Sorry to start off all Nova-Scotia-centric in this week, but that was some major BS… Earlier in the week, the province announced that all alcohol retail had to close, except the NSLC. There is no denying that for many in our region, alcohol depency is a real and serious issue, meaning access should be considered essential. But to only allow one retailer (the provincial near-monopoly, of course) and not others, is seriously problematic. Thankfully, the decision was revised within a day, but not before dozens of breweries, distilleries, wineries, and private stores had shut down, possibly set up online delivery portals or curbside ordering options (none cooler than rookie brewery Serpent Brewing creating their own drive-thru in their parking lot), and generally spent time and money all for a baseless and throw-away line from the province. If we are to come out of this mostly intact, we all need to work together, and when those making the rules favour one essential provider over others, it pulls down small businesses. Now enough of the doom and gloom, let’s get some new beers in your glasses this weekend!
Let’s start in Nova Scotia this week with a brand new one from Lunenburg’s Shipwright Brewing. Located on the main drag at 82 Montague Street, Shipwright’s taproom/retail may be tiny, but that hasn’t stopped Brewer Kellye Robertson from continuously churning out the good stuff! The latest release is Twin Engines Belgian Pale Ale, the first in a series of Belgian beers to be released in the coming months. A cross-continental mash up, the grist of the Pale Ale starts with Shoreline Malting Pale, Munich, and Chit malts. In the kettle, a bittering addition of Ella is complemented with a flameout dosing (more flavour than bitterness) of Sabro and Topaz, with more of the same dynamic duo after fermentation has concluded. Taking care of that fermentation is an Ardennes strain of yeast, giving some lovely spicy phenolic kick to meld with the tropical hops. Pineapple and peach dance on a dry pithy base in this 5.5%, 45 IBU beer. As in-brewery enjoyment is on pause province-wide, the best way to grab Twin Engines is by crowler at the taproom this weekend.
From one tiny brewery to another, Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing will be open Friday and Saturday 2 – 8 PM for curbside pickup of cans only, with some returning favourites as well as the debut of Everything is Totally Fine. We appreciate the optimism (or sarcasm) the crew put into naming this release, which we think is close to an Old School / West Coast Pale Ale. Pine and resin notes abound in this heftily-hopped 5.5% beer, sticking to early boil hops for the largest additions. The beer finishes with a touch of honey from the malt, but the focus is definitely the hops.
Halifax’s 2 Crows isn’t letting the lockdown prevent them from continuing to release new and fun brews to keep things interesting for you while you’re holed up in your domicile. As is often the case, this week we’re seeing a dual release, one on the younger and fresher side, and one more aged and complex. First up is a small beer with a Belgian bent, the 3.6% ABV hoppy table beer, Tiny Dancer (although you’ll be forgiven for calling it Tony Danza). Built on a base of Shoreline Malting Pale malt, raw wheat, and some of Shoreline’s Belgian new Belgian-style biscuit malt as well, it was mash hopped with Chinook and then hit hard in the kettle with Sterling, Chinook, and Tradition. Fermentation was done with a blend of yeasts including 2C’s house saison strain and some Brett in the form of The Yeast Bay 207, a single strain of Brettanomyces bruxellensis isolated from a Belgian-inspired brewery in the Northeast United States (possibly one on a farmstead…on a hill…?) that’s known for producing flavors reminiscent of Sweet Tarts™ candy (that’s “crushed candy” if you’re @tony_important). After some time to allow the yeast and bacteria to express themselves, the beer was packaged and allowed to can condition, which should yield a tight and spritzy carb. Look for a bright and refreshing result, with plenty of hop character and bitterness at 40 IBU; we’re looking forward to crushing these in earnest when the warmer weather hits!
The other new offering from 2C this week is another collaboration with the fine folks at World Tea House in Halifax. Assamica is a barrel-aged sour that was brewed around this time in 2020 with a grist of Pilsner, spelt, wheat, oats and special aromatic malt, and hopped lightly with some aged noble hops. A “host” of yeast and bacteria were used to ferment it in barrels once used for Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur digestif. After about 9 months of post-fermentation conditioning, World Tea House’s Phil Holmans was consulted to pair a tea with it. He chose an Assam black tea with earthiness and complexity that complements the deep and rounded character imparted by the Amaro barrel. The tea was steeped for 24 hours in the barrel, after which the beer was bottled and bottle conditioned for three months. You can expect a smooth, tannic, malty, and earthy result in this 6% ABV beer, with plenty of complexity and some herbal aspects from the barrel. Both of these new ones are available from the brewery for reduced in-person retail or curbside pickup or delivery via online ordering.
To the Annapolis Valley for this next one, where Somerset’s own Bad Apple Brewhouse has a new blended cider out this week. Strawberry Feels is a 5.0% blend of apple juice with a healthy dose of Organic strawberry puree, which comes through in the palate nicely, making for a “fun summer sipper”, as described by BAB. It can be found at the Brewhouse as well as 14 NSLC locations in the coming days, joining the Box Cutter IPA and Mosaic Double IPA.
And a few last quick hits:
The sun has been shining, the trees are budding and in another sure sign that summer is on its way, Big Spruce Brewing’s Silver Tart has made its much anticipated return. Cans of the kettle-soured raspberry wheat ale are now available at the Sprucetique and through Big Spruce’s delivery/shipping options. Cans are also headed to Bishop’s Cellar. In hoppier news, another batch of Brobdingnagian, their Mosaic hopped DIPA, is also available in bottles.
Island hopping over to St. John’s, Bannerman Brewing is releasing Block Party. This saison was brewed with French hops and an addition of hibiscus to give it a beautiful, bright red color. It was also conditioned on orange peels before packaging. Look for subtle herbal notes form those French hops and a hint of tartness. You can find Block Party at the brewery now for pints and growler fills.
Trailway is bringing the hops again this weekend with a new batch of Ooz, their 8% ABV tropical DIPA featuring Sabro, Citra and Galaxy. Cans are available now through their various sales channels. Also, the shipments of Good Weather and Hot Sky that we teased earlier this month have arrived in Nova Scotia and are now available at the Port (Hot Sky) and other NSLC locations (Good Weather).
Unfiltered Brewing has a new batch of Daytimer available, their crushable 4% ABV Berliner Weisse. It’s available in cans on North Street, with a fancy new can design to boot.
We’ll leave you with some more positive news to end the week. Good Robot will be undergoing a massive expansion over the next 6 months, as they will be working in a second facility in Hants County that will allow them to seriously increase their production and customer delivery capacity. News of the expansion broke in AllNS this week, so check out that publication for more info (subscription required). Congratulations to the Robots on their continued growth and success! We’ll feature more news on the expansion as things progress with their new facility.