Okay folks, this will be your COVID-19 joke-free zone for the day, we promise not to make any below. What we will say on the subject is that some breweries are adjusting their growler policies during this time, to reduce the chance of infection of employees and patrons alike, so don’t be surprised by those when you go in looking for a fill this afternoon (some are halting completely, others will only be doing exchanges, both of which we think are smart moves). And with some members of the public going a little over the top in hoarding and needless self-isolation, this could be a trying time for your favourite brewery taproom (not to mention local bars and restaurants), so do continue to support them how/when it makes sense. Perhaps now’s the time to buy yourself or a pal a giftcard for later use? Or take advantage of those breweries that offer online shopping? Here’s what caught our eyes this week, and worth checking out!
After a quick glance through all the info we have for this week, it looks like there’s a lot of hazy-and-hoppy releases, so let’s start off with Big Spruce, because why not? They’ve just released Shrediquette, a 7.6% abv NEIPA hopped entirely with experimental hop HBC-692. There’s quite a few aroma and flavour descriptors for this variety floating around the internet (such as grapefruit, stone fruit, floral, woody, pine, and cream), but Big Spruce is describing this beer as extremely orange-y, with “a subtle, pithy bitterness lingering behind”. Guess you’ll have to taste it and make your own decisions! Look for it at the brewery, or your favourite BS tap accounts, including Auction House, Battery Park, HopYard, and Stillwell in HRM.
Continuing on with hops over in Newfoundland, where Twillingate’s Split Rock Brewing has a Double IPA pouring, Sample Port. Hopped with extremely-high amounts of Amarillo and Chinook throughout the boil, it was dry-hopped with more of the same, plus Mosaic. Medium-bodied and dry, with a hefty bitterness thanks to hefty use of hops (think West Coast style and proud of it), this 7.8% ABV brew got its name from its popularity with the brewing staff, who enjoyed the beer so much that they continued to return to the tank’s sample port for repeated samples. Still on tap at the brewery (until staff gets off for the day!), it is also pouring at Gander Airport’s Union East & Drinks (who are doing a great job showcasing taps from a great variety of the province’s breweries), and should be making an appearance at a couple of the better beer bars in St. John’s before too long. And back after a brief hiatus, and sporting their new house English yeast strain, is ABBA (aka Alli’s Big Brown Ale), their 5.6% ABV Brown Ale. Available at the brewery as well, those of you in St. John’s may have had a chance to try it at the Guv’nor Pub this past week.
Let’s take a break from hops for a moment, but stay on the Rock, East to Quidi Vidi Brewery. Delving into darker territory this week, QV has three of them out in time for next week’s St. Paddy’s Day celebrations. Let’s start light with their Dry Irish Stout. At 4.2% ABV, this beer is brimming with character from the Midnight Wheat, Pale Chocolate and Roasted Barley, complementing the base malts with notes of roast, coffee, and chocolate, with just a touch of balancing bitterness. A medium-light body with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel, and a light finish. At the other end of the spectrum is their Russian Imperial Stout, a 10% ABV brute of a beer featuring many of the same dark and roast malts as its little brother, but amped up. Aromatics of dark roast coffee, and sweet dates from the esters and a touch of alcohol, follow to a full, smooth, mouthfeel with more coffee and chocolate on the tongue. And finally, they’ve got the Imperial Coconut Porter, a 9.0% ABV beer with, you guessed it, toasted coconut added to the brew, in addition to cacao nibs for extra chocolatey goodness, as well as vanilla for a touch of sweetness. Chocolate and Pale Chocolate malts colour and flavour the brew, giving the very dark brown beer a lovely beige head, with notes of toast and nuttiness to complement the adjuncts. All three beers are available on draught in the taproom and in cans in the QV Hops Shop now, and keep your eyes open for them on the shelves of select NLCs in your ‘hood.
- Eventide, that midway point between day and evening, is also the name of their latest lager, an amber-coloured 4.6% ABV Vienna Lager. With notes of bread and toast on the nose, and following through to the palate with touches of apricot, Eventide is a showcase of the malt variety from Vienna, rich in character but still manages to finish dry, without too much sweetness. Hops take a back seat in this brew, and the lager yeast keeps the beer crisp and refreshing. On draught now, and in cans very soon.
- Debuting tomorrow is Tata’s Grisette, a 3.4% ABV “small Saison”, which was carbonated naturally in the keg (and bottles, soon). Dry-hopped with Callista, it features bright and fresh aromatics of mandarin with earthy undertones and light floral notes. This one was kept in Stainless Steel during the process, whereas…
- Remused is a second take on their Muse Flanders Red-inspired beer released in the Fall. Another batch of the sour Red Ale spent another four months on the same cherries as the initial release. Look for bottles of Remused in the next couple of weeks.
- And finally, it will also mark the debut of the Stilly X Tata collaboration Staffy Kveik Pale Ale, brewed late last month. Featuring the new and exclusive Samba hop (as well as Huell Melon), this juicy Pale Ale with everyone’s favourite Norwegian Farmhouse yeast, is a lesson in tropical and citrus character in a bright and fresh package. After tomorrow’s debut, look for a wider distro of this one, with a canning run happening next week as well.
And with any takeover, you know that Stillwell goes all out with the food, so look forward to fried clams, haddock tips, smoked mackerel dip, and scallop ceviche on the menu. All day.
Ok, back to hops! We’ll dial it back a bit with Roof Hound, who were looking for a beer with lots of hop presence, but less alcohol than your IPAs and DIPAs. Of course, that means Session IPA, so they created a recipe and named the beer Gimme a Hint. Brewed with both Citra and Mosaic hops, they upped the fruit character even more with an addition of fresh orange zest. But this isn’t your “typical” Session IPA… when we think of the style, something in the range of 3.5-5% ABV usually jumps out. Gimme a Hint comes it at an extremely-low 1% ABV, which we guess is why Roof Hound is actually referring to this beer as a “Micro IPA”. This beer isn’t exactly available yet, but look for it late this month directly at the source (we understand if you’re weirded out that we are giving you advance notice on a beer… we’re a little freaked about it, too).
Hanwell’s Niche Brewing has their latest hoppy beer hitting the taps this week after a debut last weekend. Hop Altered is a hazy NEIPA featuring a grist of 2-row, Golden Promise and Munich malts, with flaked wheat and oats providing the requisite protein component. Plenty of Mosaic and El Dorado hops were used in the kettle, with more of the same plus some Enigma in a very healthy dry hop. The picture is completed by the use of the Foggy London yeast strain from Escarpment Labs. Described as “pretty darn juicy” you can expect some tropical notes, a slight dankness and not too much bitterness on the finish of this 5.2% ABV easy drinker. Look for it first at The Joyce and Peppers Pub but we’re sure it’ll be hitting other Niche tap accounts shortly.
Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing has been tearing it up since they opened, with the taproom full most of the time (y’all are thirsty!). Not to let any slumps sneak up on them, they’re releasing a whopping FOUR new beers this weekend! We’ve got a few light details to share with you now, just to get you in the mood to head there right after work, or maybe tomorrow:
- Dickie Dee – they’re billing this one as an “Orange Creamsicle Dry-Hopped IPA”, so expect a hoppy, slightly sweet, very orange-flavoured beer. Smooth and creamy, and 6% ABV, it has additions of orange and lactose, and was hopped mostly with Ekuanot. Shoutout for the Eighties kids on that name!
- Weisse Squad – a German Dunkelweizen (think dark Hefeweizen), the use of Weizen yeast for fermentation has added your typical banana and clove flavours, and the use of some specialty malt helps balance with notes of caramel and toast. Just 4% ABV, so definitely safe to have one or two before responsible activity.
- Rainy Days – a style along the lines of “je ne sais quoi”, they’re describing this as unique, and “a London Fog recreated in a pale beer”. Lots of lactose and Earl Grey tea were added, and it comes in at 4% ABV; better try this one yourself!
- Hip Hop – the first in a series, this beer is a double-dry-hopped, hazy New England DIPA; coming in at 8% ABV to keep you firmly in your seat, they hopped this one exclusively with Mosaic. Juicy, juicy, and more juicy, don’t pound back too many of these, despite their easy-drinking nature.
All of these will be on tap at the brewery, naturally. Also a note, Tire Shack will be holding a St. Patrick’s Day party next Tuesday; they’ll be opening early (11 am), with live music by Fundy Ceilidh from 7-9 pm and green beer (yep) pouring throughout the day.
We have the latest details on the newest Something Different entry from Annapolis Cider, which is going to be available today. Arctic Kiwi Perry is a blend of a dry Perry (made from Bosc and Bartlett pears) and juice from locally-harvested arctic kiwis. Not familiar with arctic kiwis? Neither were we, but luckily the fine folks at Annapolis Cider inform us that they are “grape-sized kiwifruit grown in northern climates”. (Wiki article) They taste similar to your typical “normal” kiwi, and in this particular beverage offer pleasant tropical notes, all in a medium-bodied, crisp package. As always, $0.50 from each refill will go towards a local charity; in this case, the Free Spirit Therapeutic Riding Association.
Over on the Island, we’ve got news that the winning beer from this year’s Maritime Homebrew Challenge by Gahan/PEIBC was released this past Sunday on International Women’s Day 2020, perfect timing for winning brewer Chelsea Meisner! The beer itself is a stout with a somewhat untraditional ingredient: Sichuan peppercorns! Known for their ability to leave one’s tongue a little bit tingly (or full-on numb, depending on how much is used), they provide plenty of interest to this rich and full-bodied stout that comes in at 55 IBU and a healthy 7.5% ABV. “Tingles the tongue and warms the soul,” is printed on the can and, we suspect, very fittingly describes the experience. Our congratulations again to Chelsea on her winning beer! You can grab pints and cans of Tingles Sichuan Stout at Gahan and PEIBC, and it should also be available in both formats in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia locations as well.
North End Halifax’s Good Robot has, as always seems to be the case, a couple of things on the go this week. First up, the GR team is trying their collective hand at the hard seltzer game with an Alpha batch of one they’re calling, The Fizz. At 4.7% ABV and no IBUs to speak of, they tried to avoid the “boozy carbonated water” and challenge their brewing skills by making the lightest beer they could, cutting it with some water, and adding lemon, lime and lavender. You can try this low-calorie option at the taproom now!
And meanwhile, in BetaBrew land there’s a “baby beta” coming out this coming BetaBrewsday (Tuesday, March 17th) they’re calling Beerbliotheque. Brewed by Kelly and her longtime friend Amy Lorencz, they leaned into Amy’s librarian vocation (and calling) for this one. A big, rich stout, with notes of dried fruit, there’s also plenty of chocolate character. A bit of a big’un at 7.3% ABV and 26 IBU, it sounds perfect for curling up by the fire on one of our still chilly evenings with a lovely book. We also have a PSA for BetaBrew fans, Kelly has advised us that there will be but one remaining BetaBrew. We’ll definitely try to get the full story on that for you next week, but maybe start planning to make it out for the final edition as soon as we advise you when that will be.
Lastly, Kelly is also the guiding light behind the FemmeBrew Homebrewing Competition for Womxn, Trans, Femme, non-binary and underrepresented brewsters in Nova Scotia, and they’ll be celebrating that this coming Sunday at the taproom starting with a private event for entrants (and their +1s) starting at 4 PM. Winners will be announced after 5 PM and then the doors will open to the general public at 6 PM to celebrate the winners, the entrants, and everyone else involved.
Looks like there’s a couple of new beers pouring at Maybee in Fredericton; well, maybe 1.5 “new” beers? The first one is a lighter take on one of their flagship beers, Work Horse IPA. For those of you who have been longtime drinkers of this classic take on an American IPA (or even those of you who may have been newly introduced to it, now that it’s available in NB’s grocery stores), but would appreciate a lower ABV, they give you Work Horse Light. They say it has the same flavour and hop profile as the original, but “with a cleaner finish and less lingering bitterness”. At 5.5% ABV (and 55 IBUs), it’s a bit easier to enjoy a couple of pints. The other beer – Lakeview Amber – is a true newbie, an American Amber brewed in collaboration with Bangor, Maine’s Geaghan Bros. This isn’t the first collaboration between these two breweries, but this is the first to also include Lakeview Hops (out of Harvey, NB). This easy-drinking Amber was hopped with Magnum to 40 IBUs, giving a “short-lived bitterness” in the finish, after hits of “slight caramel on the nose, with notes of light pine and unripe pineapple”. Weighing in at 5.7% ABV, this beer (and Work Horse Light) can be found on tap now at Maybee; good chance you’ll see both beers pop up at local accounts around Fredericton.
HRM’s Propeller Brewing is continuing to play with packaging cans with nitrogen. This week their stalwart Irish Red Ale became available in nitro cans. If you’re interested but not familiar with beers packaged this way, maybe have a boo at Prop’s social media for information on how to best take advantage of this novel packaging (short form: crack it and dump it into your glass with a quickness, but make sure your glass is big enough for a whole pint!). Nitrogen tends to make beers smoother and “creamier,” which should pair nicely with the malty and earthy notes of the style. Still 5% ABV and 25 IBU as always, look for it in cans and on tap at Propeller locations, and they’ve advised us that a few kegs are also available to taprooms that have nitro capability. We’d also like the opportunity to hint that we think it would be awesome if the next beer they tried this with is their classic ESB…
We mentioned back at the end of February that Garrison Brewing was brewing up an all-female developed beer for International Women’s Day 2020 and then failed to remind everyone about it in our post last week (yes, we feel appropriate shame). But we’re hoping to make up for that by reminding you about it now and telling you it’s available at both Garrison taprooms (Seaport and Oxford), as well as private stores in the HRM. A Honey Wheat Ale with honey from Meander River Farm, it’s 5.2% ABV and 25 IBUs, you can safely expect an easy-drinking beer with a doughy character, some melon notes, gentle bitterness, and some honey sweetness. And remember that every can and keg sold means donations toward the Women in Trades bursary with the NSCC (which will be more than $1300 once the batch is sold), so maybe take an opportunity to stock up on a few for a good cause, share them around, and celebrate womxn in the brewing industry!
In addition to the events we already mentioned above, just one more that we found on the calendar this weekend…
Wolfville’s Church Brewing Company is taking over the taps at Halifax’s Boxcar Social Saturday evening. From 5 PM until close, they’ll be pouring their super-refreshing Congregation Pilsner, Sanctuary Enkel (think Belgian Singel), Married to the Sea German Porter, Eight Bells Belgo Pale Ale, The Luxury Belgian Dubbel, as well as the very last keg of their Best Kind Kveik Pale Ale, their collaboration with St. John’s Bannerman Brewing. And because one can never have enough variety, they’ll be rounding out the offerings with cans of Mayflower White IPA, and Til Death Do Us Tart Framboise. To amp up the fun even more, Sun Parka will be playing from 7 PM, so be sure to drop in for a pint or two and stay a spell.
And in not-great, but entirely understandable news, the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia has made the hard decision to cancel the March 21st Nova Scotia Craft Beer Fest. Those who had purchased tickets will receive full refunds. No change to the other events planned in April for #NSCraftBeerMonth, and we’ll have lots more info on those plans in the coming weeks.