NSLC

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Happy Friday Thursday everyone! Surprise! We’ve got a full dance card this evening and tomorrow, and rather than leave you thirsty and no clue what to drink on the last weekend of August, we figured we’d hit you up a day early. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates for all of the new beers to be enjoyed as we take on the Bubble by boat, foot, or bike, with an awesome local beer in hand. Here’s the heads up to no fewer than a dozen new beers and ciders  to enjoy from around the Atlantic provinces. Cheers!

Let’s start off the week with a beer project whose purpose and benefits are becoming even more poignant daily. The Black Is Beautiful Beer Collaboration was started by Marcus Baskerville of San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewing, as a way to elevate the voices of, and lend real financial support to, groups working to identify, overcome, and remove, racial injustice. Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax is the second Nova Scotian brewery to release Black is Beautiful (Propeller Brewing’s draught-only release sold out in record time!), and the first to package it in cans. Tidehouse has gone all out, as they are wont to do, putting together a massive 11.0% ABV Imperial Stout. Featuring a full roast base, the addition of coffee, dark chocolate, and a touch of lactose, for a supremely flavourful and enjoyable beer to be enjoyed with friends. They did not do this all on their own, of course, with frenemies 2 Crows Brewing lending a hand to can the 25 flats of beer, and The Printing House Canada for providing the handsome labels at cost. That help means that more money can go towards Tidehouse’s chosen charity, Game Changers 902. This collective has been busy for months hosting rallies and community events in Nova Scotia, and the financial assistance from the project will allow them to continue this vital work of speaking truth to power, and to all of us. Black Lives Matter. You can lend your support by picking up Black is Beautiful from 2 PM tomorrow, until they’re sold out. And while you’re there, grab the brand new Undertow IPA. Using Horton Ridge Malt Pale malt, with Vienna and Acid malt to complete the grist, this 6.6% ABV is hopped with Azacca, Huell Melon, and Pacific Gem, resulting in some lovely tropical notes of mango and stone fruit. While they may have been caught in the undertow of COVID, it looks like the Tidehouse crew is keeping their heads above water and continue to push the envelope in the NS beer scene.

Downtown Dartmouth is buzzing with new beers these days, so let’s head across the bridge next! New Scotland Brewing is serving up a fresh new beer with a fresh new hop rarely seen in these parts, Pahto. Highland Light is just 3.7% ABV, but packs plenty of flavour into its small package. Inspired by the German Leichtbier, known as a style taking the “Light American Lager” back to the Old World, using high quality ingredients. Pahto is a high Alpha hop known to exhibit plenty of Noble hop characteristics, with its sole addition in the whirlpool enough to give a bit of bitterness, and great herbal, floral, and earthy goodness. This is the latest of New Scotland’s series of beers fermented with the KRISPY Kveik strain from Escarpment Labs, and when kept cool (this was fermented at 13 Celsius), it mimics a lager strain with less fruity esters and the beer is crispy and crushable. You don’t have to take our word for it, grab your own cans of Highland Light at the brewery on Alderney Drive, or for home delivery in HRM (and shipping elsewhere) at their Online Shop. And while you’re there (in person or virtually), pick up cans of their Britecider, a 6.1% ABV off-dry cider made with local apples, and dry-hopped with Centennial hops from Fundy Hops. The hops and apple come together in a fun way to add a citrus accent to the apple base, in a bright and crisp package.

The release of Lone Oak’s newest beer was originally scheduled for next week, but they’re so excited about it (and so are we!), that they bumped it up to THIS Friday. Otis is an Oat Grisette brewed with barley and, yes, a generous amount of oats. Fermented with the brewery’s house yeast culture, it was aged for six months in their oak foeder and is finally ready for your enjoyment. Coming in at a sessionable 3.6% ABV, the beer has “notes of lemon zest, hay, and mild oak”, and finishes nice and dry. Grisette is somehow still an overlooked and underappreciated style, but its popularity is slowly growing, so let’s all continue to buy those great examples that are available! Otis is conveniently going to be available in 355 mL cans, perfect for you to take on those last few camping weekends, trips to the beach, etc. that we’ve got left (sob). Find it at the brewery tomorrow, where you can stock up on plenty of it to last you through Labour Day weekend.

Tatamagouche Brewing is debuting a trio of beers this week; two are returning favourites, the other a brand new release. Mussed Up is a 7.9% ABV Double IPA, featuring heavy additions of Enigma and Hallertau Blanc hops for a solid bitterness as well as tropical notes. Petite Milo grape must was added after two days (during active fermentation), imparting so much great grape and wine-like character in there as well, for a unique combination. Next up is Amrita, the Brett IPA first brewed with legendary (aka old, but still hip!) homebrewer Mark McKay. A combination of a beer fermented with a combination of Vermont Ale and Brett D yeasts, aged on a ton of passion fruit and mango, and then dry-hopped with El Dorado and Azacca, give this 6.2% ABV hybrid a ton of character.

Elixir Krispy Kveik is the newbie beer (newbier?), taking its inspiration from a trip to the hop fields of Alsace, France. Walking through fields of Elixir and Mistral, the terroir of this old world wine region shines through in the hops, with floral and fruity character, a new twist on the Noble hops of the Continent. Fermented with that new favourite Kveik strain spotted elsewhere in this post, KRISPY, for a fairly quick turnaround low-ester beer. Both Mussed Up and Elixir are available on draught at the brewery now, and will be in cans very soon, with bottles of Amrita available now. Online store too!

And for those looking to begin or continue their career in the brewing arts and science, Tata is hiring a Cellar Hand to join their team. While the brewer makes the wort, and hands it off to the yeast to make beer, those working in the cellar ensure that product stays clean and happy all the way to your glass. Cleaning (so much cleaning!), transferring beer, kegging and canning, and a thousand jobs in between. A great job for those who do not (yet) have any formal brewing training, but want to be critical in its production. Check out their job listing to learn more and how to apply!

If sour and hops combined are your thang, we recommend a trip over to Dartmouth to visit Brightwood Brewery. They’re pouring their latest beer, Horizon Line, a 5.5% ABV Sour IPA that they hopped with large additions of Chinook and Centennial. Two hop varieties that have been around for awhile, but still pack a punch when used in the right beer. In addition to the fruity character added by the hops – not to mention the tartness from the kettle sour process – they added lime zest from limes provided by Maria’s Pantry, to bump up the citrus notes. Available right now at the taproom for pints and growlers, cans should be following in the very near future (and may even be grabbable right now!).

Fans of Tanner & Co. may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a lapse with new beers from the brewery for the past several weeks; they’ve been working hard to make sure they’ve got their regular beers in stock, but have managed to slip in a new recipe in there, so you’re in luck! Kveik DIPA kind of gives itself away with its name – it’s a Double IPA that they fermented with a Kveik strain, specifically, the Norwegian Hornindal strain. Particularly fond of very high fermentation temperatures, it’s well known for its propensity to show off huge tropical aromas and flavours. But it’s a DIPA, so of course you also have to complement the yeast by a massive hopping schedule… in this case, Tanner went with Mosaic, Motueka, Amarillo and Citra (to 65 IBUs). So now you really know this is going to be a tropical beast, and a pretty boozy one (8.0% ABV) at that! Available right now at the brewery on tap and in bottles.

A little ways down the road from Tanner, you’ll find Shipwright Brewing in Lunenburg, NS. As you know if you’ve been following along, they’ve been experimenting this summer with Kveik-fermented beers using various strains of that yeasty beastie in various styles of beer. Submitted for your drinking pleasure this time is Ship’s Biscuit IPA, a 6.2% ABV 60 IBU West Coast IPA x Kveik hybrid. Featured in the grist were Golden Promise, CaraBelge, and Amber malts, with a portion of flaked barley in the mix as well. Hopped and dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe, it was then fermented on Escarpment’s KRISPY kveik strain at elevated temperatures to encourage some ester formation. The result is a beer with a soft mouthfeel, plenty of notes of honey, grapefruit and pineapple, and a pithy bitter finish consistent with a WCIPA. Look for it at the brewery Tuesday to Sunday with cans available for takeout on Mondays from the Grand Banker next door.

Sydney’s Breton Brewing has been celebrating their Fifth Anniversary with Five releases over the past two months, and today’s release marks the final in the series. Whipper Snipper Pilsner is 4.8% ABV beer meant to be light and supremely drinkable, while incorporating some great flavour and aromatics. Start with Superior Canadian Pilsner malt, add in a pleasant 32 IBU from New Zealand-grown Wakatu hops, and let sit for a month-long lagering period, and Voila! Clean and crisp, cans of Whipper Snipper are for sale at the brewery and CBRM delivery now, with HRM home delivery late next week (in addition to cans at the Harvest/RockHead/WestSide trio of private stores too).

Breton also teamed up with the team at the Cabot Resort in Inverness recently, to release a special beer fit for the links. Cabot Ale is a 4.0% ABV, 24 IBU Kolsch, also known as lagered ale. WIth a light a clean malt base, lightly hopped with Huell Melon for just a touch of fruity esters, it’s a refresher that you can grab only at the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs courses, as well as on tap at the restaurants on the Resort, Panorama and the Public House.

Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing let us know this week that just because we haven’t heard from them in a little while doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy; in fact they’ve been so busy keeping the beer moving that they haven’t had time to write to tell us what those beers have been! Props to the folks in Moncton and environs for helping a new brewery stay vital through the craziness that has been their first year of operations, and kudos to the team for making beer that keeps people coming back for more! We’ve also been told that they’ve got a couple new tanks on the way that should relieve some of the pressure on the brewery while ensuring that their fans do not go thirsty. This weekend they’ll have two beers released, one a returning favourite and the other a variation on a beer they’ve made before. First is Full Service, their citrusy DIPA coming in at 7.5% ABV; this was one of the first beers they ever released and always one of their most popular. Second is their Raspberry Sour, which we think is a slight twist on the Black Raspberry Sour from late last year. Kettle soured before having 40 kg of raspberries added, it’s 6.0% ABV, bright and super fruity. Look for both of these beers on tap at the brewery now and in cans starting tomorrow at noon. And if you’re planning to visit the brewery tomorrow, maybe give a thought to stopping by around 4 PM as they’ll be doing their first ever cask beer! Part of what’s intended to be a regular thing, this will be a single 20 L cask of American Pale Ale that was conditioned in the cask on celery seed and rose petals. Wondering what that’ll taste like? So are they!! Stop in for a pint and some cans to go and find out.

Annapolis Cider in Wolfville has released their latest Something Different this week, branching into a lovely combination of fruit and spice, with Sour Cherry and Lemon Thyme. An infusion of lemon thyme was made with their dry-fermented cider, and then blended with fresh-pressed juice from locally-grown sour cherries and apples. Some of the first apples of the 2020 harvest were used in this cider, coming through with bright notes on the palate. Working together with the cherry and lemon, a full bouquet of fruit varietals are on display. As with all of their Something Different releases, a local charity will be benefiting from our hard work (drinking), with the Wolfville Area Food Bank being the recipient of $0.50 from each refill of this cider expression.

In Western Newfoundland, in the town of Port-au-Port, you’ll find Secret Cove Brewing. And at Secret Cove Brewing this weekend you’ll find a couple of new beers! Score Points is a sour beer weighing in at lovely and light, thirst-quenching 4.0% ABV and featuring passion fruit and Mango. Score Points is based around the idea that with sports beginning to start up again you might need to score some points with someone in your life in order to watch the game or get out for a skate with the gang. And what better way to do so than by treating them to a little tropical love in the form of a crushable sour beer? Loaded with fruit, a grist of wheat and Pilsner malt make for a solid base with a slight sweetness and a subtly dry finish. This one is a limited run, so grab some cans now while you, uh… can? (editor’s note: Ugh.) The other release this week is a new brewing of a beer they developed with Corner Brook’s Newfound Sushi: The Rice is Right, a “hybrid session IPA” at 4.8% ABV. Brewed to pair well with all things sushi, this light and sessionable ale uses gelatinized rice to create a crispy and dry beer with a soft mouthfeel that accentuates the use of a bit of Sorachi Ace hops, the only hop cultivar native to Japan. This one’s also available at the brewery only at this time, for pints in house and fills and cans to go.

Continuing the episode releases from their Island Jaunt in July, the 902BrewCast have released their interview with John, Trent, and Jansen of Shoreline Malting. Go behind the scenes of how that grain got in your glass (hint, it starts before it’s even in the ground!), and what being a local grower of wheat, barley, and other grains means to the local breweries, and how they turn that into the malt the local producers are lapping up. You can find it in your latest podcast feed, or check it out directly here!

Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing has tapped their version of Isolation Nation, the Canada-wide collaboration made with 100% Canadian-grown Sasquatch hops and Rahr Pale malt, courtesy of Hops Connect and BSG Canada. In true Esty form, he bumped up the provided hops with even more of his own Sasquatch hops! This 5.0% ABV Pale Ale is full of flavour, and proceeds from the sales are going to the United Way, as part of Foghorn’s membership in the Quarter Club, where they have pledged to be part of a group to raise $250,000 over a five-year period, going towards mental health research and supporting victims of domestic violence. Kudos and Cheers! And while you’re breaking your isolation, grab cans of the latest in their Sour Series, with the Grapefruit version fresh off the canning line. Lightly hopped to let the citrus shine through, look for more from the series to include Cherry, as well as a Dry-Hopped version, and one more TBD.

This week saw the First Quarter numbers from the NSLC released, and there’s some eye-opening statistics therein. While we’re not party to the full report, the “highlights” tell quite a tale. (Note: comparisons to follow are for the same quarter last year, not the previous quarter) For the period from April 1 to June 28, a 6.8% increase in earnings was reported, with Beverage Alcohol in particular being up 5% — overall positive news for a business that sells stuff — but there are a couple of things that bear mentioning, and probably rumination and discussion if you’re a fan of the local beer scene.

First, overall beer sales were down 4.4% to $67.4m (from $70.4m). That’s a big drop (~$3m). But sales of Nova Scotia Craft Beer were up 0.1% to $4.8m. This doesn’t tell us that all craft breweries did well during the closures associated with the pandemic, but that enough of them did well enough to not lose a ton of sales overall. We think that’s a positive statement for the overall health of the craft market in the Province and the ability of our producers to be nimble in a changing marketplace, although we think it’s super important to note that it’s almost certainly the case that some breweries did really really well while others got hit pretty hard. Suffice to say, we’re happy to hear this because there’s a possibility that people are drinking more craft beer and drinking less mass-produced macro beers from huge multinational companies who employ far fewer people in our Province, and the proceeds from which leave our borders with a quickness. Keep supporting local, folks, these are the breweries creating jobs in our communities in addition to making tasty liquids for us to consume! 

The next number that’s interesting is the rise in “ready to drink” sales, which more than doubled to $7.2m (115.7% increase). Remember that this category includes ciders, wine coolers, and the new darling of the North American alcohol industry, vodka sodas/hard seltzers. So if you’re wondering why so many breweries are branching into the world of fruit “flavoured” fizzy water, there’s your answer. We don’t generally love them ourselves, but note the numbers there: ready-to-drink went from less than craft beer to much more than craft beer. Grabbing a piece of that market might help any erosive effect it has on your existing market, which is already highly-competitive.

Lastly, we think it’s super important to note the biggest decline on the page: Licensee sales were down close to 90%. This is your bars, your restaurants, and pubs. We don’t know too many industries that can sustain a 90% drop in sales. Obviously during the full lockdown going to restaurants was not an option, but now that things are opening up a little bit we highly encourage you to try to send some support in the direction of those places you value, because there’s a really good chance a lot of them are going through some very hard times right now. We have our favorites and you have yours, and yes, we’re fully aware that a lot of people are experiencing budget crunches at home themselves; but if you’ve got the means and opportunity to get out for a nice meal and/or a couple of drinks in the coming weeks and months, or to order takeout and a couple beers from your favorite local, we highly encourage you to do so.

We’ve got plenty of events to tell you about this week, with some requiring a bit of manual labour, or your hiking shoes, or just your drinking caps!

In Nyanza, Big Spruce Brewing is ready to harvest their hops, and they need your help! Drop by the brewery anytime this weekend and give them a hand to get those hops off the bines so they can put them into your beer! A few hours of work will earn you some liquid assistance and snacks from their food truck. And worry not, you don’t have to work for your beer, they still accept ha’pennies and farthings too! 😉 And while you’re there, keep your peepers open for a brand new limited release from their continued bottle series. Le Trou Normand is a Calvados Brandy barrel-aged beer, a Biere de Garde. This 10.1% ABV whopper comes in a lovely 330 mL bottle, so grab a few to enjoy now and when the weather turns cool(er).

On the opposite end of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing is holding a Highway 101 vs. Highway 103 Beer Battle this weekend. Celebrating the part of the world where those two roads meet, Heritage has invited breweries from along both to bring a new or existing beer to the event and team up with their compatriots to reign supreme. The beers will be pouring from Friday afternoon until they’re tapped out, with the winners announced Saturday evening. Drinkers will know a bit about the style of each beer, but the origin and brewery will be hidden until after voting is done. Speaking of, you’ll be enjoying beers from Annapolis Brewing, Boxing Rock, Church Brewing, Firkinstein Brewing, Lunns Mill Beer Co, Roof Hound Brewing, Rudders Brew Pub, Saltbox Brewing, Schoolhouse Brewing, and Sea Level Brewing. Stop in either evening to enjoy live music from 8 PM too, and help crown a winner!

Are you a fan of the hazy, hoppy beers, kids? If you are, you’ve no doubt heard of Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing, who for the past couple of years have been banging out the soft and juicy New England/Northeastern IPAs for getting on six years now. And in that six years they’ve branched out quite a bit beyond the beers you may know them best for, including a beer brewed specifically for the bowling alley they bought a couple of years back! If you’re in Halifax and find you can’t get their beers as often as you’d like, though, this weekend is an excellent opportunity to rectify that: Saturday afternoon starting at noon you’ll find 10 taps of Trailway pouring at the Stillwell Beer Garden! Come on down and try some old favorites that have been around since the early days, and some new hotness as well:

  • Candlepin Kölsch (4.5%) 
  • Beyond Reality Raspberry Wheat (4%)
  • El Generico Sour (Blackberry & lime 4.5%) 
  • Dump Run Saves Summer Ale (fruit ale with Mango, passionfruit & peach 4%)
  • Luster Session IPA (4%) 
  • Rype Pale Ale (w/ Rye) (5%)
  • Hu Jon Hops IPA (6.6%) 
  • Seeing Citra IPA (6%)
  • Velvet Fog Milkshake IPA (w/ lactose, raspberry & lime 6.5%)
  • Ooz Double IPA (8%)

If that makes you happy and helps you plan your Saturday afternoon, then great! If it makes you sad because you have responsibilities or plans that cannot be changed, we remind you that Trailway recently started shipping to all four Atlantic Provinces as well as Ontario. Check out their website for more details!

Saturday is a busy day in the North End of Halifax too, as two breweries are hosting vendors in their taprooms. Propeller’s Gottingen Street spot is taking part in TakingBLKGottingen’s second event, hosting the Family Over Fame apparel company Saturday 12 – 5 PM. With shirts, masks, hoodies, bandanas and much more, start your stroll along the Gottingen with a pint and a peruse. Check that first link for full details on the other locations taking part.

And down on Brunswick Street, 2 Crows is hosting their first Local Makers Market, 10 AM – 2 PM Saturday and Sunday. They are hosting makers, growers, crafters, clothing, and food folks, so be sure to swing by and peruse the offerings with a beer in hand! They’ll be running these for the next few weekends, so be sure to stop in!

The Ladies Beer League is kicking off their Go Take a Hike! series next Wednesday at 6 PM with a walk through Dartmouth. Physically distanced hiking starts out from Alderney Landing and will go along some groomed trails and sidewalks, at whatever pace you feel comfortable. And then refresh at Battery Park on Ochterloney! The hikes are free, but please grab a ticket ahead of time so they know how many are coming, and ensure all health protocols are followed. Look for more hikes out of town as well, coming up on the 13th (Taylor Head), 19th (Moose Mountain), and 27th (Tatamagouche). More info here!

Let’s end the week’s post with two news items that caught our eye and are signs of the great things happening in the region’s beer scene.

Dartmouth’s North Brewing has launched the Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship, to encourage, promote, and elevate the underrepresented individuals in the brewing industry. Comprising two parts, there is a $1500 scholarship for those in a university or college program in a field that is related to the brewing or hospitality industry, awarded for each year of their program. As well, the successful candidate will have guaranteed employment in the brewery, taproom, or retail shop throughout their education. Applications are now open until the end of October, and there are so many more exciting details on North’s site, so we highly encourage interested students, or those already in the industry looking to make some positive waves, check it out!

And congratulations to the folks behind Lunn’s Mill Beer who have taken over the iconic End of the Line Pub in Bridgetown, and will be opening The Station this fall. Investing in the local economy in this way is a leap of faith, but a testament to the growing fans of craft beer across our region. Well done folks, looking forward to a pint of fresh ale and some great food in a few months!

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.

Happy Friday folks! The region got a dose of great news with the announcement of the Atlantic Bubble coming next Friday, but that doesn’t mean you can forget everything we’ve been doing for the last 3 months (just look South for proof). Keep being smart about how you choose to get together with friends and strangers, and above all, spread love and not the virus. We’re taking next Friday off, so we hope this dose of beer news will keep you satisfied until then. And if not, we promise a full refund. Happy Canada Day, and remember that brewery taprooms, restaurants and bars are operating under different circumstances than usual, so check before heading out, and tip as generously as you can!

We want to start this week off with two brewing initiatives that are poised to make an impact on inclusivity and equity in the local brewing community, and beyond.

Good Robot Brewing Co’s brewer Giovanni Johnson, along with members of the Nova Scotian Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour population have come together to form the Change is Brewing Collective. Their first release will be coming mid-July, named Blackberry Freedom, a Pale Ale with blackberries. The group, and beer, is a challenge to other breweries in the province, dare we say everywhere, “to consider how they can be more inclusive for the BIPOC in their communities”. We can see this as a way of encouraging more breweries to engage members of their local BIPOC community for both staffing or patrons. We can get behind that! Look for Blackberry Freedom in July, and we’ll have a ton more with Gio and the Collective then.

And in an out-of-region initiative, but of utmost importance here, is the Black is Beautiful project. Hosted by Austin’s Weathered Souls, it is a worldwide collaboration for breweries to bring awareness and efforts to overcome injustices that many people of colour face. Over 900 breweries have signed up world-wide for the project, brewing a 10.0% ABV Imperial Stout, and directing 100% of the beer’s proceeds to groups focusing on racial justice, equality, and inclusion. So far in Atlantic Canada, we see two Nova Scotian breweries have stepped up to the plate. Halifax’s Tidehouse Brewing will be donating the proceeds to GameChangers902, a group of African Nova Scotians coming together to promote and mobilize change in the province, centralizing the experience, culture, and history of Black Nova Scotians. Tatamagouche Brewing is taking part as well, as they are committed to continued education, understanding and supporting people of colour, and are directing their proceeds towards groups educating and promoting awareness in the province. We want to encourage other breweries in the region, both small and large, to take part in this collaboration, because, while conversations on and efforts to remove systemic racism may be difficult and feel overwhelming, Black Lives Matter.

We’ve got big news for the island of Cape Breton, where Island Folk Cider House opened their doors last weekend. Located at 52 Nepean St in Sydney, just a stone’s throw from the Big Fiddle, they are open for retail sales of their initial release blends. Open Thursday and Friday, 12 – 7 PM, and Saturday 11 – 4 PM, you can grab cans of their Good Company 6.5% ABV cider, and Rebel Rosé 7.0% ABV blend of cider and cranberry wine. The cans feature artwork by local illustrator and cartoonist Alison Uhma. Their third release, the smaller batch Easy Beezy featuring local honey, sold out in just a few days, sorry, but more blends are on the way! If you can’t get to their retail location, fear not, as the Good Company is available at 14 NSLC locations across the province, from Yarmouth to Sydney, and Amherst to HRM. Plus kegs of both GC and RR are at several bars and restaurants on the Island as well as the South Shore, check out their Fb page for more details. You can also keep up to date on the fun on their Ig page. We’ll have a full Profile with IFCH up in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, Congratulations to Jill and team!

After months of preparation and planning, Sackville’s Bagtown Brewing Co. finally opened up their new retail store at 45 Main St. last weekend. The new location is also the new home to the brewhouse, and while just across the street from where they were previously, allows them more space to sell more beer! In addition to Bagtown’s rotating offerings, you’ll also be able to grab cans and bottles from other New Brunswick breweries. If you’re in the area and would like to drop in to check out the new space/pick up some beer, they’re open today (Friday) from 12-6 pm, and Saturday 9am-3pm.  

Upstreet Brewing is celebrating a huge milestone this weekend: their brewery has now been operating for 5 years in Charlottetown, PEI. And while the ongoing need for social distancing means that they can’t throw a massive shindig for all their friends in the taproom, it’s not going to stop them from celebrating. The first aspect of that celebration is now traditional: DeNovo V is, appropriately, the 5th iteration of their mixed-fermentation saison birthday beer. Keeping it local, the grist features Island Malt House Pale, Wheat and Rye and the hop side has Island Hop Company Saaz along with some out-of-province Centennial and Ekuanot. Tasting-wise, it starts with an aroma of peppery lemon meringue accompanied by some mild funk, citrus and herbal notes. Lightly toasted sourdough comes through on the palate, leading to a very dry and crisp finish on this beer that weighs in at 6.5% ABV and 15 IBU. This year they’ve elected to bottle it in 500 mL bottles instead of the 750s used in previous years. If you’re on the Island you can definitely grab this one direct from Upstreet (whether that’s the brewery/taproom or Craft Beer Corner), but it looks like it may also make it to Halifax as well, where we’d imagine you’ll find it at some or all of the private stores in the city in the coming weeks.

The other aspect of Upstreet’s birthday celebration is a contest they announced today on social media: they’re offering folks a chance to win a $500 Upstreet gift card for themselves and $5,000 to a charity of their choice! Entering is easy: Post a photo with your favorite Upstreet beer (or Rewind Seltzer or East Coast Soda Co. Soda) on Fb or Ig, making sure to tag @upstreetbrewing and the charity of your choice and add the hashtag #cheersforcharitypei, then use the caption space to say how that charity is doing good in the community. Multiple entries per person are allowed, although each needs to nominate a different charity. There will be one winner of this contest announced July 10th at noon. So grab yourself an Upstreet beverage and your camera/phone, and get snapping for your favorite cause!

Speaking of 5th Birthdays, Breton Brewing is celebrating their own this Saturday! To help celebrate, they’re going to be releasing five beers as part of an Anniversary Series, with each beer being launched at a different date over the summer. A mixture of brand new beers and returning favourites, they’re starting off with one of the latter, Shipwreck DIPA. Hopped entirely with Mosaic, this 7.4% ABV hop bomb is hazy and pale amber in colour, with “aromas of mango, citrus, and peaches”, and lots more on the palate. Always a requested beer at the brewery, this is the first time Shipwreck has been available in cans. It’s available right now in the taproom, as well as for delivery in the CBRM; look for it to pop up at the private stores in Halifax next week, as well as home delivery in that area. And keep your eyes peeled for their next Anniversary release, which should be early July… we’ll keep you posted!

Now that the Good Robot taproom is officially up-and-running, they’re releasing some beers with feelings of summer – one new, and one returning. Seems natural to start off with the new one, so let’s begin with Fanny Pack, a dry-hopped Lager. Designing a brew for those of us looking for something light and refreshing for summer drinking, but with lots of bright hop character, Fanny Pack was brewed with a simple grist of Pale ale malt and flaked corn. Fermented with the brewery’s favourite Mexican Lager yeast strain, it was lagered appropriately and dry-hopped with Comet and Citra. The 4.8% ABV, straw yellow-coloured beer has citrus on the nose and palate, including notes of lemon and grapefruit, with low bitterness. Crushable as advertised, it’s available in cans at the brewery. And while picking up your cans for the weekend, you’ll notice that Viking Holiday is back, also in cans (and on tap)! This 4.2% ABV Pineapple Wheat beer was fermented with a Kveik strain, giving the brew notes of nectarine to complement the aromas and flavours from the pineapple added to the brew. 

Now that Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse is officially at full throttle (it should be noted that the taproom is still open for retail sales only), they’ve gone ahead and added some canned beers to their expanding lineup this week. Those of you who have been following the brewery since their humble, 1-bbl brewhouse days may recognize the names of two of the beers, which were originally released in 2018. The first of these is Orange American Bastard, a 4.7% ABV American Wheat beer that features late-boil additions of orange peel and coriander, as well as a touch of Cascade hops. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, a beer to pound back by your pool, or maybe share with someone ready to dip the toe into the waters of craft beer (“clever” metaphor, not insinuating that the beer is watery). The other returning brew is Call Your Bluff, a 4.9% APA originally brewed in collaboration with Todd Beal that has a “pungent grapefruit character”. 

The new beers are on the darker side of the spectrum, starting with Shady 80, a chocolate stout. Brewed with a variety of dark malts, this 6.3% ABV Sweet Stout has an addition of lactose powder to bump up the sweetness slightly, to balance the roast character in the beer. Rounding everything up is Engine 41, a 6.4% ABV Cherrywood Smoked Porter. “Big on taste, yet balanced and easy to drink”, expect some moderate smoke character, finishing with notes of chocolate and roast. All four of these beers are presently available in cans at the brewery, open regular hours this weekend, and then opening early next week on Tuesday and Wednesday (yes, July 1), 12 – 6 PM, to allow you to stock up for the Canada Day holiday.

Dartmouth’s New Scotland Brewing has a new beer on the radar, a hoppy, hazy APA named Beachcomber. The latest in their small batch series, the 5.5% ABV beer was intensely dry-hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic, and El Dorado. Hard to go wrong with those varieties! They’ve described it as “light-bodied, flavourful, and aromatic”. Available for delivery, and, of course, for pick-up at the brewery.

The crew at Pollen Angels have teamed up with Fils du Roy to produce Fils D’Abeille (Son of a Bee). You may be already wondering if a meadery teaming up with a distillery means mead + spirit(s), and you’d be right! Fils D’Abeille is a blend of Queen’s Nectar mead and oak-aged Gin Thuya, weighing in at a hefty 10.5% ABV. Described as a harmony of “honey, apples, Thuja occidentalis, juniper berry and coriander”, you can find this beverage at many ANBL stores across New Brunswick; be sure to continue to check the ANBL site for which stores are carrying bottles of the product.

A few more newsbites for you today before we dismiss the class…

There’s a new episode from your favourite hosted-by-three-guys, all about local beer, three digit podcast out for download and listenin’ as of earlier this morning. If you guessed 902 Brewcast, good for you! This is a tasting episode/chat about the latest news/answer social media questions episode, so all bases are covered. Download it wherever you normally download your favourite podcasts.

And in more great news, their faithful sponsor, Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Cellar, has re-opened their doors to the public, for in person shopping (Mon – Wed 10 AM – 6 PM, Thurs – Sat 10 AM – 9 PM), as well as online ordering for curbside pickup or province-wide delivery. (dm us for our address to send that cheque)

CAVOK Brewing has a very small, limited batch newly-available on tap, Dents De Lions. Brewed with local dandelions and citrus fruit, this 4.3% ABV, 6 IBUs brew can also be found online, for local delivery. As a side note, we also would like to invite CAVOK to drop by our homes later in the summer, for more dandelion harvesting. Free!

Unfiltered’s super-hoppy DIPA (well, one of them anyway), Fist of God (7.5% ABV) is back for the weekend. Described by the brewery as a “fruity, citrus, tropical, East Coast DIPA w/ West Coast roots”… well, we don’t know what else to say. On tap and in cans at the brewery now, and delivery options are also available (for orders made before 2 pm).

And with the good news happening around AtlCan, we’re seeing some spots hiring and expanding their scope. Here are two such businesses looking to bring some folks onto their team.

Way up (and we mean waaaaaaay up) in Labrador City, NL, one of the region’s newest breweries, Iron Rock, is looking to expand their team in the form of an Assistant Brewer and Cellar Person. This is potentially a combined position, however the immediate need is on the cellaring side, managing inventory and packaging while maintaining the brewery’s dedication to cleanliness and sanitation. Over time opportunities on the brewing side are expected to grow and so the applicant’s previous brewing experience is certainly a relevant factor. A full-time gig in Lab City, hours will definitely vary. If this sounds like you and you’re in town or willing to make a move, maybe check out the full details and job description and throw your hat in the ring!

Also in Newfoundland, Port au Port’s Secret Cove Brewing is looking to fill a position or two… or four, specifically! There’s a wide variety of jobs available, including working right in the brewing side of things (Brewery Operations – Canning and Distribution), into the taproom with the Taproom Manager position, as well as Bartending and Curb Shop staff, and finally, they’re looking for a cook! You need to be motivated and love everything involved with craft beer, and the cook position does require experience. For more details, check out the full info here, and if you’re interested, send a cover letter and resume to beer@secretcovebrewing.com.