist on vinyl from Black Buffalo spun by a live DJ. Thursday, March 2nd sees a tap takeover at the taproom by North Brewing, with 8 taps, possibly the most ever for that brewery in a North end pub. The favour is returned the next night, on Friday, March 3rd when 14, count’em 14 Good Robot brews go up at Battery Park in Dartmouth. The most. Ever. Anywhere. We expect to hear more about that this week, so look for more details in next week’s wrap-up.​

That’s the news we’ve got to share this week! Have a great weekend, and be sure to enjoy some of that unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having! Before we head out for good…

– Last night was the first Brew Ha-Ha at the Company House, featuring Tidehouse Brewing and the comedy of Andrew Vaughan, Dan Hendrickson and Frank Russo. We’ll find out more about what sounds like it might be a regular event, and let you know.
– The Craft Beer Cottage Party is tomorrow night at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market at 7pm. Although the VIP passes have sold out it looks like there are still some general tickets available. Come on out to dream of summer and sample the wares of 30 breweries from the region.
– Today, Garrison is welcoming Dave Martin, winner of the 2016 Home Brew-Off, to brew his Chamomile IPA on the Garrison system; the beer will be released at this year’s gala on March 23rd. Judging for this year’s competition is actually happening tomorrow, with almost 40 entries for the Wee Heavy style.
Grimross now has their Pugnacious Porter (6.2% ABV) available in cans; joining their Maritime Pale Ale, it’s available at the brewery and should be following in ANBL stores, soon.
– The Hammond River Blackberry Berliner Weisse we reported on earlier this month is now available on tap; Ram Jam comes in at 3.2% ABV and is circulating on tap around HR accounts.
– March 1st marks one year for Nine Locks Brewing. They’ll be celebrating with draws and in-store specials. If you haven’t been out to see them, it’s probably a good time to rectify that.