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Happy Friday, everyone! We’re closing in on the end of October, and the weather has definitely turned chilly in the region. And snow in Labrador, but that’s to be expected in July, too! 😉 A full case of beer news for you today, so let us tarry no further and get you up to speed!

Do you like your hoppy beers with a low amount of alcohol? And by low, we mean… in the non-alcoholic range? If you do, Upstreet has just the beer for you! Libra North Cape Pale Ale is golden-coloured APA lightly hopped (both in the whirlpool and dry-hop) with Amarillo, Citra, and Simcoe, that weighs in at… 0.4% ABV. Yes, 0.4%! They insist it has been fully fermented with a “regular beer yeast”, but that’s all they’re willing to divulge. Either way, they’re hoping the ultra-low ABV won’t scare you away from enjoying a hop-flavoured beverage! It’s available at the Upstreet taproom and Craft Beer Corner in Charlottetown, and should be pouring at the BBQ Brewhouse in Dartmouth next week. You may even see it in some of the Halifax private stores, as well. And seeing as it’s non-alcoholic, it can be ordered for Canada-wide delivery through the brand’s website, DrinkLibra.ca

The Pride of Hanwell never stops churning out the good stuff, as Niche has a new draft release this week and a bottle release coming soon. First up, Sabro Sour Session IPA, is a sour Session IPA dry-hopped with only Sabro (well that was anticlimactic). This beer comes through with those nice Sabro coconut notes (coconotes) along with lots of citrus flavour coming through with some tartness. Coming in at 4.4%, this easy-drinking and refreshing ale will be at the usual local accounts in New Brunswick this week. 

As for their newest bottle release, Pau Hana, (Hawaiian for “end of the work day”) Niche delivers a barrel aged fruited Saison with time on its side. Pau Hana was fermented with a blend of Sacch and Brett strains and aged in a freshly-emptied Chardonnay barrel for over a year. The beer then went back to stainless for several more months on pineapple and pink guava puree. The flavours here should be oaky, dry, funky, with tons of fruit (especially guava). Pau Hana comes in at 5.8% and is marked for release next week for bottles going out next week around Fredericton and Moncton. We’ll be sure to get the details for the blog next week so you can get your paws on this tasty treat. 

For those of you in Nova Scotia who don’t live in the center of the universe, aka the HRM, you’ll be happy to hear that your hard workers at Good Robot are now shipping beer province-wide. Just make sure to have your order in by 3 pm, and it’ll ship out the next day (weekends excluded, of course). Orders need to be placed in multiples of 12 cans, and you’ll need your ID on delivery to prove you’re legally able to consume sweet, sweet beer. And what better way to christen your first order than with a new beer? Well, more good news then, as their latest, Sour Cherry Camacho, is available for purchase this weekend. This one is a “Sour Cherry Marzen” (!) brewed with a healthy portion of Vienna malt in the grist, as well as a blend of three forms of cherry: puree, extract, and juice. It comes in at 6% and features, as you might have guessed, a lot of cherry presence, along with some biscuity, bready notes. 

Brand-spanking-new Double IPA from Big Spruce coming your way! Fou D’Amour is an 8% ABV hazy wonder hopped entirely with Barbe Rouge, a fairly new French variety that gives the beer a big blast of “ripe strawberry, ruby grapefruit, and kumquat”. With a soft mouthfeel and tons of aroma, it should be just the hoppy ticket to get you through your weekend. You can find it on tap and in 650 mL bottles at the Sprucetique in Nyanza, and of course you’ll very likely see it at some of your favourite watering holes near the brewery, as well as in the HRM.

If you love beer and live in St. John’s, you’ve probably been pretty happy with all of the one-offs that Quidi Vidi has been releasing lately… and we don’t blame you, you lucky dogs! This weekend they’ve got yet another one, Citra Lager. An easy-drinking Lager hopped with Citra, it has a “bright citrus aroma and a light-bodied flavour, with a mild, bitter finish”. Available at the brewery’s Hops Shop, it can also be found at NLCs and convenience stores across Newfoundland, once deliveries are completed. 

Newly-opened Serpent Brewing in Halifax is only a few weeks old, but they’ve already got their fourth product available for purchase! Notice we say “product” and not “beer”, because, well… it’s not a beer. It’s a cider they’ve named The Bite. Made from a mix of juice from three different apple varieties from the Annapolis Valley, it was fermented in two separate vessels, with two different yeasts (one of which is a Belgian strain). Blended back together once fermentation was complete, the final, semi-dry 5.0% cider has “a subtle, rustic quality, while retaining the delicate flavour of the apples”. It’s available in 500 mL bottles, and can be purchased directly at the brewery, or online for pickup or local delivery.

Our friends at North Brewing have a bright, new beer for you to share (or hoard, we won’t judge) this weekend – Rosy Berry Saison was fermented with the Old World Saison yeast strain from Escarpment Labs, with additions of local blackberries and raspberries from Noggins Corner Farm Market. Dark orange in colour, with “notes of berry, melon, and grapefruit, with a pleasant, peppery Saison finish”, it sounds like just the beverage for this time of year. It’s launching today for purchase at both retail shops, as well as online; it’ll also be on tap at Battery Park.

Let’s return to hops (because, really, that’s still where a lot of beers go these days) with Landwash Brewery, who have a new iteration of their super-hoppy Double IPA, Dream Island. This batch features multiple additions of both Sabro and Bru-1, loading the aromas and flavours with “notes of macerated peaches, ripe mangos, and juicy oranges”. Weighing in around 8% ABV, you can grab it at the brewery right now (on tap and in cans), or arrange an order online for pickup.

Corner Brook’s Boomstick Brewing is celebrating the holiest of beer celebrations with their own Oktoberfest tomorrow. Their sister Best Coast Restaurant is converting into a beer tent for the day, complete with plenty of decorations and ambiance, in addition to the necessary music, food (brats, kraut, pretzels, mustard, and lots more!), and of course a beer worthy of celebration. Just like at Wiesn, the mayor will be tapping the first keg! The Boomstick Crew has chosen a modern Marzen, along the lines of a Helles style. The best way to take part in the fun is to book a table with your Bubble Buddies, for one of the three seatings (1 – 4 PM, 5 – 8 PM, and 9 PM – midnight). Call 709-388-0144 to RSVP. And if you can’t make it, no shame, the beer will be canned and available to others this weekend as well!

There are a bunch of great events happening this weekend, so if you’re so inclined, we encourage you to get out and get some local beer into you, safely, of course!

We’ve got three events for our Prince Edward pals to get you up and out of the house this weekend:

HopYard in downtown Charlottetown is hosting the European-inspired Grimross Brewing to take over their taps today and tomorrow. Nine taps will be pouring, with a great mix of their Belgian Cheval D’or, German Kings Horn, Brunswick Pils, and Oktoberfest, as well as the Maritime Cream Ale and Pale Ale. Plus a few more treats for you to discover!

Montague’s Bogside Brewing is holding their Oktobeer Fest Saturday afternoon 2 – 5 PM, with live music, pretzels, bratwurst, schnitzel, as well as a full complement of their German beers a-flowing. And if you do opt for those, you’ll get them at a sweet discount! Check out their Instagram for more details.

We already chatted about Upstreet a bit earlier with their new Libra release, but also wanted to highlight that their Gravedigger Ghost Tours are on this weekend and next. In collaboration with the Confederation Centre, attendees start from the Yacht Club at 7:30 PM, and are guided by the Gravedigger himself through downtown Charlottetown hearing stories of unsolved murders, ghostly haunting, and executions. You’ll end up at Upstreet’s taproom where the eponymous beer, and a bunch more, can be used to calm your nerves. The tours run Oct 23 and 24, and again on Oct 29 and 30, grab your tickets here!

In Halifax, 2 Crows and the Change is Brewing Collective releasing the Good News Raspberry and Mango Berliner Weisse tomorrow, with full details on the beer available in last week’s post. There is a full day of fun kicking off the release, starting with a BIPOC Maker’s Market in the taproom from noon til 4 PM. Pints can be enjoyed on the patio during that time, so come by to check out the craft, design, and food offerings and stay for the Good News! From 4 – 6 PM, the taproom opens up, and Hibiscus Specialty Foods will be sticking around for more snacks. At 6 PM, the Change is Brewing Collective, joined by board members of the Africville Museum, will give an address. And at 7 PM, Deidre Lee will present spoken word poetry. A full day for a great cause!

Just a few more bites rounding out the news this week!

After a brief hiatus from in-person episodes, the 902 BrewCast fellas made the trip to 111 Cobequid Rd in Lower Sackville, to visit Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse. There they spoke with owners Keith and Chris to learn the origin of the brewery name, what it’s like openings brewery in the middle of a pandemic, and plenty of teases on what’s on the horizon from OBB. Grab the episode today to laugh and learn!

We teased it last week, but now it’s a reality! Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing is bringing back some of their favourite releases from the past four years (wow, it’s been that long?). First up in the celebratory series is King Friday. If you don’t remember this one, you could be forgiven…. It’s a 9.5% ABV Wheat Wine! It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood when you can get your hands on this malt-driven beer that features plenty of sweet warmth, but with lovely bread crust and biscuit character in your glass. Available in small quantities (as with all Tidehouse releases!), you’ll want to get down to Salter Street from 2 PM today (and tomorrow, if it lasts that long!) to take a ride on the magic trolley.

Tire Shack Brewing has brought back their crowd-favourite Waffle Sauce, an Extra Special Bitter that contains an “excessive amount” of maple syrup, combined with a “great pastry flavour from the malt bill”, all in an easy-drinking 5% ABV package. Available right now at the brewery’s taproom in Moncton.

Bedford’s newest brewery, Topside, is already bringing out some new beers, expanding their “dive roster” with a couple of English (or at least English-derived) styles. One is a Golden Ale with a lovely coppery color that comes in at 5% ABV and that they’re calling Ridgevale, the other an Oatmeal Stout with Cacao nibs at a very respectable 4.3% ABV. Not on tap anywhere in the city just yet, the best way to beer success is through their Grab a Growler program available to those in Bedford, with the details available on their website.

And finally, just a note that you may have seen some news regarding the CBANS this week, with several member breweries leaving the organization (Huddle / The Coast). While there may have been one recent incident that served as the “last straw” for the breweries have left the organization, both public statements on social media and things we’ve heard more privately have suggested that for many breweries, CBANS no longer represents their best interests in terms of business, community, or social responsibility. There have been whispers of another industry group forming, and we’ll have more on that when we can share.

Village Green Logo

The town of Cornwall, PEI, is 15 minutes outside of downtown Charlottetown, and offers a quiet area to stop and take a break while traveling the island. Now that stop can also include a visit to its own brewery, thanks to the launch of Modern Brewer’s Village Green. The Modern Brewer moniker is that of Bryan Carver, who has worked in beer and brewing on PEI for well over a decade, and is debuting his brand by opening the Village Green location at 30 Church Street. Over the years, Carver has worn many hats in the beer industry, including brewer, brewery consultant, equipment manufacturer representative, author, and everything in between. We caught up with Bryan in between brewing and pouring pints in the taproom.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Bryan Carver, I am the owner of Modern Brewer and the owner/brewer of Village Green in Cornwall, PE. I am a Certified Cicerone®, I write about beer on PEI for The Buzz here on the island and I have been working in the brewing industry here on PEI for close to 12 years, from keg cleaning to brewing, to design and consulting, hosting tastings and now running a taproom and nano system in Cornwall.

How did you get into the world of beer?
I have always been a beer lover. In 2000, I spent a month in Dublin ‘studying’ Irish Literature, definitely spent more time in pubs than studying. At that time Guinness was brewing a witbier called Breó, having my first pint of that was a real eye opening experience. I grew up in Ottawa, and we had a bit of exposure to the early craft beer movement, I would drink Big Rock ‘Traditional’ and ‘Grasshopper’ while also being exposed to Unibroue over in Hull, QC. I have always enjoyed trying different beers, and am often pretty grateful I have been able to make it into a living.

In 2008, I joined Gahan Brewery to help build the only operating production brewery on PEI. From there I went to Gahan House to brew for a couple years and was present for the initial growth of what would become PEI Brewing Company. I moved to the production Gahan Brewery in the year leading to the opening of the current PEI Brewing Company’s home on Kensington Road. We opened the larger brewery, perhaps one of the largest craft breweries in Atlantic Canada at the time, and I came to the realization that my perspective on brewing wasn’t aligned with the company’s anymore.

I left my position as Head Brewer from PEI Brewing when any opportunity to consult a start up brewery in New Delhi came up. I spent a little over a month in Northern India working with the team that became White Rhino Brewing. The founder Ishaan Puri had developed a thorough plan on launching the brand, and it was a great experience to work with him.

Coming back to PEI, I needed to find work close to home and landed working with DME Brewing Solutions. I spent a little time working on the shop floor, assembling pumps and working with the piping crew. Then I began to travel to install and commission breweries all over North America. During 2014, I travelled to roughly 25 different cities to work at breweries. It was a tremendous experience and gave me massive exposure to what was happening in craft beer across the continent. Eventually, my wife Amy and I were expecting our first child and I moved into an office position with DME, managing the after-sales and technical support. There I helped breweries across the globe resolve any issues they were experiencing.
I used my free time at home to study for the Certified Cicerone® exam in Halifax. I would like to write the Advanced Cicerone® exam, but that won’t really happen until we are through the pandemic.

VG Draught System

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
When DME Brewing Solutions went into receivership and everyone lost their jobs, I decided to commit to opening a brewery. I had been working on business plans for a few years but that wasn’t gaining traction. Unfortunately, I had no money. While at DME, I had been thinking on how nano breweries operate, and what the function of a tasting room in a community was, drawing inspiration from micropubs in the UK. There was a suitable building in Cornwall that was soon to be available, and I developed a plan to squeeze a small brewery into a small building! That was the beginning of Village Green.

What is the ethos of the Modern Brewer and Village Green?
I started working in the initial business plan under the brand Modern Brewer, which is a brand of the beer we produce. Modern Brewer’s Village Green, or just Village Green, is the physical location in Cornwall. I hope to expand the Modern Brewer brand to another location or two in the coming years. We are developing a culture aimed at celebrating diversity. I feel that diversity in beer can be a great vehicle for celebrating the diversity in people.

Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
The focus at Village Green is to create a community pub, with a diverse selection of beer. The initial plan was to brew a different beer every batch, but certain issues in the PEI Liquor Act made that cost prohibitive. We are launching with a Blonde ale and a Pale ale, to be joined soon enough by an IPA, with a few more coming in the next couple of months as well.
We’re keeping the naming of the beers simple, so you know what you’re getting! The Pale Ale comes in at 5.9%, with an estimated IBU in the high 40s. Brewed with West Coast water treatment, it features malt from Island Malt House, as well as some Vienna from away. It was fermented with Cali Ale yeast and modest dry hop of Cascade and Centennial. The 5.7% Blonde Ale features a similar grain bill, with Island Malt House Pilsner, along with some Maris Otter. It features a lower IBU, and was fermented with an English yeast strain, allowing some lovely fruity esters to shine through.

VG Stout Glass

Enough talk, how can folks enjoy your beer?
The best way is to come to the taproom, as our batches are very small at just 250 litres. The main focus will be at the taproom in Village Green, where folks can grab pints, samples, as well as growler fills (BYO clean growler). In addition to our Pale Ale and Blonde Ale, we have a handful of other Island beers pouring, always a PEI cider, as well as some wine for those looking for something different. Occasionally, a few kegs making their way to Charlottetown, mainly Hopyard, as I have a great relationship with them and have worked with them for years in different capacities. Co-owner Mike Ross was actually my boss for a year or two back in my Gahan days!

We know that a new brewery does not spring up in a vacuum. Care to give a shoutout to those who have helped you along the way?
Definitely, I have called on everyone for a favour at some point! Chris and Symond at PEI Brewing are old coworkers and always a great resource for help. Spencer Gallant at Lone Oak, Mike “Hogie” Hogan from Upstreet, Andrew “Esty” Estabrooks from Foghorn [ed note: the feeling must be mutual, as Foghorn has a Stout named Bryan in Carver’s honour!], Jeremy White at Big Spruce. All these people have been very supportive.

What can we expect from Modern Brewer in the next 2-3 years?
I want to see Village Green be established as a community hub in Cornwall. I want to be working on a production focused brewery in the next 2-3 years, with a larger packaging component and space to grow.

Let’s get nerdy! Please tell us about the brewery and unique brewhouse…
The system is designed to produce roughly 250 litres of finished beer per batch. I worked with East Arc Metalworks right on the Island, which was started by Ryan Court and Calvin Harris, two fabricators that worked at DME on the shop floor who opened their own fabrication shop. They approached me about a small system for my brewery; I was looking at other options on the larger scale home brew equipment market, but would rather give my money to East Arc, as I knew their work was excellent.
The system was basically drawn on a few pieces of notepad paper. Electric Hot Liquor Tank and Kettle, with a Mash Tun that was cladded in oak by Jordan Stetson who owns New World Foeders. Jordan is a good friend and also a former colleague from my DME days. He and his father John did most of the interior construction at Village Green as well. I can’t say enough good things about Jordan, he is a great guy and his work is exceptional.

The set up is the three vessel brew house, with six open-top fermenters, and nine serving tanks in a walk-in fridge. The serving tanks are really designed for the wine industry, but I designed a fitting using ball lock connections to convert them to work for beer. East Arc added a 4″ ferrule to each so I could clamp on my dispensing set up.

The gear at Village Green is truly one of a kind, and designed to minimize the necessity of kegs, making it more streamline for working in a taproom.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?I love Saison DuPont, it’s probably my desert island beer. I love hoppy beers too, a massive fan of Firestone Walker in Paso Robles California, their Pivo Pils is another perspective changing beer for me. Also love Bell’s Beer in Michigan, if I am ever anywhere that sells Two Hearted you can bet I am picking it up.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
I always enjoy brewing a dark beer, stouts and porters just smell some incredible in the mash tun.

Congratulations to Bryan and the Village Green crew on their launch! You can pop by the taproom today to grab the first pints of their Blonde and Pale Ales. They are open Mon-Thurs 4 – 9 PM, Fri & Sat 12 – 9 PM, and Sun 1 – 6 PM. Keep up to date on the latest news on Facebook, Instagram (both Modern Brewer and Village Green have pages), and tag ’em on Twitter too! They will be announcing the details of their Beer Appreciation Society soon, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled so you don’t miss out!

serpent brewing logo

For the first time, the community of Spryfield has a brewery of their own. Serpent Brewing has moved into their space at the Spryfield Shopping Centre. While owner and brewer Glen O’Keefe and crew are putting the finishing touches on their retail and taproom space, the first of their Belgian-inspired beers are now available for pickup and local delivery. We caught up with Glen to learn more about his journey into brewing, Serpent Brewing’s history, and their plans for their location.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Port Saunders, Newfoundland, and spent my teen years in Corner Brook. I showed up in Halifax with the prog rock band Oceanic and stayed for the beer. [ed note: Listening to Trappist in the background while writing this up was pretty freaking rad, check it out]

How did you get into the world of beer?
Music was my first passion, homebrewing was something I took up in my attempt to have a hobby that didn’t completely consume my life. I don’t do hobbies anymore.

What made you decide to take the steps into opening a brewery?
After sharpening up my homebrew skills for a few years, I began serving some of my efforts at weddings and even our band’s album release. Seeing a large group of people enjoying my beer really did it for me in a similar way to performing in our band… I was looking for an out from construction as that was getting tired, and commercial brewing is easy right?

What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
Our logo represents the beautiful harmony that’s found in harnessing of the chaotic nature of Belgian brewing: once you put that yeast in, you step away and go back to being a janitor – they are now in control. There’s something about that alchemical process that inspires all of us when it comes to brewing and that’s what the brewery is based around.

Serpent Bottles

Tell us about Serpent’s initial releases!
To start, we are offering up three of our flagship beers that we will be doing in our greatest volumes.

  • White Mountain is a 5.5% Witbier or wheat beer. It’s truly an explosion of orange peel flavor and aroma with the subtle hint of coriander at the back.
  • Patey’s Bier is our 4.6% Belgian single, my grandfather Theo Patey often home brewed as did many people from my hometown, so renaming the patersbier somehow had to be done. Our Belgian single is a pretty standard easy drinking ale, the Miller Lite of Belgium if you will. Brewed with yeast from the Westmalle trappist monastery, however brewed with a desire for drinkability on the Canadian side.
  • Eden is for our beer hop lovers, a beautiful 6.0% Belgian IPA brewed with half spicy hops from over there and citrusy hops from here. A Belgian tuxedo over an American dress. Although it’s got Belgian in the name, this beer drinks mostly like a regular NEIPA with a subtle spice hint on the back.

How can folks try your beer?
We will begin distribution to local bars/restaurants shortly, but in the meantime, 500 mL bottles are available now for curbside pickup and delivery at our space. Ordering details are on our website. Once our 60-seat taproom is open, we will operate under the standard hospitality license which allows us to serve our own product at our location (pints, flights, and growlers). We will also have a cider license and plan to do some mead.

Have you had any assistance from other breweries/people in Atlantic Canada (or elsewhere)?
Steve Crane from The Church Brewing has been like a brewing brother to me and acted officially as my mentor. Mike Gillespie from New Scotland seems to always there to answer an email, Keith Forbes from Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse has been very helpful. The Brewnosers homebrew club of course is where I’ve learned so much.

Where do you hope to see Serpent Brewing in the next few years?
If I can get beer flowing back to NL, establish Belgian beers as the drinkable and approachable beers that people are missing out on, and develop an extensive barrel program I would be pretty happy.

Serpent Brewhouse

Let’s get nerdy! Let’s talk about your brewery equipment.
The 3 vessel brewhouse is a 600 litre (5 BBL) capacity system from Tiantai. With it, I expect to be able to pump out 500 hl annually.

Care to share some info on your brewing history?
I started brewing in Spryfield 10 years ago, my first batch was a Leffe clone. I dabbled mostly in IPAs and malty German beers before getting back into trying to master Belgian styles. No commercial brewing experience up until opening my own place. I’ve placed in a competition here and there and won my category at the Stillwell Open.

Do you have a favorite beer style, beer, or brewery you enjoy drinking?
Belgians of course, but ultimately the customer will dictate where we head with beer styles. I love to brew everything and am very experimental by nature, so people should expect a wide variety of beers pretty continuously. Even a pumpkin spiced Tripel at some point.

How about favourite style or ingredient to brew with?
The Belgian Single has to be my favourite, it’s so simple but it’s such a fine line between a work of art and a terrible homebrew. It’s really a yeast derived beer which is where my heart is.

Serpent Delivery Orders

Thanks very much to Glen for the insight into Serpent Brewing! Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for news of the next releases and taproom opening. In the meantime, you can pop by their spot to grab some beer Monday to Friday, 12 – 2 and 4 – 6 PM. Located behind Canadian Tire, the easiest way to access their location is off Sussex Street just below Herring Cove Road. Online ordering is also available, for either pickup (a notice will be sent once ready) or local delivery (Tuesday and Thursday). Congratulations on the launch!