All posts for the month April, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone! We don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s beginning to look more like spring in our region. To celebrate, grab a pint of beer (or coffee if your employer frowns on drinking on the job), and let’s get right to the beer news:

• In Saint John, Big Tide Brewing is pouring a new beer at their brewpub. The beer is Three Pages to the Wind, a “Whiskey Pale Ale”. Brewed with Pale Ale and Smoked malt, the beer is mildly hopped with both Cascade and Willamette hops, with whiskey added during the conditioning stage; it comes in at about 5.2% ABV. They’re also pouring a couple of returning beers, including Nut Brown, a 4.8% ABV Southern English Brown that employs some Chocolate malt, and Crasberry Cream Ale, a 5% ABV Cream Ale that has cranberry and raspberry juice added during conditioning.

Red Rover Brewing is expanding their on-tap distribution in Fredericton, with their Summer Brew now available at the Grad House on the UNB campus, and Spring Brew on tap at Isaac’s Way. Of course, their Summer is also still available at the King Street Ale House. Owner/brewer Adam Clawson has also designed some new tap handles for their ciders, which have been 3D printed to give varying results for each of the three ciders they have available. Very cool!

Gahan House in Charlottetown is hosting the finale of their Homebrewer’s Challenge tomorrow 2-4pm, and we’re all invited! Narrowed down from 16 entries to 5, the final judging will take place that afternoon, courtesy of a panel of six beer lovers, including current and former brewers from Gahan and PEI Brewing Company, judging these beers on Flavour Characteristics, Off Flavours, Appearance, General taste, Creativity and Overall balance. The brewers are hoping to win the big prize, having a chance to brew their beer on Gahan’s system, and have it served right at the bar! There will be live music and entertainment courtesy of Iain MacCarvill, and appetizers passed around. Of course, the full restaurant and bar will be open as well. Be sure to drop by and cheer on these well-deserving finalists (and all other entrants). Well done, all! We’ll be sure to pass along details of the event and winning beer next week.

• In other Gahan news, they released their Honey Brown Ale this week. It is a blend of the Sir John A’s Honey Wheat (featuring local PEI honey) and Iron Bridge Brown, and weighs in at 4.8%ABV. It will be available on tap and in bottles at the Gahan House Brewpub, the PEILCC and select ANBL locations.

• Good news, Sackville, NB! Your craft beer availability has taken a step up, as Celtic Knot beer will soon be on tap at Ducky’s. Management at Ducky’s has confirmed that they will be expanding their draught selection from 14 to 22 taps, with mostly local craft beer being served! Following this expansion (hopefully within the next 1-2 weeks), one or two taps will be devoted to Celtic Knot’s beers… other local nanobreweries are likely to be added in the near future.

• If you haven’t been visiting Rockbottom Brewpub for the Wednesday Firkins lately, you’ve been missing out! Over the past two weeks, Brewmaster Greg Nash has been serving up dry-hopped, cask-conditioned versions of his upcoming Thulsa Doom Double IPA, first with Simcoe, and more recently with Citra. Both of these were excellent beers, selling out that night. This base beer weighs in at 7.8%ABV, but there is no hint of alcohol at all, as it features a wonderful citrus and fruit hop aroma and flavour, calculated at 130 IBU, thanks to generous amounts of Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial and Chinook. The yeast used to ferment this brew is called Conan, and also gives off apricot and citrus characteristics. Look for it on tap the middle of next week! Brewmaster Nash also gave us a preview of next week’s Firkin: a SMaSH Lager, featuring Galaxy hops. Be sure to drop by right at 4pm, to be sure you don’t miss out!

• In other Rockbottom news, be sure to check out their Youtube channel, to get the inside scoop on upcoming specials, events, and beers. We see that a member of the Ladies Beer League dropped by this week to assist with the brewing (and cleaning) of an upcoming batch of Fathom IPA.

Picaroons has officially announced plans for their Dooryard launch – it will be held on Earth Day, Tuesday April 22nd at the York St. Train Station in Fredericton. From 4:00 – 7:00 pm, they will be pouring samples of Dooryard, their spring/summer seasonal brewed with coriander and orange peel; there will also be wood-fired “Dough’yard” pizza from Real Food Connections and Speerville Flour Mill, and live entertainment with Earthbound Trio.

• In other Picaroons news, they’ve announced that they will be brewing a collaboration beer with Toronto’s Great Lakes Brewery in the near future. While details on on the beer are currently being kept secret, we can confirm that the beer will be ready in time for the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards, which are being held May 29th-31st in Fredericton. Both Picaroons and Great Lakes have won the Brewery of the Year award in the past (2011 and 2013, respectively), so we’re naturally expecting great things from their collaboration!

North Brewing’s Farmhouse  Ale is back again. Weighing in at 7.5%, it features a candied fruit aroma, and tart flavour, thanks to the combination of yeast choice, and wheat and raw sugar in the malt bill. Available at the brewery on Agricola Street, and will be on tap around the city shortly. Their second release of the Glenora-barrel-aged Strong Dark is down to the last few bottles, so be sure to drop by the brewery today to grab one!

Bad Apple Brewhouse’s Russian Imperial Stout is back in stock in Somerset. Weighing in at 9%ABV, it is a big beer with big flavour, thanks to loads of roast malt and generous hopping. It is available in 1.89L and 750mL refillables, along with their American Pale Ale and Cider. Look out for the Barrel-aged RIS coming out at the end of the month, as well as a few more new brews. And a quick note for locals looking to have a pint of their APA at The Wick Pub in Berwick, they are now fully stocked. But be warned, their first keg was emptied in one night last week!

• Halifax Beer Fans: As if you didn’t need another excuse to visit Stillwell Beer Bar, they will be tapping three beers from Bellwoods Brewery Sunday at noon. Witchshark IIPA, Grizzly Beer American Brown Ale, and Farmhouse Classic. See you there!

• In celebration of the anniversary of Prohibition Repeal in New Brunswick, there’s a beer cocktail event being held at the King Street Ale House next Saturday, April 19th. From 3:00 – 5:00 pm, they will be mixing up a variety of beer and whisky cocktails “inspired by the drinks and era of prohibition”; tickets are priced accordingly at $19.27 and can be purchased online. No Tommy guns, please.

• A reminder that the Burgers n’ Beer event at reLiSH in Fredericton is this coming Tuesday, April 15th. There are a FEW tickets still available; remember, if you live in Fredericton, it’s your first chance to try Celtic Knot’s Dubh Loki (a Black IPA) and Hammond River‘s Red Coat India Red Ale! Not to mention some Red Rover cider and beer from Grimross Brewing… and burgers! More detail in our post here. Hope to see you there!

• Finally, be sure to drop by Stillwell Thursday evening, for the release of the Boxing Rock & Ladies Beer League beer, Alewife’s Revenge. The LBL crew visited Boxing Rock on March 15th and brewed up this beer featuring local cranberries and orange zest, and now it’s ready for prime time! Check out some pictures from the brewday to whet your appetite. If you can’t make it down for the release party, look for it in growlers and bottles at the brewery, Seaport Farmers Market, and the private wine stores in Halifax.

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With all of the breweries that have opened recently and will be opening in the near future in Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick is about to get a taste of something different. John Way, a long-time homebrewer, and his wife, Deb, are planning to open Sunset Heights Meadery sometime within the next few months at their home in McLeod Hill. Mead is a fermented beverage, like beer; what sets it apart is that the majority of its fermentable sugars come from honey, as opposed to grain. Like beer, brewing mead provides an open book for the brewer, as it can be still or carbonated; dry, semi-sweet, or sweet; and can have spices, fruit, and even hops added.

John and his family were all representing Sunset Heights Meadery at last month’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival, pouring several varieties of their meads. Mead is a product not easily found in our area, so it was great to see that the lines were long and consistent as attendants were anxious to try something new. We recently talked with John about what he and his wife will be bringing to the market in the near future…

ACBB: Tell me a little about your homebrewing history. What got you into brewing mead?

John Way: Twenty-five years of home brewing, everything from extract kits to eventually all-grain; in addition, we have been making wine for over 10 years. My Dad was a long time home wine maker as well. In the early-late 90’s I ran a business next door to a Brew/Vint on-premise on Vancouver Island. The owners became great friends and I learned a ton from them. Early forays into Mead were futile efforts to produce bad mead. We recently learned a lot from the owner and Head Mead Maker at Moonlight Meadery (in Londonderry, New Hampshire)… that changed everything, and all of a sudden all the past beer and wine experience gelled together with the new info we received from Moonlight to make some really good (we think) meads.

Are you a member of any local homebrewing clubs?

I’m a Charter Member of the New Brunswick Craft Brewers Association (NBCBA) and am currently Club Secretary, but I’ll be stepping down soon as the Meadery and my real job are taking up the total time I have in a day.

What made you decide to take the step into brewing professionally?

We had actually planned to open a nanobrewery locally, but after spending a couple of days at Moonlight we realized it’s where our future was.

What steps have you taken so far getting everything up and running?

We’ve started redeveloping our loft in our garage, as we’re fully licensed by the Feds and Province to produce. The license is actually a winery license, and we’re in the midst of going through the requirements to meet the standard as a “Farm Winery” in the province, which gives us better access to the market.

What type of system will you be brewing on?

We cold ferment, so with no heat applied to the honey there isn’t really any “brewing” per se. Heat only drives off the volatiles that we want in our meads. We currently have 160 gallons of capacity, but have a plan in place to increase that by an additional 500 gallons by this fall.

Do you know when your meads will be available to the public?

We’re hoping for June/July for the “Pollen Angels” kegged product to be available at bars, with the bottled still “Sunset Heights” meads in the fall.

What are your plans for distribution? Any plans for growlers, bottling, etc.?

Plans are still evolving, but currently it’s bars only, though we will be looking at a couple of growler options.

Do you have any bars/restaurants in the area lined up to serve your meads?

The King Street Ale House and The Lunar Rogue have both expressed a keen interest, and we’ve committed to only service them until we get a handle on the demand. Of course, they are also the only two places I’ve approached so far, so it’s tough to say what kind of further acceptance we’ll receive in the marketplace.

Can you tell me about the mead(s) you plan on offering initially? Are you planning on offering a specific style, or styles, of mead? Any seasonals, one-offs, or will you stick mainly with a “flagship lineup”?

Our “Pollen Angels” line will likely open with the “Queen’s Nectar”, a base sparkling mead that is 8.25% ABV, along with additional flavours including Cranberry-Maple, Blueberry-Apple, Iced Tea, Green Tea and some custom dry-hopped versions. Our “Sunset Heights Meadery” still meads will be bottled in Ice Wine bottles, and will include a Local Cyser [a blend of honey and apple juice fermented together], and a dry-hopped Cyser that just won a Silver Medal for ‘Other-Sweet’ at The Mazer Cup, the world’s largest meadmaking competition. We will also be re-running our recipe for our “Sunset Blues”, a Blueberry Cyser that took home the Gold Medal in the ‘Sweet Melomel’ Category at the Mazer Cup. We’re the first New Brunswick Meadery to ever win an award at the Mazer Cup, and we’re very excited, and just a little bit proud.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries in Atlantic Canada?

Sean Dunbar has allowed us unlimited access to his head brewer, Andrew Estabrooks, which has been invaluable. The folks at Picaroons have also been incredibly supportive in helping us with suppliers, and they’ve been a great sounding board for our product development. Sean’s vision of the craft beverage market is such a breath of fresh air, being so supportive to other smaller producers. Many in the industry see everyone as a competitor, but he understands that a rising tide will float all boats.

The owner of Moonlight Meadery, Michael Fairbrother, has been our mead mentor through our learning curve of going from home to full scale; he and his fermentation specialist Chris have been incredible in supporting our efforts. Michael and his wife Bernice were very proud of us when we brought home those medals at the Mazer Cup (he took home 2 Golds and a Silver to add to his already impressive array of past medals). Michael is even working on a very special project with us planned for this fall… it will be a bit like having Elvis do a duet with you on your debut album.

To your knowledge, is this the first meadery in Atlantic Canada?

No, there is another dedicated meadery, Midgard, in Cape Breton, and though I haven’t had the opportunity to try them, I’m told they are great. There are other small meaderies about, but they tend to self-distribute in very small quantities. There are also a few wineries around making some mead as a sideline.

Where do you hope to see Sunset Heights Meadery in the next 2-3 years?

A few more medals, making some more killer versions of our Dessert Still Meads, and with “Pollen Angels” running concurrently as a parallel venture instead of having it integrated into Sunset Heights. Only time will tell if the volume consumed by the public will make that a possibility. For now, we can run both the product lines off of the same equipment.


We’re really looking forward to when Sunset Heights Meadery has their official launch in the next couple of months! We’ll let you know exactly when to expect their products in bars and restaurants in the area, as soon as the dates are confirmed.

Happy Friday, everyone! As we begin the long process of shedding winter for warmer weather, check out the following beer news to keep you warm…

• Big news for Big Spruce! This week, they celebrated one year in operation, congratulations! To celebrate, they are holding a birthday party at the Bras d’Or Yacht Club in Baddeck this Saturday, starting at 5pm. Featuring a BBQ and cake, live music, and, of course, beer! They will be releasing a special cask of their The Whole Nine Yards 1 Year Anniversary Scotch Ale, infused with Glenora Glen Breton Rare 10 year Single Malt Whisky. Weighing in at 6.5% ABV, the beer features lots of roast flavour, as well as smoke and peat characteristics from the whisky. If you’re anywhere near Cape Breton this weekend, this is the place to be!

• In more Big Spruce news, their collaboration with Sawdust City brewmaster Aaron Spinney, You Spin Me White Round Wheat IPA has made it on tap in Halifax, beginning with Stillwell Beer Bar.  This Wheat IPA weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 79 IBUs, and will available at a few more locations around the province soon.

Celtic Knot Brewing has released some early information on a new beer that they’re brewing up, a low-ABV American IPA (beers of this “style” are often referred to as Session IPAs or India Session Ales). Owner/brewer Bruce Barton is naming the beer For Shore (poking a bit of fun at how some Maritimers say “for sure”); the beer will be “light-colored” with an ABV around 5%. Brewed with 2-row and Munich malt, with a bit of Melanoidin and Wheat malt added, it will also feature two new hop varieties for Celtic Knot, from Australia and New Zealand. Low in bitterness but high in hop flavor and aroma, look for this “Maritime Session Ale” to be on tap in the Moncton area in the near future!

Garrison Brewing is releasing another of their Test Batch IPAs, #3459, today. Taking note of customer feedback from their #3447 release in February, they have tweaked the recipe a bit. The IPA is 6.5% and 51 IBUs, featuring lots of tropical and citrus notes from the (secret) hops. As before, look for this beer to be on tap around Halifax, and available in 650mL bombers at the brewery, private stores and NSLC, and for the first time, a pallet is being sent to the ANBL . Use the #TestBatch Twitter tag to weigh in on this version, they’re anxious to hear what you have to say!

• And more great news from Garrison, Brewmaster Daniel Girard brewed for the first time on their new brewhouse this week, located in the Film and Media Centre building, just across Marginal Road from their current location. The larger brewhouse will allow them to triple their production, allowing them to keep up with the growing demand for their beer across our region, and expand in to more provinces across the country. President Brian Titus had this to say, “End of a challenging 3 year process to stay in the Halifax Seaport & build a state of the art craft brewery. Done & done!” They brewed up their Irish Red Ale, which was also the first beer they brewed back in 1997. Congratulations on the new digs, and continued success!

• As the summer approaches, everyone at Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault is working hard to get everything up and running so their first two flagship beers are ready for the thirsty public! In the meantime, they’re putting on a couple of beer workshops with beer expert Mario D’Eer. The first is being held tonight at 7:30 pm at the Book Fair at Cité des Jeunes A.-M-Sormany High School in Edmundston, which will involve an introduction to beer and cheese pairings, with six different beers and cheese to be tasted. The second workshop will be held tomorrow at 3:00 pm at The Deck, and will include a basic “ABCs” of beer, with tastings of nine beers, ranging from Hoegaarden to Picaroon’s Winter Warmer. There are only a few tickets left for both workshops; call (506) 733-7409 to reserve yours!

• And, if you’d like to meet some of the people behind Brasseurs du Petit-Sault, you’ll have a chance next weekend! On Saturday, April 12th, there will be a Beer Fest at Au Cafe d’LaVieille Forge from 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm. Those representing the new brewery will be on hand to pass out information and answer questions. Tickets for the beer festival are $40.

•  A quick note for our Valley readers: Bad Apple Brewhouse American Pale Ale is now on tap at the Union Street Cafe and Wick Pub in Berwick, NS. Stop in for a pint today!

• Picaroons will be holding their annual Prohibition Repeal Party and Tap Takeover at The Capital Complex in Fredericton on Saturday, April 19th at 7:00 pm. All 12 taps will feature Picaroons beers; while details on which beers are being served are currently being kept secret, Marketing Director Dennis Goodwin has confirmed that there will be some interesting options. They also plan on bringing their “Randall the Enamel Animal”, a device designed by Dogfish Head that hooks up to a bar tap and acts as a flavor-inducing filter system (check out the link, really). There will also be live music from Krasnogorsk and Jim Blewett & The Swingin’ Cats starting at 9:00 pm. No charge for tickets; entry is free at the door until regular cover charge starts at 10:30 pm.

• And while on the topic of annual Picaroons events, they’re currently accepting entries for their Melonhead Cat Contest. Send in a hi-res picture of your cat (no need to involve melons), and the Picaroons people will pick their favorite and include it on the label for this year’s release of Melonhead. The beer should be released sometime in June; the winner will be announced before the beer’s release. Cat pics can be emailed; the deadline for entries is Thursday, April 24th.

• Finally, those of you who are big fans of the Picaroons spring/summer seasonal, Dooryard, haven’t got much longer to wait until its 2014 release. They’ve announced that the beer should be available on Tuesday, April 22nd. A wheat beer brewed with coriander and orange peel, it’s an easy-drinking and light beer with an ABV of 4.5%. We’ll keep you updated on its release… there’s usually some type of launch party that goes with it!

North Brewing is releasing a second batch of their Glenora Barrel-Aged Strong Dark Belgian today. This beer is in very limited quantities, so be sure to drop by the brewery *today* to avoid disappointment!

• It’s only April, but the Beerthief Newfoundland Artisanal and Craft Beer Group is already taking orders for the 2014 Craft Beer Advent Calendar! Featuring 24 mystery beers from 24 breweries on six continents, these will brighten up any beer lover’s December. Orders must be placed by Monday, April 7th, so get on them now!