Welp, this is it, the end of January. It felt like it lasted 6 weeks, what with the epic snow seen across the region shutting down entire cities, but we’re emerging from our snow forts and thirsty as heck! Thankfully the brewers didn’t miss a beat and have plenty to satiate our thirst. Let’s get your weekend started now with brand new releases across the region this week, and what’s on the horizon.
Thanks very much to those of you who entered our giveaway for tickets to next weekend’s Craft Beer Cottage Party as part of Savour Food & Wine. Congratulations to Andy L who won the two tickets with his picture of Propeller Sabro on IG. For the rest of us, tickets are still available for the Feb 8 event at Halifax Seaport Beer Festival, with more than 30 breweries and cideries from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI donning their best cottage ware and pouring goodies from their booths. We hope to see you there!
Let’s ease you out of Dry January with a beer hitting the shelves in New Brunswick at the beginning of next week. Niche Brewing is continuing their limited bottle releases with a debut almost two years in the making. Taking inspiration from the Oud Bruin/Flanders Brown style originating in the Flemish region of Belgium, Quintessential is a 6.4% ABV beer with plenty of history. Beginning life in April 2018, this Brown Ale underwent primary fermentation in a Cab Sauv barrel with Niche’s house blend of Sacch and Brett yeasts, aided by a new pitch of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus bacteria for a complex souring profile. Over the next 18 months, they produced not only lactic acid, the same “clean” acidity found in kettle souring, but also some acetic acid character thanks to extra bugs. After bottle conditioning for a few more months, the beer is finally ready. Think rich balsamic acid, dark plum and cherries, with a light oak character. A special beer deserves a special label, so they tapped Maine fine artist Nico Lebarge (no stranger to the beer scene as a designer with Bissell Brothers in Portland) for a painting fit for the release. Bottles of Quintessential will be available at the York Street and Corbett Fredericton ANBLs Monday, and at Dieppe Wednesday. Ask at your local location, and they may be able to bring it in (though with only one barrel of the beer available, there are only so many bottles to go around!). To keep you satisfied this weekend, thankfully, they’ve got a fresh batch of their Single Origin Sweet Coffee Stout pouring around the region. And ready your livers for a tap feature at The Joyce on February 22nd, with twelve Niche beers flowing, including several small batch one-offs brewed specifically for the event.
Dieppe’s O’Creek Brewing has one new beer and one returning beer on tap this week. Starting with the newbie, which is appropriately named Raspberry Milk Stout. This is a Sweet Stout (meaning it features an addition of lactose powder in the boil) that had raspberry puree added once fermentation was complete. The result is a dark beer with a smooth creaminess, as well as subtle notes of raspberry. Full bodied, with low bitterness, it weighs in at 5.5% ABV. It’s currently available on tap for growler/crowler fills at the Pump House Fill Station in Moncton. Returning is I.P.Address, a very popular NEIPA that was last seen back in June. Brewed with a simple grist of 2-row malt, wheat, and oats, this batch was fermented with a different yeast strain than previous batches. Hopped with Vic Secret, Centennial, El Dorado, and Mosaic, expect “smooth tropical fruit, citrus notes, and a mild bitterness”; it comes in at 6.5% ABV and 60 IBUs. Look for it at the Growler Bar at the ANBL in Dieppe on Regis St, where it should be pouring alongside Raspberry Milk Stout as well.
Despite the extra crappy weather Newfoundland has been seeing this month, Port Rexton Brewing has been keeping themselves busy, with the result being lots of beer news for this week! Let’s start with their latest bottle release, shall we? Cellar Season – 2019 Barrel-aged Gose is just what you’d expect it to be! Once brewed, the kettle-soured base beer was fermented in stainless before being transferred over to a red wine barrel. The Brett D strain from Escarpment Labs was pitched at this point, and the beer was allowed to age (and develop lots of pineapple and funk character) for 14 months. A limited amount of bottles are available (300, with a limit of 2 pp); the 4.1% ABV beer is showing “hints of oak and red wine” to go with the Brett funk, with all of it being “complemented by a touch of minerality and refreshing tartness” before finishing nice and dry. In draught news, the latest in their hoppy Continuum series is out; Continuum w/ Simcoe has a whole lotta Simcoe in the whirlpool, hop back, and dry-hop additions, accompanied by Mandarina Bavaria, giving this 5.6% ABV IPA a “candy-like sweetness on the aroma, with a distinct piney character on the palate”. Finishing moderately bitter, you can find this one right at the source and at their shop on Torbay Road. And coming tomorrow is their latest foray into Gluten-free beer, Coffee Brown. As the name implies, this 6.5% ABV Brown Ale features an addition of coffee, thanks to their neighbours at Trinity Coffee Company. A touch of malt sweetness and a light mouthfeel meld with the strong coffee aroma and flavour to round out the brew. The Retail Shop kegs will be tapped at noon tomorrow, and with the GF pilot system less than 100 litre capacity, it won’t last long, so be sure to drop by early to avoid disappointment.
We may be in the depths of winter, but the gang at Good Robot in Halifax is on a mission to bring some tropical and sunny times our way through February, beginning with a couple of new beers on the go. First up, from brewer and yeast wrangler Gio comes Boom, a “conch style Bahamian lager” at 5.4% ABV and 20 IBU. Gio wanted to make a beer that reflected his two homes, the Bahamas and Canada, and wisely chose to do so through beer. Starting with a crisp lager base reminiscent of Kalik or Sands, he added lime juice and evergreen needles to take it to another level. Expect an easy-drinking beer that still boasts an unexpected kick. And on the Beta system, Kelly was joined with longtime BetaBrew supporters Cindy and Marilyn to put together another beer with inspiration from warmer climes. Inspired by a sauce they’ve been making for years, Island Punch features grilled pineapple, mango and habaneros. No doubt sweet maybe a little smoky, and bringing some heat, this one is 5.4% ABV and 24 IBU and, in accordance with the prophecy as is traditional for BetaBrews, will no doubt be tapped this coming Tuesday afternoon.
Up in St. John’s, where they’re no longer under a state of emergency but are still no doubt digging out from two weeks ago, YellowBelly has leaned into the storm, so to speak, with a beer they’re calling Flurricane 2020. Nominally an IPA, it’s 6.5% ABV, but only 35 IBU, so maybe more of a Pale Ale? No doubt about it, though, this one contains some hops, namely Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic, largely added as late and dry hop additions. Paired with a sturdy malt backbone, the result is a balanced beer with plenty of hop character and a lingering bitter finish. Look for this one on tap at their downtown location and with bottles to go hopefully available by the time you read this; and it will no doubt feature into the Crafternoon for Australia event you can read about below.
Halifax’s Garrison Brewing has been making their biggest beer, a barleywine they call Ol’ Fog Burner, almost every year for a decade now. This year marks the first time, however, that they’ve produced a batch on their “new” system rather than their old plant in the Seaport Taproom. Owing to that difference in production, there’s been a small change in recipe, with some crystal and roasted malt joining 2-Row Maritime Pale Ale malt for the first time. There’s nothing new about the ABV though, it’s still a big bastard at 10.5% ABV or the bitterness, at 70 IBU. Bold spicy and fruity hop flavors from American varieties Columbus and Citra balance warm brandy-like toffee flavors for a very smooth experience with a long-lasting and warming finish. Look for this one to go in the classic 650 mL bombers (maybe plan to share one with a friend) at the brewery and the Oxford Taproom, and possibly other places you go for your Garrison fix.
In the town of Sussex, NB, just about halfway between Moncton and Saint John, there’s been a bit of a hum generated as local folks played up the idea of (ex-)British Royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle maybe choosing the town home base in Canada. After all, they are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are they not? The tongue-in-cheek “movement” now has a liquid manifestation as in-town brewery Sussex Ale Works has put together a beer they’re calling The Duke in honor of its namesake. Featuring a grist of Maris Otter, Vienna, 2-row, and crystal malts along with a bit of roasted barley, all paired with Saaz hops, this red ale is 7% ABV and 30 IBU. To try it you’ll have to head down to Sussex and check out the awesome tap handle they’ve got for pouring it. While you’re there you can also check out their other new beer, Hindsight 2020, a Golden Pale Ale with 2-row and amber malts and Chinook and Cascade hops. Sounding like a bit of a melding of British malts and American hops, it’s 6.2% ABV and 40 IBU.
Coming out of Tatamagouche this weekend is a brand new release featuring the hottest thing going (literally) yeast-wise, but with a cool (also literally) approach. Kveik yeast is known for its ability to ferment relatively cleanly even at temperatures that would make other beer strains produce things you absolutely wouldn’t want in your beer or your mouth. But what happens if you treat Kveik differently and, say, ferment it much colder than all the cool kids have been doing? Tatamagouche Brewing decided to find out! Cripple Kveik used the Halvorsgard strain, which comes from Ål, quite a ways from the epicenters of farmhouse brewing in Norway. Interestingly, it’s not actually called Kveik there, but “Gong,” which means Tata missed a great opportunity to name this beer Gong Show (but we’ll take a reference to The Band any day!) Cold-fermented at 9°C before being bumped up briefly for a rest at 14°C, it was then lagered for four weeks. With all local malt from Horton Ridge and Willamette and Chinook hops from Wicked Hops in Stewiacke, it’s also a very locally-focused brew. Coming in at 4.7% ABV, it’s described as, “clean and crisp, with nice fruit-forward hop character [and] mango aromas.”
We’ve got some good news for you if you’ve been waiting for a new, funky, bottled release from Propeller Brewing, as their latest is just hitting shelves today. Brett Porter is described by the brewery in three words: “Rustic. Roasted. Stubborn”. Brewed in the style of your typical English Porter, it was initially fermented with a British Ale strain; the beer was then transferred to barrels for a secondary fermentation (and 9 month aging period) with Brettanomyces claussenii. Packaged in 750 mL bottles, the final 6.4% ABV, 25 IBUs beer has “layers of rich, roasted malt” with earthy, fruity, and funky characteristics thanks to the Brett. Bottles likely won’t last long, so be sure to pick yours up at either Prop shop sometime over the weekend.
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a release from Stillwell Brewing, no doubt owing a little bit to the craziness of cranes and pub openings and such, but also because you can’t rush beer like this, dammit! However, out this weekend is the latest iteration of their Gosh. Starting life amongst the brewery’s first releases, this was originally a red wine barrel-aged farmhouse dry hopped with Mosaic. When it came out several months later, v2 of this one was a blend of several barrels also hit hard with the hops. This time we had to wait a year and a half for v3, but we’re sure it’s worth it. Originally brewed over a year ago, it sat patiently in barrels getting tasty until September when it was dry hopped and bottled. Since then it’s been resting, waiting for the day when CPR pops a bottle, pours a glass, tastes it, considers it, and utters the fateful words, “It is ready.” Or at least that’s the way it happens in our beer dreams. (You know you have beer dreams too.) Anyways, the time is now. Go get some from their Barrington Street location, open today at noon.
What’s on the go this weekend? Here ya go!
Continuing with their trend of mini-tap-takeovers this month, Stillwell on Barrington will surely be making local cider fans happy tomorrow as they put 5 ciders on tap and serve 4 more by the glass from Guelph’s Revel Cider. Although we definitely believe that the cideries of Atlantic Canada are putting out delicious and innovative products, just as with recent beer events featuring top out-of-region producers, we think Revel’s small batch concoctions deserve your interest. Leaning towards the funky, the sour, the herbal and the unusual, there’s some definite delights to look forward to.
- Time & Place – Farmhouse Cider
- Ostara Yarrow – Cider with Golden Plums and Yarrow Flower
- Ostara Elderflower – Cider with Golden Plums and Elderflower
- Cursive – Blend of perry on Riesling skins, cider on blueberries, and Maréchal Foch
- Sonata – Cider with Montmorency cherries
And by the glass:
- Soma – Pétillant Naturel apple wine
- Petrol – Single barrel funky perry
- Mirabelle – Cider with lemon verbena and strawberries
- Revdock – A collaboration beer-cider hybrid with Burdock: tannic apple cider blended with an ale fermented on a sourdough culture with corn and spelt
No doubt Chef Joe Martin will have the tasty food coming out of the kitchen to pair with these, and, being a mini-takeover, there’s sure to be beer taps pouring if cider isn’t your bag (but seriously, try these ciders anyway).
Grey Rock Casino, located in Edmundston, NB, is holding a Beer Fest this Saturday, featuring a handful of breweries from New Brunswick, as well as one visiting from Quebec. On hand with be hometown brewery Petit-Sault, as well as Big Axe, Brasseux d’la Cote, Four Rivers, Grimross, SCOW Cider, and Le Caveau from Trois-Pistoles, QC. This event is a fundraising event for the local food bank, Atelier RADO, who will be receiving all of the profits. Tickets are available here, and also get you into the Izzy Ouellet concert after the beer fest is done.
Not to be outdone by their OG location in Charlottetown*, HopYard Halifax is doing their second annual Battle of the Breweries event over the course of the next couple months as a regular Thursday night thing. Fifteen Nova Scotia breweries have been invited to the dance, with three competing each time with three beers each. The opening round will take place each week from February 6th to March 12th with the winning brewery (the one who sells the most pints) moving on to the semi final round. What’s that you say? There’s 6 Thursdays there and only 15 breweries? That’s because there’s going to be a Cider battle on February 20th to change things up a little! With five winners moving forward, they’ll need a sixth for the semis, so the best of the second place finishers in the first round will also move on. We suspect you’ll see the two semis on March 19th and March 26th with the finals on April 2nd, but we’ll be sure to let you know if we find out that changes. It will surely be interesting to see how breweries play this one. Do they bring their usual retail sellers? Introduce new beers? Or debut something that’s been developing for some time? For now, we invite you to check out the upcoming first round battles below and make a plan to support your favorite breweries in this series.
- February 6: Saltbox v. Boxing Rock v. Propeller
- February 13: Lunn’s Mill v. Hell Bay v. Big Spruce
- February 20: (Cider Battle) Sourwood v. ChainYard v. Lake City
- February 27: Garrison v. Good Robot v. Breton
- March 5: Upstreet v. Roof Hound v. Off Track
- March 12: Tusket Falls v. Tatamagouche v. New Scotland
* The Battle of PEI Breweries continues the next three Thursdays with the Semi Finals and Finals on Feb 6, 13, and culminating on the 20th.
YellowBelly is holding a fundraising beer fest of their own next weekend, February 8th. The Crafternoon for Australia runs from 2 – 5 PM at the Brewery on Water Street. While Snowmageddon 2020 shut down the city temporarily, the fires, and now flooding in Australia are making life unbearable for thousands in the country. All profits from tickets sales will be going toward Australian Red Cross and WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organization. With plenty of new releases and old favourites from Baccalieu Trail, Boomstick, Dildo Brewing, Iron Rock, Landwash, Ninepenny, Port Rexton, Quidi Vidi, Rough Waters, Split Rock, in addition to host YellowBelly’s beers, there are plenty of choices to help do some good. Your ticket includes your first four samples, plus admission to the silent auction of many donated items available.
We first mentioned it earlier in the month, but we have some solid details now on the Spring edition of the Certified Cicerone Exam happening in Halifax. On May 6th, at the Stillwell Freehouse, you will be tested on your knowledge of beer storage and serving, beer styles, and off-flavours. Grab your seat at the table here, and best of luck to everyone! Let us know if you need a drinking partner to help “study”.
New beer on the taps from Hampton’s own Gridiron Brewing. Blind Date Brown is a 5.1% ABV Brown Ale made with 2-Row Barley from Island Malt House, and bumped up in colour and character with Biscuit and Amber malts. Not stopping there, however, they also added dates to the brew for the full experience. Available on tap at the brewery for growler fills now. Join them in celebrating those going on Blind Dates everywhere this weekend with a toast (in fact, that’s how the owners first met)!
Just a couple more things before we let you go this week…
In case we haven’t completely filled up your weekly Beer Reading Time, let us suggest another local beer blog that’s worth your time. Especially for those looking to do that exam in May… Malty Media is written by Evan Fougere, Certified Cicerone, beer educator, and all around good guy, as a way to share information on the ingredients that go into, processes that make it taste great, and the people who make that happen. The latest post is with John Webster of Shoreline Malting, located just outside of Summerside PEI. Give it a read, and follow along with MM’s posts and announcements of classes and events through social media.
We didn’t hear about it in time for last week’s post and it already took place last night, but a big congratulations from us to North Brewing on their SEVENTH anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years, and we don’t think we’ve seen any other brewery in the region go through so many changes in that timeframe, from their original little location at North and Agricola (under a different name), to the opening of Battery Park, to their big move to Portland Street and all the various beers they’ve given us in that time. It’s certainly been an odyssey and we’ve been lucky to be able to watch them grow and develop. We share the sentiments of those who toasted them yesterday on social media: “Good Beer made by Good People.”
Quidi Vidi Brewing is looking to hire a Brewer to join their fold, as they ramp up production for a busy spring and summer season ahead of them. Find out all of the details on their job posting. And stayed tuned here next week for the details of the Newfermenters X QV collaboration beers hitting the shelves!
Tidehouse doesn’t have a new beer this week (although they’re promising something “gorgeous” for next week), but there is some news coming out of their Tiny Tasting Room: CANS! They’ve got themselves a single-head canner and will have their first cans available next week. With any luck this will improve on the drudgery and inconvenience of bottling at least a little.
Fredericton’s Trailway has brought back one of their fruitiest concoctions, Starblast. Sure, it’s got a smattering of El Dorado hops, but what it’s really got is tons of Peach and Raspberry puree and some orange zest as well. “Radler-esque” but still very much beer, it comes in at 5% ABV. In cans and on tap at the brewery.