Big Spruce Brewing

All posts tagged Big Spruce Brewing

Happy April to us all! Let’s hope those of us affected by the weather this week will be seeing the last snow and freezing rain to be falling for a few months. It’s looking like our region will be mostly free of cloud cover for this Monday’s eclipse, which is great for viewing, but does come with health risks. Remember to use your safety glasses up until the 2-3 minutes of totality, and immediately after, or else you can damage your eyes. And, just in case you weren’t sure, the difference between 99% coverage and 100% coverage is literally night and day! Those in big cities like St. John’s, Moncton, Charlottetown, and Halifax will want to venture North/West to take in the full eclipse, trust us! The fun kicks off around 4:30pm (5:10pm in Newfoundland), with the partial obscuring beginning about an hour earlier, and ending an hour after totality).

And happy Nova Scotia Craft Beer Month to all of us too. The Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia is officially kicking off the celebration with their Together We Brew festival at Pavillion 22 at the Halifax Seaport tomorrow, and it looks like there are still tickets together. The beer of the same name, brewed and released by more than three dozen member breweries, is out in the wild and worth picking up. We’ve been told that more events are coming this month, so keep your eyes peeled here and on the CBANS site.

O’Creek Brewing in Moncton is holding a massive event Sunday, to celebrate and support the Ukrainian population here, and back home. Kozak Lager is a 4.7% Pale Lager, brewed with Ukrainian hops, and with proceeds going to support Ukrainian efforts to defend their homeland. From 12 – 6pm, visitors to the brewery will be able to enjoy authentic Ukrainian cuisine, traditional crafts, and live performances all by Ukrainian artists, thanks to the members of the Ukrainian Club of Moncton. There will also be a drawing for beer and artwork, and live music by the Watermen.

While there on Sunday, or if you head to Barker St. now, you’ll be able to enjoy River of Fire, O’Creek’s newest IPA. West Coast in style, the hops are present in both bitterness and flavour, with a smooth flavour and crisp finish. This is actually a recipe co-owner and head brewer Patrice Daigle perfected on his smaller system at home, and has scaled up to a larger scale. Centennial, Columbus, Mosaic, and Simcoe were used in the boil, and again during a whirlpool addition, and then in the fermenter. Citrus, pine, and resiny goodness throughout! This 7.0% beer is on tap at the brewery now, and should be making its way to cans in the near future.

Bay Roberts’ Baccalieu Trail Brewing has a new beer out on draught and in cans this week, with a name tipping its cap to their location next to the Shearstown Estuary. Rare Bird celebrates the ornithological diversity that can be found just off their taproom deck, with local birds often greeting those that are migrating or have been blown off course due to adverse weather. We’re not sure if there’s ever been a sighting of a New Zealand endemic species there, but that hasn’t stopped BTB, as Rare Bird is a New Zealand Pilsner, brewed with three NZ hops, Rakau, Motueka, and Wakatu. Grab your binos and head out to Bay Roberts to see what’s new!

Lunenburg’s Shipwright Brewing has a new double IPA on tap this week, Two Sails. At 8.0%, and about 75 IBU, this is a beast of a bitter beer, with Galaxy, Mosaic, Simcoe, and Vic Secret used throughout. Fermented with Escarpment Labs’ House Ale dry yeast, the citrus on the nose is followed by even more citrus and resin on the palate. You can grab it in a pint to enjoy with your pizza, and then take home a growler or crowler fill to drink later! Also on tap at Grand Banker next door.

Prince Edward Island cidery Red Island Cider has a new entry in their Ghost Ship series to tell you about this week. These are one off and limited edition tipples that are often the result of aging, blending, and experimentation. In this case, Esperance started life as a Cox’s Orange Pippen-based cider that was put into an old oak wine cask several years ago. When rediscovered this past winter, it was blended with another Cox cider from a different oak barrel, and then softened with a younger cider. The result was keg-conditioned and yields citrus peel and grapefruit leading to a rounded finish. The oak is definitely present, providing some smoothing buttery character. Find this one only at the taproom for pints or growler fills.

Chester and Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co Brewing is at it again with another European-inspired beer, this time taking a page from the monasteries of Belgium and releasing Belgian Dubbel. A deep amber hue from darker malts and candi syrup, with light hopping to keep the balance in check, a style-appropriate yeast was used to lend some light spicy notes to complete the 8.0% package. Draught kegs are on the move now, and you can grab cans at either Tanner location, or for home delivery in their area.

Now in their 26th year, Propeller Brewing continues to introduce new and interesting beers to the local scene. This time around they’re hitting a style that’s relatively uncommon in the region, the American stout. Although often conflated with black IPA (a.k.a. Cascadian dark ale), the American stout maintains the bigger mouthfeel and smoothness of a more traditional stout and marries it with a kick of traditional West Coast hops that often add piney and citrusy characters. Onyx meets this description, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and a hint of smokiness paired up with pine and citrus from the hops in a 6% ABV and 40 IBU package. Find it in cans at any of the Prop Shops and, likely, other places you tend to find Propeller’s offerings.

One of the few other places that regularly offers an American stout (Flat Black Jesus, natch), is Unfiltered Brewing in Halifax. That said, they’re almost certainly more well known for their slate of IPAs and this week they’ve got a new variation on one of their single-hop DIPAs available. Positively Shocking was first brewed in 2021 and hasn’t been seen since 2022, but it’s back with a few tweaks. Slightly lighter-bodied than the original and somewhat hazy, it’s got the same piney and tropical notes from Idaho 7 hops. Still 7.5% ABV, it’s been packaged in cans and available from noon today at the brewery where you can also slip next door to Charm School for a pint or a growler fill.

If you follow 2 Crows and/or their head brewer Jeremy Taylor on social media, you might know that Jeremy is also an avid apiarist. Last fall his bees produced enough honey that he and his daughters were able to package it and sell it, with all proceeds ($1,200!!) going to the Elizabeth Fry Society. As it turns out there was a little bit of honey set aside and from that Jeremy made some mead. That mead was blended into a light lager base along with some quince, also produced on Jeremy’s property. Only one keg of the result, Linden Lea, was produced, and it’s on tap this Sunday at 2 Crows for pints only. You’ll want to fly in and try it while it lasts!

Burnside Brewing out of ….Burnside in Dartmouth, has recently expanded into a third location, in the food court at The Hub Shopping Centre in Truro. The Common by Burnside has a full taproom and retail location, and they are celebrating their Grand Opening tomorrow! From 3 – 6 PM, there will be drink specials, samples, live music from Next Exit, and door prizes and giveaways. Those in the area, or wanting to check out the latest NS Craft Beer location in the province, should definitely drop by for the fun!

As we alluded to last week, the promised purple cans have arrived from Big Spruce, with Cerberus now available at the brewery and, soon, we expect, at other places you go to for your Spruce fix. No doubt you’ll also find kegs out and about in the HRM and beyond as well. Meanwhile the BS team has another returning beer this week, Tripel, which is pretty self-explanatory in terms of style. Featuring all the characteristics you’d expect from a Belgian tripel, including hints of spicy yeast character, some banana notes, and a little bit of citrus, it’s also got a hammer of an ABV at 9.3%, so tread lightly (or don’t, but don’t say we didn’t warn you!).

Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co has a new beer on draught and in cans this week, one sure to be popular with those across the province. How Now Brown Cow? is not just a way to practice your syllables and rhyming, it’s also a 5.0% chocolate milk stout. Dark, chocolatey, and a bit sweet from the addition of lactose, this beer is pouring on a nitro tap at the brewery today, with cans to go shortly, and wider distribution across the island later.

We’re going to end today’s post with word of a brand new competition for all of our Homebrewing readers. BrewHQ is holding their inaugural beer competition next month, and are looking for folks from across the Atlantic provinces Canada to enter! This is a BJCP-certified and -judged competition, with entries welcome in any category. Winners will be decided from the best of IPA/APA entries, and the best of “Everything Else”. There will be prizes for the top three in each category, with the winner of the pale ales seeing their entry brewed on a large scale for release by Arcade Brewing to be enjoyed on tap, as well as in a wort kit release for other amateur brewers to make at home! Your $20 entry fee (per category) will also get you in the door of the gala being held June 1st at Arcade, your first pint of beer, and a sub from Buddy’s Deli. To learn more, check out their FB page, and contact Jeff to grab a form to enter. Good luck to all!

Happy Thursday y’all! Thursday?? Yup! We figured we’d give ourselves a break from all of the beer writing tonight/tomorrow morning, so that we can enjoy a little break. While many breweries and your favourite taprooms and bars will be closed for Good Friday and/or Easter Sunday, it’s best to check their social media for the details on their opening days/hours if you are in need of an emergency four-pack or respite from the family. Plenty of new releases to tempt you today, so let’s jump right in!

Fredericton’s hop heads Trailway Brewing are back with another play on their flagship Hu Jon Hops, this time catering to those who like it hot… Hu Jon Heat! Keeping the hop schedule of the HJH that is beloved across the region, habanero and mango were added to give a solid infusion of capsaicin, pepper flavour, as well as a fruit sweetness to round out the beer. At 6.6% ABV, we figure this will go well with your asian-inspired dishes as well as on its own. On draught and in cans at Trailway now, with distribution coming soon!

In Halifax, Garrison Brewing is reminding all of us to Hold Fast in these wild and crazy times. This 5.5% pale ale features a straight-ahead malt bill of pale malt augmented by a portion of wheat, and was hopped in the kettle, and again post-fermentation, with Bravo, Chinook, and Lemondrop. Hazy-gold in appearance, you’ll find citrus on both the nose and palate in this medium-bodied and lightly bitter beer. It is available on tap and in cans at both their Seaport and Oxford Taproom locations, with 473ml cans also coming to the NSLC, Bishop’s Cellar, and the other private stores in HRM.

In Edmondston, NB, Microbrasserie Ateepic is celebrating sugar season with a new release this week. Camp Malin is a Maple Scotch Ale, featuring plenty of locally-sourced ingredients. The traditional grain bill was enhanced by some malt that was smoked in-house, and the beer was aged on maple chips charred on their grill. Both maple syrup from Sucrerie du Petit Camp as well as SylvAcer whiskey-infused maple syrup were added to the beer for a one-two punch of the sweet stuff. It is available at their golf course taproom on draught to enjoy onsite and in growlers, with a limited run of cans coming soon as well!

Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co Brewing has a new beer on tap and in cans this weekend, just in time for their Saturday HRM deliveries (hint, hint!). Brux IPA uses a yeast, known as Sacch Troi, that was previously thought to be Brettanomyces, due to its ability to form a pellicle and it’s significant fruity ester production (sorry, our nerd is showing). Kicking up the fruit factor another notch are Mosaic, Motueka, and Chinook. At 6.5%, this is a refreshing and easy-drinking IPA, and alo features locally grown and malted grains!

Despite the release date, we must assure you the following is not a joke!
One keg, one day only: Gahan House Nova Centre Head Brewer Ryan has thrown the Reinheitsgebot rules into the Halifax harbour, and is releasing Hot Dog Lager. Brewed well before any convenience store announced some sparkling water bullshit, this Pale Lager was brewed using hot dog water, and mashed with hot dog buns. Obviously not vegan-friendly, this 5.5% beer will only be on tap Monday, April 1st, and we imagine will go well with a burger or the chorizo penne. Sorry, no cans of this extremely limited brew, but you may be able to convince the staff to fill a growler of this glizzy beer!
Seriously, we promise that was not a joke!

Speaking of Gahan, their Atlantic Home Brew Challenge wrapped up last weekend, with judges from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia having the hard (ya right!) job of picking the best beers submitted in the (BHCP style 11B) Best Bitter and (BJCP Style 30A) Spice, Herb, and Vegetable categories. After the dust settled, Dave Gamble took top spot with his “Bitter Afterthought”, and Greg Rogers won the SHV title with his “Triple Beats”, a Belgian Tripel with Beets. Rogers’ beer was also the overall winner, which means he will be brewing up this beer at the Hub City Gahan location later this year, for a limited release. Congratulations to all of the entrants and winners, and big thanks to Gahan Beer for continuing to hold the competition and inspiring the brewers of tomorrow! More details are available here.

As we enter spring, we are seeing the return of some perennial favourites, including Big Spruce’s Cerberus IPA. Originally crafted as a three-heading conspiracy between NS Organic breweries, this year’s release is all Big Spruce, all the time! As in previous years, however, this is a one-shot deal, so you’ll be best served to grab this 7.5% ode to Galaxy, Mosaic, and Simcoe as soon as possible. Pouring at the brewery and a couple of better beer bars around the HRM today, cans will be coming next weekend to your favourite retailers.

Arcade Brewing in Burnside has been brewing up a storm recently, and have just introduced cans to their lineup. While enjoying a hand pulled pint of their real ale at their 80 Thornhill Drive location is always great, especially enjoyed while banging the flippers in their pinball room, you can now take cans of their Arcade Ale (4.1% British-style Pub Ale) and Peculier Ale (5.2% North Yorkshire-style Dark Ale) home to drink later.

Finishing off today is a heads up that Bishop’s Cellar has a quartet of new beers from Caledon, Ontario’s, Sonnen Hill. With generations of brewing experience, they take things slow and steady. On Bishop’s shelves tomorrow are the Heart Lake Pils, Frank Lager Franconian Lager, and two spontaneously-fermented offerings: No Worry and Riesling Beer.

[ed. Once again we’re posting our Friday wrap-up on Saturday. Real Life™ is a thing; whatchagonnado?]

Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend! There are a lot of events going on at your local bars, pubs, and breweries, so make sure you show them some love instead of just going to the provincial liquor store and grabbing some Guinness! We won’t be listing all of the events and parties for Paddy’s Day (then we would never get out of here!) but be sure to check your local spots on social media to see if they have anything on the go. Let’s dive in!

We’ll start this week in Nova Scotia where the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia has released their annual fundraising collaboration beer, Together We Brew. This year representatives from member breweries gathered at Stillwell Brewing on Kempt Road in Halifax to brew a Dortmunder-style export lager. Using all-Canadian ingredients from Brew Culture, Shoreline Malting, and Escarpment Labs, it was brewed back in January before being given eight solid weeks of lagering time. Coming in at a comfortable 5.8% ABV, it’s got plenty of malt character, floral hop aroma, and a soft balancing bitterness, and it’s an excellent everyday beer and a great one to share with friends and show off the quality of NS craft beer. It’s available now in 473ml cans at NSLC locations and select breweries around NS.

If you’re the sort who keeps track of these things, or just a long time craft beer drinker in NS, you no doubt know what’s coming next. The release of the Together We Brew beer always heralds the coming of CBANS’ signature event, also called Together We Brew. This year taking place at Pavillion 22 at the Halifax Seaport you’ll find some 40 Nova Scotia craft breweries pouring their wares. Even better, they’re doing away with the tyranny of sample tickets, so maybe you won’t have to pick and choose quite as much (although you’ll still be expected to drink responsibly). Two sessions will be held on April 6th, one in the afternoon from 2 – 4:30pm, and one in the evening from 7 – 9:00pm. As always, VIP tickets are available that allow an extra hour of early tasting and a special souvenir tasting glass, and Designated Driver tickets are also available. All the relevant information and links to ticket purchase can be found on the event page at the CBANS website. Hope to see you there!

In 2022, an open-ended collaboration called Black Is Beautiful was created to support the efforts of the National Black Brewers Association in growing Black brewers across the US (and hopefully beyond). A recipe for an imperial stout was provided to breweries who wished to participate along with additional assets (label design, collateral). Each brewery pledged $1 (or more) from every can sold to the cause. This year it’s happening again, with Weathered Souls Brewing providing the recipe for a hazy IPA, Stout Collective providing the label design, and Blue Label Packaging Co even fronting the labels (breweries need only pay shipping). Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing is the first Atlantic Canadian brewery (that we’re aware of) to sign up and take part. Their version of Black Is Beautiful Volume 2 was released this week, following the published recipe pretty closely on the malt side, with 2-row malted barley, white wheat, Vienna malt, oats, and barley flakes (all organic, natch) building a solid base. Veering a little bit from the spec, the Spruce team went 50/50 with modern classics Galaxy and Mosaic for the hops, all of them added in a post-temperature reduction whirlpool and dry hop. The result is described as, “courage, bravery, and allyship wrapped in an unbelievably badass beer.” True to the spirit of the collaboration, Big Spruce will be spreading the proceeds between NBBA and longtime Big Spruce partner the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition (ANSDPAD). Grab it in cans at the brewery and, we’d imagine, other places you’ve historically found Big Spruce beer.

Missed in last week’s round-up of beers brewed for International Women’s Day was an entry from Breton Brewing in Sydney, NS. Bearing the same name as previous IWD beers brewed at Breton, Waves Rise, it is in the champagne IPA (a.k.a. brut IPA) style, which generally describes a hoppy beer with a rather light body. Leveraging the Pink Boots hop blend from Yakima Chief, it boasts aromas of peach and stone fruit and aims to please both hop lovers and lighter beer lovers alike. Find this 5.8% gem on tap and in cans at the taproom, as well as other fine drinking establishments around the province (we spotted it at The Narrows in Halifax ourselves earlier this week!).

Another IWD beer we missed last weekend is a collab between Truro Brewing and Cole Harbour’s Hardisty Brewing. Wicked Roots is a dark ale that features root beer-inspired herbs and spices, including sarsaparilla, licorice root, star anise, and wintergreen. Hardisty even went so far as to serve it with vanilla ice cream as a float last weekend for their IWD celebration! We’re not sure if that’s still available, but this 5% beer was pouring at both breweries’ taprooms and a  portion was also canned (although we’re not sure if cans went to Hardisty).

In the Burnside Industrial Park area of Dartmouth we find the pseudonymous Burnside Brewing has a new one pouring this week, the latest in their Brew Lab series of smaller batch experimental beers. This time around the Burnside team experimented with a traditional Czech brewing process, namely single decoction, to produce a traditional Czech Pilsner. Also boasting malt from Czechia, Czech Pilsner #1 comes in at 4.6% ABV and is hopped with traditional Saaz, retro Sládek, and new school Bohemie, yielding a spicy, herbaceous, and citrus-tinged hop aroma to pair with its rich maltiness and balancing bitterness. Find this unfiltered and golden beer on tap and in cans at all three Burnside properties.

Village Green in Cornwall, PEI, released a new IPA this week, one that harkens back to the IPAs of yesteryear, with a chewy malt body, plenty of bitterness, and of course, big hop flavour and aroma courtesy of large additions of Citra in the kettle and for dry hop. Dubbed Undead IPA, you shouldn’t find it scary, but you might find it has notes of marmalade, candied citrus, and ripe stone fruit in this 6.8% beer. Find it at the brewery now on tap, and hopefully in cans to go.

Up in Newfoundland, two of the Rock’s best beer spots have teamed up for a collaboration. Bar Brewdock of East Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s grabbed themselves some tickets to Paradise and visited Banished Brewing. On their mind was brewing up a big ol’ juice bomb to remind themselves of the summer days they hope aren’t too far away. If you’re familiar with the Banished oeuvre, this one started with a similar base to Makes Sense, but amped up to reach double IPA proportions. To that was added Citra, Nelson Sauvin, and Cascade hops, including all three in a double dry hop. Finishing at 8.5% ABV, it’s truly hazy, with bitterness on the low end, a deep orange color, and plenty of citrus character that’s maybe even a little reminiscent of Five Alive™. Find it on tap at the brewery and at Brewdock, of course, and it’s going out to retailers in cans as well.

Staying in Newfoundland, but out to Quidi Vidi, where Quidi Vidi Brewery has a light new hoppy brew available. Glad Hands is the product of the sixth annual collaboration between the QV and Newfermenters Homebrew Club. Starting with a beer competition, it turns into a bottle share where all comers can sample eachother’s wares. Jamie Osborne provided the recipe for this one and it’s an easy drinking session IPA. Smooth and refreshing, it’s got plenty of citrusy aromas from the hops in a, “it’s quite alright to have another,” 3.9% package. It’s a limited edition, so grab it on tap at the QV taproom or pick up some cans to go while you can.

Over to New Brunswick where, in Fredericton, Trailway Brewing has a beer returning that hasn’t been seen in well nigh two whole years. You may remember the moment in the sun of the milkshake IPA, which generally marries the hazy IPA style with fruit and lactose to produce something not quite beer-like, but also definitely beer-like. Not the kind of style you’d find yourself banging four of in an evening, but certainly something that can scratch a (possibly weird) itch. This iteration of Velvet Fog is 6% and features cherry and mango flavors along with the sweetness of lactose and plenty of hops; it’s soft and round, and almost smoothie-like on the finish. Available in cans at the taproom in Fredericton and Union House in Saint John, you’ll also be able to pick this up at ANBL locations in coming weeks as well.

Only one event this weekend, but it’s a doozy and it’s already started!

If you’re in Halifax, you may have seen the news of the triple tap takeover between Tatamagouche Brewing, 2 Crows Brewing, and Lone Oak Brewing a few weeks ago and have been jealous of all that great beer in one place. Well today you get your chance. Starting today at open and running all the way to close, those three breweries will be doing it all again at Battery Park in Dartmouth. Will you find green beer? Probably not. Will you find a selection of fresh and delicious beer from some of the region’s best breweries? You sure will. Maybe we’ll see you there!

And a couple more things afore we go:

You down with P-O-G? Yeah, you know me! [ed. Alrighty there, Milhouse] 2 Crows Brewing has a new version of the Jamboree Sour Series, but this one features passionfruit, orange, and guava additions. Using a puree of passion fruit, pureed mango, orange puree along with the orange zest and juice, this is really just for summer.  It’s 4.8% and canned now, available at both 2 Crows locations and with certain NSLCs will be carrying this as well. 

Moncton’s O’Creek Brewing isn’t taking their foot off the pedal any time soon: they’ve got three new beers pouring this week. Czech Affair is a returning favorite, a Czech pale lager, Kozak Lager, brewed in partnership with the Ukrainian Club of Moncton (some proceeds contributed to the Ukrainian cause), and Sunny Brae Coffee Stout, which was brewed with coffee from local roastery Sunny Brae Coffee. All three are pouring at their taproom, but if you’re in Halifax with no plans to be in Moncton this weekend, you may still be able to sample some O’Creek, as Stillwell HQ has been pouring some of their wares of late.

Unfortunately this week we again need to finish with some sadder news. Off Track Brewing in Bedford announced this week that they will be closing on April 28th (or when they run out of beer). Bedford’s only brewery, they built themselves a taproom on Rocky Lake Drive that fostered a vibrant community spirit. Additionally, The Harbour Brewing Company in Musquodoboit Harbour has announced that they are for sale and will be ceasing current operations once they run out of beer. We raise a glass to the teams at both locations wish them all the best, whatever their futures may bring.