2014 Canadian Brewing Awards

All posts tagged 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards

Happy Friday, craft beer fans! Looks like there’s lots going on in the beer scene in Atlantic Canada again this week…

• A couple of weeks ago, we alluded to a new beer being released by BarNone Brewing, and we now have some more details. An American Pale Ale, the beer was brewed in collaboration with Bicycle Craft Brewery, a new brewery opening soon in Ottawa. Owned by husband and wife team Fariborz and Laura Behzadi, they came in contact with BarNone brewer/co-owner Don Campbell when they ordered their brewhouse through DME, which constructed a similar setup to what BarNone brews on. When Don invited Fariborz and Laura to do a test brew on his system, so they’d be familiar with the setup, Fariborz designed a recipe and sent it Don’s way. A few minor changes were made due to ingredient availability, and then the three met at BarNone to brew the beer. Broke Spoke Pale Ale was born! A Pale Ale with a “good amount of malt backbone, so that it balances the hop bittermess”, the beer still has a good amount of hop flavors and aromas coming through. Broke Spoke made its debut last night at BarNone’s weekly growler night; it may pop up on tap at bars/restaurants across the Island in the near future.

• Tickets are now on sale for this month’s Beer Dinner (Tuesday, June 24th at 6:00 pm) at the Rockbottom Brewpub in Halifax. There are only 30 spots available; each ticket sells for $35, which includes three courses paired with beer. This month’s dinner consists of a pork belly slider paired with their Intergalactic SMaSH’d Lager, beer-marinated, grilled Cornish hen (with newly-tapped Hali-Lager), and a black pepper & strawberry shortcake (Jacktar Stout). You can reserve tickets by calling the brewpub (902-423-2938); act quickly, they usually sell out fast.

• While on the topic of Rockbottom, if you haven’t had a chance to try Wreckoning RIS – their Russian Imperial Stout that recently won Atlantic Canada’s only gold medal at the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards – or just want to try it again, they will be pouring the beer next Wednesday, June 11th at 4:00 pm. Get in and get some while you can!

• Also, if you’re anxious to start having lunch at the Rockbottom again (or starting your pub crawl a little earlier), they’ve announced that they’re now open on weekdays starting at noon, with a good possibility of opening at noon on weekends as well, later in the month.

• The 2nd Annual Fredericton Beer Run is being held this summer on Monday, August 4th (New Brunswick Day). Like last year, the event involves a run along Fredericton trails starting at noon, followed by lots of beer! Registration begins at 11 am; participants can choose to run either a 6 or 12 km route. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online; they include a custom-designed running bib and beer stein, water stops, and 14 beer tickets. Each beer ticket is good for a 4 oz sample of beer or cider, with at least 20 different beers/ciders available to sample; this part of the event will be held at the Delta Fredericton). New Brunswick breweries Big Axe, Grimross, Moosehead, Pump House, Railcar, Red Rover, and Shiretown will be pouring; Unibroue and McClelland Premium Imports will also have some beers to sample.

• We hope you’ve purchased your tickets to Picaroons‘ 2nd Annual Brewer’s Bash on Saturday, July 12th in Fredericton, because they’re now officially sold out! Even with an extra 500 tickets being sold this year, they still went very quickly. They’ve also announced the three musical acts that will be playing throughout the day-long event: Zeus, Cyndi Cain, and The Chronos Band. We’ll keep you posted on the breweries that will be attending as the Bash gets closer. And a reminder: they’re still looking for volunteers if you’d like to attend – 4 hours of helping out will allow you 8 free hours to enjoy the festival, so send them an email if you’re interested!

• And speaking of Picaroons, they’ve picked the winning cat for their Melonhead bottle label… the lucky kitty is Ruby, who was entered in the contest by her owner, Madison Sagle. Melonhead is now on tap at the Brewtique, and should be popping up at restaurants and bars in the area, as well as in bottles, over the next couple of weeks.

• The new Imperial IPA from Hammond River, Too Hop to Handle, that we mentioned last month has been kegged and is awaiting ANBL approval, which means it should be on tap in Saint John soon. Brewed almost exclusively with the Zythos hop, we’re looking forward to a fruity and piney hop bomb!

PEI Brewing Co. has a new beer on tap exclusively at the brewery at 96 Kensington Road in Charlottetown. While currently unnamed, the beer is a Light Lager (4% ABV) that has a low bitterness (8 IBUs) from Kohatu, a New Zealand hop variety.  The beer was then “highly dry-hopped” with another NZ variety, Motueka, giving the beer a “tropical and piney” aroma, according to the brewery. Sounds like an interesting cross between a Light Lager and IPA… better get to the brewery to give it a try!

North Brewing in Halifax has released a new seasonal, their Summer Saison. Changed slightly from their standard Saison, it features coriander and orange peel in the beer, to enhance the already vibrant and spritzy character of the base beer. Both ingredients shine through in the aroma as well, complemented by the hop characteristic and yeast spiciness. It weighs in at 5.5%ABV, and is available at the brewery and Alderney Landing Market (Saturday only) in growlers, and on tap around Halifax and Dartmouth, and in Lunenburg at The Grand Banker. When the weather turns colder (let’s hope that’s 6 months from now!), they have plans of switching up the recipe to a Winter Saison, featuring ginger and black pepper.

• In more new beer news, Shiretown just announced today that they have a new beer available for growler fills at the brewery. All we know right now is that it’s an IPA, and is called Hops on for Nowhere. We’ll have more info on this beer for you next week!

• If you’re living in the Sackville area, and are into craft cider, good news! Red Rover Brewing now has their Summer Brew on tap at Ducky’s Bar. Summer is a dry cider, described by Red Rover as a sharp, tangy thirst-quencher; it comes in at 7% ABV. Look for Red Rover’s other two regular releases, Spring Brew and Fall Brew, to follow after the Summer keg has kicked.

• Ducky’s also announced yesterday that they have the new Big Axe summer seasonal, Simon Saaz Summer Ale, on tap. Check out last week’s post for more info on this beer. To follow, they’ll be tapping another Big Axe seasonal, White Birch Porter. A 6.5% ABV Porter brewed with pure white birch sap, owner/brewer Peter Cole describes the beer as dark brown in color, and medium-bodied. Slightly smoky, with an aroma of “dark roasted nuts, rye bread and chocolate”, the bitterness of the birch sap “complements the noble hops nicely”.

Yellowbelly Brewpub is releasing a new brew this weekend. Downtown Brown is an American-style Brown Ale, weighing in at 6.2% ABV and 40 IBUs. The grain bill consists of Canadian Pale, English Maris Otter, Canadian Munich, Scottish Carastan and Scottish Black Malt… a truly international bunch! The beer is hopped in the boil with Nugget and Galena, and then dry-hopped with Chinook and Ahtanum, and then with Topaz. A great blending of the chocolate, caramel, and roast from the grain, spice, herbal, pine and tropical fruit from the hops, will make this a great brew.

• A reminder that the 2014 Newfoundland Liquor Commission Beer Expo is happening at the St. John’s Convention Centre this weekend. Box Office tickets are sold out, however there are lots available online as people’s plans change. For those unable to attend, or want to grab some of their favourites after the fest, check out this thread on the Beerthief forum for a list of special Festival beers that will be showing up at your local NLC this weekend. Cheers!

• If you can’t be on The Rock this weekend, then be sure to make it out to one of the local bars in your area. If you’re in the Annapolis Valley, be sure to drop by the Library Pub in Wolfville tonight, and the Spitfire Arms in Windsor tomorrow, to help celebrate the launch of Schoolhouse Brewery. In Halifax? Drop by Stillwell at noon Saturday to grab a pint of Meander River‘s Lunchbox Pale Ale. For those of you who haven’t had a chance to grab some from the source in Ashdale, it’s definitely worth picking up!

• Garrison Brewing is hiring: a full-time, permanent Brewery Sales Rep and a Seasonal Events & Sales Rep (full-time until September, possible part-time after), send off your resumes today! And even though the noon First Sips (aka Early Bird) tickets for their Cask Takeover June 21 at Stillwell are sold out, there will be lots of beer still flowing once the doors re-open at 2pm that afternoon, so be sure to drop by. We’ll have some more details on the casks available this coming week, but we got word of another one: their popular Peanut Butter & Jelly blend (Nut Brown and Raspberry Wheat), with raspberries from Noggins Corner right in the cask.


This past weekend, the city of Fredericton welcomed the 12th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference to its fair city. Over the course of three days, attendees took in some excellent presentations, manufacturer and supplier displays, lots of social events, and of course the Awards Gala. We were fortunate enough to be in attendance, and wanted to share our great experience with you.

The weekend kicked off with a Welcome Bonfire along the Saint John River. It was a great time for folks to meet and greet after arriving to town. Attendees had traveled from across the country, so it was a great chance to stretch their legs while enjoying the beautiful weather and surroundings. A couple of kegs of Picaroons were poured while folks enjoyed some slider-sized burgers and live music around the fire.

Food, drink, and music around the bonfire

Food, drink, and music around the bonfire

The Friday morning sessions started early for many, after having enjoyed the city’s great bars (shout out to King Street Ale House and Brewbakers, where many of the visiting brewers seemed to congregate each night). Tony Formby of 2×4 Brewing & Imports gave a talk on exporting Canadian craft beer to the U.S. He spoke of dealing with the three-tier system, and the economics that that entails. From our perspective, while (or perhaps, because) the U.S. is a huge market, it can be difficult to break into, and does not seem to be lucrative for most breweries to send their beer south, at least not until they’ve reached plateaued sales in Canada. The next session was from hop farmer Laurie Thatcher-Craig of Clear Valley Hops. She spoke of the history of small hop farming, especially in the Northeast U.S. Did you know that in 1849, New York state was the largest hop producer in the US? She also described the results of experiments with later harvesting of hops, allowing them to mature further on the bine. When waiting 3 weeks after the AgCan suggested harvest date, she was able to increase oil and alpha acid content by more than 50%, as well as change the aromatic characteristics of the hops to a more orange-like characteristic. The waiting period is not without perils: after the very short ideal harvest window, an oniony character can come through, negating most benefits of the delay period. For those unable to attend, the talks were recorded, and should be available soon on the CBA homepage. Also look there for “Live From the Green Room” interviews, where Rob Engman interviewed several people in the brewing community.

Between the sessions, the Expo Floor was open, with about 20 exhibitors from across the brewing-related world in attendance. Models, videos and literature were available on all beer-related topics, including excise-bond insurance, brewhouse hardware, malt and hops, packaging, glassware and tap handles. From nation-wide to nano, breweries of all sizes benefited from chatting with the companies whose purpose is to make brewing and selling beer an easier task. Lots of connections were made, and we even saw a brewpump being walked down the hallway, bought at a particularily attractive fest-only price.

Lobster Boil Pano

Lobster, Beer, and Music in the new Picaroons Brewery (opening 2015)

Friday evening, Picaroons hosted a lobster boil at their new location (opening in 2015), at the former site of the Gibson Roundhouse, located on the Northside of the river, adjacent to the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge. Featuring a ton of great food from local producers, and music from local band Dub Antenna, it was also the first chance that outside brewers had to share any beer they may have brought with them for the weekend. And share they did! From all across the country, bottles, cans, and kegs of stout, pilsner, IPAs and wheat beer were enjoyed, and this social lubricant fueled discussions long into the night.

The Saturday sessions started with a talk on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software trends in the brewing industry, by Milan Jelaca of Deltasco. ERP software allows one to dig into the minutiae of the production costs and sales income of the brewery, as well as resource (both human and material) managements. The current costs of these types of software are definitely outside most brewery’s budgets, but the talk did bring to the forefront that it is important to keep detailed records of every step of the process, to track trends and act accordingly. The afternoon session was the Keynote address by Moosehead CFO Patrick Oland. He shared a history of the Moosehead Brewery and the six generations of the Oland family who own it. The brewery has recently undergone some expansions and improvements to the canning and bottling line, and is now capable of producing one million hectolitres of beer annually. Patrick also answered some questions regarding his company’s alliance with The Beer Store, despite the trouble smaller breweries have getting their beer on its “shelves”. Finally, Patrick let local beer fans know that there are no plans to expand Moosehead’s offerings of packaged products, including the cask beer that is available weekly at the Saint John Ale House, or the ales that were available at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival earlier this year.

Lighthouse on the Green

Lighthouse on the Green

After the keynote, the Lighthouse on the Green was the site of another chance to unwind and meet informally with members of the Canadian brewing community, at a location with beautiful views of the river. We also understand there was a meeting between the brewers in attendance on establishing an Atlantic Canadian Brewing Association, not unlike the newly launched Nova Scotia Craft Brewers Association, or Ontario Craft Brewers group. If there are any updates on this front, we’ll be sure to share them!

Patrice Godin, MC of the evening

Patrice Godin, MC of the evening

And then it was time for the Big Show, the Awards Gala. Patrice Godin of Acadie-Broue was the MC of the night, seamlessly switching between both official languages of New Brunswick in order to make everyone feel welcome. After a brief introduction from TAPS Media President Rob Engman, Patrice got right down to business with the medal announcements. 950 beers from 150 breweries in every province were judged at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto in April. Under the very capable charge of Tracy Phillippi, the team of 42 BJCP-certified judges spent three days picking the winning beers in 38 different categories. Tracy had this to say, “The judges were all quite professional, and there was a good mix between novice & experienced judges. I took over from Grand Master Beer Judge Paul Dickey, who had been organizing the CBAs for 9 years! BIG Shoes to fill, but I’m honoured to take the lead role in Canada’s largest beer competition. I’ve been judging regularly for 5 years & really enjoy the organizational component, but it certainly worked my multitasking ability. Also of note, we had 3 Maritime representatives – Craig and Jeff Pinhey, and myself, more than any other region of Canada (besides Ontario).”

The medals were flying off the stage quickly, and by the end of it, five Atlantic Canadian Breweries went home with some hardware: Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. won silver for their Premium Lager (North American Style Lager), and bronze for their Iceberg Beer (North American Style Premium Lager); Picaroons Brewing Co. won bronze for their Blonde Ale (North American Style Blonde/Golden Ale); PEI Brewing Co. won bronze for their Sir John A Honey Wheat Ale (Wheat Beer – North American Style); Rockbottom Brewpub won the region’s only gold with their Wreckoning RIS (Imperial Stout); Boxing Rock Brewing Co. won bronze for their The Vicar’s Cross Double IPA (Imperial India Pale Ale). Our sincere congratulations to all of the winners, and well done to Great Lakes Brewery who repeated as Brewery of the Year (full winner’s list available here). For those of you not in attendance, check out the streaming link.

Henry Pedro, Andrew Estabrooks, Einer , and Chris Long show off their hardware

Henry Pedro, Andrew Estabrooks, Einer Holtet, and Chris Long show off their hardware

Perhaps the most important part of the CBAs is meeting and talking with fellow members of the Canadian craft beer community. We really enjoyed seeing again (or meeting in person for the first time) our friends in the brewing world from Atlantic Canada and beyond; and for brewers, it was great to catch up and learn of successes across the region and country, what was working (or not) for breweries, and how that could apply for existing, new, or upcoming breweries.

Thanks to Rob Engman and Kristina Santone for giving us the privilege to attend, and a special thanks to the many crew members and volunteers we ran into over the weekend. Without your help, it wouldn’t have been such a memorable time! We hope to see you all in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON next year!

Happy Friday, everyone! Things have slowed down a bit this week in beer news in our region, but we’ve still got some info to share…

• With the opening date for their brewery approaching fast, Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault has released information on their two inaugural beers. The first beer, a Blonde named Bob LeBoeuf, is a light-colored beer coming in at 5.2% ABV and 22 IBUs, while the second beer is a Wheat beer named Tante Blanche. Another light-colored beer perfect for the upcoming summer months, this beer has an ABV of 4.7%, and 18 IBUs. Both beers are named after real-life characters from the history of the Edmundston area, where the brewery is located. The brewery hopes to have both beers available to the public by late June; when released, look for them at ANBL stores in the area, in singles and six-packs in the old “stubby” format; they’ll also be available for sale at the brewery, along with 1.9 L growler fills. For more info on the beers and their label design, check out the brewery’s blog post here.

• Meander River Farm and Brewery, after a sold out opening day on May 17th, will once again be selling beer this weekend. Open Saturday and Sunday 11-5, folks can drop by for a refill of their Lunchbox Pale Ale. Like last time, we suggest showing up early to avoid disappointment. While there, grab some of their lavender and hops products (grown and made on site), and take a tour of the brewery and farm.

Rockbottom Brewpub has released their newest beer, Hali-Lager. With warmer temperatures finally breaking through, this should be a perfect “lawnmower beer”, as it is a light-colored lager clocking in at a sessionable 4.5% ABV, with 17 IBUs. It was brewed with 2-row and Melanoidin malts, and lightly hopped with Hallertau Hersbrucker, with “a twist of Cascade hops in the finish”. Get down to the brewpub to give this new beer a try!

• Bix Axe Brewery in Nackawic will be releasing their Simon Saaz Summer Ale this weekend. From brewer Peter Cole, “A ray of golden light shines through a thin patch of the blotchy white sky. Our summer ale is light gold in colour, dry and refreshing with a citric hop aroma and crisp flavours of orange and coriander. Released from a dark closet of winter, Simon Saaz Summer Ale is moderately hopped with 5.5% ABV and is sure to satisfy. It’s a perfect summer day in New Brunswick”. It should be available in growlers Sunday, and should make it on tap in the next few days as well.

Propeller Brewing has announced that they’re releasing their next Gottingen One-Off beer. Their Smoked Ale is brewed “with ample amounts of Smoked malt”; it’s a malt-forward beer that the brewery describes as pairing well with grilled meats and vegetables, as well as strong cheeses and apple pie. Look for it at both brewery locations for growler fills; it could pop up in limited quantities at the better beer bars in the HRM. Drop by today to fill your growler and, if you’re visiting the Windmill Rd location, grab a grilled cheese sandwich from the Cheese Gypsy food truck.

• The 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards are being held this weekend in Fredericton, which means that the collaboration beer between Picaroons and Great Lakes Brewery is now on tap! Eastbound and Down IPA, a 6.5% ABV American IPA, was released last evening at several bars and restaurants around the city, including The King Street Ale House, Brewbakers, The Snooty Fox, the James Joyce Pub, and Wilser’s Room. The last remaining keg will be released today at the Brewtique for growler fills, starting at 5 pm. It goes without saying that this beer is in very limited quantities, so make sure you try it before it’s gone! For more details on the beer, check out our post from earlier in the month.

• After a successful visit to the Tide and Boar yesterday, the crew from Trou du Diable are making their way west to Fredericton today. The King Street Ale House will have a tap takeover of several kegs, and even more bottles, this evening. No tickets necessary, just show up for some pints and good discussion. You’ll be able to chat with some folks from TDD, as well as other brewers from across the country, in town for the CBAs.

• The Ladies Beer League is celebrating their first anniversary in style! On June 20th, they’ll be hosting a fun event at the Wooden Monkey Dartmouth, in the Alderney Ferry Building. They will be pouring special casks from North Brewing, Big Spruce, and Garrison Brewing. No tickets necessary, just drop by, and pay as you go. The event starts at 7:30, and in addition to the great beer, you’ll be able to pick up some LBL swag, and get some insight on what the future holds for the future. Cheers and congratulations!

• Since our post earlier this month, the final beer list for the 2014 Atlantic Beer Festival, being held Saturday, May 31st, at the Moncton Coliseum, has been released. There is also a mobile version of the list, but requires several clicks to see everything. The booth numbers match up with the map of the festTickets for the afternoon session are still available.

• This fall, the first Celtic Oktoberfest will be held in Port Hawkesbury. Being held on Saturday, October 25th at 6:30 pm, the festival will highlight 10 Nova Scotian breweries, and 8 Cape Breton food establishments. There will also be lots of live Celtic music throughout. Tickets are on sale now, and are $70; they can be purchased here. We’ll have more details on the festival, including a full brewery list, as soon as they come available.

• Nova Scotia’s newest entry into the craft beer scene, The Schoolhouse Brewery, will finally have beer available to the public next week! Both of their inaugural beers – Principal Ale, a dry-hopped Pale Ale, and Chequers Ale, a Robust Porter – will be on tap at the Library Pub as of Friday, June 6th, and at the Spitfire Arms June 7th. We’ll have a full profile on the brewery early next week.

We’re at the Canadian Brewing Awards in Fredericton this weekend, taking part in all of the conferences and festivities. We’ll be posting some pictures and information on the event next week. Here’s hoping that there’s some awards won by some of our Atlantic Canadian breweries! The gala is being broadcast Saturday night, be sure to tune in on the Canadian Brewing Awards website.