Tanner & Co Brewing

All posts tagged Tanner & Co Brewing

Another Friday, another day chock-full of beer news for Atlantic Canada. The sun has been shining for a few days, and, thankfully, water levels are finally starting to recede across New Brunswick… although, there’s still a ways to go, and a heck of a lot of work ahead. In the meantime, we invite you to take a break from your work day and catch up one what’s going on in the wonderful world of beer… at least, in our region.

• Halifax’s Chain Yard Cider released a new blend last week, pairing apples, rhubarb and honey together in a tasty beverage. After arresting (stopping short) the ferment of a rhubarb wine (with fruit from Terra Beata Farms), they blended it with a mead made from honey from Brandt’s Bees in Wolfville. That was then blended with their Intrepid cider, which is created from their Northern Spy apples, and allowed to condition at cold temperature. The resultant cyser (mead/cider blend), Rhubee Cyser, weighs in at 8.0% ABV and features plenty of honey and fruit flavours up front, followed by earthy notes in the middle, with some sweetness and floral flavours on the finish. Grab a glass at their Agricola Street location today, or check the cider and food from Unchained Kitchen tomorrow during Open City (more details below).

Tanner & Co. in Chester Basin has a brand new beer that should be available at the brewery tomorrow, Sauvage Saison. At 6.3% ABV, this Saison features a light-bodied and -coloured malt bill of predominantly Pilsner with a touch of Wheat and darker malts, and light hopping from traditional English hop East Kent Golding. The wort was fermented with the wild Pin Cherry yeast harvested from Big Spruce‘s farm in Nyanza, Cape Breton, nicknamed Scotian Sauvage. Due to the nature of this experiment, there’s just a single keg of Sauvage Saison available, so be sure to visit Tanner & Co this weekend to enjoy it. And with it being Open Brewery Day in Nova Scotia, we think it’s the perfect time to do so! And keep an eye out over the the next few weeks, as there will be more from the Scotian Sauvage yeast, as well as Tanner’s GSB release, but we’ll tell you more about those next week.

• More barrel goodies are coming our way this weekend, as Stillwell Brewing has two releases – one new, one returning – for us tomorrow. The “returning” beer is the second blend of Gosh, a Mosaic dry-hopped Saison. First released late last fall, the original beer came from a red wine barrel; in contrast, tomorrow’s 6.2% ABV beer is a blend of multiple white wine barrels. With lots of fruity aromatics (from the fermentation character, as well as the Mosaic), it was brewed in May of 2017, and bottled in January, 2018. As for the new beer, Deluxe is a tart Saison that was brewed in April, 2017, and aged in a single white wine barrel. Five months later, over 50 kg of overripe apricots were added, ultimately resulting in a “highly complex, fruity, dry beer with lots of beautiful barrel character” that was bottled in January, and weighs in at just 4.9% ABV. Both will be available for purchase from 12-4 pm tomorrow, at the back of 2015 Gottingen St.; both beers, especially the smaller-batch Deluxe, will go quickly, so don’t be late!

• There’s a whole lotta beer news coming from Spindrift this week, so we should stop wasting time and dive right in! First up is a brand new beer that will be joining the brewery’s core brands – Hurricane IPA is an unfiltered, West Coast-style IPA. The simple grist was boosted slightly with light additions of Crystal 45 L and Munich malt, giving the beer a light orange/copper colour. Hopped extensively with Amarillo and Comet (to a total of 60 IBUs), this 6.2% ABV brew features flavours and aromas of “fresh cut grass, pine, ripe melon, zesty grapefruit, and Tim Horton’s peach juice” (now that’s specific!), with a dry finish. You should be able to find it on tap and in 473 mL cans at the brewery now, and quite possibly at some NSLC stores by publishing as well.

• Spindrift also has two new Seventh Wave releases this week. Let’s start with Just Boats Brown Ale, a 4.9% ABV Brown brewed with Pilsner, Wheat, Chocolate Wheat, double-roasted Crystal, and Roasted Barley. Hopped with Magnum to 31 IBUs, and fermented with an English ESB strain, the beer focuses on the malt character, with notes of light roast and chocolate. Second is Mosaic SMaSH Ale, which debuted at last weekend’s Full House Craft Beer Fest. Focusing solely on Pilsner malt and Mosaic hops, this is a newer batch that the brewery claims has a fuller body, with lots of “berry, tropical, and citrus” packed into a 5.5% ABV, 26 IBUs package. Hopefully both of these are still pouring at Spindrift, so you’d best check it out ASAP to be sure!

• Speaking of busy breweries, Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse is yet another one, as we’ve got news on not one, not two, but three new beers hitting taps in the very near future. Honey, I’m Home is a Honey Brown Ale that was brewed in collaboration with Freeman’s Pizza, a frequent supporter of Ol’ Biddy’s. Brewed with Pale, Chocolate, Honey, Carapils, and Crystal 60 L malts, it’s a malt-forward, medium-bodied beer with notes of “chocolate and caramel, with a touch of residual sweetness”. Hopped with Columbus to just 17 IBUs, it’s easy-drinking at 5.1% ABV; look for it to be on tap soon at the Freeman’s Sackville location, as well as Battery Park. Moving into more-hop-friendly territory is Boogie Nights IPA, featuring a simple malt bill and plenty of Columbus, Huell Melon, and Azacca. Slightly bitter in the finish (63 IBUs), expect lots of melon in both the aroma and flavour of this 6.3% ABV beer. Look for this one to be tapped over the next few days at the earliest; keep up with Ol’ Biddy’s social media pages to find out exactly where it lands. Finally, we have a sneak peek at the first beer of a new series for the brewery, Sackvegas SMaSH: Azacca/Pilsen. This one was designed to be an easy-drinking summer beer, and should come in at 4.9% ABV and approximately 27 IBUs. Featuring all Pilsner malt and Azacca hops, it won’t be released until the end of the month, but we’ll remind you when it comes out!

• Today marks the fourth release in Upstreet‘s Neon Friday series of hoppy beers, but this time around they’re taking it a step further, and releasing the beer in cans… the first time any beer from Upstreet has been packaged this way. The beer is NEIPA with Mosaic and Galaxy, which does a pretty darn good job of explaining itself! So, yeah. Hazy, lots of Mosaic and Galaxy tropical, fruity goodness, in a 6.5% ABV, 40 IBU package. Available in four-packs in very limited amounts: 100 packs going to the Upstreet taproom (opens at noon), and 100 going to the Craft Beer Corner (opens at 11 am). They’ll likely go pretty fast, so it would be a good idea to get downtown early!

• Next week’s Good Robot releases are locked and loaded, proving that NSCBW didn’t have quite a serious enough effect on staff. Next Tuesday’s Beta brew is Hands Off Maibock!, a collab with a couple of women that Kelly C. met during her Ladies Beer League days. This Maibock was brewed with Pilsner, Munich and Vienna malts, giving it a “toasty finish, and pleasant residual sweetness”. Hopped to 27 IBUs with Hallertau to give some low floral/spice character, it weighs in at a reasonable 5.8% ABV. As for Thursday’s larger-scale release, it’s a new beer named Tiny Tigers. A kinda-lighter-ABV Saison (5.8% ABV), the grist was made up of Pilsner, 2-row, and some Crystal 30L to keep the colour light. Hopped with Columbus and Citra to 31 IBUs, it has a “smooth spice and subtle citrus aroma” thanks in part to the fermentation

• In Fredericton, as the water is finally starting to go back where it belongs, TrailWay Brewing has two releases this week. The first is the return of Good Weather; an American IPA that originally was released in March, it’s now joining the TW regular summer line-up. With a slightly-tweaked hop schedule, it should be otherwise similar to the first batch, with a “bright, tropical, citrus, peach juice” combination of characteristics. Aside from being available at the TW taproom, it should be showing up in cans at ANBL stores as well. Also returning is Hopical Trop, the brewery’s rotating “Fruited DIPA”. This time around, the 8% ABV beer was conditioned on dark cherries, giving “massive, sweet fruit character with a vanilla-like quality”. This one is in cans at TrailWay only, as well as on tap for pints and growlers, with a few kegs likely to be pouring at select licensees.

Big Spruce has another just-in-time-for-summer beer out for us, which – in our humble opinions – is one of THE best styles for warm weather out there. Hugs Bunny is a Gose – a sour, low-ABV, German style – brewed with sea salt and Indian coriander (both of which are classic additions to the style). The great thing about a Gose is there are a lot of directions you can take it afterwards, and Big Spruce didn’t hesitate to go down one of those roads, dry-hopping it with lots of Citra. Light, slightly-salty, tart, with lots of citrus and tropical fruit on the nose… all at only 3.8% ABV. Get it now on tap at Big Spruce, and at some of the finer tap accounts in Nova Scotia.

• Recently, Annapolis Brewing Company teamed up with Horton Ridge to brew Oatta the Valley Pale Ale, and that beer has just been kegged and ready for tasting this weekend. Brewed with all Maritime-grown malt and hops, the recipe creation was a true collaboration, in a fun and different way. We’ll let the crew from Annapolis describe it, “The makeup of the recipe was somewhat of a card game. The Annapolis Brewing Company started the recipe with the base malt and sent it back to Horton Ridge for the next malt addition. Once they added their malt choice, they, in turn, sent the recipe back to us for the next addition. We did this with the hops as well. It was truly a 50/50 collab from recipe makeup to brewing. We love working with Horton Ridge and most of all…brewing with their malt!” The final grist consisted of 2 Row, Rye, Munich, Vienne, Wheat and Oat malts, and the hop bill, grown at Fundy Hops, were Centennial and Galena. You can find Oatta the Valley on tap at Horton Ridge today! And keep your eyes open for Annapolis’ beers at Liquid Assets, the all-NS private liquor store at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Their Goodwill Amber, Big Shot Black IPA and Acadian Honey Brown are available in 355ml stubby bottles to grab when you go visiting, or when returning from a trip. And we’ve heard that the LA folks will even meet you outside of security if you’re just passing through!

• On the South Shore of NS, in Mahone Bay, Saltbox Brewing has two new styles to share, both on the deeper, darker side of the spectrum. The first is Bette Davis Eisbock, a beer that would have started fairly big in the usual bock style, but which also underwent a freezing process to remove some of the water content yielding a beer with a final ABV of 10.6%. Strong and full-bodied, there’s a moderate bitterness for balance, but a definite sweetness present. This is a traditional German style that would be served from December to April, but we’re getting it a little later here this year, matching our late spring. And somewhat lighter but still nowhere near pale is Lou Keyte’s Brown Ale, a collaboration with Sea Level Brewing up in Port Williams. It’s named after a Chicago conman (the “Bernie Madoff of the Roaring Twenties) who hosted big parties at his hunting lodge near Kejimkujik before being extradited home, where he chose to avoid a long term prison sentence by scarfing a whole box of chocolates (he was diabetic). Happy for us, he inspired this beer, which is deep brown in color, with a creamy tan head, and featuring hints of caramel and chocolate on the palate and a soft roasted finish. Lighter than you might expect from the color, it comes in at 6.2% ABV, perfect for sipping on its own or pairing with food.

• A couple of quick mentions from the Rock today, first, starting way way up in Twilingate, we’ve got news of a new beer from Split Rock, another entry in their IPA family. Reminiscent of their Gateway IPA but featuring Citra hops, Dream of Spring is a 7.1% ABV American-style IPA. Available at the Stage Head Pub, expect a solid body and a firm bitterness. And on the west coast, in Corner Brook, Bootleg Brew Co also has a new beer available as of last night, one they’re referring to as a “summery session ale”. Class Act was designed for day drinking, a crisp, hoppy, refreshing, and sessionable pale ale made with oats. Zesty, with hop-derived notes of orange, pear and lime, it’s 42 IBU and a super quaffable 4.2% ABV.

• We’ve previously mentioned the Cider Club at Wolfville’s Annapolis Cider Company and for those who missed out and wish they hadn’t, we’ve received word that there’s a very limited number of additional memberships available. If you’re interested in a regular 10% discount, 6 special bottles twice a year, guided tastings of special releases and participation in discussions about future releases, check out the details on their sign-up page. A reminder that you need not be local to Wolfville – you can have your cider shipped to you anywhere in the 10 Provinces of Canada!

• Halifax’s Garrison has released another new hoppy beer, this one taking the New England IPA style down a notch in terms of ABV, but definitely not in flavor. Wicked Good is being called a New England Pale Ale and features a grist of Maritime pale malt, oats and wheat paired with classic Cascade, new hotness Huell Melon, and some other hops that will remain nameless, at least for now. Juicy, hazy and unfiltered, it’s a reasonable 30 IBU and a very sessionable 5.0% ABV, all the better to let stone fruit and citrus aromas and melon and pear flavors to shine through. Look for it in cans at the brewery (and, we expect, the private liquor stores at some point) as well as at Garrison’s Open City / Open Brewery Day Event tomorrow (see below)!

Here’s what’s going on for beer-related events in the region this weekend and over the next week or two:

• Taking a page from I Love Local Halifax, the community of independent Halifax businesses, breweries across the province are holding Open Brewery Day tomorrow, May 12th. From Shelburne to Nyanza taking part, there is sure to be something in your neighbourhood, or worth traveling for, tomorrow, so be sure to get out and visit. To make life a little easier, we’ve put together a map of all the events we could find. If we’ve missed something, let us know and we’ll add it!

2 Crows, Halifax, 2-5PM: Live band from 2-5PM with $1 off pints and growler fills during that time
Big Spruce, Nyanza, 12-6PM: Live music and wood fired pizza!
Boxing Rock, Shelburne, 11AM-7PM: Free tours all day, try your hand at axe throwing, live music from 2-4PM. Samples and flights, and food courtesy of Finest Kind Food.
Chain Yard Cider, Halifax, 11:30-?: Enjoy $2 samples of cider on their patio, plus Unchained Kitchen will offer a $6 shrimp/mussel boil.
Garrison, Halifax, 11AM-6PM: The Cake Lady and The Shuck Stop! will be set up, serving pastries and bivalves to pair with their beer. Plus the release of Wicked Good New England APA in cans.
Meander River, Ashdale, 11AM-5PM: Visit the brewery for a tasting and tour, chat with the brewer and owners, grab some beer, cider, and other farm products to go.
Nine Locks, Dartmouth, 11AM-6PM: Nine Locks will have brewery tours starting at 11 am and run until 4 pm, running at the top of the hour. The tour is limited to 12 people each tour. You can sign up in advance by contacting the brewery directly.
Propeller, Halifax, 10AM-2PM: Drop by all day and see first hand how beer is made. They will be brewing an American Wheat, which will be dry-hopped and released in a few weeks.
Saltbox Brewing, Mahone Bay, 12-9PM: Backoos Korean Food Truck on-site. Prize draws and live entertainment. Staff are avail to sample and discuss their beer.
Schoolhouse Brewery, Windsor, 12-6PM: Drop by at 3:30pm for a brewery tour by owner Cameron Hartley and to meet your local brew crew!
Stubborn Goat, Halifax, 11AM-close: The Stubborn Goat Beer Garden opens for the season, and both locations will be serving up $5 snacks.
Tanner & Co, Chester Basin, 12-5PM: Brewery tours and other fun!
Tatamagouche Brewing, Tatamagouche, 10-5PM: Brewery tours start at 10AM, and run every half-hour. There will be live music in the brewery taproom from 2-5PM. Dogs are welcome/encouraged/required.

• If two wheeled locomotion is more your speed, tomorrow is the inaugural ride of the Nova Scotia chapter of BrewDog Chain Gang. Using Off Track Brewing on Rocky Lake Drive in Bedford as the start and end to the ride, the group will be traveling out to Goffs and back, a 70km ride. A world-wide bike club sponsored by Scottish brewery BrewDog, the goal of Chain Gang to encourage camaraderie with other cyclists, and use breweries and beer bars as the homebase for refreshment and conversation after riding. Look for more rides throughout the summer, and check out the event details for more information.

May 13th is the inaugural day for the Craft Beer Farmers’ Market, being held at the Annapolis Royal Farmers Market, 10AM until 2PM. Featuring 8 vendors of beer, cider, spirits, and kombucha, with more expected to join (including wineries), the market will be held every Sunday until October 14th. Bring your empty growler and sample what the following vendors have to offer: Annapolis Brewing Company, Casa Nova Fine Beverages, Horton Ridge, Lunn’s Mill, Meander River, Roof Hound, Solas Kombucha, Still Fired Distilleries, and Wayfarers Ale.

Saltbox is holding a Soapbox Derby on June 16th from 9 AM – 3 PM in Mahone Bay. Although this is quite a ways away now, registration is due by Friday, June 1st. Further, it’s limited to 40 entries across 4 divisions and is quickly nearing capacity! The four divisions are Kids 6 – 12 (starting halfway down the hill), Ages 13 and Over, Open Class (anything goes except engines), and Corporate. Castle Building Supplies is making cart kits for all divisions except Open available. There are prizes for the race winners, of course, but also for originality, cart decoration and more! If you’re interested you’ll want to move fast (and then you’ll want to move fast on race day!!).

And as usual, a few last mentions before we let you get on with your Friday:

– Liverpool’s Hell Bay has re-released their Privateer Pilsner a little early this year; get this easy-drinking 4.7% ABV lager while it lasts!
Picaroons is up to entry number 15 in their Pivot DIPA series, this latest featuring the CTZ and Chinook hops from Southan Farms in Wicklow, NB.
Hammond River has now bottled a batch of their Blueberry Ale, which will be available at the Hammond River Beer Bar and coming to ANBL stores as well!
Tidehouse did up a special brew featuring local Haskaap Berries for the inaugural AFX: Animation Festival of Halifax. Brewed with local Haskaap berries and hopped with Mosaic, Magical-ale Lantern was a big hit at the opening ceremonies and will re-appear at the event’s wrap party on Saturday. You can find this pinkish/peachish-hued 4.7% ABV beer at the Tiny Tasty Beverage Room on Salter Street.

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

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

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

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

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

A few NL events for you this week, too:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy entry into the long weekend! We naturally decided that the best place to grab your attention is while you’re at work, so that’s why we’re posting today, instead of tomorrow (that and we don’t really feel like working on a holiday either). So sit back with a coffee or beer and enjoy the latest in Atlantic Canadian beer news. Oh, and remember, Sunday is April 1st, so mentally prepare yourself… just a fair warning.

• Bootstrap BrewPub opens tomorrow at 184 Hampton Rd in Quispamsis. With a 240 litre brewing system onsite, the four brewers are launching with thirteen of their own beers to start, ranging from Blonde and Amber Ales, to NE and traditional IPAs, ESB and Stouts. Rounding out their 25 taps are a dozen guest ciders and beers from around the province. In addition to the beers, they will be serving small plates of food, ala food truck, to keep you satisfied. Concentrating on their own location, the only spot to try Bootstrap is at Bootstrap, and with so many different beers on the go and their small system size, you’ll want to keep an eye on their social media for frequent rotation (FB and IG). Help celebrate their opening from noon tomorrow, and stay tuned for a full Profile with them very soon. Congratulations to the Bootstrap crew!

• And in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the long-awaited opening of Scudrunner Brewing will soon be a reality. Owned by a group of pilots, the brewery is named after the practice of adjusting a plane’s altitude to avoid cloud and other poor weather. Their taproom at 131 Roe Ave in Gander is expected to be fully licensed and open for business next week, pouring the beers brewed on their 10 BBL (1200 litre) system. Pouring next week will be an Ordinary Bitter, an American Pale Ale (citrusy with a touch of haze), a hoppy Red Ale, and a mild-in-bitterness Dark IPA. When given the “cleared for takeoff” sign on social media (FB, Tw, IG), drop by for samples and pints, and take home a growler of your favourite brews. Congratulations to this crew on their inaugural flight!

• And in the “coming soon” category, New Scotland Brewing now has a home in downtown Dartmouth. Those who are familiar with New Scotland Clothing Co. might know from some of their social media that they’re getting into the craft brewing game. For everyone else, consider this your notice! Scott and Kevin Saccary, who founded the clothing company, are teaming up with their friend Mike Gillespie to bring New Scotland Brewing Co., a 5 hectolitre (4.5 BBL) brewery and 40-seat taproom to downtown Dartmouth, at 91 Alderney Drive. With an assortment of fermenters ranging from 150 to 1200L comprising their total fermentation capacity of 56hL, they intend to produce 5 “signature” brews alongside a wide range of “fun and sometimes experimental projects.” This will include various beer styles, with traditional Scottish and English styles represented, as well as more modern American styles (including wild ales and sours), and even ciders and meads (the term “session mead” was even mentioned)! Focus will be placed on sourcing ingredients locally, from malt to hops, fruit and vegetables, honey, herbs and even sea salt. Mike has also spent the last few years isolating wild microbes and is looking forward to leveraging those skills for the brewery. Sales will be largely through the taproom, with pints and growler fills available, although the occasional keg may escape captivity to other local establishments, and they do have access to a single-head canner for special limited edition runs. And in keeping with all three principals being active musicians, the taproom has been designed with the capacity for live music in mind, where local and out of town artists can come in and play an intimate show for a small audience. We’ve talked to enough folks who have set up breweries to know that things don’t always go as planned, but right now Mike, Kevin and Scott are hoping to open their doors in late summer; you can follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to see how that’s going and certainly check back here for a profile as the official opening day approaches.

• Switching from “opening soon”, to “recently opened”, Tanner & Co Brewing in Chester Basin, NS, has two new beers on the go this week, both part of the Small Lot Series they use for experimentation and recipe refinement. The first is Sauvin Saison featuring the elusive Nelson Sauvin hop variety known for its white wine-esque qualities and a natural for pairing with the dry, often citrus and phenolic character of saison yeast. Built on a grist of largely Pilsner with some Vienna and wheat malts added, the result is a very dry beer with a lemon character from the yeast and gooseberry, mango and citrus notes from the hops. Reminiscent of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it comes in at 45 IBU and 6.8% ABV. Also available this week is a new Belgian Tripel, a big’un tipping the scales at 37 IBU and a hefty 9.3% ABV. Using a different yeast and hopping regime than the last version of this beer has resulted in a more integrated beer than the last batch. That said, the beer is so popular that a grassroots campaign has been started amongst Tanner’s customers to generate enough pre-orders to justify a full-size 3 BBL batch! Look for both of these brews to be available at the brewery this weekend, Friday, Saturday & Sunday 12-5.

• Charlottetown’s Upstreet will be releasing the second in their new Neon Friday series (bi-weekly, hop-focused beers), Amarillo Orange Milkshake IPA. The name kind of gives it away, but we can fill in a couple of details! A Milkshake IPA featuring the usual addition of lactose in the boil (to provide a touch of residual sweetness, as well as additional mouthfeel), it was dry-hopped with the ultra-fruity Amarillo, and also features orange zest and vanilla extract added to the beer post-fermentation. At 6.5% ABV and 65 IBUs, you’ll be able to find this one on Friday (of course!), on tap only at Upstreet for pints and growlers, and the new Craft Beer Corner for more of the same (plus crowlers!).

• Over in Newfoundland, Bootleg Brew Co. recently tapped their latest, SMaSH ’em Up. As you may have guessed, this is a Single-Malt-and-Single-Hop brew, featuring 2-row and Mosaic, respectively. Interestingly, the hops were added continuously over a 60-minute boil, with three dry-hop additions featured as well. The result of all this Mosaic is a “super fruity and bright IPA with pineapple, mango, and citrus aromas and flavours, and not a lot of bitterness”. The brewery also describes the beer as quite drinkable, despite an ABV of 7.6% ABV (and 56 IBUs). And for those thirsty fans not on the West coast of the province, we’ve got great news! For the first time, Bootleg’s beers are available in St. John’s! , with a keg of their Winter Ale on tap at Chinched Bistro, and the SMaSH ’em Up will be available soon at SETO Kitchen + Bar. And look for some coming soon at Quidi Vidi’s taproom, set to open in the next couple of weeks.

• Stellarton’s Backstage Brewing has a new IPA to share this week called The Big Deal. Packed with Amarillo and Simcoe hops for a grapefruit and resinous punch, it’s 6% ABV, 70 IBU, and available at their taproom now along with a selection of their other hop-happy offerings and some guest taps as well. They’ll also be open tomorrow from noon ’til midnight for all your Good Friday beer needs!

• Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing has added a new Assistant Brewer to their team, Steve Crane. With a solid homebrewing background over the past many years, and working and managing at local homebrew shop Noble Grape, this is Crane’s first foray into the commercial side of beer. And you don’t have to wait long to taste his first beer, First Kraken Brown Porter. The latest in the their Seventh Wave Series (small batch beers out every Thursday), this 5.5% ABV Porter features notes of coffee and roast on the nose, with flavours of raisin, plum, and caramel. Due to the batch size, First Kraken, and all others in the Seventh Wave, are only available on tap at the brewery on Frazee Avenue, so drop by today on your way home from work.

• The gang at Niche Brewing has yet another new beer for us this week (although we’ve been promised a little break in the debut action coming up) and once again it sees them taking a well-known style, IPA, and taking it a little bit off the beaten path. The Best of Both Worlds brings a Belgian flair, with Pilsner, Aromatic and Wheat malts forming the grist and a Southern Hemisphere twist from the use of Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin hops at the the end of the boil and for two dry-hop additions. Fermented with a combination of two different yeast strains, it’s got a light spice character, a complex mix of fruit notes that includes passion fruit and stone fruit, and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel all leading to a dry finish. They’re calling this light orange 6.4% ABV beer a “Belgian IPA” but it’s certainly open to interpretation. Look for it to appear at Niche accounts in the region and order a pint so you can decide for yourself! And for a glimpse behind the taps at Rob and Shawn from Niche Brewing, grab this week’s 902 BrewCast, when Kyle and Tony dropped by their Hanwell brewery to talk about all things brewing (homebrewing and commercial), cleaning (there’s a lot of that!!), and the future of Niche.

• Next week’s Good Robot beer releases are locked and loaded, so let’s start off with their latest Alpha beer, which will see the light (of your stomach?) next Thursday, April 5th. But Wait, There’s More! IPA involved some new ingredients and techniques for the GR crew, including experimental hop HBC 342, the aroma of which has been described as “mild, pleasant, citrusy and tropical, with some notes of melon” (hops don’t get those catchy names until they’re widely available for sale). The brewing staff also played with the method of biotransformation, where dry hops are added during active fermentation, as opposed to afterwards. In a nutshell, it involves active yeast ingesting hop oils and turning them into different compounds, resulting in an entirely new hop profile in the finished beer. It’s a method that has been increasing in popularity in homebrewing and professional brewing circles for the last couple of years. Good Robot’s take clocks in at 6.6% ABV and 91 IBUs.

• And for Good Robot’s Beta brew, they bring us Como Bailamos. The brainchild of employee Nicki Brown, the idea was to mimic Mexican chocolate. The beer itself is a Porter brewed with plenty of dark malt, along with cocoa nibs, chocolate malt, chocolate extract and Bird’s Eye peppers (7-8 times higher on the Scoville scale than jalapenos). The result? A spicy (surprise!), chocolatey beer with lots of roast character; 4.6% ABV, 26 IBUs. Look for it on tap at the brewery this coming Tuesday.

• Moving through Halifax to Tidehouse, who will be releasing the poignantly-named Honeypepper Don’t Give a Frig this weekend. A 6.4% ABV American IPA brewed with 2-row, Honey malt, Melanoidin and Vienna, some real honey and black peppercorns were added at the end of the boil, along with a “goodly dose” of Centennial hops. With a “sweet, malty taste and a light, spicy note topped with Centennial citrus/floral hoppiness”, it still finishes quite dry. Look for it in tiny pours and growler fills at the brewery taproom. But that’s not all! They’ll also soon be releasing this year’s version of their Baltic Porter, Baltimax. With a base of Munich malt, and additions of Crystal Wheat, Crystal 120 L, and Midnight Wheat in the grist, this iteration was hopped entirely with Saaz. Weighing in at 7% ABV, look for this one on tap, soon.

• Good Friday isn’t stopping the folks at TrailWay from releasing their newest weekly creation, as Mood Ring – their latest Imperial IPA – available on tap and in cans tomorrow. Hopped with two of the brewery’s favourite varieties – Ella and Mosaic – this 8% ABV beer has a “unique, distinct dank fruitiness, and massive tropical fruit”. Light-coloured and smooth like most of their hoppy releases, this one is going to be available at the brewery only.

• This past weekend marked the finals of the Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge, with homebrewers from across the Maritimes sharing their skills in recipe creation and execution, with all starting from the same box of ingredients. With 25 entries, the competition was stiff, but after blind judging earlier in the week, and then a great round of presentations and more judging Sunday, there could only be one winner. Our own acbbaaron was the victor, with his Oh Snap! American Brown Ale with Ginger taking high points in both the presentation and creative use of ingredients (that ginger was separated piece by piece from the allotment of green tea, and he made his own inverted sugar from the dextrose provided). An extremely close second was Derek Woods’s Bursted IPA, which had taken top honours in the blind tasting, and was helped by Wood’s debut in the East Coast rapping scene during his presentation. Third place went to Derek Gates and Aaron Hebb for their Oatmeal Stout, who bribed the judges (and the rest of the attendees) with homemade oatmeal stout cookies. Always a great time catching up with fellow members of the homebrewing community, the event was very well attended, and beside a few nervous presenters, everyone was in high spirits. Look for Oh Snap!, and maybe a few others in the finals), to make their debut in the coming months.

• It looks like PEI Brewing Co. is continuing to brew new beers for the one-off After Hours series, with their newest brew – Cuvée La Joye – also being the first of the series to be bottled. Falling in the Belgian Golden Strong style (think Belgian Tripel, but a usually a bit stronger, paler, and drier), this particular brew was aged for 8 months in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, and then blended with a younger, non-barreled beer to dampen the barrel character slightly. With lots of Pilsner malt in the grist, the beer was hopped with European varieties to add some spiciness to go with the yeast character. It’s available in 750 mL bottles at the brewery taproom starting today, and at 9% ABV, is probably best shared with one or two others! Expect more After Hours beers (specifically, three of them) to be released soon, over time.

• After almost two years of great success, Charlottetown’s HopYard – a beer bar focusing on regional beers, an excellent, rotating food menu, vinyl, and relaxed vibes – has announced that they will be opening a Halifax location, at 2103 Gottingen Street. Co-owner Mike Ross has assured us that the same HopYard experience will carry over to the Halifax location, with a simple-yet-eclectic menu that changes every two weeks, and plenty of vinyl supplied by Back Alley Music in an environment with approximately 125 seats. And, naturally, beer! Ten rotating taps will feature you favourites from across the Maritimes. An exact date for the grand opening hasn’t been set, but expect to see their doors open sometime this summer. Peep their HopYard Halifax FB page for details along the way.

• It’s a homebrew kind of week here in the region, as Garrison Brewing is also celebrating these amateurs brewers with the announcement Gala for their 10th Annual Home Brew-Off this evening. From 45 entries in the Kolsch category, the top 4 have been decided, with the ultimate winner announced this evening at the brewery. That also means that last year’s winning beer will be debuting at the brewery this evening. Rowdy Roger Piper is the winning recipe brewed by Roger Ringuette to win the 2017 edition of the competition, and was re-brewed in the fall on Garrison’s system, with Ringuette joining Brewmaster Daniel Girard and Brewer Kellye Robertson on the day. With a malt bill of 2-Row Maritime Pale, Amber, and Crystal malts, plus Flaked Oats and Roasted Barley, this 7.8% ABV dark brown beer lets the malt shine through with caramel, dried fruit and licorice flavours, lightly hopped to 22 IBU with Willamette. From Girard, “You don’t need to know how good this beer is to know how good this beer is. With its sweet maltiness & full bodied flavour, 2017 Home Brew-Off Winner Roger Ringuette delivered the goods & now its time to pay the piper.” 650 mL bottles of Rowdy Roger Piper will be available to the public tomorrow at the brewery, and eventually at NSLC locations across the province.

• Launching on Monday is the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia‘s community beer, Made Here By Us. Released to celebrate the CBANS Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week, April 27 to May 6, this 5.0% ABV was brewed at Tatamagouche, at the end of February, with more than 25 member breweries in attendance to take part in the fun, all while swapping stories (and beers). The beer features Pale, Vienna, Wheat, and Cara malts, all from the valley’s Horton Ridge Malt, for an amber colour and clean malt character. The Crystal hops for the beer came from Tata’s hop farm in Malagash, with a light addition of Tettenang for a Noble spicy character. As for the yeast, the brew team used a wild yeast collected from a Pincherry on Big Spruce in Nyanza (and isolated and grown up by Escarpment Labs). This Amber Table Beer’s yeast character shines through nicely, with spiciness characteristic of Belgian Dubbel or Blonde beers, enhanced by the Noble hops. The beer is being released in cans at the NSLC province-wide April 2nd, as well as at Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar.  $1/can is going to CBANS efforts to improve the brewing scene for all in the province, through promotion and increasing the voice of the local brewing community. Keep an eye on their (and our) social media as the schedule for next months’ NS Craft Beer Week is finalized, and we encourage you to grab a few cans of Made Here By Us to help support the cause.

What’s on the go this weekend?

Boxing Rock will be taking over the taps at Lion and Bright from 5PM today. With 7 taps flowing at a time (plus extra kegs to rotate in during the evening), there will be a mix of Classic BR beers, as well as some new favourites, recently released. Chef Tyrone will have plenty of beer-friendly bites to serve up, and DJ Loukas Stilldrunk will start spinning tunes starting at 9PM. Come chat with the cool cats from Boxing Rock (and wish co-owner/-brewer Henry Happy Birthday!) all evening long.

• A reminder that Stillwell is welcoming a bevvy of London-area breweries to take over their taps on Saturday, March 31st. From Bitters, Session IPAs, to hazy NEIPAs there should be something for everyone on tap from noon. And for those of the cider persuasion, mark your calendars for April 7th, as Revel Cider from Guelph will be featured on tap. Revel’s motto seems to be “less [interaction] is more”, as their ciders are spontaneously fermented and barrel-aged and blended at packaging, making them an easy sell for those of us who enjoy the wilder side of beer.

• Garrison has announced the line-up for their Backlot Bash, taking place Saturday June 16th. Juno Award-winning The Glorious Sons will be joined by The Motorleague and Hello Delaware. And fans can help shape the rest of the line-up by taking part in Live 105’s Battle for the Bash Contest. More details on their website. As usual, proceeds are going to the Ecology Action Centre, and tickets went on sale this morning!

Just a few newsbites today:
– In late-breaking news today, Lunenburg’s Grand Banker has announced that they will be adding a brewery to their location this summer. Shipwright Brewing will start on a small system on the first floor of the building, and expand to another location on Victoria Road later on. Keep an eye on their FB page, and here, for their progress.
Nine Locks has brought back their Watermelon Blonde this week, and the brewery is the only spot to pick it up at this time.
– Brewed as part of Pink Boots Brew Day, Petit-Sault is celebrating the release of Phémie-la-Bootlegger. A 4.6% ABV “maple chocolate truffle” Porter, it features maple syrup from local producer Montagne Verte. Available in bottles and on tap at the brewery in Edmundston, it may also make it to Saint John’s Big Tide Brewing, as Brewer Wendy Papadopoulos took part in the brew day.
Tusket Falls Brewing on the South Shore has released a Kettle Sour this week, Left Right Here. Details on the beer are thin at the moment, but we’ll update once we know more.

A quick reminder to double-check that your favourite brewery or retail location is open before visiting tomorrow/Sunday/Monday, as many are adjusting their hours this Easter Weekend. Cheers!