Good morning, craft beer fans! It’s another very busy week in the world of Atlantic Canadian beer news, so let’s get cracking…
• New Brunswick, Red Rover Brewing needs your help! As explained by owner/brewer Adam Clawson in a recent CBC interview, the company has had increasing difficulty turning a profit in the province, despite excellent demand for their ciders. Right now, there isn’t a set policy for cider; while there is one for beer, and one for wine, cider falls into a “grey area” where the mark-up set by the ANBL is not pre-determined. As a result, Red Rover has to pay a much higher mark-up for every keg and flagon of cider that they produce. Here’s a few numbers to make it all a bit clearer:
– For a 20 L keg of beer, breweries pay a $0.76/L mark-up, while Red Rover pays $1.29/L
– For bottles at ANBL stores, breweries pay $1.23/L; Red Rover would pay $2.90/L if their ciders were listed (which they are trying to accomplish)
– Many styles of beer can be brewed and packaged within a matter of weeks, while cider takes 2-3 months before it’s ready; during that extended period, temperature control and storage space increase the time, effort, and cost required for the batch
– Depending on the beer, a 20 L keg could be brewed for $20 or less; the cost in ingredients, time, etc. to Red Rover for the equivalent amount is about $50-55
Clawson understands that this is not an easy fix, and respects that there is currently no policy under ANBL for his business. What he’s asking for is that the ANBL temporarily let Red Rover join one of the current policies, or even better, create a new policy specifically geared towards cider, where the mark-ups are fair, and set-in-stone.
We also spoke with Brian Harriman, CEO of the ANBL; he acknowledges that the policy for cider was never clear, and that they had always made it their goal to work with Red Rover to help them (and other ciderhouses) succeed. Harriman went on to say that they currently have a “project team” made up of people from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Economic Development, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Tourism, and ANBL, with the goal to “streamline processes and to create a policy that fosters growth of micro producers from all categories in New Brunswick”.
What can you do? Call and make your opinion clear to ANBL and to your MLA. If a new, fair policy is created, Red Rover will be able to expand, which will only be good news for the province. If nothing is done, they may be forced to either a) shut down, or b) leave the province and set up shop elsewhere. Neither is good for New Brunswick. This isn’t just a matter of keeping an excellent product in the province; this is about showing the proper support for a small, local business that is asking for nothing more than the opportunity to grow. Here’s hoping for a quick resolution.
• Propeller Brewing has two new beers out this week. First up, their next One-Hit Wonder All Tapped Out is an India Pale Ale brewed with 6 different hop varietals, and will take any hophead down for the count. Victory, Wheat, and Crystal malts bump up the 2 Row base malt, lending colour and flavour, while the Warrior, Centennial, Columbus, Cluster, Ahtanum and Cascade hops pack a punch of bitterness and grassy, citrus, and resiny aromas. The beer weighs in at 6.9% ABV and 72 IBUs, for a bit more alcohol than their standard IPA. As with all other One-Hit Wonders, this beer is for growler sales only (on now at both the Gottingen and Windmill locations), with the rare keg sneaking out to friendly HRM bars and restaurants.
• Prop’s second new beer this week is their Spring Seasonal, Rye IPA. Weighing in at 6.8% ABV and 72 IBUs, the malt bill features a healthy dose of Rye malt to spice up the brew, and a secret blend of hops for bittering and aroma. Released today in bottles at both brewery locations, it will also be available in the NSLC and private beer stores, and on tap for growlers and at HRM bars soon.
• TrailWay Brewing just delivered some kegs of their newest beer, a Black IPA named Black Hops One. This particular style of beer is often interpreted differently from brewery to brewery; look for TrailWay’s version to have significant roast and chocolate character (thanks to the addition of both Roasted and Chocolate malts in the mash). Of course, there will also be lots of hop character, as this beer includes Apollo, Centennial, Mosaic, Chinook and Comet. As the style dictates, it comes in fairly bitter at around 90 IBUs, with an ABV of 7.1%. There should be a limited quantity available this weekend at both the King Street Ale House and 540 Kitchen & Bar.
• Big Axe is re-releasing their Maple Wheat Amber Ale, first introduced last year. Brewed with both Pale and Caramel malts, it also features maple sap tapped from Big Axe’s very own maple trees, as well as some sourced from Nackawic’s own Stone Family Maple Products. Hopped with the Orbit variety, the beer comes in at 5% ABV and features a light-to-medium body, and lots of sweet, caramel and maple aromas, according to the brewery. Look for it on tap at the brewery and possibly select accounts by this weekend. And stay tuned for more news soon on their 1st Anniversary party, which sill take place at the brewery in June; they’re planning on lots of live music, beer, and NB cider and mead (from Red Rover and Sunset Heights Meadery). They’ve also announced plans to build a taproom at their location in the future; we’ll keep you updated on their progress!
• There’s a new beer on tap at the Big Tide brewpub in Saint John, an India Pale Lager (read: hoppy Lager) named Sea Legs. Originally brewed for last Saturday’s Saint John Beer Fest (more on that below), a lot of the recipe is similar to their regular-release Seaworthy IPA, except it was fermented – of course – with a Lager yeast. It also followed a step-mash technique (more than one temperature rest during the mashing process), and was aged cool (or “lagered”) for a month before packaging. The beer was hopped with Cascade, Columbus, and Hallertau, and dry-hopped with Saaz. It weighs in at 5.5% ABV and about 60 IBUs, and is on tap for both pints and growler fills. Their Bucht Bock – another festival beer – is still available for pints for a limited time only, so be sure to get to the brewpub to sample both!
• Shortly after last week’s experimental Belgian Scotch Ale, Picaroons has released the “other half” of that beer; that is, the first runnings from the brew day, which were fermented with their house Ringwood yeast to make The Brick ISA, an “Imperial Scotch Ale”. With a grist consisting of Pale malt, Golden Promise, Torrified Wheat, and Roasted and Smoked malts, the beer exhibits plenty of fruity esters, along with a “subtle smokiness” and some expected warmth from the high ABV (11.5%). It was hopped lightly to 28 IBUs with Goldings and Fuggles; as with last week’s beer, it is available only at the Brewtique for growler fills. And stay tuned for the second beer from their “Employee Series”, which should be released in the near future!
• In other Pics news, next week will mark the return of their popular summer seasonal, Dooryard, a 4.5% ABV American Wheat Ale. To celebrate, they’re having a Dooryard Launch Party at the ANBL Train Station next Wednesday, April 22nd (Earth Day). Along with free Dooryard samples, they’ll have food from Isaac’s Way and live music from the Alan Jeffries Duo. There’s no charge to attend; it all starts at 4 pm.
• Grimross has re-brewed one of the beers originally brewed shortly after they opened in the summer of 2013. Bayard Blond is a 7% ABV Belgian Blond, a stronger style that exhibits both spiciness and fruitiness, thanks to the expressive Belgian yeast. With “notes of pear and grass”, and a “very fresh character” according to the brewery, it was likely brewed with the warmer temperatures of spring in mind! Stop by the brewery to try this refreshing ale; it’s available for both pints and growler fills now.
• Next Saturday, April 25th, Railcar Brewing is holding a Craft Beer and Cheese Pairing at their newly-opened tasting room. Held from 6 pm – 9 pm, there will be six cheeses from Jolly Farmer, paired with six different craft beers, including two each from Railcar (Irish Red and Chocolate Maple Stout), Picaroons (Yippee IPA and Dark and Stormy Night), and Propeller (ESB and Double IPA). Tickets are $20 each and can be bought at the door, or purchased in advance by contacting owner/brewer Mitch Biggar through the brewery’s Facebook page.
• And coming back to the Saint John Beer Fest, last Saturday’s event was a great success; the festival was sold-out, and featured more breweries and more beer than last year. The People’s Choice votes were tallied, and Hammond River Brewing won first place for the second year in a row! Silver went to Big Tide, and bronze to first-time attendee TrailWay Brewing. Congrats to the winners, and to the SJBF on another successful event!
• Rogues Roost has a new Double IPA on tap at the brewpub now. Weighing in at 7.2%, this is a big beer with big hops to balance: 90 IBUs coming from several different hop varietals, finished with a large aroma addition of the Falconer’s Flight blend, lending tropical and citrus characteristics. This is actually the second Double IPA that Brewster Karen Allen has released in recent months, and like the first one, it will probably sell quickly, so be sure to pop down soon!
• Rudder’s Brew Pub & Restaurant in Yarmouth has brewed up a lager for the coming warmer months. Lighthouse Lager 2.0 was brewed this week, and will be fermenting and conditioning until June. A lighter lager, the grain bill has changed slightly since the last time it was brewed in 2013. And this batch has been hopped with New Zealand Southern Cross and UK Fuggles varietals.
• For those not able to visit Rudder’s in Yarmouth, look for them in the Yarmouth Town Exhibit at the Saltscapes Expo next weekend at Halifax Exhibition Grounds. They will be sampling a couple of their beers, along with local restaurants and artisans. Other breweries attending the Expo include Propeller and Garrison, and local homebrew/winery shop Noble Grape.
• Bar Stillwell in Halifax shared some great news this week: they will be setting up Stillwell Beergarden on the waterfront, set to open in about 6 weeks. Based in a custom-built shipping container, the Stilly Satellite Spot will be located at the Summit Plaza, steps from “The Wave”. The taps will be primarily NS beers (with a Nova Scotian cider and wine also on tap), with a focus on lighter-bodied, more “sessionable” beers. The food will also focus on NS, with chef Graeme Ruppel cooking up homemade sausages, complemented with other local fare, like sausages from Sweet William’s, Rose Lane, and bread and buns from Gingerbread Haus. It will operate into the fall, so that locals and tourists alike will have plenty of chances to drink and taste the best Nova Scotia has to offer. We understand that there are already some exciting events scheduled for the space, including Tap Takeovers that would be seen at both Stillwell HQ and the Beergarden, plus the special beers that show up on a regular basis.
• Schoolhouse Brewery has a very cool project in the works, The Southfield Project: One Field, One Beer. They will be using a two-acre plot of land and growing barley and hops for a truely local NS beer. The ingredients will be hand planted and tended to, with the barley malted and hops harvested and dried right at the brewery. Those interested can follow along with the progress of the project on Facebook, and we look forward to taking part and drinking the resulting beer in the fall.
• Several more events for NS Craft Beer Week May 7-18 have been announced, including a series of Brewmaster’s Dinners at Lion & Bright: Boxing Rock vs Big Spruce on Monday, Sea Level vs Propeller on Wednesday, and North Brewing on Thursday. Beer Cocktail Face-Off, The Science of Beer, and Brews Cruise tickets are still available, and new events are being announced daily. Keep up with them using the #NSCraftBeerWeek tag on Twitter.
Enjoy your weekend! BarNone has rebrewed their Milk Stout, La Vaca Loca, and it should be available for their weekly growler night next Thursday at the brewery, and is expected to be on tap at the Pilot House next week as well. And speaking of Milk Stouts, it looks like there’s one being brewed at the Gahan House, too; we’ll have more on that beer for you next week. After a 10-day break the Townhouse Pub in Antigonish re-opened this week, so local beer fans can resume their place at the bar for a pint of Terry’s Bitter. And don’t forget that tomorrow is the launch of the Ladies Beer League and Boxing Rock beer, Cinnamon Spin. The event starts at 6pm at Stillwell, with the official tapping at 6:30. Happy 1st Anniversary to BeerTech Draft System Technologists, keeping many bars, restaurants and breweries’ taps and lines clean! And Happy 30th Anniversary to Granite Brewing, who continue to push the NS beer scene forward!