It’s the most wonderful time for a beer! This week saw much of the Maritimes experiencing its first winter storm. Luckily, our wonderful local producers of fermented beverages continue to pump out tasty new ones to help keep us hydrated during all of the shovelling and cozy inside while we wait for the storms to pass. A friendly reminder that lots of breweries across the region are continuing to offer special holiday discounts in their online stores, along with seasonal gift packs featuring new brews, merch and other goodies. Be sure to keep them at the top of your list as you finish up your shopping over the next few days. A quick logistics note from the ACBB Head Office: with the festive season fully in swing, we’ll be taking a break from publishing next Friday, December 23, with December 30 being a tentative “Go”, but that may change. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Instagram account where we’ll continue to share new releases and other happenings. Happy Festivus to the Rest of Us, and read on for this week’s beer, mead and cider news.
Congratulations to Microbrasserie Ateepic in Edmundston on now having their own beer available! The Ateepic taproom, located at the Fraser Edmundston Golf Club at 570 Rue Victoria, has been open since May, serving up 20 craft beer from across the province, and now has flexed the capabilities of their Specific Mechanical 1200 litre (10 BBL) brewhouse, and released four of their own beers. Available on draught for in-house or growler enjoyment are Little Gear Pale Ale, Big Gear IPA, Pin Noir Oatmeal Stout, and Party Kolsch, joining the Northwestern NB collab NOir Dessert Stout that Ateepic took part in with Brasseurs du Petit-Sault, Grand Falls Brewing, and Microbrasserie Novum Boreas. While hours may change slightly during the next few weeks due to the Holidays, currently they are open Wednesday 4 – 8 PM, Thursday and Friday 1 – 9 PM, Saturday 1 – 8 PM, and 1 – 5 PM Sunday. Keep an eye on their Fb and Ig pages as they announce new beers or changes in hours. Felicitations encore to Hubert and the Ateepic team!
As all our longtime readers know, the AC Beer Blog’s interest in beer doesn’t end with commercial products, we’re big supporters of the Homebrew scene as well! And with the post-COVID world opening up again we’re starting to see one of our favorite things come back: homebrew competitions. We’re happy to report that after a year off, the 4th Annual Maritime Atlantic Homebrew Challenge (Presented by Gahan House) is back! But first, in the name of unfinished business, is the release of the winner of the 3rd annual competition, held back in late fall of 2020. Hazy McHazeface, a 6.5% Hazy IPA designed by competition winner Trevor McLean, will be available soon (if not already) at all Gahan locations (except Harbourview in St. John’s) packaged in cans, but also on tap by times. Featuring flaked oats for a creamy mouthfeel and tonnes of tropical fruit aromas and flavours thanks to generous post-boil and dry hop additions, it still maintains a clean finish.
If you’re a homebrewer and you’d like to be like Trevor and see your beer brewed for limited release, the 2023 competition is your big chance. As is somewhat traditional for this competition, you’ll be able to enter one of two styles: German Pilsner and Altbier. Both German in origin, and both delicious at their best, the Pilsner sees light and crackery malt profile, a firm hop presence, and a crisp dry finish thanks to lager yeast and a cool conditioning period. At the other end of the spectrum is the Altbier, or “old beer”, not as in “stale” but as in, “the beer that we used to make before we discovered modern malting, lager yeast, and cold conditioning.” Although it’s also on the hoppier side for a Continental beer, malt is still the star of the show, both in terms of flavour and aroma and the deep red color that is a hallmark of the style. The deadline to submit your beer is March 3, 2023, which gives plenty of time to brew and condition either style. The entry fee is $30 payable through Eventbrite. Entries can be dropped off at any of the Gahan locations in the region. Judging will take place in a central location and an announcement of the winning beer will be made shortly thereafter. If you have questions for the organizers you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck to all who enter!
We mentioned one winner last week, but we now have the full list of Atlantic Canadian winners in the 2022 Canadian Brewers Choice Awards, presented by Brewers Journal Canada. Foghorn Brewing’s Head Brewer Andrew Estabrooks won over the judges with his nomination package to take home Brewer of the Year. In addition to winning Brewery of the Year, Tire Shack Brewing’s own Henrique Soares was shortlisted for Young Brewer of the Year. And New Beer of the Year went to Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing, for Classic Maritime Dry Stout. Congratulations to the breweries and brewers!
And now onto the new beer news, starting in Lower Sackville’s own Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse. If you’re trimming the tree, or watching a yule log burn, it’s always nice to have some liquid accompaniment in your glass. One of those could be their Vanilla Bourbon Christmas Stout. Weighing in at a hefty 7.6% ABV, the notes of vanilla and roast and light bourbon all meld together like a warm beer sweater, a favourite for those of us who enjoy imbibing during this time of year. Joining it is Merry Ryesolution Christmas Ale, the 9.4% ABV bigger sister, featuring rye malt that imparts a natural spiciness to the full-bodied ale. Rye-solution is available in bottles only, while the Bourbon Stout is a draught only release, both available in limited quantities to enjoy at the brewery or to take away.
From the wilds of Spryfield comes a beer with a label that is both wild and refined. Serpent Brewing’s Elementary is an oatmeal stout that arrives on the stronger side at 6% ABV. Chewy, yet still roasty and dry with an assertive bitterness, it was dry hopped with Amarillo to provide a subtle orange marmalade finish. It’s been pouring on the taps since yesterday for pints and growler fills, but you should see bottles in the fridge in the coming days.
Heading down the South Shore of NS to Lunenburg, we find Shipwright Brewing has a new beer pouring for pints to stay or crowler and growler fills to go. Cross Island Common is named for the eponymous island in the approach to Lunenburg Bay. It follows the tradition of the California Common (a.k.a. “Steam Beer”) style with spicy and woody Northern Brewer hops taking center stage on top of a toasty, slightly sweet malt base built with pale, Munich, caramel, biscuit, and chocolate malts. Highly carbonated, with a medium almost creamy mouthfeel, this one is an easy drinking 5% ABV and 30 IBU.
Back up to the North Shore of the province we find that Tatamagouche Brewing has a trio of re-releases available just in time for the holidays. First up is Eventide Vienna Lager, a 4.8% ABV amber lager that’s like a hug in a can. Brewed with all German ingredients, it’s medium-bodied with a crisp finish and flavours and aromas of lightly toasted honey oat bread. Second we have Tata’s wintertime post-activity beer, Apres. A cream ale at 4.5% ABV, it’s designed to be super-easy drinking after clearing the driveway or a day on the slopes or the local pond. And last is Ketch, their Berlinerweiße. Only 3.1% ABV, with the classic bright acidity and subtle funk that the style is known for, expect it to provide a tasty low alcohol option and/or a pleasant way to reset your palate after a bunch of heavier seasonals. Look for all of these to be available for order on the website in coming days or, if you’re in the area, at the brewery; we suspect some cans and kegs will also reach distro in the HRM at the very least.
Speaking of re-releases, in the HRM Unfiltered Brewing has a Christmas miracle on the go in the form of Sparkling Motherfucker, a 4.0% low-calorie (4.5g carbs) beer containing sodium, chloride, and potassium electrolytes. Sound like a sports drink? WELL IT’S NOT. Also gluten-reduced (<10ppm), you’ll find it in 473ml cans at the brewery, perfect for stuffing into stockings or pouring down your throat in an effort to tolerate friends, family, and the holidays in general.
Back in Paradise, Mauzy is releasing the last bottling from its 2021 season. Humbled In Love, is a 6.4% ABV blend of mead and cider . The mead portion features a spontaneous fermentation of Brown’s Family Farm Blueberries and Baccalieu Trail Honey. This was blended (30% mead, 70% cider) with Mauzy’s blend of spontaneously fermented feral and Golden Hornet Crab apples, with the resulting liquid being conditioned on freshly picked white rose petals. Expect lots of blueberry notes, baked berries and a bright acidity. Only 10 cases are available so don’t delay if you’re interested.
Sticking with blended ciders, next up is Frontenac Gris + Ida Red, from Halifax’s Sourwood. This blend of Front Gris grapes and hand-picked organic apples showcases the complexity that can be achieved when the worlds or cider and fruit wine combine. Bottles of the 9.0% ABV Frontenac Gris + Ida Red are available now at the taproom or through their online store.
We mentioned Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing above, but they also are celebrating the release of three beers this week in their John Street taproom. Bumbleberry Sour is a sour with a blend of berries reminiscent of the pies or “crisps” of the same name. Cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, as well as cherry and pomegranate all went into this 6.0% beer, to amp up the fruit to both complement and enhance the tart base beer. Continuing the long-running series is Hip Hop Vol 8 – Sabro Double IPA. Sabro used throughout the process of this 8.0% beer means it is overflowing with coconut, lychee, with a touch of citrus. And returning to the taps and shelves is Roman Road Italian Pilsner. Crisp and effervescent, Tire Shack’s version has just a touch of hops. If you pop into the taproom Saturday at noon, People for Animal Wellbeing will be onsite to take pictures of your pets to fundraise for their important activities, and selling tickets for The Big Draw for PAW too!
Speaking of our animal friends, PEI Brewing is helping out the PEI Humane Society with the release of Loyalty Brew, a 4.5% Blonde Ale. This limited edition beer is available at the PEIBC Taproom and the Gahan Beer Store in Atlantic Superstore, with $1 from each can going to the shelter supporting lost, homeless, and abandoned animals.
A few short things before we leave you…
Sydney’s Breton Brewing has released Bah Humbug Holiday Bitter, a 4.7% British Bitter featuring Old World/Noble hops lending citrus, berry, floral, and spicy notes, all on a smooth caramel base. Available now at the brewery in cans and on draught.
Candid Brewing in Antigonish released a couple of new beer after we posted last week, so let’s get you up to date… Space Coyote is a 7.5 % Double/Imperial IPA, featuring loads of Comet and Galaxy hops (get it?), ready to shoot you to the moon and beyond. Mango, pineapple, and guava tropical notes and complemented by a solid dank character. And in another vein completely is the 5.2% Golden Pig, a Czech Pilsner. Featuring Saaz hops, GP underwent a six week lagering process, keeping it crisp, clean, and easy drinking. Cans of both beers are available at their taproom on College Street.
Rounding out this week’s news is Good Robot’s latest release, Late Night Milk Stout. In case you were wondering what to leave out for Santa next weekend, perhaps this will fit the bill. At 5.0% ABV, this stout features a lovely addition of lactose (aka milk sugar) to soften any harsh notes, and leave a little bit of residual sweetness in the can. Available at the Robie Street location, and the now-open Elmsdale retail shop. A note on the latter, as they celebrate with a Grand Opening there tomorrow. Open 12 – 8 PM, all beer and merch is 10% off, and there are quirky prizes to be won for those who visit. At 1 PM, there is even a tour of their facility planned, grab your free tickets here. We’ll soon be sharing some info on a tour for those unable to make it tomorrow, so keep your January 21 free if you’d like to hit up a tour in the New Year.