We’ve had another big week of beers and events in Nova Scotia, thanks to the continuation of Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week. Check out our Map and Calendar to help you plan this weekend’s escapes, plus we’ll summarize them below.
• One of the consistently stellar events during NS Craft Beer Week is the Stillwell Open, where teams of breweries conspire with local homebrewers in a friendly competition for flavour domination. This year’s event was no different, with Team North taking top honours again, with their top showing in two categories. Consisting of breweries Big Spruce, Breton, Tatamagouche, and Uncle Leo’s, they teamed up with homebrewers Brian Harvey, Bràthair Collective, Mark McKay, Duncan English, and Dave Martin to produce another batch of highly regarded beers. They hoisted the cup and will hold onto it until 2019, when the Dartmouth, Halifax, and South teams will be fighting to win it. Here is a summary of the winners, plus some other honourable mentions that are now (or will be shortly) available to the public:
- Tatamagouche and Mark McKay took top honours in the American category with their Amrita, an American IPA with Passionfruit and Mango, fermented with Brettanomyces. This bright yellow beer featured a solid hop bitterness, along with tons of tropical fruit character. Look for it at the Full House event tomorrow, and on tap around the province this weekend/next week, with 500ml bottles available at the private stores next week as well.
- Taking Gold in the Belgian category was conspiracy between Breton Brewing and the Bràthair Homebrew Crew, Wild Bretton. This Brett Amalgamation-fermented Witbier was aged in Chardonnay barrel for a couple of months, and packaged up for limited release. We understand it will see further distribution in the near future!
- Team Dartmouth member Brightwood Brewery teamed up with Chain Yard Cider to take Gold in the English category with a cask of Goosebite, a 5.7% ABV Porter/Cider hybrid known as Graf. The base beer and cider also featured cranberries and raspberries, resulting in a fruity and chocolate mix that the judges (aka the public) voted their favourite. We believe this was a limited release, but may pave the way for future experimentation from Brightwood and cider partners.
- And in the German category, Boxing Rock and Tusket Falls debuted their Rauch Star, a dark Rauchbier (German Smoked beer). Malt forward with light but solid smoke flavour. At 6.5% ABV, it still features a light crisp mouthfeel and a light bittering to finish it off. Look for kegs of Rauch Star around the province, and in bottles at the private stores in HRM.
Among the other dozen beers pouring that day, there were several more available to the general public now or shortly:
- Tidehouse went the New England IPA route with their entry, Champions Regardless, which took second place (very fitting for the name!) in the American category. Swapping into the brewhouse for this batch were co-owner Shannon Rockwell and frequent collaborator/homebrewer Ian Wheatley. Brewed with 2-row and a combination of Flaked Wheat, Oats, and Barley, they also added just a touch of Honey malt for complexity, and dextrose to help dry the beer out a bit more. Galaxy and Kohatu hops were used for the first-wort, hop stand, and dry-hop additions, with Vermont Ale yeast taking over fermentation duty. Plenty of tropical fruit deliciousness, without the high bitterness, in this 6.2% ABV beauty,
- A collaboration brew between Lunn’s Mill and Heritage Brewing will be appearing on tap this week at Good Robot. Named Paradise Found, it’s an Imperial IPA hopped with hefty amounts of three American varieties: Chinook, Simcoe, and pretty-new-to-the-scene Tahoma. To “spice” things up a little, the breweries decided to add a “generous amount” of Grains of Paradise and Lemongrass near the end of the boil. The result is an 8.9% ABV, 89 IBUs beer with a “delightful piney punch, and a smooth, tropical finish”, with a “sharp spiciness and lemony finish”. In addition to taking over one of GR’s fine guest taps, it should also be pouring at Heritage, currently.
- Halifax’s Propeller Brewing teamed up our very own acbbchris to brew two beers in one. Back in March, the brew crew of Head Brewer Cameron Crerar, Assistant Brewer Denys Ploughman, and Chris brewed up Doppelbock, a 6.0% ABV malty German beer, featuring a base of Munich and Pilsner malts, along with Vienna and Cara 120 for some residual sweet notes. Hallertau and Northern Brewer hops were used to offset the sweetness and offer some traditional woody notes. This Gottingen Street Small Batch is now available at the Gottingen and Windmill locations for pints and growler fills. On the day of the Stilly Open, there were a pair of Eisbock kegs available for enjoyment, created by partially freezing the Doppelbock to remove some of the water content, and upping the alcohol to 7.0% ABV and rich malt character.
- Lazy Bear debuted their Dubbel on Sunday, which will be available in bottles shortly. This 6.7% ABV Belgian style features a complex malt bill and an iconic yeast. Inviting in students in the Industrial Microbiology program at Universite de St Anne, both brewers and students enjoyed the learning and brewing process that day, and those who missed out on Sunday’s event will soon have a chance to enjoy the final product. We’ll update with more information once we know it!
• Switching gears from the Open, it looks like North Brewing has a couple of releases today, one new and one returning. Let’s start with the new, shall we? Actually, maybe we’re using the word “new” a little loosely, here, but Finite Series: Midnight is just that… their popular Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Midnight, in their limited edition Finite Series. To be more specific, they took one barrel of Midnight and added peaches, nectarines, and Shiro plums, and Escarpment Lab‘s Brussels Brett (a Brett brux strain that exhibits “plum, red berry, citrus, and red apple, alongside subtle acidity”). Aged for 8 months in the barrel, and then bottle conditioned, the brewery is describing it as “smooth, with lots of peach character, a little cherry, and a bit of toffee on the finish”. There’s just over 20 cases available, so don’t wait to grab a bottle or two! As for the returning beer, Twinkle Pony, a “Cookie/Tiramisu Stout” is back today. This 7% ABV beer was brewed with lady finger cookies, Chocolate malt, lactose, vanilla, and cold brew coffee from Manual Food & Drink Co. It’s available in cans at both bottle shops, and will be on tap at a few lucky locations (including tomorrow’s Full House event).
• Moving on to New Brunswick, Niche Brewing released the details on their latest beer, Innerstate, earlier this week. Described by the brewery as an “Amber Brett Saison”, the grist included a healthy portion of Rye malt. Fermented with Niche’s house blend (French Saison yeast and a variety of Brettanomyces strains), the beer was allowed to age for some time, in order for the Brett character to develop. Dry-hopped with Saaz before packaging, the result is a copper-coloured brew with a touch of caramel sweetness, citrus and spice from both the yeast strains and Rye malt, some spicy/floral character from the dry-hop, and, finally, a “touch of barnyard character from the Brett”. It’s available on tap now at a couple of Niche accounts, with others likely having it over the weekend.
• In other Niche new beer news, look for their first Session IPA sometime next week, which will also be the first in a series of one-hop beers. You Had Me At… Ekuanot was brewed with 2-Row, Wheat malt, Malted Oats, and a touch of CaraRed, to keep the beer light-coloured, while at the same time boosting the mouthfeel of this low-ABV (4%) beer. Hopped entirely with Ekuanot (with all additions occurring at the end of the boil, and in the dry-hop), it was also fermented with a new-to-the-brewery yeast blend meant to work best with hop-forward beers. The beer will have your typical Ekuanot characteristics – melon, orange, lime, green pepper – in a hazy, light-golden package. Look for it mid-week at your favourite Niche tap accounts.
• Flying Boats has comfortably settled into their new location – with a much-expanded 15 bbl brewhouse and taproom in Dieppe – and they’ve released a new beer to join their flagships on tap. A Session IPA, Coastal Good Life was bittered with Magnum, with Galaxy making up the rest of the hopping schedule for both knockout and whirlpool additions, as well as in the dry-hop. With a simple grist to allow the Galaxy to shine, expect aromas and flavours of passion fruit, with a dry finish. Coming in at just 4.8% ABV, it’s just the sort of beer to enjoy a pint of in the afternoon… although, the evening works perfectly fine as well! Drop in at the brewery today for a taste and/or growler fill.
• Now that Spindrift‘s Seventh Wave series is officially back, they’re upping the ante and aiming to have two different batches available each week. For this week, they’ve succeeded with that goal! Let’s start with Full Steam Ahead, a Steam beer (natch), aka California Common. Golden-coloured, with a “slight caramel toast presence, backed by an assertive, yet complementary hop program”, it weighs in at 6.2% ABV and 34 IBUs. Thousand Ships Wildberry Wheat is next, and was brewed with patio weather in mind, with notes of “tart cherry, smooth strawberry, and thick blueberry” coming through in this reddish-coloured beer, thanks to the a blend of cherry, strawberry and blueberry purees (at 50:25:25, respectively). At 4.2% ABV and 7 IBUs, this one is available right now, along with Full Steam Ahead, at the brewery for growler fills. We’ve been warned that both are in very short supply due to a busy Thursday apres-work crowd, so we suggest getting to their retail location at 21 Frazee as soon as you can! And keep your eyes peeling to their Twitter and Instagram Thursday morning for the latest release details.
• Schoolhouse has brought back their summer thirst-quencher, Skratch Plaskett, an American Wheat Ale. Staying true-to-style, they’ve altered the recipe slightly and increased the amount of Wheat malt in the grist (to 33%), keeping the colour of the beer a very-light golden colour, with the emphasis on the malt character as you’d expect. Bittered with Warrior to just 18 IBUs, with a “healthy splash” of Galena at knockout for a touch of citrus character, it comes in at 5.2% ABV and is available now on tap and in bottles.
• Further down the 101 Highway is Paddys Irish Pub, who have several new beers on the go, as well as the return of their seasonal cider. Foote’s Cider is a truly local cider, made with fresh-pressed apples from Foote’s Farm in Centreville, who also handled the fermentation there at the Farm. It was blended with Paddys’ own Hard Cider, which is quite dry, for an expression that is balanced, delicious, and weighs in at 6.5% ABV.
• On the beer side of things, there are a pair of new beers also available currently at their Wolfville and Kentville locations (and hopefully pouring at this weekend’s Full House Fest). Their first Sour IPA started as a light-bodied and -coloured base, and was inoculated using Organic yogurt to get the Lactobacillus bacteria necessary for the acidic kick. After completing the fermentation with a clean yeast, the beer was dry-hopped with a blend of Mosaic, El Dorado, and Citra hops, resulting in a lemonade tart character with plenty of grapefruit-like hop character, in a 6.6% ABV package. And continuing the IPA theme is the bigger brother of the Sour IPA, but without the kettle sour treatment. This clean IPA features the same blend of hops, and will hit the taps shortly for plenty of chances for comparing and contrasting. You can also keep any eye on Paddys’ Facebook for details and teases on a few more Spring beers, including a Light Domestic Lager, Maibock, and a Blonde Ale, with a Saison coming soon.
• Big Spruce has paired up for yet another collaboration brew, and as usual, they’re not letting us down when it comes to producing an interesting take on a classic style. Inter-Provincial Bureaucracy was created along with the fine people of Newfoundland’s Port Rexton Brewing and Wolfville’s L’Acadie Vineyards, and is being described as a “Red Wine Barrel-Aged Co-Fermented Wild Tripel” (told ya!). Let’s get a little deeper in details of this one, because that’s a lot to wrap your head around. The beer was fermented with two of Big Spruce’s wild yeast strains in stainless; once complete, fermented red grape skins, seeds and stems from L’Acadie’s 2017 Passito vintage were added for conditioning. Finally, the near-finished product was moved into red wine barrels for some further oak aging, before being packaged. Described by Big Spruce as being “funky, full of NS terroir, and altogether a unique hybrid beer”, the only bad news is that it will be available on tap only, at the Sprucetique in Nyanza and a very select number of BS tap accounts in the province. So, if you have the chance to taste it… get it!
• Good Robot‘s Adjunct Lager, El Espinazo del Diablo, is making its return next Thursday (May 10th). With the addition of lime peel and jalapenos during conditioning, this isn’t your father’s Lager… it’s spicier! As for Tuesday’s Beta Brew, being tapped May 8th, we don’t have a lot of details this time around, but we can tell you it’s a “Coffee Kolsch” named Ground Skor. Local businesses Low Point Coffee Co. and Dilly Dally Coffee Cafe teamed up for the brew, concocting a pale, cold-brewed coffee added to the Kolsch base. The beer was brewed with GR’s own Katie Whitlock, and comes in at 4.7% ABV and 20 IBUs. And apparently tomorrow, there’s a “special surprise treat” coming out at the brewery… we assume it’s a beer?
• Unfiltered has a brand new beer released today at noon for you lucky Haligonians, and it’s the first beer officially brewed by Assistant Brewer Emily Keeler. Sunday Morning is best described as a New England Pale Ale, meaning that you can expect a hazy beer big on hop aroma and flavour, without necessarily a lot of bitterness to go with it. The ABV with this one is kept quite low (4.5% ABV), meaning that you can experience all of that hop deliciousness (with an emphasis on orange/orange pith) and still be coherent (depending on the person) afterwards. No details from the brewery on which hop variety/varieties was/were used for this one, so you’ll just have to try it yourself and take a guess or three! Available at the brewery for pints and growlers.
• St. John’s YellowBelly launched a new beer, Downtown Brown, late last week. Described by the brewery as a “Fennel Brown Ale”, it is exactly that, as roasted fennel bulbs and a vodka-based tea of fennel seeds were both added to the Brown Ale base beer. At 5% ABV, it has “strong notes of chocolate and biscuit, and a subtle, lingering black licorice finish”. You can still find it on tap at the brewpub now, with growlers and bottles also available for takeaway at their Shop down Water Street.
• On Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Melanie of Hell Bay and Amanda of Firkinstein decided they’d like to do a beer together. Raising the level of difficulty on that plan was that Amanda doesn’t really like beer, but she wanted something with strawberries that was creamy. Tapping Melanie’s greater experience with beer, the pair decided on a strawberry cream ale, a light-colored beer to which a large amount of strawberries were added. A very large amount. A “shit ton” even. But for some reason they didn’t quite make it through to the taste, so they’re calling it, Hell, We Firked Up! Strawberry Cream Ale. Lightly hopped, expect this to be a refreshing cream ale coming in a 6% ABV; and you’d be forgiven if you thought perhaps maybe you might possibly be tasting a slightly strawberry flavor!
• You may recall last year when Dartmouth’s Low Point Coffee took the opportunity provided by 2 Crows to age some coffee in their Calvados foedres. This year, with 2 Crows recently coming into possession of a whole lot more wooden vessels formerly used to age wine and spirits, they again offered Low Point the chance to put some green beans in a barrel before roasting. Available at the Halifax Crafter’s Spring Market tomorrow and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM, you’ll find two such coffees: Invicta! a Colombian Tolima aged in Port barrels, and Quetzalcoatl! which is a Mexican Tapachula Chiapas that spend time in Tequila Barrels. If it’s anything like the last batch, there’s not a ton of this to go around, so best make plans to act on it if you’re interested. And if you’re wondering why we’re including this in the beer blog, consider that we know of at least one commercial beer and one batch of homebrew made with the last barrel-aged coffee from Low Point and let’s just say we’d like to encourage that to happen again!
• We have some early news from Montague’s Copper Bottom concerning a new beer which will likely be brewed sometime next weekend. Parkman Ave DIPA will feature a grist of mostly 2-row, with a little Carafoam and Acid malt, allowing the brewery to focus on what should be focused on in an Imperial IPA… hops, baby! In this particular case, lots of Ekuanot will be used at knockout, with a very heavy dry-hop of El Dorado, Mosaic, and even more Ekuanot. Expectations are for an 8% ABV, 70 IBUs beer with lots of tropical, orange, and citrus notes throughout. Follow along with CB’s social media for details on the release party for this one. And in other good CB news, they’re now officially canning their beer! All three of their flagships are available for takeaway at the brewery and select PEILCC stores; the Parkman Ave DIPA will also be canned when it is ready for packaging. And finally, a big congratulations to the brewery for making the list of this year’s Beer Advocate’s 50 Best New Breweries, along with Halifax’s 2 Crows Brewing!
This is the last weekend of NS Craft Beer Week, so be sure to get out and support the more than 40 breweries, and supporting bars, restaurants, and stores that carry their products.
• Day 2 of the Origins and Evolution of NS Beer is happening today at Battery Park Beer Bar, with 20 beers embodying where beer in the province is now, and where it will be going. Several of the Stillwell Open beers will be there, for those who missed out, as well as other small-batch brews.
• Propeller Brewing is hosting a May the Fourth Cask Day today at their Gottingen Taproom, featuring all things Star Wars, including a cask of their ESB (you get the connection, right?) fermented with Empire Yeast from “a galaxy far far away”. Kicking off at 5pm, there will be Star Wars pinball, Humble Pies, Star Wars doughnuts from Vandal Doughnuts, giveaways, and plenty more fun. It will also be a great excuse to drop by for a taste of that great Doppelbock we told you about (hint, hint!). And keep an eye here for details on the rest of May’s Cask Nights, as they will be featuring different treatments of Prop’s iconic ESB with a variety of different hopping and yeast choices.
• The Grand Banker is hosting their Fourth Winemaker vs. Brewmaster this evening, pitting Benjamin Bridge vs Uncle Leo’s. Alex Morozov, of Benjamin Bridge and Karl Whiffen of Uncle Leo’s Brewery, will each receive the 5 course menu in advance, with the mission to put their best pairing forward for each course and present them to the guests! Tickets are still available for this fun beer, wine, and food event, which starts at 6:30PM.
• Tomorrow marks the culmination of NS Craft Beer Week, with the Full House Craft Beer Fest, at the Halifax Forum. 39 breweries from across the province are bringing their favourite beers to share with their fans, and it should prove to be another fun event. Tickets are still available for both the afternoon and evening session, but do tend to sell out before go-time.
• In Newfoundland, today is the day that many beer fans have been waiting for: Port Rexton Brewing has opened their brewery taproom again for the season! Located at 6 Ship Cove Rd, their taproom will be open 12-10pm daily for the summer, and are taking this weekend as an opportunity to welcome their fans to come out for a boo. Today they are toasting the great news by releasing a brand new beer, Firehouse Red Ale. Brewed in collaboration with the Port Rexton Area Fire Department, this 4.7% ABV Red Ale features some sweet caramel notes, with a fresh toffee and moderate malt aroma. The beer will also be a fundraiser to help in the PRAFD efforts in acquiring safety equipment to better serve the region. In addition to the beer itself, those wanting to help can take part in tomorrow‘s Cutthroat LEGO Competition, with 4 teams of three compete and sabotage to build the best models from the blocks given. Register your team at 7:30pm sharp, and enjoy the evening! There will also be pop-up shops on site all day tomorrow, with East Coast Glow and Two Whales selling their wares.
• For those who can’t make it to the brewery, fear not, their retail store is open today and tomorrow. Take note, however, that this is the final day for cans until the fall, so if you were waiting for a sign, this is it! Horse Chops West Coast IPA and Chasing Sun NEIPA are both available in cans, with growler fills of discomHOPulated and T-Rex Porter both available. And fear not, the retail shop will remain open all summer, but only for growler fills and merchandise sales.