Well, you’ve done it! You survived another year! This is our 51st post of 2022, and 812th published since our launch in January 2012. Not bad for 10 years, eh? We hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learning along with us as we’ve tracked the Atlantic Canadian Beer, Cider, and Mead landscape, from the early days with fewer than 40 producers in the region, to today where our region boasts more than 300! There’s always something local and great to drink when you’re traveling in the Atlantic provinces, so we hope your 2023 brings the ability to do that for you all! We’ll be here, churning out the latest info on new breweries, cideries, beer, and events, to guide you along the way!
We’re kicking off the blog with a few releases from before Christmas, but we know are still around…
Celebrating their Fourth Anniversary mid-month, Port-Au-Port’s Secret Cove Brewing released their ode to the largest bird to grace Newfoundland and Labrador, with a beer of fitting proportions. The Great Auk is a 10% Triple IPA, featuring both a massive flavour and aroma from the hops and extra malt in the beer. The eponymous bird was rendered extinct in the region in the 17th century, though there is a widely accepted sighting noted in 1852 on the Grand Banks. The Great Auk the beer is alive and well, and available on tap at the brewery, and in cans at retailers across Newfoundland. Happy Fourth Anniversary Secret Cove!
Sticking to Newfoundland, Baccalieu Trail Brewing is celebrating the light show in Port de Grave with Christmas in the Harbour. This 4.0% beer is a light American lager, infused with just a touch of peppermint. May even pass as a candy-cane lager. The boats should still be lit up when you read this, so grab a four-pack from the brewery or your local beer shop, and head out Highway 72 to see the show!
From one island to another, PEI’s Lone Oak Brewing teamed up with their pals at Hopyard Beer Bar, and released Lil’ Hoppy. The first in what we expect to be a series, the partners are playing around with different hop varieties and techniques. For V1, they used loads of locally-grown Cascade hops during a mash hop phase, and waited until fermentation had died down to add Sultana and Nelson Sauvin, locking in that aroma. Look for notes of pineapple, citrus, and maybe even a touch of Sauv Blanc grape too. On tap at HopYard C’town and both Lone Oak locations, as well as in cans to take-away.
Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has a trio of new releases on tap these days, including a pair of small batch beers that are exclusive to The Oxford Taproom location on Quinpool. Krampus is the first of these, a 6.2% Black IPA, featuring the very aromatic Bravo, Simcoe, Zythos, and Mosaic, for a melding of citrus, pine, with chocolate and roast. And celebrating the location itself is Oxford Pale, a 5.5% Pale Ale, with Bravo, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Comet hops blended for some citrus and tropical notes of pineapple and mandarin orange. They’re open today for pints and retail, with tomorrow being a cafe and retail kinda day…
Embracing the season entirely is the release of Garrison’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Wintervention. The 2022 edition of this familiar friend is 11.5%, and whose base Imperial Stout beer spent time hanging out in bourbon barrels before release in the share-worthy 650 ml format. Chocolate, roast, dark fruit meld with the vanilla, toffee, oak, and hint of booze from its temporary home. Bottles are available exclusively at the Seaport and Oxford locations, as well as through their website for local delivery.
One of our favorite trends of the last year or so has been more releases of lower-ABV English bitters. Although beers like Hell Bay’s English Ale, Sober Island’s Beachstone Bitter, Foghorn’s Esty’s Special Bitter, and Lunn’s Mill’s Pub Ale are core brands and longtime stalwarts, this year has seen all sorts of new bitters, including some from breweries you might not expect. In 2022 we saw, amongst others, the releases of Stillwell’s Best Bitter, Trailway’s Chancy’s Pub Ale, and, more recently, Tatamagouche’s Flintshire. Who knows, maybe part of the reason for this is the introduction of proper cask ale at places like the Stillwell Freehouse, or maybe folks are just looking for the next big thing after hopbombs, hazebombs, and crispybois, but regardless, as shared owners of a beer engine, we’re here for it! Anyways, that’s a bit of a long-winded introduction to the release of Proper Pub Ale from Montague’s Bogside Brewing. Coming in at a very quaffable 4.5% ABV and 25 IBU, you can safely expect a classic smooth taste profile with notes of toffee. Look for it on tap and in cans to go at the brewery.
Speaking of PEI and traditional English styles, Cornwall’s Village Green (by Modern Brewer) has two new beers for us this weekend and the first fits that description quite nicely. Often even lower in ABV than bitter, but just as suitable for the hand pumps, dark mild is one of the most sessionable beers ever. VG’s Dark Mild hits all the right notes, with toasty malt flavors, some subtle cherry esters, and a clean finish, all in a “tastes like another, and maybe another after that” 3% ABV package. Also being released is Altbier, also a very traditional style, but the German tradition rather than the English. A contrast to the lagers that came later, the “alt” in “altbier” means “old” as in “the beer we used to make.” Using bottom-fermenting ale yeast and not generally undergoing a lagering period, these are darker, more full-bodied beers, with some fruity esters and a decent bitterness from Northern Brewer hops balancing toasty sweet malt notes. Comforting on a cold day, but still not overly boozy, this one comes in at 4.9%. Both of these beers are available at the tap room for pints or in cans to go!
Continuing to find new and interesting ways to pump hops into beer are Propeller Brewing, who are releasing another new IPA today, this one not just full of lupulin, but lots of other fun things as well. Piña Colada IPA features Sabro, known for some serious coconut vibes, and Azacca, which tends to impart mango, papaya, and other tropical notes. These two together make a perfect combination, along with some actual coconut, vanilla bean, and lactose, to give the vibes of many people’s favorite umbrella drink. So you may be stuck in Atlantic Canada instead of having your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand in warmer climes, but you can at least crack one of these, sit back, and dream. Look for it as of today at all Prop Shops, online for home delivery, and at the private stores in the HRM as well. And speaking of the Prop Shops, we’ve been advised that Propeller has officially broken ground on their “coming in 2023” Bedford Highway location that was announced earlier in the year. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of that construction in the new year!
There’s a busy weekend shaping up in HRM, let’s get you in the know so you can take part in the fun.
Celebrating their 10th Anniversary in January is North Brewing, who have come a long way from their small beginnings on Agricola Street (opening as Bridge Brewing on January 23rd, 2013). And to kick off the fun is a New Year’s Eve Tap Takeover at Battery Park on Ochterloney in Dartmouth. From 11:30 tomorrow, Cole Harbour’s Finest will be pouring from the 20 draught lines behind the bar, featuring some old and new favourite beer, ciders, and vodka sodas. In the mix are a pair of new IPAs released this month. Teaming up with the Battery Park team, and a favourite customer of theirs, they have released Hazy Dave’s Juice-tastrophy. This 6.7% New England IPA is a scaling up of a recipe by Dave Wilcox, which is hoppy, hazy, juicy, and not at all a catastrophe. “It’s selling great”, says the brewery, and is available on tap and in cans at North Brewing’s retail and taproom locations for now, until it’s all gone!
Coming tomorrow at the North taprooms and Battery Park event is The Longest Night, another IPA, but different altogether. A Triple IPA, at 10.0% ABV, the big base of Pilsner malt is enhanced with Oats and Wheat for body, head retention, and foam stability. Hopping-wise, the Brew Crew opted for new-to-them Calypso and Talus for citrus aroma and flavour, complementing the Amarillo and Summit, familiar to fans of HiFi. Onlya touch of haze, the hops come through on the nose and flavour, but are not overpowering or bitter. On tap and in responsibly-sized 355ml cans.
More on their NYE event, is that a three course Prix Fixe menu option will be available after 5 PM, which comes complete with pairing North beer with what the BP kitchen has whipped up. Fans of their burgers will be happy to know that their full menu will also be available during that time. Check here for the details on the meal, and this post for the full taplist. Congrats to the North Crew on 10 years!
Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Halifax is The Stillwell Freehouse, who are hosting a pre-party Tap Feature by BC’s Dageraad Brewing. Frequent award-winners for the Belgian/Abbey style beers, they have sent along 8 to be enjoyed on draught tomorrow. Look for a Lacto-fermented Dubbel, a Tripel, both a clean and mixed culture fermented Quads (as well as one aged in a Rum barrel), and going off-brand with a Hazy IPA. They’ll be the only Stilly location open Dec 31, as HQ gears up for…
Bar Stillwell on Barrington is hosting a Levee January 1st, with a tap feature from Brasserie Dunham. Starting at 2 PM, there are a half dozen from Dunham on tap, including the Simplexite Pils collab with de Ranke, Biere de Table, Sierra Yakima New England Pale Ale (with Boreale). And from the kitchen, folks will be able to enjoy breakfast sandos, cheesesteak fries, and dunkaroos for dessert! (Note that the Freehouse is closed Jan 1 and both locations are closed Jan 2)
To celebrate the opening of their Elmsdale Brewery, Good Robot is going to be hosting an ACBB (aka, Nerdy) tour of their new facilities in the New Year. On January 21st, you, us, and a dozen other folks looking to learn more about Good Robot’s state-of-the-art brewhouse and gear will be given a tour by the folks who work so tirelessly behind the scenes. There is no cost to the event, but we do need you to win your way onto the guest list! To do that, post a picture/story/reel on social media of a favourite local beer/cider/mead you’ve enjoyed in the past twelve months, and be sure to tag us in it and use the hashtag #ElmsdaleTour. And if you’re not the SM kind, no problem, just fire us an email, send us a text, or release a carrier pigeon to let us know you’re interested! (We’d like to post/re-post to show what our readers are drinking, hope that’s OK) We’ll be drawing a whole buncha names Jan 18 at 6 PM, so your chances are good to take part! Looking forward to meeting you there!
And there you have it, our last post of 2022! Enjoy responsibly this weekend, be sure to check that your favourite brewery or bar is actually open before heading in (and whether they recommend reservations), and we’ll see you next Friday!