Good morning, and welcome to another long weekend! Some big news for a couple of breweries in our region, and the usual plethora of new beers, beer events… let’s get started!
• Well, it’s official – Hammond River Brewing is finally expanding! Owner/brewmaster Shane Steeves confirmed in a Facebook post yesterday that the brewery will be moving to a newly-constructed building that will house the DME-constructed 15 BBL (1750 L) system… that’s 15 times the size of Hammond River’s current brewery, making it the largest microbrewery in the Saint John area. The brewery will also be attached to the Barrel’s Head Gastropub & Wine Bar, and will have a tasting room where customers can order pints, have their growlers filled, and purchase bottles of HR beer. A barrel-aging program is currently in the plans as well. Look for the new brewery to open in early 2017, if all goes according to plan, and don’t worry – it will be business as usual for the current brewery until the new location opens, meaning your favourite HR beers will continue to be brewed. Congratulations, Shane!
• Hammond River also has a new brew in the making, a Berliner Weisse named Paisley Park. This is the first foray into sour beer territory for HR; brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malt and lightly hopped to only 4 IBUs (as is typical for the style), it was kettle-soured to give it the characteristic tartness of a Berliner Weisse. In addition, 34 lbs of fresh local raspberries from Balemans U-Pick were added in secondary. Keep your eyes open for this 3.2% ABV refreshing sour beer in the near future.
• And speaking of brewery expansions, more details on the currently-underway Big Spruce embiggening are now available! Construction on the brand-new, 5400 sq-ft building has begun on the Big Spruce property, which will eventually house a 3-vessel, 20 BBL (2300 L) brew house – that’s about three times larger than the current brewery. With 40 BBL fermentors and an automated, 30 can-per-minute canning line, we can all expect to see a heck of a lot more Big Spruce beer in the near future! Look for everything to be completed sometime in March, 2017.
• Let’s stick with Big Spruce for a while longer, as they have some new and returning beers on the horizon. In new beers are two collaboration kettle-soured ales, similar to their popular Silver Tart. Both Certified Organic Berliner Weisse/American Sours, soured with the BS in-house Lactobacillus culture, they’re made up of a grist of 50% Pilsner and 50% Wheat malt. One was brewed with Tatamagouche Brewing and will be conditioned on organic ground cherries from Taproot Farms, while the other beer, brewed with Boxing Rock, will feature organic blueberries from North of Nuttby Farm (the blueberry Berliner Weisse is based on a beer brewed by our own acbbshawn). We’ll have more details on the release dates of these beers as they near completion, and if either of them will be packaged outside of kegs.
• And in even more Big Spruce news, they have released I’m Wit Chris Lemon Ginger Wit this week. This local twist on a Belgian Wit features 6.5 kilograms of locally-grown ginger from Jody Nelson’s LocalMotive Farm and Tim & Estelle Levangie’s Thyme for Ewe Farm. The brew is further spruced up with the zest of 80 lemons, completing the beer with a great citrus aroma, and both a bite and pleasant aroma from the ginger. First available in 2015 as Cold Remedy, accbchris wrote about his experience assisting with the scale-up of his recipe previously. Grab it on tap at the brewery, and around HRM this weekend. And remember to drop by the brewery this weekend for The Big Pig Roast!
• Moncton’s Bore City is releasing a hoppy Wheat Ale, I’d Radler Not. With a grist comprised of ~40% Wheat malt, the beer was hopped with Equinox, Hallertau Blanc, and Vic Secret, giving a big blast of tropical fruit in the aroma and flavours. Described by the brewery as “juicy, light, and refreshing, yet well-balanced”, it comes in at 5.2% ABV and 44 IBUs. Don’t be fooled by the name, there’s no juice or soda in this one! Kegs have been sent to both Marky’s Laundromat and the Tide & Boar in the city.
• Halifax (and Dartmouth’s) North Brewing is releasing a very special beer today at noon. They have taken a funky path with their Glenora Barrel Aged Strong Dark Belgian: they pitched Brettanomyces from Escarpment Labs into one of their Glenora barrels, and allowed their SDB to re-ferment and age in the barrel for seven months over the winter. After a further two month conditioning, the beer is now ready for the public. Both the Brett and barrel aging add their own notes of leather, vanilla, cherry and oak to the already complex 10.5% ABV dark Belgian brew. With the higher ABV and bottle conditioning component, this beer will continue to develop over the months and years to come, so it is certainly advisable to pick up a few bottles. Due to the limited numbers, only one barrel (less than 20 cases), there is a 12-bottle limit per person.
• Two new beers hit the taps at Rockbottom Brewpub this week with a bit of a yin and yang feel that celebrates both the end of the summer and the approaching fall. The first, dubbed Fuzzy Pucker, is an American sour fermented on the last of the summer fruits, peaches. The aroma features stewed peach and pie crust with a touch of floral esters. At only 4 IBUs and carrying 5% ABV, it’s tart on the palate with a drying acidic finish; definitely a late summer sipper. On the other side of the coin, reminding us that cooler weather is just around the corner, the Baltic Porter is a rich, multilayered, lagered beer in the tradition of the Baltic states of Europe. Strong, dark and roasty, with featured flavors of sweet malt, liquorice, and dried fruit, this complex 8% ABV brew comes in at 30 IBU and is a sipper of a different sort. Both beers are available at the pub, either to sit and drink or in growlers to take home.
• Last Friday, Big Tide released Barrelled Life, their first Barleywine. After being brewed on the Big Tide system, the beer was barrel-aged for 6 months by Dunhams Run winery, out of Kingston, NB. According to the brewery, the beer was aged in a Frontenac Reserve barrel, and blended with Black Mamba, a mead made by Dunhams Run. The resulting product is a “silky smooth”, 10.5% ABV monster of a beverage. Available at the brewpub for 12 oz pours only, once it’s gone, it’s gone, so hurry down for a pour!
• Wayfarers’ Ale Society has a new beer on tap, One-Eyed River Hog IPA. Featuring a larger malt bill than their EPA, it likely falls in the English IPA category, described by the brewery as having “some wonderful hoppy overtones, with a big body and a little bit of sweetness in the finish”. Brewed as a special-release small batch, this 6.2% ABV beer won’t be brewed again until sometime in November.
• Bad Apple Brewhouse has a brand new beer out this week. Primal Wit is a 5.7% Witbier, featuring kaffir lime leaves, Lemongrass, Star Anise, and Ginger, for an Asian-inspired twist on this Belgian style. Bright citrus, light licorice, and ginger lend a savoury theme to this brew. Brewed exclusively for Halifax’s Primal Kitchen, it’s on tap there now, as well as at the brewery in Somerset. Also look out for BA’s Mosaic DIPA, the 8.0% ABV Double IPA featuring loads of Mosaic hops, available at better bars in Halifax now. They recently brewed their APA (American Pale Ale) with a high portion of the grist with Horton Ridge Malt, and the upcoming brew of their Russian Imperial Stout will also feature a healthy dose of the locally-malted grain in the malt bill. And Operation Green Ring, the collaboration with Delta Force Brewery will be brewed on the weekend, featuring loads of cucumbers and fresh mint on top of an American Wheat base.
• Schoolhouse Brewery allowed visitors a sneak peek at their new brewery and retail location yesterday, as part of their new monthly Growler Night. Open the first Thursday of the month at their new 40 Water St location in Windsor, customers can purchase growlers of their beer, as well as merchandise, and track their progress as they work towards the opening of their location in December. For now, these nights will replace their delivery schedule, as they work tirelessly towards that opening. Keep an eye on their Instagram feed for the latest developments! And there is still a bit of their collaboration with Good Robot, Skratch Plaskett, a 5.8% ABV Pale Ale, brewed for the Evolve Festival.
• Annapolis Cider has released the latest entry in their Something Different series of ciders, Citrus and Plum. This unfiltered cider features fresh-pressed juice from Golden Plums that were grown just down the road from the cidery. In addition, a small batch of dry cider was added, that had been infused with the zest of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, giving the final product a “mouth-puckering zing, and a cleansing finish”. Note that this 6.1% ABV cider contains the first apples from the 2016 harvest, including fresh-pressed juice from three different varieties: Vista Bella, Close, and Jersey Mac. Available only at the cidery in Wolfville, don’t expect this one to last long (especially with the return of Acadia students!). And as with all of their Something Different blends, a portion will be going to a local group. This batch’s beneficiary is The Flower Cart, empowering local adults with intellectual disabilities through vocational training and job placement assistance.
• This week saw Good Robot bringing out another stylistic mashup that reminds us once again where they stand on the East Coast/West Coast beef. Ol’ Scurvy Bastard, a Marga-RZA and/or Dirt McGirtarita Ale sees an ultimately Belgian style, Witbier, that was brewed with coriander and fermented with the St-Remy Abbey strain from Escarpment Labs, then a-salted Leipzig-style like a Gose, peppered with Japanese Sorachi Ace hops to the tune of 14 IBUs, and finally smacked down with lime zest. Pale gold in colour and hazy with a white head, you’ll find aromas of lemon and lime, vanilla, honey and agave with floral and briny hints. On the palate you’ll be tasting those same citrus and sweet notes along with the salt. Both mildly tart and a touch boozy, it’s 6.2% ABV and carbed right up for a crispness that accentuates the acidity. Protect ya neck!
• Mill Street St John’s has released their latest brew, Jigger’s Delight California Common. This 5.7% ABV, 18 IBU hybrid beer uses lager yeast fermented a little bit warmer, allowing some of the aromatics of ale yeast to shine through, while maintaining a smooth finish. Notes of grain and a light honey sweetness sit upon a medium body with toast and caramel flavours. The beer is available on tap now, and will rotate into their growler bar when possible. Mill Street is currently recruiting a Head Brewer for this location, as current Head Brewer Alexis Wagner is heading to the UK to complete her Masters. Click the St. John’s tab here for more information.
• It’s that time of year again – Hop Harvest! Several breweries in our region have wasted no time, and have brewed (or will very shortly) Wet (aka Fresh Hop) beers with locally-grown hops. While hops are usually dried, and possibly pelletized before use to help extend their storage, wet hops can be used immediately after picking, for an extra aromatic blast fresh from the plant.
Big Spruce rounds up plenty of community hop pickers for assistance in harvesting the aromatic varietals grown on their property. Last year they released their wet-hopped Craig Goes Yard; no word on what exactly they have planned for this year’s harvest, but we can definitely expect the style to be another IPA.
Meander River will be brewing several batches of their Home Grown Ale, thanks to the bountiful harvest of eight different hop varietals grown right at the brewery, as well as some grown in a test hopyard in Aylesford.
Schoolhouse Brewery grabbed some 70kg of hops from a local family farm, some of which will be used in a soon-to-be-brewed beer; the rest will be dried for later brews.
Sea Level has been brewing a wet-hopped beer for years; this year, they’ve brewed up a new one, Indigenous Pale Ale (5% ABV). Featuring freshly-harvested Cascade grown on-site, and organically-grown malt from Horton Ridge, it should be available in kegs and cans by mid-September.
Uncle Leo’s brewed their 2nd Annual Harvest Ale with hops from Bramble Hill Farm and malt from Horton Ridge Malt and Grain. Look for it in a couple of weeks; it went fast last year, so watch for updates!
And the fun isn’t only in Nova Scotia – New Brunswick brewery Picaroons will be continuing their Harvest Ale series; we’ll have more details on that series of beer, soon.
• The NSLC released their First Quarter Results this week, and the sales of NS Craft Beer continue to show great growth, rising by almost 50% over last year’s Q1, while overall beer sales grew by only 9.6%. Any concern that the number of small local producers has reached saturation is far from true, as they still only account for less than 4% of the entire beer sales in the province. Massive growth in NS-produced cider continues as well, clocking in at over 80%, still accounting only a small percentage of the overall “Ready-to-Drink” market. The full report can be read here.
There’s a few events coming up that we’d like to mention before signing off:
• The 2016 PEI Beer Festival is being held this weekend at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown. There are three sessions: Friday and Saturday, 6:30-9:30, and Saturday 2-4:30. Featuring a wide variety of the PEILCC‘s regular offerings, there will also be some special casks from PEI Brewing Company, as well as new beers from visiting breweries Boxing Rock, Collective Arts, and Propeller. Check out the beer and brewery list here, and grab your tickets online or at the door ($50 for tonight’s session, $40 for tomorrow afternoon’s, Saturday evening session is sold out).
• The Falmouth TrALE Run is scheduled for October 1st. Featuring a challenging 5km route through the woods at Castle Frederick Farms, water stations along the way are amped up with beer from nearby Schoolhouse Brewing. The event will not be timed, so enjoy the view and the beer while you make your way along the route. Your $40 ticket includes beer samples and a souvenir glass. All proceeds from the event are going to support West Hants Ground Search and Rescue, and you can pledge more through the online registration.
• Port Hawkesbury will once again be hosting the Celtic Oktoberfest on October 22nd. An all-inclusive event with live music, food, wine and beer, this is the third year for this great event. Featuring products by Authentic Seacoast, Big Spruce, Boxing Rock, Breton, Eileanan Breagha Vineyards, Garrison, Hell Bay, Spindrift, Tatamagouche, and Uncle Leo’s. Check the website for the full food and music run-down, too!
Have a fantastic long weekend! Looks like some mighty decent weather to unofficially end the summer; be sure to enjoy it with your favourite craft beer(s)! And as usual, a few parting notes…
– Petit-Sault‘s 8.5% ABV Pumpkin Ale, Bonhomme Sept-heures, has been brewed and packaged for release this weekend. This year, however, a portion has been bottled; bottles will be available for purchase at the brewery only, along with growlers. It sold out quickly last year, so don’t wait! A few kegs may make it to licensees.
– Due to great response from customers, Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewery will be taking this weekend off, but will be open again next Saturday 10-2 for growler fills and merchandise sales, before their full launch mid-September.
– York County Cider has announced that their bottle distribution has increased, as several of their brands are now available in bottles at the ANBL on Mountain Road in Moncton.