The Station

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Happy Friday Thursday everyone! Surprise! We’ve got a full dance card this evening and tomorrow, and rather than leave you thirsty and no clue what to drink on the last weekend of August, we figured we’d hit you up a day early. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates for all of the new beers to be enjoyed as we take on the Bubble by boat, foot, or bike, with an awesome local beer in hand. Here’s the heads up to no fewer than a dozen new beers and ciders  to enjoy from around the Atlantic provinces. Cheers!

Let’s start off the week with a beer project whose purpose and benefits are becoming even more poignant daily. The Black Is Beautiful Beer Collaboration was started by Marcus Baskerville of San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewing, as a way to elevate the voices of, and lend real financial support to, groups working to identify, overcome, and remove, racial injustice. Tidehouse Brewing in Halifax is the second Nova Scotian brewery to release Black is Beautiful (Propeller Brewing’s draught-only release sold out in record time!), and the first to package it in cans. Tidehouse has gone all out, as they are wont to do, putting together a massive 11.0% ABV Imperial Stout. Featuring a full roast base, the addition of coffee, dark chocolate, and a touch of lactose, for a supremely flavourful and enjoyable beer to be enjoyed with friends. They did not do this all on their own, of course, with frenemies 2 Crows Brewing lending a hand to can the 25 flats of beer, and The Printing House Canada for providing the handsome labels at cost. That help means that more money can go towards Tidehouse’s chosen charity, Game Changers 902. This collective has been busy for months hosting rallies and community events in Nova Scotia, and the financial assistance from the project will allow them to continue this vital work of speaking truth to power, and to all of us. Black Lives Matter. You can lend your support by picking up Black is Beautiful from 2 PM tomorrow, until they’re sold out. And while you’re there, grab the brand new Undertow IPA. Using Horton Ridge Malt Pale malt, with Vienna and Acid malt to complete the grist, this 6.6% ABV is hopped with Azacca, Huell Melon, and Pacific Gem, resulting in some lovely tropical notes of mango and stone fruit. While they may have been caught in the undertow of COVID, it looks like the Tidehouse crew is keeping their heads above water and continue to push the envelope in the NS beer scene.

Downtown Dartmouth is buzzing with new beers these days, so let’s head across the bridge next! New Scotland Brewing is serving up a fresh new beer with a fresh new hop rarely seen in these parts, Pahto. Highland Light is just 3.7% ABV, but packs plenty of flavour into its small package. Inspired by the German Leichtbier, known as a style taking the “Light American Lager” back to the Old World, using high quality ingredients. Pahto is a high Alpha hop known to exhibit plenty of Noble hop characteristics, with its sole addition in the whirlpool enough to give a bit of bitterness, and great herbal, floral, and earthy goodness. This is the latest of New Scotland’s series of beers fermented with the KRISPY Kveik strain from Escarpment Labs, and when kept cool (this was fermented at 13 Celsius), it mimics a lager strain with less fruity esters and the beer is crispy and crushable. You don’t have to take our word for it, grab your own cans of Highland Light at the brewery on Alderney Drive, or for home delivery in HRM (and shipping elsewhere) at their Online Shop. And while you’re there (in person or virtually), pick up cans of their Britecider, a 6.1% ABV off-dry cider made with local apples, and dry-hopped with Centennial hops from Fundy Hops. The hops and apple come together in a fun way to add a citrus accent to the apple base, in a bright and crisp package.

The release of Lone Oak’s newest beer was originally scheduled for next week, but they’re so excited about it (and so are we!), that they bumped it up to THIS Friday. Otis is an Oat Grisette brewed with barley and, yes, a generous amount of oats. Fermented with the brewery’s house yeast culture, it was aged for six months in their oak foeder and is finally ready for your enjoyment. Coming in at a sessionable 3.6% ABV, the beer has “notes of lemon zest, hay, and mild oak”, and finishes nice and dry. Grisette is somehow still an overlooked and underappreciated style, but its popularity is slowly growing, so let’s all continue to buy those great examples that are available! Otis is conveniently going to be available in 355 mL cans, perfect for you to take on those last few camping weekends, trips to the beach, etc. that we’ve got left (sob). Find it at the brewery tomorrow, where you can stock up on plenty of it to last you through Labour Day weekend.

Tatamagouche Brewing is debuting a trio of beers this week; two are returning favourites, the other a brand new release. Mussed Up is a 7.9% ABV Double IPA, featuring heavy additions of Enigma and Hallertau Blanc hops for a solid bitterness as well as tropical notes. Petite Milo grape must was added after two days (during active fermentation), imparting so much great grape and wine-like character in there as well, for a unique combination. Next up is Amrita, the Brett IPA first brewed with legendary (aka old, but still hip!) homebrewer Mark McKay. A combination of a beer fermented with a combination of Vermont Ale and Brett D yeasts, aged on a ton of passion fruit and mango, and then dry-hopped with El Dorado and Azacca, give this 6.2% ABV hybrid a ton of character.

Elixir Krispy Kveik is the newbie beer (newbier?), taking its inspiration from a trip to the hop fields of Alsace, France. Walking through fields of Elixir and Mistral, the terroir of this old world wine region shines through in the hops, with floral and fruity character, a new twist on the Noble hops of the Continent. Fermented with that new favourite Kveik strain spotted elsewhere in this post, KRISPY, for a fairly quick turnaround low-ester beer. Both Mussed Up and Elixir are available on draught at the brewery now, and will be in cans very soon, with bottles of Amrita available now. Online store too!

And for those looking to begin or continue their career in the brewing arts and science, Tata is hiring a Cellar Hand to join their team. While the brewer makes the wort, and hands it off to the yeast to make beer, those working in the cellar ensure that product stays clean and happy all the way to your glass. Cleaning (so much cleaning!), transferring beer, kegging and canning, and a thousand jobs in between. A great job for those who do not (yet) have any formal brewing training, but want to be critical in its production. Check out their job listing to learn more and how to apply!

If sour and hops combined are your thang, we recommend a trip over to Dartmouth to visit Brightwood Brewery. They’re pouring their latest beer, Horizon Line, a 5.5% ABV Sour IPA that they hopped with large additions of Chinook and Centennial. Two hop varieties that have been around for awhile, but still pack a punch when used in the right beer. In addition to the fruity character added by the hops – not to mention the tartness from the kettle sour process – they added lime zest from limes provided by Maria’s Pantry, to bump up the citrus notes. Available right now at the taproom for pints and growlers, cans should be following in the very near future (and may even be grabbable right now!).

Fans of Tanner & Co. may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a lapse with new beers from the brewery for the past several weeks; they’ve been working hard to make sure they’ve got their regular beers in stock, but have managed to slip in a new recipe in there, so you’re in luck! Kveik DIPA kind of gives itself away with its name – it’s a Double IPA that they fermented with a Kveik strain, specifically, the Norwegian Hornindal strain. Particularly fond of very high fermentation temperatures, it’s well known for its propensity to show off huge tropical aromas and flavours. But it’s a DIPA, so of course you also have to complement the yeast by a massive hopping schedule… in this case, Tanner went with Mosaic, Motueka, Amarillo and Citra (to 65 IBUs). So now you really know this is going to be a tropical beast, and a pretty boozy one (8.0% ABV) at that! Available right now at the brewery on tap and in bottles.

A little ways down the road from Tanner, you’ll find Shipwright Brewing in Lunenburg, NS. As you know if you’ve been following along, they’ve been experimenting this summer with Kveik-fermented beers using various strains of that yeasty beastie in various styles of beer. Submitted for your drinking pleasure this time is Ship’s Biscuit IPA, a 6.2% ABV 60 IBU West Coast IPA x Kveik hybrid. Featured in the grist were Golden Promise, CaraBelge, and Amber malts, with a portion of flaked barley in the mix as well. Hopped and dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe, it was then fermented on Escarpment’s KRISPY kveik strain at elevated temperatures to encourage some ester formation. The result is a beer with a soft mouthfeel, plenty of notes of honey, grapefruit and pineapple, and a pithy bitter finish consistent with a WCIPA. Look for it at the brewery Tuesday to Sunday with cans available for takeout on Mondays from the Grand Banker next door.

Sydney’s Breton Brewing has been celebrating their Fifth Anniversary with Five releases over the past two months, and today’s release marks the final in the series. Whipper Snipper Pilsner is 4.8% ABV beer meant to be light and supremely drinkable, while incorporating some great flavour and aromatics. Start with Superior Canadian Pilsner malt, add in a pleasant 32 IBU from New Zealand-grown Wakatu hops, and let sit for a month-long lagering period, and Voila! Clean and crisp, cans of Whipper Snipper are for sale at the brewery and CBRM delivery now, with HRM home delivery late next week (in addition to cans at the Harvest/RockHead/WestSide trio of private stores too).

Breton also teamed up with the team at the Cabot Resort in Inverness recently, to release a special beer fit for the links. Cabot Ale is a 4.0% ABV, 24 IBU Kolsch, also known as lagered ale. WIth a light a clean malt base, lightly hopped with Huell Melon for just a touch of fruity esters, it’s a refresher that you can grab only at the Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs courses, as well as on tap at the restaurants on the Resort, Panorama and the Public House.

Moncton’s Tire Shack Brewing let us know this week that just because we haven’t heard from them in a little while doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy; in fact they’ve been so busy keeping the beer moving that they haven’t had time to write to tell us what those beers have been! Props to the folks in Moncton and environs for helping a new brewery stay vital through the craziness that has been their first year of operations, and kudos to the team for making beer that keeps people coming back for more! We’ve also been told that they’ve got a couple new tanks on the way that should relieve some of the pressure on the brewery while ensuring that their fans do not go thirsty. This weekend they’ll have two beers released, one a returning favourite and the other a variation on a beer they’ve made before. First is Full Service, their citrusy DIPA coming in at 7.5% ABV; this was one of the first beers they ever released and always one of their most popular. Second is their Raspberry Sour, which we think is a slight twist on the Black Raspberry Sour from late last year. Kettle soured before having 40 kg of raspberries added, it’s 6.0% ABV, bright and super fruity. Look for both of these beers on tap at the brewery now and in cans starting tomorrow at noon. And if you’re planning to visit the brewery tomorrow, maybe give a thought to stopping by around 4 PM as they’ll be doing their first ever cask beer! Part of what’s intended to be a regular thing, this will be a single 20 L cask of American Pale Ale that was conditioned in the cask on celery seed and rose petals. Wondering what that’ll taste like? So are they!! Stop in for a pint and some cans to go and find out.

Annapolis Cider in Wolfville has released their latest Something Different this week, branching into a lovely combination of fruit and spice, with Sour Cherry and Lemon Thyme. An infusion of lemon thyme was made with their dry-fermented cider, and then blended with fresh-pressed juice from locally-grown sour cherries and apples. Some of the first apples of the 2020 harvest were used in this cider, coming through with bright notes on the palate. Working together with the cherry and lemon, a full bouquet of fruit varietals are on display. As with all of their Something Different releases, a local charity will be benefiting from our hard work (drinking), with the Wolfville Area Food Bank being the recipient of $0.50 from each refill of this cider expression.

In Western Newfoundland, in the town of Port-au-Port, you’ll find Secret Cove Brewing. And at Secret Cove Brewing this weekend you’ll find a couple of new beers! Score Points is a sour beer weighing in at lovely and light, thirst-quenching 4.0% ABV and featuring passion fruit and Mango. Score Points is based around the idea that with sports beginning to start up again you might need to score some points with someone in your life in order to watch the game or get out for a skate with the gang. And what better way to do so than by treating them to a little tropical love in the form of a crushable sour beer? Loaded with fruit, a grist of wheat and Pilsner malt make for a solid base with a slight sweetness and a subtly dry finish. This one is a limited run, so grab some cans now while you, uh… can? (editor’s note: Ugh.) The other release this week is a new brewing of a beer they developed with Corner Brook’s Newfound Sushi: The Rice is Right, a “hybrid session IPA” at 4.8% ABV. Brewed to pair well with all things sushi, this light and sessionable ale uses gelatinized rice to create a crispy and dry beer with a soft mouthfeel that accentuates the use of a bit of Sorachi Ace hops, the only hop cultivar native to Japan. This one’s also available at the brewery only at this time, for pints in house and fills and cans to go.

Continuing the episode releases from their Island Jaunt in July, the 902BrewCast have released their interview with John, Trent, and Jansen of Shoreline Malting. Go behind the scenes of how that grain got in your glass (hint, it starts before it’s even in the ground!), and what being a local grower of wheat, barley, and other grains means to the local breweries, and how they turn that into the malt the local producers are lapping up. You can find it in your latest podcast feed, or check it out directly here!

Rothesay’s Foghorn Brewing has tapped their version of Isolation Nation, the Canada-wide collaboration made with 100% Canadian-grown Sasquatch hops and Rahr Pale malt, courtesy of Hops Connect and BSG Canada. In true Esty form, he bumped up the provided hops with even more of his own Sasquatch hops! This 5.0% ABV Pale Ale is full of flavour, and proceeds from the sales are going to the United Way, as part of Foghorn’s membership in the Quarter Club, where they have pledged to be part of a group to raise $250,000 over a five-year period, going towards mental health research and supporting victims of domestic violence. Kudos and Cheers! And while you’re breaking your isolation, grab cans of the latest in their Sour Series, with the Grapefruit version fresh off the canning line. Lightly hopped to let the citrus shine through, look for more from the series to include Cherry, as well as a Dry-Hopped version, and one more TBD.

This week saw the First Quarter numbers from the NSLC released, and there’s some eye-opening statistics therein. While we’re not party to the full report, the “highlights” tell quite a tale. (Note: comparisons to follow are for the same quarter last year, not the previous quarter) For the period from April 1 to June 28, a 6.8% increase in earnings was reported, with Beverage Alcohol in particular being up 5% — overall positive news for a business that sells stuff — but there are a couple of things that bear mentioning, and probably rumination and discussion if you’re a fan of the local beer scene.

First, overall beer sales were down 4.4% to $67.4m (from $70.4m). That’s a big drop (~$3m). But sales of Nova Scotia Craft Beer were up 0.1% to $4.8m. This doesn’t tell us that all craft breweries did well during the closures associated with the pandemic, but that enough of them did well enough to not lose a ton of sales overall. We think that’s a positive statement for the overall health of the craft market in the Province and the ability of our producers to be nimble in a changing marketplace, although we think it’s super important to note that it’s almost certainly the case that some breweries did really really well while others got hit pretty hard. Suffice to say, we’re happy to hear this because there’s a possibility that people are drinking more craft beer and drinking less mass-produced macro beers from huge multinational companies who employ far fewer people in our Province, and the proceeds from which leave our borders with a quickness. Keep supporting local, folks, these are the breweries creating jobs in our communities in addition to making tasty liquids for us to consume! 

The next number that’s interesting is the rise in “ready to drink” sales, which more than doubled to $7.2m (115.7% increase). Remember that this category includes ciders, wine coolers, and the new darling of the North American alcohol industry, vodka sodas/hard seltzers. So if you’re wondering why so many breweries are branching into the world of fruit “flavoured” fizzy water, there’s your answer. We don’t generally love them ourselves, but note the numbers there: ready-to-drink went from less than craft beer to much more than craft beer. Grabbing a piece of that market might help any erosive effect it has on your existing market, which is already highly-competitive.

Lastly, we think it’s super important to note the biggest decline on the page: Licensee sales were down close to 90%. This is your bars, your restaurants, and pubs. We don’t know too many industries that can sustain a 90% drop in sales. Obviously during the full lockdown going to restaurants was not an option, but now that things are opening up a little bit we highly encourage you to try to send some support in the direction of those places you value, because there’s a really good chance a lot of them are going through some very hard times right now. We have our favorites and you have yours, and yes, we’re fully aware that a lot of people are experiencing budget crunches at home themselves; but if you’ve got the means and opportunity to get out for a nice meal and/or a couple of drinks in the coming weeks and months, or to order takeout and a couple beers from your favorite local, we highly encourage you to do so.

We’ve got plenty of events to tell you about this week, with some requiring a bit of manual labour, or your hiking shoes, or just your drinking caps!

In Nyanza, Big Spruce Brewing is ready to harvest their hops, and they need your help! Drop by the brewery anytime this weekend and give them a hand to get those hops off the bines so they can put them into your beer! A few hours of work will earn you some liquid assistance and snacks from their food truck. And worry not, you don’t have to work for your beer, they still accept ha’pennies and farthings too! 😉 And while you’re there, keep your peepers open for a brand new limited release from their continued bottle series. Le Trou Normand is a Calvados Brandy barrel-aged beer, a Biere de Garde. This 10.1% ABV whopper comes in a lovely 330 mL bottle, so grab a few to enjoy now and when the weather turns cool(er).

On the opposite end of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth’s Heritage Brewing is holding a Highway 101 vs. Highway 103 Beer Battle this weekend. Celebrating the part of the world where those two roads meet, Heritage has invited breweries from along both to bring a new or existing beer to the event and team up with their compatriots to reign supreme. The beers will be pouring from Friday afternoon until they’re tapped out, with the winners announced Saturday evening. Drinkers will know a bit about the style of each beer, but the origin and brewery will be hidden until after voting is done. Speaking of, you’ll be enjoying beers from Annapolis Brewing, Boxing Rock, Church Brewing, Firkinstein Brewing, Lunns Mill Beer Co, Roof Hound Brewing, Rudders Brew Pub, Saltbox Brewing, Schoolhouse Brewing, and Sea Level Brewing. Stop in either evening to enjoy live music from 8 PM too, and help crown a winner!

Are you a fan of the hazy, hoppy beers, kids? If you are, you’ve no doubt heard of Fredericton’s Trailway Brewing, who for the past couple of years have been banging out the soft and juicy New England/Northeastern IPAs for getting on six years now. And in that six years they’ve branched out quite a bit beyond the beers you may know them best for, including a beer brewed specifically for the bowling alley they bought a couple of years back! If you’re in Halifax and find you can’t get their beers as often as you’d like, though, this weekend is an excellent opportunity to rectify that: Saturday afternoon starting at noon you’ll find 10 taps of Trailway pouring at the Stillwell Beer Garden! Come on down and try some old favorites that have been around since the early days, and some new hotness as well:

  • Candlepin Kölsch (4.5%) 
  • Beyond Reality Raspberry Wheat (4%)
  • El Generico Sour (Blackberry & lime 4.5%) 
  • Dump Run Saves Summer Ale (fruit ale with Mango, passionfruit & peach 4%)
  • Luster Session IPA (4%) 
  • Rype Pale Ale (w/ Rye) (5%)
  • Hu Jon Hops IPA (6.6%) 
  • Seeing Citra IPA (6%)
  • Velvet Fog Milkshake IPA (w/ lactose, raspberry & lime 6.5%)
  • Ooz Double IPA (8%)

If that makes you happy and helps you plan your Saturday afternoon, then great! If it makes you sad because you have responsibilities or plans that cannot be changed, we remind you that Trailway recently started shipping to all four Atlantic Provinces as well as Ontario. Check out their website for more details!

Saturday is a busy day in the North End of Halifax too, as two breweries are hosting vendors in their taprooms. Propeller’s Gottingen Street spot is taking part in TakingBLKGottingen’s second event, hosting the Family Over Fame apparel company Saturday 12 – 5 PM. With shirts, masks, hoodies, bandanas and much more, start your stroll along the Gottingen with a pint and a peruse. Check that first link for full details on the other locations taking part.

And down on Brunswick Street, 2 Crows is hosting their first Local Makers Market, 10 AM – 2 PM Saturday and Sunday. They are hosting makers, growers, crafters, clothing, and food folks, so be sure to swing by and peruse the offerings with a beer in hand! They’ll be running these for the next few weekends, so be sure to stop in!

The Ladies Beer League is kicking off their Go Take a Hike! series next Wednesday at 6 PM with a walk through Dartmouth. Physically distanced hiking starts out from Alderney Landing and will go along some groomed trails and sidewalks, at whatever pace you feel comfortable. And then refresh at Battery Park on Ochterloney! The hikes are free, but please grab a ticket ahead of time so they know how many are coming, and ensure all health protocols are followed. Look for more hikes out of town as well, coming up on the 13th (Taylor Head), 19th (Moose Mountain), and 27th (Tatamagouche). More info here!

Let’s end the week’s post with two news items that caught our eye and are signs of the great things happening in the region’s beer scene.

Dartmouth’s North Brewing has launched the Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship, to encourage, promote, and elevate the underrepresented individuals in the brewing industry. Comprising two parts, there is a $1500 scholarship for those in a university or college program in a field that is related to the brewing or hospitality industry, awarded for each year of their program. As well, the successful candidate will have guaranteed employment in the brewery, taproom, or retail shop throughout their education. Applications are now open until the end of October, and there are so many more exciting details on North’s site, so we highly encourage interested students, or those already in the industry looking to make some positive waves, check it out!

And congratulations to the folks behind Lunn’s Mill Beer who have taken over the iconic End of the Line Pub in Bridgetown, and will be opening The Station this fall. Investing in the local economy in this way is a leap of faith, but a testament to the growing fans of craft beer across our region. Well done folks, looking forward to a pint of fresh ale and some great food in a few months!