Here we are heading into the the last week of July in Atlantic Canada and despite the strangeness brought on by COVID-19, the beer certainly still seems to be flowing, just via some different routes than we’ve been used to in previous years. While it’s still a bit of a complicated undertaking to sit and have a pint in a taproom or beer bar, with so many breweries keeping delivery offerings available, it’s gotten a whole lot easier to get beer to your home. We encourage folks to take advantage of this by maybe putting in an order from a further away brewery that they haven’t tried, maybe even across a Provincial border? Even better, get some friends together and do a few orders from a few breweries and have a little beer tasting party! THE FUN NEVER ENDS!! But seriously, ordering beer helps keep breweries afloat during times when tap room and keg sales are hurting. Ordering for pickup or delivery is convenient, usually quite quick, and a great way to help keep your thirst slaked and our scene surviving.
Sydney, Nova Scotia’s Breton Brewing celebrated their 5th Anniversary at the end of June, and are releasing five new beers to celebrate! The third in the series was released yesterday, joining Shipwreck DIPA and Right Some Good Dry-Hopped Sour. Ol’ Mick’s Grapefruit IPA is a 5.8% ABV American IPA which uses a splash of grapefruit juice to bump up the citrus and pithy character. Homebrewer Mike Morrison helped brew a similar beer with the Breton crew back in 2014, and now the rest of us can enjoy it too! Using malted wheat and oats on top of the base barley to get that soft mouthfeel, bittered in the kettle to about 45 IBU with a blend of American hops, and dry-hopped during active fermentation, Ol’ Mick’s pours like orange juice, with a brilliant colour and solid body. The beer is available at their 364 Keltic Drive taproom and retail shop, as well as online ordering for pickup, next day delivery within the CBRM, Halifax next week, and available province-wide as well (along with the last bit of Right Some Good).
If you’re making a break for the mainland from Sydney, you’ll be well-served to make a quick detour up the Yankee Line Road in Nyanza to Big Spruce Brewing. They are pouring two brand new beers this week, sub-5% ABV, perfect for enjoying in quantity. The first is The Inhaled Affirmative, lovingly named after the Cape Breton practice. This 4.1% ABV is firmly rooted in the Czech tradition, using Pilsner malt, natch, and plenty of Saaz hops for a blend of spicy and herbaceous aromatics on a base of bread and crust. Available on tap at the brewery, and soon at licensees around the province, it will also be on the shelves at Bishop’s Cellar in a cute 330 ml bottle, which means those across Nova Scotia will be able to partake (free shipping province-wide for orders over $150!).
And speaking of a cute beer, the Spruce has released Lilliputian, a Nano IPA weighing in at a very crushable 3.5% ABV. Speaking of “crushable”, we’re not sure how many Lilluputians were crushed in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, but we can assure you they won’t be as tasty as the 6” tall bottles coming this weekend. Despite its diminutive stature, this is a bold expression of pineapple, candied fruit, and more, thanks to the Idaho Gem and Citra hops used in the brew. In addition to the brewery, look for it to be pouring at Battery Park before too long!
Hanwell’s hometown brewery is bringing back a couple of favourites these days, including one from the archives that’s been months in the making. First up from Niche Brewing is Empty Garden, their 5.4% ABV Kveik-fermented APA, which they had the misfortune of releasing mid-April, when the province was pretty much closed. Their timing this batch is much better, now that most restaurants and bars have re-opened to safely serve customers. Featuring Nelson Sauvin and Enigma hops in the boil, with more of these, plus Galaxy, in a dry-hopping addition, the Ebbegarden strain of Kveik yeast (care of Escarpment Labs) was allowed to play in the wort at a toasty warm temperature, meaning a quick fermentation and lots of fruity character. Kegs of Empty Garden are at The Joyce Pub and 540 Kitchen and Bar in Fredericton, as well as Peppers Pub and Cask & Kettle in Saint John, and at CAVOK Brewing in Moncton, with a couple slipping across the border to Halifax’s Stillwell.
The second returning Niche beer is Golden Flair, their collaborative brew with Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing. First released in April 2019, this is a 5.9% ABV Saison fermented with a blend of the house cultures from both breweries. After primary, the beer was dry-hopped with El Dorado and Ekaunot, and conditioned on apricot puree for a spell, before spending 6 months in a Chardonnay barrel to round out and pick up a touch more character. A natural bottle conditioning interval allowed it to carbonate before release, with everything coming together in a tart, fruity, funky, and dry package. So, enough chatter, how can you grab the beer? They can be found at your local ANBL, with Fredericton’s York Street and the Moncton North locations jumping on the orders right away. If you don’t see it at your shop, see if they’ll order it in, as the managers have plenty of discretion for what is added to the shelves. CAVOK will also be selling some bottles at their taproom next week. For those who’d rather not leave home, DrinkNB will be adding Golden Flair to their roster very soon, check to see if you are within their delivery area! And for those wondering, that Chard barrel has already been filled with another beer, hanging out for a few months before release this fall.
Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewery recently released a special beer that has been flying off the shelves since it became available. Brewed in honour of Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, who was aboard the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed in April of this year, BMac Hazy IPA is a Session IPA that was hopped with one of the newer experimental varieties, HBC-692. Developed from a hybrid pollination from Sabro and open pollination, HBC-692 has been reported as showing “intense flavours of citrus, flowers, and wood”. Brightwood has confirmed lots of grapefruit flavours throughout BMac, all in a sessionable package. With $1 from each can and 15% of all draught sales going to the MacDonald family, the first run of cans sold out very quickly; luckily, more have been packaged and are now available at the brewery (and on their online shop any minute now, where you can also make a directed donation to the MacDonald family). Drop in quickly to pick up yours, and support a great cause while also being able to enjoy a tasty beer!
Testing your ability (and more importantly, your desire) to throw yourself back into the late 1990s, Secret Cove Brewing tries to pull you back with their latest beer, which they’ve named A Night at the Raspberry (fine, if you’re too young… here). This 4% ABV kettle sour was conditioned on lots of wild raspberries, with two additions – during the latter part of fermentation, and again once fermentation was completed. “Slightly tart and very crushable”, with some pleasant raspberry notes on the nose, you can find it pouring for pints and growlers at the brewery, and it’s also available in cans (some of which are being distributed to several NLC stores in the area).
In more sessionable beer news (summer is great for these low-ABV beers; heck, it’s awesome having them all year long!), Tanner & Co. has their very own to share with you thirsty Chester, NS folks. Hello Session Rye IPA is a 4.5% ABV SIPA brewed with – we feel safe assuming – a portion of Rye malt in the grist. Hopped with Simcoe, Cascade and Mosaic, the beer has aromas and flavours of pineapple, mango, and orange. Easy-drinking and lightly bitter, it’s available for purchase in growlers and bottles at the brewery and the Duke St. taproom. They’re also still doing home deliveries in the area, and are bringing the beer to the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market.
In St. John’s, Bannerman Brewing has released their take/twist on an American Blonde Ale with their latest beer, Neon Lights. Brewed with a grist of Pilsner, Pale and Wheat malts, they lightly hopped the wort with Mosaic (not exactly commonplace for a Blonde Ale, but we doubt that anyone is complaining!). The final beer was conditioned on a large amount of lime, lemon, and orange zest, giving this light-bodied brew plenty of fruity flavours to bump up the refreshment factor. Very drinkable at 4.5% ABV, it’s available at the brewery on tap now, and should be in cans either today or over the weekend.
Just in time for PEI’s 2020 Pride Week, Upstreet is re-releasing their annually-brewed Lavender Saison, Rainbrew. This popular beer is brewed with ingredients that represent the colours of the pride flag: strawberries (red), orange (PEI 2-row and Vienna malt), yellow (yeast), green (Belma hops), blue (water), and purple (lavender). The lavender and strawberries come through lightly in the aroma of this 5.5% ABV bright purple beer (come on, Anne, give it a try!), and this time around it is being released in cans! Drop by Upstreet or Craft Beer Corner to grab yours, so you can celebrate Pride in style.
Keeping in the fruit-forward vein, there’s a new collaborative brew out from Dartmouth’s Lake City Cider and North Brewing. North’s B.Y.O.B, a light beer with lemon and lime zest, met Lake City’s Cider and blueberry and dark currant wines in a dark alley secondary fermenter and the result is Burst, a 5.3% ABV snakebite. Unlike a standard snakebite, which is a 1:1 blend of beer (usually lager) and cider each poured from the taps and possibly dosed with liqueur or cordial, the co-fermentation on this one could potentially make for a deeper integration of cider and beer flavors. You can be the judge of that; this one is available in cans from both Lake City and North as of this morning.
Bar Stillwell is hosting a 12-tap takeover from Quebec’s Brasserie Dunham tomorrow, July 25th. In addition to tasty, funky, hoppy, fruity, and sour beers, Stilly HQ is also turning over the keys to their kitchen to the fine folks behind CODA Ramen. Previously operating at Water & Bone, CODA has been doing at-home Ramen kits for a few months, and are popping up on Barrington to offer a few options for ramen as well as the necessary accompaniments. Due to physical distancing requirements, seating is being done by reservation only, in 2 hour slots, beginning at noon. Reserve your place at the table by emailing Sam with your party size and preferred arrival time. We hear there may not be many spots available, but maybe ask if there’s a waitlist? 😬
A few beer and cider notes before we call it quits today:
Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing has brought back their Dump Run Saves, the 4.0% ABV summer ale, featuring loads of peach, mango, and passion fruit, bumped up just a touch with a subtle El Dorado addition. Available on tap and in cans at the brewery right now!
Also in Freddy Beach, Coastliner Cider has done a major re-branding and introduced several new blends of cider, now in cans, including the Maritime Original, Raspberry Rose, and Cherry Vanilla. Their full offering is available through DrinkNB, pop over there for satisfaction.
We’ll leave you with a tale of two provinces this week… New Brunswick opening up the ability for small breweries without a Brewers Agency Store license, to sell direct to customers. Details are still trickling out, but opening up avenues for producers to get their product in front of consumers is definitely a step in the right direction. A bit more info here, we’ll have more soon.
On the other hand…. The NSLC has changed the markup structure to aid one industrial brewery. The latest version of the Local Beer Production Policy, available here along with all of the Manufacturers’ Policies, now leads with the following text “To ensure fairness amongst all local beer producers, it is the policy of the Corporation that beer produced within the province by commercial, craft, and nano breweries, shall be subject to the same markup structure.” The problem is, the playing field is never fair when dealing with multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporations, who have immense buying power, their claws into all aspects of the supply chain (anyone remember the South African hop fiasco a few years back?), and deep pockets to entice/induce sales of their product. It’s almost like the NSLC is thumbing their nose at the Auditor General’s report released last month. We’ll share more on this real soon, but encourage reading the new policies, and a good article and quick CBC bit from this week’s news.