The rumours of our demise were greatly exaggerated! What rumours , you ask? Well apparently we’re shit at starting rumours too, so nevermind. We’ve probably said this before, but it bears repeating: while there are four of us here at ACBB, we all have lives and jobs and responsibilities and plans, and sometimes we get to Thursday night and we realize that nobody remembered we blog and, well, it ain’t looking so good for tomorrow. Sometimes we manage to pull a post out of our collective arse on Friday morning anyway, but the last two weeks it was simply not to be. Many apologies, full refunds available in the alley out back (mind the rats). This week we’ll try to get you caught up on a little of what we missed previously, but mostly just try to get through this week’s new stuff. Be warned, though, three-quarters of the team is on the road and while you’re left with the wordy fucker (free one-year subscription to whoever guesses successfully), even he has his limits, so pardon the soul of brevity and don’t hold your breath for much wit.
We’ll also remind you that this weekend Remembrance Day falls on Saturday, so your favorite brewery or taproom may elect to close for some or all of Saturday, on Monday, or not at all. So be sure to check socials before you make your plans.
We’ll start this week on the South Shore of NS where Tanner & Co. Brewing has two new IPAs on the go, but ironically, “new” may not be the best descriptor for either of them. Though many know that the IPA style began in the UK over a century ago and that extra hops were generally used as a preservative for the long sea voyage to India, there have been few English IPAs of late to even try, not only locally, but around the world. So Tanner has taken up the cause of rectifying that with their aptly-named English IPA, a beer that keeps the classic British herbal and earthy hops moderate, while balancing with a prominent malt presence featuring notes of biscuit, caramel, and toffee. A rich amber colour completes the picture in this 6.5% ABV beer. Meanwhile, Tanner has also taken a much more modern IPA, one featuring Citra, Simcoe, Chinook, and Amarillo hops, local malts, and a yeast strain from Le Labo yeast lab in Quebec and then aged it for several months in oak barrels from Grand Pré Wines. The result is Barrel Aged IPA, a big beer, at 8.1%, that presents a “harmonious blend of hops and oak.” Look for both of these beers in cans from the brewery and the taproom in Chester where you’ll also stand a pretty good chance of finding them on tap.
Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing has a new IPA this week as well, this one in the modern hazy NEIPA vein, but with a name that’s a callback to the 1970s. While some of you are wondering why anyone would refer to such ancient history, the old farts among us will no doubt have a snicker at The Knights Who Say NEIPA (and its spot-on label). Bursting with citrus, pineapple, mango, and bright orange juice aromas and flavors, they’re calling this one, “a tropical paradise in a glass.” The perfect companion to hunting for a shrubbery (one that looks nice… and not too expensive) or estimating the wingspeed of an unladen sparrow, no doubt. Find this 6.5% and 30 IBU juice bomb in cans at the brewery.
Like many breweries, we suspect even moreso in this region than in others, Mount Pearl, NL’s Landwash Brewery has long fielded questions about why they haven’t had a Red Ale available. Well now the questions can stop, at least for a while. Kicking Leaves is a perfect fall beer, deep amber in color, with notes of caramel, toffee, and a hint of rye. With an ABV of only 4%, it’s also extremely sessionable and you can pack a few for your hike in the crisp and cool fall air. This one is packaged and available only at the brewery this weekend, but headed out to all the usual spots in the coming weeks.
On another Island, Prince Edward that is, Lone Oak has released a brand new American Pale Ale. Although it contains the three most OG “C” hops from the Pacific Northwest of the US, Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook, all of the hops in this brew were local, from Lakeview Hops. Paired with a grist of Pilsner and Vienna malt, though these hop varieties are known more for citrus, pine, and dank notes, the combination, the beer, and no doubt the terroir, have come together to yield a very melony character with some grapefruit and pineapple overtones. Find this smooth and refreshing 5.2% pale ale on tap and in cans to go at the brewery in Borden-Carleton and the Brewpub at Milky Way.
Completing the island trifecta, we have Big Spruce Brewing on Cape Breton Island, who push it to a quadfecta with the name of their new release! Who doesn’t love a brewery collaboration? We know that we sure do; fortunately we have breweries like Big Spruce around who may love a collab even more than most and this week they’ve got a brand new beer that they put together in concert with Truro Brewing. Isle of Lesbos is an ode to lager, and they’re classifying it as a “Greek Pilsner” coming in at 4.2% ABV. While we’re not so much familiar with that particular style, we figure those with a knowledge of Ancient Greek were able to cull it from urns and pottery shards. Regardless, as the weather in this part of the world gets colder and damper, this beer could easily put you in the mind of the sunny and warm Mediterranean. So maybe throw on a toga, grab your lyre, get yourself a 4-pack of this tasty treat from wherever you get your Big Spruce or Truro Brewing, and head down to the Symposium to wax eloquent on your love of beer and Sapphic poetry.
Back to the Rock, where Bannerman Brewing of St. John’s is amongst those breweries embracing the cooler season with darker beers. Ghost Town is a milk stout, which means it’s been dosed with lactose sugar, yielding a creamier mouthfeel and sweeter presentation to balance the usual roasty flavors and aromas of chocolate and other roasty things. Add some hints of caramel and some malt sweetness as well, and you have a smooth sipper that packs a bit of a punch at 6.0% ABV. Look for it pouring on tap or in cans to go from their spot on Duckworth Street.
If you’ve been a craft beer lover in Nova Scotia for a while, you know that each fall, North Brewing partners up with Benjamin Bridge winery to produce a special beer in the saison style that showcases the magic that can happen when beer and wine collide. This year’s base beer began life as a light saison in the fall of 2022 that was co-fermented with freshly-pressed Chardonnay grape juice from BB using the Cerebus yeast strain from Escarpment Labs. It then spent the winter months into 2023 in the tank to age, after which it was naturally carbonated before packaging, which, for the first time, was done in 473ml cans instead of big ol’ 750ml bottles. Why the change? Because the bottles, especially at that size, can be intimidating and a bit of a commitment to someone who doesn’t necessarily know if they’re going to like a saison, let alone a saison/wine hybrid. Hopefully this inspires some folks to try something new! Tasting notes include aromas of lemon, lime, and orange marmalade, with a little bit of saison character and a vinous character from the grapes. Still full-bodied while finishing dry, the bitterness is quite low and it lands at 7.5% ABV. Grab it at any of the North locations you frequent!
Continuing on the long term beer project train are two new entries from Tatamagouche Brewing. First up is Rosaly, a rose hip and lychee sour. After initial fermentation this golden sour was fed into an Italian red wine foeder where it hung out for nearly two years, taking on fruity notes to complement its sour base. Six more months of aging took place on rose hips and lychee fruit, which added berry, citrus and melon notes along with a subtle floral hint. Packaged in short (341ml) cans, you’ll find this 6.1% flavorful sour at the brewery, including online ordering, and no doubt some other places that stock Tata brews. Also recently released is Carmine, the “other” beer that began as that golden sour in the red wine foeder, only instead of lychee and rose hips, this one went onto dragonfruit puree for six months. Picking up more colour than flavour from the fruit, Carmine is closer to its original golden sour character, but you can safely expect some vinous character from the barrel along with a touch of melon and stone fruit. Lighter than the Rosaly at 5.6% ABV, this one has been packaged in a bigger format, 750ml bottles, for convenient sharing. Available at the brewery directly and for online ordering.
Let’s keep the train rolling on barrel aged beers, but this time up the ante. How high? NASH high. Five whole years ago, Unfiltered Brewing’s Greg Nash made an Imperial Brown Ale that was distilled by North End Halifax neighbours Compass Distillers and matured in oak barrels until earlier this year. Unfiltered then took possession of those barrels and filled them with their Twelve Years to Zion DIPA, which matured for eight full months. They then unbunged the barrels and canned the results, which they’ve named Whiskey Beer, a delightful tipple at a hefty 10% ABV, bearing the character of the DIPA, the barrels, and possibly some of that brown ale concoction as well. Find out for yourself as they’ve just packaged a second (and final, we believe) run this week. If you’re wondering what happened to the brown ale distillate, you might check in at Compass, where we’re told they’ve got a new product called Beer Whiskey! If you’re looking for something lighter for balance, you should also know that Unfiltered’s 4% ABV Belinerweiße is back today in cans and on tap at Charm School.
What could be more different than a huge spirit barrel aged DIPA? If you guessed a non-alcoholic (0.4% ABV) cider you win! Lake City Cider in Dartmouth has spun up a lighter alternative to their long-running Christmas-spiced seasonal so that those who are refraining can still drink something with bells on. Non-alcoholic Spice Up Your Life still brings the merry with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and dried orange peel; you’ll find it bottled in 750ml bottles just like its booze-bearing sibling (which is also available now). If you’re not ready for THAT season yet though, fear not. Lake City also has a brand new Peach Cider available with plenty of soft and round peach flavor complementing the familiar apple side of the proceedings. Fairly light, at 5.5%, this one has been packaged in cans.
Candid Brewing in Antigonish has released a new American Pale Ale called Schadenfreude, one of those amazing words from the German language that has both a complex meaning and is terribly fun to say in an over-the-top Teutonic accent. Meaning, “a feeling of pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune,” we’ll let you scope out the branding on your own to get an idea of who they’re poking at. Featuring some modern banger hops in Citra, Loral, and recent belle of the hop ball HBC 586, you’ll find this 5.5% ABV number in cans and most likely on tap at the brewery.
Back up to Newfoundland, we have a three-way collaboration that has produced a brand new and rather interesting beer. Baccalieu Trail Brewing in Bay Roberts put their heads together with Rough Waters Brewing in Deer Lake and then they all collectively smashed skulls with homebrewers and beer lovers @mosaic.wit (who have done other collaborations with Rough Waters and Dildo Brewing as well) to produce Tree Way, a fruited sour IPA. Low on bitterness thanks to no hops at the start of the boil, and with a very restrained dry hop, this one saw the bulk of its dose of Mosaic hops late in the whirlpool, providing big hop notes to interact with açai and curuba (a species of passionfruit) to produce an “explosion of orangey-passionfruit, and a subtle touch of nostalgic fruit roll-up vibes.” This one has been canned, and you should be able to find it at select retail locations around the Avalon Peninsula. (and, we expect, but have not confirmed, both breweries too!)
Continuing to take advantage of the foeders on hand at their facility in downtown Halifax, Gahan Nova Centre has a new small batch release available this week. Taking a portion of last year’s Foeder Aged Winter Warmer, they added red plums and continued to age the result an additional six months. Still with notes of cherry and sweet desserts, along with some tannins from the barrel, you’ll now find some tartness and plum flavors going on. Packaged in 375ml bottles, Red Plum Winter Warmer is 5.5% and is available not just in Halifax, but around the region from the to-go fridges at Gahan locations in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton.
Speaking of Gahan, you may remember this past spring when we announced the winner of the 4th annual Atlantic Homebrew Challenge presented by Gahan House. That beer, Herr Durstig, a German Pils, was brewed at Gahan Port City in Saint John with winner Al McLeod back in August. It’s being released in cans today across the region at all Gahan locations (the abovementioned plus Gahan Harbourview in St. John’s) and also at the PEI Brewing Company taproom. A sessionable lager at 4.8% ABV, it’s golden in color and crystal clear. With a malt backbone of 100% German Pilsner malt, it features local PEI-grown Tettnang hops, for a primarily floral hop nose with hints of citrus. Grab it in cans at your local Gahan location.
As always, the release of last year’s winning beer coincides with the announcement of this year’s competition. The 5th Annual Atlantic Home Brew Challenge will once again allow for entries under two BJCP styles: 11B Best Bitter and 30A Spice, Herb, and Vegetable. The style guidelines are available on the competition website for perusal and planning purposes; competitors can enter once per style if they’re feeling particularly ambitious. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top 5 in each style as well as for the overall winning beer, which will be brewed for canned release with the team at the winner’s local Gahan location. Entries are due for drop-off by March 2nd, 2024, with judging slated and announcement of the winners slated to take place later in March. If you’ve got other questions, definitely scroll to the bottom of the competition website for the FAQ and, if your question still isn’t answered, send an email to the competition team per the last FAQ entry. Good luck to all who compete!
Would you believe that there’s TWO homebrew competitions to announce this week? What a world we live in!! Big Spruce has announced the latest iteration of what is now the longest-running homebrew competition in the region, the 11th Annual Home Brew Challenge: Pomona vs Elysium. What are Pomona and Elysium, you might ask? Well, one is a city in California, and the other is the afterlife as conceptualized by the ancient Greeks, of course! But seriously, the real answer is even nerdier: they’re new yeast strains from Escarpment Labs. Both are targeted at IPAs, especially those of the hazy variety, with slightly different characteristics. Big Spruce has secured 25 pitches of each strain for a maximum number of entries this year of 50. Entrants may submit ONE beer this year, and may submit their preference for one or the other strain, but once one runs out allocation will be what’s left. Judging and the traditional entrants’ gala will take place at the Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth on February 4th, 2024. This year there will be two winners: the top beer made with each strain will be produced on the Big Spruce 7BBL pilot system and packaged for retail. Check out the link to the official Facebook page for the competition above for more information.
Here’s a few last quick tidbits to send you on your way for the weekend:
Trailway Brewing in Fredericton has a trio of returning favorites available now. Hu Jon Heavy is Hu Jon Hops, only MOAR. DIPA, 8%, fuller, hoppier. Then there’s a couple darker beers for the season. Beans is on the sweeter side, a 6.8% Oatmeal Coffee Stout featuring freshly roasted beans from Mill Town Roasters. Black Hops (back after a long hiatus) is a black IPA at 7% that balances zesty grapefruit with roasty character. All are available at Trailway locations and for online ordering.
Sydney’s Breton Brewing has a dark number of their own pouring again, Milk & Cookies is a smooth and slightly sweet milk stout with a “tasty hint of chocolate chip cookies.” Packaged in cans at 5.0% for sale at select NSLC locations across the province, it’s also on tap for fills and pints at the brewery.
Not to be outdone in the stout department, Wolfville’s Church Brewing Co has their Forgive Me Father American stout pouting again. Rich and chocolatey, with plenty of roasted malt flavor, it also features cold-steeped coffee from TAN Coffee. Looks like this one hasn’t been packaged (at least not yet) so you’ll have to hit the brewery for a pint.
And rounding things out this week is the biggest of the returning dark beers, Propeller’s Nanaimo Imperial Dessert Stout. Featuring all the flavors of the classic Canadian dessert, it’s a big’un at 10% ABV and in 473ml tall cans, so maybe plan your evening around that. Available at all the Prop shops and scheduled to be part of the NSLC holiday display.