We are just over two weeks from Christmas and ‘tis the season as they say! As the weather turns colder, the snow starts falling and we’re all going to get busier, so if you’re like us, you may want to stock up on those holiday bevvies now. With other things going on with the blog boys (that’s us) we have a (mostly) quick-hit style update for you, so let us know what you think about the format. Like, comment and subscribe! (Trust us, you don’t want to see us on YouTube.)
News from Spindrift kicks us off this week, with Hefe Weissbier releasing today (Friday). Made with a malt bill of wheat malt, Superior Pilsen and Carapils, and balanced with Magnum and Perle hops, this is a true to style 5.4% Weißbier, bringing banana and clove flavours, as you would expect. It’s available in 473ml cans at the Dartmouth and Antigonish locations, and also on tap for pints and growler fills.
Speaking of Antigonish this weekend (beer-wise), Half Cocked is releasing two beers and hosting an all-day Christmas Celebration. On Saturday from 2 PM onwards, there will be a pop-up from Teasdale Apothecary Co, leading into live music, tree lighting, ugly christmas sweater contest and food bank donations until close. This celebration coincides with the re-release of Pete’s Sake Blonde Ale and a new release with Teasdale Apothecary Co. Nobo is a Norwegian Farmhouse Ale made with hibiscus, dried cranberries, orange blossoms, bee bread and the Voss Kviek yeast strain. It’s 4.5% ABV and very soft on the palate, with delicate flavours. Both of these ales are available in cans at the brewery, but keep an eye out in coming weeks for kegs to make it to the HRM at Stillwell and Battery Park. With all of the COVID circumstances in Antigonish over the past week or so, be sure to keep an eye on the Half Cocked social media for any event-affecting updates.
Next up is Rothesay’s Long Bay Brewery, releasing a new Winter seasonal beer, Forest for the Trees. This is a Black IPA, with a touch of nutty roast flavour leading into big IPA flavours of tropical hops and a bit of resin, pine and a chocolate on the finish. Available now from the brewery and ANBL’s across Southern New Brunswick, you’ll find it in 473ml cans clocking in at 6% and 60 IBU.
Happy Birthday to Rough Waters! They’re celebrating their second anniversary and have a new release to commemorate the occasion. High Tide is a bourbon barrel-aged Witbier and the first barrel release from the brewery. Using their base recipe for Wits End, the beer was transferred to a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel for aging after primary fermentation. After six months in the barrel, it was bottle conditioned for another month before being released. Apple, oak, and some spice from the bourbon barrel should pair nicely with the coriander and citrus from the witbier. This is available in 750ml corked and caged bottles only from the Deer Lake brewery.
For the ciderheads out there, Lake City Cider is releasing Cider Royal, a collaboration with Compass Distilling, that sees their acclaimed Gin Royal and blended with the stalwart Lake City Darkside Dry. Classic botanicals from the gin, along with honey and royal jelly notes complement the dry, crisp and citrus notes from the cider. It pours a slight purple colour that is sure to please the eye as well as the palate. A very solid 8.5% ABV, it’s been packaged in 355ml cans available at the cidery and online for delivery.
No strangers to holiday brews and bundles, North Brewing has both for us this weekend. First, a new release, Sequence, a classic Belgian table beer, is a 3.5% full-flavoured yet crisp and refreshing beer with citrus notes that will provide a lovely low-ABV option to have on hand this season. It’s available now in 473ml cans at all the usual places. And while you’re picking that one up, this week also sees a return of the sour series, Plush! We’ve seen Plush before in Peach, Raspberry and Blackberry variants, but this release is a straight up, unfruited dry-hopped sour. Galaxy and Bru-1 feature in the dry-hop to bring a big kick as soon as you open the can and take a sip.
Lastly, as briefly mentioned last week, North is doing a Holiday Box again this year, which features 12 cans of North beverages, along with a 15oz North stein. The stein is exclusive to the holiday box, but so is one of the beers. Eisbock, (literally, “ice bock”) is made by partially freezing a bock-style beer then removing the ice crystals, thus reducing the water content and raising the richness and ABV. The recently released Timberbock was the obvious choice for this process, and this release marks the first time North has done this style (at least, on purpose according to them!) and we can’t wait to try it. Order all of these treats and check out more details on the North website or in their Timberlea, Battery Park, and Dartmouth locations.
A big release in time for the cold weather is here from Copper Bottom: Knox’s Dam is a bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout. Named after a local site that was once a grist mill, and later a hydroelectric dam that powered the entire town of Montague, “Knox’s Dam now lays claim to one of PEI’s only man-made waterfalls and one of Eastern PEI’s best kept secrets.” The beer was aged for 12 months and tips the scales at a hefty 9.4%, and it’s available now from the brewery only.
So you know you’re old (and probably a former English major) when you read in your email that Delta Force is releasing a beer, an English Barleywine, no less, called Tom Hardy and you think about how they’ve got another beer called Wessex and how they’re situated in the picturesque Annapolis Valley and you’re mentally whisked away to idyllic scenes from “Far from the Madding Crowd” and “The Return of the Native” and “The Trumpet Major.” And then you keep reading and you see a reference to the movie Inception (which you’ve shamefully never seen) and you’re jarred back into a reality where Tom Hardy is an actor and you were thinking of 19th century English novelist Thomas Hardy and you weep for your lost youth. So aaaanyways, building on the quote by Hardy’s character in Inception, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling,” the team at DF along with their good friend (and longtime Stilly bartender) Taylor Mappin endeavoured to interpret the classic style in a large way. Bottled in mercifully-sized 330ml bottles, this 11.5% ABV monster will no doubt make a lovely fireside sipper whilst you read (or, re-read) some classic English lit over the holidays, or perhaps watch that movie about the dreams and the hey hey.
Also available this week from Delta Force is a new batch of their Operation Assay APA. Taking a cue from the turn of the seasons, they’ve subbed in the classic “Chico” American ale yeast strain for the heat-loving Kveik they were using during the warmer months. Still a lovely straight-ahead APA at 5.3% ABV, still packaged in 500ml bottles. You can grab both of these releases through the usual channels and if you throw four more beers into that order, you’ll get 10% off your order!
Sometimes, despite all the best efforts, things go a little bit sideways. Such is the case with one of the summertime releases from Good Robot Brewing in Halifax. Limeade Switcha was a Fall collaboration release with The Limestone Group in their Goodwill Beer series. Unfortunately, any remaining cans of that beer, while still safe to drink, are not safe to hang on to. You can read the full explanation in this Fb post. We’d like to commend the GR team on doing the right thing here: they’re reaching out to the public, taking ownership, providing detailed instructions on disposal, and offering refunds on the affected beer. These things can happen to any brewery; it’s how the brewery responds that makes all the difference.
If you’re anything like us, you’ve enjoyed and appreciated quite a few beers from breweries in our region over the past few years that have featured tea and/or herbal infusions (“tisanes,” apparently!) from World Tea House on Argyle Street and it’s owner/resident tea nerd, Phil Holmans. When the team at 902BrewCast realized this, they decided it would be a great idea to do an episode with Phil and sample some of those beers. That episode is now up and available at the 902BC site or wherever you get your podcasts.
We’ve got another holiday beer box hitting Nova Scotia this season, as New Scotland Brewing takes a riff off of Quality Street chocolate boxes and brings us their Quality Beers 12 Days of Christmas collection. Featured in this box are their favourite releases over the past year along with one annual re-release and three brand new small batch brews. First up is the annual release of Slowburn, a chocolate and chili porter that was found on Nitro at the brewery in years past, but this year it has been canned for the first time ever. A medium-to-full bodied porter that is “double dry-hopped” with local chillies over four weeks bring a spicy and smooth mouthfeel along with black cherry and chocolate flavours at 6.1% and 34 IBU.
For the new releases, we start with Playlist, another porter, but more approachable and in a classic Porter style that is slightly roasty and a malt-forward flavour at 4.6%. Balanced Breakfast is another new can that is made with a bunch of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal! An American Brown ale made with massive additions of the cereal in the mash, the whirlpool and in the fermenter as well, this came out at 7.6% and should have a very interesting flavour profile.
Rounding out the new releases is Merry Citrus, their beer-y take on a Christmas Day mimosa. They’re calling it a Mimosa Lager, as it was brewed as a lager, but with extra enzymes added to mimic the bone dry finish of champagne. Additions of orange peel and orange, lemon, and lime juices make this a bubbly treat for the morning or anytime. Even at 6.3% it’s still lower than your average Mimosa, but if you’re concerned about day drinking you can share with friends!
A couple of events going on these days, in the form of contests. With prizes!
Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing has a holiday contest on the go this year, partnering with Sportwheels Sports Excellence to give away $1,000 in brand new hockey gear along with a year’s supply of Puck Off Lagered Ale. How much is a year’s supply? The best way to find out would be to enter and win, we think! Check out the official contest page for all the details on entering.
Those of us who are old enough to remember the late ‘90s (or are old enough that they should remember the ‘late 90s, anyway) know that 1997 was the magical year when craft breweries became a real “thing” in Halifax. Although Granite (RIP) had been around for a decade, ‘97 was the year when Garrison and Propeller (and Maritime Beer Company, ‘member them?) managed to cut through the red tape and open up. If you’re at all good at math you’ll be able to confirm that that means 2022 marks 25 years of Garrison Brewing in Halifax. As you can imagine, they’re fixing to celebrate that, starting with a contest. Check out this Instagram post for all the details, and brace yourself, we figure this is probably the first of many #cheersto25years posts to come over the next 12 months; hopefully all of them will involve fun contests and/or tasty beer!
A quick as the quick hits above were, these quick hits are, dare we say, quicker:
Big Spruce brings two returning favourites this week! First up, Kölsch Encounters is a 5.6% lagered ale with a great malt profile and a classic sparkling, crisp, and dry finish. Secondly, The Inhaled Affirmative is a 4.1% Pilsner that is crispy and complex in flavour, with notes of wheat, biscuit and a great balancing bitterness. Both of these are available in 473ml cans directly from the brewery, in-person or online (and usually some gets to Bishop’s Cellar and the other private stores in HRM as well).
Joining the local craft non-alcoholic release train is Propeller! NA Lager releases today at 0.5% and is crisp and clean with light flavours of citrus and peach. Available in the super-crushable 355ml can format, this is available at both Propeller locations, their online store and several private stores in HRM.
North Street’s Unfiltered Brewing in Halifax is back with another batch of Inducement IPA! As always they won’t give you anything to encourage you to drink it, but this 7.5% IPA, packed with Simcoe and Falconer’s Flight and available in cans, growlers, pints and kegs is its own reward. Grab it any time after noon today at the brewery and/or Charm School next door.
Keeping with returning favourites, Breton Brewing has a seasonal holiday release back today: Cocoa Envy is a Chocolate Porter with creamy, sweet, roasted flavours and a touch of coffee to boot. It’s 6.5% and cans are available now in their taproom or online for delivery.
Ninepenny in Conception Bay South, NL, has another perfect release for the season with The Dragon. A Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter at 7.8%, it features oak flavours complementing plum and cherry notes from the porter, along with some fruity apple and pear esters. This is available only at the taproom in 500ml bottles.
Another holiday release for the fine Maritimers comes from Foghorn in Rothesay. Festivus is a blend of their Maple Rye and Winter Warmer ales, aged for 6 months in oak barrels and conditioned on local blue berries. The resulting ale is complex with dark, sweet, and oak flavours. This 7.5% ale is available in 650ml bottles only from the taproom fridge at the brewery.
Back in NS, Chester’s Tanner Brewing has a new hybrid beer release. Gamay is a blend of their house Saison recipe and 75lbs of freshly pressed Gamay Noir skins from Lightfoot & Wolfville. There were no commercial yeast additions with this beer: it was fermented solely by the wild bacteria present on the grape skins. Expect this one to have complex flavours and some great cherry notes as well. At 7% and 25 IBU, it is available in 500ml bottles
Some beer-adjacent kitchen positions are available with a great bunch of folks over in Cole Harbour:
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are some big changes happening at North Brewing, and 2022 will see Side Hustle moving out on their own to Downtown Dartmouth and that means North will be doing their own Indian style street food and diner classics at their Cole Harbour location! Planning to open in January 2022, the North team is looking add full-time and part-time kitchen staff for their new food offerings. Line cooks, prep cooks and dishwasher are all needed; check out North’s job postings to find out more about the positions. Candidates can contact email@example.com with their resumé if interested.
Always read you column and enjoy it, and I wasn’t an English major; but, please put Thomas Hardy in the right century.
Thank you for the nudge, we’ve corrected the error.