Big Spruce Brewing

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With the summer rush officially behind us, breweries across Atlantic Canada are turning their attention back to new releases and fun events to keep thirsty beer fans across the region happy.  Last weekend saw many breweries and beer drinkers partaking in the final Oktoberfest celebrations, soaking up the great weather and general good vibes. This week, we’ve got a bunch more new releases and some great events in Halifax and St. John’s to help you plan your weekend. This week is also the kickoff of the infamous Burger Week in HRM. A friendly reminder – be courteous and patient as your favourite beer bars and taproom restaurants deal with the onslaught of burger fans and do their part to keep us safe with the new vaccination mandates. Take a look below at what’s new this week and make some plans to grab some burgers, peep some leaves, and drink some tasty fermented beverages from your favourite breweries and cideries this weekend. 

Starting out on one of our favourite islands, Dildo Brewing had a few new releases over the last few weeks. We’re here to get you caught up to speed and help you quench your thirst for Atlantic Canadian beer! First up is Lassie, a Dildo take on a classic Northern English Brown ale. This dark ale has caramel hues of reddish-brown but well balanced with hop flavour and malt character. Very light and drinkable at 4.5% this beer uses a mix of English pale, biscuit, brown and caramel malts, all blending for a nice roasty flavour with some nutty and biscuit malt notes. Additions of fancy molasses helped develop a deeper colour and balance of sweetness, producing a lovely beer that pairs well with this season.

Second up from Dildo, Bitter Cold is another malt forward, easy-drinking ale. A 4.0% ordinary bitter, it has classic English flavour notes of orange pekoe tea and toasted biscuits. Both of these new brews are available in 473ml cans at the brewery, St. John’s store, and Marie’s, this should also be popping up at Orangestores around the province. 

Heading to another island (and another beer release last week), Big Spruce Brewing has a canned release of a beer that was at the Stillwell Beer Garden Oktoberfest. Festfriends is a German Festbier perfect for the time of year. This German-style lager is just what you’d want for your crisp beergarden bevvy taking you straight over to Germany. Featuring some toasted malt and biscuity notes from Pilsner malt, this 5.8% beer is available now in 473 mL cans directly from Big Spruce at the brewery or online. 

Back to the Rock, where just west of Stephenville, you’ll find lovely Port au Port and Secret Cove Brewing. Flake & Gunnels is a Double IPA named after classic Atlantic fishing terms (a “flake” is a platform to dry and preserve your catch and, if you were lucky, you were loaded to the Gunnels) this beer represents the families that harvest from the sea. Packed with those classic American “C” hops (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook and Citra) and adding creaminess and body with flaked oats and flaked barley, this hop-forward, smooth beer brings flavours of juice, citrus, resin and pine. At 7.6% ABV with high juiciness and bitterness, cans should be available today from the brewery. We’ll end this blurb with a note straight from the brewery (and because this beer sounds so delicious) “Cod may be God, but We Love and Pray Hops.

Aaaand back to the mainland for a pair of new releases from Nova Scotia’s North Shore at Tatamagouche Brewing. Their Intertidal line of hop-centric beers continues with Intertidal Eclipse + Galaxy Pale Ale, leveraging both of these tropical and citrus hops in a Pale Ale. Available on draught at the brewery, and soon at better bars in HRM and beyond, cans should be hitting their shelves (virtually and on Main Street Tatamagouche) in the next week.

Available now in bottles is another in Tata’s exploration of barrel-aged beer, Petite Milo. Beginning life as a Golden Ale that was fermented and conditioned in some funky barrels for several months, it underwent a secondary fermentation with the addition of locally-grown Petite Milo grapes. More time means more character when it comes to these mixed fermentation beers, and PM is no exception. A touch of barrel pokes through the bright and tart beer, with vinous character from the grapes also making their presence known. Bottles are now available at the brewery and online, with just a few kegs available, so it should be popping up in the wild soon.

Never one to shy away from our weekly updates, Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing has a very special release for a good cause today. A special freshly picked wet-hopped IPA is a brew for goodwill with all profits from sales being donated to the Moncton SPCA. It’s is 6% and the hops were hand-picked locally in Moncton by Tire Shack employees. While you can never be sure with backyard hops, the fine folks at the brewery believe it is mostly Cascade. There are only 100 litres of this beer and it will be available for pints only at the brewery, so stop by this weekend if you get the chance! 

On to another island, Montague, PE’s Copper Bottom is back with a fresh entry in their Flux series, a single hop feature constantly changing with new releases. This edition is Flux: Azacca a Session IPA clocking in at 4.2% and 20 IBU. This is hazy and sessionable, with the Azacca hops bringing out bright citrus notes along with stone fruits like mango and peach. Soft and smooth it has just enough bitterness to balance the grain bill of 2-row malt, wheat, and flaked oats and it’s available today in 473ml cans only at the brewery. 

Staying on PEI, another brewery with frequent releases is back with another one (DJ Khaled!). Village Green brings us Wheelie’s Hazy Pale Ale, a hop filled pale ale named after PEI’s famous haunted childrens toy (this is news to us, but it’s definitely creepy!), it features Citra, Mosaic, and Chinook hops (enchanted by the brewers to make it extra spooky). With that combo you can safely expect bold fruity, citrus-y, and piney flavours and a strong hop aroma. This beer release is paired with an event today at the brewery from 4:30 – 6:30 PM where you can see Wheelie there in the flesh (!) and $1 from every sale of the beer will go towards the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation

And one more time up to NL, where Ninepenny Brewing in CBS has also released an ode to a local celebrity (of sorts) this week, in collaboration with the Manuels River Interpretation Centre. MR1 is a 500 million year old trilobite fossil found along Manuels River by Dr. Riccardo Levi-Setti in the 1970s; it is one of the best preserved specimens of this species, and is proudly displayed at Manuels River. The beer is a kettle sour, conditioned on locally grown blackberries and blueberries from Walsh’s Farms in Colliers, as well as wild river mint foraged from near the site of the fossil discovery. At 4.9%, it’s tart, fruit, and refreshing, reminiscent of a fruited mojito. You can grab it on tap and in cans at the brewery, and can even grab cans at the Manuels River Interpretation Centre. And speaking of, the Centre is hosting their own Oktoberfest next Friday, Oktober 22, with a German-inspired menu, flights of Ninepenny, and live music. Check out their events page for more information and to book your spot!

As we transition from Oktoberfest to Spooky Season all across the region, Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing has decided that St. Patrick’s Day shouldn’t be the only holiday to have questionably colored beer and have accordingly released a Halloween-themed beer that looks like a witches’ brew! Spooky is a Raspberry sour that is very green (in colour, not flavour!), a 6% sour ale that is dosed with blue Spirulina powder to turn it into a hazy shade of green. Tasting both sweet and sour, reminding you of Halloween candy, it’s full of raspberry flavour and a bit of acidity and it’s available now in 473ml cans only from the brewery. 

Big news out of Greenwich/Halifax’s most clandestine brewery, Delta Force. For the first time, their beers are available via retail. The fine folks at Bishops Cellar will be stocking Anderlecht Farmshed Ale and Atlantic Time Bitter. Anderlecht is their Brett-forward nod to Orval, in the Trappist single style. Atlantic Time is an English-style bitter featuring PEI-grown malt and Delta Force’s own hops from the Greenwich area. To celebrate their retail debut, DF is offering a limited quantity 6-pack of some of their greatest hits, spanning several styles for your drinking pleasure. Home deliveries are available within a 1 hour radius of HRM. Hit up their online store for more details on how to order. 

And lastly for our news section (but bleeding into our events section), did you think you were going to get through a Friday Wrap-up without news from 2 Crows? Psshhhht; silly beer lover. We told you a couple weeks ago about the home and home collaboration between 2C and Bellwoods Brewery, including teasing you about the BW side of the release, the Crowbar IPA that was only available in Ontario. We also talked last week about the recent trend in lagers at 2C and specifically the Harrington released last week that was named after the variety of barley malted by Shoreline Malting and used in that beer. Would you believe all that naturally leads us to this week’s new release, almost as if someone had cunningly planned it that way?

Birds and the Bells is a “New Zealand Pilsner” which is the recent industry term for a Pilsner that’s hopped a little more than average, often late, and always with New Zealand hop varieties. Leveraging the same hop combo that was used in the Crowbar, this beer also exclusively uses the Shoreline Harrington malt. Mashed with their recently adopted regimen that promotes big and long-lasting foam, they really leaned into the hop side of things, with Rakau and Motueka added in the mash, at first wort, and then late. Fermented low and slow with Escarpment Labs’ Isar Lager, it was krausened and assertively dry hopped with plenty more Motueka and Pacifica plus a little bit more Rakau before being lagered for 5 weeks. At 4.4% ABV and 35 IBU, the result is a maximally crushable ultra crisp beer with some lovely and zippy hop notes, including lime and apricot, and big beautiful foam. Find it at the brewery or for online orders via their web shop, or, you could head down to 2C tomorrow (Saturday, October 15) from noon to 5 PM for the release party! There will be hand pies from Humble Pie Kitchen, bottle pours of some Bellwoods bangers courtesy of Bishop’s Cellar, and, of course, plenty of fluffy-capped Birds and the Bells streaming from the side pour tap.

A couple of things to tell you about today before we send you off to the great unknown…

St John’s Brewdock Beer Bar has always had gluten-free options on tap and on the food menu, but they are pulling out all of the stops this weekend, dedicating three of their draught lines to GF options (which is infinitely easier these days, with Port Rexton having a dedicated line of truly gluten-free options, including the recent Gluten-Free IPA and the newest Gluten-Free Sour, featuring a boat-load of Haskap berries). And Chef Chris Mercer and team in the kitchen have created more than a dozen GF food items, including baking and refining their own potato bun that is the base of either a beef or spicy cod burger. And in chatting with the Brewdock team, they expect to have a few of these items (and beer) on all the time going forward, giving those who live with Celiac Disease, or who just want to reduce their gluten ingestion, more options in their glasses or on their plates.

Mark your calendars for next Saturday, October 23, as the Stillwell Freehouse will be welcoming Microbrasserie Les Grands Bois, located in Saint-Casimir, Quebec. Founded in 2016 in a movie theatre built in the 1940s, Les Grands Bois has a wide portfolio of beer in house, and are sending ten of them to Agricola Street. From Grisettes, Kolsch, Pils, to New England and American IPAs, there promises to be something for everyone that day. And with it being the last day of Burger Week, you can try Chef Graeme’s house-made-beef-bacon- and cheddar-sauce-topped creation one last time… And in “It’s That Time of Year Again”, remember that the Stillwell Beergarden on Spring Garden is winding down for the season Sunday, October 17, so grab those afternoon and evening pints and Beverly Taco Service eats before they close the metal gates for another year. The good news is that Beverly are expected to be back slinging tacos from Sourwood Cider’s location on Cornwallis later this month.

While yesterday Canada took a day of learning and reflection to honour the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, today (October 1st) is Treaty Day in Nova Scotia, when the 1752 Treaty of Friendship and Peace was meant to mark a day of renewing friendship and peace between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown. Today, the purpose of Treaty Day is to promote public awareness about the Mi’kmaw culture and heritage for all Nova Scotians. It also kicks off  Mi’kmaq History Month in NS, but keep an eye out around our entire Atlantic region for how your local beverage providers may be supporting their local own Indigenous people. On top of that, we can also keep celebrating Oktoberfest, as these events are still happening all around the globe. As always, keep an eye out for local regulations, proof of vaccination (October 4th for NS folk!) and stay safe out there, fellow fine drinking (and non-drinking) friends!

Antigonish’s Candid Brewing is celebrating their Grand Opening this weekend with their own Oktoberfest; complete with a brand new beer as well as events today and tomorrow… First the beer, shall we? Oktoberfest Märzen was brewed to honour that most excellent Munich tradition of Oktoberfest, and in the same style as the originals, with the 5.9% ABV beer pouring a deep amber colour and is malt on the nose and the palate, with a smooth, quaffable, finish. A taproom feature, draught pours of the Marzen start at 4PM, as the festivities of the weekend kick into high gear…

Today from 4 PM, door prizes and drink and food specials (The Boneyard food truck is onsite), table-side magic from 5 PM, and a free show from Jud Gunning at 6 PM, ahead of two ticketed shows this evening (The Collective at 8 PM, and Andre Pettipas & The Giants at 9 PM, tickets for your table are available here, and include a stein and first fill for each person).

Saturday’s fun start shortly after opening at 1 PM, with more door prizes and drink and food specials, along with Brewery Tours at 1, 2, and 3 PM, with Kinsmen Radio Bingo at 5:30 PM. The doors close for the ticketed events of the evening, before the Dixie Rovers and then Dead Phish take over for the evening. 

The Antigonish Townhouse is also celebrating Candid’s opening, as they’ll have Marzen on tap to pair with a lovely Currywurst feature, and for those unable to make it to town for the weekend fun, kegs will be available in HRM at TAPestry Beer Bar and Battery Park very soon.

In Nyanza, up on Cape Breton Island, Big Spruce is bringing both a returning favorite and an all-new jam to the taps this week, a double-dose of terroir from our CB friends. Up first is Major Hop Lips, also known as, “the beer what they put all their farm-grown hops in.” Yup, you may be aware that Big Spruce has a hopyard on their property, and, barring major investment in extensive cold storage and/or processing and pelletizing equipment, the absolute best way to showcase those hops is to pick ‘em and immediately throw them into a batch of beer. A pale ale weighing in at 5.7% ABV and boasting a stiff-ish 59 IBU, it cone-tains (hyuk hyuk) Cascade, Mount Hood, Goldings, Chinook, and Centennial varieties for an overall impression of apricot, pine, and wildflowers. Golden in color, with a crispy white head, the can design (and name) will no doubt trigger nostalgia for drinkers of a certain age.

Secondly, in a move that screams, “Summer’s not over yet, dammit!” comes Respect Your Elders, a Berlinerweiße featuring elderberries sourced, you guessed it, on the Big Spruce farm. Spritzy, dry, and just a little bit tart, this 4.5% ABV beer takes a soft pink color and light fruit character from the elderberries, long considered to be medicinal. We’re not sure you’ll see any health benefits from drinking this one, but we’re guessing your taste buds will be pretty happy. Both of these beers are now available in cans (although the Respect Your Elders is a small batch) at the Big Spruce online shop for delivery, for pints, fills, and cans to go at the brewery, and, we suspect, on tap over the coming days and weeks at your favorite BS tap accounts.

It won’t surprise regular readers of this blog (both of you!) that we’ve got news from 2 Crows Brewing this week, although it may surprise you that we’ve only got one thing to mention. And we’re not going to lie, this one might seem like a bit of a tease… You see, 2 Crows has done a home-and-home collaboration with one of Canada’s shining light breweries, Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewing, and the first of those two beers, loosely based on a New Zealand theme, is now available. Crowbar features, of course, a raft of New Zealand hops, including Rakau, Pacifica, and Motueka to provide notes of honeydew melon, strawberry, and sweet tart candies. It’s 7.0% ABV, and it’s been canned for your convenience, but here’s the kicker: this is the Bellwoods half of the collab, so it’s only available from them. That said, if you’ve got any friends in Toronto, or the rest of Ontario, Bellwoods ships province-wide, so now may be the time to call in that favor your childhood friend/college roommate/cousin/aunt/uncle/great-grandmother owes you!! Meanwhile, we’ll have the deets on the 2 Crows side of the collab when it’s released in coming weeks.

Up on the Rock, in Mount Pearl, Landwash Brewery has a brand new beer available, although for frequenters of their establishment it’s not exactly new. Originally brewed as a taproom exclusive, English Harbour is a 4.8% ABV sour that was conditioned on locally-sourced field cucumbers and rosewater. Bright and thirst-quenching, it was such a hit on tap they decided to do up a big ol’ batch. Available as of yesterday for pints, fills, and in cans to go, look for this one (and their recent Kveik-fermented quick lager Sand Dollar) to be available via wider distro real soon now!

Sticking with Newfoundland for a spell, we go west to Rough Waters Brewing in Deer Lake, where they’re rolling out a very traditional Belgian style. Mechan-enkel is the RW take on an Enkel, the low-percentage daily drinker brewed by and for monks that you may also know by the name Patersbier. At 4.3% ABV it’s not going to knock you over if you have a couple of them, but it’s got plenty of bready flavor from a grist of Pilsner and wheat malts, some complex overtones from the Belgian yeast strain, and additional notes of citrus, honey, and white pepper. Brewed in partnership with Rough Waters Gravel Grind, a 40/75km bike ride through the Humber Valley trail systems, we think this will go down very smooth after a trek like that, or just the trek from your house to the taproom. This one is available on tap and in cans from the brewery, where you can also grab their two CBA Silver medal-winning offerings, Selkie Wheat beer, Sou-wester sour, or the rest of their lineup.

Let’s chat cider for a bit, as Halifax’s Sourwood Cider has a special release on shelves near and far these days. Cox Orange Pet-Nat is a single varietal cider made from the eponymous apple, that was spontaneously fermented using only the yeast and microbes on the fruit, and underwent a 3-week maceration period with the apple flesh and skins hanging around the fermenting cider. Considered a Zero / Zero cider, there was no sulfur added to kill natural yeast or bacteria, and so no other intervention with chemicals or filtration. With just 24 cases produced, this is certainly a small batch, but is now available at Sourwood’s location on Cornwallis Street, their online shop, and for those in Ontario, through Grape Witches’ shop.

As mentioned in the intro, it is Mi’kmaq Heritage Month and many establishments will show their support in one way or another. One of those is Wolfville’s Annapolis Cider, who is back with one of their Something Different series, featuring limited releases and new flavours blended with their dry cider. Something Different: Peach and Ginger is a full-bodied sparkling cider that blends their cool fermented dry cider with fresh-pressed Annapolis Valley peaches and a bit of ginger. Using a cryo-exraction process for the peach juice, this brings out some acidity and fuller, roundness of flavour, along with notes of tropical fruit and warm peach pie. Splashed with ginger juice, this is notable with a warming zip on the finish of this 5.7% cider. This is available now in growlers only at the cidery and $0.50 from each refill of Peach & Ginger will support the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association (NSNWA). NSNWA offers programs, services and advocacy supports to Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people across the province.

Upstreet’s non-alcoholic offshoot, Libra, continues to expand its offerings with the release of two new beers just in time for anyone partaking in Sober October, or just generally looking for a zero alcohol option that still scratches that beer itch. First up is Libra Pumpkin Spice Ale. Expect those classic fall notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Also joining the party is Libra Pilsner. Brewed with lager yeast and Czech-imported Saaz hops, you can expect a crisp drinking experience with some light malt sweetness. Both beers are 0.4% ABV and are available in 12 and 24 packs at the Libra online store (Pilsner is coming back in a few weeks), with the Pumpkin Spice also available at Upstreet’s retail shop and Craft Beer Corner downtown.

Over to New Brunswick, where you might know that in Village-des-Poirier on the Acadian Peninsula you’ll find Microbrasserie Houblon-Pecheur. What you may also find in the waters nearby, as he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave, is a Great White Shark called, of course, “Brunswick,” but not why you think. Originally tagged off the coast of the Southern US, he was named after the folks of Brunswick, Georgia! Guess he heard about the “other” Brunswick and decided to go on a road trip! A young adult, he’s “only” 8’9” and 430-ish lbs of ocean-going killing machine, but we have every faith his time in the region will bulk him up. What better way to celebrate such a visitor than with a beer? And BHP came up with just the thing, an IPA they’re calling, not surprisingly, Brunswick. At 7.7% ABV and packaged in 500 mL bottles, it’s a double IPA that no doubt packs a shark-sized punch. Look for it at ANBL stores in Caraquet, Tracadie, and Shippagan, with other usually Houblon-Pecheur points of distro expected to pick it up soon.

The Oktoberfest events continue, in addition to Candid’s event mentioned earlier, we’ve got news of a few more coming over the next couple of weeks…

If you’re headed to the Valley this weekend, the Oktoberfest tradition will find you there, too! Starting today, Horton Ridge will have a wonderful tap lineup of 3 new Oktoberfest beers, along with their other core beer and other taps from Tatamagouche, Big Spruce and East Coast Cider. The new beers are an Oktoberfest Honig, a 5.2% Marzen with local honey, Labour of Love, a 5% Schwarzbier and Bucked Up, a 5.5% Kolsch. These will be available all weekend at the malt house. 

Down at the Seaport in Halifax, Garrison Brewing has brought back a beer for a very special in-house event going on Tomorrow, Saturday, October 2nd. It’s a Wienerful Wheat is a hazy, crisp, and refreshing beer, 4.6% ABV and 12 IBU, nominally in the German Weißbier style, with a bready wheat character and overtones of spice and citrus. It was brewed in collaboration with Jack 92.9 FM, specifically morning hosts Griff and Caroline. Fifty cents from every can sold will go towards the Nova Scotia SPCA. Tomorrow’s event will celebrate all of that, with a pet-friendly launch party. Drink and merchandise (pet accessories, natch) deals will be going on all day, with locally handcrafted pet goods from Bog Dog and Hide & Paw also on display and the chance to win a prize pack with stuffs from other vendors @bichobandanas, @craftybeastsbrewingco, @thewhiskerstore, @chowtimepetfoods, and more! So get your furry friend(s) prepped and primped and head down to have some beer and maybe spoil them a little (more).

We’ve been telling you all about various Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the region over the past several weeks, including a couple today, but in classic, “last, but certainly not least,” news comes word that Stillwell Beergarden is doing their thing once again this year on Saturday, October 9. The true blue beer geek’s version of the event in our region, they’ve got confirmed taps from a couple of well regarded out of town breweries, namely Sonnen Hill of Caledon, ON, and Tooth & Nail, of Ottawa, ON, along with a raft of Maritime stalwarts: PEI’s Lone Oak and Bogside, New Brunswick’s Grimross, and Nova Scotia faves Tatamagouche, Big Spruce, Boxing Rock, Uncle Leo’s, and, of course, Stillwell Brewing. Beers are not all confirmed yet, but you can expect plenty of Märzens/Festbiers along with maybe some Pils, German Lager, Kellerpils, Altbier, and possibly even a Munich Dunkel. No tickets, it’ll be first come, first served, but there will be an entry fee (keep an eye on BG social media for details on that). Beer will be served in ½ L and 1 L steins, and there will be some thematically consistent snacks from HQ chef Joe Martin. So maybe forgo the dirndl and lederhosen and move straight for the drinking pants because this is shaping up to be eine gongshow. 

Just a coupla buncha quick hits this week before we let you go:

Newfoundland isn’t immune to the Fall beer craze either. Bannerman’s Marzen-style lager, Safe Bet, is also available in cans and on tap on Duckworth Street. Their take on the style comes in at 5.5% ABV. Using a blend of Vienna, Pilsner and Caramel malts to produce a beautiful copper colour and provide ample malt sweetness.

In more Newfoundland news, Crooked Feeder has two new releases in its Sour Series. Passion Fruit Sour and Grapefruit Sour are both available at the Cormack taproom and at Marie’s Minimart locations in St. John’s.

If you like your marine vessels to be airborne, Flying Boats has a returning favourite at the brewery and select ANBL stores in a limited release. Red Cap is a 4.8% Peanut Butter Stout using a base of an English-style Double Oatmeal Stout with all-natural peanut butter flavour added in the final stages of fermentation. A mix of peanut butter aroma, flavor with chocolate notes, this is in 473ml cans and on tap and growler fills while quantities last. 

Heading down the river, Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing Co. is releasing a new Double IPA, Trident to Da Troat. Coming in at 8.5% ABV, expect a deep orange colour, with big hop aroma and flavour from the dry-hopping. Grab it today in cans or by the pint in the taproom.

The Fall beers continue to roll out of brite tanks and canning lines across the region. In Fredericton, Fall means the return of Grimross’ Vienna Lager, King’s Horn. This super clean lager with the style’s signature malt sweetness is available now at the brewtique now on Bishop Drive. 

Windsor’s Schoolhouse Brewery is the fall mood this week as well, as they release Pumpkin Paddler is a 6% Bock with some added pumpkin spice flavour. Try it today at the brewery on Water Street.

We’ll leave you with two final re-releases. Wizzum is back in stock at Trailway. This west coast style IPA has slightly more bitterness than you’ve come to expect from Trailway. Look for a touch of sweet malt flavours and hops that profile the classic pine and resin west coast notes. Finally, on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, Cup O Joe is back at Sober Island. This 5.8% coffee porter features an addition of Trider coffee and is available now in cans. 

One more thing this week…

For those who like exploring a bit of science as they craft, create, or enjoy beer, the Master Brewers Association of the Americas is a great place to start. While membership is reserved for those in the brewing industry, or students who may join later, there are resources available to the general public such as their free weekly podcast, tapping into their industry members to contribute research and knowledge to everyone in the industry (or just interested in learning more!). For the first time, we in Atlantic Canada have a seat at the table, as Blair Tobin, owner and Head Brewer of Topside Brewing, has been elected as the Atlantic Canada Representative of District Atlantic Eastern Canada. With a local brewer/owner on the board, expect to see more MBAA exposure at events in the region, and more resources available to local brewers, from both pure research side of things, as well as from partnering companies in the malt, yeast, and hops world. Congratulations to Tobin on the election! And hey, while we’re toasting Tobin, we’re thinking Topside’s returning Winter seasonal Chaos Stout is as good a choice as any. The 6.6% Oatmeal Stout with dark chocolate notes complementing the bold roasted malt flavours. Find it on tap at Finbar’s Portland Hills today, and you can always reach out to Topside directly for growler fills via Social Media (Fb/Ig).

 

It’s well past the midpoint of August now and we’re sitting here melting into puddles and wondering when the soothing cool nights we’re usually enjoying by this point in the year are. Thankfully, our region’s breweries are stepping up to ensure we’ve got plenty of beer to keep us refreshed and to help us forget that our planet is on fire. Wheeee! While we’re still a ways away from our target vaccination numbers for the “new normal” Phase 5 / Green / Alert Level 1, we’re definitely hearing and seeing evidence that there are more folks visiting from out of the region and more people trying to get out and enjoy themselves. We’d like to remind everyone to be smart and be kind when it comes to their interactions over the coming weeks. If you’re seeing lots of people, try to be outside about it, continue to take advantage of the free testing facilities that are still available, and try not to put vulnerable folks at risk. Most of all, be good to each other, and especially to those folks who are working in restaurants that are just opening up or just expanding service. People are adjusting to being back at work after long layoffs, restaurants are adjusting to higher demand and a different balance of takeout/delivery and in-person dining, and everyone is learning how to be out in public again. We’re still all in this together!!

We’ll start off this week with a Halifax brewery that doesn’t constantly pump out new releases, but instead focuses on consistency and quality delivered with attitude: Unfiltered Brewing. Of course, you probably figure that if we are talking about them, it’s because they do have something new, and you’d be right about that. Featuring a name you have to be old enough to appreciate, Gazoo is a 4.5% ABV key lime sour. Bright, tart and a fairly low ABV, it’ll be an excellent refresher for the awfully humid weather the HRM has been enduring. Although it won’t magically fix everything, it’s got some awfully cute little antennae on the label to boot; if you’re wondering why, you need to get more Flintstones into your life. Grab some at the brewery before it disappears back to Zetox. While you’re at it, you can also grab some Hellevator, their 7% “juicy malt bomb” with all German ingredients (save water) that has returned for another run, and also some ultra fresh DOA, the most Citra beer that ever Citra’d.

Despite being on Canada’s east coast, Newfoundland’s Split Rock Brewing Co.’s location on North Twillingate Island affords it an unobstructed westward ocean view, which means beautiful sunsets filling the summer sky. In a nod to this, Split Rock is releasing Golden Hour, a 6.5% juicy IPA. Expect big tropical, stone fruit and citrusy notes from additions of El Dorado, Galaxy and Amarillo hops, with mostly late additions keeping the bitterness low. Grab a pint now at the taproom (may we suggest around sunset time). 

Dieppe’s O’Creek Brewing may be best known for their juicy and flavourful New England IPAs (Route 117 and Citra in a Galaxy come to mind), but this week they’re bringing something completely different. Has Been is a Grisette, a lighter-bodied and more delicate French/Belgian Farmhouse Saison. While low in alcohol, at just 4.3% ABV, it features plenty of lovely notes from the Lemondrop and Motueka hops used, complemented by the use of Jotünn kveik yeast from Escarpment Labs, for a dry and spritzy beer with a fruity and herbal finish. On draught only, so put Le Barbu and CAVOK in Dieppe, as well as Tide & Boar Brewing on your shortlist to visit this weekend. And if your looking for something a little different, Caffé Latte is coming to Le Barbu in the next day or two. This is a Milk Stout (a touch of lactose sugar used for body and residual sweetness) with cold-brewed coffee added to the secondary. Keep an eye on IG to see that tapping announcement!

Up on the North side of Nova Scotia, Tatamagouche Brewing has one new beer hitting the shelves this week and a couple of returning favorites as well. Up first is the newbie with a name, Herlihy, that, if you’re old and decrepit like us, you might think you recognize from early 90s Saturday Night Live (“Let the boy water your plants!”), but which is actually a reference to a road in Tabusintac, NB, and is pronounced Her-Lee-High rather than Her-Li-Hee. An Irish Stout with a fairly low ABV at 4.5%, the grist consists largely of pale malt with some crackery biscuit malt and chocolate malt to bring roasty chocolatey flavors and a deep dark color. UK hop variety Fuggle provides its classic spicy, herbal, and resiny profile, and the London ESB yeast strain ensures plenty of body and a smooth mouthfeel. Look for this one in cans at the brewery for now.

If, however, you’re looking for something at the lighter end of the spectrum, the latest batch of Pausa Pranzo Italian Pilsner is available now, this time with a little heavier hand with the Ariana on the dry hop but with the same malt side and 5.0% ABV. Lastly, if what you’re really craving is something nice and hoppy, but not too high on the ABV spectrum, we can confirm that the Cellar Slammer we mentioned last week is available once again direct from the brewery or at Bishop’s Cellar (who are also scheduled to be carrying the Pausa Pranzo) in Halifax.

Tusket Falls Brewing is bringin’ the hops this week with the release of a new DIPA, Details are Cloudy. This 8% ABV take on the style gets its cloudy mouthfeel by adding oats to a malt bill featuring German barley. Big dry hops of Citra and Amarillo give this one lots of fruit notes, including tangerine, lemon and peach. Cans are available at the taproom now and online through TFB’s webstore. HRM fans of Tusket should also keep an eye on the brewery’s social channels as they’ve teased that the opening date of their Gottingen Street taproom will be announced soon. Check below if you’re interested in becoming part of their team…

Let’s stick with cloudy and pillowy IPAs, this time at North Grant’s Half Cocked Brewery. Pillow Fort is a juicy, 7.4% NEIPA that features huge additions of Idaho 7, Eukanot and Mosaic. The photos of this one on Half Cocked’s social channels show a beautiful golden colour, with the telltale NEIPA haze. Expect lots of tropical fruit aromas and flavours, including papaya and mango, as well as some vanilla notes. Pillow Fort is available now for pints and growler fills, keep your eyes peeled for kegs in the wild in HRM next week! And those who make the visit to North Grant are well-advised to check out The Crafty Cooks, the food truck operating onsite this summer. They even open early for Brunch!

First across the post with Oktoberfest/Marzen beers this year, Grimross in Fredericton has released their eponymous beer in this style. Oktoberfest, a 5.6% ABV malt-forward beer, featuring bread and toast characters, as well as light brown sugar and toffee notes. Available on tap and in cans now. Also returning is their Grimdonk Belgian Golden Ale, 6.5% ABV, with notes of banana, clove, and coriander, also on draught and cans. These returning faves join the latest entries in their Scratch Series, Hopped Saison and Irish Red. The latter is a farmhouse ale fermented using their own house-isolated yeast, and then dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc. The Irish Red features malt-derived notes of caramel and coffee, with a dry finish, weighing in at 4.5% ABV.

And as right… now… you can grab a pint of Grimross’ British Mild, pouring direct from a cask, where it was naturally carbonated in the traditional manner, leading to a softer mouthfeel and less bite. This is the absolute last of the Mild in-house, though ANBL still has cans for those die hard anglophiles.

If cider is more your thing this weekend, head down to Wolfville for the latest release from Annapolis Cider Company’s Something Different line. Strawberry Lime starts with the cidery’s cold fermented cider and some fresh apple juice, and sees additions of fresh-pressed local strawberries and pure lime juice. The result is a 6% ABV rose gold colored cider, with subtle berry flavours and a crisp finish. The good people at Annapolis Cider Co. are also donating $0.50 from each refill of Strawberry Line to Shelter Moves Nova Scotia, a charity that provides free moving and storage service to women and children fleeing abuse. Cheers to that.

Big news out of Spryfield, Nova Scotia this week, where the much-anticipated Mary Brown’s Chicken opened their doors yesterday. But before we go completely off-topic, we’ve got to remind you that the best spot to enjoy your Big Mary is next door at Serpent Brewing, where they’ve got a new British Dark Mild pouring these days, their 4.0% Some Mild. Notes of toast, nut, and caramel shine through, with a touch of fruity sweetness from the English yeast. On draught and in crowlers and growlers to go. And if you’re in downtown Dartmouth, you can grab it at Battery Park, where their Eden Belgian IPA is also pouring. On the Halifax side, White Mountain Witbier is at the Stillwell Freehouse. For those who are more into enjoying their beer at home or at the beach, cans of Eden and Patey’s Bier Belgian Single are both being released at Bishop’s Cellar tomorrow.

Most people know that Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar is the place to go when it comes to finding a well-curated selection of local, regional, domestic, and imported tipples of all kinds. In addition to beers mentioned above, some new things you’ll find on the shelves there in the next week or two include Tanner & Co. Wheat, Mountain Meadworks Strawberry Arboreal, and Big Spruce Hour of Sour. Though they’ve always had Province-wide delivery available, the pandemic has certainly altered their business model and they’re now finding themselves looking for more help on the warehousing and delivery front. Folks who have a Class 5 drivers license, a desire to work in a fast-paced and friendly environment, and who are interested in getting into the bevvy industry on the distribution side are welcome to send a resume to ian@bishopscellar.com. Perks of the job include a staff discount on beer, wine, and spirits!

We teased earlier that Tusket Falls’ Halifax taproom is inching towards a grand opening. As they grow their operations, Tusket is looking to hire for both its HRM and Yarmouth County locations. They are currently on the hunt for serving and kitchen staff. If you’re interested, send a resume to info@tusketfallsbrewing.com or stop by the taproom in Tusket.

Trying to figure out what to do this weekend? Those in HRM have a couple of great options!

Last week’s post mentioned the Island Release of the Lone Oak and 2 Crows Together and Apart beers, and the time has come to let the rest of the world enjoy them as well. We’ll skip the details on the beer, and let you know that 2C’s webstore has both in stock for local delivery as well as Canada-wide shipping. And to celebrate, the fine folks at Lone Oak are making the trek off-island and will be doing a tap feature on Brunswick Street tomorrow from noon. Fixed Link German Pils, Modest Tiny Pale Ale, Yankee Gale APA, Delight Golden Sour with Peaches, and Rouge Farmhouse with Lucie Kuhlmann Grapes will be pouring alongside a handful of house-brewed beer. And to make this truly an event not to be missed, the fine folks from Tako Loko will be popping up from noon as well, providing some much-needed sustenance to keep you drinking all afternoon.

For those looking for a cider-based events (but still love tacos!), great news! Thanks to some special relationships with world-class cider makers to both the East and South, Stillwell Beergarden will be hosting a “Side by Side” tap feature of three sought after and super great ciders on draught. From Spain, Isastegi is located in the Basque region, renowned for their natural cider, and Stilly was able to finagle some of their Sagardo Naturala to pour alongside Oliver’s Cider from Herefordshire in England, and ANXO Cider from Washington, DC. Whether you are a hard-core apple-head, or new to cider, we suggest making a stop on Monday and/or Tuesday to check out the offerings on the go!