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 Wheat, Summer 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!).