It’s another weekend in Atlantic Canada and that means it’s time to bring you our weekly report on the regional craft beer scene. For those who might be a little disoriented from busy work, school, and/or social lives, or maybe those who availed themselves of the NSLC’s new product offerings, this weekend comes at the tail end of wet hop and pumpkin beer seasons, and somewhat on the cusp of darker seasonal season, with big ass ale and winter warmer season still several weeks out. And with that, here’s what new and news for craft beer lovers in NS, NB, PEI and NL this weekend!
PEI’s Moth Lane, located in Ellerslie, has been sitting on a beer that they’re particularly excited to share with all of you, and it’s finally available! Named after brewer Eric Wagner’s family’s bootlegging legacy, 3 Mile Limit (the minimum distance bootleggers had to be from shore to be out of reach of the jurisdiction of local authorities) is a barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout. This dark, roasty brew spent about 8 months in Bourbon barrels from Glenora Distillery, and a very limited supply of 1000 bottles is available (as of late last week). It’s a whopper of a beer, naturally, at 11% ABV and 40 IBUs, with flavours of “bourbon, cherry, oak, vanilla, coconut, chocolate, and coffee”. You can grab bottles directly at Moth Lane, or at the Summerside Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9AM-1PM. And new on tap at the brewery is Rolling Papers, coincidentally released on Wednesday for some reason ;). Pop by for a taste this weekend!
Not content to rest on the laurels of their triumphant tap takeover last Saturday in Halifax at Stillwell Beer Bar, Niche Brewing are back in Hanwell, NB, plotting the continuance of their campaign of world domination. This week manifested itself through a collaboration brewday with the fine folks from 2 Crows that we’ll no doubt be telling you about down the road (maybe a ways down the road; we’ve heard that’s going into barrels) and two new new releases. Up first is Constellation (which was actually released LAST week) that started as a Saison on the darker side of the style, which was soured with Lactobacillus before fermentation with a blend of Saison yeast strains (and, this being Niche, they pitched some Brettanomyces in there too halfway through because, well, why not?). The beer was then conditioned for a couple of weeks to let the flavors develop before black currant puree was added to the mix. The end result is a 4.7% ABV mix of various components, some roasty light chocolate from the malt, tartness from the souring, yeast character and, of course, black currant to top it off. The second new release made its debut at Stillwell but is now making its way to taps around New Brunswick. Mahalo is a 6.4% ABV IPA of the milkshake variety; it of course has a healthy, but not overpowering, hit of lactose and vanilla bean for an overall sweet impression and rounded mouthfeel. The fruit in this one is pineapple puree, which provides a soft acidity to balance the sweetness. And on top of that you’ve got hops. Lots of them. Centennial, Hallertau Blanc and Azacca added in copious quantities ensure that the “IPA” part of the style is well represented. Top it off with a solid but not distracting bitterness and you’ve got an excellent example of the style, complex and interesting, but not overwhelming. You can expect to find it making an appearance at King Street Alehouse, The Joyce, Isaac’s Way, Ducky’s, CAVOK Brewing Co., Cask & Kettle Irish Gastropub and the Saint John Ale House.
The folks behind Yellowbelly Brewery have decided to up the ante less than a year after opening a location at the St. John’s International Airport departures lounge. This time, they’re taking on a whole Cathedral! As reported by the CBC, they’ll be taking over the historic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Harbour Grace, which has lain dormant since 2014 with little hope of the diocese of Grand Falls being able to raise the estimated $9 million required to make it vital again. For Yellowbelly, this is a multi-year initiative that will see not only a brewery, but a tap room and restaurant, and eventually hotel and spa incorporated. Although that goal is no doubt a few years away, it could eventually mean employing as many as 100 people in the area as well as providing a new community venue in the town of some 3,000 people roughly an hour outside the city of St. John’s. We’ll certainly let you know how the brewery part of the proceedings progresses and when you can expect to have your first pint!
Looks like there’s another new bottle release from New Brunswick’s Valonray Brewing, happening this weekend. Tomorrow, from 9AM-5PM at the brewery, they’ll be selling bottles of Brett Belgian IPA, a 6.5% ABV which was bittered to 60 IBUs with Hallertau, further hopped with Mandarina Bavaria at flameout, and then dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc. The beer was fermented solely with Escarpment Labs’ Brett D strain. The final product has notes of tropical fruit and pineapple in the flavour, along with lemon, citrus, and white wine. This one won’t be for sale at ANBL stores for the time-being, so be sure to drop by Valonray in MacDougall Settlement if you want to give it a try.
We hope you had a chance to drop by Battery Park yesterday to take in the great 2 Crows tap takeover. As mentioned last week, there were several debuts on the board, including one brewed especially for the event. For those of you who missed out, may we suggest lunch on Ochterloney to check out the beers still available? And fear not, most of the newbies will see release at the brewery this weekend. Let’s get you up to date on those right now:
Second Situation (American IPA) – Similar to their recently-released Perfect Situation, the grist is the same (Golden Promise, Flaked Oats, Wheat, and Carafoam), and the beer was also fermented with London Fog yeast. This time around, however, the beer was hopped with Simcoe and Azacca in the hopback, and then dry-hopped twice with “stupid” (read: extremely high) amounts of Azacca, Huell Melon, and Citra. “Super lush, pillowy, and juicy, with huge mango, papaya, cantaloupe, and a touch of orchard fruit throughout”, it comes in at 6.1% ABV and 44 IBUs. Look for this one at the 2 Crows taproom on draught and in cans available tomorrow at noon.
Little Rodeo (Foedre-Aged Farmhouse Grisette) – Brewed with Pilsner, Rye, Spelt, Raw Wheat, and Aromatic malt, this brew was hopped in the boil with Calypso and Bramling Cross (to just 11 IBUs). Fermented in one of the brewery’s oak foedres with a blend of American Farmhouse yeasts (both Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces), it was allowed to condition further for several months, before finally being dry-hopped lightly with Loral and Nelson Sauvin. “Dry, earthy, refreshing and bright, and lightly herbal with notes of gooseberry and lemon zest”, it’s super-drinkable at just 4.6% ABV. Cans and pints of this one will also be available at 2C tomorrow at noon as well.
Phone Tag (Hoppy Kveik) – A collaboration brew with North Brewing, this one was brewed with a simple grist of Pilsner malt and Flaked Wheat, and fermented very warm with Omega Hothead Kveik yeast. Hopped and then dry-hopped (aggressively) with Vic Secret and Galaxy, it was keg-conditioned with Champagne yeast. You read that right – this one is draught-only, available today, and is exhibiting flavours of “overripe mango, passionfruit, and papaya”; 3.5% ABV, 14 IBUs.
Battery Marc (NE Table Beer) – Also draught-only from their pilot system, this is another collab brew, this time with Marc and Fred from Battery Park. The grist for this one is meant to build up the low ABV (just 2.9%!), with Pilsner, Flaked Oats, and Raw Wheat). Hopped at flameout with Enigma and Nelson Sauvin, it was fermented with London Fog and then dry-hopped twice, with more Enigma and Nelson. “Bright, lush, with big gooseberry, red currrant, Sauvingnon Blanc, and pinot grigio notes”. Keg #1 kicked last night, and you’ll have to keep an eye on Battery Park’s social media to grab pours from the second keg, date/time TBD.
There were also two more debuts last night, with just single kegs of each, which did not last very long into the evening. You haven’t missed out completely, however, as they will make their debut – in bottles – in about a month. We’ll hold off on the nitty gritty details until they’re released then, but we can tell you that they are Mellarium (a Sauvignon Blanc-barrel-aged sour w/ apricot, honeycomb, and saffron) and Blackberry Collins (a gin-barrel-aged with blackberries and lemon).
Today, Upstreet is releasing the latest in their Million Acres series with Million Acres Chardonnay Barrel-Aged IIPA with Belma. As always with these beers, the name may take awhile to say, but pretty much tells you what you’re getting! At 9% ABV and 40 IBUs, it has aromas of “strawberry, vanilla, and floral notes” with “a light strawberry, honey candy flavour”. The oak tannins from the barrel-aging complement the medium body of the beer; due to the beer’s nature, it’s meant to be consumed fresh. There’s a very limited amount of bottles available at the taproom and Craft Beer Corner, where it can also be found on tap for pints.
Elsewhere on PEI (specifically, Montague), Copper Bottom is now pouring their first new beer in a while (hey, they had a busy summer!). Ekuanot Sour is brewed along the same lines as their Citra Sour, which debuted last March. With a grist of mostly 2-row, and a bit of Acid malt and Flaked Barley, it was kettle-soured with a Lactobacillus pitch, before being fermented and then dry-hopped with, yep, Ekuanot. With a firm tartness, it has notes of “tangerine, papaya, and orange peel”, and weighs in at 5% ABV and 10 IBUs. It’s on tap only, right now at CB, for pints and growler fills.
The peeps at Port Rexton Brewing kindly have brewed a new beer for us, Pony Chops, an American Pale Ale that is a spin-off of sorts of their Horse Chops IPA. It’s got a lower ABV (4.9%) than it’s bigger brother, but features “familiar floral grapefruit flavours, and tropical, stone fruit aromas”, all thanks to the addition of lots of the lovely Mosaic hop variety. This one will be on tap only at the PR taproom (for pints and growlers), as well as their retail shop in St. John’s this weekend (now open Thursday evenings 5-8PM, Friday 12-7PM, and Saturday 12-6PM). And they announced this week that for the first time, the taproom will remain open throughout the winter! Open daily from now until November 4th, the hours will adjust to open Friday and Saturday evenings, 4-10PM.
Might as well hang around Newfoundland, as Bootleg Brew Co. has just released their newest beer, Nightman, a 5.8% ABV Black IPA. Hopped with Amarillo and Mosaic (to about 60 IBUs), this dark-coloured brew has “aromas of tangerine, orange, and pomegranate”, with a moderate bitterness in the finish that “slowly fades into dark chocolate”. Full-bodied and perfect to sip now that the temperatures are dropping, swing on by brewery taproom to give it a taste!
And on to Quidi Vidi, who are giving us a special sneak peek of a new beer that won’t see wide release until mid-November. Cappucino Stout is, as you may have expected, a Stout with coffee; incorporating roasted grain in the grist, lactose powder was added in the boil to boost the mouthfeel and provide some balancing sweetness. Coffee was added after fermentation was complete, with the final 6.5% ABV beer smelling of “sweet cream and nutty dark roast, with earthy, hazelnut flavours and lingering coffee notes”. Mild carbonation helps increase the creamy mouthfeel. It’s available right now at the brewery for a limited time on tap for pours and growler fills; again, look for it to return next month.
In Good Robot news, we have the details on their release Beta Brewsday (aka Tuesday small batch, brewery and 1L growler-only) release. My Rituals is a beer dreamed up by GRBC’s neighbour Lianne Lessard with FemmeBot Extraordinaire Kelly. This is the first sour mash from Good Robot, and it turned out a treat! Yellow plums were added to the brew, for some lovely fruit character, and its own tart character, enhancing the overall experience. Described as “comforting and enlivening, like a brisk walk in crisp autumn air with the promise of warmth at home”, grab a pint of this 4.6% ABV brew early next week when it debuts. And then drop by again later in the week for the release of Creature Feature I, another in the series of their bio-transformation IPAs. This technique of hopping during active fermentation, with the yeast altering the terpene and other flavour compounds in the hops. For this beer, Amarillo, Citra, and Cascade were used in serious quantities, with notes of mago, peach, and pineapple shining through. This 6.4% ABV beer will see wider distribution late next week, so keep an eye out at your favourite bar or restaurant for it as well.
Pump House has brewed up a new beer in support of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve, and it’s available on tap right now at their locations in Moncton. Fundy Forager Sage & Elderberry Ale includes the addition of, yes, sage and elderberries, both of which that were locally sourced in the Biosphere. Subtle hints of both are noticeable in the brew. The beer is available on tap at the Brewpub on Orange Lane, as well as at the Pump House Fill Station on Mill Road, where it is also available for Growler and Crowler fills.
And a few more beer releases to round out today’s news…
Fredericton’s Grimross Brewing has debuted a new beer this past week, the latest in their rotating smaller releases. Scratch 12: Hop Blonde is a hoppy hybrid of German and North American engineering, with the former lending malt to build the base to 6.0% ABV, while juicy American hops top it off, with notes of citrus, lime, and tropical fruit. On tap, and in a limited number of cans, grab it today before it disappears. And as a public service announcement, cans of their Maritime Black IPA have hit the shelves, and are sure to sell out quickly, so be sure to grab those this weekend.
What incredible timing! With a bit of snow blowing around, and the temperature dipping below freezing, Halifax’s North Brewing has brought back their sweet and flavourful pastry stout, Twinkle Pony Tiramisu Stout. Using actual lady finger cookies in addition to Chocolate malt, lactose, and vanilla cold brew coffee from Manual Co (Ardi beans ℅ Java Blend), the beer weighs in at a robust 7.0% ABV. With single and 4-packs of cans available now at their two retail locations, kegs will also be distributed to better beer bars in the region.
Winning the prize for, “Sending us stuff at (literally) the 11th hour,” this week is Garrison, who are planning to release a new stout tomorrow. Using a classic grist of 2-row, Munich, Oats, Crystal, and then Roasted Barley for that deep dark color that the style requires, the beer was hopped in a decidedly modern way with Mandarina Bavaria and Cascade. Differentiating itself from other stouts in the local market with a fuller-body, and bringing a truly dark beer back to Garrison’s portfolio, look for flavors of strong coffee and dark fruit in this 6.0% ABV and 38 IBU beer.