Seeing as how we’re running a little behind, most folks reading this will already be past the halfway point on their last Friday of February, which in a normal year would feel like enough of an accomplishment in our region, but where March will also mark an entire year of pandemic, it feels even more like something to celebrate. Fortunately, there’s lots to tell you about this week in regards to boozy beverages in our region that can help you with any celebrations you choose to do. With community spread in evidence, folks in NS are encouraged to consider the possibility that we may see some tightening up of the restrictions again in the coming week and to add that to the factors that inform their purchasing this weekend. Producers in all four provinces are doing a great job making their products available through responsible means, whether that’s Atlantic-, province-, or local area-wide shipping, curbside pickup, or socially distanced retail. We’re all for rewarding that consideration and effort whenever possible and helping all these breweries, cideries, and meaderies survive to see the end of this madness!
The Change is Brewing Collective is launching their 5th collaborative product this weekend, partnering with Boxing Rock in Shelburne to release Back to Birchtown, a 6.4% ABV Old Stock Ale. Amber in colour, this is a modern take on what may have been available during the days of the Black Loyalists who settled in the region – malty and smooth now, and designed to stand up to aging quite well. The beer is being debuted at the Boxing Rock Taproom at 218 Water Street in Shelburne, with the event kicking off at noon on Saturday, February 27th. Members of Change is Brewing will be joined by Emily Tipton of Boxing Rock, Sheila Scott of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, Vanessa Hartley of SEED Shelburne, Lauryn Guest of the Buy Black Birchtown Campaign, to learn about their groups’ history and future. All proceeds from the collaboration are being donated in support of Change is Brewing and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society.
Due to COVID restrictions, reserving a seat in advance is required, 902-875-2282. And for those not able to join in person, the event will be live-streamed through the Collective’s Instagram and Facebook pages, so be sure to tune in! Those in attendance are invited to visit the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in nearby Birchtown, who are opening their doors that afternoon, 2 – 4 PM. The beer can also be ordered today on the Boxing Rock webstore, where the full package includes a fabric mask commemorating the collaborative brew, and a ticket for entry to the Heritage Centre to be used in the future.
Don’t forget that this is also the last week to donate to Change is Brewing in their support of BIPOC South Shore’s “Buy Black Birchtown” campaign, in support of an 8-acre Retreat and Learning Centre in the community, a place for people of colour to “rest, resist, and organize for Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty”. They are ¾ of the way to their goal of raising $20,000 (as of publishing), which has allowed the CiBCollective to become full members in the Centre, and sponsor membership for two more groups, working towards a third, before the end of February. If you have the means to donate, or just want to learn more, please check this link.
First opening their brewery and retail space in 2019, Smokehouse Nano Brewery has now opened a taproom in the heart of Berwick, Nova Scotia. Located at 134 Union Street, the taproom and retail spot is open from noon daily, closing at 6PM Sunday through Thursday, and 8PM Wednesday through Saturday. A full dozen beers are on tap for enjoyment in house, with most available in growlers or cans to go once you’ve chosen your favourites. One of those favourites may be Noonan’s Pride, a 4.2% ABV Dry Irish Stout, featuring massive coffee flavour and aroma, with a smooth mouthfeel and dry finish. Sadly, due to its small batch size, this one is an in-house-only treat! Smokehouse’s website social media (Fb/Ig) has their latest offerings, perfect to get you salivating now!
With several successful breweries and cideries already present on Prince Edward Island, it was only a matter of time before somebody got the mead bug (bee? Hah!). And while we don’t have our finger on the pulse so much with honey beverages, we did manage to notice the opening of Horns of Odin Craft Brewery on St. Peter’s Road in Mount Stewart (sharing a building with the Bedford Irving). Owner Chuck Gallison decided to start the business after a fateful trip to Iceland a few years ago, and as you may be able to tell from the name, he’s very much aware of the connection between Vikings/Norsemen and mead. The term “mead” at its most basic means a fermented honey beverage and covers a fairly wide variety of liquids ranging from still to sparkling and dry to sweet, possibly containing herbs, spices, and/or fruits, and with ABVs from low single digits all the way up into the teens. That said, for the pedants amongst us there are usually specific terms for these variations. Right now the brewery is focussed on producing melomels, which generally refers to fruited meads (although there’s even more terminology for particular fruits), and currently they’re coming out in a wine-like 8 – 12% ABV. Their current lineup of available products includes Hopped Crabapple, Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Hopped Mixed Berry Beet, and Cherry, but they’ve also had Mountain Ash and a Pomegranate is said to be in the works! You can read more about the brewery in this Saltwire article, or stay tuned to this space where we hope to continue to cover new and interesting products coming from Horns of Odin. Skol!
Amazingly, we’ve got even more mead news for you this week, as Mountain Meadworks has teamed up with Compass Distillers in Halifax on a special collaboration brew that takes mead making to the Nth degree with the assistance of distillation. The starting point was a Mountain Meadworks mead that was sent to Compass to be distilled with a variety of Nova Scotia botanicals, including juniper, spruce tips, yarrow, and chanterelle mushrooms. The result was then used to fortify a new mead that had itself been infused with rhubarb, lemongrass, and spruce tips. The result is “a complex and harmonious drink” that comes in at an ABV of 7.5% and features a variety of flavor and aroma notes including citrus, juniper, and rhubarb. They’ve called this beverage Ouroboros, after an ancient symbol dating back to the Egyptians, but also found in many other traditions including Norse, Hindu, and Mesoamerican, among others. Usually a snake (or a dragon!) swallowing its own tail, it is sometimes also depicted as two (or more!) creatures swallowing each others’ tails in a loop. Intended to reference eternal renewal and how things may change form and yet never disappear, we think this is a poetic name for a very intriguing mead. To get it you’ll want to check out their Facebook page to see whether they might be at a farmers market in your area any time soon or to contact them to place an order.
An annual fall release from Trailway has been their Rascal Imperial Stout. Sadly, the beer’s namesake, a very good doggo, passed away this year. In a fitting tribute to a brewery dog, TW took their existing recipe and made it even more awesomer: after making the base beer, they aged it in Heaven Hill bourbon barrel for 7 months! Ode to Rascal was barrel aged with coffee from Milltown Roasters and some vanilla. This beer is full, complex and filled with notes of oak, dark chocolate, and espresso with a sweet vanilla finish. This 8% ABV tasty treat is only available from the brewery (no shipping options) and is only in 500ml bottles.
In other news from Trailway, they’re hiring a full time marketing and digital content manager. Check out the complete job posting on Career Beacon.
The new releases keep coming from Tatamagouche Brewing and they continue to draw inspiration from across the Atlantic, this time with an English Bitter. Haywain is a 5.3% ABV take on the style that starts with Horton Ridge pale malt, Caramel 60 and CaraAroma. Bramling Cross and EKG hops were used to the tune of 37 IBUS, with some non-traditional late and whirlpool additions to amp up the aroma. There are a variety of ways to try out this beer, but we suggest trying to track this down on cask for the optimal drinking experience. Pins have been sent to the Stillwell Freehouse. You can also find it at other Tata tap accounts and at the brewery in cans and for fills.
Your visits to the Saint John City Market are about to get even better! Uncorked Tours opened their tasting room and meeting space in the market last year, with a patio and dedicated entrance at the corner of Germain and North Market streets. They’ve just announced they will be releasing their own branded Howlers (0.95 litre growlers) next month, and kicking off their Growler program. After coming in and enjoying a sample flight or pint, visitors can fill a growler of their favourite beer for enjoyment at home. Pair that with some fresh produce, cheese, or cured meats from one of the other Market vendors, and you’ve got yourself a perfect afternoon or evening in! In addition to the sweet howler designed by Owner and Tasting Room Manager Nathalie Nadeau, featuring their doggos Penny and Ruby, visitors can bring their own clean 0.95 or 1.89 litre (32 and 64 oz) growlers to fill. And if you’re in a pinch, they have 1 litre plastic containers to fill too. Pre-order your howler now for its first fill March 17th, or if you can’t wait that long, pop by next week for a fill of your own vessel.
To Moncton! To The Shack! Tire Shack Brewing has a few new goodies for those of you in the area. First up, their Hip Hop Series returns with its fifth iteration, each of which showcases a Double IPA that’s massively dry hopped with a single hop variety. Hip Hop Series: Volume 5 showcases Cashmere, a hop that brings great flavours of melon, peach, lemon, lime and a hint of coconut. It comes in at 8% ABV but the smooth drinkability makes it very (dangerously) crushable. This is available for cans, pints and growlers from the taproom today.
Also out this week, they are bringing the spice to the taproom releasing Mango-Habanero Sour, a 3.5% ABV fruity sour with a touch of heat. This one is only available for pints and growler fills at the taproom.
Staying near Moncton, Flying Boats Brewing is releasing Red Cap, a Peanut Butter Stout. This was a taproom favourite that is now coming out in 473ml cans. Using as its base an English-style double oatmeal stout, it adds the natural peanut butter flavour in the final stages of fermentation. With a strong peanut butter aroma and notes of chocolate, it’s a sweet sipper at 4.8% ABV. Find it at select ANBL locations and the brewery; enjoy it while it lasts!
The City of Lakes’ own Lake City Cider brings a few pieces of news this week. Cardi P is a cider with Nova Scotia plums house-fermented to a rich wine and then blended with a selection of Nova Scotia apples before being rested with cardamom spice. This cider is 6.8% ABV and available in 750ml bottles from the brewery or online for delivery today.
Also releasing this week is Green Ginger, a cider collaboration with Pop Culture Brew Co. This cider release is a blend of their Darkside Dry cider and the Ginger Kombucha from Pop Culture. This will have flavours of fresh apple with some floral notes and slight ginger spice on the finish. It is also available in 750ml bottles and is a 5.5% ABV blend available only from Lake City’s Dartmouth shop.
Back to a Nova Scotian cider for our next release, as Halifax’s Sourwood Cider has a funky new apple/wine hybrid available this week. And when the perfect name appears, why fight it? Hence, Hybrid, a blend of apples from a 100-year old Golden Delicious that underwent a 4-week maceration period, along with Marquette grapes picked from a vineyard on the Northumberland Strait that underwent an 8-week maceration period before pressing. Neither ferment saw any external yeast added, it was all thanks to the wild beasties already living on the fruits. After blending, a small amount of actively fermenting Northern Spy juice was added to allow a natural carbonation in the bottle. Only 50 cases of this special 10% ABV cider and wine hybrid were produced, so best make your way to their retail/taproom today to secure yours!
Over to Newfoundland, as we continue our journey across the region, for a re-release of a favourite beer, but with a new name and label to support an important cause. Port Rexton Brewing has teamed up with St. John’s Toslow for a few years now, producing a collaborative Sea Buckthorn Sour celebrating the downtown cafe/good beer bar. For this release, however, their efforts have shifted to supporting a group looking to make major changes in the food security of Newfoundlanders. Food First NL works with communities in Newfoundland and Labrador to improve access to affordable, healthy, and culturally-appropriate food. $2.00 from each can of Hold Fast will be going to Food First, with the goal to raise over $5,000. And of course a special release deserves a special label, which was designed by talented local artist Jenna-Wade. You can do your part by grabbing the beer from PRBC’s St. John’s Retail Shop, or at the Foodex in Port Rexton, this weekend, with more locations in between receiving deliveries in the next couple of weeks. You can also donate directly to a food bank or support group in your local region, check out their partners here (also the same list if you are experiencing food insecurity yourself).
Staple of the rock, Quidi Vidi Brewing brings a new release to their Brewers’ Original series. Nathan’s Kveik Pale Ale is a dry-hopped pale ale with great flavours of honeydew melon and pineapple. Balanced, with a nice graham cracker malt flavour, it is fruity and easy drinking at 5.5% ABV. Available in 473ml cans from the brewery and online, it’s available today.
And speaking of Newfoundland Craft Breweries, their taprooms are currently closed due to the province being in COVID Level 5 (aka, now in the “Restore the Arse” phase), but that does *not* mean they aren’t able to get some tasty beverages in your hands!
- Bannerman Brewing has recently commissioned a high-speed 16oz/473ml canning machine, meaning they won’t be running out of offerings any time soon. Hit up this page for curbside pickup options.
- Landwash Brewery is also doing curbside pickup, and have been delivering to many locations on the Avalon. Check their Distro map to find a spot near you!
- Baccalieu Trail has a pair of newbies on their virtual shelves this week, with Ediacaran Fuse NEIPA and Love Potion 709, a mixed-ferm champagne-inspired Brut ale both available at their retail as well as Marie’s Mini Marts in the area.
In Coming Soon news, Spryfield’s Serpent Brewing is closing in on the completion of their tap room located at 16 Dentith Road, which features plenty of seating, a dozen taps, a stage for live music, and a Mary Brown’s Chicken opening soon next door! To keep the beer a-flowin’, they are looking to hire both Full- and Part-Time Servers to round out their team. Beer knowledge, or willing and interested in learning some, is a major plus, as is being able to work on your feet to keep everyone happy in a soon-to-be-busy spot. The full details of the positions is on their website, and you can fire off your cover letter and resume to Matt@Serpentbrewing.com before the end of the weekend.
A couple of rare in-person events to mention this week along with a more typically 2021 virtual one!
Modern Brewer’s Village Green is taking over the taps at HopYard Charlottetown today, showcasing 9 fresh and fun beers from the small brewery in downtown Cornwall. The taplist includes favourites found on tap already, like the Sabro Pale Ale and Bitter, as well as plenty of new beauties like NorCal Pale Ale, Dark Mild, and Lagered Ale, and will even mark the debut of the brand new New Zealand Pale Ale. As the name implies, this 5.0% Pale Ale features hops from the land of the kiwis, namely Nelson Sauvin and Motueka. This brew won’t be available in Cornwall until next week, even! On the “what to eat to pair with your beer” tip, HopYard has debuted the “Hola Amigo” menu this week – check out this post for the latest food options! And with just one keg of each offering on tap at the ‘Yard, you’re well advised to head there sooner rather than later!
We told you about this event last week, but a quick reminder about Belgianfest 2021 at Stillwell HQ this Saturday and Sunday. From noon til 10:00 PM both days, Stilly will be pouring some classic and rare Belgian treats with a great mix of kegs and bottles. The team in the kitchen will also be pushing out some Belgian dishes. Check out Stillwell’s social channels for more info. If you happen to drop in on Saturday you may even see a few of your favorite intrepid bloggers.
For something a little different, tune into a free public lecture from the Nova Scotia Institute of Science this Monday, March 1st. Dr. Gordon McOuat, Director of the History of Science and Technology Program at University of King’s College, will be presenting The Science and Culture of Beer. From McOuat, “This talk will explore those key moments in the long relationship between beer, civilization, and science”. The full details of how to tune in are on their website, so grab a can or bottle of your favourite beer from your local brewery, and get your beer learnin’ on!
And a last few items for your perusal before you get on with your day:
If you’re more in the mood for cider this weekend, head to Truro Brewing Company to check out Cide Hustle. Using freshly pressed juice from Stirling Farms in Greenwich, Cide Hustle comes in at 6.0% ABV, features a hazy appearance and a semi-dry body. Find it on tap at the brewery on Inglis Place today.
St. Patrick’s Day is mere weeks away, which can only mean one thing – the return of the Irish seasonals! Propeller is first out of the gate with their Irish Red Ale. Their take on the style comes in at a sessionable 5% ABV and combines roasty malt notes with an earthy hop character. Look for it through Propeller’s online store and three taproom locations this weekend.
Fans of good beer in the environs of Windsor, NS, have reason to cheer this week, as the Schoolhouse Brewing taproom is back after a COVID-related hiatus. Look for new things coming out of both the brewery and the kitchen as they get back to business, including a new Russian Imperial Stout on tap that will be benefiting their local food bank.
Over at Unfiltered, Fist of God is making its return. This 8% DIPA is available now on North Street in cans and via fills if you have Unfiltered glass to exchange.
Just wanted to thank you for the heads up regarding the link to NSIS and Gordon McOuat’s talk on Monday. It was most informative and enjoyable.
I’m thrilled to hear, Bob! I took part as well, really enjoyed learning about the history from thousands of years ago, and more recently in Europe.