The Muted Horn

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Once again it seems that our local beer producers know when we’ve got a writer on vacation and have gone out of their way to make our lives difficult. Or maybe there’s  just a summer long weekend coming and it’s totally normal for Chris to abandon us to the wolves. Sigh. But Happy Canada Day anyway!! It seems that breweries are maybe not quite into their traditional July/August panicked production mode as there are a TON of new releases coming this weekend. And whether or not we have info below on a specific Canada Day event at your favorite local, you can likely rest assured that they’ll have something going on. But our usual warning for long weekends applies: be sure to check social media for events we missed, modified hours, or slackers (we kid!) who are taking the holiday off!

Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co has a new small Saison available this week, Danger Zone Light. At 4.3% ABV, this is definitely in the Table Saison category, but with a New World twist. Yeast-driven notes of orchard fruit and banana, and loaded with Sterling hops added after fermentation for bright and grassy notes. Step inside the Danger Zone and grab a pint today!

Plus it’s the return of their ESB, the 4.6% ABV Drunken Muppet. A malt-forward pale ale, featuring notes of toffee, caramel, toast, and biscuit, balanced with light hop bitterness to keep it from being too sweet. Pop in this weekend Fri, Sat, and Mon for flights, pints, and growler fills, and keep your Canada Day party going Tuesday night with live music Youngtree & The Blooms from St John’s, taking the stage at 9 PM. 

All sorts of goodies coming out of 2 Crows Brewing this weekend, which we always like to see! Let’s start with two new beers they’ve got for us, shall we? The first release is a style that some brewers – and beer drinkers, of course! – are really digging lately, the super-low-ABV hoppy beer. Matinee was brewed with Pilsner, Golden Promise, raw wheat, and flaked oats (for those of you who don’t brew, the latter two ingredients help increase mouthfeel, a must for low-ABV beers that run the risk of coming across as watery/thin). Hopped in the hopback with a large amount of Simcoe, the wort was fermented with Foggy London (a NEIPA yeast strain) from Escarpment Labs, and then dry-hopped twice with “obscene” amounts of Galaxy, Citra, and Idaho 7. The result is “big papaya, pineapple, and tangerine notes, finishing dry with a touch of dankness and pine”, all in a supremely sessionable 3.1% ABV. What else could you ask for in a hoppy beer? More alcohol, you say? Bah, says we! This little beauty is going to be available at the brewery today, on tap and in cans (355 mL cans, at that!).

The next beer is their latest addition to their ever-growing line of barrel-aged, bottled beers (and we’re not complaining, keep them coming!). Fans of the brewery’s first bottle release, Dandy, will definitely feel their gin barrel-Spidey senses tingling with the details on Spritz, a beer brewed last November with a grist of Pilsner, Wheat, Spelt, oats, and Special Aromatic malt. Soured with two strains of Lactobacillus, it was fermented in a third-fill gin barrel with many 2C house cultures, and aged in the same for over four months. The juice and zest of three cases of grapefruit and two cases of limes were then added, before bottling the 6% ABV beer with Champagne yeast, where it was allowed to condition for another two and a half months. It’s finally available as of today, and it’s tasting “bright, citrusy, and zippy, with soft gin aromatics and a firm minerality”. Might as well stop by the brewery to grab bottles and cans of both beers, and hey, they’ll also be tapping four guest kegs from B.C.’s Dageraad Brewing tomorrow at noon if you need a re-up, so they’ve got that going for them, too.

Those Sour Lads at Sourwood Cider have a pair of new ciders out over the past couple of weeks. After opening their taproom just two weeks ago (congrats guys!), they’ve been keeping the new releases coming. Dirty Rosé is a 6.5% ABV release, starting from a blend of apples aged on Pinot Noir skins, aged in red wine barrels. Available on tap at their tasting room for a very limited time, cans very soon, and kegs are also circulating to their licensees in town. And new in bottles is Haskap, which features the locally-grown berry adding during aging also in a red wine barrel. 750 mL bottles are available for purchase at their taproom/retail spot at 5576 Cornwallis, and on tap too. And just on tap yesterday was Honey Babe, a 7.0% ABV barrel-aged sour with raw honey, with cans coming post haste. 

Halifax’s Propeller Brewing continues their campaign of shock and awe with releases we never would have seen coming from them a few short years ago. This week they’ve got two, both in rather limited releases. The first comes out of their Gottingen Small Batch Series, a big bugger they’re calling Imperial Haze Lord IPA. Plenty of dank hops bring a piney and herbal aroma with a backdrop of passionfruit and citrus, but, as is de rigueur for an Imperial IPA, there’s also plenty of expressive malt character. Very hoppy, full-bodied, and with a pillowy mouthfeel, this 7.0% ABV and 70 IBU beast will not be packaged, so grab growler fills on Windmill Rd or at the Propeller Tasting Room in Halifax for pints and fills, from 5 PM. And hot on the heels of last weeks’ release of Brett IPA comes another special big bottle just in time for Canada Day. Celebration Pils isn’t a new beer per se, it’s Propeller’s highly-regarded Pilsner. “What makes it special, then?” you might ask. Firstly, it’s the unfiltered version, which the gang at Bar Stillwell showed us is an extra delight when they specially requested that beer for their 4th birthday bash in 2017 (and a couple of times since). Next, it’s been bottle-conditioned with Champagne yeast for an extra effervescence and a mouthfeel you only get from tiny tiny bubbles. Only 200 of these beauties were filled and they’ll go on sale today from opening at both Prop locations, along with t-shirts with the beer’s logo. Once your Celebration is over, you can also return the bottle for a $2 refund. This one is a surefire hit for your Canada Day party if you can get to the brewery in time before they’re all gone!

Tatamagouche Brewing has brought back their Crack of Dawn Breakfast Porter, a collaborative effort with neighbouring coffee roaster Meeting Waters, award-winning homebrewer Brian Harvey, and your friendly neighbourhood blogger Chris McDonald. Starting from a big Porter base featuring Munich and Horton Ridge Pale malt, with Chocolate Wheat and Chocolate Rye malts for colour and flavour, lactose was added for some residual sweetness and to cut any harsh roast character. Green coffee beans of Ethiopian origin were aged in a Bulleit Bourbon barrel, before receiving a light roast at Meeting Waters, and the subsequent cold brew was blended with the Porter to bring it to a reasonable 8.4% ABV. Available on draft only currently (we’re told bottles coming next month!), the best place to grab it is at the brewery, or at better licensees in HRM. 

Lawrencetown’s own Lunn’s Mill is releasing their latest Berliner Weisse tomorrow, Mon Cherri. With a recipe designed by Jana Dellapinna, winner of the brewery’s Summer Patio Beer Homebrew Competition, this kettle sour was lightly hopped with Bravo (to 8 IBUs) and fermented with Cali Ale from Escarpment Labs. This 4.4% ABV beer was aged on dark, sweet cherries before packaging, resulting in a brew that’s “fruity, slightly sour, with a lingering, wheaty finish”, while staying refreshing and easy-drinking. Grab it at the brewery for pints and growlers; it’ll also be pouring at tomorrow’s Curated East Coast Craft Beer Festival in Halifax (we’ll see you there, it’s going to be a blast!). 

Bedford’s Off Track Brewing has big plans for your Canada Day weekend starting tomorrow with the release of 4, count’em FOUR beers (some people clearly don’t have any use for sleep) during a special fundraising event! Up first is Good Intentions Pale Ale, a light and easy drinking brew at 4.2% ABV that’s been primarily hopped with Mandarina Bavaria for hints of tangerine and citrus. A healthy dry hop ensures that the hops are present on the aroma as well as the palate, while a paltry 14 IBUs ensure that this one remains smooth, clean, and crisp. Then we have the Pinky Swear, another summer-beckoning beer in the form of a fruited wheat beer. With Haskap and Cherry puree providing the fruit, and Mandarina Bavaria and Citra giving a balancing citrus presence, it finishes tart and light at 4.7% ABV. For those looking for something a little on the deeper and darker side, Bounty Hunter will also be on the go, it’s a Chocolate Coconut Stout weighing in at 5% ABV but with plenty of flavor thanks to cacao nibs and lightly toasted coconut. The overall impression might remind you (in a good way!) of haystack macaroons. And lastly is Boatload of Nerve, a double IPA boasting a massive 95 IBU and carrying 7.1% ABV. Using a blend of El Dorado along with Mosaic (a favorite hop of Off Track staff), there’s plenty of pear, mango, and pine punch in both the aroma and the flavor. We would say you’ve been told! Add to that the return of Loco-Coco, their toasted coconut Kölsch and a regular tap lineup (they’ll likely be pulling out jockey boxes to handle all the beers they’ll be serving), and you’ve got the makings of a beer bonanza. Lest you think, however, that this is just for Canada Day weekend, you should know that tomorrow’s event, which will also feature fare from the Jamaica Lee Style Cuisine food truck and all kinds of live music, and more, will be for the benefit of Bedford Challenger Baseball, part of the Nova Scotia Challenger Baseball initiative, which is focused on, “an adaptive program that provides an opportunity for children and youth with cognitive and/or physical disabilities to enjoy the full benefits of participating in organized baseball at a level structured to their abilities.” One dollar from every pint sold will go directly to supporting this organization. The event runs all day, from opening at 12 PM to close at 11 PM, so head down to the brewery, check it out, and support a great organization in one of the best possible ways, by having a beer! 

Upstreet is turning four this month, which means another release of their annual Anniversary Saison, De Novo, a beer whose recipe is slightly altered each year. De Novo IV was brewed with 2-row from Shoreline Malting, as well as some Red Crystal Rye and regular Rye malt, resulting in a beer that is slightly darker in colour compared to previous iterations, and exhibits more haziness and a little more spiciness in the flavour. This year’s iteration (6.5% ABV) was also dry-hopped with Belma, giving the beer some “strawberry, earthy, and lightly herbal/dank notes.” You can grab your bottles at the brewery today, and give them a crisp, happy-birthday high five while you’re at it. You might as well pick up some of their latest Neon Friday release as well, Neon Friday 2.06: IPA with Slovenian Wolf, Calypso, Idaho 7, Hallertau Blanc (good luck ordering that one in a bar!). You can probably figure out which hop varieties they used with this batch, the combination of which contribute “aromas of orange peel, spicy mango, pear and vanilla, with a balanced, soft bitterness, and a clean fruitiness”.

Stillwell Brewing… they love Saisons, and we do, too! Therefore, we love them, in part because they keep brewing Saisons. Makes sense, no? One such Saison, Campaign, is being newly released at the bar tomorrow at noon, both on tap and in bottles. Billed as Easy’s big sister (a beer we’re quite fond of), by “big” they mean higher ABV (5.8%) and more bitterness. They’ve experimented with bitterness, actually, with this beer, crossing a threshold for their house cultures. Stillwell’s house culture features a wide range of microorganisms, including strains of Brettanomyces (fruit, funk, and a little sour) and Lactobacillus (lactic acid-forming; quite sour). But Lactobacillus are quite inhibited by hops, so by increasing hop additions in the kettle (resulting in more bitterness), the Lacto portion of the culture was inhibited enough for the resulting beer (which spent three months in one of the brewery’s oak foedres) to be less acidic than many of their other releases, and therefore more likely to meet your definition of a “classic” clean Saison. If that’s a bit confusing, best to drop by Stillwell tomorrow and taste it yourself (and take home a bottle or two)! They’ll also have some Campaign T-shirts for sale, promoting the glory that is Saison, and encouraging others to ask questions, and become informed. 

Summer releases continue to abound, with Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing joining in with their latest release, Summer Slam. A light-bodied American Pale Ale brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, and Honey malt, along with some malted wheat, it was hopped with El Dorado, along with a “splash” of modern German hops – Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria – for an aroma addition. Fermented with a neutral American yeast strain, it weighs in at 5% ABV and 42 IBUs, and is exhibiting aromas of “tropical fruit, red berries, pine/resin, bread, honey, and toast”, more of the same following through on the palate, and a fairly dry finish with a lingering bitterness. It’s officially on tap and in cans at the brewery as of yesterday (with a launch party happening there today), and will be available at tap accounts (including ANBL growler stations) in the very near future. 

Good news, Saint Johners (is that a thing?)! After lots of hard work, and plenty of waiting for the proper paperwork to go through, be triple-stamped, etc., Loyalist City Brewing is finally launching their retail store at the brewery (60 Water St.) today, with a soft launch from 1 – 9 PM. Excited? You should be! For starters, you can expect to see eight taps pouring for growler fills: four Loyalist City beers, and four Hampton Brewing beers (which are still currently being contract brewed right at LC), as well as LC cans for take-away. No on-site consumption of beers yet, sorry. One of the brews you can expect is the latest version of Point Blanc IPA, which has been dry-hopped with higher-than-usual amounts of Citra, Mosaic, and Mandarina Bavaria. In the near future, they’ll be offering merch for sale, and should be carrying beers from other breweries on tap, as well as can/bottle purchases. Starting next week, their regular hours will be 12 – 9 PM, Wednesday to Friday. Congrats, Loyalist City!

If you’re moseying by the Port Rexton taproom today, you’re in for a treat, as they’ll have several barrel-aged beers pouring on tap. The first is 2019 Brett Chops; the second year this beer has been released, it’s their Horse Chops IPA that has aged in a bourbon barrel for 15 months with Brett Q yeast from Escarpment Labs. Coming in at 6.3% ABV, it features oak character and vanilla notes, as well as “brilliant bourbon and Brett funk in the aroma and on the palate, with notes of cinnamon and red apple”. They’ll also have another iteration of a previous beer, 2019 Oatmeal Stout. Aged for 12 months in a red wine barrel; think a merging of dark chocolate and red wine with this 6.3% ABV, rich, full-bodied beer. Two other previously-released barrel-aged beers – Ten Eighty Series: 2019 Barrel-Aged Imperial Saison and Nor-easter – will accompany the two newbies. Enjoy!

Fredericton’s Grimross has a new beer this week, a scaled-up version of an earlier small batch that hearkens back to a simpler time of Saaz hops and Bohemian Pilsner malt standing tall on their own in the Bavarian style. Although a touch of acid malt was added to adjust the pH, this beer is a straight-up representation of a classic style. Praha Bohemian Lager is very light, only 3.8% ABV and 29 IBUs, with a classic clean malt character paired with a traditional noble hop and an overall softness thanks, in part, to the natural carbonation provided by spunding before fermentation completed – no CO2 was added to this beer, it was all provided by the yeast. More tiny tiny bubbles! It’s available from the brewery in cans, for pints, and for growler fills, you can hopefully expect to see this one at Grimross tap accounts as well.

Although they may have been slightly out-crazied by Off Track’s four beer weekend, Tusket Falls Brewing way down on Nova Scotia’s South Shore are game to prove themselves no slouches either with 3 small batch releases hitting the taps for this weekend. First is Ramped Up (*working title), a porter that will see a full 20 BBL batch released later this month. Light, as the style goes, at 5.5% ABV, it boasts plenty of roasty and dark chocolate character along with a slightly savory note in both aroma and flavor. Leveraging brown, chocolate and black specialty malts against a base grist of slightly sweet Golden Promise, hop presence is provided by Willamette. And continuing Tusket’s exploration of the NE IPA style is A Bit of Citra, another beer on the lighter end of its respective style, coming in at 5.2% ABV. Lime, lychee and grapefruit rind on the nose and palate come courtesy of Citra and Galaxy hops. Pilsner malt provides the base, with plenty of oats to give the characteristic haze and creamy mouthfeel one would expect, though the beer finishes clean and crisp with a slightly bitter aftertaste. And last, but not least, comes a summery brew, a raspberry sour they’re calling Raspberry Dreams. Smoothed out with additions of lactose and vanilla beans, but still tart and refreshing, this 4.5% ABV beer will make sure you’re tasting summer this weekend even if the weather isn’t cooperating. Look for all three of these beers on tap at the Tusket taproom this weekend.

Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co Brewing has a new and interesting beer on tap this weekend, one that reflects the history of the local area and gives you a chance to taste something that very few folks have in quite a long time. Mystery Hop Pale is aptly named, given that it uses an essentially unknown hop. Most likely a German variety planted way back in the 19th century, relatives of the farm family have said that the hops were likely added to the wort to introduce wild yeast and kick off fermentation. Family lore also suggests one member was a teetotaller and attempted to eliminate the hops, but they were rescued and replanted in the woods elsewhere on the property where they’ve been growing ever since. How’s that for terroir? The beer itself is a SMaSH featuring only the mystery hop and Maris Otter malt and comes in at 5.3% ABV. Only two kegs have been made as a test to see what the hop is like, and if you can get down that way this weekend you can be one of the first to find out! Also on release this weekend is a big batch of a lesser-known style, Kottbusser, from the city of Cottbus in the northeast part of the country. Although Tanner’s research indicates a wide range of interpretations of what a Kottbusser is, the main characteristics they’ve chosen to work with are the use of wheat in the grist (the style predates the Reinheitsgebot) and additions of molasses and honey (both locally sourced) to provide some additional fermentables and complexity. Fermented with a German ale yeast, the result is a fairly light beer at 5.6% ABV and 20 IBU. You’ll find this one at the brewery in bottles, with some kegs hopefully hitting Halifax in the next week or two.

In addition to the Canada Day goings-on noted above, you can pretty much be sure that most of the breweries in the region will be celebrating the long weekend somehow. Here’s a couple more we have details on this weekend and an exciting takeover coming next weekend: 

If you haven’t been down to The Auction House in a while you might be pleasantly surprised by their renewed dedication to local taps. They’ve also been putting on some excellent beery events, including our own ACBB Trivia Night during NS Craft Beer Week back in May. This weekend they’re continuing that trend, bringing a whole other bunch of fun by teaming up with Propeller for a Pop-up Arcade. Two pinball machines, some arcade classics, and a whole bunch of consoles will be available to play, with plenty of Propeller (and, no doubt, other local beer) on tap. This event will be going all weekend, giving you a chance to come down at your leisure and check out the games and beers on offer. Meanwhile, things will still be going strong at the Propeller Arcade HQ on Gottingen, including a rare Monday opening starting at 2 PM (normally Mondays are reserved for league play).

Quidi Vidi Brewing is among the breweries throwing a bash for Canada Day with a brand new beer on tap to help celebrate. RDL (Rain Drizzle Lager) will make its debut at this event, which starts Monday at noon. There will be live music and other entertainment all day, plenty of beers on tap, and Quidi Vidi Fish & Chips will have you covered for laying down a solid base.

Stillwell is continuing their trend of tap takeovers by out-of-province breweries with another one coming up on Saturday, July 6th. As is well known amongst those who’ve been lucky enough to get to Left Field Brewery in Toronto, or lucky enough to have friends bringing back their brews from trips to the Big Smoke, Left Field has been making some very fine beers and rocking a delightful baseball motif in the Leslieville neighborhood since 2013. Starting, as usual, at 12 PM, the tap list for the takeover looks mighty fine:

  • Glorioso – Italian-style Pilsner
  • Sun Delay – Grisette
  • Bang Bang – Sour Ale
  • Squeeze Play – Black Currant Sour Ale
  • Lo Visite – Mojito Sour Ale
  • Greenwood – New England IPA
  • Whip – Piña Colada Smoothie IPA
  • Laser Show – Double IPA
  • Eephus – Brown Ale

That’s no Mudville 9, that’s a bona fide All-Star team! And if that weren’t enough, there will also be plenty of relief coming out of the bullpen in the form of additional beers in cans. Ballcaps optional (but when in Rome…)

And the hits just keep on coming; a few final mentions to inform your beer buying and beer drinking over the next three (or maybe more!) days:

Nyanza’s Big Spruce is finally answering the prayers of many of their fans by putting their long-running Regatta Red in cans. Although we know that Irish Red Ale doesn’t exactly meet a lot of people’s definition of “exciting” (side-eye shoutout to the 902BrewCast gang, who dropped a new tasting episode this week; go listen!) it’s pretty obvious from the social media response that there are plenty of people who are excited about this one. The jaunty red can is also timely for your Canada Day celebration. Available at the Sprucetique now and out of the fridge at the Halifax Seaport Market this weekend. Also of note, if you’ve been missing the Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout at your local NSLC, you might want to have a good look around as it’s now being sold in 4-packs instead of singles.

Shelburne’s Boxing Rock continue to carry the standard for brown bottles in the age-old beer industry battle between aluminum and glass. And to (gently) push that agenda a little further, they’re undertaking a bit of a repackaging and rebranding exercise, with a fond goodbye to their iconic white boxes. The first two beers to get this treatment are the hoppy Temptation Red, now in a bright red 6-pack box and matching label, and the debut of their Double IPA Vicar’s Cross,in 6-packs (for the very first time) with a very orange look. No more eying that big bomber on a weeknight and wondering if you should! We’ve also heard that there’s some bigger news in the works for the brewery in terms of physical space; we hope to have all the details for you in the coming weeks.

Garrison is continuing to put out beers in their new-this-summer Hop Trip series and though we don’t have details on all of them, we know that the Brut IPA has been seen in the wild. Extra dry and bubbly, with an ABV of 6.2% and 24 IBU, it features Mandarina Bavaria, Simcoe, Ekuanot and Mosaic hops. Available in 4-packs of 355 mL cans from the brewery and possibly other places in the city. We hope to catch up with the rest of the Hop Trip offerings, as well as a collaboration they’ve got on the way, in the next few weeks.

Good Robot isn’t bringing a new beer this weekend, but they are bringing a big batch of a previously Beta-sized brew. Brewer Gio’s ode to the national bird of his native Bahamas, Pink Flamingo, is a pale pinky-orangey radler at a light and refreshing 4.5% ABV and a barely-there 15 IBUs, featuring watermelon and kiwi. Perfect for a sunny day on the Gastroturf.

Niche Brewing in (for all intents and purposes) Fredericton, NB, has their Pineapple Persuasion back this weekend. A kettle sour with a touch of lactose and plenty of pineapple puree, it’s 4.2% ABV. Kegs of this one are going to tap accounts in NB (including the ANBL growler stations in Moncton North and Saint John Wellington) and we have it on fairly good authority that Stillwell has spoken for a few, mayhaps destined for the BG on SG.

Cape Breton’s Route 19 Brewing will be putting their new Dog Daze on tap this weekend. At 5% ABV and plenty tart, this kettle sour features passionfruit and a bit of mango, just the kind of beer your summer needs.

We’re not sure how long it was gone, but if you were already missing DOA at Unfiltered in Halifax, fear not, it’s back today at noon, with cans, fills and pints all available. And if you happen to be reading this from Europe, specifically Germany, and worrying that you’re missing out, you should hop on over to The Muted Horn in Berlin for their Canada Day bash where you’ll find Unfiltered beers (and a number of others from Canadian craft breweries, including Stillwell Brewing) pouring!