It kinda feels like one of those Fridays that doesn’t feel like a Friday, y’know? Maybe it’s because this was the week of Blue Monday (cue New Order), but more probably it’s the dead of winter and there’s some weather in the region and COVID is still a thing. Or maybe the internationally auspicious events in the US this week haven’t completely sunk in yet, although ACBB are all extremely happy about a potential return to something like normalcy down there. So whether you’re toasting to another week of winter gone, or a new administration for our nearest neighbours, or whatever else brings you joy, see below for some notes on some of the beers that our region’s breweries have for you this week and how you can get them!
Those of you in the HRM were most likely at 2 Crows last weekend, picking up your share of their latest brews. We hope you don’t mind making a return trip, as there’s a couple more hitting their shelves today, a newbie and a returning fave. The new beer is Soft Fruits, a beer that makes good use of a brewing technique that has been gaining steam over the last few years. When sour beers are conditioned on fruit and then packaged, there is still quite often a good amount of character remaining in what’s left behind. In this specific case, we’re talking about the raspberry and blackcurrant used in last year’s Zap and Zop, fruited Berliner Weisses. The leftover fruit was transferred to a stainless tank, along with a pitch of malolactic bacteria to soften the acidity of the fruit. While all this sounds wonderful, of course we need BEER to go on there, right? So, they added a low-ABV Lager (brewed with Shoreline Pilsner malt, and flaked rice) onto the fruit, where it underwent a second fermentation (remember, the fruit also had the yeast from the barrel cultures) and seven months of conditioning before bottling. Super drinkable at just 3.8% ABV, this unique beer is “surprisingly clean and bright, with a subdued fruit character and incredible soft acidity”. Very limited supply, so best to grab some while you can.
And if you like your IPAs Brett-y and extra fruity, there’s a supply of fresh cans (and pints!) of Brettango, 2C’s Brett IPA w/ mango. With a tweaked water chemistry, increased dry-hopping (Citra and Mandarina Bavaria), and a small addition of orange zest in this year’s batch (along with the maybe-pushing-it amount of 420 lbs of mango), this 7.9% ABV brew is plenty tropical, citrusy, and juicy for your needs, along with “a nice little pineapple funk” thanks to the blend of Brettanomyces strains used for fermentation. And keep your eyes peeled here next week for even more releases… The 2C Crew has big plans for what is normally their anniversary party and release, and while things may be a little less “let’s get together and drink” this year, does not mean they’ve done any less work behind the scenes.
Let’s pop over to the Rock for the next announcement, where we hope you were able to shovel your way from your bed to your beer fridge this morning! Quidi Vidi Brewery has released the third installment of their Newfermenters X QV mixed 4-pack this week. This annual competition sees amateur brewers from across Newfoundland and Labrador putting together some epic beers and sharing with their fellow enthusiasts in a massive bottle share and judging event. The all-new mixed pack features:
- Brothers Scuff, a 4.5% ABV Session IPA from Ben Hussey
- Lost in Time, a 5.5% Roggenbier from Mark Courish
- Darkstar, a 6% Coffee Extra Special Bitter by Ralph Pike
- Sabby Sour, a 4.2% Sour Kveik by Jordan Blake
The mixed pack is available today from QV’s new Hops Shop at 16 Harbour View Ave, and at NLCs and the better convenience stores next week. (Home deliveries are on pause for the time being, but will be returning soon)
And congratulations to the Quidi Vidi family who are celebrating 25 years in business, having opened in 1996. The beer landscape in Newfoundland was quite different back then (all over the country, really!), so while their 1892 Traditional Ale may have been a bit of a shock to the light-lager-drinking public back then, they have stuck it out through thick and thin, and are rocking along in the 2020’s. From one independently-owned brewery to just-under 20, things are looking great in the Newfoundland and Labrador beer scene.
Speaking of Homebrew Competitions, big congratulations to Halifax’s Tim Gregory, who took home Gold in the Eighth Annual Big Spruce Home Brew Competition. From 25 entries, his Sticke Alt recipe and beer grabbed the judges’ attention for its take on the “secret” version of the classic German style. You’ll be able to drink the winner yourself later in the year, once Gregory heads up (down? I can never remember…) to Nyanza and takes part in the brewing of a large batch suitable for distribution. And yes, this “Tim” is the same from the very first Home Brew Competition that brought us Tim’s (Dirty) American IPA, clearly he knows what he’s doing!
Oh, and speaking of judging, for those looking to get into the homebrewing or judging game in Atlantic Canada, the Brewnosers Homebrew Club will be hosting Tasting and Written exams for the BJCP in the Spring and Summer. If you are looking to start, continue, or elevate your beer brewing and/or enjoyment, the Beer Judge Certification Program, and the studying and tasting sessions surrounding it, are a great way to go. Check out the thread on the Brewnosers, and sign up there or fire us an email to get on the list! While usually self-directed, drinking and filling out scoresheets with pals (even remotely) helps to keep the enthusiasm up!
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention that Big Spruce also has a couple of returning brewskies for your drinking pleasure. The first is The Hour of Sour, their 6.2% ABV mixed-fermentation raspberry sour. Conditioned on organic raspberries, the brewery likes to describe it as the “cool, grownup cousin of The Silver Tart”. With all sorts of complex flavours and aromas (including watermelon candy, bumbleberry pie, citrus, and funk, to name a few of the descriptors) to go along with the raspberry, it may be just what you need to break out of the winter blues. If hops are more your thing, the delicious-but-not-fun-to-pronounce Brobdingnagian Mosaic DIPA is also back. A big beer at 8.5% ABV, it’s exclusively hopped with the wonderful Mosaic, and boasts “arousing aromas of ripe peaches, apricots, and sticky marmalade”. You can grab both at the Sprucetique while quantities last.
Not to fret if you’re over in St. John’s, reading about DIPAs… your own Bannerman Brewing has actually just released a brand-spanking-new DIPA of their own. After Hours was brewed with lots of wheat malt and toasted wheat flakes, and hopped very heavily with Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy. Notes of “stone fruit, pineapple, and white grape” abound, and the body is full and creamy thanks to all of that wheat. At 8% ABV, just be sure to imbibe carefully! You can drop by the brewery for growlers of this one right now; no cans yet, but it sounds like they hope to have those out at some point soon.
Continuing on the DIPA train, let’s move over to New Scotland Brewing, whose latest beer may have just the hazy, hoppy goodness you’re looking for in the Dartmouth area. Tough Chit is brewed with a grist made with a majority of… can you guess? That’s right, Chit malt, how did you know? Usually used to boost a beer’s body and improve head retention, the chit likely also contributed to the heavy haziness in this brew… especially considering that a higher-than-normal percentage of the grist incorporated it. With heavy late additions of Mosaic and Idaho 7 hops, this 7.5% ABV DIPA has flavours and aromas of “mango, honeydew melon, and pineapple”, along with some dank notes. Available today at the brewery in pints and cans, you may see a few kegs pop up at better beer locations in the area.
Finally – did we miss a memo or something? – Unfiltered also has a DIPA that just became available at Charm School yesterday. It’s a returning favourite, Here it Comes…, a 7.5% ABV DIPA hopped entirely with Chinook. Available for pours, growlers, and cans just in time for the weekend.
Making sure we hear a little bit from beleaguered New Brunswick today (hang in there folks!) is Trailway Brewing, who are happy to say that they’ve got cans of their collaboration brew with Lagabière out of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, on the shelves. Originally brewed at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020, De L’Autre Boutte to Here is a 7% ABV Double Dry-hopped IPA brewed with Citra, Simcoe, and Motueka at rates that even Trailway themselves describe as “incredibly high.” The massive level of hops along with extra time cold conditioning results in a very drinkable and soft beer familiar to those who’ve had IPAs from Lagabière before, with zesty citrus, plenty of tropical fruit, and a dank and piney hop backbone. Only available in these parts from Trailway themselves (as far as we know right now), submit an online order for contactless curbside pickup or for shipping anywhere in the Maritimes or Ontario.
A few events on the go, plus a couple more things we want to leave you with today. Happy Friday!
Borden-Carleton PEI’s Lone Oak Brewery is also celebrating their anniversary this month, marking their first year around the sun next week with lots of what they do best: great beer, and hosting amazing artists and serving up excellent food. Two ticketed musical events are on the go from 2 – 6 and 7 – 11 PM, with details available here (and grab your tickets via email here). We’ll have the scoop on the food and beer for you next week, natch!
A quick update to last week’s call out of the Moncton Craft Beer Week. Due to the *ahem* goings ons in the province, it has been pushed back by a month, to March 22 – 27. However, those folks who were eying up the Extreme Homebrew competition are advised that the submission date is still the same, with beers due by Feb 22nd, drop off at the Tide & Boar.
For those who like to consume beery-things with their ears as well as their mouths, Beer.Diversity.’s Ren Navarro has launched a podcast Ren Likes to Talk. The first two episodes are available now, one of which is with North Brewing’s Co-Founder and -Owner Rozina Darvesh! Grab those episodes and subscribe today! (In case you strike out by searching by the name, try including ”Liquid Culture Podcast Network”, or just add it via this direct RSS link: http://liquidculturenet.com/category/ren-likes-to-talk/feed/ [we got you!] )
Copper Bottom is looking to add to its growing production team, specifically someone to operate the canning line and support other production duties in the brewery. If you have a passion for great beer (of course you do, you’re reading this blog!) and are interested in working in picturesque Montague, check out their posting here.