Howdy folks, we’re running a little behind today, and for that we’re putting the blame firmly on the breweries in Atlantic Canada who can’t seem to help themselves with the beer releases and the birthday parties and the hey hey. The bad news is there’s almost four thousand words below this paragraph. The good news for you is that they’re all about beer (and mead). So read on for all the latest and whet your appetite for the weekend to come.
It’s been three years since Halifax’s 2 Crows opened their doors; we’ve seen one hell of a lot of beer releases since then. They haven’t let up one bit in terms of beer quality or originality, as they continue to push the envelope and strive to constantly improve.
Now that that’s out of the way, can we go back to complaining a bit? Great! Their big Anniversary party is tomorrow, which, if you have been following them in any way since they turned one, you’ll know means lots of new beer. Which in turn means lots of typing on our part, so you can kinda excuse our slight bitching. But hey, we gotta admit it all sounds awesome! So, five beers (four new, and one returning, tweaked, favourite) launching at the brewery tomorrow, two of them in cans, and three bottled. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Brettango – Not a new beer, but an exciting one to see return, Brettango is a 7.9% ABV Mango Brett IPA that was fermented with The Yeast Bay’s Amalgamation (a blend of six Brettanomyces yeast strains) and features an addition of a “stupid amount” of mango puree. With even more hops than before (Citra in the hop back, along with Hallertau Blanc and Belma, and two dry-hop additions of more Citra), the mango addition has been increased as well, so you can bet that the tropical, juicy goodness is off the charts. Limited cans available.
Deux II – Brewed in collaboration with Maine’s Orono Brewing Company at 2 Crows, Deux II (4.9% ABV) started as a golden sour base beer aged in one of the brewery’s foedres with a blend of multiple house cultures. After aging for several months, 500 kilos of whole Nova Scotia cherries from Stirling Fruit Farms were added and allowed to work their magic for an additional eight weeks. The beer was finally packaged in cans, where it underwent natural carbonation before being ready for your eager hands/mouths/bellies. Lots of cherry character in this one, along with some Jolly Rancher notes, and “a bit of marzipan and cinnamon as it warms, and just the right amount of fruity funk”.Hayward – Diving into the bottled releases, Hayward (5.4% ABV) is a peach brandy barrel-aged sour with kiwi. This sour was conditioned on 90 kg of fresh kiwi, giving a tart, bright beer that has dried peach character from the barrel, and lots of kiwi from the fruit addition.
Express – This barrel-aged beer is a blend of different golden sours aging in barrels. The resulting beer was then conditioned in the brewery’s blending tank with 80 sliced, fresh pineapples, along with hibiscus from World Tea House, and 4 kg of fresh ginger root. Lots of sourness from the base beer, with “smooth, fruity juiciness and a touch of ginger zing”, it comes in at 5.4% ABV.
Megadregs – The final Anniversary release is a big one… “big” meaning “helluva long time to be ready”. Beginning life in May 2018 when Halifax hosted the Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference, the 2 Crows crew welcomed in brewers from across the country to their spot, and plenty of local (Niche, North, Port Rexton, and Tatamagouche Brewing) and beyond (Block Three, Dageraad, Le Prospecteur, and Small Pony, to name just a few) brewers taking them up on their offer. A pale base wort was innoculated with the dregs of bottles that were enjoyed that day, with the beer undergoing primary fermentation in a pair of barrels in their space. The 5.7% ABV beer was allowed to condition for 16 months before packaging in bottles; it was then allowed to condition for another 4 months. It’s showing oak, funk, and a moderate acidity, and is remarkably smooth.
Finally, while this beer may not be an Anniversary-exclusive release, it is by no means any less special. Released earlier this week, Paper Airplanes was brewed with Ashley MacDonald and Seoras Speirs, parents to Jude, who passed away in October at the age of 3 after an intensely-brave battle with cancer. Brewed in Jude’s memory, Paper Airplanes is a Brown Ale brewed with Pale malt, Oat malt, and a mix of other roasted and caramelized malts. Hopped with EKG and Bramling Cross, it was fermented with a “classic” English yeast strain. It’s tasting smooth and roasty, “with some lovely black currant and dark fruit notes”. Proceeds from this beer (available on tap and in cans) will be going to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada, NS Chapter. Be sure to pick up a few cans of this one; whenever you drink it, take a moment to reflect on your loved ones and be grateful for them.
Along with all this beer will be some great food (burgers from Stillwell’s Joe Martin), multiple musical acts through the day, 50 free glasses to the first 50 of you who bust through the doors… and did we mention beer? Oh, you skipped that part? Go back and read it then, please don’t make all of that be for nothing. And you know there will be plenty of tiny fun releases as well as throwback faves on the draught and bottle/can list throughout the day, too.
And finally, the tradition of Sour Sunday will continue the day after the big party… because what cures a hangover more than sour beers and more delicious food? Expect past sour favourites, some surprise re-releases and bottles, and Buttered Bliss will be there filling your fried chicken and doughnut needs. Happy Anniversary, Crows! <drops mic>
Speaking of parties, we mentioned earlier this month that PEI’s newest brewery, Lone Oak, is celebrating their Grand Opening tomorrow, starting at 4 pm. In addition to plenty of live music, they’ve got several new beer releases up their sleeves. The first, Boat Traffic, was launched yesterday, and the other two will follow today and tomorrow. We’re sure those of you in their area are interested in these beers, so how’s about we scratch your itch? Also, just as a further reminder, cover for the party is $20, which includes all of the live music for the evening, naturally.
Boat Traffic (5% ABV, 27 IBUs) – This Oatmeal Stout was aged in a brand new, locally-made foeder, which has given this roasty, chocolatey beer “undertones of vanilla and coconut” to complement. Full-bodied, it’s the brewery’s first dark beer, and sure to be a winner.
Silver Fox (5.5% ABV, 15 IBUs) – Launching today, this beer is an Export Lager (think Dortmunder/Helles) brewed in collaboration with Dartmouth’s Spindrift Brewing (and released in NS today as well). Brewed with all Shoreline malt, and hopped with varieties from Island Hop Co., the details on the final product are in last week’s post, so you can remind yourself of what you’re getting into.
Rumours (4.3% ABV, 22 IBUs) – Releasing tomorrow, this mixed-ferm Saison was hopped with a blend of both European and American hop varieties. It’s tasting “slightly funky, with undertones of citrus”. This is a keg-conditioned batch, meaning that supplies are VERY limited, so you’ll definitely want to be at the party tomorrow to try this one!
Hot off the heels of last night’s celebration of Norwegian Kveik yeast at Battery Park Beer, Big Spruce has announced the availability of a couple of beers that debuted there. Ægir’s Hall is a Winter Warmer coming in at 6.3% ABV and fermented with the Voss Kveik strain of yeast that you may recall was the focus of this year’s 7th Annual Big Spruce Home Brew Competition. As a matter of fact, this beer was the winner of that competition, although at the time competition winner Brian Harvey’s name for it was Santa Voss/Kviek Kringle. With Christmas in the rearview mirror and the beer being released at the KveikFest, a name change to something with a connection to Norse mythology must have seemed apropos. Ægir was a jötunn (Giant and/or Troll; Norse mythology is confusing) closely associated with the sea and friend of the gods. He was also a brewer who possessed a beer kettle a mile wide that was acquired from fellow jötunn Hymir thanks to Thor and Týr. Mr. Harvey’s kettle is not a mile wide, but its influence goes much further than that based on the number of competitions he’s won in the last several years. The beer itself is deep red, with aromas of baking spice and a hint of citrus. At 6.3% ABV, it’s not too heavy, and should make a lovely tipple for an evening by the fire sharing tales of glory in battle.
Also on the go this week is Bjørnebær, a beer co-fermented on Brettanomyces and Kviek. We’re told that Bjørnebær is the Norwegian word for “blackberry” and this beer contains hand-picked ones from Big Spruce’s own farmland as well as all-organic blueberries from North of Nuttby Farm, both of which were cooked down to an “almost jam-like” consistency before being added to the beer. Very dry, tart, and tannic owing both to the cultures that fermented it and the berry skins, it’s also has a deep plum color. Like Ægir’s Hall, this is a draught-only release, so head to the brewery, or better licensees across the province to get your fix.
And lastly from Big Spruce this week, if you were worried that you were going to miss our on the Honza’s Boho Pilsner that they released last week because you aren’t anywhere near the brewery or didn’t see it anywhere on tap, fear not: that beer has been packaged into swank euro-style 330 mL bottles. Full of Saaz hops and imported Continental Pilsner malt for the most authentic experience possible, the only mistake you could make in trying to find this one is to look for it under the name “Honza’s BoHo.” Packaged as Ski Cape Smokey it’s the same beer we told you about last week but celebrating Cape Breton’s venerable ski hill.
If you’re a regular at Good Robot and into sour beers, they’ve got some news to make ya happy – they’re pouring a brand new sour beer there as of earlier this week. Positive Energy (4.8% ABV, 6 IBUs) features an addition of Labrador tea, resulting in a tart beer that “tastes like a slice of sourdough toast with homemade cranberry tartinade”. The tea also helps keep the beer crisp; you may want to drop in and let them know your thoughts! Next Tuesday’s Beta Brew will be Steve Maly Sucks, a 4.2% ABV, 20 IBUs Sweet Stout that was brewed with Roast Barley, Chocolate malt, and Coffee malt. Lactose was, naturally, added to boost the sweetness, but they also threw in some whiskey-soaked oak cubes to try to emulate an addition of coffee with Irish cream. Again, it’s up to you to decide how close they got! Finally, expect to see a new batch of their Chocolate Porter, Bingo Bronson (6% ABV) on tap very soon.
We may be in the darkest depths of winter, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) mean that we can’t be allowed to enjoy a more-summer-y type of beer to give us hope that warmer times will eventually come. Tidehouse is doing just that this week, with a new beer they’re releasing this afternoon at their taproom. Oslo in the Summertime is a 5% ABV beer that was brewed with a blend of Pilsner malt and Flaked oats, along with a little bit of Melanoidin and Vienna malt for good measure. Hopped with two types of Czech Saaz (Saaz Special and Saaz Late) from PEI’s Bines & Vines, the wort was fermented with Oslo Kveik yeast. The final product is exhibiting a “slightly sweet grainy character” with lots of spicy, herbal hop character from the Saaz. Maybe not the usual characteristics you’d expect from a Kveik strain, but this one is a different type of beast! They’re going to have this one on tap for pints and growler fills, as well as in bottles; we recommend stopping in to give it a try!
Moncton’s newest brewery, Tire Shack, has a trio of new beers out today (technically last night, but who’s keeping track? Oh wait, we are!), perfect for the start of your weekend. Sour Bite is a 3.5% ABV Berliner Weisse, a crisp and refreshing take on the style. While this release is fruit-free, look for future releases to contain some fun additions like Pink Guava, Apricot, Kiwi, and Pineapple, coming atcha in the next little while. Also new on the taps on John Street is Roman Road, a 5.5% ABV Italian Pilsner, generously dry-hopped with Tettnanger and Huell Melon to bump up the character of this modern take on the classic style. This release is from their pilot system onsite, so may not last the weekend… The final of this week’s releases is another from the pilot system, a Belgian Dark Strong. At 6.6% ABV, it’s already brimming with dark fruit and malt character, which they bumped up with coconut sugar and molasses, also complementing the spicy phenolics from the Belgian yeast. A further fun step they took was to add Grand Marnier liqueur-soaked oak chips, for a subtle orange finish. Stop in for a flight and/or pint of these as well as their core brews this weekend!
Halifax’s Propeller continues to stand out in the region as a bigger independent brewery that’s not afraid to take chances and innovate; and for the second time in the last few months, the innovation is on the packaging side (remember those 360 End cans for the DDH IPA?). Although they’re not the first to do it (we’ll give a nod to 2 Crows on that), they’re certainly on the leading edge this week by putting the latest release of their seasonal Mocha Oatmeal Stout in cans with nitrogen. A bit of a nightmare logistically due to the requirement to reconfigure the canning line for it, the hope is that local drinkers will appreciate the additional creamy texture that only those tiny little bubbles can provide. Remember that you want to get it vertical as soon as you can after popping the top, so have (an appropriately-sized) glass at the ready! You can also try this “dark and decadent” 5.5% ABV beer featuring coffee from local roaster Java Blend in a sans nitro version at the brewery for growler fills and the taproom for pints. And for those who like to hit their Gottingen Street location on a Friday afternoon and/or evening, the cask this week will be their Porter with cold brew coffee, which you’ll be able to pair with Pilsner Pulled “Pork” taquitos from their up-the-street neighbours, vegan butchery Real Fake Meats.
The fine folks at Port Rexton Brewing have decided to hold themselves a home brew competition and we think folks in Nova Scotia might recognize the format. Similar to the Black Box Challenge competition run by Boxing Rock out of Shelburne, NS, Port Rexton’s first Mystery Homebrew Challenge will see entrants pay an entry fee and collect a “brewer’s pantry” of ingredients from the brewery. Then, working solely with the grains, hops and yeast provided (and, no doubt, water from an allowed source), they’ll each develop a recipe that will hopefully wow the judges. Only 25 entries will be permitted and placement is first come, first served based on e-transfer of the $55 entry fee. Ingredient pickup will be the weekend of February 6th – 8th at the brewery, so if you’re interested in entering, make sure you can get there on one of those days to do so! Competition entries will be accepted March 19th to 21st, with the winner announced on March 28th. Official rules, entries and more information can be obtained by emailing email@example.com. Good luck to those who decide to enter this one; it’s a great format that definitely challenges brewers to differentiate their beer from the rest of the entries!
Hanwell’s Niche Brewing has a returning favourite coming out this week; Ethos is a Brett Saison at 6.2% ABV. This is the beer that goes into the barrels and come out as Evolution, so if you’ve enjoyed that one, it might be fun to compare and contrast. Lemony, dry and funky, look for it at Niche tap accounts.
We know you’ve been eagerly waiting to hear it, or is it just us?, but the 902 BrewCast have finally released their latest episode this morning. This is January’s Tasting Episode, where they pop open a few cans from around the region, and let us know their plans for the year. Listen to it on your commute home!
We’ve got a couple of beer-focused events coming up this weekend and then one of Halifax’s big ones coming up in just a couple of weeks:
If all this beer talk has you craving something sweeter, we’re happy to tell you that there’s a yuge mead tasting event going on in Fredericton tomorrow, January 25th, hosted by the city’s favourite meadery, Sunset Heights. Held at the Crowne Plaza downtown, this Barrel Release Party will feature a minimum of 15 different meads and/or cocktails “blended with other local craft alcohols”, paired over several hours with six (6!) different food courses. This private event begins at 6:45 pm; if you’re into mead, we can’t think of a better way for you to thumb your nose at Dry January. Check out the entire menu here. Tickets are still available; they’re $99 each and can be purchased online.
Shelburne’s Boxing Rock will be heading up the coast tomorrow for a tap takeover in Bridgewater at the King Street Beer Co. Starting at 2 PM and going until 8 PM they’ve got lots more planned than just having their beer available thanks to their Beer Sommelier, Sheila. From 2 – 3 PM will be Craft Beer 101, 3 – 4PM Sensory Analysis and Blind Tasting, 4 – 5 PM Beer & Food Pairings, and 5 – 7 PM Beer Tastings. We’re guessing the last hour is mostly having a beer and decompressing from all that learning! Look for a full line-up of Boxing Rock beers available on tap as well. More information can be sought on the Fb Event page.
Tickets for February 8th’s Craft Beer Cottage Party are now on sale! Part of the Savour Food and Wine Festival, the CBCP is a celebration of beer in a cold month that can get you jamming and thinking about summer. Known for the fanciest plaid shirts and trucker hats, breweries taking part in the event compete the show off their design skills at their booth, and those pouring will certainly get into the spirit as well. The list of breweries and cideries pouring is: 2 Crows Brewing, Alexander Keith’s Historic NS Brewery, Annapolis Brewing Co, Big Spruce Brewing, Bishop’s Cellar (pouring some special releases), Boxing Rock Brewing Co., Breton Brewing, Bulwark Cider, Chain Yard Urban Cidery, Garrison Brewing Co., Heritage Brewing, Pumphouse (repped by Innovative Brands), Lunn’s Mill, Nine Locks Brewery, Off Track, Propeller Brewing Co., Roof Hound Brewing, Route 19, Saltbox Brewing, Schoolhouse Brewery, Shipwright Brewing Co., Shipbuilders/Petite Riviere, Sober Island Brewing, Spindrift Brewing Co., Tanner & Co Brewing, Tatamagouche Brewing Co., The Church Brewing Co., Trider’s Craft Beer, Upstreet Craft Brewing, and Wayfarer’s. Phew, that’s a lot! And we’re going to be holding a fun little contest to get you excited, and get a couple of tickets in your hand. Snap a picture of a beer or cider from the breweries or cideries above, post it to Twitter or Instagram, tag the producer, us (@ACBeerBlog) and Savour Food & Wine (@savourfw), we’ll do a draw for 2 tickets to the show next Thursday, Jan 30, at 11:59PM, and announce it on next week’s blog. Good luck to everyone, and get drinking!