So, ok, we’re a bit late today, but hey, Christmas IS only a few days away, and when you throw in work getting busier, staff parties being inconveniently scheduled for Thursday evenings, and just the general crap-storm that is preparing for the holidays, on top of a seemingly-extra large amount of brewery news/new beers, it’s tough! Ok, that’s enough wallowing in self pity for today. A note that this is the last Friday Wrap-Up for us this year, as we’ve decided to take a little break next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on our social media as we will be pushing out a Profile or two (fingers crossed!), as well as shorter blurbs as we learn of new releases to share. We’ll definitely have a full post Friday January 4th, as we begin our 8th (EIGHTH!!) year of bringing you the freshest beer news from across Atlantic Canada. Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Let’s start the news rolling this week with some fantastic news from the west coast of Newfoundland. Port au Port East is located on the outskirts of Stephenville, 2 hours from the Port aux Basques ferry terminal to the mainland. Located at 92-96 Main Street in Port au Port East is Secret Cove Brewing, which opened its doors yesterday for the first time. Operating a brewery and taproom in the former Viking Lounge location, they have four beers for enjoyment onsite and to take away in growlers: James Blonde 00709 Belgian Blonde, Malt Water Joys Brown, When in Stout Stout, and Hard Case in your Face DIPA. The brewery is open today and tomorrow 4 – 11 PM, with Sunday’s, and beyond’s, hours to be determined. Drop by to welcome the newest of your Island breweries to open, and we will share a full Profile with Secret Cove very soon! Congratulations Jason and Sheila! This marks the 5th brewery to open in Newfoundland in 2018, bringing the number across the Island to 13.
In other great news for breweries opening in our region, we mentioned a few weeks ago that Sussex Ale Works had opened their taproom on Main Street in Sussex. This week, for the first time, they have been able to serve their own house-made beers on tap and to go in growlers. Their first beer is Who’s Your Daddy Red Ale, a 6.8% Red Ale featuring 20 IBUs. It is complementing their all-New Brunswick offerings, including local Matchstick Beer Factory’s Matchstick Pale Ale, Long Bay’s Full Pleasure Passonfruit Sour, and several from Hammond River, Maybee, Niche, and Graystone, as well as Yip Cider. Look for more from Sussex Ale Work’s own 1 BBL (120 litre) brewhouse in the New Year, including their Holstein Milk Stout, and Picadilly Pale Ale. Congratulations Rick and family!
Back to the Rock for the next new beer to hit the taps, we’ve got Home and Away American Pale Ale from Landwash Brewery. Located in Mount Pearl, this is Landwash’s first release since their launch earlier this month. This 5.8% ABV American Pale Ale is a tribute to the iconic style which helped fuel the North American beer renaissance. Featuring loads of American Cascade and Citra hops, the aroma and palate are full of orange and grapefruit character, with bitterness to balance the malt. Home and Away is available on tap for pints and flights now, and for growlers to take away, along with their core lineup of beers.
Off Tracking Brewing in Bedford, Nova Scotia, is celebrating their First Anniversary this weekend, and are releasing a couple of new beers to celebrate, as well as a special collaboration with a brewing pal. First up is Charles in Charge, a hopped-up version of their 5.0% ABV Good Grief Charlie Brown Brown Ale, increasing the hopping rate to more than 50 IBU. They are also releasing Frank Citra-Natra, a 4.7% ABV American Pale Ale, featuring nothing but, you guessed it, Citra hops (to the tune of 40 IBU).
These two new Off Track beers are gracing the newly-expanded tap offerings, which now sits at 15, and also includes a few guest offerings. The latest collaboration-guest-hybrid beer to hit the chalkboard is the first from Sackville brewery Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse in several months, Funktown American Pale Ale. Brewed with OBB owner Keith Forbes at Off Track, this 5.1% ABV APA features loads of Centennial and Falconers Flight hops for a floral, lemon, and grapefruit character on the nose and flavour, with a light body and clean and dry finish. Grab a flight or pint, and then take a growler to go to enjoy in front of your holiday tree.
And in more Off Track news, they are keeping with the tradition of being open regular hours (Thursday through Sunday) during this holiday time, including next Monday and Tuesday (Christmas Eve and Christmas), 12 – 6 PM. If you need a break from the family, you’ll be sure to find some friends in the same boat there next Tuesday! They’ll also be open 12 – 6 PM on New Year’s Eve. And while you’re there, check out their new line of bottles, with their Crash Course IPA, Damn Skippy Peanut Butter Stout, Alias Pale Ale, Universal Soldier Kolsch, and Not About You ESB all available in singles or 4-packs.
The elves over at 2 Crows have been extra busy lately, as we’ve got three new beers to report this week, two of which will be hitting your mouth this weekend. The big release today at noon is Waltz, a 5.5% ABV, 22 IBUs German Pilsner. Brewed with 100% German Pilsner malt, no shortcuts were taken in brewing this one to style. Using de-aerated brewing water, a low oxygen brewing environment (don’t worry, no one passed out!), and a multi-step mash, let’s just say the brew day was a little longer than usual. Hopped with German varieties (Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc, and Saphir), it was then fermented with the classic German Lager strain, Weihenstephan, and then allowed to lager for more than 8 weeks. Sounds like the wait/hard work was worth it, with the final product being “beautifully crisp, doughy, with some lovely lemony and herbal notes”. The good news is there’s lots of this one, as it was a full 40 bbl batch, so you can find it on tap and in cans at 2C today, and it should also be hitting the local private stores soon.
You could always wait to head to 2 Crows tomorrow, when you’ll be able to grab one of the very few bottles of Razzle Dazzle, a “Champagne Brett Lager”. Brewed nine months ago with Pilsner malt and rice, the wort was hopped with Hallertau Blanc in the boil to just 12 IBUs. It was then fermented with the Weihenstephan strain, lagered for 7 weeks… and then that’s when things got a bit weird! They added glucoamylase and Brett C, and allowed the beer to condition for another 5 months, where it was finally packaged in 750 mL cork-and-caged bottles, with Champagne yeast. It’s tasting “super dry, crisp, and funky, with notes of pineapple, hay, and pear”. It finished at 6.1% ABV, and if you’d like to try it, get there when they open… there’s only about 90 bottles or so available, and there is a 2 bottle-per-person limit.
And finally, 2 Crows has got one more humdinger dropping next Saturday, and were kind enough to give us the inside scoop early on Biere de Champagne. Follow along with this one closely, it ain’t the simplest beer. Originally brewed over a year ago, in October, 2017, it started off as two beers: 1) a lower-ABV beer brewed with Pilsner and Oat malt, and fermented with TYB207 (a Brett brux strain), and 2) a high-ABV beer brewed with Pilsner malt and Nova Scotia honey, and fermented with Omega All The Bretts (that’s a blend of at least 10 Brett strains!), and Champagne yeast. After both beers fermented out, they were blended and bottled in Champagne bottles, and dosed with Champagne yeast and priming sugar, aiming for a carbonation of 6.8 vol CO2 (for those of you not in the know, that is a LOT of carbonation… your typical APA or IPA is likely somewhere around 2.5). Head brewer Jeremy Taylor can do a better job of explaining the next long process: “The bottles were conditioned horizontally for 2 months, then very gradually moved until they were sitting cap-down, riddling them every day or so over a period of many months. The beers were then chilled for several days, then the neck of the bottles was super chilled with dry ice; we removed the cap and shot out the yeast plug that had settled in the neck, then bottles were corked and caged.” Yikes! Sounds like it came out tasty, extremely effervescent (ya think?!) with “big honey notes, funky, cantaloupe, earthy”, 8.4% ABV. Releasing next Saturday (Dec 29) at 2C, there’s only 140 bottles available.
If you were a fan of Propeller’s recent one-off NEIPA, Galaxy (and we’re guessing those of you who tried it ARE fans of it, considering it’s currently the brewery’s highest-rated beer on Untappd), we’re sad to say that it is now sold out. On the upswing, they do have another once-a-one-off IPA returning, Skyrocket DIPA. Showcasing the experimental Skyrocket hop variety (related to Chinook) from the Gorst valley, it was originally brewed as a Gottingen small batch brew in January, and is now returning in cans. This 8% ABV beer is “intensely aromatic, with big, beautiful notes of mango, papaya, and pineapple”. Look for it at your nearest Propeller location! We should also mention that today’s cask release is Russian Imperial Stout, with smoked black tea, which gives the already-big-and-bold beer a “powerful smoky aroma and flavour”.
In Mahone Bay, NS, Saltbox Brewing has two releases for you this week. The first is a beer, Storm Surge, that they’re referring to as a “Maritime Ale”. They describe it as a 5.4% ABV brew that is “a prime example of a malt-forward beer, beautifully balanced by the subtle, spicy citrus of hops”. We’re guessing something along the lines of an American Pale Ale, perhaps? Either way, you’ll have to try it yourself to decide for sure; you can stop by and grab a growler right now. They’ve also just released a cider, Backyard Cider, which is made up of 100% Heirloom Gravenstein apples (grown locally in NS). Exhibiting “a balance of sweet and tart”, just like the apple that it came from, it finishes dry and crisp with floral notes. Also available in growlers, both Backyard Cider and Storm Surge should be making an appearance in cans in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned for that.⠀
With the changing of the seasons, Meander River is giving us a changing of the seasonals. The latest in their Farm Cider series is First Frost, which will be taking over from Fall’s offering, Dusty Road. Made from the freshest press of the year’s apple harvest, it’s a 5.5% ABV cider that’s citrusy, tart and juicy while being very dry. Scheduled for release on the first day of Winter (hey, that’s today!), you’ll be able to grab some this weekend at the Halifax Forum Farmers Market, and it will also go on tap at Tusket Falls, Stubborn Goat, Battery Park and Chain Yard.
Summerside, PEI’s Evermoore Brewing has a new offering that started pouring earlier this week. Called Smokey Double IPA it’s exactly what the name indicates, a double IPA with a touch of smokey character thanks to some smoked flaked barley in the grist. On the hop side, it features Brewer’s Gold, Hallertau Blanc, and Amarillo in the kettle during the boil before being hit with Simcoe and Tettnanger in the whirlpool. At 8% ABV and 60 IBU it’s a bigger beer and fairly bitter. You’ll find it at Evermoore’s taproom at 192 Water Street if you fancy a taste.
You may recall that in celebration of their 20th Anniversary last year, Garrison released XXX IPA, a Double IPA, for a brief run. They’ve just released a barrel-aged version of the same beer, where it spent 12 months in Glen Breton Rare Single Malt Whiskey barrels. They’re referring to this one as an Imperial IPA/American Barleywine hybrid, as it comes in at a whopping 11% ABV. If you’d like to decide for yourself, it’s available at the brewery only, in 650 mL bottles. They’ve also brought back their Imperial IPA in bottles and on tap at their retail store; this time around they’ve tweaked the recipe slightly, and hopped it with 100% Cascade.
Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing is keeping up with the new brews lately, as they’ve just released a DIPA, Golden Horse. Named after the Golden Horse Fountain located in the community of Milton, the beer was hopped heavily with a blend of three high alpha acid hops. Early, late, and dry hop additions contribute to high bitterness (130 calculated IBUs) and “plenty of dank, pine, and citrus flavours”. Hazy and alarmingly drinkable (even at 7.6% ABV), sneak into Heritage before the holidays for a pint/growler, and satisfy your hop urge!
Those crazy folks at Tidehouse must have found a sale on bottles, as this is the… I don’t even know how many consistent weeks of bottle releases they’ve had, and I certainly don’t have the time to check! It’s a lot. But hey, that means more take-home beer for all of us, right? And this week brings the release of Bonny Stormer, an Extra Special Bitter hopped with Progress and First Gold. Coming across as “a pinch earthy, with notes of sweet tangerine and orange”, it finishes fairly bitter (expected with this style), and comes in at 5% ABV. In addition to being available in bottles (limit 6/person) today at 2 pm, you can also find it on tap at Tidehouse.
It’s almost December 23rd, and you know that everyone in Newfoundland (well, the fun ones, anyway!) are gearing up for Tibb’s Eve on Sunday. Those characters at Port Rexton Brewing are no exception, of course, and have a couple of brand new beers to help you celebrate, just in time. First up is Tibb’s the Saison, a “Festive Saison” that was hopped with both French and Czech hop varieties, and fermented with the Fruit Bomb Saison yeast blend from Escarpment Labs. Containing both a Saison Saccharomyces strain and two Brettanomyces strains, the combination of the three ensures lots of tropical fruit character in the finished beer. This particular Saison features “gingerbread aromas and a light rye spice” and weighs in at 6.6% ABV. This was a small batch, and half of it is already resting peacefully in a grape brandy barrel; the current iteration can be found on tap at PR for their Tibb’s Eve party Sunday, and also at their St. John’s retail shop for growler fills today and tomorrow.
Next up from Port Rexton is Round Table, a nice, big, Bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout. Designed by head brewers Les and Chris shortly after trying some similar beers at the 2018 Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax, the oak character from the barrel comes through nicely, blending with the Bourbon found on the nose and palate, as well as some “dark chocolate-covered berry and coffee flavours”. Smooth and quite drinkable even at 8.8% ABV, the carbonation was purposely kept fairly low, and is best enjoyed served at a slightly-warmer temperature. This one is available in 500 mL bottles only, and was released yesterday evening with a limit of 2/person. Seek it out at both PR locations this weekend!
TrailWay has a new iteration of Beans coming out today when they open, with this batch being dosed with cocoa nibs and 250 lbs of cherry puree, to help complement the regular addition of freshly-roasted coffee beans from Whitney Coffee Company. The coffee character is prominent as usual, along with “rich and deep chocolate in the aroma, with a subtle, fruity, tart cherry component”. Available on tap and in cans at the brewery. They’ve also got fresh kegs and cans of one of their crowd-favourite American IPAs, Green Island (6% ABV).
One of the region’s newest cideries, Maritime Express in Kentville, NS, has a brand new cider available that features an ingredient better known for its use in beer. Train Hopper is made from 100% Annapolis Valley apples across four varieties: Cortland, Macintosh, Gravenstein and Spartan. To that base was added three types of hops, all sourced locally, to provide a decidedly citrusy and hoppy aroma. On the palate, look for grapefruit, floral and lemon notes that lead to a strong tart finish. Look for it at the cidery, both pouring from the taps and in bottles.
Antigonish’s Half Cocked Brewing is excited to have their first bottle release and they’re doing it in style with a big one. Tapped & Feathered is being called a “maple sap imperial stout,” as it was brewed using sap from Haveracres Maple Farm in nearby St. Joseph’s in place of water, a handy way to extract additional sugars from the mashing process and thus not lose significant efficiency on a big beer. Once fermented, the beer was aged for several months in a Glenora whiskey barrel. Coming in at a hefty 10.3% ABV, it features aromas of candied orange rind and dark chocolate, with flavors of figs, brown sugar, dark chocolate and vanilla. Expect it to be available at the brewery very soon; to find out exactly when check out their social media (Fb, Ig, Tw), where the release will be formally announced.
CAVOK in Dieppe, NB, has been doing some experimentation with their Stout. So far they’ve released salted caramel, cold-brewed coffee and peanut butter variations. These are small batches, each about 1 BBL, aimed at testing the flavourings and getting a feel for the appropriate levels. As such, they are only available by the pint in their taproom. All three are 4.9% ABV. Meanwhile, in terms of bigger batches, they’ve also got a light American lager on the go that they’re calling Joe Blow Lager. Crisp and refreshing, it’ll be a great beer for a holiday party and guests who might be looking for something a little lighter. At 4.5% ABV and very low bitterness, we think they might be onto something!
Boxing Rock continues to push out some new beers from the Test Kitchen location in Local Source Market on Agricola Street in Halifax. Late last week, they released the Blue Collar Blonde, a collaborative 5.0% ABV Kolsch brewed with the fine folks at Halifax’s HopYard, which debuted during last weekend’s YMCA fundraiser at the bar. It was deemed so popular that it will be brewed again very soon, this time at their big system in Shelburne, for a full release in the New Year. Out this week is another collaboration, this time with the crew from Canopy Creative, who came in and brewed Canopy Cane Chocolate Milk Stout, which features lactose, chocolate, and peppermint in the boil for the full Christmas experience. As with all of these releases, they are very small, so if you see something you like, best get there ASAP to grab it! And keep your eyes peeled for the re-release of their 4% ABV Winter Session Ale,
The Biggest Spruce Axe-worthy, brewed with spruce tips right in the boil.
If you manage to get away from the family in the couple of weeks, be sure to double check that your favourite brewery, bar, or watering hole is open, as many are adjusting their schedules over the course of the next two weeks. We’ve got a pair of events you’ll certainly want to check out if you’re in the area!
Moncton’s Tide and Boar Gastropub is hosting their annual Free Oyster Day today, with oyster shucking happening all day to complement your beer and food. As well, they’ve released a pair of new/returning favourites on tap, with a limited amount available to go in growlers: Herbies Coffee for Breakfast Stout, Special Blend IPA, and Melting Mountains IPA. Plus there may be a couple of bottles of their cellar-aged sour for you to take home! Details on their FB Event page.
Big Spruce is celebrating the release of their latest batch of One Hundred Wild next Saturday, December 29th, at Horton Ridge Malt & Grain. Obviously an important of this 100% Nova Scotia equation with grain/malt, hops, and yeast (isolated from a fruit tree on their property in Nyanza), Horton Ridge is the perfect place to host the event, and will have the beer flowing from 1 PM, with live music 3 – 5 PM, and 7 – 9 PM. Cans can also be pre-ordered for pickup the day before. More details on their FB page. And in more Big Spruce news, they’ve just announced that they will be a permanent part of the Halifax Seaport Market, beginning tomorrow, with bottles and growlers.
Stillwell Beer Bar in Halifax is once again holding their New Years Day Levee, when they will be opening their doors at noon January 1st, and will be pouring up a dozen special beers, holding super sales on many of their cellar bottle list, and a slew of hangover-curing brunch items to help you forget the night before. Pop by to see what they’re sharing to celebrate the beginning of 2019!
Just a couple more things to finish off the year, before you head out and grab that eggnog stout or nutmeg blonde…
Lazy Bear Brewing in Smiths Cove has bottled up a few of their beers, and now have the Norwegian Kviek Ale available at YHZ Airport’s Liquid Assets. Look for those to hit the shelves elsewhere in HRM soon. And keep an eye out at their market stall for their 10.1% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, available this weekend.
Niche Brewing in Hanwell has their Chromatic By Design Red IPA available again throughout New Brunswick. This 6.6% ABV beer features load of Ekunanot, Mosaic, and Citra, for a bold blast of tropical, dank, and citrus hops, with a touch of toffee and caramel flavours from the specialty malt. And hitting the taps next week is Wayfarer, their 6.0% ABV Sour IPA, featuring Centennial and El Dorado hops, for a lovely hybrid of sour and tropical.
Sea Level Brewing in Port Williams has released the latest version of their High Street Wee Heavy. This 6.3% ABV classic Scottish Ale is the first beer to feature barley and hops from their Millstone Harvest farm, the future site of their estate brewery, set to open next year. We hear that the next batch of their barley is actually being malted at Horton Ridge currently, for use in future Sea Level brews. High Street is available on tap at the Port Pub, and to go in cans and growlers today.
And finally, in a bit of humour around this Holiday time, St. John’s YellowBelly Brewery is looking for your unwanted/extra fruitcake! They’ll be brewing up a beer in the New Year, and would to use your un-loved fruitcake in the mash. With all of the sugars, and a little booze, that these divisive holiday baked goods contain, they are sure to lend plenty of character to the final beer. Check out this article for more information.