A brave new beer world

Photo: Tanner and Co. Brewing tap room in better days, at little over a month ago. Feb. 20, 2020.

I struggled with how to open this inaugural blog post. As a freelance editor and journalist, I’m effectively out of a job for the foreseeable future. I’m one of those people for whom the job is who they are, so I spent a lot of this week grieving, especially writing about beer. It’s not my most lucrative gig, but it brings me a lot of joy.

The camaraderie in the Atlantic Canadian beer industry amazes me constantly, and we watched it grow tenfold last week. As a journalist, I was frustrated that I couldn’t write about the kindness I’ve seen people in this industry show each other and their fans. Over the weekend it hit me – there’s no reason to stop as long as there are breweries, brewers, and beer to write about. I’ll miss working with Halifax Magazine senior editor Trevor J. Adams and the pay cheque. (However–if you’re a publication that’s still operating and want to hire me, please click the contact button above).

My goal is to post every two weeks, but like everything now, terms are subject to change. I’ll write the same types of profiles, articles, and new beer announcements I always have, plus look at how local brewers are managing through Covid-19. I’ll hold myself to the same standards of journalism I always do and I’ll pay for my beer. The big difference now is that I don’t have my intrepid editor looking over my shoulder. If I make a mistake, please let me know (use the contact button above). I’ll correct it immediately and include a correction note for transparency.

If you want to help as I transition to my own brave new world, please share the link to this blog with your beer-loving friends, and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Also, please keep checking the  “Support our craft breweries” post on Halifax Magazine (which I continue to update daily) to find out how you can safely acquire beer in your part of Nova Scotia.

Without further ado, here’s what’s new:

Satisfaction DIPA
Unfiltered Brewing
Halifax, N.S.
I interviewed brewer Greg Nash for my April Halifax Magazine beer column about why we should ignore anyone who says IPAs are over. Hopefully you’ll get to read it someday.

The topic we discussed most was the benefit of drinking single-hop beers. “It’s like when you’re cooking food,” says Nash. “You’re chopping everything up. You grab a bite of this, a bite of that. You can’t really do that when you’re making beer. I compare it to carrots. Similarly, when you cook a hop, it completely changes the flavour and the aromatics.” You can pop a hop pellet in your mouth, but I don’t advise it. You will be filled with regret and have green leafy chunks in your teeth.

Satisfaction is hopped with Sabro which adds fruity aromatics and complex citrus flavours. This beer has a big malty backbone and doesn’t swing for the fences on bitterness like many of Nash’s other offerings. If you think you don’t like Unfiltered because you’re not a hop head, it’s time to try again.

Counsel (Imperial stout)
2 Crows Brewing
Halifax, N.S.
If you’ve read my column, you know I’m a fan of big beers in little cans. A bomber of 10% beer is great when you have someone to share it with, but I’m a lone wolf with a basement full of magnums counting the days until we can share a drink with friends again.

Jeremy Taylor never fails to put the time into a beer to meet the image of it he has in his head. This hearty stout boiled low and slow for 24-hours (the usual is 60-90 minutes) to allow the sugars to caramelize and amplify the brew’s intensity. It was fermented warm with Oslo yeast, a strain of kveik that’s not easy to get in these parts. Next, it conditioned on 100 lbs of toasted coconut in French oak barrels before 5 weeks of lagering (cold storage that helps the beer clear and allows deeper flavours to develop).

I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to ASAP. From 2 Crows Instagram: Roasty, smooth, and lush. Assertive roast, lovely soft coconut, and light tannin structure, full silky body, and clean finish. ⁣⁣
Belgian Blonde
Tanner and Co. Brewing
Chester, N.S.
Returning this week, this Belgian blonde ale was one of the first I tried from Dan Tanner’s garage brewery back when he opened. It smells and tastes much lower in alcohol than its ABV, so drink with restraint. Light malt flavours meet spicy aromatics and fruity esters to create a multifaceted beer that will make you rethink blonde as a style.

I was lucky enough to take a drive around the South Shore breweries a few weeks before we went into lockdown (read about it here). When life restarts, I urge you to do the same. Tanner always has a unique saison on grape skins or something long-held in a barrel in his light-filled tap room. Borrow a board game from the stack near the bar or bring a book.

Tatamagouche Brewing
Tatamagouche, N.S.
Tata turned five recently and as a result had a lot of beer news ready for this week. Thanks to home delivery, you won’t miss out.

The latest in the Weird Beer Series, Altered is a Belgian tripel aged in peach brandy barrels. At 10.2% it’s a big beer, not suitable for solo-isolation. Grab one now and save it to celebrate the end of this nightmare. If you’re looking for something to drink this week, Rushton’s Peach and Dekorum will be back in cans. Rushton’s Peach is light little Berliner weisse coming in at 3.5%. It’s tangy and tart, aged on peaches and apricots for the taste of spring. Dekorum will help you live up to its name. At 2.9% this crisp lager lets you toast the end of the day without getting toasted.

Stay safe. Stay home. Wash your hands.

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