We’ve made it to another Friday, and for those of us in Nova Scotia, winter is making its first real appearance. Despite half the province jumping at the opportunity to pre-emptively call the first snow day of the year, your favourite breweries, taprooms, bars, cideries and bottle shops across the region remain open with plenty of new releases and old classics on tap and packaged for your enjoyment. So sit back, crack a cold one and wait for your neighbour to fire up their snow blower as you get caught up on this week’s news.
Some big news from Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing this week that speaks to the way our beer can compete beyond our region’s borders. Some may know of the friendship between Trailway and Lagabière of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, which has been manifest in a couple of home-and-home collaborations over the past couple years. Some may also be aware that Trailway has long hoped to share their beer in the Quebec beer market, which is notoriously competitive and complex for out-of-province breweries, especially smallish craft breweries, to break into. If you put those two things together, it makes perfect sense for Trailway to have entered into a new partnership with Lagabière to have some of Trailway’s recipes brewed at Lagabière’s state-of-the-art brewing facility on a contract basis for distribution within Quebec. This means Quebecers will be able to enjoy Trailway the way it’s best enjoyed, fresh. Congratulations to the Trailway crew on this next step in their growth!
In other big Trailway news is a big beer: Action Phil is a triple IPA tipping the scales at 10% ABV. Named for the action figure that hangs out on the bar at Peppers Pub, who is in turn named after Pepps owner Philip Croft, it’s a Trailway joint and an TIPA so you’ve got to figure there’s some hop action going on in there. Taking a page out of the Dogfish Head manual, this one was continuously hopped during the boil and then dry-hopped “generously” with Columbus, Amarillo, Chinook, and Simcoe, which could easily be referred to as the four horsemen of the dankocalypse. Expect plenty of pine, resin, and citrus oil notes, with some dried stone fruit to boot. On the malt side, rich and toasty is the order of the day, giving much more of a West Coast impression than Trailway’s typically juicy and hazy oeuvre. Look for it on tap at Peppers Pub, of course, but also at the brewery, where you might also grab a can or two of the latest batch of Sabro-loaded double IPA, Ooz.
Speaking of IPAs, head over to Burnside this week and you’ll find a new one pouring at Spindrift. Dubbed Fusion Hazy IPA, it gets its name from the melding of New World IPA techniques with Old World hops. Never fear, however, they didn’t make a noble hazebomb with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Tettnanger, and Saaz, they used “Old World, New School” varieties Callista, Arianna, and Hallertau Blanc. Built on a base of Pilsner, malted wheat, malted oats, and chit malt, this one came out at 6.9%, with a fairly gentle, but balancing bitterness at 30 IBU. Expect plenty of citrus and tropical fruit, alongside some berry, spice, and white wine notes to complement. It’s available at the brewery, of course, but also at Spindrift’s Oak Manor location in Antigonish and very likely the private stores in the HRM in the coming week or two.
Not to be outdone, Newfoundland gets into this week’s IPA game with the return of a collaboration between Bannerman and Landwash. Originally brewed in 2019, it is conceptually the meeting of two double IPAs: Bannerman’s Island Time and Landwash’s Dream Island. Taking those two recipes into a dark alley with a tube sock ¼ full of dinky cars yielded Dream Time. Fluffy and light, but packing a DIPA-appropriate punch at 7% ABV, it features Galaxy, Eclipse, and BRU-1 hops and a soupçon of lactose to smooth it all out. Both breweries have this one on tap now and cans are available at Landwash’s retail. Wider distribution won’t happen until January turns into February, so you’ll have to head to the source(s) until then!
We couldn’t resist trying to complete the superfecta of an IPA release from each of the four provinces and sure enough, Borden-Carleton’s Lone Oak came through for us. Phancy is a re-release of the brewery’s most popular seasonal to date. A hazy IPA, it was brewed with Phantasm, which you may remember from other ACBeerBlog posts as a powdered product derived from New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc grapes that contains copious quantities of thiol precursors. Those thiol precursors, unlocked by brewing and fermentation techniques can lead to amazing tropical fruit flavors and aromas in the beer. What more could you ask for in a juicy IPA? This one comes in at 7%, is full-bodied, but low in bitterness, and is bursting with passion fruit, tangerine, and grape aromas. You’ll find it at the Lone Oak taproom as well as their Milky Way Brewpub and Cold Beer Store. Note that supply is limited so you’ll want to move quickly!
Switching to a more “seasonal” style, for those who are into tired old rubrics, is Propeller, who have a new pilot batch on tap. Superstition is an imperial spiced stout with cardamom (both black and green by the looks of the insta post). Brewed on Friday the 13th, we suspect this one has been aging since May of last year rather than being served a week after brewing. Expect a complex and full-bodied brew, with a big head, flavours of dark chocolate, and aromas of anise and smoke. Being a pilot batch, supply is limited, and it’s only available on tap. Find it at both the Gottingen and Quinpool taprooms.
Also going dark this week is Port Rexton Brewing, who have brought back their Shoreline salted stout. Featuring salt from the Newfoundland Salt Company, this one carries roasted malt and dark chocolate characters, with some subtle dark cherry and fig notes coming through. Fairly low in ABV at 5.4%, and with the salt providing a minerality that lightens the body a touch, it’s sessionable enough that you can justify having a second one to really appreciate the complexity. It’s available on tap for pints and fills at the tap room and the St. John’s retail shop. Although it’s available in cans as well, we note that PR is filling jugs at a discount this weekend at both locations, with 32oz grunters/squealers being filled for $4.14 + tax and 64oz growlers for $8.24 + tax. That’s a great deal on some fine beer, especially with this new release and also a fresh batch of their OG IPA, Horse Chops available as well!
Switching gears to cider now we’ve got a trio of releases this week, each with something interesting going on beyond plain fermented apple juice. Up first is Annapolis Cider who have something new that’s made from something old: old school apples, that is! Heirloom features a blend of juice from heirloom apple varieties Golden Russet, Spartan, Ribston, and Cox’s Orange Pippin, and fermented in oak, this one brings aromas of the orchard along with a sweetness that masks what a dry cider it is. Finished with a curated blend of juice from some more obscure traditional varieties, the result has a golden hue. Plenty of tannins, from both the apples and the oak, provide some structure and it’s got a refreshing carbonation. Find it by the bottle at the cidery in Wolfville.
Next we have Sourwood Cider, who bring us Ginger, a Northern Spy-based cider with plenty of other things going on. This one leverages malolactic fermentation: the use of Lactobacillus to ferment malic acid (tart) present in the juice into lactic acid (smooth/milky). This type of fermentation is commonly used in winemaking, specifically with Chardonnay; if you’ve ever tasted or heard of a “buttery” Chard, that’s almost certainly due to malolactic fermentation. But that’s not all that’s going on in Ginger, there’s, well, ginger in there, and just like the apples, the ginger is Nova Scotia-grown. Lastly, the cider was barrel aged, no doubt to add some tannins, again, consistent with (oaked) Chardonnay. Finished with a low carbonation for a smooth and soft mouthfeel, you’ll find this one at Sourwood Cider Bar in North End Halifax.
Finishing up on the fun and funky cider tip is Chainyard who bring us the return of King’s Saison. This one started with two heritage apple varieties, King of Tompkins County (also known simply as “King”), a once very popular apple from New York State, and Ribston Pippin, the most famous variety from Yorkshire, UK, and almost certainly the parent of Cox’s Orange Pippin (although it is suspected to ultimately have a French origin). This blend of juices was then fermented with saison yeast, a type of yeast known much more for use in beer than cider, and which provides flavor components in the estery and phenolic (spicy) ranges, but more importantly for cider, also tends to ferment out extremely dry. Intrigued? We sure are. Grab this one in cans to go from the cidery on Agricola Street or stay and have a pint from the taps. This one was on tap at Stillwell last May, so keep your eyes peeled for this 6.6% saison take on the cider.
Not to be outdone by Halifax, Lake City Cider in The Part of HRM Formerly Known as Dartmouth has a return engagement back on the shelves. Feisty is a collaboration with local chef Renée Lavallée of The Canteen. Made from 100% crab apples, it “celebrates small things that pack a big punch”. Expect plenty of acidity and tannins, with aromas of honeysuckle and apple blossom and flavors of pear and lychee on the finish. This one should pair very nicely with seafood, pork dishes, and roasted root vegetables.
Just one major event to tell you about, but it’s a big’un for folks on the Island.
Fans of good beer in Prince Edward Island can recommence with the rejoicing, as the PEI Beer Festival is back! After the originally scheduled event was cancelled due to Hurricane Fiona’s impending landfall, new dates have been locked in for February 10th and 11th at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown. There will be three sessions in total, one Friday evening from 6:30 to 9:30pm and two on Saturday: afternoon from 2:00 to 4:30pm and evening from 6:30 to 9:30pm. VIP tickets will cost you a little more for any given session, but grant you a 30-minute earlier entry (i.e., 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon or 6:00pm for either evening session) along with a souvenir glass. Designated driver tickets (complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and access to the DD lounge) are also available for all three sessions, which we heartily applaud. All told, including fees and taxes, VIP will cost you $80.67, regular admission $60.94, and DD $13.55. If you purchased tickets back in September your tickets are still good! Otherwise, head over to the Eventbrite page and grab some and plan to experience all kinds of Island and non-Island beers and other drinks, with live entertainment for a convivial atmosphere during the dregs of Winter!
Seems to be a bunch of breweries looking for staff this week; looking ahead to a big summer, we expect!
Wolfville’s Church Brewing is looking for a full-time Brewer to join their congregation. This is a unique opportunity to work in one of the most unique spaces in the region. Experience isn’t necessary for this position (though it would certainly be considered an asset), but a passion for brewing definitely is. Get your résumé in by Monday, January 22nd to be considered for the role! If you’re interested, you can email the head brewer, Steve Crane.
Over in Burnside, Spindrift is on the lookout for a Tap Room and Retail Associate. If slinging high quality lagers to the thirsty beer drinkers of Dartmouth sounds like your thing, send a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Along the North Shore of Nova Scotia, Tatamagouche is hiring a full-time and permanent position at the brewery. They’re looking for a Store Manager and someone to lead a team, learn about beer, work events and spread that Tatamagoodness. And, it comes with health plan! If this interests you, email Christiane Jost to apply. They’ll be accepting applications until January 31st, and this is a very cool opportunity if you’re nearby Tatamagouche or looking to make a move.
IPAs and Quebec aren’t the only Trailway news this week. If you remember, they’ve been working on a second location in Saint John, and with Union House nearing completion in early March, they’re excited to be close enough to opening to start hiring. Positions are now available for serving and kitchen roles, on both a full-time and part-time basis. If you’re interested in craft beer and getting in on the ground floor of what’s sure to be a go-to spot in Saint John, send a resume to email@example.com.
You’ve made it to the end! Stay alert, stay safe and cheers from us to you and yours.