Crikey. Are we going to mention the weather in our intro this week? Damn skippy we are! It’s been the kind of May that makes you wonder why March hasn’t ended in our region, but that’s not stopping our regional beer scene from plowing forward towards the summer season that we’re sure will arrive for a couple of days, maybe by late August. We’ve got yet another new brewery opening, plenty of new releases and re-releases, and a bunch of lovely-sounding beer-related events to tell you about. So bundle up, strap in, grab a beer, and get reading!
After months of anticipation, Bannerman Brewing in downtown St. John’s opened last weekend. Located at 90 Duckworth Street, the brewery and taproom are located in a former fire station, constructed after the Great Fire of 1892. Named after nearby Bannerman Park, the brewery features a 15 BBL (1750 litre) brewhouse from DME Brewing, and a bright and inviting taproom. They have launched with six beer offerings: a Lager, Saison, Fruited Sour, Pale Ale, IPA, and Double IPA, and have several more waiting in the wings. In addition to beer, their kitchen is open and keeping visitors’ bellies full as well. The concentration is on snacks and street food with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options; tacos available three ways (cod, brisket or veggie), banh mi sandwich, cauliflower steaks, and thai lettuce cups. The taproom is open daily (except Tuesday), Mon, Wed, and Thurs 4 – 11, Fri 3 – 12, Sat 12 – 12, Sun 12 – 11 (with extended hours 12 – 11 Victoria Day Monday). Pop in for a pint and a feed, and leave with a growler of your favourite(s)! Congratulations to the entire Bannerman Family.
Moving from one island to another, we’re happy to announce that Red Island Cider in Charlottetown is opening their doors today. Their fermentory and taproom at 101 Longworth Avenue opens today 2 – 8 PM. They will have three ciders available to visitors: Father Walker’s (a traditional dry cider), The Devonport (hopped cider), and the first of their revolving seasonal Ghost Ship series, a dry semi-sweet cider. With live music from 6:30 PM, and food provided in the taproom from next door’s bar.1911, this will be the place to go this afternoon. They are also open tomorrow 2 – 8 PM, and open Wed to Sat with the same hours. Congratulations!
Let’s skip back to Newfoundland for another new release taking flight in Mount Pearl. We teased it a bit last week, but now have the full details. Teaming up with the nearby Admiralty Museum and their new “Field to Flight” exhibition, the folks at Landwash Brewery have released Field to Flight Pale Ale. Using malted Wheat and Barley from PEI’s Shoreline Malting, and East Kent Golding from England, this is truly a Transatlantic beer. The 5.5% ABV beer features a herbal and spicy hop profile on top of the bread and biscuit malt, and fruity kick from their house yeast. Available at the brewery now for pints and flights and in growlers and cans to go.
If you happen to be near Port Rexton Brewing this weekend, there’s a special, draught-only beer currently pouring that we think you’ll want to try! Do you remember Nor’easter? Released in bottles in late December of 2017, this beer was a Porter that was brewed and aged in two red wine barrels, along with 30 lbs (each barrel) of fresh, local partridgeberries. The first barrel was bottled, while the second barrel spent an additional 16+ months aging… and that’s what you can taste if you get to the taproom right now! This Nor’easter is exhibiting as “beautifully-balanced red wine meets medium-dark chocolate in the aroma and on the palate”. Still showing some tartness from the partridgeberry addition, it has a medium body and weighs in at 7.4% ABV. No growler fills of this one, so bring your drinking boots!
Two South Shore Nova Scotia breweries, namely Shelburne’s Boxing Rock and Mahone Bay’s Saltbox Brewing Company, have teamed up on a new collaboration IPA they’re calling Swing Thru. With aromas of lemon, apricot, peach and even a bit of coconut, and flavors of pine resin, lemon zest, and grapefruit, this 6.3% ABV beer was quadruple dry-hopped to maximize those aromas and flavors. With an amber-bronze color, it’s slightly hazy and the finish might remind you a little bit of lemon candy. Currently only available at Boxing Rock and Saltbox, fear not, social media is showing a label, so you might reasonably expect it to have been packaged and possibly making its way to other places (like the BR Bottle Shop at Local Source Market in Halifax).
Never a brewery to rest simply because they’re coming down from NSCBW, Big Spruce has two new releases for this week, as well as a returning favourite. The first newbie is Viva la Mandarina, a 7.4% ABV hazy IPA. Intensely-hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra (who doesn’t love those three hops?), the beer also had an addition of organic (natch!) Mandarin orange juice. Super tropical, as you probably expected, with “notes of sun-ripe pineapple, passion fruit, guava, and light pine”, and orange, cantaloupe and clementine on the nose. Finishing with a “long, tangerine peel bitterness”, it’s available only on tap . The second brew is on the opposite side of the spectrum; Duplicitous is a dark Saison that was hopped with Magnum and Tettnang, and then aged in three Marechal Foch barrels for 8 months, along with sun-dried Bing cherries and fresh sweet cherries. Weighing in at 6.8% ABV, there’s barrel character in the aroma, with “notes of Spanish sherry and fresh cherry pie on the palate”. Some earthiness from the hop additions to complement, this one is available in kegs only as well. Finally, Death Cookies NEIPA is back, but only a limited number of kegs will be pouring, so grab it while ya can! And if you’re looking for another excuse to head to the brewery this weekend, this week they kicked off their Food Truck being open for the season, which is open Wed-Sun, 11:30 – 7 PM.
Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing Company and Everwood Avenue Brewshop have teamed up on a collaboration beer in a style rarely (if ever) seen in these parts. Would you believe that there’s a German-inspired beer from Brazil? Thanks to a strong German influence dating back to colonial times, brewers took the sour, refreshing nature of Berliner Weisse and married it to the beautiful fresh fruit growing in abundance all around them. This keeps with the tradition of adding fruit syrups to Berliner Weisse, but in a more immediate way. Moderately sour, fully-attenuated, and with little to no grain or hop character, the goal of Catharina Sour is a fruity and refreshing drink for hot weather. The team stayed true to the style, using Passion Fruit and Mango, yielding a fairly light 5% ABV beer they’re calling El Fuego with a tart character and plenty of fruit aromatics and flavor. The official release date is May 22nd, when Everwood will be on hand at the New Scotland taproom for their first Customer Appreciation Night, but you’ll find it already on tap there now and soon at Battery Park.
Most (all?) Canadian breweries involved in the annual Red Racer Across the Nation Collaboration 12-pack (featuring a collaboration beer from one brewery from each province/territory brewed at Central City Brewing in B.C.) end up coming home to brew the same beer on their own system (aside: and the winner of worst sentence ever goes to…). Luckily for residents of Nova Scotia, Tatamagouche Brewing – representative of NS of this year’s collaboration pack – is no exception! Ocean’s Playground is a Belgian Tripel brewed with Belgian Pilsner malt, along with a bit of wheat and dextrose. Hopped with Styrian Goldings and Saaz to 30 IBUs, and dry-hopped with a bit more Saaz, it was fermented with Escarpment Lab’s Ardennes strain. It’s kegs only for this 8.2% ABV release, and it’s already going fast! You should be able to find it on tap at Tata, and at a few select accounts (we should also mention that half of the batch is currently aging in barrels, along with some interesting cultures!). The Red Racer version – which won a Bronze medal at this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards – will likely be hitting liquor stores in the Atlantic provinces soon, so you should be able to grab cans at that point. When you do, you’ll be also able to enjoy the collabs done with Grimross, Copper Bottom, and Port Rexton.
Fredericton’s Grimross Brewing has just released High Water Helles, a German Helles that you may remember as originally being released under the moniker Scratch #15: German Helles last November. Losing the “Scratch” in the name means that this one will be available on a larger scale, but it’s still keeping the qualities of the initial beer, with a few slight tweaks to the recipe. Originally designed in collaboration with Darlings Island Farm, this golden-coloured, medium-bodied beer was brewed with German Pilsner malt, hopped with Santium, and fermented with the brewery’s house Lager yeast. Dry-hopped with more Santium, the beer was lagered for about six weeks before packaging. The final beer is clean and refreshing, “with a moderate amount of herbal, grassy hop character, along with a touch of lemon citrus notes”. Coming in at 5.1% ABV and 21 IBUs, you can grab it on tap and in cans at the Grimross taproom right now, with cans hitting ANBL stores sometime next week.
Halifax’s Good Robot has a couple of returning beers and a brand new in the offing this week. First up, for those who missed them in their brief absence, both Creature Feature I, their hoppy and juicy biotransformation IPA and El Espinazo del Diablo, their Mexican Lager with jalepeño and lime are both back in full effect. Coming up soon is a new beer made in collaboration with Aquakultre to celebrate the release of the album HOLOS with Ghettosocks (Aquakultre + Ghettosocks = Aquasocks) and to help fundraise for Aquakultre’s own debut album, Legacy, coming next year. We’ll have an album release party to tell you about in the near future where you can try the beer and check out the album, but for now we’ve been advised to let you know that Legacy Lager is a Pilsner and you’ll be tasting pineapple. Lastly, for those following the trials and tribulations of the GR Sabco system, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s back up and running and Kelly will be getting the BetaBrew program back on the road Real Soon Now™.
Good news for you Tidehouse fans, as they’re finishing up their expansion to a 5 hL system and will finally be able to start kegging more beers for bars and restaurants in the HRM. You can still drink in their tiny little taproom, of course (in fact, we/they encourage it!), but if you can’t make it there, rest assured that you’ll soon be able to find your TH favourites at other locations. Also as a result of this expansion, they plan on having regular stock of 650 mL bottles of their Hibiscus City (Gose w/ lime zest and hibiscus) available. But not just at the brewery! You can now find bottles at Bishop’s Cellar and Liquid Assets, making it even easier to take home (or travel with) a TH brew.
Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewery is throwing their hat in the very large NEIPA ring with their first official stab at the style, Vermont is for Lovers. Definitely dangling at the upper end of the ABV range at 8% ABV, the wort was hopped with Mosaic and Citra, and then double-dry-hopped with more of the same, giving a whole whack of citrus flavours and aromas, with a moderate bitterness in the finish (IBUs coming in somewhere south of 40). You can grab it right now at the brewery for pints and growler fills, and it will be available in cans sometime next week.
So, what’s on the go this weekend (and beyond)? Let’s get you up to date right now!
This is certainly the weekend of the Beer Gardens, as the weather has turned positive (and sometimes even breaking into double digits!) and we can’t stay cooped up drinking all year long! Opening for their first year of operation is Euston Park Social, located at 5 Euston Street in Moncton. Featuring the now-popular shipping-container-converted-to-bar setup, they are pouring a dozen beer, cider and kombucha options from across the province, and pairing with a small menu of paired food options. Open Mon – Fri 11 AM – midnight, Sat and Sun 10 AM – midnight, with a brunch menu until 4 PM on the weekend. And be sure to pop by on May 24th for the official Grand Opening celebration.
Also opening in the area is Buddha Bear’s Riverview bar, on the edge of the Petitcodiac River at 391 Coverdale Road. With a dozen beers, including a rotating selection of their own Holy Whale as well as other New Brunswick bevvies, there’s something for everyone. They are opening at 4 PM this afternoon, going until 9 PM. Saturday and Sunday they will be open 2 – 5 PM, and Monday 1 – 5 PM. As with all of the Beer Gardens we’re mentioning today, openings are weather-dependent, so check the skies before you head down.
In Halifax, this weekend also marks the opening of the Stillwell Beer Garden at 5688 Spring Garden Rd. Opening later this weekend (we’re not not exactly sure when so keep an eye on social media and the SBG link above which is updated when they are), they’ll be pouring their favourite stellar selection of beers from across the region (and beyond) on tap and in cans. The food options in the BG has changed this year, with Beverley Taco Service taking over the helm. If you’ve wondered what those cryptic flyers and call-in number were for, now ya know! Freshly-made tortillas, made with heirloom corn that they’ve milled themselves, and a rotating fun and funky list of toppings will make these hand-held-heros the perfect pairing to your sunny afternoon/evening pint.
And finally, hop across the ferry to Battery Park, who opened their backyard patio yesterday, and hopes to have it open all weekend long (rain, rain, go away, come back… in October). With long picnic tables and a mini container with a selection of beer, wine, and cider pouring, a little green respite in downtown Dartmouth is just what the doctor ordered to get over your S.A.D.
We mentioned in our post at the beginning of NSCBW that Meander River is having a big 5th Anniversary Party, but we thought it prudent to remind you that it’s tomorrow, Saturday, May 18th, starting at 11 AM, at the brewery out in Ashdale, NS. Those who visited the Meander Farm Brewery table at the Full House event last weekend got a sneak peek of two products that will be featured at the party, namely Little Big Lager, a “big brewery-style” light lager at 4.2% ABV and the return of Honey’d the small-batch cider at 5.5% ABV that folks can’t seem to get enough of. Both have been packaged in bottles, meaning you’ll also be able to take some to go!
If you live in/near Dieppe and like beer and food (who doesn’t!), there’s going to be a Flying Boats Beer Tasting & Food Pairing next Thursday, May 23rd, at the Oval Lounge in the Hotel Wingate Dieppe. Featuring four different Flying Boats beers, each paired with a different course, head brewer/owner Marc Melanson will be on hand to discuss beer styles, ingredients, etc. Tickets are $35 each; call 506-830-8330 to reserve yours.
Do you like beer? How about Square Dancing? If the answer to both (or either, really) of those is, “yes,” and you’re going to be in the general environs of Mabou, NS, next weekend, consider popping in to the Brook Village Square Dance & Beer Fest hosted by Brook Village Grocery and going down at the Brook Village Hall (in Brook Village!) on Saturday, May 25th, from 6:30 – 9:30 PM. Tickets are $30 plus taxes and are available through EventBrite. There will be lots of music, plenty of dancing, and craft beer and cider from all over Nova Scotia (and a few from PEI)!
Next week marks the beginning of the 14th Annual Atlantic Beer Festival in Moncton, with three separate sessions being held between Friday and Saturday, May 24th-25th. This year’s event will feature more than 70 breweries, with over 175 different types of beer and cider pouring. There will also be live music, as well as several options for food. Tickets are still available for all sessions – Friday 7:30 – 10 PM, Saturday 2:30 – 5 PM and 7:30 – 10 PM – for $59.50 each; check out the event link to purchase yours.
Big Spruce continues their recent trend of beer events in the city, this time partnering up with 2 Doors Down Bar + Bites for a dinner event on Thursday, May 30th at 6:30 PM. Entitled “Bitter v. Bitter” it will feature four unique dishes from Chef Melwyn Chettiar that he has designed to pair with the bitter components of each of four Big Spruce beers selected by Big Spruce head honcho Jeremy White. Chef Chettiar is no stranger to pairing beer and food, having served up at the Eat Drink Halifax event on a couple of occasions, so you can expect well considered pairings. In addition to the 4oz pours of beer accompanying the food, there will also be three cocktails served, beginning with a welcome “Kitchen Party” cocktail as you come in the door and continuing over the evening with two more of 2DD’s Craft Beer cocktails (featuring Big Spruce beer, of course). Steven Heisler, head bartender for the Chives/2DD restaurant group and a beer sommelier, will be the host, Jeremy will be in attendance to providing insight into the beers, and Chef/Proprietor Craig Flinn is also expected to make an appearance. Tickets are $75 per person (includes gratuity) and with 2DDBB being a pretty small space, you’ll want to move quickly as there’s not a lot of them. This would be a great event for a craft beer lover who’s interested in cocktail culture, a cocktail fan who’s curious about craft beer, or someone who just loves good food and drink. Call 902.448.1898 to reserve your spot.
We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t have a couple more quick things for you to read down here at the end of the post:
The hirsute hop-harping hooligans of 902BrewCast have another episode up this week, their May Tasting Episode. Tune in via your favorite podcast player to hear them wax poetic about various and sundry, including their consensus picks for handsomest ACBeerBlog writer (hint: it’s not who you think) and Most Glorious 902BrewCast beard (hint: it’s totally who you think).
Our favourite brewery in Hanwell, New Brunswick, has brought back a bright refreshing favourite for the “warmer” days we’re experiencing. Niche Brewing’s Margarita Gose is a 3.5% ABV kettle sour with lots of wheat in the grist, and no hops to distract, allowing the souring process and other ingredients take centre stage. Those other ingredients, btw, are light additions of salt and coriander to keep the beer true to the Gose style, and then kicked up with a round of conditioning on fresh lime zest (work those forearms, boys!). This zingy sipper is available around Fredericton, Moncton, and Saint John, and will pop up in Halifax (including during the Battle of the Breweries Battle at HopYard Halifax next Thursday, May 23rd, when they take on Big Spruce and Roof Hound Brewing).