Happy First Friday of June! The weather is warming, vaccination rates are rising, COVID cases are waning, all of which point to a rising from the ashes of 2020/H1 2021 for the breweries, cideries, and good beer spots in the region. Patios opened province-wide in Nova Scotia this week, the first time in 9 months, and in-brewery/-bar/-restaurant enjoyment is coming soon. Let’s celebrate with a whole buncha new beers available across the region!
Let’s start off by congratulating Dieppe’s O’Creek Brewing Company on their third anniversary. To celebrate, the team has brewed Maple Pecan Pie, a big pastry stout to the tune of 10.5%. Local syrup from Château Scoudouc adds a sweet maple note, with cocoa nibs adding some bitter chocolate character. The beer was conditioned on pecans, dates and vanilla beans to provide additional sweetness and flavour complexity. Bottles are in short supply due to batch size, so be sure to hit up CAVOK Brewing* tomorrow when they are officially released! If you’re more in the mood for hops, fresh kegs of their NEIPA Magnetic Ale are on tap now Euston Park’s Parlee Beach location. This 6.5% take on the style is packed with tropical fruit and citrus notes from late additions of Galaxy, Mosaic, El Dorado and Citra, followed by a dry hop of Simcoe and Mosaic.
*New 6.8% Hibiscus IPA out now from CAVOK, btw, Red Knight. It’s available in their Dieppe taproom and for delivery and shipping online.
On Nova Scotia’s North Shore, the Tatamagouche Brewery tiny patio re-opened this week, with 3 new and returning beers released coincidentally. Returning is Guava Heist, a 3.6% Berliner Weisse (aka sour wheat beer), aged on Organic guava for an intense tropical and citrus experience on the tart base. Available now in cans and on draught at the brewery, like the next two beers, as well as for online ordering for NS and Canada-wide shipping. Brand new this week is another sour beer, but done using a modern approach. Leveraging the new Philly Sour yeast, isolated and studied by a research group in Philadelphia, it is able to create lactic acid directly, rather than needing a Lactobacillus bacteria to do the heavy lifting. This means a very controllable and consistent beer from batch to batch, without the need to hold the fermenting wort at high temperature (currently necessary with Kettle Sours), yet still delivering a moderately tart and refreshing kick we love in sours. Tata is starting their journey with this new yeast with Spark, a 5.0% Sour Pale Ale. Forgoing any fruit for the debut, Spark features a light addition of tropical hops in the kettle, with loads of Eclipse and New Zealand-grown Cascade in the dry-hop. Horton Ridge Pale and Wheat Malts, and Oats, make up the grist upon which the hops and yeast play. The light acidity in the beer brightens the hop character and keeps you coming back for more.
Taking a left turn from the sour beers is Tata’s Dawdle, a 5.8% Belgian Pale Ale. A base of Pilsner and Munich, with a touch of Honey malts, give a clean foundation to build on. A large dosing of Hallertau Mittlefruh and Ariana in the kettle is complemented by plenty more H M in the dry-hop, lending floral and herbal notes to the subtle pepper and spicy yeast character. Cans available in store and online now!
Chester’s finest has a re-release that is now available just in time for the warmer turn of weather. Session Rye IPA is back from Tanner Brewing boasting a backbone of Rye flavour throughout, generous hop additions, but stays at a nice sessionable 4.5% ABV. This Session IPA has a few changes from the original release as they used more Rye and paired it with English Maris Otter malt for the grain bill. They used some other hops this time around as well, now using Lotus, Mosaic and Idaho 7. The result brings some nice Rye spice and body through a dry, refreshing ale with notes of citrus and tropical fruits from the hopping. This is available in their standard 500ml bottles for shipping from their online store or for in-store pickup.
In one of the the recent 902 Brewcast tasting episodes, the boys broke the news that Big Spruce has added another canner to its lineup that will allow them to can small batch beers made on the original system adjacent to the Sprucetique. Over the last week, two new offerings and a returning seasonal have found their way into cans from the new line. FIrst up is the return of She’s Maibock, a German-style lager. Hopped with Huell Melon, this 6.5% lager features notes of melon and apricot to compliment a toasted bread crust malt profile. The two new releases are both takes on Saison, with two very different interpretations to contrast. Old World Saison honors the fruit and spice yeast derived notes of the style, with an added wood character from conditioning in oak barrels. Coming in at 7.4%, it uses Hallertau Tradition hops that are known for their earthy and grassy character. Finally, New World Saison adds an element that many North American brewers of Saisons have experimented with, by incorporating Brettanomyces, in this case for a co-fermentation with a yeast strain. The funky character from the Brett plays nicely with the Citra dry-hop, which lends notes of grapefruit and tangerine. You can find all of the new canned releases now at the Sprucetique (their Food Truck opens for the season today) or for province-wide delivery and Canada-wide shipping in Big Spruce’s online store.
You may know Hampton, New Brunswick as being between Sussex and Saint John and along the Saint John River, but now you may remember them for Gridiron Brewing. They have a new beer out now, as they keep brewing and rolling out the good stuff. Zambapalooza is a NEIPA with exclusively Zamba hops (the BSG hop blend formerly known as Samba). This new hop blend brings complex flavour and aroma with stone fruits, tangerine and pineapple. Pairing that with barley and wheat from Island Malt House, as well as some oats, a smooth mouthfeel supports and softens any bite, keeping it true to the OG NEIPA. At 4.9% it has a lighter body, but a lot of the punch of a NEIPA. They’re brewing and they’re open Thurs – Sun 3 – 6 PM, with free local and QV deliveries happening multiple times per week, so check out their website for their full offerings.
Never a stranger to bring the summer treats, Propeller has a new release available now. Peachberry is a Sour Ale featuring (you guessed it) Peach and Strawberry. Using natural strawberry and peach additions, this lightly sour ale is a balance of sweet and tart. With an IBU of 8, the hopping is minimal and the ripe strawberry and peach sweetness shine through at 5%. This is available now in 473ml can and 4-packs online and in person at Prop Shops, private stores and The Port by NSLC shortly, and will be popping up on tap at various establishments around the province any second now (perfect for those patios now open!). And great news that Propeller is filling growlers again! Of note, they only fill their own branded growlers, but the deposit on theirs is fully refundable so you’re not out anything!
Up the Eastern Shore from HRM lies Sheet Harbour, home of Sober Island Brewing, who have quite a few things on the go this week. First up, last week they put a new beer on the taps: Old School American IPA is pretty self-explanatory, we figure, but no less interesting for being so. Featuring hints of white pepper and pine you can think of it as a sibling to their Wavebreaker; better act soon if you want to try it, though, as we’ve been advised there’s not a whole lot left. Meanwhile, those looking for a Sober Island fix that’s a little closer to the city might be excited to hear that not only do they have a new location in Musquodoboit Harbour on the grounds of the Musquodoboit Harbour Railway Museum, but they’re now able to operate as a beer garden there. Grab some beer to go or to sit and sip in the sun, Thursday to Sunday, 12 – 8 PM; it’s dog and family friendly, and The Bandwagon food truck will also be there this weekend if you’re feeling the need for a nosh. Lastly, as you can imagine, with the beer garden comes the need for some more folks to help with the pouring and the serving and such. If you’re looking for such a spot for summer employment, you can forward your resumé along with an explanation of why you’d like to work for Sober Island to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two pieces of news from Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewery. Let’s start with a new beer release. Keeping up with what is now a weekly trend of low-ABV releases, Light Bright is a 3.5% light beer with a spiffy can label that can’t help but make us nostalgic for perpetually losing the small plastic pegs from the namesake toy. The beer includes a touch of Vienna malt and whirlpool and dry-hop additions of Centennial and Simcoe hops that provide a citrusy aroma. Cans of Light Bright are available now at the taproom on Portland St. And for those who’ve been patiently watching the space on the Dartmouth waterfront, you’ll be pleased to know that Brightwood is opening their Beergarden today (weather dependent). Seating capacity will start out at 100 (with groups now larger than 10 per the public health rules). In addition to being able to get food from Evan’s Seafood, this year’s menu will also include a hotdog and ice cream vendor. Check out Brightwood’s social channels for hours of operation and any weather related closures.
Hop lovers in HRM (and beyond, these folks ship pretty much everywhere) can rejoice, as Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing has a brand new entry in their ongoing series of ultra hop forward and hazy New England IPAs. Modern Interpretation is the 6th entry so far and features the same grist, Golden Promise malt with some wheat, dextrapils and oats for body, Columbus in the mash and at first wort, Simcoe and Huell Melon in the hopback on the way out of the kettle, and a fermentation with the Foggy London yeast strain from Escarpment Labs. For featured hops in the dry hop, which is where the various “-ations” diverge from one another, this one was positively blasted with “stupid” amounts of Enigma and Galaxy along with a “little bit” (only by comparison, we’re sure) of Citra. Expect aromas of overripe papaya, raspberry and peach along with additional notes of mango and pear. Smooth, tropical, and intense, with a definite dankness, it’s 6.1%, 44 IBU and available at the brewery now. And if massively hopped hazebombs aren’t your thing, fear not, the 2C gang might very well still have you covered. Their recently release crispy Bohemian Pils Letna is still in full effect and this week also sees the return of Jubilee, the sibling of Jamboree. A fruited summer sour with blackberry and apricot, it’s lively, lush, and full of flavor. Order online for curbside pickup or delivery, or just head down to the brewery and grab some in person to go or to sip on their patio.
Halifax’s little brewery that could is back with their can-do attitude and a bunch of cans this week. After a few weeks of shutdown Tidehouse is back with four beers available: two new ones and two return engagements. First up on the new stuff front is Chrysalis, a beer that lands somewhere between a lager and an ale, featuring Pilsner malt and Czech Saaz hops paired with the classic California Lager yeast strain. A bit bitter, bready, and crackery, with a mild noble hop note, it’s 5.5% ABV and full-bodied, but finishes nice and dry, the ideal summer crusher. In short, and in the words of the brewery themselves, it’s “[a] beery beer that beers.” Also new from the Tidehouse crew this week is Saddle Up, an IPA in the New England style. Hazy and juicy, as the style demands, this 7% ABV beer does pull a little zig and zag from what you might be used to, first with a solid bitter backbone that’s often somewhat lacking in NEIPAs, and then by replacing the slightly sweet finish that’s so common with a more dry sensation. Hopped with Eclipse, Enigma, and Citra, you can rightly expect notes of fresh pineapple, ripe mango, and grapefruit.
On the returning beer front we find a couple of very summery beers just in time for what we hope is a banger of a weekend weather-wise in the HRM. Peachy Fuzzies is up first, their 4.5% sour that features Peach Rooibos tea from another local business, World Tea House. Nominally a sour, but balanced well by plenty of peach character and a definite iced tea vibe, this is definitely a beer that would be at home on a sunny afternoon on a patio. Also returning is a fresh batch of the brewery’s stone cold classic Hibiscus City. Also a sour and 4.5%, this one features Hibiscus (of course!) and lime and a gorgeous purply-red hue. Cans of all four of these beers are available at the brewery from noon – 6 PM today for sure, but keep an eye on their socials (Fb, Ig) for more information about other days when you’ll be able to pop down and, hopefully sooner rather than later, when they’ll be able to open their taproom for pouring pints again.
Halifax’s Garrison Brewing is embracing the warmer weather with two patio-worthy beers returning this week. Their Sour to the People is sour and puckering as all get out, and while it does not feature any fruit in the beer, lemon, peach, green apple, and lemon come through thanks to the acidic kick and other ingredients. At 5.5%, cans are available at both their Seaport and Oxford retail stores, as well as on tap at both locations (patio drinking!), with limited draught to a few places around town. Also returning is Georgia Peach, a 5.0% Wheat beer featuring plenty of peach coming through on the nose and palate, on top of the light base of Maritime Pale and Wheat malts. In addition to Garrison’s spots, cans will also be available at the private stores and NSLC in the next few days/week.
Having an events section at all is suddenly a novelty; here’s hoping this is the first in a new trend:
Would you believe that things have settled down enough in PEI for there to be a PEI Craft Beer Week this year?! We didn’t either, but hey, we’re mostly (very jealous) mainlanders in these parts. Starting tomorrow, Saturday, June 5th, and extending a full week to Saturday, June 12th, this year’s event is featuring both PEI Craft Beer as well as PEI Beef, with PEI Cattle Producers, Atlantic Beef Products Inc., and PEILCC all sponsoring and pretty much all the breweries on the Island involved. Right in line with that combo of sponsors, then, is this year’s signature event, Beef & Brews, where you’ll find food featuring PEI beef paired with PEI craft beer at various tap rooms around the province. Check out the main PEICBW website for a list of who’s participating and what their combo is. Also at that link you’ll find the complete schedule of events throughout the week, including live music, trivia nights, guided tastings, tap takeovers, and more. And there’s also a contest you can enter for a prize package from PEILLC (we have a sneaking suspicion that the prizes might involve beer in some way). Islanders, know that the rest of us are pretty jelly right now.
Now that you know where to find all the appropriate details for this week of events, check out some of the new beers you’ll be enjoying at them:
First up, PEI Brewing Company has a new seasonal release from their Gahan lineup. Walker West Coast IPA is named after their second location established on Walker Drive, where they were located from 2008 until 2013. This tribute IPA has a great malt backbone with sweet caramel malt but balances nicely with big tropical and pine notes from a variety of hops bring the IBU to 70. At 7% expect a deliciously aromatic, bitter and malty classic West Coast IPA. It’s available now in cans at PEI Brew Co and Gahan locations on PEI and will be available at brewpubs and PEI Liquor stores soon.
Not only is the whole Island celebrating PEI Beer Week this week, but Bogside Brewing in Montague is also celebrating their second birthday and tomorrow (that’s Saturday, June 5th), they’re having a birthday party and new beer release event. Bogside Radler is exactly what a Radler should be, a light (5% ABV) beer mixed with real juice (grapefruit, tangerine, and a splash of lime); an easy drinking, refreshing combo with a crisp finish, great for hot weather and wherever the day takes you. You’ll find it for $5 pints tomorrow and 15% off 6-packs of 355 mL cans to go. Meanwhile, you’ll also find on-site oyster shucking (11:30 – 2:30 PM and 4:30 – 8:30 PM) , thanks to a team-up with Cascumpec Bay Oyster Co., live music from Dave Woodside (4 – 7 PM) and Adam MacGregor (7 – 10 PM), and lawn games in the beer gardens. Get the full deets from the Fb Event Page. And if you can’t make the party, but would like to celebrate at home with some Bogside, online ordering is still in full effect!
Copper Bottom in Montague is kicking off Beer Week a bit early, with a sneak peek of a new barrel-aged sour coming next week. Pouring today is Bramble, a raspberry sour heavily influenced by the Belgian Framboise style. Starting out with a multi-grain grist of Pilsner, Spelt, Raw Wheat and 2-row, the beer spent its first six months in Pinot Grigio taking in a whole bunch of funk and acidity from the mixed culture yeast used to ferment. It was then transferred onto raspberry puree for another two months allowing the tart and jammy character of the fruit to meld with the beer. While the majority of the 5.1% beer was bottled a couple of months back to develop some natural carbonation and will be released this coming Thursday, a small amount was kegged and available at the brewery this weekend. Pop in, maybe grab something from The Pizza Box onsite, and kick off your PEI Craft Beer Week today!
Fresh off their win at last night’s Hopyard Beer Bar Battle of the Breweries, Village Green has a brand new hazy IPA available on draught and in cans in Cornwall today. Weird Clouds will be a rotating NEIPA, exploring different varietals and blends of hops. Version #1 features Columbus, Citra, Amarillo, and El Dorado, coming together for a billowy blast of tropical flavour and aroma, on a 6.7% soft base of Pilsner, Vienna, Flaked Oats, and Wheat malts. Head out for a pint and can, and pop by Holy Fox Food Truck set up next door!
If you’re looking for summer work in the beer business up on the North side of the Province, have a look at this:
Antigonish’s Candid Brewing is holding another retail pop-up in their space this weekend, today 3 – 6 PM, tomorrow 1 – 4 PM. And if working with them sounds like a great time this summer, you’re in luck! Through the Canada Summer Jobs program, they are looking at hiring both a Brewery Labourer (no direct brewing experience necessary, you’re bound to learn lots while on the job) and Social Events Co-ordinator. More information on both jobs and how to apply are on their website, and closes June 10.