Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge

All posts tagged Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge

Happy 2024! We hope you were able to find a bit of relaxation and community these past few weeks, whether it be with (or away from) family, friends, pets, nature, or alone with a great book, podcast, or however you felt most at ease. We were fortunate to do a combination of all of those, and are thankful for each other and for you, our faithful readers. We missed a few new releases while we were away, and we’ll of course miss others in the future, so don’t be shy about letting us know some great cider and beer news that’s happening in your neck of the woods. The best way is via email, but you can also DM or tag us on Instagram to get our attention. This week’s post is short and sweet, as we, and the breweries, ease their way into the New Year. As always, please support local when and if you’re able, especially during these traditionally slower months for producers and restaurants and bars. Support in moderation, of course!

Just before year-end, Hardisty Brewing opened their taproom in Cole Harbour, Dartmouth. Graduating from production at their home nearby, Char and Laura have brought in Amber to complete the brewing team on their expanded equipment in the new space. 230 litre batches are now possible, thanks to the equipment they picked up from Truro Brewing Company’s own recent expansion. The Hardisty taproom is fully equipped with a half-dozen taps, and an extensive selection of meat and cheese to build your own CHARcuterie board (sorry, couldn’t resist!), and a full retail shop for your take-away needs. Keep an eye on Hardisty’s website and social media for updates, and pop by their location at 958 Cole Harbour Rd, Tuesday to Saturday, from noon til 8 PM. Congratulations again!

A little bit of a change this week, as we highlight some non-alcoholic products from the region, as we know many of you (and us) are taking a little breather from booze in January. You’re already aware of the Libra line produced by Upstreet Craft Brewing, and we were introduced to NOMAD Pilsner, and more recently Witbier, “brewed” by the fine folks at Tatamagouche Brewing. This week saw the launch of another in the region, Instead, produced for Garrison Brewing. For sale now from their shops, and soon at private stores in HRM, the Blonde and IPA are both flavourful, crisp, and clean, you’ll never even notice there’s no alcohol!

For those looking for a bevvie with another flavour profile, don’t forget about Lake City Cider’s line of non-alcoholic ciders, which happen to be on sale this week!

And if you’re looking for a bit more in both alcohol or character, Trailway Brewing’s Hu Jon Hops Ultra will fit the bill! At just 1.5% ABV, it’s chock-full of hops, and raring to go!

If you are someone who is already an experienced homebrewer, or one of the lucky group of folks gifted a kit or equipment over the Holidays, let us tell you about a couple brewing competitions that you can enter, to receive some honest feedback and guidance on improving your craft. Or win fabulous prizes; that could happen too!

Prince Edward Island’s Gahan House is once again sponsoring the Atlantic Home Brew Challenge, which is open to amateur brewers in any of the four Atlantic Provinces. Celebrating their presence that started in New Brunswick, and has spread to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and most recently Newfoundland and Labrador, Gahan is looking for folks to submit their best Best Bitter, or Spice, Herb, and Vegetable Beer. While you have until March 2nd to drop off the beer to your local Gahan House, we highly recommend signing up today to ensure you do not miss out on the opportunity! The top beers in each category will win cash prizes, with the Best in Show also winning the opportunity and honour of brewing their beer on a big scale! Former winners have gone on to fame and fortune in their own right, and you could be the next to wear the crown! More details are available at the Challenge website above.

Meanwhile, across the Northumberland Strait (or near enough), Nyanza, Cape Breton’s Big Spruce Brewing is hosting the latest in what we believe to be the longest-running homebrew competition in the Maritimes. Now up to the 11th edition, this year’s official title is 11th Annual Homebrew Challenge: Pomona vs Elysium. A face off featuring two brand new (really really brand new, very few commercial breweries have used these) yeast strains from Escarpment Labs, homebrewers are being challenged to make their best IPA. Twenty-five pouches of each strain were available and to date 36 total pouches have been claimed. That means there’s room for fourteen more entrants. A winner for each strain will be crowned and a batch of each winning beer will be brewed on Big Spruce’s pilot system for province-wide distribution. Check the linked official Facebook page for the event for all the details you need!

While our friends at 2 Crows Brewing are enjoying the recent opening of 2 Crows Oxford, their birthday is right around the corner. January 27th will mark their 7th Anniversary with an all day event at the Brunswick Street brewery. There will be 7 new anniversary beers, including collaborations with OK Sea Salt, Yeah Yeah’s Pizza and some returning favourites and a new mystery beer. Food will be served at noon by Luke’s Small Goods and when 8 PM rolls around, it’s time for the beats to drop, as Skunk Motel, Pavel Stroke and June Body will be playing their tunes. As usual, there are no tickets, reservations or cover. Stay tuned to the brewery’s social media for any updates (Sour Sunday anyone?) or changes and we’ll be sure to include a reminder the week of. 

As they have every year for the last half-decade or so, many of the member breweries of CBANS have once again converged to produce a collaborative beer for the year. This year we feel like they’re doing it a little earlier than usual, but we also suspect that’s got to do with the beer and where it’s being brewed. This week saw 30+ folks from 15+ breweries converge on Kempt Road and Stillwell Brewing for this year’s Together We Brew, where they put together a ((possibly double-)decocted, natch) batch of something that’s destined to be called Export Lager. Though it won’t be available until spring, for long-term cold-conditioning reasons, when it is you’ll be able to find it around the province at various breweries, NSLC stores, and private stores as well. Look for our announcement of its availability and tasting notes then! And special thanks to Stillwell Brewing for hosting, Brew Culture, Escarpment Labs, and Shoreline Malting for ingredients support, and (eventually) Hart Printing for the cans!

The rumours of our demise were greatly exaggerated! What rumours , you ask? Well apparently we’re shit at starting rumours too, so nevermind. We’ve probably said this before, but it bears repeating: while there are four of us here at ACBB, we all have lives and jobs and responsibilities and plans, and sometimes we get to Thursday night and we realize that nobody remembered we blog and, well, it ain’t looking so good for tomorrow. Sometimes we manage to pull a post out of our collective arse on Friday morning anyway, but the last two weeks it was simply not to be. Many apologies, full refunds available in the alley out back (mind the rats). This week we’ll try to get you caught up on a little of what we missed previously, but mostly just try to get through this week’s new stuff. Be warned, though, three-quarters of the team is on the road and while you’re left with the wordy fucker (free one-year subscription to whoever guesses successfully), even he has his limits, so pardon the soul of brevity and don’t hold your breath for much wit. 

We’ll also remind you that this weekend Remembrance Day falls on Saturday, so your favorite brewery or taproom may elect to close for some or all of Saturday, on Monday, or not at all. So be sure to check socials before you make your plans. 

We’ll start this week on the South Shore of NS where Tanner & Co. Brewing has two new IPAs on the go, but ironically, “new” may not be the best descriptor for either of them. Though many know that the IPA style began in the UK over a century ago and that extra hops were generally used as a preservative for the long sea voyage to India, there have been few English IPAs of late to even try, not only locally, but around the world. So Tanner has taken up the cause of rectifying that with their aptly-named English IPA, a beer that keeps the classic British herbal and earthy hops moderate, while balancing with a prominent malt presence featuring notes of biscuit, caramel, and toffee. A rich amber colour completes the picture in this 6.5% ABV beer. Meanwhile, Tanner has also taken a much more modern IPA, one featuring Citra, Simcoe, Chinook, and Amarillo hops, local malts, and a yeast strain from Le Labo yeast lab in Quebec and then aged it for several months in oak barrels from Grand Pré Wines. The result is Barrel Aged IPA, a big beer, at 8.1%, that presents a “harmonious blend of hops and oak.” Look for both of these beers in cans from the brewery and the taproom in Chester where you’ll also stand a pretty good chance of finding them on tap. 

Fredericton’s Maybee Brewing has a new IPA this week as well, this one in the modern hazy NEIPA vein, but with a name that’s a callback to the 1970s. While some of you are wondering why anyone would refer to such ancient history, the old farts among us will no doubt have a snicker at The Knights Who Say NEIPA (and its spot-on label). Bursting with citrus, pineapple, mango, and bright orange juice aromas and flavors, they’re calling this one, “a tropical paradise in a glass.” The perfect companion to hunting for a shrubbery (one that looks nice… and not too expensive) or estimating the wingspeed of an unladen sparrow, no doubt. Find this 6.5% and 30 IBU juice bomb in cans at the brewery.

Like many breweries, we suspect even moreso in this region than in others, Mount Pearl, NL’s Landwash Brewery has long fielded questions about why they haven’t had a Red Ale available. Well now the questions can stop, at least for a while. Kicking Leaves is a perfect fall beer, deep amber in color, with notes of caramel, toffee, and a hint of rye. With an ABV of only 4%, it’s also extremely sessionable and you can pack a few for your hike in the crisp and cool fall air. This one is packaged and available only at the brewery this weekend, but headed out to all the usual spots in the coming weeks.

On another Island, Prince Edward that is, Lone Oak has released a brand new American Pale Ale. Although it contains the three most OG “C” hops from the Pacific Northwest of the US, Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook, all of the hops in this brew were local, from Lakeview Hops. Paired with a grist of Pilsner and Vienna malt, though these hop varieties are known more for citrus, pine, and dank notes, the combination, the beer, and no doubt the terroir, have come together to yield a very melony character with some grapefruit and pineapple overtones. Find this smooth and refreshing 5.2% pale ale on tap and in cans to go at the brewery in Borden-Carleton and the Brewpub at Milky Way.

Completing the island trifecta, we have Big Spruce Brewing on Cape Breton Island, who push it to a quadfecta with the name of their new release! Who doesn’t love a brewery collaboration? We know that we sure do; fortunately we have breweries like Big Spruce around who may love a collab even more than most and this week they’ve got a brand new beer that they put together in concert with Truro Brewing. Isle of Lesbos is an ode to lager, and they’re classifying it as a “Greek Pilsner” coming in at 4.2% ABV. While we’re not so much familiar with that particular style, we figure those with a knowledge of Ancient Greek were able to cull it from urns and pottery shards. Regardless, as the weather in this part of the world gets colder and damper, this beer could easily put you in the mind of the sunny and warm Mediterranean. So maybe throw on a toga, grab your lyre, get yourself a 4-pack of this tasty treat from wherever you get your Big Spruce or Truro Brewing, and head down to the Symposium to wax eloquent on your love of beer and Sapphic poetry.

Back to the Rock, where Bannerman Brewing of St. John’s is amongst those breweries embracing the cooler season with darker beers. Ghost Town is a milk stout, which means it’s been dosed with lactose sugar, yielding a creamier mouthfeel and sweeter presentation to balance the usual roasty flavors and aromas of chocolate and other roasty things. Add some hints of caramel and some malt sweetness as well, and you have a smooth sipper that packs a bit of a punch at 6.0% ABV. Look for it pouring on tap or in cans to go from their spot on Duckworth Street.

If you’ve been a craft beer lover in Nova Scotia for a while, you know that each fall, North Brewing partners up with Benjamin Bridge winery to produce a special beer in the saison style that showcases the magic that can happen when beer and wine collide. This year’s base beer began life as a light saison in the fall of 2022 that was co-fermented with freshly-pressed Chardonnay grape juice from BB using the Cerebus yeast strain from Escarpment Labs. It then spent the winter months into 2023 in the tank to age, after which it was naturally carbonated before packaging, which, for the first time, was done in 473ml cans instead of big ol’ 750ml bottles. Why the change? Because the bottles, especially at that size, can be intimidating and a bit of a commitment to someone who doesn’t necessarily know if they’re going to like a saison, let alone a saison/wine hybrid. Hopefully this inspires some folks to try something new! Tasting notes include aromas of lemon, lime, and orange marmalade, with a little bit of saison character and a vinous character from the grapes. Still full-bodied while finishing dry, the bitterness is quite low and it lands at 7.5% ABV. Grab it at any of the North locations you frequent!

Continuing on the long term beer project train are two new entries from Tatamagouche Brewing. First up is Rosaly, a rose hip and lychee sour. After initial fermentation this golden sour was fed into an Italian red wine foeder where it hung out for nearly two years, taking on fruity notes to complement its sour base. Six more months of aging took place on rose hips and lychee fruit, which added berry, citrus and melon notes along with a subtle floral hint. Packaged in short (341ml) cans, you’ll find this 6.1% flavorful sour at the brewery, including online ordering, and no doubt some other places that stock Tata brews. Also recently released is Carmine, the “other” beer that began as that golden sour in the red wine foeder, only instead of lychee and rose hips, this one went onto dragonfruit puree for six months. Picking up more colour than flavour from the fruit, Carmine is closer to its original golden sour character, but you can safely expect some vinous character from the barrel along with a touch of melon and stone fruit. Lighter than the Rosaly at 5.6% ABV, this one has been packaged in a bigger format, 750ml bottles, for convenient sharing. Available at the brewery directly and for online ordering.

Let’s keep the train rolling on barrel aged beers, but this time up the ante. How high? NASH high. Five whole years ago, Unfiltered Brewing’s Greg Nash made an Imperial Brown Ale that was distilled by North End Halifax neighbours Compass Distillers and matured in oak barrels until earlier this year. Unfiltered then took possession of those barrels and filled them with their Twelve Years to Zion DIPA, which matured for eight full months. They then unbunged the barrels and canned the results, which they’ve named Whiskey Beer, a delightful tipple at a hefty 10% ABV, bearing the character of the DIPA, the barrels, and possibly some of that brown ale concoction as well. Find out for yourself as they’ve just packaged a second (and final, we believe) run this week. If you’re wondering what happened to the brown ale distillate, you might check in at Compass, where we’re told they’ve got a new product called Beer Whiskey! If you’re looking for something lighter for balance, you should also know that Unfiltered’s 4% ABV Belinerweiße is back today in cans and on tap at Charm School.

What could be more different than a huge spirit barrel aged DIPA? If you guessed a non-alcoholic (0.4% ABV) cider you win! Lake City Cider in Dartmouth has spun up a lighter alternative to their long-running Christmas-spiced seasonal so that those who are refraining can still drink something with bells on. Non-alcoholic Spice Up Your Life still brings the merry with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and dried orange peel; you’ll find it bottled in 750ml bottles just like its booze-bearing sibling (which is also available now). If you’re not ready for THAT season yet though, fear not. Lake City also has a brand new Peach Cider available with plenty of soft and round peach flavor complementing the familiar apple side of the proceedings. Fairly light, at 5.5%, this one has been packaged in cans.

Candid Brewing in Antigonish has released a new American Pale Ale called Schadenfreude, one of those amazing words from the German language that has both a complex meaning and is terribly fun to say in an over-the-top Teutonic accent. Meaning, “a feeling of pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune,” we’ll let you scope out the branding on your own to get an idea of who they’re poking at. Featuring some modern banger hops in Citra, Loral, and recent belle of the hop ball HBC 586, you’ll find this 5.5% ABV number in cans and most likely on tap at the brewery.

Back up to Newfoundland, we have a three-way collaboration that has produced a brand new and rather interesting beer. Baccalieu Trail Brewing in Bay Roberts put their heads together with Rough Waters Brewing in Deer Lake and then they all collectively smashed skulls with homebrewers and beer lovers @mosaic.wit (who have done other collaborations with Rough Waters and Dildo Brewing as well) to produce Tree Way, a fruited sour IPA. Low on bitterness thanks to no hops at the start of the boil, and with a very restrained dry hop, this one saw the bulk of its dose of Mosaic hops late in the whirlpool, providing big hop notes to interact with açai and curuba (a species of passionfruit) to produce an “explosion of orangey-passionfruit, and a subtle touch of nostalgic fruit roll-up vibes.” This one has been canned, and you should be able to find it at select retail  locations around the Avalon Peninsula. (and, we expect, but have not confirmed, both breweries too!)

Continuing to take advantage of the foeders on hand at their facility in downtown Halifax, Gahan Nova Centre has a new small batch release available this week. Taking a portion of last year’s Foeder Aged Winter Warmer, they added red plums and continued to age the result an additional six months. Still with notes of cherry and sweet desserts, along with some tannins from the barrel, you’ll now find some tartness and plum flavors going on. Packaged in 375ml bottles, Red Plum Winter Warmer is 5.5% and is available not just in Halifax, but around the region from the to-go fridges at Gahan locations in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton.

Speaking of Gahan, you may remember this past spring when we announced the winner of the 4th annual Atlantic Homebrew Challenge presented by Gahan House. That beer, Herr Durstig, a German Pils, was brewed at Gahan Port City in Saint John with winner Al McLeod back in August. It’s being released in cans today across the region at all Gahan locations (the abovementioned plus Gahan Harbourview in St. John’s) and also at the PEI Brewing Company taproom. A sessionable lager at 4.8% ABV, it’s golden in color and crystal clear. With a malt backbone of 100% German Pilsner malt, it features local PEI-grown Tettnang hops, for a primarily floral hop nose with hints of citrus. Grab it in cans at your local Gahan location.

As always, the release of last year’s winning beer coincides with the announcement of this year’s competition. The 5th Annual Atlantic Home Brew Challenge will once again allow for entries under two BJCP styles: 11B Best Bitter and 30A Spice, Herb, and Vegetable. The style guidelines are available on the competition website for perusal and planning purposes; competitors can enter once per style if they’re feeling particularly ambitious. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top 5 in each style as well as for the overall winning beer, which will be brewed for canned release with the team at the winner’s local Gahan location. Entries are due for drop-off by March 2nd, 2024, with judging slated and announcement of the winners slated to take place later in March. If you’ve got other questions, definitely scroll to the bottom of the competition website for the FAQ and, if your question still isn’t answered, send an email to the competition team per the last FAQ entry. Good luck to all who compete!

Would you believe that there’s TWO homebrew competitions to announce this week? What a world we live in!! Big Spruce has announced the latest iteration of what is now the longest-running homebrew competition in the region, the 11th Annual Home Brew Challenge: Pomona vs Elysium. What are Pomona and Elysium, you might ask? Well, one is a city in California, and the other is the afterlife as conceptualized by the ancient Greeks, of course! But seriously, the real answer is even nerdier: they’re new yeast strains from Escarpment Labs. Both are targeted at IPAs, especially those of the hazy variety, with slightly different characteristics. Big Spruce has secured 25 pitches of each strain for a maximum number of entries this year of 50. Entrants may submit ONE beer this year, and may submit their preference for one or the other strain, but once one runs out allocation will be what’s left. Judging and the traditional entrants’ gala will take place at the Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth on February 4th, 2024. This year there will be two winners: the top beer made with each strain will be produced on the Big Spruce 7BBL pilot system and packaged for retail. Check out the link to the official Facebook page for the competition above for more information.

Here’s a few last quick tidbits to send you on your way for the weekend:

Trailway Brewing in Fredericton has a trio of returning favorites available now. Hu Jon Heavy is Hu Jon Hops, only MOAR. DIPA, 8%, fuller, hoppier. Then there’s a couple darker beers for the season. Beans is on the sweeter side, a 6.8% Oatmeal Coffee Stout featuring freshly roasted beans from Mill Town Roasters. Black Hops (back after a long hiatus) is a black IPA at 7% that balances zesty grapefruit with roasty character. All are available at Trailway locations and for online ordering.

Sydney’s Breton Brewing has a dark number of their own pouring again, Milk & Cookies is a smooth and slightly sweet milk stout with a “tasty hint of chocolate chip cookies.” Packaged in cans at 5.0% for sale at select NSLC locations across the province, it’s also on tap for fills and pints at the brewery.

Not to be outdone in the stout department, Wolfville’s Church Brewing Co has their Forgive Me Father American stout pouting again. Rich and chocolatey, with plenty of roasted malt flavor, it also features cold-steeped coffee from TAN Coffee. Looks like this one hasn’t been packaged (at least not yet) so you’ll have to hit the brewery for a pint.

And rounding things out this week is the biggest of the returning dark beers, Propeller’s Nanaimo Imperial Dessert Stout. Featuring all the flavors of the classic Canadian dessert, it’s a big’un at 10% ABV and in 473ml tall cans, so maybe plan your evening around that. Available at all the Prop shops and scheduled to be part of the NSLC holiday display.

The cold weather is finally here, so let’s gather ‘round to read about beer. The nights are dark and shorter, so pour yourself a porter. We’ve got lots of news about local brews, so don’t linger any longer!

Exciting news on the West Coast of Newfoundland, as Pasadena’s Western Newfoundland Brewing Company has announced a big upgrade to their system. Opening six years ago with a 50 litre Sabco BrewMagic system, they have upgraded in a big way to a steam-fired three vessel capable of more than 1000 litres per batch. Drop by Thursday through Saturday to grab cans from their fridges as well as merch or kegs for your next get-together. One of those cans is the brand new charitable release, For Ukraine With Love. Brewed with 100% Ukrainian-developed and -grown hops, Promin and Zagrava, this light Euro Lager allows them to shine through with a light resinous character. Sold at the brewery and making its way Island-wide in the coming weeks, $6.00 of the $10.00 price tag is being donated to the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the Association For New Canadians. Be sure to pick up a can or two to support this worthy cause!

Good Robot is back with another Goodwill Beer release and earlier this week, United Way IPA was released in collaboration with and in support of United Way Halifax. United Way Halifax has a few campaigns kicking off this week to help support the housing crisis, as United Way is a donor-funded organization that is always advocating and helping those in need of housing.The beer itself is an approachable IPA that is a blend of citrus, sweet and wheat, thanks to the hop bill of Comet, Idaho 7 and Lemondrop. 50 cents from every beer sold in the taproom or anywhere, goes directly towards United Way Halifax. You can get this one in cans or on tap at Robie Street, or order online for delivery.

Limestone Beverages, a group of Bahamian-Haligonian folks sharing the love of their homeland, have a pair of new beers available now. They are hosting a tasting (and more!) event at East Coast Conch restaurant Sunday to showcase the releases, both alcoholic and non-, with some food pairings and live music to accompany. Pina Colada Wheat Ale is a 5.0% ABV with mild pineapple notes, with a creamy coconut rum-like mouthfeel, which will have you transported to the Caribbean with the waves lapping at your toes. Paired with Beef Sliders in coconut buns topped with mango and bacon jam.. East Coast Flamingo is a 4.8% Watermelon and Kiwi Ale, with plenty of the named ingredients on the nose and palate, enhanced by hibiscus flower for a lovely pink hue and floral character. ECC is pairing a Snapper Taco with this drink. For those looking for great fruit character without the alcohol, Limestone also makes Switchas, the Bahamian lime-ade. The name comes from the fact that the drink is both sour and sweet, switching up your brain as to what it’s tasting! There will be Lime and NS Blueberry Switcha pouring as well. And to really top Sunday evening, Limestone will have some Junkanoo performances, with live music and dance, so be sure to visit!

Strap in for a trio of Trailway releases, as they’ve got two holiday releases and one returning collaboration all available now. Earlier this week, Hu Jon Holiday is their classic Hu Jon Hops recipe with some extra piney hops and spruce tip additions. This is a much more piney and resinous version of their flagship IPA and is 6.6%. It’s available now at the brewery, select ANBL stores and will be available at Harvest Wines in Halifax this weekend or early next week. 

Second up from their holiday release is Facts, an American Barelywine. This 11.9% banger brings the deep, rich flavours of caramel, dried fruit, toffee and nice rich malt character with that right hop balance. This is releasing in a sensible 355ml can format, available now at the brewery, and *may* be seen a little further afield.

Finally, a collaboration with Lagabière rounds off Trailway’s release news. De L’autre Boutte to Here is a Double Dry Hopped IPA that is absolutely packed with Citra, Simcoe and Motueka. This is very bright with citrus zest flavours and a powerful punch of tropical fruit and dank pine. This nice 7% release is available now in kegs and cans as well.

All of these three releases can also be ordered online for delivery or pick-up. 

All aboard the mead train! Tanner & Co Brewing has a pair of sparkling mead releases new this week. First up, Barrel Fermented Sparkling Mead is their house sparking mead with some citrus rind and cinnamon added during the boil and then put into French oak barrels. This one fermented outside through the wacky Nova Scotia weather and returned back to stainless for carbonation. The result is a 6.8% sparkling mead and is packaged in 500ml bottles. 

Second on the mead train is a new release that follows in the footsteps of one of their beers. Muscat Sauvage Sparkling Mead uses Muscat grape skins from Grand Pré Winery and the same yeast as their Sauvage Saison beer. Local honey was used from Little Bee Farm to keep it all within the province. This is a nice and dry finishing brew and the grape skins add a great flavour and aroma to the mead. This one comes in at 5.6% and sounds very drinkable. 

Both of these meads are available at the brewery and taproom and available for delivery through their online store. 

Spryfield’s Serpent Brewing has a new release out this week, another in their foray into the lager style. This 6.0% Amber Lager features a mix of Munich malts (Cara and Light, in addition to the standard Munich malt), offering a touch of colour and a hint of toast and roast notes. The German lager yeast used keeps it clean and crisp without any sweetness, balancing with the ever-so-light hop profile. Available on draught and in cans now at their spot on Sussex, just behind Canadian Tire/beside Mary Brown’s.

Out today is a beer celebrating the special relationship the province of Nova Scotia has with the city of Boston. Thankful for the massive support the city offered after the Halifax Explosion, since 1971 the province has been sending down the city’s Christmas Tree, harvested from somewhere in Nova Scotia. This year’s tree hails from Christmas Island, and is stopping in Halifax before it continues its journey South. The third year of From Nova Scotia With Love is out today, a collaboration between Nyanza’s Big Spruce Brewing and Boston’s Harpoon Brewery. This year’s release is Whiskey Barrel Aged Fat Archie Molasses Cookie Imperial Stout… Featuring spruce tips, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove, this 11.0% beast of a beer is a melding of flavours that will have you looking for another sip! Cans are available at the brewery now, should be heading to some better beer bars in the province, and on their online shop for delivery or shipping real soon.

Sticking in Nova Scotia, Tusket Falls Brewing is releasing Next Phaze, a Hazy IPA. This is packed with hops and a big tropical punch in each sip. Featuring a hop blend of Rikawa and Cryo Mosaic , and that magical Phantasm as an adjunct addition (extracted from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, bringing mega thiol freedom!), this brings the big tropical notes with some pine, citrus and a creamy bitterness. This is 6.4% and available at both brewery locations, online and will be headed to the NSLC at some point.

Smokehouse Nano Brewery in Berwick is celebrating the town’s centennial with a release showcasing their appreciation and pride in their home. Centennial Pale Ale is a 5.0% ABV light and refreshing pale ale, which features, not surprisingly, Centennial hops! With a label featuring the Greetings From Berwick 100th Year Mural recently unveiled in town, cans are available at their taproom location, and will also be for sale at this evening’s Valley Wildcats home game!

Edmundston’s Petit-Sault recently hosted three Northwest New Brunswick breweries for a dark and dangerous collaboration in their brewhouse, which was released this week. NOir is an 8.5% ABV Pastry Stout, made with chocolate, vanilla, and maple syrup. Folks from Grand Falls Brewing, Novum Boreas in Saint-Quentin, and the soon-to-open Microbrasserie Ateepic in Edmundston all took part in the fun, and will have the beer available at their taproom/retail shops, with limited selections making it to ANBL stores as well.

Spindrift Brewing has a nice release for the colder weather. Goldilocks is a Nitro Oatmeal Stout, bringing some nice roast, smoke, cocoa, and high drinkability to the style at 4.8%. Working with Craft Coast Canning and their Nitro dropped, so definitely pour this one into a glass and get that nice cascade effect. This smokey oatmeal stout has a lovely malt bill of Superior Pilsen, Carafa III, Chocolate Malt, Flaked Oats, Golden Naked Oats and Honey Oat Malt. Balanced up with Warrior hops up to 25 IBU, this is a full stout that deserves a full pour! This beer is available now at the brewery in Dartmouth and should be available over the weekend in Antigonish.

Spindrift also has a returning favourite, in what could be its last hurrah. Hurricane IPA is their West Coast IPA that’s coming out in a nice smaller 6 x 355ml format. This is available now at the brewery in Dartmouth and will be in Antigonish next week. 

Last month we told you about a brewery hosting their first homebrew competition, and this week we get to tell you that another brewery is hosting their TENTH annual* competition. Those who’ve taken part in the past know that Big Spruce’s Home Brew Challenge has been one of the most fun comps to both participate in and to judge and we suspect that this year will be no exception. Throwing it back to the competition’s first year, they’re calling for brewers to assemble and brew their best IPA across all BJCP 2021 IPA Categories: 21A American IPA, 21B Specialty IPA, 21C Hazy IPA, 22A Double IPA and X2 IPA Argenta (we’re guessing the inclusion of that last one may have been a clerical error unless someone’s got a line on Argentinian hops). That also includes all of the sub-categories of 21B, so Belgian IPA, Black IPA, Brown IPA, Brut IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, and White IPA (insert Forrest Gump shrimp GIF here). Key to note, however, is that there will not be separate judging of sub-styles: all entries will be judged side-by-side in a true winner-take-all Hollywood blockbuster-style shootout, just with hops being the weapon of choice. The winner, as always, will see their winning recipe brewed on Big Spruce’s 7BBL pilot system and distributed throughout the region. Two runners up (2nd and 3rd) will receive a swag/merch and beer box. All participants will be invited to the gala on February 5th, 2023, at the Wooden Monkey in Dartmouth for the big announcement. You can find additional details in this Ig post, and you can express your interest in competing (or ask additional questions) by emailing info@bigspruce.ca

* There might have been a year missing there for COVID; we can’t remember 😬

We already told you about the 2 Crows SCOOPS event and release, happening tonight from 5 – 11 PM (Stout pours and Ice Cream Floats!, with live music from 8 PM), but let us not skip over the fact that they have a beer on the other end of the spectrum pouring this week, and will still be available tonight… Zig is a Berliner Weisse style beer, think light and tart, this one has seen the addition of prickly pear to the batch. Those who remember Zip, Zap, Zop, and Zoup will see this fit in nicely to the family. On tap only as it is a small batch, but it may pair/contrast nicely with the SCOOPS you’re going to try.

Don’t forget to get out to your local brewery, cidery, or good bar this weekend. We’ve entered the slow season, and they can use all the support we can throw at them! We already told you about Copper Bottom’s Fifth Anniversary, and accompanying beer last week, here are a few other spots to visit if you’re in HRM…

Garrison Brewing’s Oxford Taproom, located at the corner of Quinpool and Oxford Streets in Halifax, is celebrating its Third Anniversary this weekend. They’ve got loads of beer specials, releases, and pop-ups planned for the entire weekend, including gluten-free empanadas from Verano tonight, handpies from Humble Pie tomorrow. Saturday late morning, The Oxford will host a yoga session, followed Sunday by a pop-up shop with local artist Peter Roth, and the evening is capped by stand-up comedy hosted by Dan Hendricken. Plus beer and coffee specials all weekend! It’s all too much to share here, so check this IG post for all the fun details! One of those beers is the return of their winter seasonal, All Lit Up. This 7.0% Winter Warmer Strong Ale was lightly spiced and features more of cinnamon, clove, raisins, and even some apricot, on top of the rich malt caramel flavour. Available on tap and in cans at their retails spaces now, it will also be at both private and provincial stores very soon.

The BrewHQ Retail Store is holding their Grand Opening this Saturday, November 19th. Located at 80 Thornhill Drive, this beer-making-centric store has tons (literally!) of ingredients, equipment for homebrewers of all sizes (and even small commercial outfits), as well as a few other draws that make them unique in the region (if not the world!). First and foremost is the fact that they have two house-brewed beers available on tap, allowing folks browsing the store something to sip on while they shop. Brewed on their 350 litre (3 BBL) system, they are concentrating on English Real Ale styles, working with naturally-carbonated beers, and handpump faucets to deliver the beer. Pouring right now are Extra Special Bitter and Traditional Mild. And if you like what you have in-store, you can even get a growler or PET bottle fill to take home. Enhancing the taproom feel is a full complement of pinball and Arcade machines (on Free Play all day during the party!), hotdogs and sausages and popcorn and soda while you browse and chat beer and brewing with the staff. Speaking of brewing, there will be a Grainfather Brew School happening tomorrow, an example of the weekly classes held at BrewHQ. For those interested in getting into the Homebrewing hobby, the Grainfather allows folks to do a full Grain brew (for ultimate control over the recipe, unlike pre-fabbed wort or the “kit and kilo” of years ago). Those who visit can enter in some door prizes (including the chance to win a Grainfather!!), and there are pop-up events happening throughout the day. What a way to spend your Saturday, for those already brewing at home, looking to learn more about the hobby, or just wanting another spot to enjoy a pint while playing pinball!

The good beer events continue into Sunday, as Barrington Street’s Bar Stillwell celebrates its Ninth Anniversary of slinging the good stuff. Look for special beers from the cellar (think Stilly Brewing Preach v.2018), freshies from south of the border (a Fruited Sour DIPA from Hudson Valley Brewing), and of course some great Belgian sours (Hof Ten Dormaal anyone?). As always, the food will be off the hook, and bumped up even more as Chef Joe Martin is putting an Italian-American spin on the menu, bringing some Saucy Meatball Sandwiches to reality, along with the usual hits from behind the protective cage. Plus birthday cake! Open from noon til midnight Nov 20, so plenty of time to enjoy, so we suggest pacing yourself. 

Details are light on this one, but clear your calendar for Saturday November 26th, as Dartmouth’s Battery Park is hosting a complete Tap Takeover from Tatamagouche Brewing. 17 taps a-flowing means a few originals from back in the day, some recent hits, and at least a couple of brand new releases! We hope to have even more info for yas next week!

A couple more things before we let you go this weekend…

It has been a year since Barnone Brewery in Rose Valley re-opened their barn under new management. Dozens of brews and Growler Nights and events have taken place over the course of the last twelve months. Due to the colder weather, they are closing the barn for winter, aiming for re-opening in early March. However Barn One fans, fear not, as plenty of spots on the island are carrying their beer, including HopYard, Abbiato, Olde Dublin, Pilot House, Red Shores, Olde Triangle, 511 West, and plenty more. Just ask at your favourite watering hole, and if they don’t already have it on tap, insist they bring in a keg!

Bathurst’s Four Rivers Brewing has a returning seasonal back this week, available on draught and in cans across the province’s liquor stores. Pa Rum Pum Pomander is perhaps a departure from the dark and roasty seasonals other breweries have put out, as this is a festive New England IPA featuring loads of citrus and just a touch of clove character. Medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel, and a 6.0% ABV may just make this a favourite of Old Saint Nick next month!

We close out this week’s blog with a salute to our Beer-Pals-In-Arms at 902 BrewCast, whose podcast explored the world of Atlantic Canadian (and beyond) beer, cider, and mead, over the past 6 years, recording more than 150 episodes. Tony, Kyle, and Phil were there in 2016 before 2 Crows Brewing opened their doors (starting the joke of a 902BC Curse…), put IPAs through a torture test to see how they held up in various extreme environments, and became one with the land in PEI as they drove through barley fields… They’ve decided to say so long to the podcast, but you know that won’t mean the end of their love for all things fermented, so you’ll be seeing them at beer-y events and releases in the future. Download “Tomorrow” right now and crack a beer to drink with your friends.