Welcome to February, beer lovers. It’s bastard cold today in much of Atlantic Canada, with a high percentage chance for continued bastard coldness through the weekend. Probably a good idea, then, to stock up on some beer to at least make yourself feel warm, and there’s plenty of new stuff coming this week from our region’s breweries to help you do that. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Niche Brewing has a brand new beer hitting the taps this week, plus their first much-anticipated bottle release. Let’s start with the new beer, Coalescence. What they describe as a Sour Grapefruit Milkshake IPA began with souring of the wort with Lactobacillus plantarum for a refreshing and clean acidity, before boiling to stop that process, and adding in lactose. Fermentation was completed with a low-flocculating (aka hazy) yeast strain often used in New England IPAs, and generously hopped with Citra, Azacca, and Vic Secret. Completing the “milkshake” theme of the beer with vanilla beans, an addition of grapefruit puree was also added, for a citrus and fruit base to complement the tropical, pineapple, and passion fruit aromatics from the hops, on top of the acidic yet lightly sweet beer. Look for it on tap in Fredericton at The Joyce and 540 Kitchen, Tide & Boar in Moncton, and Peppers Pub and Saint John Ale House in Saint John. Pop into the York Street ANBL growler station to get your fill of their Single Origin Coffee Sweet Stout, pouring this weekend (though we’re sure it won’t last long!).
Evolution is Niche’s first bottle release, and will soon be available at ANBL stores in the Capital region and beyond. Almost a year in the making, this beer started with a malt bill of Pilsner, Rye, Wheat, and Vienna malts, lightly hopped with Huell Melon. Instead of going in their stainless fermenters, this beer went straight into a single Chardonnay barrel, where it was fermented and conditioned with their house culture of yeast strains (a mixture of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces). This process was allowed to continue for 6 months, before bottling still (flat), and conditioning with Champagne yeasts since late last year. The result is an effervescent beer with notes of grape must, a touch of oak, and plenty of funky goodness. If you cannot find these 500 mL bottles at your local ANBL, ask them to place an order, as they’ll be happy to bring it in!
The Church Brewing Company will soon be opening their brewery at 329 Main Street in Wolfville, but in the meantime, their on-site restaurant is now open for food and beers. Located in the deconsecrated St. Andrew’s United Church, the stone building was built in 1914, and had been underused for years before construction of the brewery and restaurant began. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM until late, with a varied menu of breakfast/brunch options, ramen, sandwiches, entrees, and more. While they await their own beer to be pouring, they have a variety of Valley and Nova Scotian beers available. You can keep up on their brewery progress on their social media (FB / IG / Tw). And this is where you can make a difference. The Town of Wolfville is making some amendments to their regulations regarding craft beer and cider, and are holding the first reading of that on Monday, February 4th, at 6:30 PM during a special Town Council meeting at Town Hall (359 Main Street). There has been a slew of mis-information surrounding Church’s brewery, including brewing volume, water usage, wastewater disposal, and traffic and parking concerns. We encourage you to learn more about how breweries are helping to bring jobs and visitors back to small towns throughout the region, and maybe even drop by Monday to listen and take part in the public hearing. For those unable to attend, check out the town’s Facebook page, where they livestream all of the council meetings. We will be there lending our support to growth of the industry and of the economy of small towns in Nova Scotia. Big kudos to our buds at the 902BrewCast for raising awareness of this issue and promoting local breweries. Check out their IG page for a contest they’re holding right now, promoting #NSBeerTravel.
It’s not that often that a week of Good Robot Alpha and Beta releases actually jive with one another, but next week will be one of those weeks. It all started with their Alpha release, Tom Waits For No One, one of their flagship – and still one of their most popular – beers, a 7.9% ABV, 58 IBUs Imperial Stout. While transferring the wort for this beer to the boil kettle, it suddenly dawned on the brewers that there was likely a fair amount of sugar still left in the grain bed. This resulted in their choice to go with a parti-gyle – adding another batch of water to the same grain, using the second runnings to create a lower-ABV beer… in this case, Tiny Tom. Same grist as its bigger brother, but fermented with a Lager yeast, it comes in at a more-manageable 4.5% ABV and 14 IBUs. Only one way to find out the taste difference, so you’d better drop by the taproom on Tuesday if you’re curious.
Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing is marking their 3rd Anniversary this weekend, and have reached another important milestone recently, with the brewing of their 200th batch of beer. Naturally, they decided to brew up something brand new, which is being released today. M is for Mosaic is a SMaSH (single-malt and single-hop) kettle sour, featuring a grist of Pilsner malt, and dry-hopped entirely with the lovely Mosaic variety. Soured with Lacto plantarum and fermented with an English Ale yeast strain, the 4.7% ABV, 8 IBUs beer has aromas of “lemon, orange, tangerine and passionfruit”, along with more of the same on the palate, with “hints of dough/bread” and an acidic finish. It’s draught-only for now, and will be available at the brewery as of noon today, and at select tap accounts over the next few days. And about that Third Birthday Bash, drop into the brewery tomorrow evening for a big bash including live music, food from GastroGnomes, and tons of fun planned. Montgomery Street Band and YORKS will be jamming from 7 PM until late, $10 cover.
In downtown Fredericton, the Gahan Riverside has a pair of new one-off brews at their location this week. First up is a dark and weighty beer, Russian Imperial Stout. It’s just that, a RIS that was fermented cool (to keep the alcohol heat as low as possible for this 8% ABV beer) and given a “long, cold aging process” to allow the flavours to develop further. “Intensely malt-forward with a supporting bitterness for balance”, it has “pronounced notes of coffee and chocolate” with a touch of caramel. Weighing in at a hefty 8% ABV, and 63 IBUs, it’s the kind of beer meant for gently sipping during these horribly cold days. The second new release is of the newer Brut IPA style. Known for being extremely dry, it can be seen as a contrast to hazy/juicy IPAs, which tend to have perceived sweetness from the hops and residual sugar. Gahan’s take is 7.7% ABV, and a light 23 IBUs, with notes of melon, berries, and stone fruit. Both new beers are on tap right now at the brewpub’s location on Queen St.
There’s a new Gottingen Small Batch hitting the taps today at Propeller, Coconut Extra Strong Stout. Indeed quite strong at 8% ABV, the coconut flavours combine with “layers of complex, dark fruit, and roasted coffee” to give just a hint of the tropics. While it will be on tap for growlers and pints at the brewery’s tasting room, they’ve also sent some to New Brunswick to go on tap at some of the ANBL growler stations; look for those to appear over the weekend. And as for tonight’s Cask Night offering (tapped just after 5 PM), it’s their Common, dry-hopped with Mosaic and Citra. Why not grab a pint and check out the new Propeller Arcade while you’re at it: they opened to the general public for the first time last night and will be providing a place for you to get your classic pinball and arcade game fix Thursday to Sunday nights (Thu/Sun 4 – 10 PM, Fri/Sat 4 PM – Midnight).
And in other Propeller news, but really Granite Brewery news, word came out this week that Granite would be taking up residence as the third brewery getting cozy in Propeller’s Gottingen Street location. So in addition to Propeller’s own small batch ministrations and Stillwell Brewing’s mixed fermentation madness, Granite will be pumping out their classic beers from the same facility for a while. Why, you ask? Turns out their Stairs Street building was sold by its owner recently, and efforts to secure a new location have so far not panned out. While Granite continue their search for a permanent home, Propeller has stepped up to make sure that fans can continue to get their fix. Look for Granite beers to continue to be on tap at places like Henry House, Stillwell, Lion’s Head Tavern, Obladee, and Tom’s. If you’re not familiar with Granite (hint: you should be) they are the oldest craft brewery in the region and actually were the first brewpub in North America east of the Rockies, when they started brewing their own in 1985. They have also been a very big part of breaking down many of the barriers to opening and operating breweries in Nova Scotia (and probably beyond). Featuring predominantly characterful English-style beers fermented with Ringwood yeast, a pint of Granite’s Best Bitter, Best Bitter Special, Peculiar, Keefe’s Irish Stout, or Traditional IPA is a bit of beer education in a glass. Possibly even better is when Stillwell has a cask of the Best Bitter on the handpump. We encourage existing fans of Granite as well as those who have somehow managed to miss them to show support for the brewery by seeking out their beers at the locations listed above and those listed on their website. Granite has advised us that they’ll be trying to be more active on social media (Fb, Tw) to let folks know where to find their beers (including where it might be possible to grab a growler) and to keep everyone up to date on their hunt for a new home. And much respect to Propeller for showing that camaraderie and looking out for your peers is still very much alive and well in the Nova Scotia craft beer scene!
New Scotland Brewing has not one, but two new releases this week, both of which are officially launching today. First up is a dry-hopped cider, On the Brite. Semi-sweet and unfiltered, the juice was fermented with a Saison yeast; they then dry-hopped the cider with Centennial and Columbus. “Light-tasting and refreshing, with lots of citrus notes”, it comes in at 6.9% ABV. Next is Angus, a Brut IPA that was triple-dry-hopped with the tropical American variety, Azacca. With a bone-dry finish, yet an “unexpected amount of body”, this 7.1% ABV brew shows off “an intense blast of tropical fruit flavour”. Both beers can be found at the brewery at noon today.
Today marks the first El Generico release of 2019 for TrailWay; this iteration of their ever-changing fruited kettle sour features a mixture of plum and raspberry puree (with the emphasis on plum). Always sessionable at just 3.8% ABV, this release is showing “a big, juicy, plum front, with a raspberry background, tasting like a mouthful of sour candies”, according to the brewery. You can find it at the brewery today when they open, on draught and in cans. They’re also releasing a new cask today, a double dry-hopped version of last week’s new release, Seeing Summit (Summit single-hopped American IPA).
Sober Island teamed up with The Harbour Brewing Company to brew Scotch Squall Scotch Ale, a 7.4% ABV “malty, spicy” beer that will be served exclusively on tap at Battery Park; it launches there tonight. The color is described as “rusted penny” and the flavor profile leans heavily towards the malt side, with malt sweetness up front and a spicy finish from all English hop varieties. Very smooth for its weight, this should be a great one to help warm you up on these cold winter days.
Newfoundland’s newest brewing addition, Landwash Brewing in Mount Pearl, has a brand new beer on the go this week. Inspired by German Kölsch, an ale style that undergoes a lagering period,
Shining Smiling Land was fermented with a strain from Escarpment Labs. Czech Saaz and German Saphir hops impart notes of spice and citrus to this clean and crisp-finishing refreshing beer. This one is the first batch out of their biggest lagering tank (30 BBL) so they’re hoping it lasts for a little while, but the goal is certainly for it to sell out while it’s still fresh. Look for batches of this one to be available at least into Spring, when they’ve hinted we might see them treat the island to a Northern German Lager.
Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co have a couple brand new beers on the go this week, the first being Brut IPA, a 6.1% ABV in the (surprise!) Brut IPA style. Leveraging extra enzymes to ensure the beer fermented out almost completely dry, Galaxy, Mosaic and Amarillo hops are the stars of this one, giving aromatic notes of grapefruit, lime zest and orange. The grist, interestingly, contains a mixture of Pilsner malt, corn, wheat, and a bit of Munich malt. Expect a very dry beer with hop flavors and aromas taking center stage. Brewer Dan Tanner says he’s excited about the style, so even after this one goes it’s probably safe to hope it won’t be the last Brut IPA from the brewery. And speaking of beer excitement, Tanner is also releasing the first in a series they’re calling Assemblage, reflecting Dan’s two passions, wine and beer. Starting with a beer that’s best described as a Munich Helles, Planters Ridge Winery Chardonnay and Mead were blended in, allowing the fermentation character of both to intermingle with the beer, giving character that cannot be gained from fermenting with beer yeast on grape pomace or honey. With the aspects of the wine and the mead presenting predominantly on the nose in the form of pear and apple from the wine and honey and floral character from the mead, the cereal malt character of the beer side of things blends nicely with the residual sweetness from the mead resulting in a 7% ABV beer with plenty of character. Dan Surette, Assistant Winemaker at Planters Ridge gets credit for the idea of adding mead to the mix. This one is growler fills and pints at the brewery only, as only 2 kegs are available. Look for more interesting beers in the Assemblage Series to appear as we get further into 2019.
Boxing Rock in Shelburne is releasing a brand new beer this week, hoping to up-end what they see as craft beer’s departure from “traditional” beer. Instead of a complex malt or hop bill, they are releasing an uncomplicated, but still flavourful, beer. Eschewing descriptors like dank, juicy, tropical, or hazy, they are embracing the crisp, clear, and drinkable characteristics from a lagered ale. With aromas of white bread and caramel, with light honey, cereal, red apple, and lemon on the palate, with a smooth finish. The New Normal is 4.9% ABV and is seeing a wide release in 650 mL bottles at the brewery and their Test Kitchen on Agricola Street in Halifax, as well as the private beer stores, plus growler fills and kegs to licensees. And keep an eye out later this month for the return of their Rive du Sud Biere de Garde, available shortly.
This week’s winner in the shamefully late email sweepstakes goes to Garrison, who are releasing (earlier than expected, apparently) a new beer just in time for your Superb Owl Sunday beer drinking needs. Georgia Fuzzy Peach is a refreshing pale ale packed with peach flavor, no doubt owing to the heavy use of Huell Melon and Cascade hops. Coming in at 30 IBU and a sessionable (in the modern sense, anyway) 5.0% ABV, the grist is a fairly simple blend of Pale malt, Oats and Wheat. It hasn’t been packaged, so it’s on draft only at the brewery, but you’re welcome to bring a growler or two and get a fill to go! You’re likely to also see it pop up on taps around Halifax as early as this weekend.
Some fun things coming up this weekend and in the next couple of weeks as well:
If you’re one of the few beer fans who haven’t yet tried your hand at making your own beer at home, we have just the event for you! Pop into Brightwood Brewery on Portland Street in downtown Dartmouth Sunday afternoon (12 – 2 PM) for a presentation and demo of how to get started. The fine folks from Everwood Ave Brew Shop will be in there to answer all of your questions, and get you excited about crafting your own soon enough. This is Part 1 in their Learning to Brew Series, and we’ll keep you in the loop with the other events as they come up.
Speaking of home-brewing, a friendly reminder to our homebrewing brethren and sistren that registration and beers are due Monday Feb 4 for the 11th Annual Garrison Home Brew-Off. Be sure to get your Dunkles Bock to your local Noble Grape, or Garrison itself, in time for judging, and we’ll see you at the Gala on Feb 28! Details here, Registration/Recipe Form here.
Tickets are now available for Halifax’s Craft Beer Cottage Party, taking place at the Halifax Seaport Market February 16th. With more than 30 breweries and cideries from Nova Scotia and PEI, there will be a wide assortment of offerings pouring that evening. There are sure to be some new releases, and plenty of washer toss, cornhole, and other cottage activities, as breweries dress up their booths to fully embrace the theme. Live music all evening, and food will be available for purchase. Grab your tickets now!
Though we’re still a few months away, tickets for the Newfoundland Craft Beer Festival are now on sale. They are doubling down this year, with events on both the West and East coasts of the island. First, on April 6th, they will be taking over the Corner Brook Civic Centre for the evening, for a full evening of beer, live music, food, and fun. Grab your tickets here. And the following weekend they are in the Royal Canadian Legion at Quidi Vidi for two nights, April 12 and 13, to bring the same fun to the East coast. Tickets are available here. All events have VIP tickets available for an hour-earlier entrance. No brewery/beer list available yet, but look for a great mix of Newfoundland, Maritimes, Canadian, and maybe even US and European beer to be flowing in the first couple of weeks of April.
And here be your final bits of beer news; have a great (beer-filled) weekend!!
Stillwell Brewing will be back selling beer at the back door of Propeller’s Gottingen Street location tomorrow from noon to 4 PM. New this week is the latest batch of Easy, their house saison, that’s been napping for quite some time in bottles after 2 months in their biggest foedre. While you’re there grabbing that one, you’ll also have the chance to get your grubby paws on Auld (old ale), Make 1,2 (bière de coupage) and Five (saison with honey fermented in a Pineau des Charentes puncheon).
If you were kicking yourself for missing Kiskadee Sour Porter with Strawberries from Tatamagouche at Curated’s Eat. Drink. Local. event in early January, as we mentioned in our wrap-up the next day that beer was bottled and kegged and is now generally available for your drinking pleasure. Two years in the making, it’s a big ol’ beast at 9.8% ABV with notes of chocolate, spirits and tart strawberries. Available now at the brewery and Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax, and, we suspect, kegs will go out to tap accounts as well.