Well, Christmas is right around the corner, so you know what that means: oodles of new releases from breweries, followed by a brief hiatus as everyone takes a much-needed break. That break translates to one for us as well, so this is your last read of the ACBB for 2019 (holds Chris away from the computer). We highly recommend you check out your favorite breweries’ social media pages over the holiday season before venturing out on a beer run; hours are likely to be highly variable over the next week or two, so plan ahead!
And as we close out our seventh year of the blog, we’d like to thank all of you readers, and the rest of the beer community, for letting us tell your stories. And when we hit the ground running in 2020, look for plenty more tales of new breweries, beers, events, and the people behind your favourite beverages.
Another group of chaps sharing the stories behind the beer of our region is the 902 BrewCast. They’ve released their December Tasting Episode, and last one of the year, this morning. Our own acbbchris managed to sneak on for a taste of PEI, with beer from Bogside Brewing and brand-new Lone Oak, as well as Gahan House Port City in Saint John. Topics from favourite beers of the year, to what they’re looking forward to in 2020 (and how to get it), plus a healthy dose of shoutouts and callbacks, naturally! Grab the episode today for your commute home, or while you brave the stores this weekend, to drown out the 1000th playing of All I Want For Christmas…
We’re not pulling any punches for the first beer of the day, let’s jump in and embrace the season! St. John’s Bannerman Brewing released Yuletide last weekend, and we think it would be a perfect beer for sharing with turkey dinner. A 5.0% ABV kettle sour with Pils and Wheat malts, it was conditioned on loads of cranberry, raspberry, and cherry purees, for a tart, fruity, and lightly savoury beer that complements and cuts through meat and potatoes and all the fixings. Grab it on tap at the brewery now!
The Big Spruce gang up in Nyanza is out to make sure you’ve got plenty of options for beers for the holidays with two new ones out this week. First up is Mele Kveikimaka, an IPA which features the Ebbgarden strain of Kveik, considered by some to increase the perception of bitterness, which should be perfect for the style. Hazy and rich, with a lovely head, this one no doubt features tons of hops and comes in at a pretty stiff 7.4% ABV. Also on the go is a new wine-influenced beer (seems all the cool kids are doing that these days) called Saviour Complex. Aged in a grape pomace barrel, this one is nominally a sour, but also features Brettanomyces. With sourness, funk, pomace, and barrel character all competing for palate space, we suspect this one lives up the the word “complex” in its name. At 7.2% ABV you probably didn’t want to slam this one down anyway. Neither of these beers is scheduled to be packaged, so you’ll have to make your way to one of the fine establishments serving them on draught. For Mele Kveikimaka, that’ll be Battery Park, Hopyard Halifax, Studio East, Boardroom Cafe, and Maritime Express. Saviour Complex will be found at Battery Park and Maritime Express. And if you contact them *right now* you may still be able to get on their Holiday Home Delivery to HRM tomorrow. Check out the FB Event for availability details, and then call them at 902-295-ALES!
On the West side of PEI in Ellerslie, Moth Lane Brewing has a brand new beer they’re excited for folks to know about, and for which they’ve gone all out on the pouring side. Na Zdravi is a Czech-style Pilsner named for the Czech version of the phrase “Cheers!” Expect this one to be clean and slightly sweet, with a pronounced, but not overwhelming bitterness and plenty of biscuity and bready character. It’s pouring from traditional side-pour taps imported from the Czech Republic and into traditional glassware for a maximally continental experience. Even better, the beer will also be pouring down the road in Tyne Valley at Backwoods Burger just as soon as they get their matching side-pour tap installed!
From one Island to another, let’s head East to Cormack, Newfoundland, where Crooked Feeder calls home. They are pouring a new Hefeweizen (German-style Wheat), featuring Newfoundland-grown wheat. Grown on Rideout’s Farm, just a few kilometres from the brewery, this is one of the first times grain from the province has been used in beer. Ausrittweizen (German for “rideout heat”) is a 5.0% ABV hazy beer, featuring loads of banana and bubblegum character thanks to the yeast chosen, and is pouring now at the brewery, as well as their Gastropub in Corner Brook.
Sydney’s Breton Brewing is knee-deep into their Christmas Countdown right now, where they’ve had daily specials on everything from beer to merchandise. Day one, however, marked the launch of their newest barrel-aged beer, Chocolate Whiskey Stout. Aged for over a year in Glenora whisky barrels with cocoa and coffee, this 7% ABV dark brew is exhibiting a blend of whisky, chocolate and coffee, with notes of oak. Smooth and warming, the entire batch was bottled, and there was only a limited amount – 500 – available when they released it. If you haven’t grabbed yours yet, we wouldn’t recommend waiting much longer. And keep an eye on their IG account for the latest news and specials.
Not to be slowed down by the holidays, North Brewing has a trifecta of beers out for you to fill your stockings with. The first two are new iterations of their Strong Dark Belgian (Glenora Barrel Aged), one inspired by Figgy Pudding (brewed with figs, dates, and vanilla), and one by Speculaas Cookies (brewed with fresh ginger and the brewery’s special Speculaas spice blend). Both come from the original base beer, which was aged in four Glenora barrels for more than two years, before blending. This is a big beer – at 10+% ABV – the perfect style for sipping while watching your kids open their presents (kids wait to open gifts after cocktail hour, right?). The third beer is a barrel-aged version of their Grisette, Blanc. Fermented on Sauvignon Blanc grape skins from Benjamin Bridge, and aged in a wine barrel for 11 months, it was then bottled and allowed to condition naturally. Lots of “funky barrel character” in this refreshing beer, the perfect counterpart to those Strong Dark Belgians you’ll be picking up. All three are available in bottles at your most-convenient North location.
Newfoundland’s Port Rexton Brewing has a couple of new beers of their own. The first is this year’s edition of their annual Tibb’s the Saison, a Saison fermented with Fruit Bomb Saison yeast from Escarpment Labs. With aromas of cinnamon, banana and clove, you can expect “notes of spice and black pepper” to follow on the palate; it weighs in at 6.6% ABV. Next up is the newest hoppy entry in their Continuum series, Continuum – Happy HoliHaze. This iteration was hopped with lots of varieties, including Hallertau Blanc, Columbus and Galaxy, accompanied by Citra and Simcoe. Lots of juiciness and haziness in this 5.9% ABV IPA, with stone fruit character and “light herbal and pith notes”. Both of these newbies are available for growler fills at the retail shop in St. John’s, and growlers and pints at the taproom starting today. And hey, they’ve just canned a fresh batch of Mixed Opportunity, their mixed-ferm Saison, so you can take home some of those as well. And if you visit the brewery taproom on Tibb’s Eve (that’s Monday the 23rd), you’ll have a chance to try their first ever casked beer, Blue Steel with orange peel and hibiscus! Tapped when they open at 6 PM, and won’t last long, as there’s only 40 litres!
TrailWay is launching the latest iteration of Beans, their Oatmeal Coffee Stout, today when they open. Espresso Beans was brewed with a large amount of espresso beans from Fredericton’s Mill Town Roasters. The roast used was selected to complement their chocolate-forward base beer, with more beans being used than in previous Beans releases. They also boosted the ABV of the beer slightly to 6.8%, in order to give it more body and flavour. If you’re dropping by the brewery to pick up some cans/growlers, they’ve also re-released their Stormy Weather American IPA, hopped heavily with Vic Secret and other “supporting” hop varieties, giving lots of citrus and pineapple in the beer; also on tap and in cans. Today is a great time, by the way, to pick up your TW beers for the weekend/holidays, as half of all pint sales sold today will be donated to the Fredericton Homeless Shelter… so, stay for a pour, why dontcha?
Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing has launched not one, not two, but three new beers today, sure to satisfy thirsty folks out and about in the city today. Crimson Thunder is a Barley Wine, weighing in at 9.0% ABV, and features a balancing act between light alcohol warmth and malt sweetness, as well as light dried fruit character perfect for enjoying in front of the fire.Speaking of warming… Face Melter is a 10.5% ABV Wee Heavy, taking the malt base up a few notches for light sweetness, bold caramel flavours, but without any hot alcohol burn. Sounds like this will fuel many a story over the holidays! And the third release is Waffle Sauce is a “Maple Butter Tart ESB”, a Canadian twist on this English standard. The 4.7% ABV Extra Special Bitter features addition of maple syrup, rum, and vanilla, making the beer a great bevvie to warm up, or accompany your flapjacks or waffles tomorrow morning. All three are pouring at the brewery currently, with Crimson Thunder and Face Malter available to go in retro stubbie bottles, and Waffle Sauce being canned and available later on the weekend.
We always like to hear about our local breweries working together on things, and this week two downtown Dartmouth breweries have stepped up with some news in that vein for the holidays. Brightwood Brewery and New Scotland Brewing have collaborated on a new Triple IPA they’re calling Eraserhead (after the notoriously feel-good holiday movie we’re sure). At 10.5% ABV you might want to sit down to drink it, but it’s got a hop onslaught to match the booze factor, with Chinook for bittering and then “crazy amounts” of Centennial, Columbus, and the YCH Hops 2019 Pink Boots Blend of Loral, Mosaic, Simcoe, Sabro, and Glacier. Look for an explosion of juicy and citrusy hop flavors, and some stone fruit in there as well. This one will be on tap at both breweries as of this evening, some kegs will go out to other locations around the HRM, and cans will be available as of tomorrow.
And New Scotland also has a pair of their own beers on tap at the brewery on Alderney Drive, available today. Blunderbuss 1839 is an ode to the home of IPAs, Burton-on-Trent in England, famed for their water profile and generous use of hops. Using a historical recipe, and “Burtonizing” the brew water (lots of minerals and salts like Calcium, Bicarbonate, and Sulfate), they’ve achieved a 6.0% ABV brew with well over 100 IBU of bitterness. Choosing UK floor malts and a long boil allow the malt to provide a sturdy backbone to support the hops. The second release is a return of Slowburn, a Chocolate and Chili Porter, featuring chilies grown in Annapolis Valley. Added both in the kettle, as well as twice during the conditioning phase, the heat grows throughout the drinking, as the notes of chocolate and vanilla give way to a pleasant spicing level. Both Blunderbuss 1839 and Slowburn are on tap at the brewery now, and should be available at licensees elsewhere in HRM (but sorry, no cans!).
Down the 101 in Wolfville, Church Brewing continues to favour European styles, as is their wont. This time out is a Dubbel they’re calling The Luxury. On one hand, it’s a traditional style brewed by Trappist monks, on the other, boy is there a lot of variation in that style, ranging from pale to dark, 10 – 30 IBU, and 4 – 12(!)% ABV. This one rests on the darker side, smack dab in the middle for IBU at 21, and i hearty, but not insane 7.0% ABV. Leveraging a pile of Franco-Belge continental malts along with some Munich malt from Horton Ridge Malt & Grain, Belgian Candi sugar was also added to enrich the color and mouthfeel. Overall chestnut in colour with some coppery highlights, it’s got a dense off-white head on the pour. Aroma- and flavour-wise, expect yeast character in the form of clove-y phenols paired with deep sweet flavours of caramelized sugar and dark fruit. A dry finish leaves a clean impression. Look for this one for sure on tap at the brewery, and we’ve been told to expect it to be canned as well, so there’s some potential for this one to be available in the city over the holidays..
Not to let something like Christmas Eve slow them down, Good Robot is still releasing a Beta Brew next Tuesday. A Black IPA they’ve named The Night Before… Black IPA, it was hopped with Chinook, Amarillo, and a bit of Citra. With a malt profile that focuses on dark chocolate, the hops provide a bright, fruity characteristics to this dry beer. Weighing in at 5.6% ABV and 35 IBUs, it was brewed with Krista Collier-Jarvis. And if you come back on Boxing Day, you’ll find The New Original Kentucky Common (4.5% ABV, 20 IBUs) back on tap.
Propeller has brought back Baltic Porter, their 6.7% ABV take on the eponymous style. Fermented with a Lager strain, the full-bodied beer has aromas of “dark roasted coffee, burnt caramel, with hints of raisin and vanilla”. It’s available as of today, on tap now at the Gottingen Street taproom. Pair it with a bottle of last year’s version aged in barrels, which was released late last month. Also, today’s cask beer (tapped at 5 PM at their Gottingen taproom) is Schwarzbier with vanilla, and next week’s will be Porter with chocolate and clementine zest. And they’ve teamed up with Compass Distillers on Agricola Street to bring you the latest in their Windmill Craft Cocktails family, Rhumb Line. Using Compass’ Spiced Rhumb, and a blend of cola with a hint of lime, they’ve constructed a tasty Cuba Libre perfect for wherever your next travel takes you. Available at the brewery and distillery retail shops, as well as Liquid Assets at the Halifax Airport.
Late addition to the blog today (sorry!), is the full release of 2 Crows‘ Tinto, their Flanders Red inspired beer that was first released for Stillwell’s Sixth Anniversary party in November. Using a complex malt bill, and lightly hopped with EKG, the beer has been 18 months in the making. Check for the full details in our previous post, to wet your whistle for bottles at the brewery tomorrow at noon. And in the meantime, you can enjoy Graduation, a 5.5% ABV mango and raspberry sour ale brewed in 2018 by the Prud’homme beer sommelier course attended by many in the NS Craft Brewery community, including 2C’s own Kelly Huizink. Light malt bill, just a touch of Nelson Sauvin and Enigma ops, before fermentation by kveik yeast and then soured in the fermenter with a blend of Lactobaccillus. Further fermenting was done with a blend of bugs from favourite beers from around the world, before the addition of fresh mangoes and raspberries. Natural carbonation by champagne yeast in the keg, and now available on tap. We’d say that earns the crew an A+! Grab Graduation only on tap at the brewery now, no bottles or cans of this one!
Lots on the go this weekend to keep you out of trouble!
As a reminder and follow-up to our piece earlier this month, Sober Island Brewing has opened the doors to their taproom at 22462 Highway 7 in Sheet Harbour. Seating for 50, kiddos welcome, and those in the Sheet Harbour area can pick up their own specialized growler to show off to friends and visitors. Drop by today 4 – 9 PM, Saturday 2 – 8 PM, and Sunday 2 – 7 PM, before they take a break for Christmas. Congratulations to the SIBC family!
Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brewing is hosting Deer Lake’s newly-opened Rough Waters Brewing with a Rough Waters Brewing Pop-Up today, starting at 7 pm. All four of the brewery’s flagship beers will be available, including Selkie (American Wheat), Scallywag (American IPA), Signaler (American Porter), and Sou’Wester (Kettle Sour). While they’re currently only packaging in bottles, Bootleg will be serving the beers in full pints, half pints, and 5 oz tasting glasses. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for sale, and the Rough Waters crew will be on-site to chat beer! And for those thirsty for Rough Waters on the East Coast, we highly recommend getting into Toslow this weekend for your fix. We’ve also heard they may have a keg from a new/not-yet-fully-open West Coast brewery pouring, but it won’t last long!
Picaroons and the Fredericton Craft Beer Fest are hosting a Christmas Cask Event at their Roundhouse location Sunday afternoon, 1 – 5 PM. Your ticket gets you in the door, a sampling glass to keep, and pours from the almost 20 casks pouring. In addition to the host brewery, try casks from Big Tide, Flying Boats, Foghorn, Garrison, Grimross, Maybee, PEI Brewing, Upstreet, as well as Pollen Angels and Red Rover. Wear your favourite Ugly Sweater for a chance at a prize. This may be the first time to check out the collaborative beer from Pics and the FCBF, Double Vision Imperial IPA, out now (soon?) in cans.
Both the Charlottetown and Halifax HopYard locations will be holding an Alberta beer tap takeover event directly after Christmas, starting Thursday, December 26th and running into the weekend. With breweries like Alley Kat, Banded Peak, Grizzly Paw, Outcast, and Troubled Monk participating, there will surely be something for every taste. And in true HY fashion, special food items will be available during the event. Specifically, the Halifax location will have an Alberta-themed menu, while in Charlottetown, local chef Nigel Thompson of Sneaky Cheats will be hosting a pop-up. Stay tuned to HY’s social media for updates on the breweries/beers as they become available.
Upstreet will be continuing their New Year’s Day annual partying with The 2020 Kickoff, happening – of course – Wednesday, January 1st. The all-day event (starting at noon) will be jam-picked with activities, including live bands, beer cocktails, happy hour pricing for the entire day, and a special brunch menu from 11am-3pm (as well as tacos and pizza-by-the-slice from 3pm-10pm). As always, it’s free to attend, and the beer will be flowing like wine, so drop by and help ring in 2020!
Some quick newsbites before we sign off today…
Hell Bay has teamed up with a “guest brewer” – Johnny Oickle – to brew Johnny O’s IPA, a 6.8% ABV, 70 IBUs brew with “citrusy hop flavours upfront, finishing with a bitter bite”. Available now at the brewery.
Hanwell’s Niche Brewing have brought back their Belgian Tripel this week, Day Tripper. Light in colour, and finishing quite dry, it hides a pleasant 8.0% ABV in its spicy and fruity finished product, thanks to an iconic Belgian yeast. Kegs have been delivered to Capital Region licensees, including The Joyce and Ringo’s Bar & Grill, with a few more spots sure to be pouring it over the weekend.
Route 19 Brewing is pouring Cranberry Pine Winter Ale, a lightly-hopped, 5% ABV brew with aromas of citrus and flavours of, yes, cranberry and pine. Lightly bitter in the finish, it’s available on tap and in cans at the brewery in Inverness.
Halifax’s Unfiltered Brewing has brought back a favorite DIPA for the Holidays, Fist of God is available now for fills and in cans as well as on tap at Charm School next door. You’ll also find 12 Years to Zion, Inducement, Sour Motherfucker, Hoppy Fingers, Exile on North Street, and Flat Black Jesus in cans, but you might not want to wait to long on some or all of those as you’ll likely not be the only one stocking up on hoppy goodness. Also, Unfiltered has very proactively put up their holiday hours on social media, so as alluded to in our intro today, you can’t say you weren’t warned!!
And finally this week, we’ve seen that the much-anticipated Painted Boat Beer Company now has product to sell. Produced at their Stellarton location at 230 Foord Street, which they share with Nova Scotia Spirit Company, and where they’ll be opening a taproom in the new year. PBBC launched at the New Glasgow Farmers’ Market earlier this week, and promise to pop-up at the Seaport Market tomorrow, but beyond that, we can’t help you! If you happen to know anything, drop us a line!