Welcome to the first full weekend of fall in Atlantic Canada! As is usual for this time of year, wet-hopped beers brewed after harvest a few weeks ago are starting to appear, we’re seeing continued pumpkin ale encroachment, and Oktoberfest celebrations are going on. Meanwhile, there’s also lots of new releases that have nothing to do with fall, traditionally or otherwise. We note that we’re quite a bit earlier than usual with this week’s post; we suggest you don’t expect to get used to that!
Let’s start this week in Dartmouth with Brightwood Brewery. Now well-ensconced in their new digs on Portland Street, they’ve released a new beer that we think marks them as the only brewery in the region (at least in recent memory) to have released two beers in the California Common style. Described as an homage to surfing in Cow Bay, Minutes takes the healthy body and crisp finish traditional to the style and marries it to some white wine character courtesy of a dry hop with nouveau German hop variety Hallertau Blanc. At 5.5% ABV we suspect it will be an interesting contrast to the traditional European styles like Märzens and Festbiers that are prominent at this time of year. You can find it in the taproom for tasters, pints, and fills. Meanwhile, if you’ve been missing getting your Brightwood fix at the Alderney Market since they started their expansion project, we’ve got some great news for you: they’ll be back this coming Saturday for growler fills in their swank ceramic growlers (or, y’know, your tired and boring brown glass)!
On the other side of the bridges, in the Burnside Industrial Park, Spindrift has a couple things on the go. Of course one of them is the American Pale Ale currently being revealed slowly on social media with a contest, so that one will have to wait a week. The second is a little bit of yin to that one’s yang, an American Lager with 10 IBU and 5% ABV in a light-bodied beer with an “unpronounced bitterness” and a fairly high carbonation level. Made with a moderate percentage of adjuncts, namely rice and wheat, expect it to be very easy drinking, especially when served very cold. Called Toller, it will be available exclusively at Harvest, Rockhead, and West Side, in 8- and 24-packs of 355 mL cans. And after last night’s debut at the Hopyard Halifax takeover, you can start looking for their new DIPA, Hurricane Juan, in stores tomorrow, September 29th, on the 15th anniversary of its namesake storm.
Rothesay’s Long Bay has their first new beer out in some time, and it sounds like a beauty! Full Pleasure is the result of months of experimentation with sour beers; kettle-soured with Lactobacillus to a Baby Bear level of tartness (just right!), the wort was then fermented with the brewery’s house Belgian strain, and given an addition of passion fruit puree. Once complete, they dry-hopped it with two marvelous varieties, Galaxy and Mosaic, before packaging. With lots of fruity hop flavour, complemented by the tartness from the Lacto, it comes in at 5.5% ABV. Look for bottles and growlers to be found at the brewery now, as well as bottles and kegs at select ANBL stores and licensees over the next week.
Lawrencetown’s Lunn’s Mill has a new beer out this weekend that will help you harken back to summer even though fall has definitely arrived. A Berliner Weisse featuring rhubarb and raspberry, the recipe was developed by Lunn’s Mill partner and chef Chantelle Webb. Girl, Hold My Earrings has a pinky-orange color and a sparkling effervescent character to match with a tart Berliner character and sassy fruit presence. At 4.4% ABV and a measly 4 IBU, you’ll no doubt be able to slosh back a few of these before you find yourself entangled in a good old scrap. Only available at the taproom it will make its debut at Lunn’s Mill’s second annual Oktoberfest event this evening starting at 5:00 PM. A cover charge of $10 will get you a stein to drink out of (and take home, if you can manage it) and the chance to enjoy a special food menu and the four bands that will be playing on the patio. More information is available on their Facebook Event Page.
We told you about the hop harvests around the region a few weeks ago and it looks like Shelburne’s Boxing Rock have managed to be the first to bring their 2018 wet hopped offering to market (or at least the first one we heard about). Now in its sixth iteration, Many Hands has always been a collaboration beer between Boxing Rock and North Brewing in Halifax, and this year is no different. Released this past Wednesday, this year’s model is a Pale Ale brewed with organic malt from Horton Ridge Malt House and a pile of fresh hops from Wallace Ridge Hop Farm in Malagash, NS. Look for it to be a smooth and easy drinking ale with a malty base and floral and herbal hop notes. You can find it at the retail store in Shelburne and at Local Source, Harvest Wines and Bishops Cellar in the city, along with Liquid Assets at the Stanfield International Airport.
It’s another week chock-full of new beer and re-releases from Big Spruce, who isn’t showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. Beginning with the new beer, A Marzen Grace, which is released just in time for Oktoberfest celebrations across the world (have you ever known a country/city/town to refuse the chance to celebrate with beer?). Billed by Big Spruce as “100% classic and traditional”, it was brewed with all German malt, German hops, and German Lager yeast. Conditioned and lagered for a period of time, as the style calls for, it’s malty and crisp, and even at 6% ABV is meant to be consumed in healthy quantities, if you can! As for returning beers, put your drinking caps on, because there’s a few: Fake News!, a 5.6% APA hopped entirely with Idaho 7, and fermented with the Foggy London Ale strain; Tag! You’re It!, a fresh batch of the brewery’s immensely popular 6.5% ABV NEIPA, with a “hugely late” hop addition (we’re going to assume that means a huge addition, late) giving boatloads of tropical fruit character; and, in truly bittersweet fashion, the last run this season for The Silver Tart, easily one of the brewery’s biggest crowd-favourites, a 4% ABV kettle-soured beer conditioned on organic raspberries. It’ll most assuredly be back next year, but maybe stock up before it’s gone for 2018! And finally, cans of Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout are now more easily found, as NSLC stores finally have them in stock; you can even get it in New Brunswick, as select ANBL locations are also carrying the beer.
Charlottetown’s Upstreet Brewing has a new entry in their Neon Friday series of hoppy beers hitting the taps today. Brut IPA with Hallertau Blanc may have a matter-of-fact name, but it’s no plain-jane beer. Manifesting the new “Champagne” or “Brut” style of low-bitterness and extremely dry (minimal residual sugars) IPAs with high carbonation, this one was hopped with Hallertau Blanc, a modern hop variety known for imparting a white wine character along and notes of grapefruit and lemongrass. It’s 7.0% ABV and a paltry 5 IBU and you can find it on tap starting this afternoon at the Upstreet Taproom and at Craft Beer Corner, both for pints and for growler and crowler fills.
Robie Street in Halifax is home to Good Robot Brewing, which means it’s home to two new beers in the coming week, as per usual. The BetaBrewsday release (as always, scheduled for Tuesday at 4 PM), is called Bittersweet Cocoaphony, an ESB with a little verve in the form of cocoa powder added after fermentation. Formulated and brewed by Andrew Seth and Beta Baroness Kelly Costello, the grist was comprised of 2-row, Cara 30, Cara 120 and CaraAroma, while the hop side was a light dusting of classic UK Fuggles and its American descendant Willamette. Easy drinking at 4.5% ABV, even though it’s not too bitter at 25 IBU, we still suspect it will be extra special.
Meanwhile, from the Alpha system comes a collaboration brew done up just in time for the Halifax Pop Explosion! Lizard Queen was brewed in concert with Garrison and Gahan using flaked wheat, oats and barley along with good ol’ 2-row for a solid ale malt presence with enhanced mouthfeel. Hopped with some very big modern varieties, Simcoe, El Dorado, and an especially large dose of Mosaic, expect it to have a heavy tropical fruit presence and be danker than the air outside the Seahorse. Look for this very sessionable 4.5% ABV and 25 IBU beer to appear next Thursday, October 4th, as the city gets ready for HPX later in the month.
New Brunswick’s Picaroons is joining the Oktoberfest fun with a new beer they’re calling Oom Pah! Pah! Oktoberfest Ale. Amber in color, it’s a crisp ale with a bready character matched with earthy and floral hop notes that were kept on the subtle side no doubt to allow the malt shine. It hit the taps on Tuesday at the Picaroons Roundhouse and the Picaroons Brewtique in Fredericton, on Wednesday it showed up at the Picaroons General Store in Saint John, and look for it starting today at the 5 Kings Restaurant in St. Stephen. You’ll also be able to grab it at all ANBL locations as of tomorrow. We’ll warn you though, although it’s widely available, only one batch was made, so when it’s gone, it’s gone!
Chain Yard Urban Cidery in Halifax has a new and special treat on the go, a plum wine that they made with shiro plums harvested in Nova Scotia. Shiro is a sweet and juicy yellow variety that can often be harvested well before other plums are ready. Plummet saw Chain Yard taking the juice from these plums and doing both wild and Brettanomyces fermentations before dry-hopping the result. A “session” wine, it’s a very light 4.3% ABV with no sulfur dioxide and it’s still fermenting a little bit, which should mean a touch of sweetness is still there to be enjoyed. A very limited run is available by the pint only at the tap room on Agricola Street.
Bootleg Brewing in Corner Brook is displaying their Newfoundland sense of humor again this week with a new beer they’ve dubbed Tits Up. Also displaying their disregard for classic beer styles, they’re calling this one an Imperial Session IPA, which, as oxymoronic as it sounds, makes some sense in context. Extremely light in the body, and without the big bitterness you might expect from an IIPA, it prominently features big tropical fruit aromas. Meanwhile, it also prominently features a leg-wobbling 7.8% ABV. So while it drinks like a session ale, it packs the punch of an imperial. It’s been available on tap since last Friday. Be careful, though, the warning label on this one says, “if you start a day boil with this one you probably will end up Tits Up in da rhubarb.”
You may recall that in fall of 2017 Sober Island Brewing on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia hosted a homebrew contest that focused on locally-foraged ingredients. The winning beer in that competition was called Raspberry Beer, Eh! and it was entered by Andrew Deveaux. Like many homebrew comps, one of the prizes for the winner is the brewing of a commercial batch of the winning beer. Well they finally did that, and the result is available! A Raspberry Wheat Ale using 95% Horton Ridge Malt and local raspberries will be on tap this weekend for crowlers at the Alderney Market and Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers Market. Congratulations again to Andrew on his winning beer!
At Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing, the hops, they’re still a-flowin’, with two hoppy brew releases today. The first is a brand new beer, Almost Nuclear, an American IPA hopped with Mosaic T-45 pellets. Differing from their more commonly seen, less-concentrated T-90 pellets, the T-45s are supposed to give even more hop aroma and flavour. Looks like TrailWay is standing by that, describing the beer as “super fruity and tropical, with a big berry-like aroma”. Weighing in at 6.5% ABV, look for cans and pours of this one at the brewery at opening. The second beer is the latest re-release of Emerald, a 5% ABV New Zealand Pilsner. Fermented with a Czech Lager yeast strain, hopped with Southern Cross and Eureka, it also has an addition of fresh lime zest and lime juice, adding even more lime character to that from the hops. Cans and pints/growlers of this one at the brewery as well, starting today, with cans seeing distribution to ANBL stores next week, as well.
We thought maybe 2 Crows was taking it easy with new beers this week… ha, how foolish we were to let our guards down! Sometimes we suspect maybe they’re just doing this to make us work harder. ANYhoo, of course they have two new beers, so let’s get to it. First up is Dare to Dream, a dark Saison brewed with Vienna malt, Wheat, and a combination of crystal and roasted malts. Dark Belgian Candi sugar was added in the boil, as well as some Sterling and Bramling Cross hops (to 21 IBUs). A combination of spices – including coriander, orange peel, cardamom, lime leaf and black lime – were also added at the very end of the boil; the wort was then fermented at warm temperatures with 2C’s house Saison yeast. The end result is a beer with “dark fruit, prune, and plum notes, a smooth and full body, with moderate roast and a very subtle spice profile”, to go with the classic Saison fruit esters. It comes in at 5.4% ABV and will be available on tap and in cans at the brewery tomorrow, and at bars/restaurants in the HRM.
The other beer from 2C was brewed in collaboration with Kanata, ON’s Small Pony Barrel Works (did you get to have some of their beers at Stillwell in late May? Magnifique!). Thunderdome was brewed with Pilsner, Spelt, Oats, and Aromatic malt, and hopped in the boil with a small amount of aged East Kent Goldings. The wort was soured in stainless with Lactobacillus plantarum, and then transferred to one of 2C’s foedres (over fresh lime leaves on the way, to boot!). At this point, 2C added some of their funky house cultures, along with some house blends from Small Pony (now that’s collaboration!). After fermentation and conditioning in foedre for several months, the beer had an addition of lime leaves, before carbonation and packaging. The beer is tasting “assertively tart, bright, with a fun herbal/lime character and a touch of funk”. There will be cans of this one at 2C tomorrow as well, but the supply is limited to 25 cases, so best get in early and grab stock up on both beers!
Propeller has brought back their Pumpkin Ale (5% ABV) for the season, with this year’s release showing up in cans (473 mL), as well as in bottles (341 mL). With a slightly-tweaked recipe (the same spice blend was used, as well as pumpkin sourced from Howard Dill) to darken the brew slightly, you can still expect a pumpkin-y, spicy beer. Not stopping there, they’re also re-releasing Alpha Dog, a wet-hopped Pale Ale brewed in collaboration with Sea Level. Featuring locally-grown (from Fundy Hops) Galena, Willamette, and Cascade, this one will be draft only, so stop by one of the two Prop shops, or Sea Level if that’s closer to you, to grab a pint and/or growler.
As usual, there’s plenty of beer-related goings-on this weekend and beyond that we think you might be interested in:
If you’re in Halifax tomorrow afternoon and feel like letting your lederhosen down, consider heading down to the Stillwell Biergarten for their first (annual, hopefully) Oktoberfest event. With the turning of the season it may be one of your last chances to get a good outdoor downtown drink on in 2018. The cover charge is $7 paid in advance (available at Stillwell HQ on Barrington or at the Beergarden, weather permitting) or $10 at the door. They’ll have an Oompah band, proper steins to get sloppy with, and a German-inspired menu of snacks from Joe Martini for you to be München on (sorry, not sorry!). The tap list is all Euro-centric beers, with plenty of local entries, both brand new and well-established. Put your peepers on the menü below and plan your attack in advance:
- Tatamagouche – Dry-Hopped Lagerhosen (European-style Lager – 4.5% ABV – Tatamagouche, NS)
- Spindrift – Killick (Munich Helles – 4.7% ABV – Dartmouth, NS)
- Stillwell Brewing – Stilly Pils (Unfiltered Dry Hopped Pilsner – 5% ABV – Halifax, NS)
- Dieu Du Ciel! – Sentinelle (Kölsch – 5.2% ABV – Montréal, Quebec)
- Propeller – Pilsner (Unfiltered Pilsner – 4.8% ABV – Halifax, NS)
- Ritterguts – Urgose Märzen (Märzen-Gose w/ Hallertauer Perle, Taurus, Smoked sea salt, Swiss Stone Pine cones, and Ceylon Cinnamon – 6% ABV – Chemnitz, Germany)
- Boxing Rock – Märzen (Festbier – 5.4% ABV – Shelburne, NS)
- Big Spruce – A Märzen Grace (see above) (Festbier – 6% ABV – Nyanza, NS)
- Uncle Leo’s – Altbier (Altbier – 5.2% ABV – Lyon’s Brook, Nova Scotia)
- Revel Cider – Lime Apfelgose (Blended spontaneously fermented cider w/ Sea Salt, Coriander, & Lime – 6.5% ABV – Guelph, Ontario)
If you’re near Moncton and haven’t yet purchased tickets for the fourth annual Atlantic Canadian Craft Brew Fest, you may want to strongly consider grabbing some of the few that are remaining! Happening tomorrow, attendees lucky enough to buy their tickets early had the option of VIP or VVIP, which gets you in earlier, and an industry panel discussion and guided beer tasting, in the case of VVIP. But as mentioned, there are still regular tickets available, with doors opening at 7:30 pm. You’ll have 2.5 hours to sample beer, cider, and mead from over 40 local breweries, with food available for purchase as well. As in the past, proceeds will go to the United Way.
A reminder that the Guided Tasting with Stephen Beaumont is happening this Sunday, September 30th at Stillwell, and there are still a few tickets available for the first session, from 12-2 pm. Tickets are $46 (you can purchase through the event link) and include samples of some rare, world-class beers, all discussed with one of the foremost beer authors around. Beaumont will also have copies of his latest book for sale, which he will happily sign at the event.
The annual Garrison Oktoberfest is coming up on Saturday, October 6th. The all-day event starts at 11 am at 1149 Marginal Rd with plenty of food from Asado Wood Fired Grill, live Oompah music (starting at 2 pm) and, of course, beer! There will also be a free show later in the day featuring Dave Sampson. Feel free to bring the kids (and dogs!), and drop by to take part in the fun.
We hinted at it last week and this week it was confirmed. Fredericton’s Niche Brewing will be featured in a tap takeover at Stillwell on October 13th! Brewers Shawn Meek (hey, we know that guy!) and Rob Coombs will be on hand and feeling reaaaally social and ready to answer all your questions about their beers, their brewery, and their general philosophies of life. Look for the taplist to be posted as the date approaches along with news on the special menu items that will be coming out of the kitchen that afternoon. They’ve promised some favorites from their first 9 months of operation, some newer releases, and some one-offs brewed specifically for the event. We (well, the Aaron and Chris part of “we”) are pretty excited to finally be able to try some of the beers we’ve only been able to write about since Niche started producing beer. We expect we’re not alone amongst fans of great beer in the HRM in our excitement. Meanwhile, the spoiled folks of New Brunswick will continue to be spoiled by the return of Niche’s Single Origin this week. A coffee-infused milk stout, it’s got the usual lactose addition to provide sweetness, creaminess and mouthfeel to balance the bitterness and dark flavors of the coffee. Look for it to appear on tap over the next week or so at the King Street Alehouse, The Joyce, Graystone, and Isaac’s Way in Fredericton, and Pepper’s Pub in Saint John.
And, finally, a few more quick mentions before you get back to your Friday:
– Breton Brewing has their non-Pumpkin (!) seasonal back for fall, Celtic Colours Maple Lager (5.5% ABV); brewed with Acadian maple syrup, it’s available now in the Breton taproom for pints and growlers.
– There’s a new draught-only beer from Garrison this week, Pineapple Express. A Witbier with the addition of pineapple, you can find it at the brewery for pints and growlers, and it should be available on tap around Halifax in the near future.
– Looks like Dooflicker (5.3% ABV), a “Coconut Brown Sour” is pouring again at Roof Hound; drop by soon for pints, growlers, and 500 mL bottles, as supplies won’t last long.
– For those with supplies running low on their supply of lovely mixed-ferm concoctions from Stillwell Brewing, we’re afraid you’re going to have to ration what you’ve got for another week. Due to the Oktoberfest celebration mentioned above, there will be NO bottle sales this weekend on Gottingen Street. To make it up to us, though, they’ve promised a brand new release for next weekend. We’re sure we’ll have the details here next Friday.
– Our friends at Tidehouse have re-brewed their Big Bruiser, a 10% ABV DIPA hopped with cryo versions of Ekuanot and Simcoe. It’s available right now for pours at their taproom, as well as in bottles.
The Atlantic Canadian Craft Brew Fest has free food samples as well as packaged foods to buy and take home!