Monday, December 29, 2014

Top Maritime Beer News from 2014

The year 2014 was an exciting year in the Maritime Craft Beer world. Steady growth was the name of the game with openings, expansions, a few awards and a couple of regulation changes. 

Brewery openings 

North Brewing marked their first Anniversary in January and was awarded the new business of the year at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. Shortly after the announce a rebranding under the name North Brewing Company on February 13th. February also brought the expansion to allow for a 1200 litre brew day instead of 300. 

The shortest month also saw the opening of Hammond River Brewing with four beers listed with ANBL this taps in four local establishments and a bit of bad news with Hart & Thistle Gastropub & Brewery abruptly closing.

Hammond River Brewing went north in April and helped in the inaugural brew at Big Axe Brewery. Big Axe had a cream ale and IPA for their initial offerings.

Meander River Farm who grows hops and supplies Garrison with spruce boughs and lavender opened their brewery in May. It remained a work in progress throughout the year.

In June school lets out but for Schoolhouse Brewery they started delivering kegs of Principal Ale to the Library Pub in Wolfville and Spitfire Arms in Windsor. Also in June Tatamagouche Brewing Company opened with their first two brews are Hippie Dippie Pale Ale.

A little behind their original estimates, Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault officially opened for business in northern New Brunswick with their unique labels and stubbies during July.

PEI's Murphy Group moved into Halifax big time by opening Gahan House Harbourfront in the old Hart & Thistle space sporting 14 taps and the oyster bar in September. The following month the purchased Rogues Roost.

Railcar Brewing Company experienced a bit of a roller coaster in opening their doors on November 1st. They were most directly affected by Nb Liquors policy flip-flop over the summer (see below).

Picaroons Traditional Ales officially broke ground in December at the Roundhouse in Fredericton North marking the start of the construction of the new brewery. It was long overdue and will be a great new spot in Fredericton.

Lastly, Trail Way Brewing Company in Fredericton North opened late in December and got its beers into 540 Kitchen & Bar & the King Street Ale House. I am sure we will be hearing a lot from them in 2015. 

Government Policy changes 

In June ANBL board of directors meeting decided that to be able to obtain a Brewery Agency Store license which allows sales to the public for off site consumption until they have sold 100 Hl during 12 months through ANBL first. Needless to say this was a game changer for new brewers. Thankfully they changed course and this was dropped.

In October new rules to the liquor control act came into effect allows P.E.I. brew pubs and microbreweries to produce stronger beer for their customers. The Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission had limited brewing beer with no higher than 6.5 per cent alcohol content. But beer products from other provinces and countries with higher alcohol content could be sold. 

Although not policy an item that seems very popular in NB, ANBL added growlers to its product line with a mix of local and Canadian craft beer.

Home Brew-offs  

Garrison Brewing started with 76 entries in their Home Brew Off and narrowed it down to 13 semi-finalists and then further narrowed down to just 4 with Jason MacDougall winning toe 2014 crown.

The Gahan House crowned the winners of the first annual Home Brew Challenge. Ryan Palmer and Lee Nicholson won with their Cranberry White Ale.

Big Spruce Brewing crowned their homebrew champ, Eric Gautier won for his wheat beer called Bráthair Éric.

Tap Takeovers

We were blessed with many great tap takeovers in the region this year. Here in Halifax Bar Stillwell provided several. In January it was Big Spruce Brewing and Boxing Rock Brewing, in March Picaroons paid a visit from New Brunswick, Picaroons continues on to do on at Plan B in Moncton. Stillwell continued on hosting Garrison at an all cask takeover in June. Next to take over was Bad Apple Brewhouse in July just six months after opening its doors. Lastly in October they hosted a NB Nano tap takeover highlighting seven breweries from our neighbor to the north.

Big Spruce Brewing got to do another tap takeover. This time at Lion & Bright in Halifax on Earth Day, April 22nd, In support of the Ecology Action Centre.

One of Canada's most respected breweries, Le Trou du diable, took over the Tide and Boar Gastropub on May 29th. 

Finally in December Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault takeover the taps at the Resto-Bar Le Deck. They will have their four current offerings plus four "One Hit Wonders". 


The Canadian Brewing Awards (CBAs) took place in Fredericton in May. This years CBAs had more than 900 beer entries from nearly 140 Canadian breweries, up from 760 entries in 2013.

Breweries from all three Maritime provinces took home four medals. The highlights were:

  • Boxing Rock Brewing Co won bronze in the Imperial India Pale Ale category for their Vicar’s Cross Double IPA
  • Picaroons Brewing Co. won bronze in North American Style Blonde/Golden Ale category for their Blonde Ale.
  • PEI Brewing Co. won a bronze in Wheat Beer – North American Style category for their Sir John A Honey Wheat Ale.
  • Rockbottom Brewpub won gold in the Imperial Stout category for their Wreckoning Russian Imperial Stout.

The tops in show were Sasquatch Stout by Old Yale Brewing with Beer of the Year and Great Lakes Brewery repeating as Brewery of the Year.

The inaugural Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards were held in October They judged 168 beer entries in 15 categories from 27 Breweries & Brewpubs. Boxing Rock Brewery took the tops in medals with two gold and two silver followed closely by Bad Apple Brewhouse with two gold, one silver and two bronze. Beer of the Year was a tough choice for the judges but it went to Pumphouse Brewery's Barley Wine. Lastly there was the Stillwell's Peoples Choice Award that went to Big Spruce Brewing's Cereal Killer. In addition to the beer categories there were two other awards given out, the first being Brewpub of the Year that went to Rockbottom Brew Pub and the other was Brewery of the Year that was given to Bad Apple Brewhouse.

It was a great year and next year is shaping up to be just as great, cheers.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Maritime Beer Report - December 19, 2014

Hello and welcome to the December 19th edition of the Maritime Beer Report. 

Barnone Brewing says that the 'La Vaca Loca' Milk Stout should be ready for next Tuesday and are very happy with how this one turned out. They go on to says they are planning to do a growler night Tuesday the 23rd, weather permitting.

Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault will have have three of their beers at the Mont Farlagne ski hill this winter. Bob LeBoeuf, Tante Blanche and Louis XVII will be available on tap and in bottles at the bar. Also don't forget their tap takeover is tomorrow at Resto-Bar Le Deck at 7:00 PM.

Grimross Brewing Company will be open in their new facility on Monday 22nd from 12:00 - 10:00 PM. They will have a "Test Batch Belgian Blonde" beer and "Cheval D'or" on in the tap room and they also say they are brewing a Rye IPA that will be ready in about 3 weeks. 

Hammond River Brewing say their Hawaiian Porter called "Into The Dark" is now on tap at Bourbon Quarter Restaurant & Bar. Craig Pinhey, Atlantic Canada's Wine, Beer and Spirits Writer described it as a Bounty Chocolate Bar in a glass. Lots of Coconut came through with hints of Chocolate. Also it is less than one month until the deadline for the 1st annual Home Brew Competition so get brewing. 

Picaroons Traditional Ales officially broke ground this week at the Roundhouse in Fredericton North marking the start of the construction of the new brewery. It is long overdue and will be a great new spot in Fredericton.

Railcar Brewing Company says that on Saturday December 20th they will have two beers on tap from the first of  their "Guest Brewer" Series. Basset Hound Brewing stopped by and brewed up a Blonde Ale and a Cherry Chocolate Stout. One Keg of each only so get in quick and grab them while you can.

Trail Way Brewing Company has produced a Coffee Stout brewed with Kenyan coffee beans roasted by local Whitney Coffee Company and a Hoppy Amber . They will be available at both 540 Kitchen & Bar & the King Street Ale House starting tomorrow night with the official launch at the King Street Ale House at 7:00 PM

Big Spruce Brewing says that it has brewed Eric Gautier's home brew challenge winning wheat beer, Bráthair Éric. Brewed with modest bittering hops, they used both Simcoe and Cascade as late additions, thus giving this beer a great hop flavour. He also decided to dry hop this bad boy with Citra and New Zealand Wakatu hops. They will debut the beer at the Local Connections Food and Craft Beer Festival in Halifax on January 15th. Eric himself will be there pouring his beer.
They also took seven  Gila Squash from Michelle Smith of North Wind Farm in Skye Glen, Cape Breton and then sugar roasted the flesh. See the facebook page for pictures and an interesting story. They added to their mash of a winter warmer beer. This will be a terroir beer, as not only are they using Gila squash , but they are also using hops from Southan Farms in NB, the Doyle family farm in NS and from their farm here at the brewery. Some black strap molasses will be added for some character, and they are targeting an ABV for 9.0%.  Look for it in the New Year.

Boxing Rock Brewing Company introduced Blue Toboggan, spiced winter ale this week. From Boxing Rock "Spiced with the great flavours of the season - cinnamon and ginger. They also added a touch of Haskap juice from our friends at Haskapa just for fun. Pours a pale straw with a tinge of red-blue from the haskap berries with a nice head and ample lacing. On the palate, the ginger comes first followed by cinnamon and a hint of that great haskap berry. It's backed up by a nice malt backbone, mild bitterness and a smooth finish. At 6% ABV, we think it's the perfect beer for apres-ski, apres-sledding or apres-anything you like."
They also say to Save the Date for "The Whole Grain" Party at Boxing Rock. Friday, January 30 from 5-7:30 PM they are having a beer and bread party at the brewery. More details to come after the holidays. It's going to be a night filled with bread, beer and fun! (and cheese)

Garrison Brewing Company has once again partnered with the gang at The Noble Grape to host the 7th Annual Home brew-off  to showcase the talents of our local home brewers. Selected by BJCP Certified Judges, the Gold Medal winner will be invited to join their brewmaster Daniel Girard in brewing a full-sized batch of their recipe for packaging and release as a limited edition seasonal beer.
The 2014 style is 12B. Robust Porter - A substantial, malty dark ale with a complex and flavorful roasty character. Submissions are due by February 12th and be sure to save-the-date for the Awards Gala on March 5th. Get all the details on Garrisons website.

Propeller Brewing Company has a new beer in its One Hit Wonder Series.Snowblower Winter Ale is a dark and sweet brew with a nice warming alcohol character. This beer is full of character with a rich body provided by the use of 5 specialty malts (2 Row, Wheat, Crystal.  Melanoidin, Munich and Roast Malts). While malt character is the focus of this brew, a note of bitterness and traditional English ale aroma rounds out our newest offering. They used Willamette and Fuggles hops and the beer is 6.2% ABV and 31 IBUs.

Rockbottom Brewpub officially announced that Jacob Saunders is stepping into the role of Brewmaster replacing Greg Nash, who is leaving Rockbottom to open his own microbrewery. Jake worked as a brewer ar Rogues Roost and was excited to take on the challenges of taking on the job at Rockbottom. He also says he is a big believer in an open door and, if there’s time, wants everyone to know that he’s available for inquiries. “People can find me down here all the time,” he says. “I want them to know they can come and knock on the door and chat or get a tour. I want the beer to be approachable and fun, and for the brewery to share those traits.”
He is starting out by putting a new Extra Special Bitter on tap at Rockbottom. It's 5.2% ABV and 35 IBUs, It's copper coloured with an aroma of toast, honey and pears. Broad maltly body featuring coffee and toffee. Earthy balanced bitter finish.

‪As reported last week Tatamagouche Brewing Company‬ and The Stubborn Goat Gastropub have a collaboration brew underway for the Local Connections Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration this January 15th. It is a Double IPA but it needs a NAME and they are opening it up to you! The name must be GOAT-RELATED! The best 'Goatey' name will win a FREE PARTY KEG RENTAL (19+) and a $100 GIFT CARD to the Stubborn Goat! Go and comment on the post on their facebook page to enter. Contest closes December 22nd.

Bad Apple Brewhouse is celebrating its first anniversary on December 31st and we get the presents. There is going to be prizes and giveaways as well they are releasing Black & Tackle aged in Planters Ridge red wine barrels and version of Box cutter IPA. It will be happening from 10 to 5 that day. 

This will be the last Maritime Beer Report for 2014, next week will be a Review of the news from 2014 and on January 2nd will be a 2015 Craft Beer Outlook. May you all have a great Holiday season filled with joy and delight enjoying all that it has to offer and as always enjoy responsibly. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Maritime Beer Report - December 12, 2014

Hello and welcome to the December 12th edition of the Maritime Beer Report. 

Big Axe Brewery released details on their newest Imperial Pale Ale Wrath of Putin Imperial Pale Ale. This ale is golden amber colour and is brewed with Centennial and Golding hops from Southan Farms. The ale is double hopped to give it a strong hop flavour, aroma and a bitterness of 75 IBUs and has a malty sweetness which provides the perfect balance. It weighs in at 7.5% to get you nice and toasty during the cold season.

Distillerie Fils Du Roy has been distilling great spirits for a few years now in the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick and recently got gear to brew. They have all the approvals and licences except the one to sell in New Brunswick from ANBL. They say this may not happen until the next board meeting in February 2015.They are very positive and hopeful.
In the meantime they released notes on their Caraquet Flyer Biere de glace (Ice Beer). Apparently during the brewing process it is partially frozen with the ice crystals removed making a stronger beer. This process sounds similar to a German Eisbock beer. I will pass on any information I get on their status.

Something I am a huge proponent of is the Community Supported Breweries (CSB) and Railcar Brewing is offering this  for Christmas. For 125.00, 250.00 or 500.00 you support the brewery and get an array of great perks, it is a super gift for a beer lover if you have the means. Get more details at the brewery or on Railcar's facebook page.

Shiretown Beer says that its Honey House Ale made with Charlo's Buckwheat Honey is available at the brewery this week end.

Garrison Brewing Company released its Spruce Beer today. In addition there is a logoed glass for sale and a limited addition gift box. There is a barrel aged edition of last years spruce beer coming out very soon as well.

Rock Bottom Brewpub announced that Brewmaster Jake Saunders has joined their team to eventually take over from Greg Nash when he leaves.

Sea Level Brewing releases its High Street Wee Heavy Scotch Ale in time for Christmas. From Sea Level "A dark ale with a malty aroma followed by a sweet caramel taste with hints of roasted, and toasty flavours. A very approachable easy drinking ale that’s only available when the weather sucks." It is a warming 6.4% ABV. Look for it on tap where fine craft beer is served and in cans at the Halifax bottle shops and select restaurants around Nova Scotia.

Tatamagouche Brewing Company spilled the beans on their holiday brew that is available now at the brewery and at The Ladies Beer League's brunch at Bar Stillwell on Sunday. Say hello to Maple Squash Ale, brewed with Red Kuri squash from Waldegrave Farms and maple syrup from Acadian Maple. This festive ale is 5.1% ABV and is sweet with a hint of spice.

Enjoy whatever you decide to do this week end and as always enjoy responsibly. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beer Review - Muskoka Brewery Mad Tom IPA

Mad Tom IPA comes to Nova Scotia from Muskoka Brewery. Nestled in the heart of Ontario’s iconic Muskoka Region, Muskoka Brewery's founders Gary McMullen and Kirk Evans opened Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario in 1996. Mad Tom is a healthy 6.4% ABV and 62 IBUs with Chinook and Centennial hops for dry-hopping.

Appearance - The beer is a dark gold color and hazy with a nice head on the pour that quickly dissipates. 

Aroma - Not a lot of hops on the nose but did get some nice malt.

Taste - On sipping this one I got some grapefruit, pine and slight carmel. It has a dryness that lingers .

Mouthfeel - It has a good amount carbonation with a medium mouth feel. 

Overall - This is a strong beer that is well balanced and very enjoyable.

Mad Tom is available in 6 packs at the the NSLC now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Maritime Beer Report - December 5, 2014

Hello and welcome to the December 5th edition of the Maritime Beer Report 

Barnone Brewing announced it is making a Milk Stout called La Vaca Loca. Not sure when this will be out but it has a great name.

PEI Brewing Company released its 8 Cord Double IPA (PEI's first 8.5% brew) and Ice Boat Barrel Aged Stout (stout aged in oak whiskey barrels for a few months) yesterday. Both sound like great beer but are only available on PEI.

Big Axe Brewery says its Chocolate Mint Stout is at 540 Kitchen & Bar and Vault 29 this Holiday Season! They also have Chocolate Oatmeal stout at the King Street Ale House. They also say they will be closed for onsite sales from December 7th and planning to open December 29th. 

Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault says a Tap takeover is coming on December 20 at the Resto-Bar Le Deck. They will have their four current offerings plus four "One Hit Wonders". The four they are planning to bring are La Dictée - IPA, La Winding Eddy - Vanilla Bourbon Porter,  La Kedgwick - Lager and La Mud Lake - Brown. Look on their facebook page for more details.

Picaroons Traditional Ales says their 12 Beers of Christmas is back starting December 12th at The Brewtique in Downtown Fredericton, they will again be releasing a different festive brew each day for 12 days. They will announce the day's beers everyday at 12 Noon, and the beer will be ready for your Growlers starting at 4 PM. They say you can expect most of your old favourites, plus maybe one or two new surprises. Also for people in Halifax Stillwell will have the entire 12 Day lineup on their taps on December 23rd.

The Pump House Brewery released  Nor'easter Winter Warmer this week. Glenn's tasting notes: Winter Warmer is a traditional malty-sweet English style that is brewed in the winter months and spiced with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Deep dark amber coloured with a big malt presence and lingering spicy notes. Comfort food at it's best. It weighs in at 7.5% ABV. 

Trail Way Brewing Company says if all goes according to plan 540 Kitchen & Bar and King Street Ale House will be serving their beers by mid-December. Stay tuned, they will keep you all updated!

Big Spruce Brewing has super busy this week, they teamed up with Just Us! to bring an all NS version of Hoppuccino.  Second they released Tim's Dirty American IPA. that was heading to Stillwell, Stubborn Goat, and The Townhouse. Finally the winners of their homebrew-off were Eric Gautier of Hubley Nova Scotia taking first place, second place goes to Keith Forbes of Lower Sackville, NS, and third to Jimmy Beaman of Williamswood, NS. Congrats to everyone and we'll look forward to trying the winner at the Craft Beer and food event next month. 

Boxing Rock Brewing Company released it award winning seasonal U-889 Russian Imperial Stout infused with coffee and vanilla this week. Notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, with a roasty backbone and full of deliciousness. Available at the Halifax Seaport Market starting this Friday - yeah they're going to be there the next three Fridays along with their regular Saturday market booth. Also available at the private bottle shops.

Garrison Brewing Company hired new brewer Jon Harris this week, He comes with a couple of years of brewing experience and is a VLB brewmaster grad. Also some bad news, due to a bottling issue the Spruce Beer was delayed from today until next Friday. 

Granite Brewery says its Darkside Black IPA is now on tap. They will be selling in growlers at the beer store and will be on tap at The Henry House and Stillwell.

Hell Bay Brewing got a bit of an early Christmas present in the form of some new tanks. They are going to use a horizontal 12 hl tank as a mash tun, to replace the small one they are using now to enable them to make some Bigger beers. Then other is a 15hl brite, but they are thinking about turning that into a boil kettle.

North Brewing Company has released its Glenora Barrel Aged Strong Dark Belgian today in their Agricola St. Store. Look for it in a few other locations before it disappears.

Propeller Brewing announced the date for the release of their second Lambic. Join them December 20th at Bar Stillwell for the official launch party/presale of their Lambic Style Blackberry Ale and December 22nd at the Propeller shop. Also they now offer all Canadian Military and Veterans 10% discount at the Propeller Shop excluding deposits and promos.

Rogues Roost says the holidays are near and how do they know? Because Lorne has the Russian Imperial Stout in the fermentation tank. Look for it soon.

Tatamagouche Brewing Company has been brewing up a storm saying its Dreadnot IBA is back for a limited time, in growlers and 650mL bottles. They also have an oyster stout on its way, ready to kick off 2015 brewed with Malagash hops and oysters.Lastly the crew from The Stubborn Goat Gastropub  were up to help with a new collaboration brew coming January 2015.

Congrats go to Cam at Schoolhouse Brewery who welcomed his new daughter Claire who arrived at 8:41 PM Monday night.

In beer related news Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Co. Ltd has plans to open a malt house in Hortonville Nova Scotia to produce organic malted grains for use in the region’s craft brewing and distilling industries. They are seeking community investment to launch its business by establishing a Community Economic Development Investment Fund, or CEDIF. There is an information session next Thursday, December 11th, at Wolfville Farmers Market at 7 PM.

Local Connections Halifax had some great news related to Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week (May 11 - 17). The week will be filled with a crazy amount of events for you to experience, but the flagship event, which they are hosting, will be unique in its offering. Imagine all the craft beers in Nova Scotia in one place and one time. That's what we're talking about. Super Early Bird Tickets are available today with your ticket purchase including access to the event, a take-home glass, and 12 beer samples of your choosing. Additional samples will be $1/each, and food will be available by cash purchase. There will also be entertainment, a pop-up craft beer swag shop, and many other things. Tickets are going fast so get yours today

Lastly congrats to The Port Pub,  Tide and Boar and Bar Stillwell on making enRoutes's Canada's Top 15 Favourite Bars.

That was a lot of news, take care and until next time enjoy responsibly.