Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halifax's Rogues Roost Bought By The Murphy Group

Well, just like the title says, hot on the heels of buying the Hart & Thistle, PEI's Murphy Group has also purchased Rogues Roost, a longtime-popular craft brew destination in Halifax. The article says they plan to maintain the staff and brewer, and hope to work on / build the brand, perhaps even growing it in Nova Scotia, PEI, and bottling their beer at the PEI Brewing Company in Charlottetown. They plan to stay at the current location, even after the upcoming development of the block.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brewers' ABV Limit to be Raised

Good news here today. The PEILCC is going to change the regulations on how strong brewers can brew their beers. Up until now, the limit has been 6.5%. The article says we're supposed to be on par with other provinces in the future. Good news for our two existing breweries, the brewery-in-progress in town, and the rumored one in the Montague area.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Harvest Time

The first whiff of this lager is great. I got excited. Lots of aroma from the can (and probably best drank from the can) - tropical fruit / citrus aromas, just as promised. Not far behind, though, there's something about the aroma that comes across bordering on popcorn or buttered popcorn. I don't think it's an error - on big whiffs, it just seems like the combination of the malt profile & hops (not sure which NZ one is in this) combine to make something a bit in that direction. It's not overwhelming, but it bothers me that it's there. Otherwise, it's crisp, refreshing, has a nice clean citrus-y finish, is different enough from Beach Chair, not as good as Landing Day, and will probably appeal to lots of folks. I'd say drink this one cold, as the nice aroma (and a bit of the flavour) degrades as it warms.

Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 PEI Beer Festival

This September 5th and 6th, a Friday & Saturday, sees the PEI Beer Festival return, promising "another amazing weekend of beer tasting, food pairings and entertainment." This year, the festival will be held indoors, at the Delta Prince Edward - which, after undergoing renovations last year, is quite a nice & modern spot. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, August 12th, at 11:00AM at www.beerfestpei.ca as well as the PEI Brewing Company on Kensington Road. There are also fest + hotel packages available through the Delta. There are three different tasting sessions to choose from: Friday evening, Sept. 5th, Saturday afternoon, Sept 6th, and Saturday evening, Sept 6th. Afternoon sessions are $30, and evening ones are $40. Tickets include all beer samples, live entertainment, special cask contests (no clue what that is yet), games and more. Ticket prices also include a service fee and taxes, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

(Mostly) Beer Trip To Maine - Geaghans Restaurant & Pub

Once we got to Bangor, we were starving and thirsty. I recall eating some sort of chicken sausage, cheese, and tomato sandwich thing. It was good, but super-filling. Geaghans, as far as I can tell, was a lot like a few other stops in Maine, in that they only served their own beer. I get it, but it's a little disappointing as a customer. Don't let that deter, you, though. They have a good little selection of their own stuff, and the food / atmosphere were good. I decided to try out a sampler of some of their brews with my lunch.

Left to right:

Smiling Irish Bastard - with a name like this, you'd expect some sort of stout, or maybe a red ale, it's actually an American Pale Ale, brewed with Cascade - "American strong, like Officer Bernie Welch, a legend in the Bangor Police Force." It was OK - light grapefruit and bitterness.

Dad's Oatmeal Stout - Made with Chinook and U.S. Goldings, this was an easy-drinker. Smooth, but not too thick. Nice enough stout.

Bangor Tiger - Maine River Drivers (you know, the guys that rode logs on the rivers) were known as Bangor Tigers. This is supposed to reflect them - a strong 6.5% ale, 62 IBU, not for the faint of heart. It was bitter, with a bit of citrus. A bit one-dimensional.

Wake Up Wheat - they say this was their take on an American Adjunct Dunkel (which they made up). For me, it was the clear winner of the bunch. It was a total chocolate coffee porter, but light. Sumatra coffee, oats, fresh-brewed coffee, vanilla beans, choc malt... pretty involved, but darn tasty.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Gahan House Expands To Halifax

A few days ago, the good people at The Gahan House tweeted that they were expanding to Halifax. 
I'd like to put this out there for folks, to confirm that they are indeed taking over the place that was once the beloved Hart and Thistle. As far as I know at the moment, no brewing staff from PEI are slated to make the move. It sounds  like most / all staff there will be new to the company. I wish them the best of luck there - I'm sure they'll make it a highly successful / quality destination, which should please the beer-loving folk who miss the old H&T.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

(Mostly) Beer Trip to Maine - Bringing Beer Back

This year, my patient and encouraging Mrs. and I decided to go to Maine, and that we'd try to visit as many beer destinations on the way (for me) as we could. Some of my site visits were all too quick, but at least I can say I have tried the place out, and if it's worthy of a return trip or not.

I'd like to highlight some spots that I went to, and beers that I tried, in a series of posts, starting today.

Before we even went down, the first thing I had to figure out was what my limit was in terms of bringing back beer. I even went so far as to talk to a customs agent at the airport to clarify a couple of things for me that the online rules didn't point out. Basically, in terms of beer, the rule is:
  • if you stay in the US for 48 hours or more, each person is allowed to return to Canada with 8.5L of beer (no matter what the ABV is)
  • if you go over that amount, you'll have to pay tax / duty on whatever the overage is, not your first 8.5L
So, that meant my wife and I were allowed to bring back 17L of beer. Problem is, many cans / bottles in the US are only marked in ounces, and not all mL/oz ratios on cans/bottles are the same... which lead to some frantic number crunching in the parking lots of a Shaw's and Christmas Tree Shops store. I don't know how picky border agents can be, but I didn't want to push my luck. Essentially, one fluid ounce is 29.5735 mL. So, a 355mL can is labeled 12 ounces, a 650mL bomber = 22 ounces, a 750mL bottle is 25.3605... wait, that's when it gets a bit dirtier. Once you hit a pint, many US bottles say "1pt" and then the ounce total. For what it's worth, a US pint is 16 US ounces. So, imagine my fun adding up pints and ounces to convert to mL and L before we returned. My initial estimations were off, and we were over by a bit, but it all worked out. Just be honest and well-documented at the border, and you'll probably be sent on your way pretty speedily. 

I bought some beer here and there on our trip (Allagash, Bangor Wine & Cheese, In'finiti, Oxbow, Shaw's), but the vast majority of what I bought was at the Hogan Road Deli in Bangor. Even with a GPS, we missed the place at least twice. It's in one tiny end of a CITGO station - it's not its own little place at all, which was kind of what I expected from their website. Inside, it's like any other gas station, except for how much beer they cram into a small portion of it.

Basically, all of the beer they carry is good, well-rated, or really really good / well-rated. It's just some refrigerated shelves on one wall, the refrigerated shelves at the ends of two rows, and one two-sided (and fairly short) row of shelving that has all their beer. The selection, especially for someone like me, from somewhere like here, is mind-blowingly good. All the Maine breweries - Allagash, Maine Brewing Company, Smuttynose, Rising Tide, etc., brewers like Dogfish Head, Jolly Pumpkin, Clown Shoes, Victory, Founders, Evil Twin... and European brews like Fantome, magnums of St. Bernardus... Christmas beers I want... meads in stoneware... just so much to pick from.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to make it to the Bier Cellar in Portland, but I wouldn't have had room for anything anyway. Next time, I'll try to balance out visits to both places.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Picaroons' Brewer's Bash

Last year, we headed out with a rig full of beer and a few empty kegs to return to the mainland. This year, I return with a toddler (it must have been some bash last year).

I haven't been to too many beer fests over the years (five or six, maybe), but last year's Brewer's Bash stands out as the best one. Why? Well I'll give you a few reasons:
  • It's twelve hours long, and you can come and go as you please.
  • It's only Canadian beer, and includes beer from every province and one territory.
  • Last year, there was something like 60 breweries and 300+ beers. This year, I counted 64 brewers, and most likely more offerings (don't know how many yet, as there's no pre-bash list this year). 
  • The breweries don't cheap out - in more than one way, but the one I want to emphasize is that they don't just serve their most mainstream / cheapest stuff. There was (and will be this year) some rarer and more expensive stuff to try out. 
  • Fredericton's got free WiFi downtown (why doesn't everywhere?!).
  • It's a great crowd, complete with interesting people - like the balding guy with the long hair, goatee, lab coat, and glittery ball that he kept rolling in one hand while drinking with the other all day. Don't believe me? Check the picture. 
  • Nearby eats. King Street Ale House, The Snooty Fox (which provided me with some kind of spring roll-like bacon cheeseburger fried things late that night - just the right thing), that sushi place kitty corner to Officer's Square... all good options. 
  • The price. $25 for eight samples, plus the musical entertainment later. Last year was a personal fave of mine, the Skydiggers, with Deep Dark Woods. This year, it's Zeus (another big fave of mine) with a couple of soulful backing acts, Cydni Cain and the Chronos Band, the latter of which sounds like one tight bunch with some serious groove. 
  • So much variety to imbibe, for everyone from the new-to-beer person to the beer snob/geek. 
  • It never felt crowded. Lineups were never that long - mind you, there are 50% more people there this year... but I think it should still end up comfortable. 

Don't have a ticket for this Saturday's Bash? don't despair. They are still looking for volunteers for four hours of work (leaving you up to eight hours of drinking). Check out their page for more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Palomar Ale

Buying Mill Street's variety packs is kind of like gambling - I know there is a great chance of disappointment, but I can't help myself. I have never had a flawed Mill Street beer, but they definitely have a few brews that are weak - at least to me, anyway (I'm looking at you, Stock Ale). Don't hate me, it's just my own personal truth. That being said, they also have some good beer, too.

This one is in the middle. On paper, it sounds like an interesting beer - chipotle and lime, in an American red / amber ale.

Well, the chipotle does come through, and is light enough that it won't offend anyone. It's a little smokey, and has the slightest heat at the back of the throat. There's a little zip to it, too but I almost can't tell if it's from the lime or the hops, as there's no easy-to-differentiate lime flavour to it. I think it's there... lightly... but it's not strong, for sure.

What will the next seasonal variety pack hold? Well, I'm sure it'll have a few that are interesting-sounding, and at least a couple that are good, and probably a couple that aren't. The sixer's never a total bust, but it's never a total win, either.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Steam Whistle Now On PEI Shelves

If you haven't been to the LCC stores in the last week, you may have missed noticing that six-packs of Steamwhistle have made their Eastern-Canadian debut in our little province. Why PEI first? Perhaps a section of the brewery's media release will shed some light on that:
"A Gold Medal winner in 2012’s Canadian Brewing Awards, this GMO-free Pilsner offers a balance of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness that refreshes the palate and quenches thirst. In 2013, Steam Whistle was voted by CityBites (a Toronto based publication) as the best beer to be paired with lobster (see page 26-27). It was the lager’s ability to accentuate the sweetness of the crustacean and the lobster’s ability to bring out the malt of the beer that earned the Pilsner its title."

There you have it. Go grab a sixer, some lobster, and try it out. Let me know how it goes.

Landing Day Lager

I'm so far behind these days, but I can't let any more time pass on this one. The PEIBC crew have put some of the new hops they've received to good use (they got some different varieties to play with and test out), by creating this 4% lager. It's a dandy lager, in my opinion. They used Kohatu and Motueka hops to help create a drink with a light, hoppy aroma, great hoppy burps, a light sweetness, and is crisp and clean. It's better than Beach Chair in quality & name (and label, IMO, as well). Look for it at the PEIBC, The Gahan House (though it wasn't there when I checked early on), and, perhaps, on store shelves in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Locally Brewed by Anna Blessing

I have very little free time, or at least it feels like I do, what with a career that can eat up both hours at work & at home, as well as an almost-three-year-old about the house. But, sometimes, when I do get a bit of time, I'll grab a beer-reIated book, and try to boost the beery brawn of my brain.

Locally Brewed, by Anna Blessing, is an interesting & casual read that's easy to pick up & put down in short sessions. In it, you'll surely learn about some of the beers brewed in the midwest of America, but the uniqueness of this book lies in its real focus, which is the people & places behind these beers. You will learn about the beginnings, challenges, and successes of 20 breweries like Bell's, Three Floyds, and Jolly Pumpkin. You'll find lists of the best local places to grab a pint of these breweries, like New Glarus, Great Lakes, and Founders. You'll learn some info on brewery setups / size, & things each company's learned along the way (like how most of them wish they'd started out bigger). One of my favourite parts of the book, that I think was pure genius, is the inclusion of brewers' playlists. For whatever reason, I would argue that those in craft beer are more deeply into music than the average citizen. Seeing their choice of at-work tunes is a neat look inside of their work environments and minds, a bit of insight into what kind of gals and guys are making these brews.

Locally Brewed is a great read; an enjoyable and insightful book that you can pick up and read any part of in any amount of spare time that you may happen to have.

Friday, May 23, 2014

John Brown Richmond Street Grille

Last weekend, somewhat quietly, the (take a deep breath to say it) John Brown Richmond Street Grille opened in the spot that was most recently "The Globe" (as well as Brennan's, Pat's Rose & Gray, etc.). It'll be affectionately known as "Brown's".

I make note of it here because it instantly became the best place to go on PEI if you are looking for off-Island beers on tap. As of last weekend, they have 18 taps, and plan to have up to 21, and to rotate the selection if they can. Most of the beers they have on tap are available in bottles in PEILCC stores, but there are a few that aren't (Garrison's Nut Brown, for example, and Pump House's Pail Ale and Pilsner). Some expected beers didn't make it for the opening (Garrison's Imperial IPA, for example, Hop Bot, as well as a few from Picaroons, and local brewers, Barnone). Hopefully they'll make an appearance some time soon. It would have been nice to see some other brewers included like Propeller (who apparently didn't want to sell here... yet), or some newer quality regional brewers, like Boxing Rock, for example.

Who knows... maybe we'll see them there in the future. I'll keep you posted. Stop on by online to check out their offerings:


Liefmans Oud Bruin

A cloudy medium-brown, this low-headed beer has a great aroma - reminding me of some other great sours,  it has a smell a bit like a white wine melded with some dark fruits. Its flavour doesn't knock my socks off, but it is quite refreshing - like a ratcheted-down lambic with a bit more sweetness. The body is surprisingly light, given its colour, and it has low carbonation. It would be a great beer to start introducing someone new to sours with, or to get a wine-loving friend to open up to some different notions on beer.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Picaroons... in bottles... in PEI

In a move that both contradicts Sean Dunbar's notions over 2.5 years ago, and excites especially New Brunswickers living in / visiting PEI, Picaroons is now available in PEI.

After finding, surprisingly, two offerings, I heard from a brewer at the PEIBC today that Picaroons was to have three listings here, but in the two PEILCC shops I was in today, there was just two (although, in one shop, one brand took up two rows).

I also wanted to mention that, after literally years of sporadic tries, I finally had a Yippee IPA that allowed me to see what people who really like this beer have been talking about.

First Annual Gahan Homebrewers' Challenge

Today, at 3:55, local tech, beer, and Aleander guy Ryan Palmer became the first winner of The Gahan House / PEI Brewing Co.'s homebrewers' contest with his Cranberry Wit.

Congrats to a good guy who made a good, refreshing, and tart ale. The Aleanders are lucky to call you a member. I'll be eager to try the pub version of your brew!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Catch the Red Eye

Folks, it's been a mess of  "perfect storm" weather on PEI lately, but - rejoice. A new perfect storm of things is going to get mixed up, starting tomorrow, in bombogenic fashion: ECMA week officially starts tomorrow, so does Burger Love, and, as part of the ECMA festivities, Barnone has made a special beer exclusively for the 150-hr jam at Baba's Lounge: Red Eye P.A., or a red India pale ale. The brew had a 150-min boil time, was brewed with 150 kg of malt, 150 ounces of hops, and clocks in at 150 IBUs. It was also created for the 150th anniversary of the Ch'town Conference (finally, someone around here has a good beer idea for this!). I know what my supper plans are for tomorrow: Burger Love at Cedar's / Baba's with some Red Eye P.A.

PS - while I may expect a lot from the beer, if it was ever bottled and this was the label, it would instantly be the best label a beer on PEI's ever had.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coming to a tap near you...

I'm not exactly sure what is at play, but it seems Sapporo / Sleeman (same company if you didn't know) are putting a push on in these parts to grab a share of the taps at local bars. One pub I like to go to is installing a new draft setup soon, adding three taps: two Sleeman, and Sapporo. I was at another restaurant / pub just over a week ago, and a beer rep was in, dropping off tap handles and Sapporo glasses. A co-owner was talking to servers, enthusiastically, about how they'd like Sapporo, a new-to-them light beer.

I'm always happy to see growth in beer around here at all, but, of course, I always want it my way and figure I may know a little better (come on, what Islander doesn't). Is Sapporo just footing the bill for these expansions? How are they enticing more places to take them on? I can't, off the top of my head, name a bad Sleeman beer, and Sapporo is OK, but, really... they're largely bland. If you want to attract new patrons with something different & good, why go with selections that are much like every other brew from a large commercial operation?

To support those places listed above, they both have two taps from our newest local brewery, Barnone, one has been bringing in good things from Pump House for over a year, and the other tried out some Garrison beers (why didn't they let anyone know they had the Imperial IPA on tap once?). To keep pushing them, though, why not try Unibroue if you're going to go with the Sleeman group of breweries? We have three of their offerings in bottles here now, and, overall, their beers are more interesting, appeal to more different drinkers, and, to be blunt, are just better.

One definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly & expecting different results. If you run a bar or restaurant, and want new customers, or more repeat customers, why offer them more of the same unremarkable brews that surround us all?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Alexander Keith's Galaxy Hop Ale

I like the idea of this hop series by Keith's - it's the right thing to do for them to be a bit more relevant & keep up with current beer trends / culture / knowledgeable drinkers. I have had the Cascade and Hallertauer in the series already, with the Hallertauer being my favourite thus far, I think. I expect more from this one, as I like what Galaxy has to offer.

Unfortunately, this is my least favourite of the three, I think. First off, like many hoppy beers, this is better drunk from the can - don't follow the poor glass suggestion on the can (suggests some plain Keith's glass). The best glass for this is a goblet or the IPA glass - something with a narrow opening.

The aroma is fairly nice, albeit a little restrained. They definitely didn't go all in with this hop to really let it shine. Mostly pineapple and orange come out, but they don't whack you over the head like they could have. The flavour isn't that great. It's a bit too sweet. It comes across as a little peachy, and will probably give some tasters notions of corn or the use of adjuncts.

Kudos to Keith's for doing this series, and for selecting Galaxy, but to really succeed with this, they need to ramp things up just a bit more before many people will care. On the plus side, this series should help to entice, expose, and educate some folks on the broad topic of what's in their beer.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Gahan / Hot 105.5 FM Home Brew Contest

I mentioned it on Twitter, but haven't gotten around to posting anything here about the first local home brew contest. 

Hot 105.5 FM and the folks at Gahan / PEI Brewing Company are putting it on. Sign-up was to close on February 21st or the 23rd (different documents say different things), but, who knows... maybe you could still squeeze in. A recipe, detailed brewing instructions, and a 6-pack of your brews need to be dropped off at the Gahan House by March 21st, with judging to happen at the pub on March 29th. Your prize? You would get to make your brew on the pub's system with their brewer Trent Hayes, and have it served at the pub as a seasonal. The pub would also have the right to retain & reuse your recipe in the future if they so desired.

So, either get a move on & hope you can still get in, or look forward to trying the brew out later this spring.

The sign up form can be found here.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

AC/DC Premium Pilsner

Are you ready for this review? 'Cause, apparently, anything goes when it comes to band - backed beers.

Served in the appropriate upside-down Aussie glass, if you're any kind of a beer fan, you'll need a stiff upper lip or big balls to drink this one & enjoy it - it's not going to shake your foundations. Light, sweet, & corny, this beer will have you firing your guns at AC/DC for this offense to brewing & marketing - I guess you could say AC/DC is back in business, and it's a dirty deed done dirt cheap. But... money talks, I guess. I'm sure the band couldn't resist the opportunity. I can hear the conversation now... Female reporter: "What do you do for money, honey?" Band - "We make beer now. Here, have a drink on me."

As much as I didn't enjoy it, the beer wasn't undrinkable - it's not on some highway to hell. Try it if you want (or if you dare). I just hope the band didn't think it'd be awesome... promised by the brewer that it'd be packed with TNT, ready to shoot to thrill, only to be shot down in flames. Maybe the band doesn't care. After they got their money, maybe they just decided to ride on to sin city with their new funds to gamble & get all screwed up. I mean, after all, it ain't no fun waiting round to be a millionaire.

I'm no cold-hearted man... I just don't want to be beating around the bush. This beer is damned. Gimme a bullet & let me put it to rest. So... enough of this riff raff. I could keep going on like this for a while. I'll have to look for my beery shot of love elsewhere.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fathers 2014 Pack

You know, things are OK in beer land for me - lots of good new brews for Christmas, with the promise of some more to arrive in the coming weeks... quality Aleanders meetings... I'm just still busy with work and whatnot to post as much as I normally do. 

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm a pretty positive guy, I want to spread the good word, and I usually don't say much of anything negative if I can avoid it... so I'll try to be as nice and as brief about this one as I can. 

The province of PEI is pulling out all the stops this year, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, where the idea for this great nation supposedly was nurtured, or so we like to say around these parts. Man, what an opportunity for local brewers, especially the PEI Brewing Company, who has spread its reach across the country this year. They could create a new brew (or more than one)! Maybe an historical one. Maybe one only sold here, maybe one to send to other provinces to show what they can do as a brewery... but no.

What the PEIBC has done is released a money-grab of a four-pack: four beers that already exist, just repackaged, and, in two cases, just renamed. "1864" is the Blueberry Ale (how historic), "Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale" is the same (natch), Iron Bridge has again been renamed, this time as "Colonel John Hamilton Gray", and, in a bewildering but understandable move, their arguably lowest-quality regularly-available beer, Coles Cream Ale has been bottled for the first time as "Premier George Coles".

Sure the labels look nice, sure, it suits the 2014 theme, but what a missed opportunity.

Here's some other ideas for a commemorative pack:

  • A "fortified" John A. of some sort. The man was a drunk. Use one of his favourite drinks in some way. Whisky. Brandy. Take your pick. He liked a lot. 
  • The original conference was just going to be for NS, NB, and PEI. Take some hops or grains from all three and call that "1864" or "Maritime Union". 
  • Great George's Gose - how about a salty ale for the harbour & street that first welcomed the delegates?
  • Slaymaker's & Nichol's Olympic Ale - hello? Crossover! 2014 is also an Olympic year, and Slaymaker & Nichol's Olympic Circus was the circus in town the same time as the conference, taking most hotel rooms and public interest. Make it some sort of strong, sweet, or wild (hell, make it a lambic) ale. The people of the time were more interested in the circus. It was the best thing in town, and hadn't been here in 20 years. Why shouldn't this sneakily-named ale be the show-stealer of the bunch, too?
Thoughts? I'd be interested to see what other folks think could have been created, in jest, or in all seriousness. 

PS - I'm still holding out hope that something cool could still be produced this year...