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.

Good morning, beer lovers! It’s the end of another week, and it’s absolutely chock-full of Atlantic Canadian beer news… let’s get right to it:

Propeller has released their newest One Hit Wonder, Point Pleasant Pale Ale. An APA hopped entirely with the Columbus variety, the brewery describes it as “crisp and balanced”. It weighs in at 5% ABV, and at only 27 IBUs, expect a beer that isn’t quite as bitter as others of the same style. As always, it’s available for growler fills at both Prop Shop locations, and on tap at better beer establishments throughout Halifax.

• As we promised last week, we have some info on two new beers currently on tap at The Nook and Cranny. First off is their Black Beer’d IPA, a Black IPA that is very dark as per the style (thanks to a grist including Carafa Special II, along with Carapils and CaraMunich for specialty malts). Weighing in at 5.8% ABV and 38 IBUs, it’s dry-hopped with plenty of Centennial, Cascade and Galaxy for lots of tropical and citrus aromas/flavours. Next is the Spitting Alpaca, an American Pale Ale hopped with Pacific Jade and Cascade, and dry-hopped with Galaxy; this one comes in at 5.2% ABV and 18 IBUs. This is the first iteration for both brews, so expect some recipe tweaking over the next few batches until they’ve settled on what they (and customers) like best. In the meantime, get down there for a pint and/or growler fills! Also, look for another fruit-based wheat beer in July (their Blueberry Wheat is currently the most-popular beer on tap).

• Their first beer, Caraquet Flyer, was only released last month, but Distillerie Fils du Roy now have a second brew available, and it’s at all four ANBL growler stations this weekend! Stella Maris (named after the star in the Acadian flag, representing Mary, the patron of mariners) is inspired by the French style, Bière de Garde, which means “beer that has been kept or lagered”. A fairly-strong (7.5% ABV), malty beer, it was brewed with French malts and hops. The brewery/distillery is referring to it as a “Bière de Garde Régions d’Acadie”, not unlike some French styles of alcohol being specific to where they are made (e.g. Champagne). If you’re in the Petit-Paquetville region, you can also find 750 mL bottles of both beers available at their store, open 10-5, Mon-Sat; the Caraquet Flyer is also available in bottles in select ANBLs.

Big Axe has a new rendition of their Blonde Ale currently available on tap and at the brewery for growler fills and pints. The Hatchet has the same grist as the previous Blonde Ale, but has been hopped more heavily (with Perle and El Dorado) later in the boil, to boost the aroma of the beer. It still comes in at an easy-drinking 4.6% ABV, and 30 IBUs. Look for it at the usual Big Axe accounts to enjoy it on tap, including new addition Isaac’s Way, where it will be part of their summer beer menu.

• Earlier this week, on June 1st, Picaroons released their seasonal Watermelon Wheat, MelonHead; this day also marked the revealing of the winning cat in their Melon Head label contest. Sir Winston Snaggletooth (!), owned by Jordan Stephens, takes the honour of gracing every bottle of MelonHead released this season. MelonHead is available now at the Brewtique for growler fills, and should be on tap at select bars/restaurants across the province, and in bottles at ANBL stores this weekend.

Hell Bay Brewing has released a new beer this week, with a bit of a twist. Their OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale) is now on tap at the brewery and soon at select bars, and weighs in at 5.0% ABV. While oats are used occasionally in Stouts to impart a fuller mouthfeel and some residual sweetness, they are seldom used in other beer styles. The smooth mouthfeel offered by the oats pairs well with the crisp hop character (weighing in at 49 IBUs), for a balanced and easy- drinking summer beer. The OPA will be available all summer, with the possibility of bottles into the private stores later. Hell Bay also teased the label for a beer coming in July, Hell’s Anvil!. This Smoked Dry Stout is being brewed in collaboration with the CanIron X Blacksmiths Conference being held in Baddeck, Cape Breton, July 2-5. Beware, Smithing is thirsty work, and we civilians may have to wait for a re-brew of the beer, perhaps in the fall.

• Attention Halifax Beer Fans! The Stillwell Waterfront Beergarden is set to open within the next few days. Located at Summit Plaza, steps from “The Wave”, the bar is located in a converted shipping container, and features outdoor, but sheltered, seating. Delivery of the container, built by Halifax’s Skin + Bones Building Desgin Workshop, took place yesterday, with the taps installed by BeerTech Darught Systems shortly thereafter. The seating area is set, and the staff is receiving training today, so look for the big announcement from the Stillwell crew on Twitter later in the weekend, or very early next week. As a reminder, they will be serving beer, cider and wine on tap, and food will focus on easy snacks and sausages, with some being handmade by chef Graeme Ruppel, as well as local producers Sweet William’s, Roselane Farm, with bread and buns from Gingerbread Haus.

Meander River Farm and Brewery released a new beer last night, launched at the Taste of Nova Scotia 12 Tides event. Summer Solstice IPA is a Session Ale, weighing in at 4.5% ABV. The lower alcohol certainly does not mean lower flavour, as the beer features lots of flavour and aroma from Amarillo and Citra hops, with an extra dry-hopped blast of Cascade. It is available at the Brewery in Ashdale all weekend (along with their Honey Brown), and will make an appearance shortly on tap at Stillwell.

• Earlier this week, Meander River invited Garrison Brewmaster Daniel Girard to Ashdale to brew up a special beer, for a series of special dinners happening this summer. Dining on the Ocean Floor will be taking place four times this summer (June 27, July 25, August 15 and September 12) at Burntcoat Head in the Minas Basin, the site of the world’s largest tides. And during the lowest tides each month, Taste of Nova Scotia is holding a dinner on the beach (which was, just hours earlier, 15 metres underwater!), featuring Flying Apron Cookery, Newell’s Jewels Edibles (foraged food) and Avondale Sky winery. The beer is a strong Scotch Ale, featuring peated malt, with the addition of seaweed.

• And speaking of Garrison, they teased a collaborative Coast-to-Coast release scheduled for later this month, featuring Phillips Brewery in Victoria, Flying Monkeys in Barrie, and Troue du Diable in Shawinigan. We’ll share the details once they’ve been released.

Tatamagouche Brewing will be installing a canning line later this month. They will be canning their core line of beers (Hippie Dippie Pale Ale, North Shore Lagered Ale, and Butcher Block Red), as well as a rotating seasonal or two, beginning early July. These will supplement their growler and bottles already available, in a more stowable and beach- and boat-friendly package.

BarNone released a new beer – of sorts – at their weekly growler night last evening, Pale Indian Ale. Described by the brewery as a “variation” on their regular-release IPA, this one was brewed by BarNone assistant brewer Johnny. Details are being kept secret, so all we can recommend is to try it out if you have the chance, and compare it to their regular IPA. Their Route 225 Root Beer (non-alcoholic) made its return at last evening’s Growler Night as well.

• Next Wednesday, June 10th, drinking craft beer in northern New Brunswick will get a whole lot easier! Caraquet’s La Brôkerie is opening a separate craft beer bar, La Chope, which will feature six craft taps. On opening, expect to see three beers from Petit-Sault (La Kedgwick, Louis XVII, and Soeur Catherine), two from Distillerie Fils du Roy (Caraquet Flyer and Stella Maris), and one featuring a Pollen Angels mead.

• This Sunday, starting at 9 am,  Sunset Heights Meadery will be selling tickets for their Summer Mead Release Party. If you pre-purchased your ticket at the Spring Mead Release in April, you should be receiving it soon; for those who did not pre-purchase, there will be a limited number of 16 available. The event will take place on Sunday, July 5th, from 2 pm – 6 pm, and will feature six 2 oz pours of new meads (and some past favourites), paired with an appetizer, four different reLiSH sliders, and a dessert. More samples and food repeats will follow. As well, attendees can purchase up to 24 bottles of mead with guaranteed availability (and the possibility of more, depending on availability), and can reserve a ticket to the Autumn party at the current, locked-in price. Tickets are $55 + tax.

• There are still tickets available for Northumbeerfest Craft Beer & Music Festival, being held this Saturday at Pictou Lodge. It features entertainment by Meaghan Blanchard, Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys and Tim Chaisson. Beers will be available from Big Spruce, Garrison, Tatamagouche and Uncle Leo’s. The event doors open at 5pm, tickets for the Fest are $40+tax, and are available by phone (902-485-4322) or email.

• As we reported previously, the building that houses Rogues Roost and Tom’s Little Havana will be demolished in the fall. We can now report that Tom’s new location has been chosen, in the City Centre Atlantic Mall, using the entrance located adjacent to former tenant Premier Wines & Spirits and Top Cuts (which is moving elsewhere in the mall). This will now lead directly into Tom’s and The Fireside (when it moves from Brunswick St), both of which will share a common kitchen. No word yet on Rogues Roost’s new location.

• Speaking of moving, North Brewing owner Peter Burbridge is teaming up with the Brooklyn Warehouse crew, and taking over the Nectar Restaurant location when it closes at the end of the month. Their beer-centric project will be opening in the fall, at the 62 Ochterloney Street location. Details are slim beyond that at the moment, but stay tuned for more details as they are revealed.

Breton Brewing brewed the inaugural batches of three beers this week, for release in a few weeks. We are able to share the historically-inspired names of the beers, but we’ll have to wait a little while before tasting these beauties. Black Angus IPA is named after Giant Angus MacAskill, who lived in Englishtown. Stirling Hefeweizen is named after William Alexander, the first proprietor of what is now Nova Scotia. Sons of Hector Brown Ale is named after the famous ship Hector, which brought Breton’s owners’ ancestors to Pictou from Scotland in 1773. Look for a full profile of Breton Brewing in the next couple of weeks, and their beer release shortly thereafter!

• The Good Cheer Trail officially launched in Nova Scotia June 1st. This is Canada’s first winery, craft brewery and distillery trail, and encourages visitors to get on the road and visit the producers of our local beverages. An accompanying passport can be picked up at your local brewery or brewpub, or an online passport can be used to check-in along your journey. There are a few of the province’s breweries not listed (due to onsite tasting limitations), but don’t let that stop you from visiting them all this summer! In addition to enjoying the great products each stop is offering, as a bonus incentive, a free t-shirt will be offered to those who collect 10 stamps on their passport (while supplies last). We’ll see you out on the Trail!

• This weekend is the 13th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Craft Brewers Conference, being held in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We wish all of the Atlantic Canadian breweries and ciderhouses taking part the best of luck! The Awards Gala will be taking place Saturday night at 7:30 pm AST, and we’ll be tuning in live to cheer on our local breweries. You can too, by following the stream link on the front page, and by following the @CdnBrewAwards or #CBAs2015. And for those that can’t tune in live, the winners will be updated on this page Sunday or Monday.

That’s it for this week! Good Robot‘s Crown on the Ground Steam Beer Mini-Festival, featuring music, Halifax Press Food Truck, and other fun times, is taking place Sunday [changed from Saturday], starting at noon. Be sure to drop by for a taste of the new beer, and their other three offerings. Tonight, starting at 10:30 pm, Resto-Bar Le Deck will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary with a Picaroons and Petit-Sault tap-takeover; there will be live music as well, so be sure to check it out if you’re in Edmundston. PEI Brewing Company has been serving their popular Blood Orange IPA at their Kensington Road location, but hurry in, it sells out quickly! Baba’s Lounge in Charlottetown has been undergoing renovations over the past week, and will be returning on June 7th (hopefully) with lots of taps (12) to serve lots of craft beer (including soon-to-open Upstreet)! And finally, voting is now open for The Coast’s Best of Halifax 2015. Be sure to let them know what your favourite Brewery, Bar, and Restaurant are!

Good morning! Today marks the start of the very first Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week; on top of these events and special beers, there’s still plenty of other news happening in our region. Here we go!

• Patrice Godin, owner/brewer of Acadie-Broue, recently travelled to Big Tide in Saint John to re-brew La Gaboteuse, a Belgian IPA. This beer was brewed for the first time as a collaboration between the two breweries on the Big Tide system, back in 2012. Since then, Godin has brewed the recipe several times at his brewery, but this is the first time in three years that the two breweries have come together to brew the beer again. With a simple grist of mostly-Pilsner malt and a bit of Carafoam, it was hopped to about 70 IBUs with an early addition of Warrior, and a later whirlpool addition of Amarillo. The beer will then be dry-hopped for four consecutive days – Amarillo each day for the first two, followed by two days of Simcoe. Expect an intensely hoppy (read: fruity/piney) beer… even hoppier than the previous versions! Fermented with a dry Belgian yeast at not-too-warm temps (to keep the phenolics in check), it should clock in at about 7.5% ABV. Look for it on tap at the Big Tide brewpub within a couple of weeks.

• In other Big Tide news, they’ve been pouring a new beer recently, Chocolate Amaretto Porter. With a recipe similar to their seasonal Santa’s Chocolate Porter, this one was an experimental batch where two bottles of amaretto liqueur were added after fermentation was complete, giving the beer some almond notes to go with the rich chocolate flavours (real cocoa and vanilla were also added to the beer). It weighs in at 5% ABV.

• Late last week, Petit-Sault released another new beer, La Kedgwick. The brewery is referring to it as a “Belgian Pilsner”; brewed to be a light, smooth, easy-drinking beer, it has some spicy and herbal notes from the addition of large amounts of noble German hops (Hersbruck and Tettnang). Featuring a “crisp” bitterness in the finish (IBUs are in the high 30s), this 5% ABV beer was fermented with a Lager yeast, and lagered at cold temperatures for 6 weeks to allow the flavours to meld even more. It’s available at the brewery for growler fills, and is at all four ANBL growler-fill locations this weekend as well! We can also expect to see it in bottles across the province by the end of June. As a side note, their Soeur Catherine (IPA) will be returning on tap and in bottles within the next month.

Scared Men Brewing is a new brewery in the developmental stage in Southern New Brunswick. While a physical location is still a ways off, they are having a meet & greet and fundraiser at the Pub Down Under in Saint John, on Friday May 15th, starting at 7:00pm. There will be several bands playing that evening, a 50/50 draw, silent auction (donations for that are still welcome), door prizes and much more. A $10 donation at the door is suggested. SMB is based in Grand Bay, and will be striving to sue local ingredients whenever possible.

• After months of waiting for the ANBL to aprrove it (we first mentioned it in December), Distillerie Fils du Roi have officially released their first beer, Caraquet Flyer. It was brewed in the Eisbock style, “distilled” using a method of freezing and removing water to allow the alcohol level to rise to 8.5%, and was refermented in the bottle for natural carbonation. It is now on sale at their distillery in Petit-Paquetville in limited numbers, so be sure to grab a bottle when on the Acadian Peninsula. This beer is the first in a line of seasonal beers to be released quarterly.

Sunset Heights is releasing a new mead in their Pollen Angels line. Scuttlebutt India Pale Mead is produced exclusively for the Unplugged Board Games Cafe in Fredericton. Developed with the help of the owners and chef of Unplugged, it is “evocative of a time when sail was the main transport for intercontinental travel”. They will be launching the new product at an event Sunday 7-10pm, where the board game of the same name will be played. There will be prizes and other fun things on tap that night, so be sure to drop by!

• And finally in NB Beer News, a sad note: the very popular Picaroons Brewer’s Bash, usually scheduled in July, will not be taking place this year. Due to changes to the ordering process for beers, and concentrating on the construction of Picaroons’ expanded location on the Southside, they were not going to be able to provide the same wide variety of brewery representation that they had previously (breweries from every province and at least one territory!). However, we’ve been assured that they will be back in 2016. In the meantime, stay happy and satisfied with the other summer beer festivals in our region, including the Atlantic Beer Festival May 29-30th in Moncton, and the Seaport Beerfest August 7-8th in Halifax. And don’t forget about the Fredericton Beer Run on August 3rd, as tickets are going fast!

• On to happier things, Rockbottom Brewpub released a new beer this week. Weed Whacker is a big blast of hops in a small package. Weighing in a 4.1% ABV, and 37 IBUs, this is definitely a beer where the numbers don’t tell the whole story. More than 1 kg of hops per hectolitre were added to this beer, for a major West Coast hop flavour and aroma, without bracing bitterness or high alcohol levels. Hops include Amarillo, Cascade, Tomahawk, Falconer’s Flight for a citrus, floral, and tropical fruit aroma.

Gahan House Harbourfront in Halifax has a pair of new beers on tap. Murphy Brown Spiced Belgian Brown Ale was released last week. The malt bill brings through nice chocolate malt flavours, while the Belgian yeast comes through in the aroma. The addition of an extracted spice tonic gives rise to clove, anise, allspice and vanilla. The beer weighs in at 5.7% ABV and a balanced 40 IBUs. Brewmaster Karen Allen has also released For Bitter or Worse English Bitter, version 2.0 this week. This version features a more malt-rich backbone, and Allen believes it is truer to style. The beer is 4.3% ABV and approximately 27 IBUs.

Rogues Roost Brewpub released a new Red Ale last week, based on customer requests looking for a beer with a little less alcohol and bitterness than their IPA, but with enjoyable flavour and aroma. This beer weighs in at 4.3% and 27 IBUs. Look for a Cascadian Lager (think hoppy) to be released at the end of May, as it is happily fermenting away now.

• Speaking of Rogues, the official announcement was made that the building in which they and Tom’s Little Havana are located will be demolished later this year. According to Metro News, Tom’s will be closing at this location, October 1st, but have definite plans to relocate. They have put together a one-question survey that they encourage their patrons to fill out. As for Rogues Roost, they currently have no plans for relocation, and we’ll keep you abreast of the situation.

• The Newfermenters is a Newfoundland-based Homebrew Club that is a hybrid of an online community and in-person meetups. They are hosting their first homebrew competition, open to all amateur brewers on the Rock. The competition is looking for the best English Pale Ale (ESB), and open to any brewing technique (all-grain, kit, partial mash, etc.). Blind judging from two homebrew shop owners in St John’s will determine the winning beer. Keep an eye on their Facebook event page for the submission forms and exact details. Submissions are due June 7th, with the judging happening that evening. Fire up your brew kettles, folks!

• The installation of the brewing equipment at the Nook & Cranny in Truro is progressing nicely. They received all of their SmartBrew gear from DME, and their technicians have been onsite installing this week. They aim to launch their beer for onsite consumption and growler sales by early June. Their initial offerings will be Prince Street Pale Ale, Black Beer’d Black IPA and a rotating Fruit Wheat Ale (this first batch will feature local blueberries).

• Garrison will be throwing a Backlot Bash June 13th to celebrate the opening of their Seaport brewery expansion. The concert will feature Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS), The Town Heroes, Glory Glory and Like a Motorcycle. Concert attendees will have a chance to walk through their new facility when arriving at the concert, and while there, enjoy Garrison brews (including some special releases and seasonals) and local cider. There will also be food trucks onsite. Tickets are on sale now, and are priced at $25 for early bird, $30 regular price, or $65 for VIP tickets, which include access to a VIP area, souvenir cup, 2 drink tickets, and a bottle of a special four-way collaboration brew to be released later in June. The concert is in support of the Ecology Action Centre.

Tourism Nova Scotia has announced the creation of the Good Cheer Trail. Officially launching June 1st, the trail will highlight breweries, wineries and distilleries throughout Nova Scotia. A passport (both physical and virtual) will accompany the Trail, and will offer prizes for those collecting stamps as they travel the province. We’ll be sure to pass along the exact details when they’re available.

That’s it for this week! Keep an eye out for Two Rivers India Black Ale, the Hammond River/Big Axe collaboration beer that we mentioned in a previous post, as it should be hitting taps this weekend at Hammond River’s regular accounts; the one brewed on the Big Axe system should be available in the near future. The new PEI Brewing Co. Saison, Setting Day Saison (more info in our previous post) should be hitting taps next week, at the brewery and select accounts in Charlottetown. Don’t forget that the Bad Apple Tap Takeover at Tom’s Little Havana starts next Thursday; details are mum on exactly which beers will be on, but we do know there will be a few new ones, and the return of some favourites. And stay tuned next week, as we’ll have more information on the first YFC Burger Battle Walking Tour in Fredericton next month, where participants will sample different sliders with different craft beers at several establishments in the city.

Look at that, it’s the weekend again already! And as usual, there’s lots going on in the beer world…

• There’s a new beer on the way from Brasseurs du Petit-Sault; coming out in a few days, it honours the departure of the KB882 Lancaster Bomber from Edmundston. The plane, which was responsible for many allied runs to occupied Europe during World War II, is being dismantled and moved to the Alberta Aviation Museum this summer. Lancaster KB882 is a special-edition “Amber Lager” brewed in the style of a Marzen/Oktoberfest. Starting off a bit sweet but finishing dry, it features a bready malt backbone, and is hopped to 23 IBUs with Hallertauer, a German noble variety, providing a light, supporting bitterness. Lagered for 6 weeks, it’s an easy-drinking beer with a sessionable 4.6% ABV. Look for this one to be released this Monday, March 30th, at the brewery for growler fills; it should follow shortly at select ANBL growler stations as well.

YellowBelly Brewery has released their Unite Red Ale, brewed as part of the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. The guidelines from the Pink Boots Society suggested a 4.5% Red Ale with 50 IBUs using Willamette, but creative license was encouraged. To achieve these targets, Maris Otter and Extra Dark Crystal were used in the mash, along with a bit of Briess Midnight Wheat™ for colour. As wheat has no husk, there is no astringency or grain-based bitterness that may arise from other dark roasted cereals. To increase the hop bitterness level, higher alpha acid Mosaic hop was used early in the boil, to accompany the lower AA Willamette (with Mosaic also being used in the dry-hop). The resultant aroma is reminiscent of fruit punch, with notes of passionfruit and lychee up front, and lingering pink grapefruit. Overall, the beer tastes like more! The brewday report from Brewmaster Liam McKenna describes the many enthusiastic participants enjoying a beer brunch, taking turns in the brewhouse during the process, and even having a chance to do a hop drop. Money was raised for the Newfoundland Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre, and there are already plans to make this an annual event. The Unite Red Ale is on tap now at the brewery, with bottles coming to the brewery and NLC early next week. And a quick note that the next batch of YellowBelly Pale Ale, expected to hit the taps on Wednesday, also incorporates Mosaic for late- and dry-hopping, as a treat for the Island’s fruit juicy hop lovers.

Picaroons has released another one-off beer featuring an interesting ingredient: kelp! When approached by Dr. Thierry Chopin of UNB-SJ about brewing a beer featuring the brown algae, the Picaroons staff happily took on the challenge. Brewed with organic sugar kelp harvested off the shores near St. George, Kelp on the Way also includes a “strong malt backbone” of Golden Promise, Dark Crystal, Roasted, and Smoked malts. Hopped with Fuggles and Goldings to 22 IBUs to help balance the sweetness, this 5.8% ABV beer is described by the brewery as dark, malty and smokey. It was released earlier this week, exclusively at the Brewtique for growler fills; if there’s still any left, get down there to give it a try before it’s all gone!

• There’s Big things brewing at Big Spruce! Yesterday was the brewday for their first ever lager, and they chose a special style, a Maibock. And if that wasn’t enough, they added the zest of 40 lemons to the boil, and will add the same during conditioning. The grist is primarily Pilsner malt, with Munich added for colour and flavour. The hops used included Magnum in the first wort, some Big Spruce-grown Galena for bittering and Challenger for flavour, for an estimated total 35 IBUs. After fermentation is complete (done using a Bavarian lager yeast), the beer will lager for 4-6 weeks, and be released during NS Craft Beer Week, May 8-17.

• In more Big Spruce news, they teased the upcoming brewing and release of a brand new beer coming in the summer. Based on notes from Alexander Graham Bell, they will be releasing a sour raspberry wheat ale. Bell spent more than 30 years living in Baddeck, and a Parks Canada National Historic Site in Baddeck bears his name. His notes describe an interesting tart drink with raspberries, and Big Spruce was approached to produce something in that same vein. The sour character of the brew will be accomplished using the kettle souring technique, using Lactobacillus to ferment the wort and give a tart and acidic character not available from brewer’s yeast. We will have more on this beer, which will be released in coordination with The Bells of Baddeck, a musical drama running during the month of July.

• And finally in Big Spruce news, their Island Conspiracy, brewed with BarNone Brewing’s Don Campbell, is now available. This Double IPA, weighing in at 8% ABV and 97 IBUs (bittered with Magnum, flavoured with Bravo, Citra and Cascade, with these last two hops also used in aromatic additions) hit the taps at Stillwell last night, and is available on tap today at the brewery today for growler fills. Look for it on tap elsewhere in fine bars across the province, and rumour has it that BarNone may brew it at their brewery for release in PEI at some point.

• While Railcar Brewing‘s opening at their new location had been slightly delayed to around April 1st, they’re still busy brewing new beer. The latest one-off is Smoked Maple Porter, an 8%ABV dark ale with a grist consisting of several malts: 2-row, Chocolate, Black, Brown, Carafoam, Crystal 120 L, and, of course, Smoked. Hopped with Fuggles and Centennial to 22 IBUs, the beer also had 2 L of maple syrup added while in the primary fermentor. Look for this one to be on tap at the new 6-tap tasting room once it opens in the hopefully-near future. And owner/brewer Mitch Biggar has a lot of new beers planned, including an Orange Cranberry Rye, Chipotle Chaga Porter, and an 8-hop version of their Trainwreck IPA; we’ll be sure to keep you updated as these beers are brewed and released. In the meantime, the brewery itself will be open tomorrow-on for growler fills of their Artisan Brown, during regular hours (Mon-Sat noon – 10 pm, Sun noon – 5 pm).

Meander River Farm and Brewery is having a special release this weekend, their first Cider! A blend of Cortland, McIntosh, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious apples have gone in to this first batch of cider, finishing at 6.5% ABV. Citrus and apple notes are predominant in the cider. This is a very limited release, with only 200 litres available; it is expected to sell out this weekend at the Brewery (though it will make a brief appearance on tap in Halifax, as well). Going forward, they anticipate making cider a part of their rotating offerings, with Meander River’s own fruits and wild apples possibly making it into the recipes.

• This is a busy weekend at Meander River, as it is also the return of their Smokey Chipotle Porter, first released in October 2014. The malt bill features Cherrywood Smoked Malt, along with darker kilned malts for a smoke and roast/chocolate character. Chipotle peppers were added late in the fermentation for an additional smoke character, as well as a spicy punch and pepper flavour. The peppers were left in the beer longer this time for a bit more of a kick. They also announced that they have brought in two additional conditioning tanks, allowing them to brew more often, and effectively triple capacity to 450 hectolitres per year.

• Summer is still a few months away (and let’s be honest, it feels even longer than that), but there’s some good news for beer fans living in Fredericton for the season: those behind the recently-redefined James Joyce Pub are planning a summer craft beer garden at the Lighthouse on the Green downtown. Right now, plans are to have 3 taps pouring – two Picaroons, and one NB-brewery rotating tap – along with a BBQ on the deck for food purchases. Details are still being ironed out, but expect the beer garden to open with limited hours around mid-June, and then all day (11 am – 10 pm) in July and August. We’ll keep you updated on its progress; be sure to follow the Facebook link for the Lighthouse above, as all updates/beer notices/etc. will flow through there.

• Calling all Islanders… PEI’s newest craft brewery, Upstreet Craft Brewing, needs your help! In preparation for their grand opening later this spring, they’re looking to include something “different” in each bottle when they begin packaging their beers: “Islandisms” (“Islanderisms?”) under every cap! They’re asking for your assistance; any PEI-specific phrases, quotes, jokes, etc. you can think of are fair-game, as long as they’re relatively clean! You can suggest as many as you like via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram; just be sure to include the hashtag #UnderTheCap. The best 250 will garner laughter and fame in future bottles of Upstreet beer! Get cracking, you have until next Friday to submit your ideas.

• Congratulations are in order to Sunset Heights Meadery, producers of the Pollen Angels line of sparkling meads available in the Fredericton area. Their Bee Mine chocolate and cherry expression took home a Silver medal in the Session Mead – Sweet category at the 2015 Mazer Cup. They have celebrated the win by releasing a limited number of bottles to several restaurants and bars in the area (The Grad House at UNB, Isaac’s Way, Relish, James Joyce Pub, Wolastoq Wharf, and McGinnis Landing). Available by the glass only,

• Tickets go on sale today for Sunset Heights’ first Still Mead release, scheduled for the afternoon of April 11th. The event will feature Mead pairing with chocolate and cheese, and first availability to buy one of their four new still meads released at that time. Each attendee is able to purchase up to two cases, and will have first access to tickets to the upcoming Summer and subsequent release and tasting events. Be sure to check their Twitter feed to get first crack at the tickets when they go on sale at noon, as they are limited to only 36!

Tom’s Little Havana announced earlier this week that they will be hosting their first Tap Takeover, and it will be by perennial favourite Bad Apple Brewhouse. Over four days, beginning May 14th, there will be five different BAB beers on tap, with a special cask being released each day. No tickets required for the event, just show up to enjoy great beer and food.

Rockbottom Brewpub has released their newest beer, Freudian Slip Vienna Lager. A light and crisp golden lager, it features toasted malt and spicy and herbal noble hop characters. It weighs in at 5.5% ABV and 30 IBUs.

Boxing Rock has brought back their very popular La Rive du Sud, first released in May 2014. This Biere de Garde style beer is a malty, lagered beer (though initially fermented with an ale yeast), with origins in France, where the summer months were too hot for brewing, so beer was brewed and stored in the cellar during the cooler months to enjoy once the weather warmed. It features light base malts and dark caramelized sugar, and is 7.5% ABV. Available at the brewery now in bottles and growler fills, bottles will be available this weekend in Halifax (and growlers at the Seaport Market), and on tap at select bars soon. And their The Next Chapter Rye IPA has finally hit store shelves this week, and is moving fast. Check here for availability at your local ANBL.

Hammond River’s Switchback Brown Ale is being featured at the ANBL Growler fill program this week. This is the first time in a while that Hammond River has brewed the hoppy American Brown; the same recipe has been used, since the beer was so well-received during its first run. Head to the Kennebecasis Valley ANBL to pick up a growler, as the beer will be available exclusively at this location. And they’ve recently brewed the last batch for this season of their Breakfast Stout; this brew features the Java Moose coffee, oats, cacao nibs, and home-smoked bacon as before, along with a few eggs being added this time (to the mash) to make your “breakfast” complete! Finally, look for their Hawaiian Pale Ale (brewed with fresh pineapples) to be available again soon (it will be debuting for the season at this year’s Saint John Beer Fest on April 11th).

Enjoy your weekend! Garrison has a new one-off beer, Cranberry Hibiscus Wit, available at the brewery for growler fills; tart and sessionable at 4% ABV. Big Tide has an unfiltered version of their Seaworthy IPA (featuring Nugget and Cascade hops) on tap at the brewpub. Shiretown’s Black Currant Wheat is back, available for growlers fills at the brewery, and on tap at the Heron’s Nest Pub. And the new batch of TrailWay Brewing‘s Session IPA is now available at King Street Ale House, James Joyce, and at their newest account, Brewbakers.