Happy end of January! For some of the region, this was the first time we’ve seen significant snowfall, for others, it just piled on. Wind and rain throughout the area was de rigueur, and we’re pretty sure we can expect the same weird mix in February as well. Thankfully, the region’s cideries and breweries have been keeping busy inside, giving us plenty to warm us up this time of year. Let’s start off with two big anniversaries being celebrated this weekend…
When North Brewing (known as Bridge Brewing at the time) opened their doors January 25, 2013, Rozina, Josh, and Peter were so busy with keeping up with demand that the idea of a Grand Opening fell to the wayside. 10 years later, they have moved from their original Agricola Street location to Cole Harbour, and opened a second location in Timberlea (in addition to the retail shop at Battery Park in downtown Dartmouth). And they are taking a beat to finally have that Grand Opening they deserve, in beer form! Grand Opening Saison began life back in September 2022, when they brewed a pale-coloured wort, and initiated fermentation with a mixed culture of yeast, Lactobacillus bacteria, and Brettanomyces yeast. Balancing the acidity and aromatics in a blended beer is a fine line that North has trod before, allowing both sides to shine through without either overpowering the other. After an extended 3 month fermentation period, the beer was bottled (and kegged) just before Christmas, and allowed to naturally carbonate and condition since. This 4.9% Saison is available for purchase at all of their retail locations and on-line shop now, look for orange and apricot, ginger and pepper in the glass and on the nose, with a full mouthfeel yet dry-finish on the palate.
Celebrate with the North crew at both their Portland Street and Timberlea locations until Saturday. Happy Hour runs 3 – 6 PM, there are door prize drawings today and tomorrow at 5, 6, and 7 PM, and they have special items on the menu for the fun, including a Pani Puri Party Platter (perfect pretty puff pastries), braised lamb poutine, and even a birthday cake cookie to top it off! Leveraging their foray into spirits, they are also serving up cocktails made with their Kaleidoscope Vodka, as well as their North X Compass Distillers Neighbours Whisky. Congratulations to the North family on 10 great years, and here’s to at least 10 more!
A newer kid on the block is also celebrating their anniversary this weekend, with Brunswick Street’s 2 Crows Brewing celebrating the sixth anniversary of their opening, January 28, 2017. And to celebrate this milestone, they are releasing six beers tomorrow! Talk about overachievers (and/or beer blogger haters)! The first four of the group are all related, so let’s start there… In Fall 2022, the 2C Brew Crew decided to throw caution to the wind, and go all out for a massive stout. Achieving a nearly 10% beer is no small feat, and they chose to use a reiterative mash to do that. In short, instead of sending the wort (sweet and sugary water) from the mash tun directly to the kettle, as most normal breweries would do (boring!), they instead sent it on to a second mash, to bump up the fermentable sugar level even more! The mash consisted of Maris Otter, Vienna, flaked oats, honey malt, and 6 various caramel and roast malts for colour, depth, and complexity. We can only imagine the stickiness experienced that day, and the lucky buggers who had to clean it up after. And the craziness continues, as to increase the sugar level, as well as encourage some deeper flavours, they boiled the wort for 20 hours! Whoa! During that time, they used Columbus and Bramling Cross to keep it from being too cloying, before fermenting with a robust yeast from Imperial. Post-fermentation, they just packaged the beer, and here we are… Not! Wanting the spread the madness even further, they split the batch into four, in order to explore four unique flavour profiles:
- Mambo No. 1 is the original 9.7% base Double/Chocolate/Imperial Stout: smooth, full mouthfeel, and full of chocolate, and hints of roast and liquorice.
- Mambo No. 2 was conditioned in the tank with a (metric?) shit ton of cocoa, as well as marshmallows and Graham crackers. Think S’mores in a glass, with all the fun things that come along with that.
- Mambo No. 3 was also conditioned on cocoa, but in the spirit of “EVEN MOAR” saw even more toasted coconut in the tank. Chocolate and coconut, we’re thinking Bounty bars or classic choco-coconut balls.
- Mambo No. 4 may be the most out-there of them all, as in addition to getting the cocoa treatment, this beauty saw the addition of coffee directly to the tank, as well as maple syrup. Chocolate chip pancakes with a cup of joe, natch.
Cans of the Mambos will be available tomorrow (Saturday) at noon in the taproom, or for delivery from their online shop, and are sold in a responsibly-sized 4x355ml variety four-pack. (FYI, subscribers to their newsletter were able to order and receive these a day early!)
Just when you think the 2 Crows would be taking their foot off the gas, they accelerate, and are releasing another wild and economically irresponsible beer, Squeezie. If you’ve heard the term Smoothie Sour, this is it. If you haven’t, strap in! Starting with a pale wort (grist of Pilsner, Golden Promise, and wheat), it was fermented with an acid-producing yeast to give a slightly acidic character. After fermentation was complete, the high alcohol beer was blended with an equal part of fruit puree, something that you would see at your local juicery or smoothie-ery… mango and banana in near-equal parts, with hints of passion fruit and coconut cream making up the rest. After thoroughly combining the beer and puree, the new concoction was carbonated and canned, and immediately sent through a pasteurization step to stop any (dangerous!) further fermentation in the can. Thick, juicy, a touch acidic from both the fruit and beer, and just begging for a shot of wheatgrass (resist that urge). Tall cans of the 5% Squeezie will be available online and at the retail shop tomorrow during the celebrations.
Rounding out the half-dozen weekend releases is the return of 2C’s massive Triple IPA, Space Words. Triple the hops, triple the booze, six* times the fun! Right around 10% ABV, this beer was dry-hopped during and post-fermentation four times with Galaxy, Eclipse, and a hint of Comet (all space words, get it?), leading to a super aromatic, bold, and juicy big IPA. Also available on tap and in tall cans this weekend, it’s also joined by the latest of their Hop Water series, this one being Mojito. At 0.0% ABV, no need to worry about over-imbibing this beauty, which features lime zest and mint leaves, and a refreshing zip to clear the palate. This one is available to everyone today!
Lastly, let’s talk about 2 Crows’ party tomorrow. Open and available from noon, the folks from Coda Ramen (FKA Water and Bone) will be doing a slurpy pop-up in their space, with a couple of different ramen choices available along with some accompanying dishes. There’s only so much broth that can be transported, so this means you’ll want to get there early to avoid disappointment. And for those on the later shift (or arrive early then come back), there’s the return of Rock at the Brewery. From 7 PM til close, hear some wicked tunes from Touched, Norc, and Customer Service, to accompany your stout, smoothie sour, and TIPA imbibing. And speaking of stouts, Sunday from noon will be a Stout take-over, with seven in-house brewed stouts complemented by a trio from brewery friends: North Brewing will join Borden’s Lone Oak Brewing and Moncton’s Tide & Boar Brewing on the draught list. For those not stout-savvy, plenty of other options by the bottle and can pour will be available. Phew, what a weekend!
* or is it nine? Can we get a math ruling here?
Staying with (in?) the dark, Trailway also has a brand new release that’s available now. Sundae Best is a Chocolate Vanilla Soft-Serve Stout. This is a deep and dark but sweet stout with milk sugar (lactose) added, along with vanilla. It boasts a dominant chocolate flavour, but the beer remains soft and balanced, with just the right ABV richness ABV at 6.5%. It is available in cans now directly from the brewery in Fredericton.
From the dark of winter to dreaming of summer days, Bannerman has teamed up with their friends and cohabitants NAMJIM for their second collaboration. Dubbed Beach Comber, it’s an IPA and features Thai tea dust, which is a mix of thai spices and Ceylon black tea. In what they’re already calling a staff favourite, this sweet, bold and juicy IPA uses Pilsner malt, toasted rice, and milk sugar in addition to a huge dry-hop of Sabro and Eclipse hops. It was then conditioned on the Thai tea dust and came out at 7% ABV. Medium-bodied, it brings some subtle flavours of citrus, coconut, cardamom and cinnamon; it’s available now directly from the brewery.
It’s been a bit of a delay to winter here, but if you’re up near Port Rexton, Newfoundland, generally, and Clarenville specifically, the White Hills Ski Resort is opening this weekend! Thankfully, the Port Rexton Brewing crew has a new brew for après ski. Golden Ale is a 4% crisp, clean, and balanced post-ski/board/work/anytime crusher. This will be available on tap or in cans at the Tips Up Lounge inside of White Hills, Port Rexton’s shops, on their website, and in distribution Newfoundland-wide next week wherever on the Rock you buy craft beer.
In addition to the breweries celebrating anniversaries this weekend, you’ll want to head to Dartmouth tomorrow, here’s why:
Lake City Cider is in the heart of Dartmouth’s Downtown, and, in fact, their taproom is right in the centre of the action for Saturday’s Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival Street Party! Portland Street is going car-free 12 – 5 PM, and there will be fun for all with ice carving, games, princesses, and more. Plus, nip into Lake City to grab a cup of hot cider (both alcoholic and non- so the kids can experience the delight of warm cider too), try their new cider cocktails like the Apple Spice, and maybe even grab a sweet dessert, as Antoinette’s Cheesecakes will be there with dipped cheesecakes from 12 PM until they sell out.
We’ll leave you with two final releases and a few events that fall under the “coming later” category
Up in the winter wonderland of Northern NB, Edmunston’s Microbrasserie Ateepic has a new wheat ale out. Wheatpecker comes in at 5% ABV and is infused with orange and raspberry. Grab it on tap now at the brewery.
It’s still winter and Propeller is keeping things dark too; this week they’re releasing a new batch of their Mocha Oatmeal Stout, this one extra smooth and creamy owing to being packaged “on Nitro”. This oatmeal stout is 5.5% and brewed with chocolate and locally roasted coffee. Warm and sweet notes of brown sugar, milk chocolate and fresh espresso are all present in aroma and flavour of this 5.5% beer, which is nicely balanced at 28 IBU. It is available in cans at the three Prop Shops, for ordering on their website, and at private stores in Halifax.
This next event is still a few weeks away, but given that it’s an annual favourite on the beer nerd calendar, we thought we’d remind you that February 18 is Péché Day. Every year, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! rolls out kegs featuring variants of its legendary Péché Mortel imperial coffee stout, with distribution hitting a limited number of better beer bars around the world. As in previous years, Halifax’s Stillwell and Moncton’s Tide and Boar have been selected to participate in the event. We’ll have more details closer to the 18th, but we know this year’s variants will include Péché Latte, Péché Mortel Stout Mexicain, Péché Mortel Bourbon 2022 and a special coffee edition with beans from Mystique Café.
In beer venue news, we have a teaser from our friends in (on?) PEI: Lone Oak Brewing started as the beloved brewpub and brewery in Borden-Carleton’s Gateway Village. Since then, they’ve opened a second brewpub and retail location just outside of Charlottetown. In 2023, they’re taking their game to the centre of the PEI tourism universe and opening Lone Oak Beer Garden in Cavendish! More info to come, but it’s time to get excited if you’ll be hitting PEI’s north shore this summer (paging D.F.).
One last thing before we let you go… One of the Banished Brewing family is having a tough time, and they are looking to support their own, and give you a chance to do the same. Thacker, pup of Head Brewer Duncan Tennant, is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, that just underwent surgery to correct Intervertebral Disc Disease. He is on the mend now, with a successful recovery expected. In order to help with the (significant) bills, Banished is holding a fundraiser to pay for the surgery, and enter you into a random draw. Check out their GFM here, and every donation you make can go towards an entry into the draw. More on Thacker here!