Here we are on another Friday and November is coming to an end. We’ve got a big bunch of news from Newfoundland this week, but don’t worry, the rest of the Atlantic Provinces are also well-represented. And we’re somewhat on time this week after last week’s debacle. Huzzah!
There was some big and rather unfortunate news in the regional beer scene this week as it was announced in a joint statement by PEI’s departments of Workforce & Advanced Learning and Economic Development that Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) has entered receivership by order of the Supreme Court of the Province. DME has fitted out some 1,600 breweries in 70 countries over the past number of years, including quite a few in Atlantic Canada. Though we don’t know any names for sure, it is almost certain that there were brewhouses in development whose futures are in question based on having orders in with the company, and it stands to reason that some of those would be in our region. DME has manufacturing facilities in Charlottetown as well as Abbotsford, BC, and South Carolina under the Newlands banner that in total employ over 300 people. There has been speculation that the merger with Newlands had a part to play in this reversal of fortune, however financial details of that transaction are unknown. It has been reported by the CBC that efforts are being made to complete in-progress orders, that the provincial Government is becoming involved in efforts to prevent the demise of the firm, and that the receiver, Alvarez & Marsal intends to attempt to find a buyer. We very much hope that strategy pans out and we can report in the coming weeks and months that DME is back up and running with all of its employees back at work. It is, however, a sobering reminder that even in a booming industry like craft beer, things can go wrong in a hurry.
In a decidedly happier note, brewing and selling beer in Newfoundland will soon be a little bit less expensive, thanks to some changes being implemented by the provincial government January 1, 2019. The remission paid to the NLC (akin to the RSMA charged in Nova Scotia) is currently the highest in the country, sitting at more than $1.50 per litre, three times the next closest provincial rate. The local producers are currently eligible for a 33% reduction on the first 1 million litres, down to roughly $1.10 per litre. The new levels will see an improvement to 50% discount in the remission rate for beer sold at their own facility (taproom or retail), and 40% discount at retail stores (NLC and corner stores), bringing the levels to $0.85 and $1.00 per litre, respectively, for the first 1 million litres annually (roughly 8200 BBL, or much more than the craft breweries are currently producing). The reduced levels are still the highest in Canada, but are at least closer to the rest of the country. Local distilleries, ciderhouses, and wineries will also see further reduced rates in the new year. This will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced fees annually that the breweries will be able to reinvest in their equipment, labour, and infrastructure, in order to better serve the local beer drinking community. These changes are in no small part to the hard work of the Newfoundland & Labrador Craft Brewers Association, formed earlier this year, lobbying lawmakers in the province. And for future/amateur brewers, the introduction of U-Vint/U-Brew at the local homebrew shops is now legal with relaxation of that prohibition. The province has also promised a full review of the positive economic impact the craft alcohol producers are having in the province, and have set a November 2019 timeline for that release. With a dozen independent breweries and cideries now operating in the province, and two or three more set to open before January 1st, things are certainly looking up for the Newfoundland Beer Scene! Check out the full details of the reduction in the press release above.
Speaking of Newfoundland breweries, let’s give you a tease on one of the handful that are opening very soon. Like, very, very soon! Landwash Brewery is located in Mount Pearl, and will be opening their beautiful taproom at 181 Commonwealth Drive next week. We’ve got a full Profile with them lined up for early next week, but in the meantime, you can hear co-owner Chris Conway speaking with VOCM about the positive changes to the remission rate, as well as hints of their starting lineup of beers. Their Brackish Gose, One Wave Blonde, Hazures’ Rock Breakfast Stout, and That Much Ocean NEIPA will be available to enjoy by the pint and flight onsite, to go in cans and growler fills, next Thursday from 4 PM.
On the other side of the Island, you’ll find Bootleg Brew Co in Corner Brook. They’ve released a brand new beer this week, in the relatively new “Milkshake” style. Juice Arse is a 5.0% Milkshake Pale Ale, featuring loads of Amarillo and Simcoe hops, fermented with Foggy London Ale yeast from Escarpment Labs (a favourite of hazy IPAs), with small additions of lactose (milk sugar) and vanilla bean, to complete the Milkshake experience. As with all of their beers, the best place to grab a sample, pint, or growler is at their 92 Main Street location, but keep an eye on their social media (FB/IG/Tw)to see where their beers are being tapped across the province.
After launching last week with kegs at local restaurants and breweries, Crooked Feeder in Cormack, NL, has begun selling growlers. Located at 351 Veterans Dr, about 15 minutes North of Deer Lake, the brewery is only open a few afternoons each week, so it’s best to contact the brewery to ensure they are open (FB/IG/Tw). Visitors will be rewarded with one (or more) of the six beers brewed on their system: Bunker “C” Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (7.1% ABV, 35 IBU), Big Falls Pale Ale (5.6% ABV, 37 IBU), Bonne Bay Blonde (4.9% ABV, 21 IBU), Western Brook Wheat (5.4% ABV, 44 IBU), Spillway IPA (6.4% ABV, 66 IBU), and Rideout Red (5.3% ABV, 22 IBU).
Heading back across the Island to St John’s, where YellowBelly Brewery has released their annual Mummer’s Brew. The 2018 edition is a light-coloured Winter Warmer lager, featuring two special Canadian ingredients: the malt is an Albertan heirloom Barley named Olli, and features the brand new Sasquatch hop, which started as a wild varietal North of Vancouver, and now grown in BC, ON, and QC, under license by Hops Connect. The 6.8% ABV beer features some soft berry character from the malt, with citrus, melon, floral and earthy hop character (to the tune of 30 IBU). The beer is now available at the brewery for pints and growler fills at the Take Away Shop, and in 1 litre bottles at several NLCs in the area. Grab yours today before donning your costume and braving the weather!
In other Sasquatch news, Fredericton’s TrailWay is releasing their own beer featuring this Canadian variety. Sam-Squamptche (enjoy ordering that one at the bar!) is an American IPA that has been hopped entirely with Sasquatch, which we’ve already told you about just above us! TrailWay’s beer comes in at 6.5% ABV, and they’re describing the flavour profile as “uniquely citrus, with an underlying sweetness reminiscent of butterscotch or honey, resulting in an overall juicy character”… definitely sounds a bit different than your typical hop variety. This beer has a light body, to help the drinker focus on the hops. As always with TW’s Friday releases, you can grab it at the brewery immediately upon opening today (growlers, pints and cans), with a few nearby bars and restaurants tapping it likely over the weekend.
After the Antigonish Townhouse changed hands earlier in the year, the future of their on-site brews was up in the air. We are thrilled to note that those have continued, with a steady supply of Terry’s Bitter supplying their taps, but there’s always room for more! Owners Caitlin and Ryan Shimozawa have tapped her father, David Macfarlane, to take over the brewing duties. The latest new beer from their onsite 50 litre brewhouse is available on tap now. Caitlin’s IPA is a 5.0% ABV malt-forward English IPA, brewed using Fuggles and Goldings hops, with three hop additions during the boil. The carbonation level is on the lower side, and coupled with pouring from a stout faucet with Nitrogen, the beer is quite quaffable and perfect for a session in the pub. No word how long this batch of Caitlin will last, but good news that there is another batch fermenting now, and will return to the Townhouse in December.
There’s another beverage pouring over at Meander River, and it ain’t beer! It ain’t cider either, if that was what you were thinking. It’s Perry, and a “true” Perry at that… that is, it was made entirely with pears (many Perry producers blend pear juice with a certain quantity of apple juice). Featuring of blend of Annapolis Valley pears, Perry Noel is a drinkable 5% ABV, and the brewery describes it as “sparkly and delicate”. It’s available in 500 mL bottles starting today at the brewery, at this weekend’s BOTTLED Wine and Spirits Festival in Truro, and soon at Little Oak in Halifax; 750 mL bottles will also be appearing at Bishop’s Cellar in the near future, and they’ll even have kegs pouring on one of the guest taps at Chainyard! If you can get to Meander River itself, try to do so, as they’re currently running a campaign where $1 from every growler fill will go to fighting Period Poverty in Nova Scotia (by purchasing menstrual products for local food banks).
Let’s travel back to Halifax, where Tidehouse has two beers they want us to tell you about this week, one new, and one returning favourite… and both of them named in homage to songs. The new one is Oh! My Darlin’ Lemon Thyme, a Saison brewed with Pilsner, Oats, Dextrin, Wheat, Vienna, and Acid malt. Hopped minimally with Saaz, it was fermented with a Saison strain, with thyme and lemon peel added as fermentation was winding down. The thyme comes through first in the aroma, with the lemon making itself more apparent the more you sip. Very dry in the finish, and 6.4% ABV; this one is available on tap only, at the Tidehouse tasting room, by the flight, pint, or growler. And returning is their NEIPA, Cryo Me A River, hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe, and Ekuanot hops (of the cryo form, naturally). Pretty much all of the hops were added late in the boil and in the dry-hop, so expect low bitterness to go with all of that “tropical fruit and papaya/berry, followed by a pinch of pine”. On tap, of course, but it’s also been bottled for the first time, so you can grab some of those to take home with you as well.
Our friends at Niche in Hanwell, NB, are back again this week with another new beer. After last week’s release of a sour, they’re returning to their other wheelhouse this week with a hoppier offering. A NE IPA featuring nothing but Australian hops, Aussie Aussie Aussie is packed with three different varieties, namely Vic Secret, and Enigma, which they’ve used liberally before, and Topaz which is a new one in the Niche brewhouse. Very juicy and boasting plenty of tropical fruit flavors, it has the requisite low bitterness and easy drinking nature fans of the style have come to expect. Coming in at a quaffable 6% ABV, you’ll find it at The Joyce Pub and King Street Ale House in Fredericton, and at Peppers Pub and Cask & Kettle Irish Gastropub in Saint John, with more accounts to follow soon. Fans of Niche in Halifax will also be happy to hear there are kegs on the way to Stillwell and Hopyard as well. Oi Oi Oi!!
Back in Halifax, Boxing Rock’s Test Kitchen on Agricola Street (in the Local Source Market) has a new release hitting the taps today. Banana Hopsicle is a hybrid beer, bringing together the traditional German Hefeweizen style with the modern Session IPA. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Rob North of Great North Aleworks in Manchester, New Hampshire. North grew up in Halifax before moving south, and had another career before brewing took over his life, first as a highly lauded homebrewer, and now as owner of Great North. The beer features loads of late- and dry-hopping additions of Ekuanot and Huell Melon, fruity hops to complement the banana and clove from the Weiss yeast. And while you’re getting your fills of Banana Hopsicle, check to see if they have any of their Hell Bat, the Imperial Licorice Stout brewed with Battery Park left. It won’t be around much longer! Don’t forget your orange growler!
Maybee Brewing dropped a new beer shortly after noon yesterday, Brut IPA. As you probably guessed, this is the brewery’s take on the Brut IPA style (which continues to gain momentum, based on how many breweries in Atlantic Canada have brewed it the past few months!). It was hopped very minimally in the bittering addition (20 IBUs), with most of the American and European hop varieties being added late in the boil and in the dry-hop. Fermented with a neutral yeast strain, enzymes were added to the brew to bring out the dryness even more, with the final product showing off a long-lasting head, aromas of “bright tropical fruit, herbal/grassy notes, some spice and a hint of floral, white wine and honeydew melon”. With a thin body and high carbonation, it has lots of tropical fruit on the palate, with a very dry finish. It weighs in at 6% ABV, and will be available on tap only – you can find it at Maybee, various tap accounts in the province, and at the ANBL growler stations next Thursday, December 6th.
Down in Yarmouth, Heritage Brewing is pouring a brand new IPA to join their other 11 offerings currently pouring on tap. Norseman is a NEIPA “with a twist”, as it was fermented with a Norwegian yeast strain… specifically, the Voss Kveik strain from Escarpment Labs. These Kveik strains can be fermented at very warm (ok, downright hot compared to what you usually see with fermentation) temperatures. The grain bill for Norseman is made up simply of 2-row, Wheat malt, and Oats, and it was hopped with El Dorado, Amarillo, and Mosaic (all of which was added either in the whirlpool or dry-hop additions, keeping the bitterness low). Lots of fruity flavours and aromas with this one, so why not pop into the brewery’s taproom to give it (and the other beers!) a taste? And hey, they’re also filling growlers now, so they’ve got that going for them, too!
Since Good Robot opened several years ago, they have been consistently adding Clarex to every batch, an enzyme that reduces gluten to levels below 20 ppm (the international threshold for brewing considered “gluten free”). For next Tuesday’s Beta Brew, however, they’ve gone all the way and brewed a “completely gluten-free beer”, First Draught. By using sorghum syrup, buckwheat, and rice, they’ve produced a light beer (4.3% ABV) that still has plenty of hop presence, thanks to the additions of Citra, Cascade and Simcoe (to 37 IBUs). It should be noted, for those of you who are extremely sensitive to gluten, that this beer was brewed on the brewery’s pilot system, which has most-assuredly had glutenous products in its realm throughout its life! In Alpha news, next Thursday welcomes the return of Infinite Saturday, their Vienna Lager (5% ABV). Oh, and we should also mention that they’ve added seating in their upstairs space, meaning it may be a bit easier to actually have a seat in one of Halifax’s hottest taprooms from now on!
Last weekend the 6th annual Big Spruce HomeBrew Challenge wrapped up with the judging and announcement of winners. This year’s competition revolved around styles featuring wheat, namely German Weißbier and Belgian Witbier. The top three beers in each category were named and then an overall top three was selected from those six. This year’s big winner is a name you’ve seen in this blog on several occasions, as he’s brewed beers with Tidehouse and on Spindrift’s pilot system, and, in a “boy is that ever on the nose,” moment, he goes by the brewing moniker “Lil Wheatey.” Yes, Ian Wheatley took first place overall for his hefeweizen (1st place weißbier) and third overall for his witbier (2nd place witbier). George Arnott’s wit (1st place witbier) came in second overall. Additional category nods went to Devin Delaney in 3rd place for wit, Mark McKay in 2nd for weißbier, and David Pepper (2016’s overall winner) in 3rd place in weißbier. A big congratulations to all those who placed and a big thanks to Big Spruce for continuing to support the homebrewing community; look for Ian’s winning hefeweizen to debut at this year’s 10th Annual Eat. Drink. Local. Fest on January 10, 2019 (tickets are already on sale).
And in other Big Spruce news, just like last year, Jeremy is looking to load up the Sprucemobile and play Santa Claus, delivering beer to folks in Cape Breton and the HRM. Big Spruce Holiday Home Delivery will take place on December 15th (that’s a Saturday), but you’ll have to put an order in. Minimum order is 1 case of cans (24) or bottles (12) and, with mixing allowed, that gives you plenty of options. You can also add all manner of Big Spruce swag to that order, including their house-made edibles. Check the Facebook post for details on which beers and other items are available and be sure to get your order in soon.
After celebrating 11 years in business on the weekend, Port Williams Nova Scotia’s Sea Level Brewing has announced that they have broken ground on a brand new brewery, which will be located in Sheffield Mills (about ten minutes-drive away from their current location). Together with local farms, they are forming Millstone Harvest Brewhouse, to create Nova Scotia’s first “Estate Brewery”. Well on their way already, the new facility is slated to open in the spring. They’ll be brewing with their own farm-grown hops and malting barley, and the new location will house a tasting room and retail store. Fear not, the current location in Port Williams will still be operating as usual during this transition, and will remain open as a pilot brewery/retail location after the new brewery opens. The expansion will also allow the brewery to start selling their canned beers in the NSLC, greatly increasing their availability to other areas of the province. And for a sneak peek of the great beers to come, keep an eye out for their High Street Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, using some of the same malt and hops that will be gracing their new releases in the spring.
Details are being kept secret right now, but we did want to mention that those of you living in Miramichi, NB, who have been wondering when exactly the craft beer scene was going to improve in your area, have no need to wonder any longer! Timber Ship Brewing, a 1 bbl (120 L) brewery, should be opening in the area in the near future. They’re realistically aiming for early 2019, and will be producing a variety of beers for sale in kegs to local establishments. We’ll have more information, including a standalone post, for you very soon. In the meantime, check out their Facebook page to follow along with their progress.
This week’s shamefully late message about a new release come from Tatamagouche Brewing who are releasing a Bourbon Barrel-aged version of their Russian Imperial Stout. Built on their base RIS recipe with a little extra chocolate wheat added, the beer was then racked into barrels from two different distilleries. Bottles and pints are available already at the brewery, with kegs going out next week.
A few things to remind you about this weekend, plus a tease of what’s coming in January…
After a bit of a tease last week, those crazy folks at 2 Crows are releasing their latest barrel-aged, bottled beer, Mellarium, tomorrow at noon. No, really, we guarantee*. We’re not about to do them the huge favour of typing out all the info on the beer again (or even cutting and pasting for that matter, we don’t get paid for this, you know!), but here’s a link to last week, where you can check it out there! Buttered Bliss will also be on site from 2-7pm, serving up some delightful fried chicken sandwiches.
*Not a guarantee
Propeller Brewing is kicking off a month of “Black Casks” at their Gottingen Street tasting room, with the first hitting the bartop tomorrow at 3 PM. The first is their Russian Imperial Stout, cask-conditioned and served via gravity, rather than carbonated after the fact/on draught (though they will have this version as well, so we encourage you to get both and compare!). And they will be celebrating throughout the month of December with more interpretations of their Russian Imperial Stout and Porter, with the following offerings being tapped at the next four Fridays: Dec 7: Russian Imperial Stout with coconut, Dec 14: Porter with orange and chocolate, Dec 21: Russian Imperial Stout with smoked black tea, and a special cask on Dec 28, yet to be announced. Take note that beside tomorrow, all of the casks are tapped during their usual Cask Friday timeslot, at 5 PM. And for those of us who can’t get enough of the good stuff, they are raiding the cellar and releasing the last of their 2017 Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout. First released back in February of this year, the 8.5% ABV beer hung out in Bourbon barrels for a few months, picking up both wood and spirit character, complementing the roast and dark fruit character of the underlying beer. Grab a bottle or two to enjoy yourself, or gift to a special someone. And keep your eyes peeled here for the details on another release in the same vein, coming next week…
If you were perusing Instagram stories a couple of days ago and happened upon the right account, you might have gotten a heads-up that Bar Stillwell is planning another Belgian Celebration to take place (tentatively, we expect) on January 5th, 2019!! Thanks to the ephemeral nature of Instagram stories the details of the beer list are no longer available, but amongst those of us who saw it the general reaction was something along the lines of, “Holy Shit!” and/or “Hellz yes!” We’ll have more details as they are released, but for now, maybe block off that afternoon in your calendar, mmkay?
And here we are at the end of the line for this week, but there are a couple last things to mention before we let you go.
It’s not often that their bottles are available outside of the brewery, so we figured we’d let you know that Halifax’s Bishop’s Cellar has received a shipment of goodies from Toronto’s Bellwoods Brewery. They are hitting the shelves at opening tomorrow morning (that’s 8 AM, so grab a coffee to stay warm in line). With two versions of their Jelly King fruited sours (Pineapple Tangerine Grapefruit [also available online at 8 AM], and Sour Cherry), as well as Skeleton Key 2018 and Barn Owl #16. For those who want to be the first in the know, subscribe to their Behind the Taps mailing list, which hits your inbox about once a month, and highlights the latest beer arrivals and tastings they are hosting. Edited: Only the Jelly King PTG will be available online, BC has altered the distribution of the other 3 due to availability.
We mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but just a last reminder that the Cape Breton Beer Fest is happening tomorrow, December 1st in Sydney. Looks like there’s still some general admission tickets remaining; you can purchase those right here.
Those who remember the saga of the Beer Garden on the Halifax Waterfront might be interested to hear that a new tender opportunity has been announced by Develop Nova Scotia. Vendors interested in running a food and beverage operation at Summit Place during the summer months (May 15 – Oct 15) for a three-year period from 2019 to 2021 have been invited to submit their proposals no later than December 19, 2018, with the award expecting to be settled by January 18, 2019. The tender document mentions creativity and innovation, although we note that there’s only 10 points available there, whereas the financial portion (i.e., “How much are you willing to pay for the privilege”) gets 25 points. Color us unsurprised. The tender document can be viewed here. It will certainly be interesting to see whether it will remain with the incumbent Stubborn Goat or whether another interest will submit a successful bid.