Good afternoon, and welcome to another weekend! Lots of beer news to dive into this week, as per usual, but let’s start off with the announcement of another new brewery opening in PEI later this year…
• Copper Bottom Brewing has been announced to open in Montague, a town located on the eastern end of the Island. Owned by husband and wife team Ken Spears and Ashley Condon, the 10 bbl (~1100 L) DME system will be housed in the town’s Eastern Graphic building. Ken has been homebrewing for years on a self-built pilot system at the couple’s home in Sturgeon (just outside Montague), where he has been testing many batches of beer in order to perfect them for commercial production. Details on what types of beers the brewery will be releasing are being kept secret for now, but we do know that the location will also house a taproom for both pint and growler sales, as well as plenty of live music events. Kegs will also be sent to licensees across PEI, with cans following sometime after the initial launch. Copper Bottom should be open sometime this coming summer; we’ll have a full Q&A with Ashley and Ken next week!
• Speaking of Montague, back in May we reported that local businessman David McGuire was planning on opening a brewery in 2017. We’ve recently confirmed that those plans still exist, with Montague Brewing Co. (formerly announced as Beer Island Brewery) slated to launch by late summer. McGuire has recruited a “proper Bavarian brewmaster” for the 15 bbl (1800 L) brewery, which will feature “German and Austrian style beer with a local twist”. As always, we’ll keep you updated!
• In more soon-to-open local brewery news, Half Cocked Brewing have teamed up with the nearby Townhouse Brewpub in Antigonish to release their first beer. X Marks the Spot is a collaborative Extra Pale Ale, finding itself firmly in between an American Pale Ale and India Pale Ale, in both alcohol, at 5.8%, and bitterness, 42 IBU. There’s only one way to try this single keg of beer, and that’s on tap at the Townhouse during a fundraiser for the local Montesorri School. The fun kicks off at 9pm Saturday, with three live acts: Former Ordinary Horse, Rebecca Wild and Jacob Buckley. A $15 suggested donation will get you in the door, more details are available here. We’ll have much more with the HC crew closer to their launch in spring.
• While we continue to patiently wait for Hammond River‘s expansion to be complete, owner/brewer Shane Steeves is still experimenting in his home-based brewery, as he just brewed up another batch of his Berliner Weisse. The first iteration, Paisley Park, featured the addition of fresh raspberries. The more recent batch – still brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malt, hopped to 4 IBUs, and kettle-soured with Lactobacillus bacteria – will be a blackberry version, so expect a black-blue colour to go along with the tart, blackberry flavours. Currently unnamed, expect this one to pop up on tap within 2-3 weeks.
• Down in Saint John, the newest brewery in town, Loyalist City, has announced a new series of beers that they hope will help their customers learn about new and interesting hop varieties and compare them to classic varietals, all well enjoying a fine ale. All Hop Series beers begin with a hop-forward sessionable IPA recipe that is designed to land at 5.5% ABV and 60 IBU. On Hop Series brew day two batches are made, each featuring a different hop, with additions at 15 minutes remaining in the boil, at flameout, and during a post-boil whirlpool. The batches are be fermented with the same yeast and under the same conditions, with two dry hops taking place along the way before cold crashing and kegging.
• The first two entries in the series will contrast what has been called the quintessential American aroma hop, Cascade, with a cutting edge variety developed over the past few years in New Zealand, Motueka. Cascade was bred in 1956, but not released to brewers until the 70s and has been the most produced hop in the USA over the past decade. It is the sole hop in Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale, considered by many to be the first post-prohibition IPA, released in 1975. It also features prominently in another American classic, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Cascade brings citrus and floral aromas, often with a significant grapefruit note. It is truly one of the hallmarks of the craft beer revolution in North America. Motueka, on the other hand, is a much newer hop, the result of New Zealand’s burgeoning hop breeding program which has produced some of the most unique hops in the world. Bred from the noble Czech variety Saaz Motueka exemplifies New World hop character with a mingling of crushed lemon and lime citrus flavours with a background tropical note. The Loyalist folks are hoping to have these first two entries in the series available as early as next week at Cask and Kettle; be sure to try them both so you can compare the difference hop variety can make to a beer!
• Halifax’s Tiniest Brewery That Can, Tidehouse Brewing, has released a bigger beer this week. Baltimax is a 6.8% ABV Baltic Porter, sporting a dark brown colour with orange highlights, thanks to a base of Munich malt with some Black malt, and enhanced by darker Crystal malts for dried fruit characteristics and Wheat malt for body and head retention. Named for the maximum dimensions of a ship that can traverse the Danish Straits in and out of the Baltic Sea, this was the fallback name after a Perfect Strangers-inspired name met with some harsh criticism. It is currently available for growler fills at their Salter Street location (one floor down from 2 Doors Down), and at the Seaport Farmers’ Market today and tomorrow (where they fill their own, and other clean growlers on demand), and will be on tap at next Thursday, February 9th‘s, Evolution Nano Tap Takeover at Battery Park, joined by Brightwood, Schoolhouse, and Sober Island.
• Boxing Rock has released Henry’s Cream Ale, a light, easy-drinking beer brewed with a grist made up with 100% malt (some Cream Ales are brewed with corn or other adjuncts). Hopped with both Noble and North American varieties, for a light bitterness and mild aroma, and weighs in at 5% ABV. Currently on tap at select locations in Nova Scotia, you can also find it in bottles and growlers at the brewery’s retail store, as well as their market locations and private liquor stores this weekend.
• Attention Home Brewers! Boxing Rock has announced details of the 2017 Black Box Challenge. Open to all amateur brewers in the province, this competition is unique, as it pits brewers against each other to come up with their beer recipe, but all starting from the same list of ingredients. There will be plenty of different hops, malts, and yeasts in the black box (you supply your own water), which you can mix and match (or leave out) to brew a beer worthy to take home the trophy. A blind judging will take place early March, with the top 6 brewers asked to make a short presentation on their beer, inspiration, and brew day on March 19th. Last year’s winning beer, Brian Harvey’s Where There’s Smoke was a dark ale featuring smoked malt and cinnamon. Get in your time machine to grab your entry last Saturday (ie, it is unfortunately sold out), and head to Stillwell to pick up your ingredients today.
• Dartmouth’s Downeast Beer Factory released a new beer late last week, Hibernation Russian Imperial Stout. At 8.5% ABV and 40 IBU, this is one beer that is sure to wake you up from a deep slumber. Featuring loads of roast malt for the iconic black colour, East Kent Golding was used for bittering, with a decent addition of Mosaic in the whirlpool for a blast of fruit aromatics. Also new on tap is Red Dawn, an Imperial Red Ale. The grist is made up up a significant portion of Red X malt, a German malt known for its iconic red colour and ability to be used as 100% of the malt bill. Cascade and El Dorado hops are featured in the boil, with a healthy dry-hopping of Falconers Flight for extra hops on the nose. The ABV is 7.0% and more than 100 IBU. Both beers are available on tap now, for both pints and growlers to go.
• For a few weeks now, the Annapolis Cider Company has been hinting at some big news and today is the day: Heirloom is their new signature cider and it will be available soon at both private liquor stores and the NSLC. This cider will be made from the juice of traditional apple varieties such as Gravenstein, Golden Russet and Northern Spy, fermented cool and then finished with freshly-pressed juice. The exact recipe will vary from batch to batch, with this initial offering having been back sweetened with the heritage variety Cox’s Orange Pippen developed in England in the early 19th century. It arrives at 8.1% ABV, with a golden hue and fresh apple aroma courtesy of the late juice. Although we don’t know exactly when it will appear for wider sale, you can get your fix right away if you visit the cidery on Main Street in Wolfville.
• In celebration of their 20th year in business, Garrison will be brewing up a series of collaboration beers, with the first one happening today. Using the original 18 hl (15 BBL) equipment from 20 years ago, at their location across from the Seaport Market, this first brew will include Good Robot, North, and Spindrift. No details on the beer have been released yet, but stay tuned for more info over the next few weeks!
• If you’re in Halifax, be sure to head over to Stillwell tomorrow, February 4th, for some treats on tap from Bad Apple Brewhouse. Three special kegs will be pouring: Smokeshow Imperial Rauchbier (brewed November, 2014; aged on cherrywood for one year; 11.2% ABV), Portified RIS (Black & Tackle aged on cherrywood and fortified with port; 11.5% ABV); and Barrel-Aged Black & Tackle RIS (brewed November, 2015; aged in a 12-year-old Glenora whiskey barrel; 11.6% ABV). They’ll also have some cask-conditioned Black & Tackle and Boxcutter, so make sure to drop by! And, uh, maybe don’t plan on driving, afterwards…
• Starting Monday, February 6th, Upstreet Craft Brewing is partnering with twelve Island restaurants for the Pogey Challenge. Visit one of the participating restaurants (listed here) and order a pint of the brewery’s Top Stamp Honey Brown Lager, and you’ll receive a stamp. Once you’ve collected five stamps (only one stamp per restaurant), you’ll be entered to win a $800 prize pack, which includes $600 in gift cards, a brewery tour and tasting for 10 people, and $100 in Upstreet swag! The contest will run for 3 weeks.
• With this year’s Fredericton Craft Beer Festival happening in just over a month, a couple of more events have been confirmed for the week leading up to the fest. Thursday, March 9th will feature a Nova Scotia Tap Takeover and Trivia Night, at the King Street Ale House. A grand total of 24 taps will be pouring, from a minimum of 10 different breweries. Your $25 ticket gets you a special glass to keep, plus ten 5 oz pours; of course, you’re free to purchases additional beers after that; it all starts at 5 pm. And beginning at 7 pm, there will be beer trivia, hosted be yours truly! Yes, Shawn and Chris are returning for the second straight year, after popular demand… to make the questions easier. We will. We promise. Remember how worthwhile it was last year though, with all those great brewery-swag prizes we gave out? There’ll be lots more of those! No charge for trivia, just show up for some fun, NS beers, and tomato throwing!
• Next is A Day of Beer Education (Friday, March 10th), an all-day event held at the Crowne Plaza downtown, presented by the CCNB. There will be three malt-focused lectures during the Morning Malt Sessions, followed by lunch (provided by the CCNB). The afternoon will consist of sessions on yeast and fermentation, beer off-flavours, and a panel discussion. Everyone will then move to the James Joyce for beer-drinking and… more discussion! Tickets are just $40 each, and can be purchased through the link above (which also has more information on each session). If you’re going to Saturday’s festival (and why wouldn’t you be?), you get $10 off your education ticket… just be sure to use the code FCBF17. And remember, there’s still afternoon tickets available for the big event on Saturday, March 11th.
A couple more beers to keep in your sights:
– It’s that time of year, or perhaps even a little early, for the reappearance of the Irish Red Ale from Propeller. If you make your way one of the two bottle shops this you’ll be able to buy this 5% ABV, 22 IBU beer in 650ml bottles with growler fills available either today or early next week.
– For the third year running, Tatamagouche Brewing has done up their Oyster Cloister oyster stout. This year it features malt from Horton Ridge in addition to 200 salty Malagash & Tatamagouche Bay oysters added during the boil.