While it may not exactly look it today, we marked the end of Winter, and beginning of Spring, this week. Apparently no one told the meteorologists! Let’s hope these are the last throes of the white stuff for another 9 months, and the weather can turn a bit warmer, with all of those great local hop and grain crops beginning their journey up from the soil, and (eventually) into our glasses. Cheers!
• Yesterday, Lunn’s Mill introduced two new one-offs to their taproom line-up in Lawrencetown. The first is You Can Call Miel, a Saison brewed with Pilsner malt and hopped with Hallertau. When fermentation with French Saison yeast was about complete, they added some locally-produced honey from Sophie’s Bees to allow the beer to dry out even further. After a long aging period (3 months) the beer was finally packaged, exhibiting “delicate honey aromatics and a soft, funky finish” to go with it’s 7.5% ABV package. Next up is 2×4, the brewery’s 100th batch, and their first Double IPA. Incorporated in the grist was some Rye malt from Horton Ridge, to add just a touch of spiciness to the flavour. The beer was double-dry hopped with four different varieties – Azacca, Ekuanot, Huell Melon and Mandarina Bavaria – giving “bold notes of resin, orange pith, tropical fruit, and pine”. This is another big beer, at 8.6% ABV and 100+ IBUs, and both one-offs have very limited availability, with samples and pints only pouring at the taproom (no growlers, sorry). Those of you in Halifax just may see a keg or two pop up, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
• There’s a whole lot of Good Robot beer flowing at the brewery’s popular taproom on Robie St., with ten different brews pouring as we speak (read?)! And in new beer news, they’ve got one in Alpha, and one in Beta. Let’s start with Alpha, which is Into the Warmth, their latest collaboration with the gents behind the Sickboy Podcast. Falling loosely in the English IPA category, the grist is made up of Maris Otter and Flaked Barley, with a wide variety of hops (some not-so-traditional for an English IPA) being added, such as Belma, Centennial, and Fusion. Fermented with the classic London ESB yeast, it comes in at 6.1% ABV and approximately 60 IBUs; proceeds will benefit Out of the Cold, an emergency winter shelter in Halifax. In Beta news, The Mac was brewed with local homebrewer John MacPhail. Loosely (again?!) based on a White IPA, the beer was brewed with 2-row, Wheat malt, Flaked Corn, and a touch of Vienna, and hopped with El Dorado, Wai-Iti, Mandarina Bavaria, and Zythos. They also took the “why not?” approach for a change (it’s about time!) and threw in some orange peel and Grains of Paradise, and fermented the whole thing with California Ale yeast. Easy-drinking, dry, and crisp at 4.4% ABV and 60 IBUs.
• Fredericton’s TrailWay has their latest American IPA, Good Weather, hitting taps today. If you’re angered by the name, settle down, it could hit any day now, right? As for the beer, this is another of their pale-coloured, easy-drinking hoppy beers, with some candied melon notes thanks to the addition of one of the brewery’s favourite hop varieties, El Dorado. A new experimental variety, BRU-1, was also thrown in; this Yakima Valley hop has been reported to give characteristics of pineapple and stone fruit, with a bit of spice in the background. Now’s your chance to see for yourself, with cans and growlers of this 6.5% ABV IPA available at the brewery starting today.
• The fine gentlemen at Niche Brewing are bringing out yet another new beer this week, marking four weeks in a row (and six of the last seven!) for Niche beer releases. And if you consider there’s been at least one two-release week in there, they’re averaging at least one new beer a week over that span; we’re starting to think just maybe they had a collection of tried and tested recipes all ready to go when they opened last Fall… This week’s new one, Chromatic by Design is in the Red IPA style, a solid 6% IPA beer that’s dark amber and lightly hazy with some toffee and light caramel notes. The body is balanced by a big, juicy tropical presence brought by Citra, Equanot, and Mosaic. Look for it where you usually find Niche beers, at tap accounts in Fredericton and other New Brunswick environs, but occasionally in Nova Scotia (and PEI soon maybe?) as well.
• Down at the far end of the Valley in Annapolis Royal, small batch specialists Annapolis Brewing have two new beers on the go. The first, M*A*S*H Valley Pale Ale, is sort of named for the old TV show but really for the Mosaic, Amarillo, Simcoe and Horizon hops that went into brewing it. The 5.7% ABV beer sports 41 IBU with a grain bill of mostly 2-row accented by a bit of Maris Otter and some medium crystal. A big addition of Mosaic at flameout defines this beer, giving a hoppy jolt on the nose and palate. The other new beer is a Black IPA they’re calling Big Shot. Weighing in at a hefty 7.1% ABV and 60 IBU, it’s a heavy hitter with Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Cascade hops all bringing their own characters to the mix. The final hit, a dry hop of Amarillo, accentuates the hint of smoke. The team is confident enough in this beer that it’s been entered for judging in the Canadian Brewing Awards that will be hosted in Halifax in May.
• And not to be outdone, our downtown big city small batch brewery, Tidehouse, has two beers coming out this week as well. The first is an exclusive beer for Tidehouse’s regular tap account showcase, aFrite Restaurant, just in time to accompany their Apple Burger being served up for Halifax Burger Week. Belcher’s ESB was brewed with Maris Otter, Crystal Wheat and Flaked Corn with a touch of Pale Chocolate. Hops-wise, it’s flavoured with the American version of the classic British Fuggle strain, known as Willamette (for the river valley in Oregon in which it took hold) before fermentation with a blend of ester-y British yeast strains. We’re told that it’s “fruity, with a pleasant lightly roasty malt flavour” and that it comes in at a very quaffable 5.5% ABV. Also on the go is a second beer from Tidehouse in the Norwegian Farmhouse style. NORDWAVE is a simple beer, with only a base of 2-row pale malt, a touch of aromatic malt and Warrior hops creating a wort that was fermented by the Sigmund Voss Kveik strain. Super sessionable at 4.4% ABV, it’s got notes of sweet orange on a tart base with a hint of funkiness. This one’s available for tasters and fills at they #TinyTastyBeverageRoom on Salter Street.
• Trider’s has brought back one of their most popular beers, Maccan Maple, for the season. With fresh, Cumberland County maple sap replacing water in the brew process, the brewery describes this as an Amber Ale. A sweet-tasting Amber Ale, thanks in part to the addition of pure maple syrup during both fermentation and conditioning, it was hopped with English Fuggles to help complement the “intense earthiness” of the brew. Easy-drinking at just 5% ABV, they brewed twice as much this year compared to last, but it’s still expected to go fast. It’s available now in growlers and bottles, with some kegs being sent out to select tap accounts.
• The folks at Halifax’s 2 Crows brewing have a pair of releases set to launch tomorrow at their taproom. First teased at the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest earlier in the month, Maestro is set to make its full debut. This 4.0% ABV Gose was brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malts, along with a touch of raw wheat. Keeping in line with the tradition of the style, the hopping rate is very low, lightly dosed only in the mash tun. There were boil additions, however, consisting of sea salt and coriander. Transfered directly to one of their foedres (large volume wooden barrels), it was first soured with Lactobacillus Plantarum, and then further fermented with the “Amalgamaton” blend of Brettanomyces strains. After a few months of conditioning, allowing the Brett to express themselves, the beer is now ready for our enjoyment. Maestro will makes its debut tomorrow at noon, available on tap, and in cans to take home.
• 2C’s second beer release this weekend is a by-the-glass only release named Heartbreaker. At 5.2% ABV, this hoppy Brett beer features a malt bill of Pale malt, along with Flaked Oats and Barley. Hopped to 40 IBU with Belma, Citra, and Hallertau Blanc in the boil, it was dry-hopped with healthy dose (2kg/hl) of Galaxy and Simcoe before release. In between all of those hops, the fermentation profile was nothing to scoff at: First fermented with “Hothead” yeast from Omega Yeast Labs, and then conditioned for three months with “All The Bretts”. Originally destined for a canning run, the dry-hopping proved so aggressive that they lost more than anticipated to trub (hop matter), and decided to flip the script and release it on draught only, saving all of those hearts from being broken completely. Grab this tropical, funky, dank, yet dry brew from opening at noon tomorrow. And while you’re grabbing the two new releases, check out the pop-up restaurant, by friends Buttered Bliss, featuring several different grilled sandwiches on their menu.
• Annapolis Cider Company in Wolfville introduced their Cider Club to the general public earlier this week. Membership allows access to special releases selected by their cidermaker, Melanie Eelman, many in very limited quantity. Twice a year, there will be 6 different ciders made available, either exclusive to the Club, or a re-visit of previous “Something Different” releases. During those bottle pick-up events, a guided tasting of the ciders, as well as discussion and the sharing of ideas on what future releases may be. Open to members across the country, those unable to attend can have their bottles shipped to them. While the initial membership run has filled up, check out their page for further details and to sign up to the waitlist.
Just a few events to tell you about this week, so be sure and get out to support your local brewery and good beer bar!
• A reminder that tomorrow is Peche Mortel Day at Fredericton’s King Street Ale House, Halifax’s Stillwell, and Moncton’s Tide & Boar. Featuring a half-dozen different iterations of the Imperial Coffee Stout, including different coffee, hopping levels or alcohol content, there should be something for everyone looking for a solid pint of stout.
• Halifax’s Lion and Bright will be hosting a Boxing Rock Tap Takeover on March 29th, featuring eight different beers from the Shelburne brewery. While the taplist has not yet been released, we expect to see a wide variety of brew pouring, with the BR crew on hand to chat and share the latest news and views from the South Shore. Check the FB Event page for more details leading up to next Thursday.
• On March 31st, Stillwell is welcoming eight (*!) London breweries to their wall, the latest in their efforts to give the local good beers fans exposure to brews from around the world. New wave London breweries including Brixton, Canopy, and Partizan have sent over a slew of kegs for enjoyment from noon on Saturday, so be sure to drop by for a taste from across the pond. Check out the full brewery list here, with the taplist reveal expected next week.
• Due to overwhelming response, a second session of the St John’s BrewFest has been added. Coupling with the Saturday evening session is one from 6-10 PM Friday, April 20th, with all other details being the same. Your $30 ticket gets you in the door, your welcome beer and a couple of tokens to get you going on your next beer. Additional beers will require tokens, sold in books of ten. The beer list is still expanding, but take a gander at their site and Facebook for the latest updates.