Wow, it’s December already! Time flies when there’s so much beer news to collect and share across our region! This week’s news is a mix of new and returning beers, some holiday-themed events, and hints of new breweries set to open in the New Year. Crack open that Advent Calendar beer or chocolate, and let’s dive right in.
• We lead off with lots of new beer news from Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing, who actually sent all this info in days ahead of the post going up (we’re still a bit dizzy with shock)! To start off, they have a new brew on tap at their tiny taproom, a Saison named Sylvan Specter. Featuring some noticeable malt flavours thanks to the use of Munich and Melanoiden malts in the grist on top of a base Pale malt, as well as some Wheat malt to boost the mouthfeel, this 4.9% ABV was hopped with Enigma and Saaz at the end of the boil, for “a blend of earthy, fruity, and herbal components”. Fermented with two Saison strains (Farmhouse Ale and French Saison), expect a very dry beer with some spicy phenolics, in addition to the flavours mentioned above.
• Continuing with the rest of the Tidehouse news, they have brewed three other new beers to celebrate the opening of new restaurant aFrite, which opens tomorrow at 1360 Lower Water St. in Halifax. They are the following, with each designed to pair with specific plates: Bishop’s Porter, a 6.2% ABV “Raspberry American Porter”, the raspberry presence is fairly light to pair with aFrite’s sous vide Side of Beef with Frites and Bernaise sauce; Salter Saison, a 5.4% ABV amber-coloured Saison hopped heavily with Perle and Tettnanger featuring lots of herbal notes, to pair with their Donair Gnocchi; and Morris Ale, a 5.3% ABV American Pale Ale hopped with Citra, with fresh lime zest also added, paired with Fried Cauliflower in curry sauce (featuring cilantro, cumin, ghee, and lemon).
• The crew at Port Rexton Brewing has had a busy fall, and are ready to unveil several new and returning beers this weekend. At this evening’s 12 Beers of Christmas in St. John’s (more details below), they are debuting Rewind Saison, which is a take on their previously-released Mixed Opportunity mixed-fermentation Saison. The Rewind, however, is fermented solely with Sacchromyces yeast (no Brett here), for a different profile. Light-to-medium in body, with a mild sweetness with herbal notes in the flavour, and fruity esters and spicy phenolics on the nose, the beer ends up at 5.5% ABV. If there’s any left after this evening’s event, it will be available tomorrow at the brewery. Speaking of which, for the next four Saturdays (Dec 2, 9, 16, and Tibb’s Eve), the brewery will be open 2-10PM for all of your sample, pint, and growler needs.
• Also available this weekend at the brewery will be a trio of their beers in cans, following their successful, and sold out, release of Blazing Sun NE-DIPA mid-November. Baycation Blonde, T-Rex Porter, and Chasing Sun NEIPA will all be available at opening, and the only spot to grab them is at the brewery.
• And debuting next Thursday, December 7, is a fundraising collaboration in support of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium. The beer was brewed with the folks from the Aquarium, as well as Motion Bay Brewing Company, opening next year in Petty Harbour, as well as the folks from Jack Axes. Oceans & Orchards is a truly Axe-perimental brew, as the base beer (grist of 2 Row, Oats, Honey, Vienna and a touch of Crystal 60 malts) features 50 litres of fresh-pressed apple juice courtesy of Newfoundland Cider Company (debuting their ciders in 2018 as well). The resultant 4.5% ABV graf (that is, beer/cider hybrid) features notes of honey and apple, enhanced by the El Dorado and Huell Melon dry hopping. O&O is debuting at the December 7th event at 7PM at Jack Axes on Water Street, for an evening of throwing axes and sipping on this and other beers, all while benefiting the new aquarium in PH. More details are available at the FB Event page.
• Ashdale Nova Scotia’s Meander River has a new cider available this weekend, in celebration of their expanded production space. Two 2,000 litre fermenters, and one brite tank, all dedicated to cider production, have been added to their brewery, so as not to inhibit their brewing pipeline, and increase their cider availability. The fermenters have already been filled, so stay tuned for those releases in the New Year. In the meantime, the latest release is Perry Noel, a 5.5% ABV perry cider, made with 100% Nova Scotia pears from Davison Farm in Falmouth. A light and dry cider (no back sweetening used), aromas of earthiness and tropical fruit are present on the nose. Available at the brewery today for growler fills, kegs have been delivered to bars and restaurants in Hants County and HRM, so keep an eye out as you make your way around the area.
• And you can learn even more about the brewing and cider plans if you listen to the latest episode of the 902 BrewCast, as the gents visited Alan and Brenda Bailey (and Angus) to learn about their farm, brewery, cider production, and plans for the future. The latest episode can be streamed directly at their site, or downloaded for offline enjoyment.
• Like clockwork, our pals at 2 Crows in Halifax have got a bunch of new beers to tickle your tastebuds this week and next, so let’s get you the details post-haste. Released earlier this week is their latest small batch brew, Shoreline. A 4.6% ABV Pale Ale, with a base of 2 Row and Oat malts, and hopped with Azacca and Huell Melon, before fermentation with a blend of a dozen different strains of Brettanomyces yeasts, before dry-hopping with Vic Secret, and a final keg conditioning with champagne yeast. Phew! The resultant beer is dry, funky, and fruity, with notes of guava, tangerine, and pineapple. As with all of these small batch brews (the Attempted Murder Series name still hasn’t caught on), this one is only available by the glass.
• Tomorrow, 2C is unleashing the latest of their full canned releases, brewed by Jeremy Taylor in collaboration with a fellow former-BC brewer, and current Manitoba brewery owner, Miguel Cloutier, of Kilter Brewing. Firmly in the Milkshake IPA territory, Hawaiian Ivory has a slew of light-coloured malts at its base, including Pilsner, Wheat, Oat, and Honey, along with the heavy dose of lactose and vanilla, iconic for the style. Playing up on the milkshake idea, bananas, dried coconut, lime zest, mango and pineapple purée were added in the boil and conditioning tank. The hops chosen are also quite fruity and tropical, with Azacca, Citra, Huell Melon, and Simcoe in the boil, with all but Huell Melon also added in a dry hop for another aromatic blast. Hawaiian Ivory will be available from opening at noon tomorrow, by the glass and can, and in a first, Kilter and 2 Crows fans in Manitoba will be able to purchase this collaboration in Winnipeg later this month.
• And in upcoming beer news, 2C’s Linnea Finnish Imperial Stout will be released next Wednesday, December 6th. Brewed in celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary Independence Day, the beer incorporates popular flavours from Finnish cuisine, including cardamom and salty liquorice. Taylor lived in Finland for a time, and his brother still lives in the country, raising a family. Linnea is named after Taylor’s niece. Using 95% Finnish-grown and -produced malt from Viking Malt (courtesy of local company Nordic Malz), it features Pale, Oats, Crystal, Chocolate Malts and Roast Barley, with molasses, to 9.1% ABV. Moderately hopped to 60 IBU with Columbus, and Golding (and a touch of Centennial for a light, bright, nose), it features additions of sea salt, liquorice root, star anise and cardamom pods. Drop by the brewery Wednesday to celebrate all things Finnish, and grab a pint to celebrate. And it may even be available to those outside of the province thanks to some holiday-themed boxes many folks have started opening today… Kippis!
• And we’re already behind schedule with today’s publishing, so we do not have time to tell you about the details on the next releases, but rest assured you’ll want to keep an eye out for their next canned release mid-month, as well as the beers they have cooked up for their First Anniversary in January.
• This weekend marks the third straight week of new releases from Stillwell Brewing, with the latest, Gosh, dropping first at Stillwell Beer Bar tomorrow, followed by a bottle release at the brewery on Sunday from 12-4. A pale Farmhouse Ale aged in a red wine barrel, Gosh is described as “bone-dry, with a tropical fruit fermentation character and grippy finish”. Dry-hopped with Mosaic to help boost that tropical fruit character, we’re sure this one will sell out as quickly as the last two, so show up early on Sunday!
• There’s two new beers coming out of TrailWay this week, with the first one being a new winter seasonal. Parallel is a “Session Ale” with a grain bill made up of 100% German Pale malt, and hopped entirely with Mosaic. The brewery describes it as “super-balanced”, with the hop-focus not being quite as strong as in many of their other beers. Indeed sessionable at just 4% ABV, expect a “rather subtle tropical fruitiness with a solid, crackery-malt profile”. It’s available on tap now around Fredericton, as well as in cans (both at the brewery and ANBL stores). The next beer, Good Times in the Fridge, is another hop bomb that released today at noon. A pale-coloured American IPA with minimal bitterness, it was hopped with Galaxy and Motueka. At 6% ABV, cans of this one are available at the brewery only.
• Now that Fredericton’s Bogtrotter is back to full-brewing mode, they’re releasing a brand new beer this week. Cranky Crab Coconut Porter is a 5% dark ale brewed with toasted coconut (added in the mash, boil, and secondary) and chocolate nibs. Also featuring hints of vanilla in the flavour (thanks to the addition of pure extract in secondary), it weighs in at 5% ABV and will soon be available on tap at the James Joyce and Cask and Kettle.
• Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden Road in Halifax has a new beer available, an American Wheat that was dosed with raspberries they’re calling Witty Pun. With his feet now firmly under him in RB’s cramped brewing quarters, brewer Ian Kean is starting to exert himself on the beer menu more and though it might not seem “seasonal” in November, this beer is certainly accessible, with a solid wheat presence underlying a lovely raspberry aroma and flavour. Clean American yeast yields an otherwise fairly dry finish to this 5.0% ABV beer, which also sports 12 IBU worth of balancing hop bitterness. As of yesterday, it was available for growler fills and pints at the pub.
• Good Robot released a new Alpha Brew, Steambot Willie, earlier this week. With a grist made up of Maris Otter, Amber malt, Carapils, Red X, and Rye, it was hopped with Mt. Hood, Perle, and Magnum to 32 IBUs, and dry-hopped with more Perle, and Tettnang. Fermented with a Mexican Lager yeast strain, think of this one as an Ale-Lager hybrid, similar in a way to a California Common. At 5.5% ABV, and described as an “earthy, malty Lager with a bitter finish”, it’s available on tap now at GR, and will likely pop up around the HRM. And for next Tuesday’s Beta Brew release, we have Alien From Next Door, an American Pale Ale brewed by Kelly C. and Lianne Lessard. Brewed with 2-row, Vienna, Red X and Crystal 30, Polaris was used for bittering (to 27 IBUs), with later hop additions including Galaxy and Willamette, and then a dry-hop with more Polaris. And finally, note that cans of GR’s Extra Big ASS Lager and bottles of Barrel-Aged Mississippi Goddamn can now be purchased at the Halifax private liquor stores.
• Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House in Lower Sackville continues to round out their line of easy-drinking beers with a light wheat ale they’re calling Orange American Bastard (we’ve no idea what, or who, that name could be referring to). Boasting orange peel, both sweet and bitter varieties, along with coriander, all added late in the boil for a Belgian flair, it was fermented (we think) on an American yeast for a clean ester profile. This 4.7% ABV beer is built on a base of wheat and pale malts with a little bit of Vienna for character. Crisp and clean with a nice mouthfeel, this is, according to brewer Keith Forbes, “a Summer beer heading into Winter.” It’s available now, but only on one of the guest taps at Good Robot on Robie Street in Halifax.
• Heritage Brewing has a follow-up to their popular Citra Session IPA, meaning if you like hops, you should have no problem with this one! White Sands Milkshake IPA was brewed with a “touch” of lactose and ample amounts of Ekuanot and Citra hops, giving lots of “fruity, citrusy, and tropical” aromas and flavours. Available now, it comes in at 6.7% ABV and 60 IBUs.
• Darmouth’s Nine Locks Brewing has announced that they have a new brewer working alongside Head Brewer Jake Saunders. Connor MacLeod is originally from Bridgewater, and has studied in the Certified Brewmaster course at the prestigious VLB Berlin. Previously working at Garrison Brewing in Halifax, he brings several years of experience of homebrewing and passion to his commercial work, which started in part thanks to his father, who is also a beer fan. Welcome aboard, Connor! And perhaps to celebrate their new arrival, 9L has brought back their Vanilla Porter, a 5.0% ABV porter with a touch of vanilla for a light sweetness and aromatic meld with the chocolate and dark malt character. Available in cans and growler fills at the brewery today!
• Last weekend was the party and announcement for the Sober Island Brewing Foraged Homebrew Competition, at the brewery in Sheet Harbour. From 15 entries, Andrew Deveaux’s entry Raspberry Beer Eh! took top honours. Brewed with 95% malt from Horton Ridge, Deveaux’s beer featured late-season raspberries foraged from his own backyard added to a Wheat Beer base. Congratulations to Deveaux, and we expect to see a full release of the winning beer once raspberries make their return next year. In the meantime, look for SIBC’s Winter Rye to debut this month.
• Last Sunday saw an excellent turnout at the Dartmouth location of the Wooden Monkey for the 5th Annual Big Spruce Homebrew Challenge. As announced back in September, this competition was wide open style-wise, as it was instead entered around the use of the “Pin Cherry #1” yeast strain harvested from the property of Big Spruce in Nyanza, Cape Breton. This yeast was identified to have somewhat of a Belgian character, in the Trappist vein of being somewhat spicy and phenolic, with a medium flocculation and attenuation. As organized by ACBB’s own Chris McDonald, 39 entries fermented on the yeast were evaluated and scored by 12 judges, with the assistance of 4 stewards, over the course of the afternoon, culminating in a Best of Show round where the 9 favorites were slowly winnowed down to a top 3 with an honorable mention. Top prize went to Justin Clarke’s Split Personality a North American Saison that was fermented with both the Big Spruce yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces strains before being aged on wood chips. The variety of beers entered was vast, with classic Belgian, North American and even English styles competing against more outré beers featuring additional ingredients as varied as lime zest and tomatillo, habanero peppers, pineapple and coconut, peach and sage, and applewood tea. There was even a mead entry from local meadmaker Nancy Hartling that was not able to be accepted into the competition but which was tasted at the gala and turned out very nicely. The overall quality, according to the judges, was top notch, especially considering the range of beers and the fact that not a single brewer had previously used the yeast. Congratulations to all those who entered, and especially those who placed, and many thanks to Jeremy and the team at Big Spruce, and all those involved in helping reach the result. Sláinte. We look forward to tasting Justin’s winning entry when a production batch is brewed sometime in the future. And don’t forget the Big Spruce tap takeover at Battery Park this coming Thursday, November 7th!
• The Murphy Hospitality Group – owners of the PEI Brewing Co. / Gahan House – have announced that they will be opening yet another Gahan House Restaurant & Brewery location, this time in downtown Fredericton. They have purchased Vault 29, a restaurant/bar at 426 Queen St., for the new brewpub, which will have a 120-seat dining room, oyster bar, two seasonal patios, and a 5 bbl (600 L) brewhouse onsite. The plan is for the brewpub to open sometime in the spring, making it the fifth Gahan location (Charlottetown, Halifax, Saint John, and soon-to-open Moncton). The full press-release can be read here.
• As we’ve mentioned previously, the ambitious “East Coast Crafted” was released earlier this week, and is available for purchase at book stores across the region, as well as many of the breweries featured in the book. Learning more about the 80+ breweries in our region, authors Christopher Reynolds and Whitney Moran interviews and visited many of these spots to speak face-to-face with those behind the breweries we talk about weekly. The book also features dozens of photographs by Jessica Emin. Don’t forget that the authors will be celebrating the book with a launch December 9th at Stillwell, with beers from all four Atlantic Provinces pouring, where you can meet the authors and many of the brewery folks featured in the book.
Another weekend full of events for you to enjoy across our region:
• As mentioned above, the 12 Beers of Christmas is taking place this evening in St. John’s. At Club One on New Gower, from 7:30PM, attendees will be greeted with a full glass of beer, plus tokens to enjoy samples of the other 11 onsite. In addition to the debut of Port Rexton’s Rewind, Mill Street YYT is debuting their Crooked Cow Latte Stout, and you will be able to enjoy many beers not otherwise available in the province (Big Spruce Cereal Killer, 2Crows Pollyanna, Upstreet Eighty Bob and White Noize, and Maybee Stone House Tripel. Check this page for the full list of what will be pouring. After you’ve tried them all, you can purchase more tokens for samples or full pours of your favourites. Grab your tickets now, dust off your ugly Christmas sweater, and head out for a party!
• Good news, thirsty Cape Bretoners! The 2nd Annual Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 2nd, at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still some general admission tickets available ($55 + tax, each), which gets you entry into the festival at 7-9:30 pm. A special glass and unlimited beer samples are included, and many local breweries will be on hand to pour their creations, and chat beer! Note that Designated Driver tickets ($15 + tax) are also still available; all tickets can be purchased from the event website above.
• Tidehouse Brewing is turning one, and are celebrating in style with a Tap Takeover at Tom’s Little Havana next Saturday, December 9th. All eight taps will be dedicated to Tidehouse, which they’ll be filling with some of their best beers brewed over the past year. The fun starts at 5 pm and will continue until close; stay tuned to their event page for a full taplist release next week.
• Christmas is just around the corner, with Boxing Day of course right behind it; if you’re in the Fredericton area, what better way to celebrate Boxing Day than a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover? Being held on Tuesday, December 26th at the King Street Ale House, there’ll be tons of BR beers pouring, starting at 5 pm. You can just show up and pay by the pint, but if you reserve your spot now for $15, you’ll get a flight of beer and a pound of wings. Sounds like a good deal to us! Tickets can be purchased on the event page.
And a couple more returning favourites this week:
– Following last week’s release of Midnight, their Glenora Distillery Barrel-aged Strong Dark Belgian beer, HRM’s North Brewing has teed up the non-barrel version. Dark Sky is available today in 650 mL bottles at both their Halifax and Dartmouth bottle shops.
– And down the road on Gottingen Street, Propeller has a new cask for us this evening, a version of their Double IPA dry hopped with Idaho 7 and Ekuanot hops. They’ll be cracking into that at 5 PM as usual.
– Red Rover has brought back their festive Jingleberry Cider, featuring additions of wild blueberry, cardamom, and nutmeg paired with notes of caramel, you’ll find it at the Ciderhouse and ANBL locations around the province.