Happy May Long Weekend, beer pals! While not every brewery can be open and welcoming folks in their taprooms and patios, we do hope you’re able to support them with curbside and delivery purchases. In Nova Scotia, many restaurants and bars are struggling due to being quick to follow government regulations and closing in-person service for everyone’s safety, but inaction and lack of support from the Province could see them suffering permanent losses. Be sure to check in to see if your favorite spot is offering ordering and delivery or curbside pickup and try to support them however you can; it could make the difference between them reopening when this mess is all over and, well, not.
And more universally, there has been a reckoning of late, bringing to the forefront shocking events of harassment and assault directed toward women, non-binary folks, people of colour, and others under-represented in the beer business. Those in positions of power, whether they be brewery owners or management, festival organizers, or patrons in bars, breweries, or at festivals, have been the beneficiaries of a “code of silence,” but we say with some hope that it appears that silence is starting to break thanks to a myriad of people stepping forward to report, support, and amplify. We believe when people tell us what they have experienced, and we support them. We believe that all businesses and organizations in this industry should have guidelines on conduct and safety posted in their establishment and online, so that all can feel safe and free from reprisal in reporting any of these acts. And now is the time for those in the beer (and wider) world to speak out about this topic and take action if witnessing any harassment. We believe that these actions will improve Beer for everyone, allowing more to feel welcome and bring their passion to the industry.
Let’s start the news with a one-two punch of new and returning breweries in the Antigonish area. After closing in early 2020 to complete major renovations in their brewery and taproom, Half Cocked Brewing in North Grant has opened their doors once again. Located 7 minutes north of downtown, Half Cocked is located in a former chicken farm building on Highway 245. Expanding their brewing capacity from 50 litres to 1200, they have fully stocked their fridge, ready for their thirsty fans. They have eight beers currently available for draught sales via growler purchase (either bring your own clean glassware, or you can purchase one of theirs): returning favourites are Pete’s Sake Blonde (4.7%), Darkest One American Stout (6.0%), XPA American Pale Ale (6.0%), and Cock of the Walk Black IPA (6.5%). And debuting this week are Sunrise Session Ale, a 4.4% crushable lawn mower beer; White Whale Pale Ale, at 6.6%, floral, punchy, and dry; Haze Fatigue IPA, a 7.7% bitter and brite IPA with a citrus finish; Wait For It Double IPA, 8.3% well worth the wait! Half Cocked’s retail spot is open 4 – 7 PM from Wednesday – Friday and 12 – 7 PM Saturday and Sunday. When restrictions are lifted, you’ll be able to sit inside or out on their massively expanded taproom and patio, with some special pop-ups and events planned, as well as enjoy pints at the local beer hotspots, including the Townhouse, so keep your eyes peeled here and on their Social Media (Fb/Ig/Tw)! Congratulations to Greg, Matt, and the whole Half Cocked Crew!
Back in the heart of town, Candid Brewing is not quite ready to open their retail location, but they *are* ready to get some beer in your hands! Located at 88 College Street in downtown Antigonish, they are doing a Pop Up today 3 – 6 PM, and again tomorrow 1 – 4 PM, slinging two canned beers curbside. First up is Humdinger a 6.7% West Coast IPA, featuring bold citrus and pine flavour with a full body that balances the bitterness. It is the first of Candid’s five core beers available in the coming weeks. Also available is a collaboration with their pals at Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza, Skeptical Vibes. This 4.9% red lager was cold conditioned before receiving a generous dry-hopping with New Zealand’s Motueka, for a bright citrus nose on a crisp and dry base. Available in cans at both participating breweries, as well as online for delivery and shipping from the Big Spruce store. We’ve heard tell of lots more from Candid, and we’ll be sure to share when we can! Their space will feature a large taproom with plenty of room for bubble distancing and events galore. Those in the area should sign up for their Membership to get early access to the news and releases, plus some slick deals when the taproom and retail are open full-time. Congratulations Bryan and team!
Off to Mount Pearl for another new release, this one from Landwash Brewery. Their first bottle-conditioned beer, Saison Da Pearl is reminiscent of when Brewster Christina Coady was heading up the program at Toronto’s Folly Brewing, where Farmhouse beers were the focus. Now they’re bringing that to Da Pearl! The focus is on the yeast, with the pale malt and muted hops taking the backseat, giving rise to notes of pepper, spice, and even a touch of vanilla, thanks to a warm fermentation allowing the yeast to express itself. That yeast also plays double-duty, after finishing the beer fermentation, a dose of sugar just before bottling brings it back to life, and has the yeast naturally carbonating the packaged Saison. Closing your eyes, you may even be transported to a Wallounian farm after a hard day’s work! This 7.0% 500 mL bottle is available exclusively at the brewery’s retail location (for now, it may be available elsewhere if there’s any left in June).
O’Creek Brewing may be most known for their super hazy, super hoppy IPAs (and with good reason!), but sometimes they like to branch out a bit and play with other beer styles. One beer in particular was brewed back in March, and is finally hitting taps any day now. The beer is Doppelbock, and we’re betting you can probably guess the style! That’s right, this one is a Doppelbock, a high alcohol, dark brown, malty Lager that originated in Germany many years ago. O’Creek’s version was brewed with lots of Munich malt as the base, along with Pils, and Carapils, CaraMunich and Chocolate malt thrown in for colour and character. Hopped with Saaz and East Kent Goldings, it was fermented low and slow with Isar Lager yeast from Escarpment Labs, and allowed to lager for weeks longer. Coming in at 7.6% ABV, it’s sweet and malty, with “hints of dark fruits and light toast”, with very low bitterness. It’s currently on deck at CAVOK and The Joyce, so keep your eyes peeled for when it goes on tap!
Wait wait, don’t worry hopheads, O’Creek has you covered as well! Their latest hop bomb is Elevated, a 7.6% ABV DIPA that is bright, hazy, and flavourful. Hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Idaho 7, Mosaic, and Centennial, it’s smelling and tasting exactly as you probably expect – tropical and citrusy, with notes of mango and passion fruit. First kegs of that one will be popping up at The Joyce, Euston Park, and Au Bootlegger (if it’s not on tap already).
Camping season is fast-approaching/here – YMMV! – and Boomstick Brewing has thus been inspired to brew a beer that they feel pairs perfectly with the great outdoors: a Session IPA named Gravel Pit. An easy-drinking-yet-flavourful beer hopped with a large amount of Galaxy, it’s got tropical fruit aromas abound, and at just 4.8% ABV, is a great brew to enjoy during or after a hike, campfire, etc. It’s available right now at the brewery’s West St. location in Corner Brook on tap and in cans, and should already be on NLC shelves by now as well.
Out Port Rexton Brewing way, they have teamed up with Toporama Prints in nearby English Harbour for a beer and art collaboration. An artist-run screen printing and design shop, Toporama has designed a unique piece that melds perfectly with beer, and limited prints of it will be available in posters, t-shirts, and on glassware, as well as adorning cans of a new beer release. Although we don’t know what it’s called yet, coming out today at noon is a 5.3% combo of sour ale and New England IPA, featuring a blast of mango and peach, and everything tropical, with a moderate acidity and light bitterness. A limited run, it’s available exclusively from their taproom in Port Rexton this weekend (maybe elsewhere in the off chance it’s not all gone!). We think planning a visit out is a super-great idea, as Toporama will be setting up their screen printing gear Sunday afternoon and creating tote bags right in the taproom!
After a super-successful launch earlier in the month, Saint Andrews Brewing is back with another new release this weekend, in celebration of Paddlefest 2021. That’s a Paddlin’ is a kölsch-style lagered ale that has been allow to cellar condition for 3 months, allowing the iconic yeast to do its thing and bring together notes of both lager and ale, on a German Pilsner base with plenty of Czech Saaz to balance. Cracker malt character with some spicy hoppiness, all in a spritzy package. It joins Wharfbound Hazy Pale Ale and Herringbone Pub Ale at the Red Herring Pub, where all three will be pouring this weekend. As with all SABC releases, these are quite small, so be sure to show up early (and often) to avoid disappointment!
Heading north up the Acadian Peninsula, four breweries in North-Eastern New Brunswick have collaborated with their own local mountain biking club. Brewed at host Distillerie Fils du Roy, brewers from Brasseux d’la Cote, Microbrasserie Houblon-Pêcheur, and Brasserie Retro Brewing were brought together by Mountain Bike Atlantic and local bike clubs. Sirène is the brewery’s take on a Vienna Lager, which they are calling a Vienna Acadienne in a nod to the local barley used to make the beer. Sirène is technically a SMaSH beer as it showcases 100% Vienna malt and Saaz hops. The malt comes from the Fils du Roy maltery in Petit-Paquetville and uses barley grown exclusively on the Acadian Peninsula (hence the Vienna Acadienne). The malt lends a copper red colour and a rich malt character, with notes of caramel, that are complemented by a medium hop bitterness that comes in at 20 IBU. With an ABV of 4.5%, Sirène is plenty sessionable to enjoy after a nice mountain bike ride. The beer is named after the collaborating bike club, Sirènes en Cavale, a women’s mountain biking club on the Acadian Peninsula. Cans are available now through the collaborating breweries and look out for more releases in the series in the coming weeks.
Continuing the beer and biking collaborations theme is Sussex Ale Works in Southeastern New Brunswick, who teamed up with the neighbours at The Outdoor Elements to brew a beer fit for enjoying after (or while) hitting the local trails. LBS Kölsch is clean and refreshing lagered ale that comes in just shy of 5% ABV. The name is a nod to Local Bike Shop, and Outdoor Elements can’t get much more local as it shares a building with Sussex Ale Works. LBS Kölsch is available this weekend at the taproom on Main Street.
And would you believe we’re not yet done with the brewery and cycling connections in New Brunswick? In Fredericton, Grimross Brewing is releasing Monkey Business, a Session IPA brewed in collaboration with River Valley Cycling, Mountain Bike Atlantic, and NB Brews. Named after a well-known mountain bike trail in the city (well-known to mountain bikers, anyway!), it’s a light and sessionable 4.5% ABV brew, built on a grist of pale malt and rolled oats, with low bitterness (6 IBU) and plenty of hop aroma (Vic Secret, Mosaic, and Idaho 7), designed to be the perfect cap to a hard session on the trails; but best be sure you’re finished your ride, as it’s likely that the first one will quickly lead to another. If this sounds on-brand for you, you’d best get on your (chromoly) horse, as this is a summer seasonal and once it’s gone, it’s gone!
In other news out of Grimross, they’ve got another new small batch from their Scratch Series hitting the taps today, and it’s a special one for the brewery. It would seem that some extra microbiology has been going on within the walls at the brewery, as they’ve managed to discover a yeast strain unique to their premises. And what’s a brewery going to do when they discover a new yeast in their brewery? They’re going to brew with it, dammit!! SMaSH House is a single-malt and single-hop (well, sorta) beer using pale malt from Shoreline Malting and the Grimross Hop Blend from Island Hop Company. Fermented with the aforementioned yeast (name and trademark to be determined, no doubt 😉 ), it has a subtle malt presence and notes of citrus and spice all leading to a crisp finish; perfect for all things summer. Check it out at the brewery today when you’re stocking up for the long weekend.
Edmundston’s Brasseurs du Petit-Sault has a new release in their Epic Series this week, chock full of bright and vibrant fruit. Simply named Ale aux Fraises et aux Framboises, the most learned among us recognize that it features strawberry and raspberry on a smooth and velvety, yet slightly tart base. Cans of the 5.2% beer are available at the Brewtique now, with growler fills next week.
Back in Halifax, Unfiltered Brewing is doing their best to lift the lockdown blues for thirsty beer drinkers, courtesy of a brand new release! Positively Shocking is a new SMaSH DIPA featuring Idaho 7 hops, that follows the same technique of Greg Nash’s other beloved SMaSH DIPAs. Look for piney and tropical notes from the hops with a pithy and bitter finish. Cans and fills of the 7.5% DIPA are available today on North Street.
New Brew from Baccalieu! Hitting their shelf in Bay Roberts today is Hot Spot, a 5.5% Tropical Smoothie Sour, absolutely chock-full of dragonfruit, passion fruit, and pineapple on a tart base. And kicking it up to the next level is a generous dry-hop of citrus darling Mandarina Bavaria. Cans are available today and all weekend at 1 Conception Bay Highway in Bay Roberts, keep your eyes peeled at the better beer retail spots across the Island to snag yours later.
Inception, Trailway’s ode to the Falconer’s Flight hop blend, is making its return this weekend, this time as a 6.5% DDH IPA. Look for lemon-lime citrus notes, subtle notes of pine and a punch of dank hop character. Cans are available now at the taproom and through Trailway’s online store.
A few weeks ago we teased a new Belgian Saison from Lone Oak Brewing Co. Lupin comes in at 6.5% and features classic Belgian notes of bubblegum, clove and spice. It is now available in bottles at the taproom in Borden Carleton and for island-wide delivery.
And in another “reminder of a previous beer”, the 2 Crows Czech Pilsner, Letná, has been released to the masses this week. Available at the brewery in cans for retail, curbside, and delivery now, it is also available at Bishop’s Cellar for the same treatment. Joining the 355 mL can is a branded 500 mL mug, tall enough to be able to give it a proper pour with a couple of inches of tight foam to protect the liquid’s refreshing carbonation. Delivery and curbside pre-ordering is the way to go for this and other 2C orders, given the current restrictions.
Spryfield’s latest addition, Serpent Brewing, has a new beer and a virtual event on the go this long weekend. First up is the beer: Days End is a top-fermented, cold conditioned beer in the style and spirit of the city of Köln in Germany (such beers produced there are properly called Kölsch, of course). A perfect beer to cap a long day of work or to sip on a warm summer patio, it comes in at 4.6% and, we’re sure, has a slightly grainy malt backbone, with a slight fruity presence and a balancing bitterness. They’ll be celebrating the release of this one with a Virtual Tasting Event via Facebook Live tomorrow evening at 7 PM (time subject to change, so keep an eye on that event page). Growler fills and crowlers of this one are available, but bottles are still listed as “coming soon.” So make some plans to grab some Days End and/or some of the other Serpent offerings, and plan to hunker down tomorrow evening to share it virtually with other like-minded folks while learning a little from the team about the beers and how they’re made.
Spring is in the air in Newfoundland. And at the Northern tip of the island, at the end of Highway 430, you’ll find Saint Anthony, home of RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company. While they’ve been churning out the great beer non-stop since their opening in 2019, they did pause the taproom for the winter to re-configure and add a canning line to the mix. Well, with this unofficially official start to summer, they are looking to welcome folks back in the taproom starting Thursday, May 27. Open Thursday through Saturday from 5 PM til 11 PM (10 PM Thursday), they’ll be pouring a half dozen beers from the taps, plus have a great selection of beers to takeaway in cans. With a summer perfect for domestic/close to home travel, this is the time to get out and see *all* of your home province, so be sure to make all the way North! Located at 223-227 West Street, pop in while exploring L’Anse-Aux-Meadows or Grenfell Museum.
And rounding out the news this week is Mirimachi’s New Maritime Beer Company, who are releasing a brand new beer inspired both by a trip to Mount Everest Basecamp by two of the brewery’s owners as well as their experience navigating the difficult waters as a new brewery during this past year’s pandemic craziness. Three Little Birds is named after the Bob Marley song, and if you know it, you’re probably already singing softly to yourself that every little thing gonna be alright. Considered by the brewery to be a New Zealand Pale Ale, owning to the exclusive use of NZ hop varieties Rakau and Motueka, it features aromas and flavors of stone fruit and citrus zest along with some tropical vibes. At 5.5%, it’s pretty light and crushable, and perfect for a carefree summer afternoon on a patio somewhere. Get it now at the brewery, on tap for pints, or to go in growlers or crowlers.
Not a whole lot of events going on in the region, for obvious reasons, and we encourage you to stay home, stay cool, and drink some beer; meanwhile, if you’re an experienced brewer looking for a job in and you’re in the St. John’s area (or willing to go there), check this opportunity out:
Banished Brewing is the brainchild of the folks behind the newly opened and busy as heck Bar Brewdock, in St John’s East Duck area. Banished, however, will be found in a beautiful location in Paradise, and slated to open in 2022. Wanting to start things off running, they are looking to hire an experienced Head Brewer to join and lead the production team. Check out the job posting on their website, and drop them a line if you’re the right person for the job!