Happy Friday beer and cider drinkers of Atlantic Canada. We’ve reached the mid-point of November, which means you’re about to start hearing way more Boney M. on the radio and the holiday-themed beverages will be rolling out of tanks across the region. And while we certainly have a few big, wintery beers to tell you about, you’ll be comforted to know that your favourite producers are still bringing you new IPAs, sours, ciders and sessionable ales as well. Holiday-creep also means that way-too-early Black Friday sales are everywhere, which is a perfect excuse for us to remind you to buy local this holiday season. Gift cards, glassware, swag, a year-long subscription to ACBB, or just some good ol’ fashioned fermented beverages from your favourite producers all make perfect gifts. Your support helps to ensure that they can keep giving you the good stuff, and we’ll keep telling you about it every Friday.
Let’s start off with some news from the smaller producers in our region! O’Creek Brewing based in Dieppe, New Brunswick, leads us off with a banger of a beer in bottles. While known near and far for their love (and great execution) of New England IPAs, as the weather turns a bit chillier, sometimes you need something else in your glass! Enter Coffee Island, a brand new release that spent time in their oak foeder, built for them by New World Foeders on Prince Edward Island. The base Imperial Stout was aged in wood for about 9 months, before a cold-brew concoction was added shortly before bottling. This was not any old coffee, however, as these beans were aged in bourbon barrels before roasting, courtesy of Matera Brasseurs in Montreal. Notes of oak, roast, bourbon and coffee come together in this 10.4% ABV sipper, and will be available shortly at several ANBL locations, as well as the Picaroons Roundhouse Brewtique.
Located in Colby Village, Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, you’ll find another small producer serving their local community, Hardisty Brewing. Their latest release is honouring the region’s, and their own, heritage, with a spot-on name, Heritage Rye IPA. Recognizing and reflecting on Acadian roots, as well as a history of brewing in their family, they have slightly tweaked their motto “Inspired by Community” to “Inspirée par la famille”. This 6.0% ABV beer showcases the spicy and ester character of the Rye malt used in the base beer, and follows through with enough bitterness (to the tune of 48 IBU) to balance everything out. Heritage Rye will be available this weekend in Hardisty’s Winter Special, a mixed 8-pack of beer perfect for the cooler weather. And to keep your noggin warm as well as your belly, a Hardisty Brew toque is included! The Winter Special is now available for purchase on Hardisty’s website, where they have also launched their special Dartmouth-wide shipping. On Thursday November 18 and December 16, residents in Dartmouth will be able to take part in the fun that until now only folks in Cole Harbour have been able to enjoy: Hardisty Brew right to your door! Fear not, CH folks, your usual weekly deliveries are still happening. 🙂 And if you’re not lucky enough to live on the Darkside, Heritage Rye will be on the shelves at Harvest Wines in the next week or so, joining a few other Hardisty offerings..
Spryfield’s Serpent Brewing has some things on the go, starting, of course, with a new beer. Judas is a Belgian Blonde Ale, a refreshing and easy-drinking pale yellow beer with esters of plum and pear, that they’ve balanced with sweet malt and a low but still very present bitterness. Coming in at 5% ABV and 35 IBU, expect more character and body than you’d find in a pale lager, but still a fairly crisp finish. Grab it at the brewery today. You can also now order online for next day delivery or, if you’re not local to NS, nationwide shipping. Details are available on their website. And if you’d like to learn a little bit more about the brewery, owner/brewer Glen O’Keefe sat down with Tony and Kyle from the 902BrewCast (‘member them?) for their first brewery episode in over a year and that episode is online for your listening pleasure! Get it from the source or find it through your favorite podcast app. Meanwhile, if you’re like us and you’ve busted your 902BC glass, they’ve got them available again for $10; message them via Instagram to arrange.
We’re a little late to the party on this one, but Port Rexton Brewing put out a new release in their Continuum series of hazy IPAs last week. This one, however, veers away from the “hot” hops generally used in this style and takes a flyer on a couple of Continental hops largely unknown on these shores. Styrian Dragon is a Slovenian hop developed over the last number of years by the Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing in Žalec, and is known as an aroma (late-addition) hop with notes of floral citrus, grapefruit, lemon, berries, rose, and tropical fruit. Malling, on the other hand, has been around for a long time, a descendant of English hops that were imported to Austria to rebuild their hop industry after disease and the Second World War decimated it. Named for a village in Kent, where a Mr. Golding lived, it’s known for minty and peppery notes. Together these hops provide the latest Continuum with aromas of gummy candy, flavors of citrus and berries, and some minty character. It’s 5.9% ABV and is the first in the series to be packaged in cans; get it at the brewery and the St. John’s retail shop now and look for it on tap at PR tap accounts and retailers.
In nearly beer news this week, Upstreet out of Charlottetown has released a new entry under their Libra brand of non-alcoholic beers, Libra Stout. Tasting like “a light iced-mochaccino” it brings the typical characters of coffee and chocolate while being low calorie. This one was a trial batch so only available at Upstreet locations, but they’ve already hinted that they’ll be making more in the future. Which brings us to Libra Pilsner, which this week is graduating from a similar trial release back in the summer to wider distribution at Sobeys and other retail partners. Crisp and slightly malty, it’s also got some floral notes from the use of traditional Saaz hops.
Upstreet is still making not-just-nearly beer as well, and they’ve got a new IPA coming soon to replace Black Tie on the shelves of PEILLC for the Fall/Winter season. Blue Meanie marries the flavor of blueberries (thanks to blueberry concentrate) with bright Lemondrop and dank/fruity Mosaic hops, all carried by a decidedly colder-season ABV of 8%. Tart, semi-sweet, with pineapple, blueberry, and lemon notes prominent, it boasts 30 IBUs of balancing bitterness. Look for this one starting next week.
Longtime fans of Halifax’s Good Robot may remember the time they took their Mississippi Goddam American Barleywine and put it in bourbon barrels for six months, kicking off their barrel program with a bang. That was four-ish years ago now, but those who have been waiting with bated breath for the next BA beer from GR can finally heave a sigh of relief. Barrel Aged Tom is what happened when they took their stalwart Tom Waits for No One American stout and sat it in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels for 6 months. Still bringing the coffee and chocolate notes of the regular version, the barrel adds some smoky oak and sweetness to the mix. Of course, the residual spirit bumped the ABV a little, taking it from 7.9% to more like 10.5%, which no doubt also adds a little (more) alcohol warmth to the mix. Released on Wednesday in 650 mL bottles with a swank metallic label, you might want to invite a friend or two to come on up to the house to share it. Or, y’know, accept an invitation to the blues, explore the bottom of the world, and wind up sleeping on the cold cold ground with the rain dogs. Get it at the brewery or order it online for delivery.
Over in Dartmouth, Lake City Cider is making sure you’re ready for the coming season, both holiday and meteorologically speaking. Spice Up Your Life, re-released today, isn’t a paean to the Spice Girls (well, it could also be that), but mostly the self-describing name of their latest offering. Featuring your favorite winter spices, namely cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg, along with some dried orange peel, this off-dry cider comes in at 6.8% ABV and has been packaged in 750 mL bottles. Look for it at the cidery or order online for pickup or delivery.
Back across the harbour to Halifax, where Propeller Brewing is continuing to lean firmly into the “dark beers for the dark months” model. We told you last week about the return of their London Porter, which we were a little early on (sorry folks!), but it turns out there’s more than one reason for the return of that beer. First, people like it and want to drink it; second, because the fine folks at the brewery took a portion of the batch and created another beer with it. Wild Cherry Porter is out today and sees that very London Porter treated to some time in the tank with wild cherries. Still 5% and still boasting plenty of chocolate and coffee character from roasted malts, the cherries add some sweetness and richness along with the flavor you’d expect. A bit of a treat for a cold day or sock a couple away for the impending holiday season. Available in 4-packs of cans for ordering from their website; you should be able to get singles in person at the Prop shops, and we suspect you’ll see it pop up at some tap accounts for draught pours as well. It’s also available in singles on the holiday rack at select NSLC locations throughout the Province.
And keep an eye out for the London Porter itself; here’s what we wrote last week about it before redacting it in shame: “Also returning is Propeller’s London Porter, another flavourful dark beer, emphasizing the chocolate over the roast (though roast is still present), on a drier finish. These characteristics, as well as the 5.0% ABV, put it soundly in the “traditional” style for a porter, close to that of an iconic London brewery that has been brewing it for decades, carried on the historic style. On tap at Propeller locations now and cans coming soon, this beer will see distribution during the remainder of Fall and into Winter.”
For those looking for something even darker, richer, and stronger, it’s that time of year again when we see the return of what might be considered the granddaddy of big beers in our region: Revolution Russian Imperial Stout. Although it doesn’t come in those awesome 500 mL slope-shouldered bottles anymore, it still has all the intense chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee flavors you remember along with a balancing bitterness and a slightly warm alcohol finish. Weighing in at a hefty 8% ABV and 60 IBU, you’ll find it starting today at the Prop shops and available for online ordering in four-packs of 473 mL cans, and in singles from select NSLC locations, with some tap accounts pouring it as well.
We won’t fault you for thinking that maybe you were going to get through a week without having to head down to 2 Crows and grab yet another tasty release. But if you did, once again you thought wrong. Frequenters of the tap room will know Tessa, their tasting room manager and social media coordinator. Well now you can add beer designer to the list, as this week’s release is Tessa’s brainchild. As Tessa is one of the biggest proponents of sours in the building, it’s natural that this one started in mid-2019 with the standard 2C golden sour as a base, this one fermented and conditioned long and slow in the barrels used for the Megadregs project of several years ago, taking on a complex sour character with a hint of coconut. From there, the goal was to develop lemon and lavender characters; the lemon was relatively straightforward, with a small amount of fresh lemon juice added to barrel to complement the already present lemony and floral vibe created during fermentation. But the lavender was a bit of a more difficult ask, as nobody wants a soapy character to their beer. Thanks to some advice from the fine folks at Meander River Brewery, the gang learned that the lavender stems and flowers can be boiled in a small amount of water to draw out a nuttier lavender character. This water was added along with a hit of fresh lemon zest shortly before bottling, and the beer bottle conditioned for several months. The result is a 5.5% ABV beer, sour and complex, but also bright and spritzy, where the lavender is layered and subtle and the lemon provides some extra zip. You’ll find it available today in 375 mL bottles at the brewery and available via online orders for pickup or delivery as well. If you grab some, take a minute to appreciate the lovely label, also designed by Tessa, and for a triple play of Tessa-ness, maybe check out her recently released EP on Spotify too!!
If you’re in the mood for something a bit richer this weekend, check out Ol’ Biddy’s Brew House for the release of their new Double Chocolate Stout. This small batch brew was made with copious amounts of Chocolate Malt and 2 pounds of cocoa powder, for good measure. Coming in at 26 IBUS and an approachable 6.8% ABV, it showcases notes of chocolate and roasted coffee beans. Head to the taproom in Lower Sackville ASAP if you want to try it, with only two kegs being available before it’s gone.
What to drink this weekend, and where? We’ve got you covered!
A reminder that tomorrow, November 13th, Copper Bottom Brewing in Montague is marking their 4th Anniversary, complete with live music all day (noon til 9 PM), food specials by their resident food truck, The Pizza Box, plus $5 pints and beer slushies! And launching is Birthday Beer 4, a 5.6% Mango IPA. Dry-hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe, along with plenty of mango puree to really dial up the tropical fruit flavour, it will be available on draught and in cans in-house and online.
While in Montague tomorrow, you can also pop by Bogside Brewing, who is launching a new look to their Lighthorse Lagered Ale. From 12 – 9 PM, visitors will enjoy staff-priced pints of Lighthorse (just $5!), with performances by the PEI Regiment Band from 1 – 3 PM, Blizzard Goat Band 3:30 – 5:30, and Carter MacLellan closes out the evening from 6:30 on. This collaborative brew with the PEI Light Horse Regiment was first released in October 2019, and part of tomorrow’s pint and can sales will be donated to the Last Post Fund.
Newfoundlanders, your next two weeks are shaping up to be busy!
First off, Quidi Vidi Brewery has teamed up with Basho Restaurant to release the latest version of their Bog and Barrens beer, Yuzu Rice Lager. Launching next week, this beer was designed to pair perfectly with Tak Ishiwa’s cuisine at this local Japanese restaurant. So what better way to celebrate than with a pairing dinner? On November 16 and 17, Ishiwa will be bringing a 5-course pairing menu to the QV gut to showcase how well food and beer go together. While Tuesday’s event is sold out, tickets are available for Wednesday’s dinner, and available on the QV website. And keep your eyes peeled for the beer to be released in cans in the next few days!
In East Duck, Bar Brewdock is hosting an interprovincial tape takeover next week that is so big it needs two days to contain! Next Friday and Saturday, Nov 19 and 20, the fine folks from PEI’s Lone Oak Brewing are skipping the causeway and flying straight into St. John’s, pouring a full dozen of their beers. From core brands like South Shore Sour and Fixed Link Pils, as well as special and one-off releases like Blueprint and Otis, there will be plenty for folks to try. If you’re like us and know that Brewdock actually has 24 draught lines (!!), you may be wondering, “Hey, what else might I see on tap that weekend?”. Well, we can spill that joining LOB on tap for the weekend is none other than Dildo Brewing Co. With fresh releases like the DO-X Italian Pilsner, Lassie Brown Ale, to the classic I’se Da Bye PA, Dildo is sure to show up and please everyone who pops in for the swally. An event this big could use some epic food to pair, so Crumb & Pickle are taking over the kitchen! Sandwiches and more, plants are what’s for dinner on Duckworth from 12 – 9 PM Friday and Saturday! No tickets necessary, just show up early and show up often, to drink the best from our two Atlantic Canadian island provinces.
And rounding out the great events occurring this month in Newfoundland is the return of the 12 Beers of Christmas. Hosted at the St. John’s Farmers Market on November 26 and 27, while the Saturday show is sold out, there are still a few tickets for Friday’s event. Despite the name, there are waaaaay more than 12 beers pouring, with a great combination of Newfoundland and Labrador breweries, as well as those from outside of the region. Look out for the first time in Nfld history to see Boombox Brewing from Vancouver, and New Level from Calgary pouring in the province. Grab your tickets now before you’re left out in the cold!
A few more quick hits today…
Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing has a new iteration of their Velvet Fog milkshake IPA available this week. With vanilla and lactose as usual given the sweetness and body the style is known for, the fruiting this time is pineapple and mango. 6.0% ABV and available from the source.
Speaking of hazebombs, one of Quebec’s finest purveyors of that style, who collaborated with Trailway last year, is Lagabiere from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Why are we telling you this? Because the beer saints at Bishop’s Cellar have managed to bring in four beers from Lagabiere that, rumor has it, will be available tomorrow: Ta Meilleure IPA, Ta Plus Meilleure DIPA, Ta Valeur Sour IPA, and Nice ‘n Hazy APA. We recommend you move fast on these, as we suspect they won’t last long.
Over on Beer Advocate, a member of the beer exchange group known as CanBIF (Canada Beer-it-Forward) has set up an arrangement to encourage charitable giving this month. In short, if you make a $100 donation to a local (to you) charity of your choice and provide proof of same to the organizer, you will be entered in a draw for a box of lovely beers from participating breweries (mostly Ontario, local to the organizer, near as we can tell, though if you’re a brewer reading this and want to take part, we can help make that happen!). Entries must be received by November 27th, with a random draw taking place on November 28th. Full details, along with info about participating breweries, is available in this BA post. While donating to local charities is always rad, it’s especially so at this time of year, and maybe you win some beer too.
Foghorn Brewing Co.has seen the return of their Undercover Hop New England Pale Ale out this week, restocking their can and draught inventory. Each batch of this series will be brewed using an unnamed experimental hop variety, this one being HBC 586 from Yakima Valley Hops. The description from the hop producer suggests lots of fruit flavours including mango, guava and citrus. Coming in at 6% ABV, Undercover Hop is available now in cans and on tap.
Further south in Rothesay, Long Bay is releasing Brew Number 22 in their Ex-Beeriment series. For this one, Long Bay set out to create a sessionable ale with just enough hop character and bitterness to keep things interesting. Consisting of Golden Promise and Maris Otter malts, and the exclusive use of Eclipse hops, the hoppy session ale came in at 4% ABV and 25 IBUs. Find it on tap at the Long Bay taproom now.