Lake City Cider

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Thanksgiving 2020! We made it! A time to (safely) get together with family and friends to celebrate the changing seasons. Whether you’ll be gathered in person, or virtually, we hope you’re able to do so with some great local beer. And if you’re venturing out Sunday and/or Monday, be sure to check that the restaurant, bar, taproom, or brewery is open. As someone who’s been burned by Google Maps hours of operation suggestions a lot recently, always best to call or check social media!

Great news for those in Western New Brunswick, after a few dry years, you now have a local brewery once again! Tobique River Trading Co in Perth-Andover has been open and serving their own coffee for a few months, but have now officially released their first beers. Available now at the brewery in cans and growlers for take home enjoyment, as well as the local ANBL and nearby agency stores. So, what have they put together for you to enjoy? Great question, voice in my head!

  • The Old Highway is their 5.7% flagship, a Blonde ale with a crisp finish.
  • BeechGlen Blonde, a 5.0% “faux blonde”, bordering on a light lager, with very low bitterness.
  • Better on the Tobique, a 6.0% featuring a touch of sweetness from the Honey malt used in the grist, and a complement to all sorts of food dishes.
  • Monquat Citra, a 4.8% light and refreshing pale beer, with a serious citrus dry hop to have you thinking this could even be a radler (but it ain’t).

Pop by their spot at 694 Perth Main Street this weekend for your first tastes, and congratulations to the Tobique crew!

Staying within the bubble (don’t we always?), we head just across the PEI border where we have been treated to many …treats… Lone Oak brings us Sour Outage, a 7.0% golden sour with another throwback to Hurricane Dorian from September 2019. Sour Outage was aged on 700lbs of Cherry Plums that staff, friends and family handpicked from The Grove Orchard shortly before Dorian hit last year. After being aged for a months on the cherries, this sour gives a nod to all of the crews working to restore power to Islanders after one of the most devastating storms to hit the Atlantic. Sour Outage is now on tap for pints at the brewery with bottles-to-go available around October 16th. 

Nyanza’s Big Spruce has big news this week with an entirely new beer, a very seasonal re-release, and the annual return of a regional favorite. First up is the newbie, a style unseen in this region, we believe. If you’re at all familiar with the Alsace region of France, you’ll know that was a hotly contested area between French and Germanic states for hundreds of years and thus has heavy cultural influences from both sides. Those cultural influences obviously include language and food, but more importantly, beer! Just as Alsatians have their own versions of coq au vin (with Riesling, of course) and Sauerkraut (Choucroute), they also have their own take on the classic German Pilsner (although, somewhat ironically, it has been argued that it’s got more Czech roots than German). Generally featuring a little bit of corn, which flies in the face of the German beer purity law, and local Strisselspalt hops, it’s lighter in color and flavor and more bitter than most French beers. Big Spruce has adopted the corn aspect in their Pils d’Alsace, which they sourced from a farm in Cape Breton that dries corn to make their own grits. Crystal clear, with a big white head, the aroma is redolent of herbs, spices, and biscuit, with floral and herbal notes on the palate and a slightly bready body. The crisp finish will no doubt leave you contemplating the similarities and differences between this substyle and it’s German and Bohemian brethren, but also another sip. This one will likely also be a lovely beer for a study in contrast between pale European with amber European lager, and the folks at Big Spruce are happy to help with that too, as they’re also releasing their very seasonal Amärzen Grace. Amber in color, full-bodied, and balanced very much towards the malt side, Märzen is the OG Oktoberfest style which was served at Oktoberfest in Munich up until the 1950s when it was replaced by the lighter golden Helles Oktoberfestbier style. Big Spruce’s version is 6% ABV and has the color of burnt honey, with an ivory-colored head. Look for notes of toffee and brown bread, with dried and candied fruit notes that lead to a slightly sweet aftertaste. We don’t know that this one will be packaged for retail sale, but we don’t doubt that if you find yourself at finer taprooms around the Province in the next couple of weeks you’ll bump into it.

Also coming out of Big Spruce this week is the return of one of the classic big beers in Atlantic Canada. Ra Ra Rasputin was the brewery’s first bottled beer, announced in early 2016, and is now (we think) in its 5th iteration. In keeping with the tradition established in the past couple of years, there’s more than one version available. As always, the classic formulation is a Russian Imperial Stout that was aged in barrels from Glenora Distillery for three months and then cellared for bottle conditioning for another two months before release. We suspect at this point, with the recipe and process well-defined, that it will be consistent with everything you already love about Ra Ra. This year’s alternate version, however, is a horse of a different color. Started last year, it was aged in tawny port barrels for nine full months, hung out in stainless tanks for an additional three, and then was packaged and given the same two month bottle conditioning period. The result is apparently extremely smooth, with only a touch of alcohol on the nose despite the 10.5% ABV. Look for plenty of barrel character, in terms of both vanillins and tannins, with aromas of sweet vanilla, chocolate, fruit, and coffee, and a palate presentation that’s not unlike black forest cake. Even better, if you’re leery of buying a 650 mL bomber of ~10%-ish beer and having it stare at you from your cellar as you wait for just the right night to commit to taking it on, worry not, Big Spruce has heeded the call of beer geeks everywhere to make a big beer a little more bite-sized: both of this year’s Ra Ra variations are available only in 330 mL single-serve bottles. So you’ll be able to have one by the fire on a chilly fall evening and then walk to bed without risking life and limb!

You’ll be able to try both of these Ra Ra Rasputin variations, and probably the Pils d’Alsace and the Amärzen Grace as well, along with a host of other Big Spruce beers (including a collaboration with Chain Yard Cider) tomorrow at Battery Park in Dartmouth. In total, 19 taps of Big Spruce will be pouring along with seven different vintages of RaRa. Social distancing and mask rules apply, of course, but they can’t stop the great beer from flowing! After that, look for bottles and draught at Bishop’s Cellar and Stillwell Beer Bar.

Moncton, the hub city, rises again with a festive release from Tire Shack. Do you like lagers? Duh. Do you like Vienna? You bet your Schnitzel! Let’s throw that together for a Pumpkin Vienna Lager! The Wickerman, brings a taste of pumpkin and pumpkin spices to a drinkable beer, that doesn’t turn you into Peter Pumpkinhead. It clocks in at 5.0% ABV so you can drink it all Thanksgiving long. The beer was dosed with pumpkin puree in the boil as well as ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ground cloves and it will be available for pints, cans and growlers as of noon Friday from the brewery. Hooray for The Wickerman! 

If you’ve been in and around the craft beer world over the last couple of years, you’ve no doubt run into the concept of a “pastry stout.” These dark beers generally sport a high ABV, a fair amount of residual sweetness, and some flavor components of whatever crazy thing they were made with (cookies, donuts, candy bars, eclairs…). Many versions have, as time has gone on, eschewed actually adding foodstuffs to the mash in favor of creating a flavor profile reminiscent of those foodstuffs, which many consider a more thoughtful and repeatable approach, not to mention usually much easier to clean up at the end of the brewday. And now that sense of innovation continues as someone thought to ask, “does it need to be a stout?” with the answer being, “Maybe? No? Let’s find out!” Enter Newfoundland breweries Landwash and Baccalieu Trail, who are releasing a collaboration they’re calling Lemon Land. Touted as a “Pastry Ale” it was inspired by the tart and bright flavors of lemon meringue pie. Lots of lemon juice, lemon peel, lactose, and vanilla were added to this brew, with the more traditionally beery side leveraging Cashmere and Sorachi Ace hops. Packaged primarily in cans, only 90 cases are available, available at the Landwash retail shop in Mount Pearl. Those feeling draughty can also grab a pint there, or at co-conspiring Baccalieu Trail this weekend. Whether you just love a new and interesting beer, or if you’re not a whiz with pie crust and you’re looking for an alternate Thanksgiving dessert, if you’re local to the brewery you might want to swing by and grab yourself a few.

Coming off their triumphant takeover at The Stillwell Freehouse last weekend, Halifax’s 2 Crows is dropping two new ones this week just in time for your long weekend beer needs. First up is Laurel, which isn’t actually a new release, at least for those who attended the “2 Crows preview party” some 4 years ago before they opened. (Although that may seem like an obscure reference there’s actually a good chance that amongst our dozen or so readers, some were actually at that event…) In classic 2C “rolls right off the tongue” style, this one is a “tart dark saison with plum and bay leaf.” Starting with a base of Pilsner, dark Munich, and caramel Munich, with some chocolate malt for color and character; dark candi sugar was also added in the boil for additional character and, no doubt, to dry the beer out a little. Hops used were Columbus and East Kent Goldings. Half the wort was soured with Lactobacillus Plantarum before joining the other half and a pitch of the 2C house saison culture. Finally, the beer was conditioned on some 760 kg of plums and then “dry hopped” with bay leaves. The result is rich and smooth, somewhat herbaceous, definitely jammy, but also dry. You can expect some saison spice and plenty of dark fruit character as well. Look for this one in cans and on tap at the brewery as of Saturday.

Next up is the latest 2 Crows iteration on a golden sour, similarly simply described, “Tequila barrel-aged sour with cucumber, sea salt, lime, and mint.” Using their usual base of Pilsner, wheat, spelt, oats and special aromatic malts, with a touch of aged hops, this one was obviously aged in tequila barrels, but a bit also spent time in gin barrels. The remarkable part, though, is that the aging process was some 14 months! Post-barrel, a touch of sea salt was added along with 80 cucumbers that were sliced and diced, and the juice and zest of a whole case of limes. This melange spent about 8 weeks conditioning before a dosing with mint, packaging, and a good four months of bottle conditioning. Fresh and zippy, bright and fun, with enough salinity to have you reaching for another sip, this 5.4% ABV beauty they’re calling Shadow Rider is a limited release with only about 750 bottles available on Saturday. You’ll also find it pouring at the taproom as long as the single keg lasts!

Taking a trip to the Darkside (maybe you’ll be doing that too on the long weekend!), New Scotland Brewing is back with a classic and tasty-looking release. A tribute to the wonderful west coast IPA, Kilted takes a traditional approach to the style using some very classic American hops, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, and Comet, along with newer varieties that have dominated the market in the last few years, Citra and Simcoe. This hop combination creates a very layered and fruity flavour that is well balanced with Golden Promise malt. Kilted is 6.3% ABV and 65 IBU and available Friday in cans, pints and kegs. Rumour has it that Battery Park already has theirs.

Hanwell, New Brunswick’s Niche Brewing is back on a mixed-fermentation trip with their latest, Southern Accents. Brewed with Pilsner and aromatic malts along with some flaked wheat, it was hopped in the boil and whirlpool with a bit of Citra. Well we do declare, they’ve put Yankee hops in this here Saison! Fermented with a blend of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces, the result is a funky beer with a touch of sweetness and a bit of a floral presence. You’ll find it at Niche tap accounts including The Joyce, Peppers Pub, Ringo’s Grill, and Stillwell Beer Bar.

A reminder to our homebrewing readers that if you haven’t already brewed your entry for the 2020 Maritime Home Brew Challenge, you need to do that this weekend! Hosted by Gahan, this year’s style categories are encouraging you to take a walk on the hoppier side, with West Coast IPA and New England IPA being the centre of attention. It’s always good to drink these styles fresh, so brewing now will be four weeks until judging. Your $30 entry registration gets you a free t-shirt, entry to the Gala on November 14th at Gahan House Charlottetown, and your chance at more almost $2000 in cash and cards! Plus the priceless prize of bragging rights to the best beer in the Maritimes! Drop off your entry before October 30 at your local Gahan, and good luck! And a heads up that they’re bringing out the big guns for judges this year, including close to a dozen BJCP judges from the region, so expect your feedback to be topnotch. Any questions on that part of it, or any other little thing, hit them up via email.

The Oktoberfests continue this weekend! In addition to Big Spruce’s big event at Battery Park tomorrow, don’t forget that the Stillwell Beergarden is hosting their Oktoberfest tomorrow, featuring the first draught beer from the Valley’s Delta Force Brewing, plus some imported Continental European inspired beauts from Godspeed Brewery in Toronto. Plus Uncorked Tours in Saint John is hosting their own Oktoberfest on the 17th, taking over an extended patio at the Saint John City Farmers’ Market. More on those in last week’s post.

Do you love beer (of course you do!)? Do you love curling? If you answered a resounding “hell yes!” to both questions, then Brightwood Brewery has just the event for you. They’re holding a Sip N’ Spiel Curling & Beer Release tomorrow, October 10th, at the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax. Let’s fill you in on the beer, first. It’s a dry-hopped Pilsner named Bonspiel that was brewed with late hop additions of Barbe Rouge and Idaho 7, and then a dry-hop of more Barbe Rouge. Hazy, bright yellow, with “lots of red and stone fruit flavours” to go with the classic Pilsner crispness, it will be on tap during once the curling portion of the evening is complete, along with seven other Brightwood beers. Speaking of curling, your $20 ticket fee includes two hours of curling and curling lessons (if needed), starting at 6:30 pm. At 8:30, the party moves upstairs to the bar, where they’ll have live music, and as mentioned, beer! Your ticket also includes a sampling of Brightwood beers (probably a flight, by the sounds), but of course you’re free – and encouraged! – to purchase more. Check out the event link above to buy your ticket.

From our friends as Uncorked Tours, comes another event after their Oktoberfest weekend on the 17th, check out the “IPA and Its Variations with Craig Pinhey” where Craig will take attendees through a whirlwind of IPA styles. From Craig, “I plan to have them taste UK style (hard to find!), West Coast, NEIPA, DIPA, and other variations that are available at the time, like maybe Red, Black, White, Belgian, Sour, etc.”. Check out the Facebook event here to get registered for the Saint John event. Tickets are $50 per person for a 90 minute session at the Uncorked Tasting Room and seating is limited!

Sober Island Brewing is planning an event to scratch your cask itch (btw, you should probably get that looked at by a doctor) – Cask in the Sticks is happening at the brewery on Saturday, November 7th. Featuring eight different cask beers (from seven breweries and homebrewer David Pepper), there will be two sessions available for sampling: 1-3 pm and 4-6 pm. Due to social distancing and everything that goes with that, they have set a limit of 60 people per session, so don’t wait to grab your tickets, even though it’s four weeks away. Tickets are $40 each (tax included), and include eight 4 oz pours and an event-branded toque (DD tickets are also available, for $10). In addition to the casks, they’ll have live music, food available for purchase, and even a “Onesie competition” to encourage layering up (the event will be held outside). Our buds from the 902 Brewcast will be roaming around, judging the onesies, with the winner receiving tickets to next year’s event (take this seriously, folks, you know Phil Church will be putting a lot of thought into HIS onesie). You can purchase your tickets by calling the taproom (902-885-2072). And speaking of the 902 Bcast, be sure to check out their October Tasting episode, which dropped Tuesday. Kyle and Tony chat about what’s happened in the world over the past 3 months since their PEI Trip, new additions to the family, and even about beer for a hot minute.

A few more beers and ciders to quench that holiday weekend thirst!

Just in time for the long weekend, CAVOK Brewing Co. is dropping Champion, a wet hopped ale made with hops harvested just 3 kilometers from the brewery on Rue Champion in Dieppe. Grab this limited release on tap at the taproom, or in crowlers or growlers to-go.

Fans of artistic beer cans should check out Quidi Vidi Brewery this weekend for their release of Director’s Cut, a raspberry and blackberry creamsicle sour. The cans for this 5.5% ABV sour feature 31 (!!) different works from female artists across Newfoundland and Labrador. The artwork is part of a collaboration with the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival which runs from October 14-18. Check out their website for more info. Cans of Director’s Cut are available at the QV Hops Shop along with NLCs and convenience stores across the province. And great news for those who’ve been waiting patiently to grab a pint in QV’s taproom, they are hosting their first Kitchen Party in 6 months today! The doors open at 4 PM, and they’re keeping it local: no visitors or those who have had contact with folks off The Rock, Atlantic Bubble be damned! 😉

If you’re looking for something sessionable this weekend, check out Bannerman Brewing Co’s newest release, Comfort Zone. Coming in at 4.5%, the session ale is full bodied thanks to a heavy addition of flaked oats, to complement the Marris Otter and Caramel malts. A dry hop of Mosaic and Simcoe lends notes of peach, apricot and pear. Available at the brewery/taproom/early morning coffee spot on Duckworth Street now. 

Heading north on the island, the team at RagnaRöck is launching the first release in their Hit or Miss series, where tasters will be asked to vote on whether to keep the beer in rotation or set it adrift in the Strait of Belle Isle (ok, we made that part up). Their take on a Cream Ale is light and crisp, and comes in at 5.7% ABV. Find it on-tap now at the taproom in St. Anthony.

Lastly, for those holding out for one last (first? only?) taste of pumpkin-spice season, check out Route 19’s take on the style, Pumpkin Potion. Coming in at a warming 8.5%, this one is available on-tap at the brewpub in Inverness.

There were some updates in growler news this week, with ANBL and Good Robot making changes to their current offerings. ANBL suspended all growler fill stations in March due to the pandemic, but this program will not be returning due to declining sales. Only the flagship location in York Street, Fredericton, will have a growler program available when conditions allow. Check out the full story on CBC here

Meanwhile, Good Robot will no longer be offering growlers for purchase on their online store for delivery. From Good Robot “They are challenging to transport in our pothole-laden town, costly to replace, difficult to fill on demand to keep fresh, and even more difficult to deliver in a timely fashion.” They will still be offering on-site growler fills as usual, so pop by and get your robot fills as you normally would! The last day for growlers online will be October 16th.

Good Robot is also releasing, Crop Top Summer just in time for Thanksgiving. This 4.1% release is  “An amazingly satisfying summertime wheat beer with notes of orange, tangerine and clove.” This is available today at the brewery and available online as well. 

Two late-breaking cider additions to the blog today: Annapolis Cider Co has the latest in their Something Different series out tomorrow, Peach and Basil, a 6.3% sparkling cider, a blend of their dry cider infused with locally-grown basil and fresh pressed Valley peaches. As with all of these releases, each refill see $0.50 go to a local charity, with this batch supporting the Portal Youth Outreach Center, whose goal is to reduce youth experiencing homelessness in the Valley.

And Dartmouth’s Lake City Cider has also dabbled in a mixed-fruit blend with Nova Scotia strawberries fermented and steeped along with whole vanilla beans, blended with Valley apples. And then a splash of Blackcurrant wine was added in for a lovely luscious colour and body. Weighing in at 8.5%, cans of Field of Dreams are available in store and online for delivery right now!

Here we are heading into the the last week of July in Atlantic Canada and despite the strangeness brought on by COVID-19, the beer certainly still seems to be flowing, just via some different routes than we’ve been used to in previous years. While it’s still a bit of a complicated undertaking to sit and have a pint in a taproom or beer bar, with so many breweries keeping delivery offerings available, it’s gotten a whole lot easier to get beer to your home. We encourage folks to take advantage of this by maybe putting in an order from a further away brewery that they haven’t tried, maybe even across a Provincial border? Even better, get some friends together and do a few orders from a few breweries and have a little beer tasting party! THE FUN NEVER ENDS!! But seriously, ordering beer helps keep breweries afloat during times when tap room and keg sales are hurting. Ordering for pickup or delivery is convenient, usually quite quick, and a great way to help keep your thirst slaked and our scene surviving.

Sydney, Nova Scotia’s Breton Brewing celebrated their 5th Anniversary at the end of June, and are releasing five new beers to celebrate! The third in the series was released yesterday, joining Shipwreck DIPA and Right Some Good Dry-Hopped Sour. Ol’ Mick’s Grapefruit IPA is a 5.8% ABV American IPA which uses a splash of grapefruit juice to bump up the citrus and pithy character. Homebrewer Mike Morrison helped brew a similar beer with the Breton crew back in 2014, and now the rest of us can enjoy it too! Using malted wheat and oats on top of the base barley to get that soft mouthfeel, bittered in the kettle to about 45 IBU with a blend of American hops, and dry-hopped during active fermentation, Ol’ Mick’s pours like orange juice, with a brilliant colour and solid body. The beer is available at their 364 Keltic Drive taproom and retail shop, as well as online ordering for pickup, next day delivery within the CBRM, Halifax next week, and available province-wide as well (along with the last bit of Right Some Good).

If you’re making a break for the mainland from Sydney, you’ll be well-served to make a quick detour up the Yankee Line Road in Nyanza to Big Spruce Brewing. They are pouring two brand new beers this week, sub-5% ABV, perfect for enjoying in quantity. The first is The Inhaled Affirmative, lovingly named after the Cape Breton practice. This 4.1% ABV is firmly rooted in the Czech tradition, using Pilsner malt, natch, and plenty of Saaz hops for a blend of spicy and herbaceous aromatics on a base of bread and crust. Available on tap at the brewery, and soon at licensees around the province, it will also be on the shelves at Bishop’s Cellar in a cute 330 ml bottle, which means those across Nova Scotia will be able to partake (free shipping province-wide for orders over $150!).

And speaking of a cute beer, the Spruce has released Lilliputian, a Nano IPA weighing in at a very crushable 3.5% ABV. Speaking of “crushable”, we’re not sure how many Lilluputians were crushed in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, but we can assure you they won’t be as tasty as the 6” tall bottles coming this weekend. Despite its diminutive stature, this is a bold expression of pineapple, candied fruit, and more, thanks to the Idaho Gem and Citra hops used in the brew. In addition to the brewery, look for it to be pouring at Battery Park before too long! 

Hanwell’s hometown brewery is bringing back a couple of favourites these days, including one from the archives that’s been months in the making. First up from Niche Brewing is Empty Garden, their 5.4% ABV Kveik-fermented APA, which they had the misfortune of releasing mid-April, when the province was pretty much closed. Their timing this batch is much better, now that most restaurants and bars have re-opened to safely serve customers. Featuring Nelson Sauvin and Enigma hops in the boil, with more of these, plus Galaxy, in a dry-hopping addition, the Ebbegarden strain of Kveik yeast (care of Escarpment Labs) was allowed to play in the wort at a toasty warm temperature, meaning a quick fermentation and lots of fruity character. Kegs of Empty Garden are at The Joyce Pub and 540 Kitchen and Bar in Fredericton, as well as Peppers Pub and Cask & Kettle in Saint John, and at CAVOK Brewing in Moncton, with a couple slipping across the border to Halifax’s Stillwell.

The second returning Niche beer is Golden Flair, their collaborative brew with Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing. First released in April 2019, this is a 5.9% ABV Saison fermented with a blend of the house cultures from both breweries. After primary, the beer was dry-hopped with El Dorado and Ekaunot, and conditioned on apricot puree for a spell, before spending 6 months in a Chardonnay barrel to round out and pick up a touch more character. A natural bottle conditioning interval allowed it to carbonate before release, with everything coming together in a tart, fruity, funky, and dry package. So, enough chatter, how can you grab the beer? They can be found at your local ANBL, with Fredericton’s York Street and the Moncton North locations jumping on the orders right away. If you don’t see it at your shop, see if they’ll order it in, as the managers have plenty of discretion for what is added to the shelves. CAVOK will also be selling some bottles at their taproom next week. For those who’d rather not leave home, DrinkNB will be adding Golden Flair to their roster very soon, check to see if you are within their delivery area! And for those wondering, that Chard barrel has already been filled with another beer, hanging out for a few months before release this fall.

Dartmouth’s Brightwood Brewery recently released a special beer that has been flying off the shelves since it became available. Brewed in honour of Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, who was aboard the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed in April of this year, BMac Hazy IPA is a Session IPA that was hopped with one of the newer experimental varieties, HBC-692. Developed from a hybrid pollination from Sabro and open pollination, HBC-692 has been reported as showing “intense flavours of citrus, flowers, and wood”. Brightwood has confirmed lots of grapefruit flavours throughout BMac, all in a sessionable package. With $1 from each can and 15% of all draught sales going to the MacDonald family, the first run of cans sold out very quickly; luckily, more have been packaged and are now available at the brewery (and on their online shop any minute now, where you can also make a directed donation to the MacDonald family). Drop in quickly to pick up yours, and support a great cause while also being able to enjoy a tasty beer!

Testing your ability (and more importantly, your desire) to throw yourself back into the late 1990s, Secret Cove Brewing tries to pull you back with their latest beer, which they’ve named A Night at the Raspberry (fine, if you’re too young… here). This 4% ABV kettle sour was conditioned on lots of wild raspberries, with two additions – during the latter part of fermentation, and again once fermentation was completed. “Slightly tart and very crushable”, with some pleasant raspberry notes on the nose, you can find it pouring for pints and growlers at the brewery, and it’s also available in cans (some of which are being distributed to several NLC stores in the area).

In more sessionable beer news (summer is great for these low-ABV beers; heck, it’s awesome having them all year long!), Tanner & Co. has their very own to share with you thirsty Chester, NS folks. Hello Session Rye IPA is a 4.5% ABV SIPA brewed with – we feel safe assuming – a portion of Rye malt in the grist. Hopped with Simcoe, Cascade and Mosaic, the beer has aromas and flavours of pineapple, mango, and orange. Easy-drinking and lightly bitter, it’s available for purchase in growlers and bottles at the brewery and the Duke St. taproom. They’re also still doing home deliveries in the area, and are bringing the beer to the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market

In St. John’s, Bannerman Brewing has released their take/twist on an American Blonde Ale with their latest beer, Neon Lights. Brewed with a grist of Pilsner, Pale and Wheat malts, they lightly hopped the wort with Mosaic (not exactly commonplace for a Blonde Ale, but we doubt that anyone is complaining!). The final beer was conditioned on a large amount of lime, lemon, and orange zest, giving this light-bodied brew plenty of fruity flavours to bump up the refreshment factor. Very drinkable at 4.5% ABV, it’s available at the brewery on tap now, and should be in cans either today or over the weekend. 

Just in time for PEI’s 2020 Pride Week, Upstreet is re-releasing their annually-brewed Lavender Saison, Rainbrew. This popular beer is brewed with ingredients that represent the colours of the pride flag: strawberries (red), orange (PEI 2-row and Vienna malt), yellow (yeast), green (Belma hops), blue (water), and purple (lavender). The lavender and strawberries come through lightly in the aroma of this 5.5% ABV bright purple beer (come on, Anne, give it a try!), and this time around it is being released in cans! Drop by Upstreet or Craft Beer Corner to grab yours, so you can celebrate Pride in style. 

Keeping in the fruit-forward vein, there’s a new collaborative brew out from Dartmouth’s Lake City Cider and North Brewing. North’s B.Y.O.B, a light beer with lemon and lime zest, met Lake City’s Cider and blueberry and dark currant wines in a dark alley secondary fermenter and the result is Burst, a 5.3% ABV snakebite. Unlike a standard snakebite, which is a 1:1 blend of beer (usually lager) and cider each poured from the taps and possibly dosed with liqueur or cordial, the co-fermentation on this one could potentially make for a deeper integration of cider and beer flavors. You can be the judge of that; this one is available in cans from both Lake City and North as of this morning.

Bar Stillwell is hosting a 12-tap takeover from Quebec’s Brasserie Dunham tomorrow, July 25th. In addition to tasty, funky, hoppy, fruity, and sour beers, Stilly HQ is also turning over the keys to their kitchen to the fine folks behind CODA Ramen. Previously operating at Water & Bone, CODA has been doing at-home Ramen kits for a few months, and are popping up on Barrington to offer a few options for ramen as well as the necessary accompaniments. Due to physical distancing requirements, seating is being done by reservation only, in 2 hour slots, beginning at noon. Reserve your place at the table by emailing Sam with your party size and preferred arrival time. We hear there may not be many spots available, but maybe ask if there’s a waitlist? 😬

A few beer and cider notes before we call it quits today:

Fredericton’s TrailWay Brewing has brought back their Dump Run Saves, the 4.0% ABV summer ale, featuring loads of peach, mango, and passion fruit, bumped up just a touch with a subtle El Dorado addition. Available on tap and in cans at the brewery right now!

Also in Freddy Beach, Coastliner Cider has done a major re-branding and introduced several new blends of cider, now in cans,  including the Maritime Original, Raspberry Rose, and Cherry Vanilla. Their full offering is available through DrinkNB, pop over there for satisfaction.

We’ll leave you with a tale of two provinces this week… New Brunswick opening up the ability for small breweries without a Brewers Agency Store license, to sell direct to customers. Details are still trickling out, but opening up avenues for producers to get their product in front of consumers is definitely a step in the right direction. A bit more info here, we’ll have more soon.

On the other hand…. The NSLC has changed the markup structure to aid one industrial brewery. The latest version of the Local Beer Production Policy, available here along with all of the Manufacturers’ Policies, now leads with the following text “To ensure fairness amongst all local beer producers, it is the policy of the Corporation that beer produced within the province by commercial, craft, and nano breweries, shall be subject to the same markup structure.” The problem is, the playing field is never fair when dealing with multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporations, who have immense buying power, their claws into all aspects of the supply chain (anyone remember the South African hop fiasco a few years back?), and deep pockets to entice/induce sales of their product. It’s almost like the NSLC is thumbing their nose at the Auditor General’s report released last month. We’ll share more on this real soon, but encourage reading the new policies, and a good article and quick CBC bit from this week’s news.

Lots of good news stories of taprooms and restaurants opening back up again in New Brunswick, and that possibility coming in the next week in PEI with Phase #3 coming into effect June 1st, and June 5th in Nova Scotia, barring any major outbreaks in the next while. Physical distancing and safe practices make this a little more complicated than throwing the doors wide open, so we are encouraged by the innovations some businesses have already put together and are prepared to be impressed even more in the coming weeks. But news from Northern NB reminds us just how fragile the situation remains, so please be mindful of that! Enough Debbie Downer for now, let’s get onto the new beers!

Let’s start this week in the Hub of Nova Scotia, where Truro Brewing Company calls home. After a brief hiatus, they are back today with a full complement of canned products this week, including fresh batches of their Willow Street Wheat, Daytripper Session Ale, and Cobequid Bay IPA. And joining these offerings is Fortis, a Belgian Golden Strong. Weighing in at 8.6% ABV, this is a strong beer, much like the spirit of Nova Scotians who have been through so much lately. Featuring a grain bill of Pilsner malt, hopped with Ahtanum, and fermented with an Abbey-style yeast, to encourage some of those iconic fruity ester notes. Proceeds from sales of Fortis are being donated to support a bursary for women entering the trades, in honour of Emily Tuck, who was passionate about carpentry, welding, and playing violin. To get your own can of Fortis, or TBC’s other offerings, you can pop-by the brewery today and Saturday, 2 – 6 PM, using Click & Collecton their webstore, or delivery within the province for just $10.

It’s looking like some Halifax breweries are super keen this week, releasing several new beers all in one whack. One of these breweries is, of course, 2 Crows, who have four new beers coming out today… three of them in bottles, one in cans, all brewed as the same base beer, and all of them low-ABV! And hey, they’re even as much fun to say as they are – we assume – to drink! Let’s dive right in to this series of Berliner Weisses…

Zip (2.8%) – Brewed with Pilsner and Wheat malt, as well as some raw wheat, this brew was hopped with a small amount of aged East Kent Goldings… but was not boiled. Initially fermented with German Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs, the brewery also added two strains of Lactobacillus bacteria (brevis and plantarum for you beer geeks out there). After primary fermentation was complete, the beer was dry-hopped with a bit of Huell Melon, and a pitch of Escarpment’s Berliner Brett I was also added; the beer was then allowed to condition for several months. It was finally packaged in cans and conditioned with Champagne yeast. It’s tasting “super bright and dry, and drinks like a combo of Pet-Nat and lemon Sanpellegrino”. 

Zap (3.2%) – For this beer, a gin barrel-aged Berliner w/ raspberry, the wort underwent primary fermentation in a gin barrel with Lithuanian Farmhouse yeast. After conditioning in the barrel for 4 months, the beer was transferred onto 90 kg of raspberries for 8 weeks, then bottle-conditioned for 9 weeks. 

Zop (3.2%) – See the pattern here? This one was fermented the same as Zap, but in a freshly-emptied Mezcal barrel, and conditioned on 90 kg of black currants. Exhibiting lots of rich fruit character, it was bottled as well.

Zoup (3.2%) – Same again, but in a Sauvignon Blanc barrel and dry-hopped with 2 kg of dried woodruff for a week before bottling. 

Sounds great, no? The three latter beers are all bottled in clear bottles as well, exhibiting their beautiful colours even more easily! All four beers are available at the brewery today, and are a limited supply. Apologies to anyone who is suddenly thinking of aliens and elementary school French class.

Couple new beers coming out of Tidehouse this week as well; great timing, considering that they’re having their curbside pick-up for two days in a row, today and tomorrow. Their newest beer is Ocean Perle (5% ABV, but you can pretend it’s 5.440% if you like), brewed with Pilsner malt, hopped “assertively” with Perle, and fermented with Escarpement’s KRISPY, a blend of two different Kveik strains. It’s tasting dry, and yes, crispy, and is meant to be crushed in quantity. They’ve also got Rad Vlad, an 11.4% ABV Imperial Stout that is the same base beer as their Bad Vlad, but with some small changes to the fruit additions. Expect “far less raspberry, and a touch of blackberry/blueberry”, all on a roasty, chocolatey, boozy base. In addition to cans of both of these new beers, they’ve also got more cans of Noon Gun (a 3.4% hazy Session IPA w/ Vic Secret and Ella) and For Greg About It (7% American IPA with Citra, Galaxy and Mosaic). So, how can you get your hands on them? Today between 1-6PM, and tomorrow between 12 – 5 PM, call (902-407-2550) to place your order, pay by CC, debit, or EMT; wait 15 minutes or so for them to prep your order, then drop by Salter Street for a contactless grab and go! Easy peasy!

Shelburne’s Boxing Rock Brewing has a new beer out this week, the West-Coast-inspired Double IPA. No need for fancy names when everything you need to know is right there, I guess! Well, almost everything, let’s fill you in a bit more: Building on their very popular The Vicar’s Cross, DIPA is 8.0% ABV, and thanks to plenty of hops added throughout the process, it features loads of pine, citrus, and tropical notes, and a soupçon of resin, finishing slightly dry, with a nice citrusy bitterness. Along with a half-dozen other recent releases, this fella is available in 473 ml cans at the brewery taproom in Shelburne, and via contactless delivery through their webstore on the South Shore and HRM.

Despite their taproom being closed (but not for much longer!), Propeller is still working on some fun pilot brews, and packaging them into bottles so that there isn’t a wait to enjoy them on tap. Their latest is Kveik Pale Ale, a 5.1% ABV hoppy beer fermented with a blend of Opshaug Kveik and London Fog yeast strains. Hopped heavily with Citra, Falconer’s Flight, and Ekuanot, the resulting beer is extremely aromatic, with plenty of complex fruit and citrus character throughout. With “aromas of peach and tropical fruit, balanced with subtle pine and earthiness” to satisfy all of your hop cravings, it has a “restrained bitterness” to balance, all in an easy-drinking package. There’s limited quantities available (750 mL bottles) in all three Prop Shops, and they’re still doing home delivery runs as well. And good news for Prop fans who were missing the possibility of a late-night beer run: their Gottingen Store has extended their hours to previous, with the shop open until midnight Friday and Saturday, and 10 PM Sundays. All other days are noon until 8 PM, with that 8 PM closing time also in effect at their new Quinpool location, as well as Windmill.

Moving over to Dartmouth, North Brewing has their own easy-drinking brew being released, a Blonde Ale named Gold Sounds. Brewed with a bit of Wheat malt on top of the base, and hopped with Vic Secret and Amarillo (not traditional varieties for your typical Blonde, but who’s complaining!), it’s meant to be refreshing and approachable, while still supplying your taste buds with enough complexity to keep them happy. It weighs in at 5% ABV and is available now for in-store pickup or home delivery.

Unfiltered Brewing has another in their line of 7.5% ABV banger beers, which has brought us DOA, Danko, and more recently, Satisfaction. This beer, Here it Comes… features the classic citrusy Chinook hop, Here it Comes…, plenty bitter as is expected in a big bold Double IPA, Here it Comes…, and is available now by the can and growler fill/exchange, Here it Comes…, either at the brewery for curbside pickup or local delivery. What’s the beer’s name? We’ll never tell!

We mentioned last week that Chester Basin’s Tanner & Co. are getting into the mead game, starting with their Original Mead and this week bringing Orange Ginger Mead. A portion of this one was boiled with, no surprise, fresh orange rind and ginger before being returned to the rest of the batch, which was fermented until dry and then carbonated. The result is a sparkling and crisp 8.9% ABV beverage that no doubt boasts some fruity citrus and spicy ginger character to go with the usual white wine-esque and floral traits that mead lovers know well. And now that we’ve gotten you excited by describing it to you, we’ve got some bad news: although it was only released on Wednesday, it’s already sold out, as is the Original Mead! So well done to Tanner for once again putting together a product that’s in high demand; we know we’ll see more meads from them in the coming weeks and months, and hopefully they’ll be remaking this one so more people can try it!

You may be aware that Halifax’s Good Robot is celebrating (has celebrated? sorry, we’re terrible with dates) their fifth birthday this month. And while COVID-19 restrictions obviously mean that there’s no possibility of having a big party with all their friends, they decided to treat themselves to a pretty big birthday present. Like 6 figures big. As announced last week in their characteristically offbeat way, the gang at GR will be installing a full-on canning line this summer, removing some of their reliance on both growler fills and on-site sales as well as helping bring some of their staff back to work. Although GR ran one of the most popular taprooms in the city and we know lots of folks who are eager to see them re-open, everybody is fully aware that 50% capacity and social distancing are absolutely going to take a bite out of revenue for months to come. So as is their wont, the gang is doubling down in a big way. Without having to engage an external packaging provider, they’ll have a little more freedom with their brew schedules and definitely a lot more opportunity to get product into retail locations other than their own, hopefully creating and maintaining alternative revenue streams until the taproom can go great guns again. And that means hiring back more staff, which is a good thing for all involved. While we understand that they’re likely super busy figuring out what reopening looks like for them as well as getting that new canning line up, running, and shipping out beer, watch this space for more news from GR about their summer releases, including more flavors of The Fizz, their hard seltzer (would you believe they’re going to do Moon Mist? Stay tuned!)

Lake City Cider has cans of Vanilla Ice back on their shelves; this cider features a steeping addition of Tanzanian Fair Trade vanilla beans, to provide some complexity. With tropical notes from the wild fermentation, combining with a whiff of French Vanilla ice cream, and a dry finish, it’s 6.8% ABV and ready for you to grab for this weekend.