Here we are, nearly ten hours late for our usual posting time (sorry!) starting the second week of December. As we inch closer to the 12 Days of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you celebrate, we can all appreciate the community around beer and breweries and getting together with friends and family. While you may be tucking into your favourite style of Advent Calendars, there are plenty of new releases below and exciting beery things happening in our region.
We start out in Fredericton, New Brunswick, this week with Trailway Brewing who have a few updates for the masses. First up is Founder of the Feast, a brand new barrel aged barleywine. Aged in 28 year-old single malt barrels from Glenora Distillery, it brings a lot of complex flavours of malt, toffee and raisins. While it is 11.9%, it’s also very drinkable and smooth with the strong undertone of malt and barrel-derived oak flavours. Balanced with some Cascade and Magnum hops, this comes in at 74 IBU but presents as much less bitter. It is available in bottles in Fredericton and Saint John locations. We recommend trying this one at close to room temperature to get the most of the complex flavours. Next up is a new version of The Blend, their 5.3% Smoothie Sour, but this batch is a mixed berry flavour featuring blueberry, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry. Each can has about 200 grams of the berry blend, which still contains plenty of sugar, so make sure to keep them cold! Look for this in cans now at all Trailway locations. Last up from Trailway is a holiday event running until December 13th. The 12 Days of Giftmas is a special at both locations where every purchase you make enters you in a draw for dinner, an AirBNB night, gas cards and more.
Hopping up to Newfoundland, Quidi Vidi Brewery has an exciting collaboration with Food Culture Place founders and authors. Bog & Barrens is a sweet gale and cranberry porter. As a Newfoundland-inspired beer, the collaboration with Lori McCarthy and Marsha Tulk is meant to follow their whole ethos: reviving, rejoicing and reinventing Newfoundland food. Sweet Gale is a floral herb frequently used in soups and cooking, while the cranberries are also local. The beer is a 5.3%, drinkable, dark and sweet release that will be available at NLC locations and convenience stores around the island.
We head back to Nova Scotia where Garrison Brewing has some seasonal offerings making a return. First up is the welcomed return of Spruce Beer. This strong ale uses local spruce and fir tips from Meander River Farm along with blackstrap molasses from Crosby’s. This historic style is a malty, complex, full-bodied, and warm offering that is perfect for the season. Balanced out with Centennial hops, the clean bitterness and warming flavours come together in a 7.3% robust ale. This is the first time we’re getting this release in cans and will be available only at the two Garrison locations at the Seaport and The Oxford Taproom. Also available at both taprooms is the return of their holiday glassware. There are a few different variations with various quotes from Holiday movies. They’re $8 and also available online for shipping and delivery.
Staying in Halifax, and with OG breweries from the great craft beer expansion of 1997, Propeller is bringing us a brand new Cold IPA, Summit. This is a single hop IPA, with a cooler fermentation (hence the “cold IPA” designation) that is made to showcase the experimental HBC 586 hop. The hop variety itself is from Hop Breeding Company (a collaboration John I Haas and Yakima Chief Ranches). HBC 586 is recommended to be used as a whirlpool addition to bring big fruit flavours of mango, guava, lychee and citrus. This one ends up as a crisp, clean 6.1% and 65 IBU and it is available today in all Prop Shops, online for delivery, and at private HRM stores. It will hit select NSLC locations in the coming weeks.
From cold and crisp, to chocolatey and rich, HRM’s North Brewing has a sweet new treat for us this week. Black Forest Cake is a dessert stout in the brewery’s best effort to make a liquid cake. Starting out with a full-bodied stout using toasted oats for creaminess and dark malts for a rich flavour. It was then conditioned on 30kg of French brandy-steeped cherries from Noggins Farm and six pounds of cacao nibs from Rousseau Chocolatier. All together you get a 6% full stout that is very smooth, slightly fruity and great aromas of chocolate, berries and molasses. This is canned and available at all three North locations and online for delivery and shipping.
Sticking in Nova Scotia, Tanner Brewing continues to bring frequent releases of unique older styles, styles so unique and/or old that we, beer geeks that we are, haven’t even heard of them! Foch is a 7% harvest saison fermented on Marechal Foch grape skins from Grand Pré Winery. The grape skins bring flavours of dark berry and, along with their saison yeast, a bit of spice to match the 25 IBU bitterness. This one comes out in 500ml bottles directly from the brewery; make sure you check out their delivery schedule from Bridgewater up to Halifax.
Burnside Brewing has a very exclusive release out of their Antigonish location, Oak Manor. They’ve got a Dry-Hopped Cream Ale at 5% that brings some tropical flavours and aromas to the light, crushable, slightly malty cream ale style. Teaming up for the dry-hop party are Citra, Moteuka and Rakau, not hops you’d normally associate with a cream ale, but an excellent explanation for the citrus and tropical party going on. There is only one keg of this at Oak Manor, so try it while you can! And great news, pints are a-flowing at their Common location at The Hub shopping centre in Truro!
One of our favourite ongoing series and hidden gems has always been Annapolis Cider and their Something Different cider series.They have a new one on tap in Wolfville, with Something Different Pink Pamplemousse. Not only is it one of our favourite French words to say, but this cider with its pink colour and puckering flavour really highlights the grapefruit. This is a complex cider, using a blend of three liquids, a grapefruit forward hop ferment (that steeped on lavender flower for over a week), an arrested strawberry wine ferment (that was less than half fermented) and a bit of raspberry juice. All together this comes out as at 6.9% with notes of berry and lavender, that is slightly sour and tart. Try this on tap while you can! Further, as always, $0.50 from each Something Different growler fill goes directly to a charity and this one will support Chrysalis House, a safe and non-judgmental environment providing shelter and outreach services for women and children.
Staying in the ciderverse, we have the latest from Mauzy in Newfoundland. All For A Laugh is a “Maple Sap Piquette.” This release from the 2022 season uses a pomace mix of their Mt Scio and Southern Shore apples that was rehydrated with maple sap from the Burin Peninsula. The mixture was macerated for seven days and conditioned and aged for eight months with dolgo crabapple juice. This finished at a 4.3% ABV and 36 cases of 341ml bottles were produced. Check out their website for shipping and delivery.
You may be aware of the Christmas Tree that the province of Nova Scotia sends to the city of Boston every year as a symbol of thanks for the aid and kindness provided by Bostonians in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion in 1917, but you may not be aware of the beery collaboration going on between Harpoon Brewery and Big Spruce Brewing in a similar spirit. For a couple of years now, Big Spruce has released From Nova Scotia With Love around this time each year. This year they also welcomed BS alumnus Matt Wanamaker and his current brewery, The People’s Pint, from Greenfield MA, to take part. In contrast with some other year over year collaborations, rather than making the same beer every time, they have some fun and switch it up! This year the operative style is imperial stout, but with the riders “barrel aged” and “chocolate molé.” The barrel aging was courtesy of Glenora Distillery whiskey barrels, and the molé flavours were driven by Just Us! organic hot chocolate powder with chili spice in the kettle, and then some cayenne added during fermentation. Brewed using techniques to drive a big silky mouthfeel, the additional residual complex sugars will ideally make for a beer that ages well in the can. So maybe grab a few, some to enjoy now on a cold night in front of a warm fire, and a couple to sample over the coming months or even years.
If you’re not in the Annapolis Valley, Lazy Bear Brewing in Smith’s Cove, NS, might not be on your radar. They’re one of those breweries that have steadily focused on serving their local area and if some of their beer manages to escape to the big city, well, hopefully that’s a good thing for everyone. But if you’re in the HRM and are interested in trying some beers you might not have been able to get your hands on before, Lazy Bear is shipping to the city on December 13th. You can place your order online by noon on December 12th for pickup the next day between 4 and 5:15pm at the Windsor Street Sobeys. One of the beers you might be able to order is their latest, Colossal, a Belgian tripel; bottle conditioned and 9.4% ABV, best to make sure you’re not scheduled to operate any heavy machinery after drinking one!
Coming ‘round the horn of the southwestern portion of NS from the Valley to the South Shore, this week sees the re-release of a beer from the past out of Shelburne, NS, but also out of Truro, NS. In 2019 the last Boxing Rock Black Box Challenge on record (hint hint to Henry & Emily!) awarded the big prize to Hello Darkness, a Schwarzbier brewed by Truro brewer Jana Dellapinna, who has since gone on to great success, opening the recently expanded Truro Brewing Co. It’s that time of year when dark beers come out of the woodwork, so what better time for Boxing Rock to put out another batch of Hello Darkness? Dark malts, chocolate and spice on the nose, and a soft bitterness give way to a smooth mouthfeel followed by the characteristically dry finish you expect from a lager. Find this one at the source, no doubt Local Source at Windsor and Almon in Halifax, and, hopefully, wherever else you go for your BR fix. If you grab one, whilst you enjoy it you might speculate on whether we’ll see Brian Harvey’s Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire or Grafted or acbbaaron’s Oh Snap! make a return as well [Ed. note: please allow us a little bit of shameless self-promotion there along with another hint hint to Henry & Emily 😉 ]
We’ve got something beery for you on Agricola Street in Halifax this week, and then nearby in the West End as well:
Mark your calendars, beer nerds! Next Thursday December 14th, The Stillwell Freehouse will be pouring six different draft Lambics from Oud Beersel. As a part of this delicious event, they are hosting an official screening of the new lambic-loving 2023 documentary, Bottle Conditioned. The doc is an exploration into blenders, brewers, and the rise in popularity of the lambic style. You can call the Freehouse or send them a DM on IG to book a table in the back room for the 6pm showing of the movie!
Here are the 6 draft lambics they’ll be offering:
- Oude Lambiek
- Oude Lambic – 3 Year
- Rabarber Lambiek
- Earl Grey Lambic
Our friends at 2 Crows are getting very close to opening their second location. As we’ve noted before, it’s in the West End of Halifax on Oxford/Cork streets (next to On The Mat and the former location of 4Cats Art Studio); Yeah Yeah’s Pizza has moved from their Barrington Street location to join them. They will be open next week, as they aim to do a soft opening if all goes to plan, and we can share their opening tap list for next week as they were so kind to share. Featuring ten taps from 2 Crows, a Sourwood cider and a Goodmore Kombucha, 2 Crows Oxford (official name) has 12 taps to serve the people!
Here are the ten 2 Crows offerings:
- AC Light Lager
- Pollyanna – Northeast IPA
- Classic – Maritime Dry Stout
- Fantacity – Belgian Wheat
- Jamboree Strawberry & Guava – Sour
- Jamboree Blueberry & Lemon – Sour
- Perfect Revelation – New England IPA
- Home & Home – collaboration with Lone Oak – Hazy IPA w/ wine grapes
- Battery Power – Hazy IPA
- Letna – Bohemian Pilsner
Keep your eyes peeled on their social media and watch out for a soft opening and grand opening within the next week!
And a couple last items before we send you on your way for the weekend:
The Holiday releases continue up in Newfoundland, as we’ve got a few returning seasonals from a pair of Newfoundland breweries. First up is Rough Waters Brewing out of Deer Lake with Captain Gingersnap. This is a Gingerbread Milk Stout with that full bodied stout feeling, lactose added, and some additions of ginger, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. This is canned, 5.9% ABV, and available now!
Next up is a pair of Holiday IPAs from Baccalieu Trail Brewing out of Bay Roberts. While the beers themselves are not holiday themed recipes, they’ve had a makeover on the label designs for the season. First up is Mad Crowd, a hazy IPA packed with Citra, Mosaic and Cascade hops giving you a lot of juice in a highly drinkable 5.5% brew, and sporting a nice red label.
Next up is Loud Crowd, a double dry hopped double IPA (DDHDIPA for short?). Sporting a festive green label, this version features generous hopping and dry-hopping of BRU-1, Citra Spectrum and Galaxy hops. They said they’ve really pushed their equipment for maximum hop saturation and this clocks in at 7.5%. Both of these are available now directly from the brewery.
And for those of you visiting Halifax over the next few weeks, make sure to pop into Bishop’s Cellar, as they’ve had lots of beer-y treats pop onto their shelves from Bellwoods, Fairweather and Willibald. Over the next few weeks they’ll be getting in their usual imports from Chimay and Lindemans as well as Delirium Tremens mini-kegs, so keep an eye out as you stock up for your holiday wine and beer!