Tom’s Little Havana

All posts tagged Tom’s Little Havana

Wow, it’s December already! Time flies when there’s so much beer news to collect and share across our region! This week’s news is a mix of new and returning beers, some holiday-themed events, and hints of new breweries set to open in the New Year. Crack open that Advent Calendar beer or chocolate, and let’s dive right in.

• We lead off with lots of new beer news from Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing, who actually sent all this info in days ahead of the post going up (we’re still a bit dizzy with shock)! To start off, they have a new brew on tap at their tiny taproom, a Saison named Sylvan Specter. Featuring some noticeable malt flavours thanks to the use of Munich and Melanoiden malts in the grist on top of a base Pale malt, as well as some Wheat malt to boost the mouthfeel, this 4.9% ABV was hopped with Enigma and Saaz at the end of the boil, for “a blend of earthy, fruity, and herbal components”. Fermented with two Saison strains (Farmhouse Ale and French Saison), expect a very dry beer with some spicy phenolics, in addition to the flavours mentioned above.

• Continuing with the rest of the Tidehouse news, they have brewed three other new beers to celebrate the opening of new restaurant aFrite, which opens tomorrow at 1360 Lower Water St. in Halifax. They are the following, with each designed to pair with specific plates: Bishop’s Porter, a 6.2% ABV “Raspberry American Porter”, the raspberry presence is fairly light to pair with aFrite’s sous vide Side of Beef with Frites and Bernaise sauce; Salter Saison, a 5.4% ABV amber-coloured Saison hopped heavily with Perle and Tettnanger featuring lots of herbal notes, to pair with their Donair Gnocchi; and Morris Ale, a 5.3% ABV American Pale Ale hopped with Citra, with fresh lime zest also added, paired with Fried Cauliflower in curry sauce (featuring cilantro, cumin, ghee, and lemon).

Roof Hound has a new Sour that incorporates a different approach to the souring method, compared to previous releases of theirs in this style. They actually made their own yogurt with a bacteria culture used by a local Nova Scotian family for close to 100 years, according to owner/brewer Les Barr. Built up over several weeks in coconut milk, the resulting coconut yogurt (therefore dairy-free) was added directly to the wort to lower the pH (to just barely above 3). Shredded coconut had also been added to the mash, and the whole thing was fermented with a blend of five yeast strains. Named Dooflicker Tropical Brown Sour, the resulting 5.3% ABV beer hits you “with a jaw-cramping mouth pucker, followed by a good remaining body, and a slight chocolate and coconut finish”.

• The crew at Port Rexton Brewing has had a busy fall, and are ready to unveil several new and returning beers this weekend. At this evening’s 12 Beers of Christmas in St. John’s (more details below), they are debuting Rewind Saison, which is a take on their previously-released Mixed Opportunity mixed-fermentation Saison. The Rewind, however, is fermented solely with Sacchromyces yeast (no Brett here), for a different profile. Light-to-medium in body, with a mild sweetness with herbal notes in the flavour, and fruity esters and spicy phenolics on the nose, the beer ends up at 5.5% ABV. If there’s any left after this evening’s event, it will be available tomorrow at the brewery. Speaking of which, for the next four Saturdays (Dec 2, 9, 16, and Tibb’s Eve), the brewery will be open 2-10PM for all of your sample, pint, and growler needs.

• Also available this weekend at the brewery will be a trio of their beers in cans, following their successful, and sold out, release of Blazing Sun NE-DIPA mid-November. Baycation BlondeT-Rex Porter, and Chasing Sun NEIPA will all be available at opening, and the only spot to grab them is at the brewery.

• And debuting next Thursday, December 7, is a fundraising collaboration in support of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium. The beer was brewed with the folks from the Aquarium, as well as Motion Bay Brewing Company, opening next year in Petty Harbour, as well as the folks from Jack AxesOceans & Orchards is a truly Axe-perimental brew, as the base beer (grist of 2 Row, Oats, Honey, Vienna and a touch of Crystal 60 malts) features 50 litres of fresh-pressed apple juice courtesy of Newfoundland Cider Company (debuting their ciders in 2018 as well). The resultant 4.5% ABV graf (that is, beer/cider hybrid) features notes of honey and apple, enhanced by the El Dorado and Huell Melon dry hopping. O&O is debuting at the December 7th event at 7PM at Jack Axes on Water Street, for an evening of throwing axes and sipping on this and other beers, all while benefiting the new aquarium in PH. More details are available at the FB Event page.

• Ashdale Nova Scotia’s Meander River has a new cider available this weekend, in celebration of their expanded production space. Two 2,000 litre fermenters, and one brite tank, all dedicated to cider production, have been added to their brewery, so as not to inhibit their brewing pipeline, and increase their cider availability. The fermenters have already been filled, so stay tuned for those releases in the New Year. In the meantime, the latest release is Perry Noel, a 5.5% ABV perry cider, made with 100% Nova Scotia pears from Davison Farm in Falmouth. A light and dry cider (no back sweetening used), aromas of earthiness and tropical fruit are present on the nose. Available at the brewery today for growler fills, kegs have been delivered to bars and restaurants in Hants County and HRM, so keep an eye out as you make your way around the area.

• And you can learn even more about the brewing and cider plans if you listen to the latest episode of the 902 BrewCast, as the gents visited Alan and Brenda Bailey (and Angus) to learn about their farm, brewery, cider production, and plans for the future. The latest episode can be streamed directly at their site, or downloaded for offline enjoyment.

• Like clockwork, our pals at 2 Crows in Halifax have got a bunch of new beers to tickle your tastebuds this week and next, so let’s get you the details post-haste. Released earlier this week is their latest small batch brew, Shoreline. A 4.6% ABV Pale Ale, with a base of 2 Row and Oat malts, and hopped with Azacca and Huell Melon, before fermentation with a blend of a dozen different strains of Brettanomyces yeasts, before dry-hopping with Vic Secret, and a final keg conditioning with champagne yeast. Phew! The resultant beer is dry, funky, and fruity, with notes of guava, tangerine, and pineapple. As with all of these small batch brews (the Attempted Murder Series name still hasn’t caught on), this one is only available by the glass.

• Tomorrow, 2C is unleashing the latest of their full canned releases, brewed by Jeremy Taylor in collaboration with a fellow former-BC brewer, and current Manitoba brewery owner, Miguel Cloutier, of Kilter Brewing. Firmly in the Milkshake IPA territory, Hawaiian Ivory has a slew of light-coloured malts at its base, including Pilsner, Wheat, Oat, and Honey, along with the heavy dose of lactose and vanilla, iconic for the style. Playing up on the milkshake idea, bananas, dried coconut, lime zest, mango and pineapple purée were added in the boil and conditioning tank. The hops chosen are also quite fruity and tropical, with AzaccaCitraHuell Melon, and Simcoe in the boil, with all but Huell Melon also added in a dry hop for another aromatic blast. Hawaiian Ivory will be available from opening at noon tomorrow, by the glass and can, and in a first, Kilter and 2 Crows fans in Manitoba will be able to purchase this collaboration in Winnipeg later this month.

• And in upcoming beer news, 2C’s Linnea Finnish Imperial Stout will be released next Wednesday, December 6th. Brewed in celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary Independence Day, the beer incorporates popular flavours from Finnish cuisine, including cardamom and salty liquorice. Taylor lived in Finland for a time, and his brother still lives in the country, raising a family. Linnea is named after Taylor’s niece. Using 95% Finnish-grown and -produced malt from Viking Malt (courtesy of local company Nordic Malz), it features Pale, Oats, Crystal, Chocolate Malts and Roast Barley, with molasses, to 9.1% ABV. Moderately hopped to 60 IBU with Columbus, and Golding (and a touch of Centennial for a light, bright, nose), it features additions of sea salt, liquorice root, star anise and cardamom pods. Drop by the brewery Wednesday to celebrate all things Finnish, and grab a pint to celebrate. And it may even be available to those outside of the province thanks to some holiday-themed boxes many folks have started opening today… Kippis!

• And we’re already behind schedule with today’s publishing, so we do not have time to tell you about the details on the next releases, but rest assured you’ll want to keep an eye out for their next canned release mid-month, as well as the beers they have cooked up for their First Anniversary in January.

• This weekend marks the third straight week of new releases from Stillwell Brewing, with the latest, Gosh, dropping first at Stillwell Beer Bar tomorrow, followed by a bottle release at the brewery on Sunday from 12-4. A pale Farmhouse Ale aged in a red wine barrel, Gosh is described as “bone-dry, with a tropical fruit fermentation character and grippy finish”. Dry-hopped with Mosaic to help boost that tropical fruit character, we’re sure this one will sell out as quickly as the last two, so show up early on Sunday!

• There’s two new beers coming out of TrailWay this week, with the first one being a new winter seasonal. Parallel is a “Session Ale” with a grain bill made up of 100% German Pale malt, and hopped entirely with Mosaic. The brewery describes it as “super-balanced”, with the hop-focus not being quite as strong as in many of their other beers. Indeed sessionable at just 4% ABV, expect a “rather subtle tropical fruitiness with a solid, crackery-malt profile”. It’s available on tap now around Fredericton, as well as in cans (both at the brewery and ANBL stores). The next beer, Good Times in the Fridge, is another hop bomb that released today at noon. A pale-coloured American IPA with minimal bitterness, it was hopped with Galaxy and Motueka. At 6% ABV, cans of this one are available at the brewery only.

• Now that Fredericton’s Bogtrotter is back to full-brewing mode, they’re releasing a brand new beer this week. Cranky Crab Coconut Porter is a 5% dark ale brewed with toasted coconut (added in the mash, boil, and secondary) and chocolate nibs. Also featuring hints of vanilla in the flavour (thanks to the addition of pure extract in secondary), it weighs in at 5% ABV and will soon be available on tap at the James Joyce and Cask and Kettle.

Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden Road in Halifax has a new beer available, an American Wheat that was dosed with raspberries they’re calling Witty Pun. With his feet now firmly under him in RB’s cramped brewing quarters, brewer Ian Kean is starting to exert himself on the beer menu more and though it might not seem “seasonal” in November, this beer is certainly accessible, with a solid wheat presence underlying a lovely raspberry aroma and flavour. Clean American yeast yields an otherwise fairly dry finish to this 5.0% ABV beer, which also sports 12 IBU worth of balancing hop bitterness. As of yesterday, it was available for growler fills and pints at the pub.

Good Robot released a new Alpha Brew, Steambot Willie, earlier this week. With a grist made up of Maris Otter, Amber malt, Carapils, Red X, and Rye, it was hopped with Mt. Hood, Perle, and Magnum to 32 IBUs, and dry-hopped with more Perle, and Tettnang. Fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast strain, think of this one as an Ale-Lager hybrid, similar in a way to a California Common. At 5.5% ABV, and described as an “earthy, malty Lager with a bitter finish”, it’s available on tap now at GR, and will likely pop up around the HRM. And for next Tuesday’s Beta Brew release, we have Alien From Next Door, an American Pale Ale brewed by Kelly C. and Lianne Lessard. Brewed with 2-row, Vienna, Red X and Crystal 30, Polaris was used for bittering (to 27 IBUs), with later hop additions including Galaxy and Willamette, and then a dry-hop with more Polaris. And finally, note that cans of GR’s Extra Big ASS Lager and bottles of Barrel-Aged Mississippi Goddamn can now be purchased at the Halifax private liquor stores.

Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House in Lower Sackville continues to round out their line of easy-drinking beers with a light wheat ale they’re calling Orange American Bastard (we’ve no idea what, or who, that name could be referring to). Boasting orange peel, both sweet and bitter varieties, along with coriander, all added late in the boil for a Belgian flair, it was fermented (we think) on an American yeast for a clean ester profile. This 4.7% ABV beer is built on a base of wheat and pale malts with a little bit of Vienna for character. Crisp and clean with a nice mouthfeel, this is, according to brewer Keith Forbes, “a Summer beer heading into Winter.” It’s available now, but only on one of the guest taps at Good Robot on Robie Street in Halifax.

Heritage Brewing has a follow-up to their popular Citra Session IPA, meaning if you like hops, you should have no problem with this one! White Sands Milkshake IPA was brewed with a “touch” of lactose and ample amounts of Ekuanot and Citra hops, giving lots of “fruity, citrusy, and tropical” aromas and flavours. Available now, it comes in at 6.7% ABV and 60 IBUs.

• Darmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing has announced that they have a new brewer working alongside Head Brewer Jake Saunders. Connor MacLeod is originally from Bridgewater, and has studied in the Certified Brewmaster course at the prestigious VLB Berlin. Previously working at Garrison Brewing in Halifax, he brings several years of experience of homebrewing and passion to his commercial work, which started in part thanks to his father, who is also a beer fan. Welcome aboard, Connor! And perhaps to celebrate their new arrival, 9L has brought back their Vanilla Porter, a 5.0% ABV porter with a touch of vanilla for a light sweetness and aromatic meld with the chocolate and dark malt character. Available in cans and growler fills at the brewery today!

• Last weekend was the party and announcement for the Sober Island Brewing Foraged Homebrew Competition, at the brewery in Sheet Harbour. From 15 entries, Andrew Deveaux’s entry Raspberry Beer Eh! took top honours. Brewed with 95% malt from Horton Ridge, Deveaux’s beer featured late-season raspberries foraged from his own backyard added to a Wheat Beer base. Congratulations to Deveaux, and we expect to see a full release of the winning beer once raspberries make their return next year. In the meantime, look for SIBC’s Winter Rye to debut this month.

• Last Sunday saw an excellent turnout at the Dartmouth location of the Wooden Monkey for the 5th Annual Big Spruce Homebrew Challenge. As announced back in September, this competition was wide open style-wise, as it was instead entered around the use of the “Pin Cherry #1” yeast strain harvested from the property of Big Spruce in Nyanza, Cape Breton. This yeast was identified to have somewhat of a Belgian character, in the Trappist vein of being somewhat spicy and phenolic, with a medium flocculation and attenuation. As organized by ACBB’s own Chris McDonald, 39 entries fermented on the yeast were evaluated and scored by 12 judges, with the assistance of 4 stewards, over the course of the afternoon, culminating in a Best of Show round where the 9 favorites were slowly winnowed down to a top 3 with an honorable mention. Top prize went to Justin Clarke’s Split Personality a North American Saison that was fermented with both the Big Spruce yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces strains before being aged on wood chips. The variety of beers entered was vast, with classic Belgian, North American and even English styles competing against more outré beers featuring additional ingredients as varied as lime zest and tomatillo, habanero peppers, pineapple and coconut, peach and sage, and applewood tea. There was even a mead entry from local meadmaker Nancy Hartling that was not able to be accepted into the competition but which was tasted at the gala and turned out very nicely. The overall quality, according to the judges, was top notch, especially considering the range of beers and the fact that not a single brewer had previously used the yeast. Congratulations to all those who entered, and especially those who placed, and many thanks to Jeremy and the team at Big Spruce, and all those involved in helping reach the result. Sláinte. We look forward to tasting Justin’s winning entry when a production batch is brewed sometime in the future. And don’t forget the Big Spruce tap takeover at Battery Park this coming Thursday, November 7th!

• The Murphy Hospitality Group – owners of the PEI Brewing Co. / Gahan House – have announced that they will be opening yet another Gahan House Restaurant & Brewery location, this time in downtown Fredericton. They have purchased Vault 29, a restaurant/bar at 426 Queen St., for the new brewpub, which will have a 120-seat dining room, oyster bar, two seasonal patios, and a 5 bbl (600 L) brewhouse onsite. The plan is for the brewpub to open sometime in the spring, making it the fifth Gahan location (Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, and soon-to-open Moncton). The full press-release can be read here.

• As we’ve mentioned previously, the ambitious “East Coast Crafted” was released earlier this week, and is available for purchase at book stores across the region, as well as many of the breweries featured in the book. Learning more about the 80+ breweries in our region, authors Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran interviews and visited many of these spots to speak face-to-face with those behind the breweries we talk about weekly. The book also features dozens of photographs by Jessica Emin. Don’t forget that the authors will be celebrating the book with a launch December 9th at Stillwell, with beers from all four Atlantic Provinces pouring, where you can meet the authors and many of the brewery folks featured in the book.

Another weekend full of events for you to enjoy across our region:

• As mentioned above, the 12 Beers of Christmas is taking place this evening in St. John’s. At Club One on New Gower, from 7:30PM, attendees will be greeted with a full glass of beer, plus tokens to enjoy samples of the other 11 onsite. In addition to the debut of Port Rexton’s Rewind, Mill Street YYT is debuting their Crooked Cow Latte Stout, and you will be able to enjoy many beers not otherwise available in the province (Big Spruce Cereal Killer, 2Crows Pollyanna, Upstreet Eighty Bob and White Noize, and Maybee Stone House Tripel. Check this page for the full list of what will be pouring. After you’ve tried them all, you can purchase more tokens for samples or full pours of your favourites. Grab your tickets now, dust off your ugly Christmas sweater, and head out for a party!

• Good news, thirsty Cape Bretoners! The 2nd Annual Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 2nd, at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still some general admission tickets available ($55 + tax, each), which gets you entry into the festival at 7-9:30 pm. A special glass and unlimited beer samples are included, and many local breweries will be on hand to pour their creations, and chat beer! Note that Designated Driver tickets ($15 + tax) are also still available; all tickets can be purchased from the event website above.

Tidehouse Brewing is turning one, and are celebrating in style with a Tap Takeover at Tom’s Little Havana next Saturday, December 9th. All eight taps will be dedicated to Tidehouse, which they’ll be filling with some of their best beers brewed over the past year. The fun starts at 5 pm and will continue until close; stay tuned to their event page for a full taplist release next week.

• Christmas is just around the corner, with Boxing Day of course right behind it; if you’re in the Fredericton area, what better way to celebrate Boxing Day than a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover? Being held on Tuesday, December 26th at the King Street Ale House, there’ll be tons of BR beers pouring, starting at 5 pm. You can just show up and pay by the pint, but if you reserve your spot now for $15, you’ll get a flight of beer and a pound of wings. Sounds like a good deal to us! Tickets can be purchased on the event page.

And a couple more returning favourites this week:

– Following last week’s release of Midnight, their Glenora Distillery Barrel-aged Strong Dark Belgian beer, HRM’s North Brewing has teed up the non-barrel version. Dark Sky is available today in 650 mL bottles at both their Halifax and Dartmouth bottle shops.
– And down the road on Gottingen Street, Propeller has a new cask for us this evening, a version of their Double IPA dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Ekuanot hops. They’ll be cracking into that at 5 PM as usual.
Red Rover has brought back their festive Jingleberry Cider, featuring additions of wild blueberry, cardamom, and nutmeg paired with notes of caramel, you’ll find it at the Ciderhouse and ANBL locations around the province.

Happy Friday! Now that everyone has cleared their driveways and warmed up, it’s time to sit back and relax with some local beer news…

• Charlottetown’s Upstreet brewery is releasing a new brew today. Black Tie Affair is a stout with a twist! To help combat the cool nights upon us, they have added a little extra to the traditional stout. Sixty litres of cranberry juice (from local producer PEI Juice Works) was added to the beer after primary fermentation had settled down; the beer was further dosed with some vanilla during the conditioning step. The inspiration for the brew came a few years ago, when Brewmaster (then-homebrewer) Mike Hogan brewed a beer for his brother’s wedding. When his sister-in-law-to-be, a culinary student at the time, was asked for a single ingredient to serve as the spark of a recipe, she chose cranberries. From that, Hogie built the Black Tie Affair. It was also one of the first beers that Joey shared with Mitch (the other two Upstreet owners), which planted the seeds of a future brewery. Black Tie Affair Vanilla Cranberry Stout comes in at 5% ABV and 25 IBUs, and will launch at the brewery this evening, after the Christmas Tree Lighting at 6pm. There will be free hot chocolate, music from Salt Licks, and a prize for the ugliest sweater.

• In other Upstreet news, their summer seasonal White Noize White IPA is returning to the lineup as one of their flagship beers. This 7% and 70 IBU beer shares the best characters of an American Wheat and IPA. On tap at Upstreet and around the island now, it will also be available in bottles very soon.  Speaking of bottles, several of the PEILCC stores where Upstreet bottles were delivered last week had to be restocked several times over the weekend. Thankfully, the Upstreet Elves are hard at work keeping them stocked, so keep an eye on their Twitter page for details as deliveries are made.

• Also debuting today is Upstreet’s “alternative drinks menu” at the taproom. For those who want to visit Upstreet with their beer-loving friends and family, but aren’t beer drinkers (those people exist?), they now have local wine and cider on the menu. Beginning today, Matos Wine and Bulwark Cider will be available for on-site enjoyment. And beginning December 9th, they will be offering a full food menu in the taproom, four nights a week (4-10pm, Wed-Sat). Local chef John Pritchard will be preparing tapas and shareable plates. And drop by tomorrow afternoon for a Pinball Tournament, hosted by the Charlottetown Pinball League.

Big Spruce will be releasing their Left Breton Organic Conspiracy, a 7.4% Double IPA, next week. It is brewed with loads of Big Spruce’s own home-grown Cascade, Galena, and Mt Hood hops; this makes the bitterness difficult to calculate accurately, but is estimated at 80 IBUs. This brew was originally inspired by a visit in 2013 from their good friends Brian and Rebecca from Crannóg Ales, who had brought some of their own farm-grown organic hops. While they weren’t able to join them for this brew day, they were there in spirit. A cask of Left Breton, double dry-hopped with Citra and Nelson Sauvin, was sent to Stillwell and tapped earlier this week. Look for the wider release to feature additional dry-hopping from more of their own farm-grown Cascade.

• Big Spruce held their Home Brew Challenge on the weekend. 25 homebrewers submitted 45 entries in three categories: Dark Czech Lager, Altbier, and Red IPA. The top beers in each category were selected by a panel of 12 BJCP judges:

Czech Dark Lager Altbier Red IPA
GOLD: Eric Gautier (co brewer Justin Clarke) GOLD: Eric Gautier (co brewer Justin Clarke) GOLD: Shawn Meek
SILVER: Derek Stapleton SILVER: Keith Forbes (co brewer Mike Orr) SILVER: Scott MacLean & Randy Rowe
BRONZE: Justin Clarke (co brewer Eric Gautier) BRONZE: Andrew Martin BRONZE: Josh Armstrong

The Best of Show beer is Czech Yo Self Czech Dark Lager by Eric Gautier and Justin Clarke, and the Brathair Brothers will be visiting Big Spruce to brew up that beer very soon. In fact, owner Jeremy White was so impressed with the quality of the three gold medal beers, that they all may be brewed in Nyanza. Look for at least one of them to make their debut at the Local Connections Craft Beer & Local Food Celebration on January 14th. Big thanks to the judges, stewards, and the Wooden Monkey Dartmouth for hosting the judging and after party.

• Speaking of homebrewing, it was a great year for local homebrewers on the national level. The Brewnosers took home third place in the Homebrew Club standings (behind the CowTown Yeast Wranglers and River City of Manitoba Brewers), as tracked by Brewer of the Year site. This is thanks in large part to the outstanding performance by Annapolis Valley brewer Mark Pennell, who ended up taking home 75 medals at more than fifteen homebrew competitions during the year, and was the second-most decorated homebrewer in Canada. A special shoutout to Mark McGraw, who finished 11th in the 2015 standings with 19 medals, and the dozen-plus other members who entered and placed in the local and national competitions. All of this year’s results are collated here. Look for Pennell’s award-winning Working Man Mild to be brewed at Beau’s in Vankleek Hill in 2016, earned by winning the Best of Show at the Members of Barleyment and Beau’s Oktoberfest Competition.

TrailWay has just released a brand new beer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Rascal is their take on a “big American Stout”; think dark, strong, and roasty… perfect for sipping on in the colder, snowy weather that has moved into our region. Named after co-owner/co-brewer Jake Saunder’s Black Labrador, it was brewed with plenty of specialty malts, including oats, flaked wheat, flaked barley, Crystal malt, Munich, and Black malt. Bittered to 40-50 IBUs to balance all that sweetness, it weighs in at ~7% ABV. Look for it over the weekend at King Street Ale House and 540 Kitchen & Bar, as well as Bourbon Quarter in Saint John.

• We also have a sneak preview on a new beer from TrailWay, due to hit taps next week. Currently unnamed, this one has a grist of Crystal, Munich and Rye malts, to go along with the base malt, giving it a reddish hue. Hopped into IPA territory with Warrior, Mosaic, and Summit, think of it as a hoppy Amber Ale, or Red IPA. More on this beer next week!

• It’s December, which means that it’s almost time for the annual Picaroons 12 Beers of Christmas! Starting Saturday, December 12th, a different festive beer will be released daily, until December 23rd, for growler fills at the Brewtique. As usual, each day’s beer will be announced at noon via Picaroons’ Twitter and Facebook accounts, and will officially go on sale at 4 pm (except for Sundays, when it will be launched at noon). Unlike last year, there will be no two growler per person limit; however, they are asking customers not to overdo it, as each batch is extremely limited (~360 L per batch, or approximately 180 standard-size growlers). We can probably expect a mixture of new beers and returning favourites, so keep your eyes peeled! These beers always sell out extremely quickly, so if you’re interested in certain releases, be sure to get to the Brewtique as close to 4 pm as you can.

Hammond River has rebrewed their Two Rivers India Black Ale, a Black IPA that was originally brewed as a collaboration beer with Big Axe. This dark ale shows some roast aromas and flavours from the addition of dark malts, with plenty of hop presence as well, thanks to a bittering addition of Columbus to 77 IBUs, and late additions of Galaxy and a heavy dry-hop of Amarillo; the first batch featured all-Citra after the initial bittering addition with Columbus. It still weighs in at 7% ABV, and is currently on tap at the Saint John Ale House and the Barrel’s Head; look for it to possibly follow at other HR accounts, soon.

• YellowBelly brewpub in St. John’s has released a special brew this week. Top Shed Cream Ale is a collaboration between the crew at YellowBelly and Top Shed, a craft brewery in Bew South Wales, Australia. Eastern Australia meets Eastern Canada! This Cream Ale was brewed in the traditional fashion, using barley malt, malted wheat, and corn; the hops used were Mosaic and Pacific Gem. At 4.8% and 22 IBUs, this beer is the lightest ever brewed at YB, and is immensely quaffable. A little more on the story of East meeting East can be read at Top Shed’s blog.

Unfiltered has brought back the immensely popular Double Orange Ale. The DOA Double IPA features huge citrus aroma and flavour from loads of Citra hops used throughout the process, with a light malt sweetness and orange colour thanks to the special technique Brewmaster Greg Nash uses on the brew. The final specs on this beer are 7.5% ABV and over 100 calculated IBUs. It will be back on tap at the brewery today at noon, and at better bars very soon. Rumours are that Unfiltered’s taproom, Charm School, will be open in the next few days, so be sure to follow their feed for more details. *Update: Charm School opened Saturday, and will be open daily (except Monday), at 4pm.

• Speaking of openings, after a brief hiatus, Tom’s Little Havana and sister restaurant The Fireside have opened in their new location on Birmingham Street. The number of taps has expanded, and now feature at least five local craft brews on the go, including Bad Apple, Boxing Rock, Tatamagouche, and Unfiltered. With many of the wall murals and furnishings transported from their old location, the spirit of Tom’s is alive and well in the new location.

The Auction House on Argyle Street in Halifax has recently expanded their craft beer offerings, in a big way! Already boasting more than twenty local beer options, they recently installed a SmartBrew system in the restaurant, allowing them to produce beer onsite. They are releasing an American Amber (Her Name Was Amber) and Dunkelweizen (Bob’s Your Dunkel) under the George’s Island moniker, with more varieties to follow shortly.

• Fredericton’s James Joyce Irish Pub is opening membership into their Mug Club again, with mugs #31-48 becoming available on January 1st. The yearly membership costs $59.95 + tax, and entitles members to their own mug, 24 oz pours for the price of 20 oz, food discounts, email updates on special beers being tapped, and more. Pre-sales start on Monday, December 7th at 6 pm. And get ready for their Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest later in the month – show up at the pub with your lamest, ugliest Christmas garb between December 20th-24th, snap a photo of yourself and upload it to the Joyce’s Twitter or Facebook page to enter. The selected winner will receive dinner for two at the Terrace.

• A new documentary featuring the Nova Scotia independent beer scene will make its debut this weekend. “Craft Beer” will be airing on CBC’s Land and Sea this Sunday, December 6 at 12 noon. The producers visited several breweries and locations across the province to learn about the craft beer movement, and the people behind it. Good news for those without TVs – it is available now to watch online.

• The latest One-Hit Wonder release from Propeller will be hitting the taps later today. Jaromir Lagr is a 6.8% Imperial Czech Pilsener. Details are a bit thin beyond that, but we can tell you that like all previous OHW brews, it will only be available for growler fills at the brewery and on tap at a few spots in the HRM.

BarNone owner/brewer Don Campbell will be hosting a beer dinner at Baba’s Lounge in Charlottetown on Sunday, January 24th at 6 pm. Baba’s has long been a huge supporter of local craft beer on the Island, and this is a perfect way to get your hands on lots of BarNone beer and some authentic Lebanese food! There will be five different BarNone beers sampled, paired with four courses. Campbell will be present as beer host, along with Ryan Abdallah as food host. You can call now (902-892-7377) to reserve your tickets, which are $49 each (price includes tax and tip) and include a sampler glass for you to keep.

That’s about it for this busy week! Good news for fans of Garrison‘s Spruce Beer that live outside of the HRM: it has hit the shelves in several NSLC stores around the province, and will be on shelves in PEI next week, and in Newfoundland and Labrador the following week. And for those in NB, fear not, it will be available on your shelves in the New Year. FirkinStein Brewing will be at the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market on Thursday December 10th and 24th, in addition to their regular delivery days. While the Triskaidekaphobia Imperial Brown Ale is not quite ready to pour, there will still be some lovely beery treats at Sunday during the Ladies Beer League‘s Holiday Brunch, including Boxing Rock’s U-889 Imperial Stout. Tickets for the party starting at noon at Stillwell are sold out, but we suspect the beers will still be available when the doors open to the public at 4pm. A reminder that Battery Park Beer Bar in Dartmouth is opening next Thursday, December 10th. The lineup will feature twelve taps, brewed both by partner North, as well as other local breweries, it will increase the local beer availability in downtown Dartmouth. Finally, be sure to drop by to visit the great folks at Good Robot; their new-and-improved Burban Legend Citrus APA, now dry-hopped for more juicy hop aroma, is currently on tap.

Happy Friday, thirsty readers! We hope everyone’s recovered from IPA Day, but fear not, there are lots of new beers and events to keep the good times rolling!

PEI Brewing Company have a few new beers out now, or on the horizon. Right now at the brewery, they are pouring a cask of Kiwi IPA – an IPA with freshly-squeeze kiwi juice, and dry-hopped with Citra and Comet. And it was brewed by a Kiwi to boot (their Logistics Manager, Wax, is from New Zealand)! Recent casks have included Happy Hour, a keg of their Beach Chair Lager seasoned with local sea salt, tequila and lime and Peach Chair, which was their Beach Chair with peach added to the keg. Remember that these casks are one-offs, so it’s best to keep up on their Social Media to avoid disappointment. They have also announced that the next version of the Vic Park Pale Ale will be released very shortly (hopefully next week), and will feature the Mandarina Bavaria hop. And good news for fans of the Vic Park, the Citra version will be canned and available next month to wider distribution. Also coming in September will be the barrel-aged version of their ReAnimator Bock. Much like the Ice Boat released last year, the Bock has been aging in the oak barrels for a several months, and will be packaged in 750ml bottles.

• In an update to a story we mentioned a few months ago, the building that Rogues Roost and Tom’s Little Havana call home, will be coming down this fall. While Tom’s had previously found an alternate location, and will be moving in October, it was announced this week that Rogues will be closing mid-September, with the brewery gear going into storage until an alternate location is found. But it’s not all bad news, RR fans! Parent company PEI Brewing has announced that Rogues Roost IPA will be produced at the Charlottetown brewery, and will be available for wide distribution next month. Cans of the IPA will be distributed in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. And be sure to drop by Rogues to grab a pint of their Ruby Porter, a 5.2% ABV porter, with light bittering to 25 IBUs.

• After making a big splash in Spring, Tatamagouche Brewing’s Sunrise Trail India Session Ale is back. Weighing in at a modest 4.1% ABV, the beer packs a solid hop punch from the Azacca and Ahtanum varietals, and is perfect for the beautiful weather we’ve been having. It is available is short supply in cans at the brewery, and look for it on tap Stillwell too.

Big Spruce Brewing has released a pair of new beers this week. The first is the return of Tip of the Spear Spruce Tip IPA. This 6.2% ABV beer is a returning favourite, brewed with Port Hawkesbury homebrewer Jason Spears. It features Black Spruce tips, and bittered to 75 IBUs. Also hitting the taps in Nyanza and Halifax is their all-Citra conspiracy with Stillwell, named Gimme Citra Pale Ale. Weighing in at around 5% ABV, the bitterness on the beer is fairly low but the aroma and flavour are high, as the majority of the hops were added post-boil (during whirlpool, fermentation and conditioning), to preserve the temperature-sensitive oils until they hit your glass. The beer will only be available at the brewery and at Stillwell, both on Barrington and at the Beergarden. And be sure to drop by the brewery today for Mussels Friday, starting at 11:30, for mussels simmered in beer, along with local scallions and garlic scapes, with pita chips and black bean dip. Live music will start at 3:30pm.

Big Tide Brewing and Hammond River Brewing’s collaboration, Rhubarbic Saison is out now. The 7.1% ABV Saison consisted of primarily Pilsner and Wheat malts, and was lightly hopped to 27 IBUs with Hallertau. They also added more than 30 kg of fresh rhubard to the boil, primary fermentation, and during conditioning for a big rhubarb aroma and taste. The beer is available on tap (and in growlers) at Big Tide, and will also be available at The Barrel’s HeadBourbon Quarter, Britt’s Pub & Eatery, and Saint John Ale House soon. And, happy sixth anniversary to Big Tide! Their Anniversary Amber Ale, using six types of malts and six varietals of hops, with an ABV of about 6%, will be out very soon.

Unfiltered Brewing’s Pubkegs are now in the wild! Grab a pint of their Hoppy Fingers APA, Exile on North Street IPA, and Twelve Years to Zion DIPA at Agricola Street Brasserie, PRIMAL Kitchen, Roy’s Lounge at Westin Nova Scotian, The Stubborn Goat, and Tom’s Little Havana, and is also in the rotation at the Bishop’s Cellar growler filling station. And keep your eyes open for Unfiltered’s first seasonal, coming mid next week.

• Fredericton’s Picaroons is having a busy weekend! Yesterday, in celebration of IPA Day, they had three different versions of their Yippee IPA on at the Brewtique (and there may be a bit of each left to try today). They were each dry-hopped with a pair of different hops: Cascade & TettnangSaaz & Fuggles, and Amarillo & Rakau. Out today is Pride Sally Pride Apricot Ale. This 4.5% Pale Ale was brewed in collaboration with the Fredericton Pride Week. The Pride Week events kick off today with a flag raising at city hall at noon, and a festival (featuring a beer garden) at Officer’s Square Sunday at noon, and parade at 1pm.

• Picaroons is also taking advantage of being in Halifax for the Seaport Beerfest, and will be taking over the taps at Lion & Bright Saturday evening. They will be pouring their BlondeDooryard, Dark and Stormy Night, ESB-231, Melonhead, Simeon Jones, and Yippee IPA. New brewery Half Cut Brewing (who brew at their Queen Street Brewtique location) will also be available, pouring their Alter Ego Altbier. The taps will switch over at 6pm, and the Pics crew will be coming by after the Beerfest around 10pm to join in the fun, as well as DJ Jules Bangsworth, starting at 10pm. There is no cover for the event, pay as you go.

Stutz Cider has released a new product, Blueberry Cider. Using of juice from 7 varietals of NS apples and 100% wild NS blueberries, this special blend comes in at 6.5% ABV. As the juice used was 1/3 blueberry, 2/3 apples, the fresh blueberry flavour shines through nicely, with crisp apple character in the background. It will be available next week at the NSLC, in 750 ml bottles.

Distillerie Fils du Roy has released their summer seasonal beer, La Messe Blanche. A 7% ABV Weizenbock, it features strong phenolic (pepper and clove) and banana aromas from the yeast, as well as wheat and yeast character in the flavour. This unfiltered beer features the characteristic cloudiness of this style, thanks to the wheat-derived proteins (also aiding in the thick, fluffy head), and low-flocculating yeast. Bottles are available at the Petit-Pacquetville brewery now, and will be available in select ANBL locations shortly.

• Speaking of the ANBL, in a press release out earlier this week, President Brain Harriman confirmed that their Growler Program has been a great success, with over 80,000 litres of beer flowing through the four locations. The program is “here to stay”, and they are looking to expand it to a few more locations, dependent on retail space and craft beer sales. All of the local breweries we’ve spoken with have been very happy with the results and are looking forward to the expanded reach. This week’s list of offerings has not been released, as it is being dubbed a “Wildcard Week”, with many different beers available throughout the week at each location. Best to call your local store to find out what’s pouring at the time.

Upstreet has released their White Noize, a 7% ABV Wheat IPA (hoppy American Wheat Ale), hopped to 70 IBUs with Centennial, Cascade, Chinook, and Columbus. Drop by for their Quittin’ Time Sessions today at 6pm for beer, music from a new, all-female trio named Aster, and food from their friends at Hush Puppies, including a limited number of andouille corn dogs, made with Upstreet beer. And drop by on Sunday for the Weekend Wrap-Up, featuring music concerts on the big screen and community board games in full effect.

• The Grand Banker in Lunenburg has come up with a unique way to serve their beers in-house. They had not been selling pitchers of beer previously, but now have the option to purchase a 1.89l growler or 0.95l grunter of beer to drink and share (or not) in the restaurant. These are for in-house enjoyment only, though the empty growlers are for sale as souvenirs. Drop by today to grab one, or try a sampler of their expanded craft beer offerings.

• A reminder that the Seaport Beerfest starts today, with a 7-9:30pm session, and 2-4:30pm & 7-9:30pm sessions tomorrow. While VIP tickets are sold out, there are still general entry tickets available. With several out-of-provinces visiting, look for upcoming collaborations brews to celebrate. Today, the folks from Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery and Waterford, Ireland’s, Metalman brewing dropped by Garrison to brew up something special.

In sad local brewery news, Hugh Campbell from Bar None passed away earlier this week. We had the opportunity to visit with him in his library above the brewery, and he was always quick with a smile and story, and full of life and love for PEI. Our sincere condolences to the Campbell family. We raise a pint in honour of Hugh today.