Happy Friday y’all! Warmer weather, buds breaking through the snow, patios being shoveled off, it really is beginning to feel like spring! Of course, we’ll have to keep our snowblowers and scrapers close at hand, but let’s hope the worst of winter is behind us. And let us now turn to beer, because that’s why you tune in every week! Oh, and as next week is Good Friday, we’ll be giving you an All Killer, No Filler post next Thursday to set your (hopefully) long weekend up for beer and cider success! (Note to breweries, please hit us up early next week to be included, in case we check out even earlier than usual)
Never ones to do something half-assed, the Fine Family of Big Spruce is celebrating their Tenth Anniversary in a big way this weekend! April 1, 2013 is when the little farm brewery on a hill in Nyanza, Cape Breton first opened their doors, and they’ve been pumping out the good stuff and raising a little heck, ever since! At a time when there were fewer than 20 breweries in the province, and none in Cape Breton, Jeremy White and family purchased a home, planted some hops, and got to work to bring Organic beer to Nova Scotia. Check this interview from 2012 and update in 2013 for a bit of nostalgia on the brewing scene back then… Over the ten years since, they have released well over 200 different beers, fought back against outdated and backwards rules from the province and the NSLC, all while having a heck of a lot of fun.
They are celebrating in a massive way this weekend with the release of a Birthday Box mixed case of new brews and returning favourites, just in time to kick off Nova Scotia Craft Beer Month. Giving full details on all twelve would be a full hour-read on its own, so we will tease you with the names and info to at least get you ready.
- Kitchen Party Pale Ale – This is a throwback to the original recipe that they launched in 2013, that has undergone some tweaks over the years. 5.6% ABV
- Cereal Killer Glenora Whiskey Barrel Aged – Taking their Stout and aging it in whiskey barrels will lend tons of vanilla, wood, and spirit character, without a ton of booziness. 5.8% ABV
- Canadian Tuxedo – An ode to the denim on denim look, local Organic haskap berries punch up this Brettanomyces-fermented sour beer. 6.0% ABV
- Bolt From The Blue – Another fruited sour, this time using locally-grown Organic blueberries. 4.5% ABV
- Snailblazer – Just because it’s low ABV doesn’t mean it’s not full of flavour! A 4.5% ABV Session IPA with experimental HBC 843 hops.
- Put Me In Kölsch – A dry-hopped pale lagered ale, refreshing and thirst quenching for those days in beer league softball. 4.9% ABV
- Hug Bunny – A returning favourite Gose, the light salt character keeps you wanting more. 4.0% ABV
- Blursday – A new release, a 6.6% ABV hazy IPA.
- Brew Rodeo – Another new IPA, this one uses a cryogenic extraction of fresh, not dried, Citra hops, to capture the just-picked character of the hop harvest, stabilizing it for any-time-of-the-year enjoyment. 7.0% ABV
- The Cat’s Pyjamas – Another experimental hop IPA, weighing in at 7.2% ABV
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong – A Double IPA featuring the tropical and citrus New Zealand-grown Nectaron hop. 8.0% ABV
- Under The Mountain – A Cascadian Dark Ale, aka Black IPA, the winner from this year’s Homebrew Championship, brewed by Alex Hunt. Chinook, Simcoe, and Centennial, for tons of pine and resin on a smooth dark malt base. 6.2% ABV
Wow! What a line-up! The great news is that there are a few hundred of these Birthday Boxes available at Big Spruce, or online for delivery across the province or Canada-wide, going on-sale today at 6 PM (delivery tomorrow), so set your alarms now!
Joining the new releases from Big Spruce is the return of their annual American IPA release, Cerberus. Celebrating the best of Organic ingredients, especially hops, it is hopped throughout the process, including in the kettle and later in the tanks post-fermentation, to give you both flavour and aroma bursting from the can. As always, this is a once a year treat, so don’t delay in picking it up from the brewery, their shop, or better retailers around the province.
If you manage to finish your case of new beer on the weekend, congratulations! But the good news is if you do, or happen to miss out, then you can enjoy any and all of these new and returning releases on draught at Battery Park next Thursday, April 6, as they host Big Spruce for a massive Tap Takeover. From 11:30 until late, Nyanza is taking over the taps to showcase it all to the public. And great news, as Friday is a holiday for most, hopefully you needn’t worry about having to head to work the next morning! Birthday Cake is served at 7 PM, and the Big Spruce Crew will be onsite celebrating along with everyone!
From one island to another, Sober Island Brewing has a brand new release coming out today. A light, dry-hopped Saison, Saison du Sheet Rock is a fun, light twist on a delicious style. We’re happy to bring you the details on this one, as this one brings a malt bill of Pilsen, Vienna and light Munich to bring lightly toasted and soft bready flavours. The hops in this one are all American, which isn’t traditional, but works well with the recipe. Citra, El Dorado and Centennial play up the citrus, stone fruit and a bit of spruciness. The Belgian yeast adds the peppery contrast and brings the dry finish you’d expect from the style. Overall, this comes in at 4.0% and 26 IBU and should be a great take on the style. This debuts at their beer release party tonight (Friday, March 31st) at 7 PM at the brewery, and a cask version will be available at the Together We Brew Beerfest tomorrow. Cans are available at the taproom as well.
Staying in Nova Scotia, Tatamagouche Brewing has a brand new beer that stays in the Saison family. Peppy is a pink peppercorn and rosehip Saison. This brew was inspired by a family kombucha recipe that has botanical and grapefruit aromas with a tart citrus flavour. Along with classic Belgian yeast, the pink peppercorn and rosehips were used as a dry “hop” to bring very bright floral, sweet, and berry notes with a peppery aroma. The finish of this 5.9% beer is dry and herbaceous and it is available today in 355ml cans from the brewery and online and may pop up around some private stores as well in Halifax.
Another brand new beer out of Nova Scotia comes to us courtesy of Tusket Falls Brewing. Something to Say is a Hazy Session IPA that continues with the brewers’ current fascination with New Zealand hops. This 4.6% tropically flavoured beer features Pacific Sunrise along with a bit of Citra. The Pacific Sunrise has hints of lemon and orange flavour with some melon and mango notes as well. This one is available in cans and on tap at the Tusket brewery and will be available in their Halifax Beer Project location soon.
We’re starting our Newfoundland-themed section now, sharing news from seven breweries from the Rock. Starting out with Banished Brewing, they’ve got a new beer and a fresh release of an old favourite. Private Line is a 4.7% Kölsch that embodies the cool, crisp style with a touch of sweetness from European malts. This is available at the brewery now and will be going to Newfoundland retailers through next week. The Banished crew also has a fresh batch of their Double New England IPA, Intergalactic Puffin, which is the 8% offering of their Puffin line.
Other news from the brewery is that they’re hiring part-time and full-time positions for retail and bartending positions. To apply please submit a resume & a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second stop on our Newfoundland swing is Landwash Brewery and they’re bringing us Garden Party, a Session IPA. This release coincided with Blue Jays opening day and brings the hope of Spring, Summer and fun, social days ahead. This is 4.2% and available in cans today.
Bringing in a friend, Landwash has a new collaboration with Baccalieu Trail Brewing. Freeze & Thaw is a Northern German Pilsner to commemorate this time of the year and frosty mornings in Newfoundland. Staying true to the style, this lager went through a double decoction mash and brings that nice bitter bite and floral aroma from German Spalter Select and Saphir hops. The result is a 5% canned beer available from the regular locations of Marie’s and NLC on the Avalon peninsula, and will be coming to the rest of the island next week.
Staying in the province, but jumping over to Lab City, Iron Rock Brewing is releasing the second of its cellar series with Le Fer Du Monde. This Belgian-style tripel, a clever play on the name of the ever popular (although now macro-owned) tripel out of Quebec, translates to the Iron of the World. Their take on the style was oak-aged and then bottle conditioned. Expect notes of dark fruit, vanilla, and oak, with a touch of warming alcohol character. This one can be aged for up to three years, or enjoyed fresh (“why not both?” is our suggestion). Bottles will be available today at the taproom with wider retail distribution next week.
Dildo Brewing is getting you in the mood for spring with its newest release, Maibock. Their take on the German Helles Bock comes in at 6.5%, featuring Pilsner, Vienna and Munich malt, with the malt sweetness complimented by the spicy notes derived from the exclusive use of Spalter Select hops. Cans are available today around the bay in Dildo and at the downtown St. John’s retail store, with wider distribution via the NLC next week.
Over on the west coast, Secret Cove Brewing is releasing Ocean Dust, a 4.6% ABV German gose-style ale. Their version includes the traditional additions of coriander and orange peel, with the salt harvested from Newfoundland sea water. Expect a slight tartness, along with orange pith, marmalade and a hint of ocean water. Find it on tap at the brewery now with cans next week at the brewery, and wider distribution to follow.
We’ll finish off the streak of Newfoundland and Labrador releases with this year’s version of Wild Ale from Port Rexton Brewing. This one is co-fermented with two ale yeasts, a cleaner American yeast, and a Belgian Saison yeast, before a secondary fermentation with Escarpment Labs’ Brett D strain. The resulting 6% wild ale is packed with esters and phenols, including banana, spice and floral notes. A small addition of pineapple puree rounds out the fruity fermentation-derived flavours. You can find it on-tap at the brewery now, with cans at the brewery and the St. John’s retail shop. It will see wider distribution in cans across the Province next week.
Let’s head to Fredericton to start a little Nouveau-Brunswick swing, where Trailway’s newest release is honouring one of beer’s crown jewels, Allagash White, from Portland, Maine. Trailway’s take on the Belgian-style wheat beer, or wit, features bready malt notes, hints of orange peel and coriander (from additions of both items) and a light grassy note from the hops. Main Land is available in cans at the brewery now, with cans hitting the Saint John taproom soon.
Heading way up to Bathurst we find Four Rivers Brewery releasing a special beer brewed on international Women’s Day. Hitting the taps today at the brewery is The Women Brew Too, an IPA brewed, as you might expect, by one of the brew team, Megan Kinsman, along with a group of community-driven women in Bathurst. All proceeds from this one will be donated to Maison de Passage House in Bathurst.
Nanobrewery Twin Harbour, in Saint Anthony/Saint-Antoine on the Eastern shore of New Brunswick, has a couple offerings to talk about this week. First up, fans of their Cap Enragé 6.0% West Coast-style American IPA will be happy to hear that it’s back on tap after a long hiatus. No word on packaging for now, but you’ll at least be able to grab a fill at the brewery. Along with that they’ve also got a new beer they’re calling P’tit Prince, which is a variation on their popular blonde ale, Côte d’Or. Featuring the same grain bill but a different hop combination, it’s a very quaffable beer that should be perfect for the nicer weather that’s sure to come along any time now. Locals know this, but visitors to the area should be aware, Twin Harbour has limited hours (usually Thursday evenings from 6-8pm) and you’ll need to check social media (Fb, Ig) to be sure to know when they’re open!
Barrel-aging specialty brewery Rackhouse out of Nackawic, NB, has a new treat out this week, and, as is de rigueur for this brewery, one that’s been some time in the making. A classic witbier was aged in a former apple brandy barrel for six months, where it both mellowed and took on some tropical flavors of primarily pineapple and passion fruit that should be perfect for the coming patio season. A limited-edition run of 375ml bottles is also expected, so keep your eyes out for that. For now, however, your best bet to try this 8.5% beer is at the Big Axe or Moonshine Creek taprooms and hopefully the Joyce and the Uncorked Tours taproom in Saint John.
Our contractually* obligated** cider content this week comes from Annapolis Cider in Wolfville, where they’ve got a new entry in their Something Different series. Cranberry Mimosa is a play on the classic breakfast cocktail, with a twist, of course. Citrusy, thanks to fresh tangelos and navel oranges which were soaked in AC’s base cider for a few weeks, it’s got a sweetness that is balanced by a crisp finish of grapefruit and orange peel notes. Fresh-pressed cranberry juice complements the citrus backbone and also provides a hint of ruby red color to this 5.3% ABV cider. As with all entries in the Something Different series, this one is only available for pints and fills at the cidery and $0.50 of every fill goes to a charitable cause, in this case, Elderdog Canada.
* Hahaha. We have no contracts.
** Hahahahaha. We have no obligations either.
No new events on the docket to mention, but we trust that if you’re in the HRM area (or willing to travel for beer events) you’ve already got your ticket(s) to tomorrow’s Together We Brew.
Brewery hiring season is kicking into gear as breweries prepare for the hectic summer season.
North Brewing in Halifax is looking to staff up, with several positions available in both the “seasonal front-of-house” and “line cook/prep cook” categories at both their Timberlea and Portland Street locations. Prospective applicants are encouraged to check out all the job details on North’s website under the “Job Postings” link and then follow the instructions to apply.
A couple of quick hits to take you home (country rooooooads):
Fredericton’s Grimross has two beers from different ends of the spectrum back on tap. Hop Blonde is pale, clear, crisp, and refreshing at 6.0% ABV, and Maritime Black IPA is dark, roasty, and dank, with plenty of bitterness in a 6.2% package. Find them both at the brewery packaged in cans to go.
Fans of beer in Lower Sackville can check out their local Ol’ Biddy’s for a new beer this weekend. Their second-ever lager will go on tap on Saturday. They’re being coy with the details at this point so you’ll just have to head down tomorrow and see what it’s all about!