Another big week for beer releases, with more than a dozen from all four Atlantic provinces gracing our pages; it’s always nice when we can share a little bit of beer love for all of our readers. And remember, for our out-of-region folks, many breweries are still offering Canada-wide shipping, so don’t be shy about clicking through on brewery links to see what they’re offering! Now that we’ve exited the season of deep freezes (fingers crossed), breweries are more inclined to send beer out.
Let’s kick off the week with an overwhelming number of stouts hitting the taps in Downtown Dartmouth. New Scotland Brewing’s Brew Crew has been working overtime the last few months to put together a six-pack of new beers to celebrate “Darkside Days”. On tap tomorrow, you’ll see the return of McCoy’s Contraband, their 8.5% Foreign Export/Tropical Stout. Plenty of malt in here to enhance flavour and body, as was traditional to survive the long voyage from the UK to the Caribbean (just as pertinent now to survive the Halifax-Dartmouth crossings), think molasses and fruitcake, with a hint of sweetness too. While it is on tap now, you’ll be able to enjoy it in cans from the brewery in early April.
Joining McCoy’s are mixed-six of other stouts, in a wide array of flavour alcohol levels. Let’s start with Darkside Sunrise, a 5.2% stout brewed with whole bean coffee (of the “Breakfast Blend” variety), giving major coldbrew vibes with a hint of sweetness complementing the roast from the beans. Continuing the theme is Spread the News, a 5.5% Peanut Butter Stout, the perfect pairing to your morning toast and jam. Hints of dark fruit with a smooth head, and, of course, a nutty finish. It’s time for dessert with Darkside Forest Cake! A 5.5% chocolate cherry stout, blending the best of the base chocolatey stout with a bright fruit character from the cherry addition, it boasts a touch of sweetness and then finishes with tart cherries.
Continuing your day in this overwrought analogy, let’s gather ‘round the fire for the Gimme Gimme s’more stout. Notes of honey and graham cracker, plus marshmallow vibes, on top of the chocolate and dark fruit from the base beer and a slightly warming 6.5% ABV from this beauty. And finally, coming in from the fire and lounging around the sitting room, it’s time to enjoy a pair of boozier offerings. O Sailor is just 5.5% ABV, but features notes of spiced rum with a touch of vanilla, herbs and spices, plus some black currant too, although this is most apparent on the aroma, rather than any harshness on the palate. Rounding out the group is Anastasia Bluegrass, a Bourbon Wood-aged Russian Imperial Stout. Again shining through in the aroma with vanilla and whiskey being the prominent notes, but not overwhelming the hefty base Imperial Stout, this one is definitely a “sipper” at 9.5% ABV. All six of the brews will debut Saturday at open, and we do not expect them to last the whole weekend, so make trails to New Scotland to avoid disappointment!
St. John’s Bannerman Brewing has a new beer on tap, teasing us with the warmer weather that’s just around the corner (right??). Four-Way Tie is a 5.5% pale ale, dry-hopped with plenty of El Dorado for big notes of pineapple and citrus on the nose and tongue. The grain bill contains a fair amount of both malted and flaked Oats, giving the beer a full body and mouthfeel without significant residual sweetness. Find it, and everything here, on tap and to go in cans at their East Duck location, and coming to local beer stores soon.
Nearby in Paradise, Banished Brewing has a new release that’s all about that feeling at the end of a long workday… Clockin’ Out is a 5.2% Red Ale, perfect for grabbing as you get back home after a day in the mill or on the front lines of retail. Their top-requested style since they opened, they are delivering what the people have demanded! With a touch of roasted barley in the grist to complement the other specialty malts, the German and UK hops provide some light floral and herbal notes on the nose. As always, the cans feature great artwork by Paul George Hammond, with some familiar and new cartoon animals to keep you company as you drown your Sunday Scaries. Available now on Maverick Place, and at the usual retailer spots real soon!
Hey all you Fortunate Sons and Daughters, Look Out Your Back Door, and ask yourself, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” worse than last night? Well, Backstage Brewing in Stellarton is sure to cancel out any Bad Moon Rising, and make you feel like a Proud Mary (or Marty) with their latest release, the Creedence Coconut Revival IPA. This 5.9% ABV IPA features a bale-full of Azacca, Citra, and Mosaic, with a late addition of coconut right in the boil. Run Through the Jungle, drive through Cotton Fields, and head Down on the Corner to Backstage to grab this beer on tap and in growlers (Hey) Tonight.
Propeller Brewing has been embracing new styles, ingredients, and techniques since their inception in 1996, and their latest release embraces all three! Tundra is a 6.1% ABV Cold IPA, the newish style that was borne out of a bit of a rejection of the super-hazy presentation and full mouthfeel of NEIPA. Using a light grain bill, and fermenting cooler (but not at lager temp), the body is crisp and refreshing. Being an IPA, hops have to be the star of the show and they certainly are here, with the new HBC 1019 hop being used. Notes of Valencia oranges, candied peaches, and honeydew are first and foremost on the nose and palate.On tap and in cans at all Prop Shops now, this beer will also be at some of the private stores soon.
Lots of news from Brunswick Street’s 2 Crows Brewing this week. First up is a remix on the much-loved Jamboree fruited sour, with this version featuring mango, coconut, and vanilla. Starting from the same base of local Pils and wheat malts, in addition to flaked wheat and oats, the beer was first soured with Lacto Plantarum, and then fermented with Escarpment’s Ebbegarden Kveik yeast strain. Post-ferm, a load of mango purée (to the tune of 100 grams per litre!), toasted coconut, and whole vanilla beans were added while it finished conditioning and carbonating. The result is tart, fruity, tropical, and ready for you today! In cans and on tap now, and will be on their slushie machine tomorrow for the full fruit smoothie experience! Sandos will be popping up at noon, with live music in the brewery space starting at 7 PM. More info here.
And in a whole new line for the Dual Corvids is SANS, a line of non-alcoholic beers. They’re dialling in their no-ABV process with two releases this week: the first is Raspberry Sour, which leverages their souring and fruiting experience while producing Jamboree, but on a non-alcoholic base. Lots of raspberry in the glass, for a jammy and tart bevvy. Also now gracing the shelves is Hoppy, a light, fresh, and tropical IPA-kinda non-beer, with lots of Galaxy hops added late in the process to shine through. These are both small test batches, available on tap only, so be sure to pop by soon to test them out and report back to 2 Crows on what you think!
Rough Waters Brewing in Deer Lake has a new beer, named in honour of their Red Heeler Ella, who of course graces the beer’s label. Rascal is a 7.8% Double IPA, packed to the brim with Eclipse and Lotus hops, lending major citrus and pine to the flavour and aroma. Cans are available on the West coast, as well as at their regular distro spots on the Avalon, so head out on an adventure to grab them!
Cornwall, PEI’s Village Green has a new beer on tap this weekend for pints and growler fills, in the perfect “I can drink a couple, yet it has plenty of flavour” category. Polite Pale is a 4.8% pale ale brewed with a blend of English, German, and American hops for a truly complex aroma and flavour. Added to that was a warm ferment of English yeast to express some fruity esters on the nose as well. Pop by tomorrow evening at 7 PM, and you can even try your hand at The Simpsons trivia!
Tusket Falls Brewing has a new beer on tap and in cans this week, available at both their brewery in Tusket and their Halifax Beer Project spot on Gottingen. Differently Wired is a 6.5% Raspberry Sour, fermented using their house sour blend of bacteria, before a hefty dose of Citra and Amarillo was added to complement the vanilla beans, lactose, and the eponymous fruit brought this beauty to fruition (ha!). It features a smooth mouthfeel with a bit of sweetness to balance the acidity from the bacteria and fruit. Head out and grab some today!
Another fruited sour is out in the wild this week, albeit 1,500 km from Tusket, Nova Scotia… Baccalieu Trail Brewing in Bay Roberts, NL is embracing the American Southwest with the release of Cactus Crush. Using Prickly Pear puree, you can enjoy all the flavour of that fruit, without having to pull small needles out of your lips (ask us how we know!). The fruit imparts a lovely pink hue to the beer, and shines through flavour-wise with notes of kiwi, melon, and watermelon, all in a tidy 4.2% ABV package. Available on tap at the brewery now, with cans to go as well at NLC, Urban Market, and Maries in St. John’s today!
Not to be outdone by Backstage and 2 Crows, North Brewing also has a beer this week that features coconut (seems to us some brewers may have been visiting, or at least dreaming of, warmer climes over March break). But there’s more to it than that! Member of the North brewteam Alex Wong was inspired during a trip to Singapore to make Shiok Cream Ale, a cream ale made with coconut and pandan. Pronounced “she-oak” the term is slang for “very tasty” or “delicious” which is what Alex hopes you’ll say about this beer. A tribute to the Singaporean/Malaysian breakfast treat kaya, which is an egg-based custard spread that also features coconut and pandan, this beer aims to be a little sweet but still crushable. Look for a prominent coconut aroma which follows through to the palate along with lemon, nuttiness, and an earthy citrus. Somewhat hazy in appearance, with a slightly-creamy medium body, there’s a light acid balance and a higher-than-usual carbonation as well. This was a pilot batch so it’s limited in quantity and only available on tap at the North taprooms in Cole Harbour and Timberlea.
Fredericton’s Trailway is reminding everyone that they’re not just all about the hops this week with a new batch of Ramifications, their Helles lager. Intended as an all-day easy drinker, you can safely expect a clean flavor profile, round and soft, with some malt sweetness and minimal bitterness in a crushable 5% ABV package. You’ll find this one available at the brewery in Fredericton and in Saint John at the recently opened Union House, as well as in cans to go.
Bucking the recent trend away from mixed fermentation beers are our pals at Tatamagouche Brewing. Trusting their customers will appreciate a well-made example, they’ve brought a second iteration of Glad Alchemy, a mixed ferm pale ale. Described as, “vibrant and bursting with funky flavors,” it is a showcase of the fruity and funky character that can be derived from hops when driven by fermentation with wild yeasts and bacteria. Expect a light and sparkly mouthfeel, a big pop of pink grapefruit, passion fruit, and pineapple, and a bit of vanilla on the finish. This one was conditioned for eight months in neutral oak barrels which no doubt has added a touch of tannins to the mix as well. You can get your hands on this 5.5% beauty in cans at the brewery, and we expect maybe a couple of kegs will make it around the region, but you can also order it online. And to make that even more attractive, Tata is doing free Canada-wide shipping this weekend (March 24 – 26th)!! Just use the code MARCHFREESHIP at checkout.
Rounding out the release news this week we travel to possibly the most remote brewery in our region, Iron Rock in Labrador City. A revised version of the beer they made for Iron Fest 2022, it’s a 3.7% ABV golden-hued ale, a crushable brew that can be enjoyed all afternoon long and into the evening. It’s currently only on tap at the brewery right now, but they’re planning a bigger batch so they’ve got more to share. This one will also be the beer of record at Iron Fest 2023 in August, when Luce Ends, who won the Battle of the Bands event where this beer was released last week, kick off the concert portion of the proceedings.
There’s a big NS beer event on the horizon along with news of a region-wide event that finished up last weekend:
Big congratulations to the winners of last weekend’s 4th Annual Atlantic Home Brew Challenge, by Gahan House. With more than two dozen entries from across the four Atlantic provinces, Al MacLeod reigned supreme with his Herr Dustig German Pils. Al will be brewing a stepped-up version of his brew with Matt at the Saint John Gahan Pub location later this year. Taking First Place in the Altbier category was Ben Hussey with his Atlantic Alt, who also scored some cash for his homebrew. Other successful breweries taking home some dough are Andre Reichel, Robert Schnarr, and Patrick Hogan. Congratulations to Al and everyone who took place, we hear the judging was tight, as the quality of homebrewing continues to elevate across the region!
We’ve got the first beer show of Spring coming up next weekend, with the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia kicking off NS Craft Beer Month with the Together We Brew Festival April 1. Taking place at Pavilion 22 on Halifax’s waterfront, it will see 40 breweries from across the province together again in one place. This is your best chance to do a “tour de province” under one roof, before you plan your beery travels this summer! There are two sessions happening next Saturday, either 2 – 4:30 PM (VIP can enter at 1 PM) session to kick off your evening, or 7 – 9:30 PM (VIP @ 6 PM) to set your night into high gear. Tickets are available here and your ticket price now includes all samples (no individual drink tickets needed anymore!), and for those interested in volunteering before, during, or after the festival, check out the options and sign up here. More details are available here, should you like to review their safety protocols.
Looking to get into the beer business? Breweries are expanding their workforce as they prepare for fast-approaching busy season!
Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co is preparing for a busy summer by hiring for a seasonal full-time Brewery Production and Cellar Assistant. While no previous brewery experience is necessary, an interest in the field and hard working ethic are going to be key to your success. Could be the perfect job for someone looking to get in the Beer Biz on the South Shore! Check out the full job listing and how to apply here!