We here at the ACBeerBlog do our best on a weekly basis to pump up the good things happening in our beer scene here in Atlantic Canada and generally try to do so in a way that is free of any bias. But sometimes things happen that bear comment and those comments cannot be made in the opinion-free vacuum that we generally try to inhabit. The recent controversy around the “Dirty Blonde” marketing from Nine Locks is one of those times. We would like to state unequivocally both as a blog and as three people who love this industry and the community that surrounds it, that we fully support all the folks who have brought this issue to light and who have stood up against misogyny and sexism. While only those involved know their own intentions with regards to the marketing campaign, we firmly believe that when folks speak up to say that they not only feel that it encourages and enables bad behavior, but have experienced it, that in turn those who are in a position to do something about it would do well to listen and, hopefully, act. We’re glad that the marketing campaign was changed. We’re disappointed that there are so many out there who feel that since they weren’t affected that nobody else was or since they didn’t care, nobody else should. We’re both flabbergasted and sad that this has led to “counter attacks” on the people and breweries who bravely took a stand on the issue. We know that our scene and the beer industry both locally and worldwide have a ways to go towards being inclusive and supportive of everyone. Nothing will get better if nobody says anything; we cannot improve if nobody listens when people speak up. A wise person once said, “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer.” People don’t get together to talk about beer, beer gets people together to talk. We’d like to think that means all people and that beer can be an enabler for social awareness and polite, but meaningful conversations, especially about difficult topics. We’re always happy to have a beer and chat with folks about how we feel about things; try us sometime.
ICYMI, Prince Edward Island is getting a little more beery today! Lone Oak Brewing is opening their taproom and retail space in Borden-Carleton at 4 PM this afternoon. Located at 103 Abegwait Blvd in the Gateway Village, you can make Lone Oak your first and last stop when visiting or venturing from the Island. We had a sneak peek of their space and chat with Spencer Gallant, so check out our Profile with Lone Oak Brewing now! And after tonight’s opening, keep an eye on their Social Media (Fb/Ig/Tw) for the taproom hours and where you may be able to find their beer beyond their doors. Congratulations again Lone Oak Team!
From one new Island Brewery to another, a reminder that Newfoundland’s newest brewery, Rough Waters Brewing, has opened their doors in Deer Lake. Located at 83 Wights Road (a stone’s throw from the junction of Trans Canada and Hwy 430), their beer is available at their retail spot by the bottle only, with their taproom opening in the spring. And for those with tickets to the Newfoundland Craft Beer Fest’s East Coast edition of the 12 Beers of Christmas, you’ll be able to enjoy their beer this weekend! And great news, there are still some available! Keep up to date with Rough Waters’ retail store hours via Instagram.
Let’s stick on the Rock for another new beer, and in fact a whole new world, from Port Rexton Brewing. Ever since co-owner and head brewer Alicia MacDonald was diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple of years ago, she has been searching, scheming, and doing trials with gluten-free grains and malts, to better serve other (former) beer drinkers in the same situation. After testing liquid malts of different gluten-free grains such sorgum and rice, the entire PRBC Brew Crew has lent their expertise in crafting their first gluten-free release. Aptly named Fox Island* Fog, it is a 4.3% ABV Hazy IPA made with gluten-free ingredients, including pale buckwheat and millet malts, as well as Vienna-style kilned millet, flaked oats, and flaked quinoa. With plenty of Citra, Simcoe, and Columbus added throughout, you’d never miss the gluten that has skipped this beer, with the orange and mango aroma layered on top of a piney bitterness up front. This release was brewed on their new Gluten-Free pilot system (ie, no gluten-containing malts have ever touched any of the equipment), and you can expect many more to come (we hear the next one will be decidedly darker!). Given then small batch size, Fox Island Fog is only available at the brewery (open today and tomorrow 4 PM – 10 PM) and their retail shop on Torbay Road in St. John’s from noon tomorrow.
* Fox Island is visible from Port Rexton Brewing’s taproom, features on their logo, and is not really an island! The best that folks can tell is that the name is a bastardization of Faux Island, as in False Island… The more you know!
If you happen to be in Halifax this weekend, be sure to drop by 2 Crows, where they’ll be releasing their latest barrel-aged beer, Bellini. This one is a blend, starting with some unhopped wort that was fermented warm with Ebbengarden Kveik, and dry-hopped during active fermentation with Citra. The beer was then blended with some sour barrel-aged beer and conditioned on 200 kg of peaches (Never Again, my ass!) for nine weeks. Before packaging, it blended once again, with a foedre sour beer to increase the tartness. It weighs in at just 4.7% ABV, and is tasting “bright, lightly tart, and peachy”. You can pick up some bottles at the brewery starting tomorrow. And stay a while and enjoy the grilled cheese and sandy (and hopefully donuts!) pop-up from 2C pals Buttered Bliss.
Back to Newfoundland, where St. John’s YellowBelly celebrated a big milestone – the release of their 1500th brew – last week. Founder’s Reserve Stout, which the brewery has brewed in honour of their loyal customers – Founders, if you will – who have helped support the brewpub over the years. Brewed with a grist that contains multiple dark malts (Midnight Wheat, Roasted Barley, and Chocolate Malt), there was also some lactose powder added in the boil to bring a touch of sweetness to help balance all of that roasted character. With a smooth mouthfeel thanks to the addition of Malted Oats, some cacao was also added to bump up the chocolate presence. Coming in at 6.5% ABV, it’s available on tap and in 1 L bottles at YB; bottles should also be popping up at NLC stores any day (minute??) now.
If you’re looking for a beer with a taste of summer, Crooked Feeder has you covered with their latest small batch, Good Vibrations. This is a 5% ABV Strawberry Rhubarb Gose brewed with real fruit from local farm Mark’s Market. The strawberry comes through prominently in the aroma, with a mild presence on the palate; the rhubarb and salt follow subtly in the finish, along with a dry tartness. If you want to try this one at the brewery’s taproom, you’ll only be able to get it in a flight, as they’re trying to ensure that everyone has a chance for a taste.
Those of you looking for your next hoppy fix from Propeller after drinking multiple cans of Galaxy may be happy with today’s news: the brewery has their first Triple IPA on tap for this weekend. Simply named Triple India Pale Ale, it was heavily hopped with Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin, giving this beer “intense tropical fruit flavours and aromas”. It’s hazy and packing a punch at 9.9% ABV, and finishes “aggressively bitter” (90+ IBUs). Only available on tap, at the brewery’s taproom, for pints and flights; no growlers, sorry! And hey, if you’re there later today, might as well still around for tonight’s cask, Sure Thing!, which is Cascade dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Falconer’s Flight. Finally, to celebrate Black Friday today, the brewery is offering two of their popular dark beers for a special deal – you can buy a 650 mL bottle of Russian Imperial Stout and a 330 mL bottle of Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter for $10.
Two hoppy brews hitting shelves at TrailWay today, one of which is a brand new American IPA they’ve named Slippery Mind. This 6% ABV hazy IPA was hopped with American Mosaic and Australian Topaz, giving the beer a “big, overripe fruit character with a firm spice and pine backbone”. And returning is their hoppy Amber, Good Aura. Fruity and dank, and 7% ABV, a donation is made to the SPCA every time this beer is brewed. Both of these beers are available in both cans and on tap, starting today.
Another bottle release from Tidehouse this week, a beer that they brewed with Tony Wight (aka Tony Important… I’m sure there’s a story there!) of 902 BrewCast “fame”. Cherry Important is a Saison that was brewed with cherries (at roughly 5 kg/100 L) picked from a cherry tree in Tony’s yard. The cherries were added in two stages; the first as whole, pitted cherries about one week into fermentation, and the second as puree at the third week. Some hibiscus was added to boost the red colour and tartness, and a touch of lemon zest was thrown in as well. The result is bright and tart, with definite Saison notes coming through. Bottles (340 mL and 750 mL) of this 7% ABV brew are available starting at 2 pm today, with a limit of two per person.
There’s a new beer coming out from Nackawic’s Big Axe, their first in quite some time. Black Forest Porter was hopped with English varieties to provide some earthiness in the aroma, and “a heaping pile” of Chaga mushrooms to offer some unique flavours. With some mild roastiness and a bit of caramel character, it’s 5.8% ABV and 32 IBUs. You’ll likely see it on tap at some of your favourite Big Axe accounts (as well as at their brewery, of course), and it’s also available in bottles. Bonus points when you pick up a bottle if you can quickly spout your favourite Forrest Gump quote! 😉
This past Sunday at the Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth, 32 beers made with the Voss Kveik yeast strain from Escarpment Labs were poured, smelled, sampled, and judged in the name of finding the winner of the 7th annual Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge (Kveik the East!). Styles ranged from IPA to Stout and more, with a couple of entries reaching pretty far afield to styles such as Gose and Pilsner (yes, really!). With honorable mentions to David Pepper (sorry for the typo earlier!), for being bold enough to brew that lager, Chill Pils, and Jamie MacEachern and Sandy Smoliak for Sandy’s Last Call, a NEIPA with a hop aroma that damn near knocked the judges over, the top three beers were as follows: 3rd place to Andrew Beaton for his APA End of Shift, 2nd to previous winner Ian Wheatley for his NE IPA Simcoe Slaughter, and the grand champion (AGAIN?!) was Brian Harvey, whose Santa Voss/ Kviek Kringle Winter Warmer with Vanilla Bean and Orange Peel. We understand that the winning beer has already been brewed at the Spruce HQ, so you might reasonably expect to see it for sale come next month. Congratulations especially to the winners, but also to all those who entered and thanks to Jeremy and the Big Spruce team for putting on a great event as always.
Only one event to mention today, but it’s a big’un and important if you’re planning on going to FCBF this year:
It’s that time of year again… time to purchase your tickets for the upcoming annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. While the VIP tickets are undoubtedly sold out already (they go in under a minute, usually, and tickets went on sale at 11 am this morning), there should be other tickets still available for sale. However, they also sell out quickly, so don’t wait (you can purchase yours here)! This is the first year that a full Friday session with 60 breweries will take place, so you’ve got an extra option in addition to the Saturday afternoon and evening sessions. There’s also going to be another conference happening for the couple days leading up to the weekend, so those of you who are in the industry or looking to get into it, keep this open as an option. And we’ll be doing our insanely-popular* ACBB Trivia Night at the Joyce on the Thursday before, so you’ve got that going for you, too!
* your opinion will likely vary
And a few last items to inform your Friday afternoon beer-buying:
Garrison has put Tesoro – an Italian Pilsner – on tap at their Seaport and Oxford locations; it is also available in cans to take home.
If you’ve been missing the weekly Good Robot Beta Brews, we can confirm that they’re officially back as of next Tuesday, December 3rd with The Absolute Unit. This 8.9% ABV, 23 IBUs Belgian Tripel was brewed by Amy and Amber, and features the addition of lemon zest.
Grimross Brewing has brought back their Apres Lager for the season, but due to a “friendly” little poke from another brewery in Canada, the beer has been renamed King’s Horn Vienna Lager. Still the same beer with a “toasty malt backbone, amber colour, restrained bitterness and some background earthy hop tones”, it’s available now on tap at the brewery and licensees, with cans following sometime in early 2020.
Hammond River has a brand new beer pouring at their Rothesay taproom, Coffee & Coconut Oatmeal Brown Ale. Brewed with locally-roasted coffee beans and coconut, it comes in at 7.4% ABV and 29 IBUs; drop by the brewery for a taste this weekend.
Moderation is back from Niche Brewing, a 5.9% ABV passion fruit Milkshake IPA hopped with American and Australian hops, bolstered with lactose, and conditioned on vanilla and passion fruit puree. At all ANBL growler stations as of yesterday, there will also be kegs hitting Halifax (Auction House and Stillwell) and the usual New Brunswick pubs. If you spill it on your pants at the bar your cab driver will hate you on the shameful ride home; don’t ask us how we know, just get it in your mouth instead.