All posts for the month July, 2014

Happy Friday, everyone! After last week’s big news about the recent changes from the ANBL requiring that new breweries sell a minimum of 10,000 L of beer in 12 months through the ANBL (i.e. bottles at ANBL stores and/or keg orders via restaurants/bars) before being allowed to sell beer in growlers for off-site consumption, we thought it only prudent to update you on the current situation…

• Mitch Biggar, owner/brewer of the soon-to-open Railcar Brewing in Florenceville-Bristol (the brewery most directly affected by the recent changes) met with ANBL CEO Brian Harriman earlier this week. Thankfully, Mr. Harriman has assured us that a decision has been made to grandfather Railcar out of the new policy, so that “they will be able to sell beer to the public directly from their first day of operation”. Mr. Harriman went on to say: “We have also agreed to have further discussion with New Brunswick microbrewers to see if there is a way we can achieve the governance we require, without creating undue barriers or pain for new brewers. Consequently, we will continue to be open to discussion with the brewers to insure that we are promoting and stimulating growth of craft beer in NB and not the opposite.”

• As well, Mr. Harriman confirmed that the ANBL is going to begin a pilot growler program in September, where they will be selling and filling growlers at three select ANBL stores in the province. He went on to verify: “We will only sell craft and import beer in growlers and will not sell any mainstream domestic beers in growlers.” If results are successful, they plan to expand this program permanently to 10-15 stores.

We’re glad to see that things appear to have been settled for Railcar. As for the rumors that the new rule would be retroactive for all breweries in the province, Mr. Harriman assured us that “… it will be business as usual for all previously existing breweries, as they currently have Brewery Agency Store permits.” Let’s hope that more progress is made at the ANBL Board of Directors meeting next month to modify the current policy, so that future craft breweries are not hindered in any way. One future brewery we’ve mentioned previously, A.W.O.L. Brewery, met with the CBC to give their side of the story given the changed regulations. We’ll be following how it impacts them very closely, and remember that their crowd-funding campaign is still live, please check it out.

Now, on to your regularly-scheduled program!

• Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault have announced that tomorrow, July 26th, they will be having their official grand opening… and we’re all invited! Hop in your car and head over to Edmundston, where they’ll be having tours of their brand new brewery between 11 am and 8 pm (the official ceremonies begin at 2 pm). Both brewers and all team members will be on hand to answer your questions about the brewery and their beers. Swag will be available for purchase, along with their beers, Tante Blanche and Bob LeBouef.

• Speaking of Bob LeBouef, we thought we’d share some details on this new beer from Petit-Sault. It is just being released today for the first time, on tap and in bottles. Described by the brewery as being similar to a Belgian Blond Ale, it has a “full-bodied taste and generous froth, with a subtle hint of Saaz and Northern Brewer hops, leaving behind a delicate lace for a complete sensory experience”. It clocks in at 5.2% ABV, with 22 IBUs. Look for it on tap at the same locations in Edmundston as the recently-released Tante Blanche (Fraser-Edmundston Golf Club, Station 127, Frank’s Bar & Grill, Resto-Bar le Deck, as well as the Hotel Victoria in Saint-Quentin), and in bottles at their local ANBL stores and at the brewery.

• And in even more exciting Petit-Sault news, they very-recently brewed a collaboration beer with Acadie-Broue. Patrice Godin, owner/brewer of Acadie-Broue, travelled to Edmundston this week to brew a batch of his Tintamarre, a Belgian Saison. We expect to see this beer released in August, and will share the beer recipe and availability details closer to that date.

Big Axe is also holding their grand opening soon at their brewery/Bed & Breakfast in Nackawic. On Saturday, August 2nd, they will be open from 12 pm – 9 pm for growler fills, and will feature live music from 5 pm – 9 pm via Julio’s Garage, a band from Fredericton.

• We have more details on the newest beer from Grimross Brewing, Summer Serendipity. A slightly-hazy, straw-colored Belgian Ale, it has an ABV of 5.8%. With a grain bill of mostly Pilsner malt (along with some wheat and rye), the beer’s aroma is described by the brewery as “floral, with hints of lemongrass and tropical fruit”, and exhibits a flavor of “tropical fruit with a lightly balanced hop bitterness”. It’s currently available for growler fills at the Picaroons Brewtique. They’ve also sent out a teaser picture of the progress on their new brewery construction.

• Celtic Knot Brewing is currently working on a new beer. Owner/brewer Bruce Barton has brewed Ring of Fire, a beer that includes smoked malt, ghost peppers… and possibly an addition of Srirachi sauce in the brew process. We’ll have more details on this beer as they emerge. Barton has also confirmed that he has added two new 101 L fermentors to his brewery to help meet increasing demand for their beers; hopefully we’ll see distribution expand soon!

• Red Rover Brewing has confirmed they are releasing a new cider. Scrumpy is described by owner/brewer Adam Clawson as a traditional cider, non-filtered and still (no carbonation). Racked (transferred) four times to reduce the acidity, naturally drop the sediment, and allow for a longer maturation time, its described as being “dry, very smooth, and with a full mouthfeel”, and comes in at 7% ABV. It will be released this weekend at the Highland Games in Fredericton (on tap along with Spring and Summer), and at the Ciderhouse for flagon (1 L growler) fills. Look for a limited, special-edition flagon in the near future to celebrate the Scrumpy release.

Propeller continues to churn out beers for their One Hit Wonder series. This week, they’ve released American Red Ale, which is an American Amber of the U.S. West Coast type; think a hoppier version of the style. Weighing in at 70 IBUs and 5.7% ABV, the beer is hopped with Cascade, Columbus and Falconer’s Flight, with a malt bill containing 2-row, Melanoidin, Roasted malt, and wheat to provide some malt sweetness to help balance the higher bitterness. It’s available for growler fills now at both Prop Shop locations; look for it on tap at select establishments around Halifax as well.

• Propeller is also taking part in two events as part of Local Connections’ Sausage Fest held August 14-24. We’ve already mentioned the return of the Prop’r Cask Night, 6:30 Friday August 15, featuring a feast by Chef Ludo of Agricola Street Brasserie. On Tuesday August 19th, at 6:30, they are taking over the taps at Lion & Bright for a Brew & Brats event. Eight different Propeller beers will be pouring, including several of their very popular One Hit Wonder beers, and other specialties.

• What looks to become an annual tradition, Big Spruce has once again brewed up a batch of their Tip of the Spear, a “Black Spruce Tip IPA”. Incorporating fresh spruce tips from the Black Spruce tree, no hops are used for bittering… but the beer still comes in at about 63 IBUs! Don’t worry, there is some “huge late additions with Simcoe and Cascade hops”, along with a possible dry-hop addition, for hop aroma and flavor, according to owner/brewer Jeremy White. The beer should be ready for growler fills at the brewery in Nyanza in a little under four weeks.

• The latest beer offering from the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Order Beer Club is closing this weekend. For those folks who would like to drink some MicroBrasserie Charlevoix, this is your only chance (short of heading West to the source). Choose from Dominus Vobiscum Blanche, Lupulus and Saison, as well as their Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout and Rye IPA. Minimum order is 6 mixed bottles, be sure to contact Tom before the end of Sunday.

• A reminder that Rockbottom Brewpub’s monthly Brewmaster’s Table dinner is being held  Tuesday, July 29th. We previously released the menu for the evening, which includes the new Belgian IPA and a London-style Porter (usually only available upstairs at Your Father’s Moustache, but brewed at Rockbottom, as are the Red Duster Amercian Pale Ale and Apricot Wheat). Contact the brewpub to reserve your spot today!

• A new bar/restaurant featuring craft beer has opened in Fredericton! 540 Kitchen & Bar, a gastropub located on Queen St. downtown, opened its doors late last month. With 10 taps available, they’ve recently had some local craft offerings available, including Hammond River Red Coat India Red Ale, and Big Axe Simon Saaz and Chanterelle Cream Ale. Management has confirmed that they will continue to expand their Atlantic Canadian beer offerings, along with other craft beers from across the country, and beyond.

We’ve made a few changes to our website and online presence in the past few days, we encourage you to check them out, and let us know what you think. Firstly, we’ve added a page dedicated to the Brewnosers’  Good Beer Map, compiled and edited by AndyR and acbbChris, both members of the Brewnosers. We’ve added Facebook and Twitter Lists for you to follow, to keep up on Atlantic Canadian beer news, as it happens. And finally, we’ve created a Photo Album page, where we will post pictures of beer events and our travels, starting with our excellent time at the Picaroons Brewer’s Bash. Let us know what you think!

We start off this week’s Wrap-Up with some disheartening news, and a call to action. But fear not, there’s lots of positive news to report on as well!

• Railcar Brewing has been planning to set up shop in Florenceville-Bristol, NB. After a change in plans in which their original planned location in the Shogomoc Historical Railway Site was scrapped, they have now opened their retail shop and brewery just a few minutes down Main Street. However, they are facing a brand new major hurdle from the ANBL. They’ve just received notice that a late-June board meeting has decided that before a Brewery Agency Store licensee may sell any beer at their location for off-premises consumption (by means of bottles or growlers), they must first sell 10,000 litres of product through the ANBL network within 12 months (whether it be kegs delivered to bars, or bottles sold at ANBL stores). For a very small 1 BBL (Beer Barrel, 117 litres) brewery like Railcar, this would mean brewing, fermenting, conditioning, kegging and/or bottling, selling, and delivering to the ANBL or to restaurants and bars (possibly not in their home region) two full batches per week, assuming no spillage or spoilage. For a very small brewery whose business plan concentrated on sales direct from the brewery (including investing several thousand dollars in growlers that may become unusable), this is disastrous, and may handcuff them from opening. Railcar owner Mitch Biggar has been on CBC Radio and TV spreading word of how this will affect his small business, but keep in mind this will affect all future NB breweries as well. Mitch will be meeting with the ANBL next week, and we hope that he will still be able to open the week of Aug 10, which coincides with the Florenceville Festival of Flavour.

• When we heard of this change, we contacted ANBL president Brian Harriman for comment. He was kind enough to respond, and he assured us, “We are going to have discussions with stakeholders who were in process of starting breweries prior to development of this new strategy. We want to do all we can to support industry development to see the micro brewery industry prosper in NB”. While this is encouraging to hear, we feel the consultations with stakeholders should have taken place before these new rules were implemented.  Mr Harriman goes on, “We believe that our new policy will serve to strengthen our business. We also feel that the 100 HL requirement is a manageable number for new brewers.” While we understand that the ANBL’s goals are to generate income and control the sale of alcohol in the province, we believe that these requirements are not manageable for new brewers who may be transitioning into this industry as a part-time endeavour, or are trying to generate the least amount of debt possible. Dozens of kegs for licensees and hundreds of bottles for the ANBL are not cheap!

• So, what can you do about this? We encourage you to read and sign an online petition created by friends and neighbours (and potential suppliers) of Railcar, Kathryn and Nick Southan of Southan Farms in Wicklow. While this petition is specific to Railcar’s issue (and others that may be in the middle of licensing), we feel that signing it shows your support for the idea that before any rules are implemented, discussions with breweries, big and small, should be taking place. We suggest that either different production tiers are implemented in the licensing strategies, or allowances for breweries to sell primarily (or exclusively) for off-site consumption at their brewery locations. To assist with the extra financing he will need to comply with these restrictions, he has just launched a crowd-funding plumfund page.

And now on to the happy part of the week, new beers and other news…

Rockbottom Brewpub has released their newest beer, Bloodletter Belgian IPA. From Brewmaster Greg Nash, they are giving their Belgian-style brew the West-Coast treatment! Weighing in at 6.3%, and with a calculated 217 IBUs, this is a light-coloured but not light on flavour beer! In addition to the characteristic yeast flavour, the beer was spiced with coriander and cumin at flame-out, and generously hopped throughout with Bravo (in the mash and first wort), Dana (at flame-out) and Kohatu (dry-hopped). As Nash put it, “MMmm West-Coast-Belgian-American-NewZealand-Slovenian-hopped-spiciness in a glass.” They will also be putting on a coffee-infused version of this beer, so check out that blend. And be sure to drop by Wednesday for the tapping of the Firkin at 4pm. Lots of exciting blends and beers start their life out in a Firkin, so it’s a great to get a sneak peak of what Nash is up to in the brewery!

Rare Bird Craft Brewing in Guysborough has released their Maple Ale this week. Brewed with local maple sap in place of water throughout the brew, this 5.5% beer ends up with a light body and copper colour. Maple syrup is also added to the wort, but the hops help to keep it from being overly sweet, for a nice balance. The beer is in rotation at Stillwell Beer Bar in Halifax and at the Rare Bird Pub in Guysborough, and will be available in the private stores in the near future.

Big Tide Brewpub in Saint John has released a couple of new beers since last week’s post. Tidal Wave Double IPA hit the taps late last week, and was one of the beers poured at the Picaroons Brewer’s Bash last weekend. We’re not sure about this incarnation, but previous versions of this beer weighed in around 9%, and loaded with multiple dry hop additions for a wave of hop flavour and aroma. Also new on tap is a return of the Haffe Wit, a Witbier brewed with a special blend of spices for their own twist on the style.

Grimross Brewing has released their newest beer. Summer Serendipity is now available at the Picaroons Brewtique on Queen Street in Fredericton. Unfortunately, it was released late last night, so we do not have all of the details, but can pass along the tasting notes from brewer Steven Dixon: “Floral sweet lemongrass aroma, tropical fruit taste and subtle hop bitterness.”

Paddys Irish Brewpubs in Kentville and Wolfville have released their newest summer seasonal, Dom Arthur Kolsch. Details are light on their recipe, but this style is a light hybrid between lager and ale, and goes well with beautiful patio weather!

Yellowbelly Brewpub in St John’s has released a summer version of their Wexford WheatSummer Wheat. The base recipe is the same, but uses Topaz dry-hops for a different aroma and flavour. We’re not sure how long it will last, so be sure to drop by!

• There are still a few spots left in this year’s Fredericton Beer Run, to be held August 4th. Runners can choose to participate in a legitimate 6km or 12km run, and then enjoy beer from New Brunswick craft breweries afterwards. You must run to drink the beer, though there are a few “Coach’s Tickets” available (must register with a runner). It is being run by Lloyd Chambers, who also organizes the great Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. Sign up today, only a couple more weeks of training!

• The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax has put together a Nova Scotia Craft Brewery Guide with a description of the brewing process, list of NS breweries (no brewpubs, yet), map of their locations, and amateur tasting notes.

Propeller Brewing Company has re-launched their Open Brewery Tours at their Gottingen St location. While you normally need nine or more friends to book a brewery tour (or pay for strangers to come drink with you), every Wednesday 6-7:30pm in the summer, you can drop by solo or with a handful of friends, and pay the regular $15. During your time there, you’ll have a chance to sample lots of their regular lineup, as there’s usually a seasonal or two on tap as well.

• The Ladies Beer League is looking for your help! They are teaming up with Boxing Rock Brewing to create a special cask for their event during the Local Connections Sausage Fest, held August 14-24. Check out their Facebook page and make your suggestions. If yours gets picked, you will win a t-shirt and bragging rights! Stay tuned for more details on the LBL event, too.

• These new beers won’t be available for a few weeks, but we’ll be keeping our eyes (and mouths) open for Garrison’s Honey & Lavender Beer that was brewed Monday, and Big Spruce’s Pump Le Mousse, a grapefruit wheat beer.

• And Happy Second Anniversary to the Townhouse Pub in Antigonish! They celebrated by releasing a special British IPA brewed on their system upstairs. Fortunately/unfortunately, it sold out in a matter of hours, so if you weren’t there to enjoy Sunday, you’ll have to wait until Terry brews it again (we hope soon!).

Happy Friday loyal Beer Readers! Grab a pint and take a few minutes to get caught up on all the Beer News that’s fit to print.

• Hammond River Brewing has a new beer in the works. Owner/brewer Shane Steeves confirmed that he just brewed a California Common (aka Steam beer) as a tribute to his father, who recently passed away. Brewed in the classic style using a San Francisco Lager yeast, yet fermented at a warmer, closer-to-Ale temperatures, the goal is to have an “easy-drinking beer with bready and toasty notes, along with some fruitiness”. Hopped entirely with Northern Brewer (a “woodsy”-type hop), the beer will be named Gammie, which is what Shane’s father was called by his grandchildren. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this beer; we’d also like to express our deepest condolences to Shane and his family.

• Late last week, Brasseurs du Petit-Sault announced that they have officially begun selling their beer! They posted on their blog that their Witbier, Tante Blanche, is now available on tap at the following locations in Edmundston: Fraser-Edmundston Golf Club, Station 127, Frank’s Bar & Grill, Resto-Bar le Deck, as well as the Hotel Victoria in Saint-Quentin. The beer should follow shortly in bottles; look for it in Edmundston and Grand Falls ANBL stores by July 14th, and hopefully further across the province in the near future. Tante Blanche will also be pouring tomorrow at the Brewer’s Bash in Fredericton!

• Speaking of the Brewer’s Bash, it looks like they’re a little short on volunteers, so if you don’t have a ticket, this is your final chance to attend the sold-out festival! Four hours of volunteer work will get you into the festival, AND access to a special volunteer party at a later date; send them an email if you’re interested.

• Big Tide Brewing has recently released their very popular summer seasonal, Karnival Kolsch. This hybrid German style  is easy drinking, and perfect for the patio weather we’ve been enjoying recently. The beer was brewed using  Pilsner, acidulated and Munich malts to 4.5% ABV and hopped exclusively with Saaz to 50 IBUs. Brewster Wendy Papadopoulos tells us, “I  brewed it because my brother in law, who has spent a fair bit of time in Cologne, Germany, had been asking forever for me to brew a Kolsch”. This hybrid style, specific to Cologne, uses an ale yeast, but is fermented fairly cold, and is usually lagered for at least a month. This week also saw the end of the Tin Can Porter, and the return of the Hemp Pale Ale at Big Tide.

• Rockbottom Brewpub has released details for their July Beer Dinner, to be held July 29th at 6pm. Here it is, and it looks like there will be two new beers poured at the event, a Belgian IPA (being released next week) and London-style Porter. Appetizer: Beer Battered Halibut Cheeks (with Citrus Aioli & Micro Fruits), paired with the Belgian IPA. Main course: Beer Braised Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, paired with the Porter. Dessert: Poached Pear with Vanilla Ice Cream (with Beer Caramel Sauce), paired with Bigwater Brown. Tickets are $35 and available at the bar, or by calling 902-423-2938. Brewmaster Greg Nash at Rockbottom has also been showing off the progress of round two of Thulsa Doom, the very popular Double IPA brewed using Conan yeast (stepped up by a Brewnosers member from a single can of The Alchemist’s Heady Topper)

Propeller Brewery has announced the return of their very popular Prop’r Cask Nights August 15th, after a winter hiatus. Coinciding with the Local Connections Halifax 2014 Sausage Fest, Ludo Eveno of Agricola Street Brasserie will be in charge of the sausage-themed feast to pair with the beer. As always, a special cask will be tapped for the evening, and attendees will be able to sample it, as well as Propeller’s standard lineup. Limited tickets are available online now, and include a commemorative Sausage Fest glass to keep.

• Speaking of Propeller, both they and Boxing Rock Brewery celebrated anniversaries on Monday, July 7th. Propeller turned 17, and Boxing Rock celebrated their first year of business. Congratulations to both on these great milestones!