Given the events of the past week or so, we would like to open this week’s post with a message of solidarity to our friends, family, brewery employees, and beer fans, acknowledging that acts of racism and marginalization, both passive and active, continue to occur in our region and in our country. We pledge to speak up and speak out condemning bigotry and hate, and submit that anything but love has no place in our communities. It is through many voices that our lives are enriched, and any oppression of these is unacceptable. “Stop being political; you’re just a beer blog,” some might say, and they’re right about the second part. But we will use our modest platform as we see fit, and right now we see fit to say #blacklivesmatter.
On a more specifically beery note, with PEI brewery taprooms and restaurants able to open earlier this week, NS following suit today (and word coming that beer deliveries in the province will continue to be legal going forward), and Newfoundland poised to relax restrictions Monday, this is a week of transition for the region’s alcohol producers and licensees. We are anticipating the continuation of safe-distance interactions and PPE for the moments when distancing is not possible, to continue to keep all employees and imbibers safe and comfortable. As usual, it’s best to double-check directly whether your favourite taproom or bar has opened, as not all will be back up and running immediately. And we ask everyone to remember to be understanding: you might arrive at a place and find it full to its revised capacity; you might dislike or disagree with some of the social distancing measures; staff who haven’t worked in nearly three months may have some issues getting back into the swing of things. Breweries and Taprooms are going to do the best they can to remain open and vital, but they absolutely need their public to respect the measures that are in place and be understanding of the hiccups that are bound to happen. Be kind, folks.
It’s always sunny in Newfoundland… ok, not really, but the weather is even getting nicer there, meaning it’s time for some super-refreshing, tasty beers to have on hand for deck drinking. Bannerman is up to the task with Permanent Vacation, a 5.2% ABV Mexican Lager. Brewed with a combination of Pilsner and Vienna malt, along with a large addition of flaked corn, it was lightly-hopped with Motueka to provide just a hint of lime. The beer itself is “light and crisp, with a hint of sweetness”, perfect for warm, spring weather; available now in cans and for growler fills. And if you’re looking for something with a little more “kick” in the flavour department, Bannerman has also brought back Shore Leave, their kettle sour dry-hopped with Mosaic, and conditioned on blood orange and pineapple. Totally drinkable at just 5.2% ABV, expect “bright acidity with heavy tropical fruit flavours”.
During this worldwide pandemic, the “old days” of large gatherings of people are a distant memory, meaning that many beer events have been, unfortunately, cancelled. One such event would have been the annual party TrailWay has been throwing to celebrate the anniversary of their taproom opening on Main St. in Fredericton (their 4th, this year, if you were wondering). We get you may be upset to miss out on an excuse to drink beer in the sun, but don’t fret… they’re still releasing what would have been a special anniversary beer. It’s the second entry in their wine barrel-aged series, and is named 3rd Room (like the first entry). They brewed up a lightly-hopped base beer and fermented it with a neutral ale yeast strain; once this was complete, they transferred it to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir barrels and pitched their house culture of Brettanomyces and bacteria. The beer was allowed to condition for 15 months before blending, and was then packaged in 750 mL bottles, where it was left for another 5 months to carbonate and condition further. The final 6.3% ABV beer is tasting “incredibly vinous, with Pinot’s red berry and Chardonnay’s light pear and buttery character”. The Brett and bacteria has provided some complementing funk and acidity to go with the effervescent mouthfeel and dry finish. There’s going to be about 550 bottles going on sale at the brewery only, starting tomorrow at noon.
In hoppier news (shakes head at leaving a TrailWay post without really mentioning hops), Propeller has just released Strata Double Dry-Hopped Pale Ale. A 5.5% American Pale Ale beer that is… wait for it… double dry-hopped with Strata hops (a new-ish American variety), it’s showing aromas and flavours of passion fruit, melon, fresh berries, and some dank character as well. You can grab cans of this one at all three Prop Shops, or order online for home delivery. Note that this is a one-off release for now, so supplies are limited!
The beer is flowing regularly through the taps at Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing now, and with warm weather finally a semi-regular occurrence in New Brunswick, they’ve been wracking their brains for the perfect patio beer. After some deep contemplation, they’ve decided to bring back Roman Road, a dry-hopped Italian Pilsner that made a brief first appearance last December. Double-dry-hopped with Spalt Spalter and Hallertau Mittelfruh, it’s extremely refreshing and crisp, and 5.5% ABV. You can find it at the brewery right now in cans and on tap.
Hey, were you a fan of a couple of beers from Chester’s Tanner & Co. Brewing, specifically their French Saison and Brut series? Good news! They’ve melded together the best of both worlds into this week’s release of Mandarina Brut Saison. Starting with a base of Pilsner, Vienna, and Wheat malts, enzyme is used pre-fermentation to make as much of the sugars available to the French Saison yeast as possible, resulting in a bone-dry beer. Mandarina Bavaria hops are used throughout for bright and fresh citrus notes, and on the dry base, the 30 theoretical IBUs punch well above their weight. This 6.8% ABV beaut of a brut is available at their retail shop and taproom today.
Upstreet is another brewery missing out on celebrating with another big, annual party this month, but on the bright side they’re releasing 5 new beers to celebrate turning five! They’re not being dropped all at once, so breathe… you’ve got a reasonably good chance at trying them all. This week they’ve launched the first two beers, the first of which is Fireworks Farmhouse Ale 2020, their collaboration with Chef Michael Smith of The Inn at Bay Fortune. Not just a basic Saison (as you may have suspected), the 6% ABV, 10 IBUs beer features additions of smoked applewood and spruce tips, both of which were gathered/harvested at the Inn. The resulting beer is spicy and complex, with “notes of orange, honey, and toasty vanilla”. Next is Limelight Lime Lager, a 4% ABV refreshing lager with a hint of lime from an addition of pure lime juice as well as a touch of salt, meant to be enjoyed in quantity with (hopefully) a background of hot weather. And playing on the “Lite” name, it is only 100 calories, and contains 0 g sugar. Both beers are available now in the Upstreet taproom (in person and online), and at Craft Beer Corner. And hitting the shelves later today is the latest in Upstreet’s Neon Friday series of hoppier beers. Known internally as 3.02 (3rd year of the series, 2nd beer of the year), it’s a pale ale in the New England/Northeastern style. With lots of BC Comet, bolstered by Citra, Mosaic, and Ekuanot for plenty of hop character, it’s hazy and plenty juicy, though a little lighter than an IPA.
Moving from “currently available” to “coming soon,” next week will see the release of Gamay Noir Saison, which started its life as De Novo 4 before being aged for 10 months, before being lovingly conditioned on grape pomace (of the Gamay variety, of course), and then bottle-conditioned. Expect a very dry saison, with a delightful interplay between brettanomyces and red wine character. And if you’re on the hunt for something to provide to your non-beerloving COVID-19 bubble-approved guests this summer, Upstreet is getting into the vodka soda game (makes sense, as they’re already in the soda game) with their Refresh series. Developed in-house and targeted towards being light and refreshing, all three initial flavors, Raspberry & Lemon, Key Lime & Sea Salt, and Blood Orange & Grapefruit, come in at 100 calories or less and leverage a combination of fruit and natural flavors. Available in 6-packs of 355 mL cans some time in the next couple of weeks. Lastly, getting towards the end of June, we’ll see Neon Friday 3.03, which will hop to the other side of IPA to DIPA; we’ll get you further details on that one closer to release.
Let’s keep the fruit beers rolling with Lifesaver, the latest release from Unfiltered Brewing. A 4.2% ABV sour beer, it was re-fermented on 230 kg of wild blueberries, resulting in a bright blue-ish-purple colour, screaming out that there’s plenty of fruit and flavour inside. Tart and refreshing, with a juicy blueberryness that will have you wanting more. Cans and fills are available from noon today, and join the recently-returned DOA aka Double Orange Ale, their 7.5% ABV Citra DIPA. A note that their store hours are now 12 – 9 PM daily, with deliveries happening Tuesday through Saturday, get your order in before 2 PM for some same-day lovin’. No date yet for the re-opening of Charm School next door, btw.
Lazy Bear in Smith’s Cove brought back their First Crush last night. This Saison is fermented on wine grapes grown in their own vineyard right on the brewery grounds, with this year’s release featuring Lucie Kuhlmann grapes. After fermentation, the beer hung out in Oak barrels for a spell before release. Check their site for ordering options at this weekend’s Markets, and they’ll be open at the brewery again Thursday the 11th for bottle sales, as well as pints, for the first time in 3 months!
As friends and frequenters of New Scotland Brewing in Dartmouth are well aware, non-beer beverages get equal billing in their brewhouse and taproom, specifically ciders and meads, and this week marks the first time that they’ll be packaging one of their meads in cans for general sale. Rosehips Don’t Lie is a 5.5% ABV sparkling mead (although some folks might prefer the term “hydromel” at that ABV) that was produced with a natural fermentation: letting the microorganisms in the environment ferment the must instead of explicitly pitching yeast. Aged for 6 months with rosehips, the resulting beverage is a balance of tart acidity and a slight honey sweetness. Get yours either via a visit to the brewery or by ordering online for home delivery.
Halifax’s Garrison Brewing is excited to let everyone know that they’ll be amongst the breweries opening their taprooms today with both their Seaport (12 noon) and Oxford (3 PM) locations geared to allow 50% of their nominal capacity. And what better way to celebrate their re-opening than with the re-release of a fan-favorite beer? Georgia Peach is an APA at 5.0% ABV, with a grist of Maritime Pale malt, oats, and wheat, hopped with Cascade, and hit with plenty of peach. Not especially bitter at 27 IBU, it’s hazy and orange and bursting with peach flavor. Grab some at either of the aforementioned Garrison locations as of today, but you can also expect to see it at select NSLC stores and private stores in Halifax in the coming weeks.
You can now count Cole Harbour’s North Brewing amongst the breweries who are getting into the hard seltzer game. Our this week is their “sparkling, spiked and fizzy” Pink Lemonade Seltzer. A blended seltzer, it’s gluten-free (tested!), and fresh frozen Nova Scotia raspberries are added, giving an all-natural lovely pink colour, with lemon juice added for a tart kick. It comes in at a light and lively 5% ABV. Available now via the webstore and at the brewery, you can rest assured that this won’t be the only seltzer coming out of North this summer.
You can expect to see a new, summery beer (seeing a pattern with today’s post?) coming from our friends at Good Robot very soon (maybe even as soon as today!). Viking Holiday is billed as a “Pineapple Wheat Ale”, a beer that was brewed with a simple grist of 2-row and Wheat malt, and fermented with a strain of Kveik yeast. Kveik can usually be counted on to offer a wide range of tropical, fruity flavours, but GR boosted that even further with an addition of pineapple puree. With bright carbonation, and pineapple and nectarine notes, it’s very sessionable at just 4.2% ABV.
Speaking of beers-that-should-be-available-very-soon-if-not-right-now, newly-opened Grand Falls Brewing is just about ready to launch their latest, a Helles Lager named Régal. Brewed with German ingredients (including a German Lager strain) and lagered appropriately, it weighs in at 4.6% ABV and 19 IBUs. There’s a bit of bready malt sweetness in this one, balanced by herbal and floral notes from the hop additions. Finishing crisp and dry, this could be a good one for those of you who appreciate a good Lager, and for sharing with your friends or family members who haven’t quite made the full leap into craft beer world yet! Keep your eyes on the Grand Falls social media pages for when exactly this beer will be available.
And a couple of quick final mentions as we leave you to your weekend:
“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated…” After whispers and rumours that Somerset’s Bad Apple Brewhouse would be closing, we can report that is not the case. Fresh cans of their signature Box Cutter IPA and Stearman APA are available at the brewery retail shop, located at 515 Parker Condon Road, a stone’s throw from Exit 15 on the 101 Highway. Open 1 – 6 PM daily, you may be able to snag some of the last cans of their Apearently Funky Brett Pear Cider before it disappears.
It looks like the Rockbottom Brewpub, which closed in March like all other restaurants and taprooms, will not be re-opening. However, we hear that it will be reopening as a Nine Locks taproom in the future. Your Father’s Moustache, owned by some of the same group, will be opening their doors now that restrictions have been lifted, and are targeting a June 17th date for their return.