Long Weekend in the Maritimes, woohoo! That may mean your favourite brewery, restaurant, bar, or retail shop is closed Monday, so please reach out before you visit. Better yet, stock up now and spend the day in your jammies enjoying the best of the region. Here are a few suggestions for what to have in your glass…
Let’s begin today’s post some sad news, hitting close to home. Niche Brewing in Hanwell, NB, has announced that they have brewed and packaged their last beer and will be closing. We understand there are many factors leading to the decision, and both Rob and Shawn will certainly be a part of the New Brunswick beer scene forever, having started as avid homebrewers over a decade ago, taking the leap into opening a brewery with an impressive variety of releases, and ending on their own terms. As some may know, Shawn has also been one of the authors of this blog, and we’re reflecting on the great writing and contributions he’s made to the Atlantic Canadian beer scene over the past 8 years (!!), using his voice to help promote others in the same space as Niche. And though we’re very disappointed, we must acknowledge that Shawn has retired from the blog as well. Thanks brother, we look forward to sharing a beer together again when it’s safe.
Some thoughts from each of us…
“I remember the first time I had Niche was at The Joyce in early 2018. All I had to read was “Brett Table Beer” and I was sold on Something Different. It was only a few months later their beers showed up more and more at Stillwell and then in the fall they had an excellent tap takeover at Stillwell. I’ve been lucky to have spent some time with Shawn and the region is lucky to have had this brewery’s funky, sour and aged treats for many years. I’ll cherish my cellared Niche beers for years to come. To the cool kids!” – Damian
“When I heard that Shawn Meek was planning to open a brewery, my first thought was “who’s that?”… little did I know that Niche would become such an innovative and delicious presence in the Atlantic Canada beer scene. I’ll miss seeing the Allagash of Hanwell on the wall at Stillwell, and the bottles smuggled in from New Brunswick by he who shall not be named. All the best Shawn and cheers to what’s next.” – Devon
“Even before I was press-ganged into the blog, I was aware of Shawn’s brewing prowess thanks to his personal blog and his homebrew comp triumphs. When I heard that he was starting a brewery it seemed natural for someone so passionate and capable to take the next step. How he continued to be a family man, work a full time job and also write damn near half this blog most weeks I will never know. But I’m awfully thankful for it. I’m also thankful for so many fine beers of a quality and variety that many breweries much bigger and more established have trouble matching. I’ll miss hearing about what’s coming out of Hanwell before everyone else, but I hope we can continue to butt heads, kibitz (at Chris’ expense, when possible), and also share a beer or two when the stars align (Orval, maybe?). – Aaron
“Shawn, I can’t remember exactly when or where we met, but I’m glad we did! GDAH or FCBF, right? It’s been a wild ride, and what I do remember is the fun we’ve had together with a beer in our hand (or not!), shooting the shit, and fixing the (beer) world. Thanks for saying “Yes” when I called in the big guns to partner up for the blog, and still being crazy enough to write it while juggling everything on the go in the real world. While there may not be much more Niche coming our way, this just means the homebrew will be flowing freely soon, right? 😉😜 Looking forward to sharing another pint with you again soon, brother!” – Chris
OK, enough feeling down on ourselves…. For those of you fortunate enough to live in the Capital Region (and beyond), check out your local ANBL or Brewery Agency Store to ensure you grab bottles of Niche’s releases before they are gone (like gone, gone). Plus Niche draught is still pouring at a few spots in the region, including The Joyce, Bar Stillwell, and better beer establishments in between.
Let’s kick off the new beer news of the week with a pair that were a long time in the making, from the small town of Montague, PEI. Copper Bottom Brewing is debuting the first in their foray into barrel-fermented and -aged farmhouse ales, both brewed mid-2020, and allowed to develop plenty of character over the past 6 months.
First up is Thicket, a 5.0% Wild Ale with Blackberries. Starting from an uncomplicated malt bill of Vienna and Pilsner Malts, with some Raw Wheat and Spelt added to give the little beasties something to chew on over time, the wort saw just a small addition of Centennial hops used at the end of the boil. The hops are not the star of this show, however, with a blend of yeasts in the “tart saison” family pitched as the wort was added to a pair of white wine barrels. The yeast was allowed to do its thing over the next three months in the barrels, before being moved to a stainless conditioning tank, where a healthy serving of wild blackberries were added. A second fermentation and conditioning took place over the next two months, before the beer was bottled still, and allowed to carbonate naturally in glass. Bright, tart, and complex, with the blackberries lending a touch of sweetness to the final package.
Patina is the second release out today, and while it started with the same base wort, it was fermented with a blend of yeast blends, with Brett Sour and Saison yeasts and other beasts coming together to dutifully chew away at the sugars. Fermented directly in a pair of Pinot Grigio barrels, the beer was allowed to sit for 6 months, before packaging and allowed to finish in the bottle. This 4.8% beer is lively, funky, bright, and features just a touch of oak.
Both beers are available in the taproom and retail today, as well as for delivery through their online shop. Those in the area are seriously recommended to drop by this evening to try the two new beers, as well as take part in the pop-up by roving pizza empire Dough Boy Industries. In the taproom from 5 PM this evening, there will be 13” pies and garlies available for ordering, as well as live music from Joce Reyome. Arriving early and/or reserving a table (902-361-2337) are the best ways to avoid disappointment. Keep an eye on other events at Copper Bottom through their Events page, where they have all of their weekly Saturday and Sunday shows listed, as well as special events, including Ashley Condon’s concert March 6th, and Garrett Mason on the 20th.
Let’s head North East to Deer Lake, Newfoundland, to our friends at Rough Waters Brewing. While their brewery retail spot is currently closed (thanks COVID!), that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to put out some great beers to the province’s beer stores. Backcountry Saison is out in the wild now, just aching to be taken on an adventure in nearby Gros Morne National Park. Featuring 2-Row, Wheat, and Vienna malts, it was lightly hopped with Centennial and East Kent Golding, before being fermented with an iconic Saison yeast, lending plenty of spice and spritz to the beer. Enhancing those characteristics were additions of coriander and orange peel at the end of the boil. 6.9% with a dry finish, keep an eye out for this one! Also hitting the shelves of the Marie’s Mini Marts and other good beer shops reeeeeal soon is Plum Pint. Those in Western may recognize the name from a local spot, but anyone can enjoy this 5.0% Wheat Beer, which features an addition of plum puree post-fermentation. Smooth and fruity, tasty all way round!
Back on the mainland, Truro Brewing Company is releasing Dark Necessities. This 10% ABV Imperial Stout was aged in a “Bourbin-ish” barrel from nearby North River’s Raging Crow Distillery. Expect big, rich chocolate notes, some coffee and a smooth bourbon character in the finish. Packaged in 650 ml bottles, you can find it today at the brewery, onsite at Raging Crow and tomorrow (Saturday) at the Truro Farmers Market. Beer drinkers of Truro, consider your Valentine’s Day plans resolved.
In other TBC news, the brewery is holding a contest to name a new Double IPA that they are planning to release at the end of February to coincide with their first anniversary. Send your most creative idea (a nod to something local would help) via DM on their social channels or to email@example.com by February 25. The winner will be announced the next day, with a $50 TBC gift card and t-shirt up for grabs.
Big Spruce is giving us ‘an early taste of summer’ (apparently they are ignoring the long-range forecast for Nyanza) with the release of Day 6. This 6.4% offering is a co-fermented blueberry sour with Brettanomyces. Expect a deep purple colour with upfront flavours of tart blueberries and lemonade, followed by some comforting notes of chamomile tea and blueberry jam. We’re told that kegs are heading to Battery Park and Primal in the city. 650 ml bottles should be available in the webstore tomorrow. And as always, you can find Day 6 on tap at the source in sunny Nyanza.
If you’re like us and enjoy the occasional hop explosion taking over all of your senses, 2 Crows is here with their first take on the aggressive style. Space Words brings the hops. At 10.1% like other Triple IPAs we’ve seen around the region, this one comes in at 70 IBU and is loaded with Galaxy, Eclipse and Comet hops. Onto the nerdy details! This ale was brewed with a base of German Pilsner malt, flaked wheat, and Golden Promise, with sucrose added to the boil to boost the ABV. Next up, this was hopped judiciously in hopback with Galaxy and Comet. This was fermented with a blend of juice-forward hazy yeasts, as well as a unique nectar specialist yeast Metschnikowia reukaufii (from the brewery – “This yeast was initially harvested from flowers in the Berkeley Hills of California, and is thought to have evolved to make flowers smell better for pollinators by altering nectar compounds like glycosides”). Think Bio-transformation in a big, big way! This IPA was quadruple dry hopped with the three featured hops and is the juiciest, boldest and hoppiest beer to date from the Brunswick Street brewers. This beer is available now in 473ml cans and you can have it delivered right to your door ordering directly from the brewery to get this as fresh as possible!
Nanobrewery O’Creek has a pair of new beers in the wild these days, on tap at several spots in the GMA. First up is The Flyer, a 6.8% NEIPA, using Talus, Citra, Centennial, and Amarillo hops to blast your senses with full on orange, tangerine, and citrus character, yet with a smooth mouthfeel. Named after one of the fastest boats used in the rum trade in Kent County, best get yourself to CAVOK or Tide & Boar for a pint before she’s gone! Also keep an eye out for Outback IPA, a 6.2% all Aussie hop-bomb, featuring Galaxy, Enigma, and Vic Secret. Dank and tropical, this can also be found on tap at CAVOK.
A blog favourite from the 2019 Stillwell Open returns again from Propeller. Sabro is a flavourful Double IPA packed with intense tropical hops. With a flavour packed with Sabro hops, you’ll get some passionfruit, pineapple and coconut. This is a hazy favourite clocking in at 65 IBU and 7.5% ABV. Available in 473ml cans at both Prop shops today, online too, and will be hitting the private stores in HRM next week.
Did you know that Trailway Brewing, Fredericton, NB’s pied pipers of hazy hopjuice, have been tickling your tastebuds with lupulin-laden delights for six years now? Well if you didn’t, then now you do! With things being what they are pandemic-wise they’re not planning anything huge to mark the occasion, but they’d be happy to see you and the gang from your 10-person bubble visit the taproom to celebrate with some pints, or just you picking up some cans to toast them with at home. And they’ve got plenty of options for you in both cases, including at least four very fresh batches, to wit:
- Beans, their oatmeal stout with coffee and, fittingly, a keg of which was the first keg sale Tw made (to The Joyce, of course!), is back on tap and in cans.
- Voyager, a very soft 8% ABV DIPA that they haven’t brewed in quite some time, and featuring two of the juiciest hops known to humankind: Citra and Galaxy, is available once again, this time in a double dry hopped version!
- Green Island, which sees two fairly new hop varieties, Idaho 7 and Cashmere join forces to bring out juicy berry and pineapple characters in a hazy 6% ABV package.
- Box Theories, another DIPA at 8% ABV, this one with new hop hotness Strata combining with old and busted (but we still love it*) Mosaic for a bright and tropical, yet still soft and juicy, flavor experience.
And if there’s anyone out there reading this in Quebec who’s a fan of Trailway and has noticed their beers in La Belle Province, you very well might be seeing the three IPAs listed above at your local dep or wherever you’ve been finding it before.
* Except Chris. But he’s weird in other ways too. Happy Birthday buddy!
The good folks at Tatamagouche Brewing are bringing out a big bodied banger for Valentine’s Day with a nice twist on their Russian Imperial Stout. They took their original RIS recipe, added some chocolate wheat and then it was racked into Bourbon barrels from two different barrels. With the addition of chocolate wheat to this release, nice rich, roasty and chocolate flavours come through with a touch of coconut. This 650ml bottle release is 10.3% and is available now. Get this directly from the brewery’s online shop, as they ship across the nation!
Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing is, like everyone else, very happy to see that Moncton is finally out of the red phase, COVID restriction-wise, and in particular they’re excited to start helping to hook you up with some of the beer they’ve been stockpiling a little during the increased protocols. Fans of the brewery will no doubt be happy to know that Parts N Labour, their 6% ABV New England IPA, is back, this time featuring a different variety of hops, namely: Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe. “A true haze bomb,” you can expect to see (and experience) the effects of biotransformation due to dry-hopping during primary fermentation. This one is already available at the brewery for pints and fills, and, canning gods willing, also in cans later this afternoon!
Meanwhile, there’s also two smaller batches done on the pilot system available for enjoyment at the taproom (and very possibly fills to go). Their Belgian Quad is a rebrew, this time with their own house made Belgian Candi Sugar. And a new one, Peanut Butter Pastry Stout, which is described as “dessert in a glass” and features a healthy dose of lactose, is expected to be on tap starting today.
Down in the Annapolis Valley, or at least at the head (tail?) of it, lies Horton Ridge Malt & Grain, home of both a local malting operation and its eponymous brewery and taproom. Just in time for Valentines Day they’ve got a couple of special editions available that have been in the works for a while. First is their Barreled Bar Dog, a barrel-aged variation of their Bar Dog stout. But instead of the typical bourbon or whisky barrel treatment, this one had a stay in a red wine barrel from Valley neighbours Luckett Vineyards. At 6.6% ABV this one maintains the roasty malt and chocolate character of the non-BA version, but adds some dark fruit character. Second is Brunch, which might put you in mind of something light and fruity, but if it didn you’d be very, very wrong. Taking its name from a special ingredient, it’s an American Barleywine weighing in at a hefty 10.6% ABV. Featuring some maple sweetness from pure maple syrup sourced from their neighbours at Hutchinson Acres as well as a smokey bacon finish that we’re not going to speculate on how they accomplished, but maaaybe if you’re vegetarian or vegan you’ll want to ask some questions before purchasing. At 10.6% ABV we don’t really recommend having more than one of these with brunch unless you’re planning an afternoon nap. We don’t know about whether they’ve got either of these on tap, but we can tell you for sure that they’re available for purchase in 375 mL bottles!
If you’ve kept an eye on local craft beer social media as of late, you may have noticed the fine folks from the Change is Brewing Collective took a trip down Shelburne way. In addition to visiting the Black Loyalist Heritage Center, they took a visit to Boxing Rock to brew a beer! Brewed on February 4th, get ready for the release of Back to Birchtown Old Stock Ale. A 6% ale that could be reminiscent of a warmer, sweet caramel of a winter warmer. The inspiration from this ale comes from traditional Birchtown brewing ingredients of raisins, brown sugar and molasses.
This beer is actually releasing at the end of the month in 650ml bottles, but you have the opportunity to order a limited edition package with a collaboration mask and admission to the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre for future use, all for $26. The label will also be designed with Change is Brewing and likely the mask as well. 100% of the proceeds from this beer and this package will be donated to the Change Is Brewing Collective and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society. Pre-order at the link here.
A trio of short beer blasts to finish your assigned reading for today!
The fine folks at Hell Bay Brewing in Liverpool are releasing a new canned beer, Sea Sea Salted Chocolate Porter. Details on the beer are scarce at the moment, but we do know that you’ll soon be able to find this 6.0% ABV offering at NSLC locations and on tap at the brewery.
Port au Port, NL’s Secret Cove has a new beer out this week, what they’re calling a “small beer with lots of character”. Chesterfield Road may only be 4.8% ABV, but this Session IPA still packs plenty of oomph in the can, thanks to lots of late addition of Mosaic and Cashmere hops. Tropical, citrus, beery, and pine, without the headache tomorrow morning! Their first Island-wide release, check out your local good beer shop to grab some, and of course on tap for pints and growlers at the taproom too!
Heading back south, Tusket Falls Brewing Company is releasing the latest in its experimental beer series with Raspberry Milkshake IPA. This one features Citra and Mosaic hops, with a base malt of chit malt. The milkshake aspect comes from the addition of lactose sugar, followed by conditioning on Madagascar vanilla beans and raspberry puree. Expect notes of raspberry candies and some citrusy hop notes from this 7.5% ABV offering. Check it out at their taproom today.