The Nova Scotia Craft Beer Guide 2018
OUR OPINIONATED PRIMER ON NEW BREWS TO TRY DURING NOVA SCOTIA CRAFT BEER WEEK (OR ANY TIME)
Emily Tipton sounds excited when she talks about Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week (NSCBW). The co-owner/co-brewer of Boxing Rock Brewing is also the president of the Craft Beer Association of Nova Scotia.
“I see the industry growing on all fronts,” she says. “We’re growing in terms of becoming better brewers, brewing more experimental style of beer, and winning more awards, but we’re also becoming more accessible to more Nova Scotians as well.”
By more accessible she does mean both how easy it is for Nova Scotians to find beer brewed here at home, and beer that will appeal to people who are used to big-brand varieties. “The industry is starting to recognize that we can make very technically accurate and amazing beers that are also very accessible styles for people who may be just making their first forays into craft beer and may not be doing it because they are seeking out a particular style or flavour, but they just want to buy Nova Scotian beer,” she says.
Here at Halifax Magazine, “more beer” is a phrase we can get behind. Grab your favourite local brew and read on to learn about new breweries you may have missed, new beers from favourite breweries, and returning seasonals.
NEW BREWS ON TAP
New breweries mean lots of new beers. Here are four to try now.
State Capitals for $500 (APA)
Off Track Brewing
Co-owner and brewer Allan MacKay says this single-keg experimental beer smelled so good on brew day that he immediately decided to make a full batch. It’s brightly hopped with fruity German Mandarina Bavaria and Australian Vic’s Secret, known for its passion fruit, pine, and pineapple flavours.
Disco Inferno (red IPA)
Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse
Lower Sackville, N.S.
This hazy red beer looks heavy, but it’s surprisingly light-bodied, balancing malt and hop flavours, ending with a citrusy finish. Homebrewer turned nano-brewery owner Keith Forbes is well known in home-brewing circles and started brewing commercially in November. The brewery isn’t open to the public, but find Ol’ Biddy’s on tap at Freeman’s Little New York in Halifax and Lower Sackville.
Tanner & Co. Brewing
Chester Basin, N.S.
French saison yeast lends this brew lemon and pepper characteristics. Made with a blend of wheat, pilsner, and Vienna, this hazy amber beer is light enough to quaff a few so be cautious. You’ll find a hint of bitter Noble hops, but with the right balance to let the yeast steal the show. Find it and others from Tanner & Co. at the NSCBW five-course beer-pairing dinner at Rime Restaurant + Wine Bar in Lunenburg on May 3.
Gemini (double IPA)
Backstage Brewing Company
Stellarton’s only brewery opened last November. You won’t see a lot of it in the city, but it’s worth the drive to visit the 12-tap, 60-seat taproom to pick up a growler. This beer is definitely one to take home if you’re driving. Owner and brewer A.J. Leadbetter says this one is “big, dank, and citrusy” but drinks like a much less boozy beer.
YOUR NEW FAVOURITE BEER
Nothing beats the feeling of trying a new beer from one of your favourite breweries. Here are four to seek during NSCBW.
Made Here By Us (amber table beer)
Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia
Twenty-five brewers from the Craft Beer Association of Nova Scotia gathered at Tatamagouche Brewing Company in February to create the second annual community beer. Inside this can you’ll find Horton Ridge Malts that gives it an amber colour, Crystal hops from Tatamagouche’s Malagash hop farm, and yeast cultivated from a pin cherry tree on Big Spruce Brewing’s farm that lends the beer a spicy character.
Nova Scotian ale
Boxing Rock Brewing and Trider’s Brewing
This beer features the same pin cherry tree yeast, and is modeled on a cream ale. Pale yellow, hoppier, and cold fermented to take some of the edge off the yeast funk. Drinking these two together is a great way to understand how yeast influences beer’s flavour.
You Can Call Miel (saison)
Lunn’s Mill Beer Co.
An extra dry saison featuring local honey from Sophie’s Bees. The honey is added near the end of fermentation to dry out the beer, and adds light aroma without extra sweetness to compete with the saison funk. There are only a few kegs around for Craft Beer Week, so get it while you can.
Field Hand Wild Ale
2 Crows Brewing
As always head brewer Jeremy Taylor has a beer to make us think. This one features a wild yeast cultivated from a British Columbian brewery’s beer, which was previously cultivated from the brewer’s backyard. Expect a light crushable beer with funky wild flavours. This is a 1,000-litre run, at the tap room and in cans, and unlikely to outlast NSCBW. (Update: 2 Crows named this funky brew after press time. We updated it above.)
CHANGE OF SEASONS
As spring turns reluctantly to summer, our favourite seasonal beers return to taps and shelves ready for grilling and chilling. Here are three we’re welcoming back with open arms.
Common (California Common lager)
Propeller Brewing Co.
Last summer, head brewer Cameron Crerar told Halifax Magazine about his experiments brewing California steam beer-inspired brew. After exhaustive testing by customers in the Propeller taproom, Crerar settled on a recipe. This easy drinking beer will be at the NSLC in 355ml can six-packs in time for summer. Key to this style’s flavour is using lager yeast (fermented cold at 7 to 13°C) at ale temperature (fermented warm at 20 to 22°C) to create a fuller flavour.
Tidehouse Brewing Company
Co-owner and brewer Peter Lionais is rebrewing his hoppy weisse because it just wasn’t hoppy enough for him the first time around. This time you’ll find oodles of Mandarina Bavaria, a fruity German hop, and plenty of Ahtanum hops on the bittering side, known for being earthy, floral, and citrusy, plus that tell-tale weisse flavour.
Hell Bay Brewing Co.
This is one of my favourite summer beers. Light and crisp, with a moderate hop profile that lends it a hint of lemon. It’s easily crushable and a great way to encorage non-craft beer drinkers to jump onboard. Watch for it’s return around NSCBW and enjoy it all summer.
For a full schedule of Craft Beer Week events, surf to halifaxmag.com/beer/nova-scotia-craft-beer-week-2018
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.