Thursday, October 26, 2017

Candy review: Halloween Kisses

Halloween Kisses must die

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 10:12 AM


It’s rare that you run across a “candy” so vile it has a disgusting urban myth regarding its origin. Halloween Kisses are exactly that candy. The party line was that at the end of Halloween candy season, the excess bags of Halloween Kisses would get shipped back to the manufacturer, where they’d be tossed into a giant vat, wrappers and all, melted down with more...toffee? Molasses? And repurposed into next year’s treats. You can picture it, right? You’d never believe that about mini Snickers. Throughout my trick or treating career, it would always go the same way: I’d quickly sift through my bag of treats and get those wax wrapped nuggets out of my sight, fobbing them immediately off to my dad, who somehow liked them. Especially confusing because, to my knowledge, my dad would never sip the brown liquor from a spittoon filled with discarded chaw—Halloween Kisses’ closest flavour profile. I guess there’s some appeal in rooting for the underdog—waste not, want not, I get it—but even I have a greater respect for my tastebuds than that, and this is coming from someone who regularly eats microwaveable No Name burritos.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The prize-winning pints of the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards

A re-cap of this year’s Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards from your buds, 902 BrewCast.

Posted By , and on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Philip Church, Kyle Andrus and Jeremy White of the ACBAs Best Brewery, Big Spruce - ANTHONY WIGHT
  • Philip Church, Kyle Andrus and Jeremy White of the ACBAs Best Brewery, Big Spruce
  • Anthony Wight

The fourth annual Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards were presented this past weekend at the Stubborn Goat in downtown Halifax. The awards showcased the best in beer and cider from around the Atlantic region, with a whopping 321 entries submitted from New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and PEI (which is up from 257 total entries in 2016).

Organizers Mark DeWolfe and Becky Grant from the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers were charged with getting all of the entries into one place, then organizing them by category and subcategory. In the end, there were 296 beers submitted from 43 breweries and brewpubs, as well as 25 ciders from seven different cider houses. Over the course of 18 hours, and with the help of eight stewards, 20 judges tasted and scored the entries based on a tailored version of the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines.

Top performers from the initial tasting rounds of the various categories and subcategories then went to a mini Best of Show to determine the awards for gold, silver and bronze across the 14 different categories. The highest scoring entries, breweries, brewpubs and cider houses were then selected for Beer of the Year, Brewery of the Year, Brewpub of the Year, Cider of the Year and Cider House of the Year awards.

Amongst all the buzz during the reception before the awards was a sense that win or lose, the ACBAs were a chance for the breweries, their staff and their families to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year, the work that goes into crafting great beer and cider, and the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the ever-improving Atlantic craft beer and cider scene.

Through the course of the awards there were cheers and laughs as winners were read out, and you could feel the support of the community for each of the winners as congratulations were shared.
As far as the notable awards go, Big Spruce Brewing of Nyanza was awarded Brewery of the Year while also winning gold for Belgian Specialty Ale and silver in three other categories. Halifax newcomers Chain-Yard Urban Cidery won Cider House of the Year, along with gold in the Standard Cider Category and bronze in Specialty Cider. The beer and cider that scored the highest individual scores were then awarded ACBAs for Beer and Cider of the Year, with the Sterling Hefeweizen from Breton Brewing of Sydney winning the top honour for beer and the Fall Cider from Fredericton’s Red Rover winning for cider.

The public weighed in and voted Go Devil from Upstreet Brewing in Charlottetown as People’s Choice Beer and the Original Cider from Long Reach, NB’s Yip Cider as People’s Choice Cider.

After the awards portion of the evening, there was a four-course dinner prepared by the Stubborn Goat with each course paired with a beer. Breweries highlighted in the pairings were Garrison, Spindrift, Big Spruce and Breton. The event quickly sold out this year with seats going to brewery staff, judges and any craft beer fan that wanted to attend. Now that the ACBAs are over, the next big awards event for beer is the Canadian Beer Awards, which will be taking place in Halifax in May of 2018.

To hear interviews with some of the ACBA winners, check out 902 BrewCast's latest episode here, it'll be live October 31.

2017 Atlantic Canadian Beer Award winners:

North American & European Style Lager

Gold Boxing Rock Brewing Co.- Stayin’ Alive Bock
Silver Moosehead Breweries Ltd.- Moosehead Lager
Bronze Good Robot Brewing Co.- Extra BIG-ASS Beer

German Style Specialty Ales
Gold Breton Brewing Co.- Stirling Hefeweizen
Silver Tatamagouche Brewing Co.- North Shore Lagered Ale
Bronze North Brewing Company- Little Beast

UK Style Specialty Ales
Gold Pump House Brewery- Barley Wine Ale
Silver Split Rock Brewing Co.-  Alli’s Big Brown Ale
Bronze Garrison Brewing Co.- Irish Red

North American Style Specialty Ale
Gold: Trider’s Craft Beer- Brew-Deau Cream Ale
Silver: Tatamagouche Brewing Co.-  Giantess Barleywine
Bronze: Oland Brewery - Keith’s IPA

Belgian Style Specialty Ale
Gold Big Spruce Brewing- S’Il Vous Plait
Silver Les Brasseurs du Petit-Sault- Tante Blanche
Bronze Quidi Vidi Brewing Company- Winter Ale

North American Style Amber / Red Ale
Gold Sea Level Brewing Co.- Blue Heron Extra Special Bitter
Silver Boxing Rock Brewing Co.- Temptation Red Ale
Bronze Hammond River Brewing - Red Coat India Red Ale

Fruit & Field Beer
Gold Alexander Keith’s Brewery- Hortonville Pumpkin Ale
Silver Big Spruce Brewing- Guava Get Me Some!
Bronze Tatamagouche Brewing Co.- Rushton’s Peach

Pale Ales
Gold Breton Brewing Co.-  Seven Years Pale Ale
Silver Big Spruce Brewing- Kitchen Party Pale Ale
Bronze North Brewing Company- Priority Pale Ale

Stout / Porter
Gold Tatamagouche Brewing Co.- Two Rivers Baltic Porter
Silver 2 Crows Brewing Co.- Midnight Mood American Porter
Bronze Big Axe Brewery- Shakespeare Stout

India Pale Ale
Gold Roof Hound Brewing Co. Ltd. – Big Stink IPA
Silver Big Spruce Brewing – Tim’s Dirty American IPA
Bronze Nine Locks Brewery – Fathom DIPA

Experimental Beer
Gold North Brewing Company- Oh My Darlin’ Clementine Brett Pale Ale
Silver Uncle Leo’s Brewery- Nachtical Illusion Schwarzbier
Bronze Good Robot Brewing Co.- Damn Fine Coffee & Cherry Pie v3.0

Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer
Gold Garrison Brewing Co.- Barrel-Aged Ol’ Fog Burner Barleywine
Silver Big Spruce Brewing- Chardonnay Barrel-Aged Wild Wild Wit
Bronze 2 Crows Brewing Co.- Bonanza! Calvados-Aged Wheat Wine

Standard Cider and Perry
Gold Chain-Yard Urban Cidery – Foundation
Silver Yip Cider – Russett
Bronze Coastliner Craft Cider – Coastliner Original

Specialty Cider and Perry
Gold Red Rover Craft Cider – Fall Cider
Silver ShipBuilders Cider Ltd. – Sid’s Chai Apple Cider
Bronze Chain-Yard Urban Cidery – Hopped Up

Brewery of the Year
Big Spruce Brewing (Nyanza, NS)

Brewpub of the Year
Paddy’s Pub (Wolfville, NS)

Cider House of the Year
Chain-Yard Urban Cidery (Halifax, NS)

Beer of the Year
Stirling Hefeweizen – Breton Brewing (Sydney, NS)

Cider of the Year
Fall Cider – Red Rover Craft Cider (Fredericton, NB)

People’s Choice Award – Cider
Original – Yip Cider (Long Reach, NB)

People’s Choice Award – Beer
Go Devil – Upstreet Craft Brewing (Charlottetown, PE)

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Coming soon to Lower Water Street, aFrite

Andrew Al-Khouri's restaurant opens November 23

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 5:16 PM

  • via Master Chef

Remember Andrew Al-Khouri? The plucky Cape Bretoner-turned-Haligonian made a splash on Master Chef Canada in 2015, earning his spot on the airwaves with a no frills donair gnocchi and tapping out in the top 10. Then, he was a tax officer with a passion for cooking bored by his day job. Now, he’s opening a restaurant.

“I’ve always liked freedom to be who I want to be and do what I want to do. The worst reality I can think of is one where I have to do one thing for the rest of my life,” says Al-Khouri, who’s operated a catering and private chef service—Zatar Catering—as a side hustle since competing on the show. But after a couple of years of planning, he’s found a home base for his food. Come the end of November he’ll debut aFrite, a 30-seater spot with a small menu at 1360 Lower Water Street, the former Choco Cafe.

“It means fried in French, but what it really is named after is something my mom used to call me when I was kid. In Arabic it means shithead, troublemaker, little devil. It’s an endearing term,” he says, with a laugh. “I got all my motivation and inspiration from learning from my mother and seeing her amazing Middle Eastern-style cooking.”

aFrite will have an entirely open kitchen, some communal seating and a chef’s bar and an ever-changing chalkboard menu where each dish and appetizer will have a suggested beer and wine pairing (thanks to sommelier Danny Hewitt and Tidehouse Brewing Co.).

“There is absolutely no genre. People ask what I’ll be serving and I say world fusion which essentially means nothing. And everything. The point is not having restrictions—being a troublemaker,” says Al-Khouri. “If we want to have foie gras one week and spam the next, we will.”

He’ll be a bit of a switch hitter, spending time in the kitchen with chef Pam Eye but also helping out with service, aiming to provide a dining experience that’s interactive, fun and delicious without abiding by any set-in-stone parameters. And yeah, there’ll probably be some donair gnocchi.

“The idea is to offset what’s already down there with something different,” says Al-Khouri. “It’s built around what I think Halifax needs, which is a little culinary flair.”

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Drink this: 2 Crows' I Love You
brett saison

The Brunswick Street brewery is stirring up a new beer with a romantic name.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 2:24 PM

If you’re too shy to say “I love you” to the bartender, you might miss out on an upcoming beer from 2 Crows Brewing Co.

“One of the people in the tasting room suggested that,” 2 Crows brewer Jeremy Taylor says of the beer’s name.

One of the key ingredients in I Love You is lemon verbena—a plant sometimes used for tea. Taylor had one of the plants at his place when he lived in his hometown of Vancouver. “I really liked the smell and taste of it,” he says.

Taylor called up Phil Holmans of World Tea House to help him source some lemon verbena, and Holmans has also been giving the 2 Crows crew a hand with the taste tests.

“Collaborating with them is really cool, 'cause it gets me out of my element,” says Holmans, who has teamed up with other craft brewers such as Spindrift and Boxing Rock. People sometimes will hire Holmans on a consulting basis simply “for my taste buds,” he explains. “Some teas aren’t easy to get those flavour notes and flavour profiles from, so you really have to work at it and train your palette, which I’ve been doing for a very long time.”

“I’m OK with beer flavours and what hops and what grains to use and stuff, but Phil knows tea so much more than I ever could,” says Taylor.

The beer label is also a bit of a throwback to Taylor’s time in Vancouver. The graffiti-style text that reads “I love you” is an homage to tags he would see painted around the city (possibly part of the I Love You World Graffiti Project).

“My wife—the first time she told me she loved me was actually just reading that off the side of a building,” says Taylor, laughing. “So, it’s sort of a personal connection for me and her as well.”

I Love You is expected to be available on tap and in cans starting November 4.

  • midnight oil

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Sober Island Brewing and ShipBuilders Cider launch collaboration

Cider and oyster stout join forces to create a unique flavour.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 3:59 PM

click image VIA FACEBOOK
  • via Facebook

Sober Island Brewing Co. has teamed up with ShipBuilders Cider to collaborate on a medley of beer and cider, launching this weekend

Sober Island Brewing owner Rebecca Atkinson connected with Sean Sears of ShipBuilders through a Mashup Lab program, and Atkinson says Sears has since become a mentor of sorts. Now, they’re finally launching a product together.

“I think we were just looking for a blend that suited, I guess, our liking,” says Atkinson. “You don’t really know what you’re gonna get when you put together an oyster stout and a cider. I mean, oyster stout in itself is a pretty unique product and they all vary incredibly.”

The beer-cider hybrid is called Core and Keel, a combination of Shipbuilders’ cider and Sober Island’s oyster stout. The stout is accurate named, as it actually requires oysters as an ingredient—whole, fresh oysters are added during the last 10 minutes of the boil. Using that particular beer was Sears’ idea.

“I was just really interested in collaborating with them for a unique product and, I mean, it doesn’t really get more unique than that with our beer,” says Atkinson.

She notes that the blend “resembles more of a wine product than it would beer or cider,” so it will appeal to wine drinkers as much as beer aficionados.

“It was sort of rugged in the flavour but really velvety in the mouth feel, and with that light cider bubble it was very effervescent in the end.”

Core and Keel will be available at the launch party at Battery Park Beer Bar on Saturday.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

EAT THIS: chocolatey mint Girl Guide cookies

Save us from ourselves and eat them all

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 10:46 AM

Before pumpkin spice was a drinkable thing, there was the chocolatey mint Girl Guide cookie—a mark of fall as reliable as dried-out leaves crunching beneath your shoes and the excess of high-gloss decorative gourds. An addictive—especially autumn’s extra crushable minty disks, $5 a box— charitable snack for 90 years (22 for the chocolatey mint) the Girl Guide cookie remains the only good reason to answer an unsolicited knock at the door. But if you’ve seen nary a Guide, Brownie or even Spark in your neighbourhood, or have been outed as the jerk that keeps eating an entire row of the office’s communal cookie stash, there’s still hope for you to stock up for the winter and then lie to yourself that they’ll last that long.

This weekend marks National Cookie Day and thanks to Girl Guides of Canada, who are probably very used to people whining about where they can find some damn cookies, there’s the #cookiefinder. Yes, it has its own hashtag, and thank goodness. The regularly updated interactive map tracks stationary cookie sales near you, meaning easy access to the 13,000+ thin mints being sold across the province. And you won’t have to risk answering the door anymore.
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tanner & Co. Brewing is now open in Chester

Stop, Tanner time.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 3:41 PM


Last weekend Chester Basin had some drinks. Tanner & Co. Brewing—the latest addition to Nova Scotia’s craft beer scene—officially launched its little operation (50 Angus Hiltz Road) with Dan Tanner, a veteran in the food and drink world, at the helm. Tanner, who’s worked at White Point Beach Resort as a food and beverage manager and sommelier for the last 17 years, was turned onto the beer world thanks to his interest in wine.

“It was part of my goal for what I wanted to do for my career—I jumped into the CAPS [Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers] training, which lead to planting some vines to see how that goes,” says Tanner, who also studied culinary arts at NSCC. “The original intent was that we were gonna do a little winery. We learned its not all that fun to have a vineyard, it’s very frustrating with our climates, trying to be organized and keep everything alive, and you only get one shot a year. Brewing went more with my culinary arts side, you can mess with it and play with the recipe.”

After five-plus years of serious experimentation with brewing at home, he decided—thanks to lots of compliments about his beer— to go for it and launch Tanner & Co. Brewing. Starting with a focus on German beers, Tanner nailed down a rye beer and steam beer, but has expanded his list of creations to include a pale ale, a Belgian blonde and a lemon lavender saison. He says he’s happy to keep Tanner & Co. very micro for now, focusing first on getting kegs into restaurants and bars and filling growlers at the farmers’ market.

“For now I’m happy staying small, I love my day job,” says Tanner. “It’s a hobby slash dream slash it fits well with what I do already. We’ll see.”

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Compass Distillers points in the right direction

Agricola Street's tower is now open, debuting a distillery and tasting room

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 2:42 PM

Tower of boozy power - VIA @COMPASSDISTILLERS
  • Tower of boozy power
  • via @compassdistillers

Compass Distillers is here to lift your spirits—and perhaps offer you a place to crash as well.The cylindrical tower on Agricola took over the former site of Nauss Bicycle Shop (2533 Agricola Street). Now, it’s not only a distillery, but will soon be home to a cocktail bar and an Airbnb to boot. Compass is waiting on its full-fledged bar license, so for now it is just offering tastings. Gin, rum, whiskey and vodka are the current offerings.

“Anything that we sell in this building will have been made in this building. No exceptions,” says Graham Collins, the company president. He runs the show alongside his friends David LaGrand and Josh Judah.

Upon entering the building, the bar is the first thing you’ll see. Part of the production area is visible through a glass wall separating it from the seating area, and it’s also available for tours. The top two floors of the tower are furnished like a two-bedroom apartment. LaGrand, who is based out of Michigan, will stay there when he’s in town. While it’s not in use, anyone will be able to rent it.

“It’s a great area,” Collins says of Agricola. “It’s very vibrant. There’s tons of foot traffic, there are lots of interesting businesses.” Going forward, the hope is that Compass will eventually expand far beyond the north-end street. “We are literally looking to become a—at least North America if not a world-distributed product.”

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Vandal Doughnuts moves into Gus' Pub

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 5:05 PM


The duo behind Riot Snack Bar (6293 Quinpool Road) want to help heal the hole in your heart Ace Burger Co. left when it said goodbye to its Gus’ Pub (2605 Agricola Street) location a couple of weeks ago. Emphasis on the hole. Nicole Tufts and Sonia Gillies-da Mota are gearing up to open Vandal Doughnuts in its place, a little cafe and bakery that’ll focus on “creativity, art and quality” and as much local stuff as possible.

“It had to be fun and unique enough to stand with the best of Agricola,” says Tufts, of the idea to spinoff into the north end. “We gave it a lot of thought and decided to re-visit a little dream we had to open a funky doughnut shop!” Vandal opens soon, and will serve coffee and all-day breakfast, sandwiches and of course, its namesake fried doughy dessert from 8am ’til 10pm. Follow along here for updates.
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Friday, October 6, 2017

CHKN CHOP opens soon

The charcoal chicken rotisserie makes its debut mid-month

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 1:30 PM

A post shared by CHKNCHOP (@chknchop) on

Get ready for CHKN CHOP. The charcoal rotisserie chicken restaurant Jenna Mooers (EDNA) and Andrew Flood (Five by Five Renovations) announced in May is finally getting ready to open.

“We are getting very close,” says Mooers, adding that the restaurant will be open in mid-October. “To quote my mom Jane, who is asked on a daily basis when we will open, ‘They will be open as soon as they are ready, and not a moment sooner.’”

Mooers describes the spot as “a small, fun, casual dine-in and take-out joint.” It’s a family affair with she and Flood being joined by a cousin from Montreal— Patrick Cleve, who will act as the head chef —and her brother Patrick Harland, former co-owner of Soled Out Sneaker Boutique, on board.

“The rotisserie chicken-focused menu will highlight charcoal rotisserie birds, sandwiches, awesome fries, poutine, along with local craft brews and wine on tap,” says Mooers.

You can follow the adventure and get a sneak peek of the menu by following @CHKNCHOP.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Drink this: Good Robot's Reclaiming My Time stout

Evelyn White and Good Robot team up to make a Communibrew inspired by Maxine Waters.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Evelyn White - JOANNE BEALY
  • Evelyn White
  • Joanne Bealy
First-time brewer, Evelyn White, is making a statement with her small batch of beer called Reclaiming My Time. White says she was inspired by congresswoman Maxine Waters and the now infamous viral video of her questioning treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“For a Black woman to say ‘I'm reclaiming my time,’ I took it as a wonderful symbol of a voice speaking up and standing up for the oppressed,” says White. An African American journalist and author, she feels Waters’ confrontative and bold message is easily transferrable to Nova Scotia.

Since she moved to Halifax from BC back in 2012, White says her “jaw dropped to discover how long, painful and distressing the discrimination of the Black community has been” in Nova Scotia. White was a victim of this discrimination in her own neighbourhood in the west end of Halifax when she was street checked and stopped by two white female HRM officers.

With the recent UN report claiming that systemic racism in Nova Scotia persists, she believes that African Nova Scotians have long been reclaiming their time in various communities and organizations.

“Part of my mission when I'm involved with Good Robot or any mainstream white-owned or -dominated business, is I want to encourage them to look at the racial dynamics in their organization and make it more inclusive,” she says.

Kelly Costello, bartender, brewer and organizer of  Good Robot Brewing Company's new Communibrew program that encourages both experienced and first-time brewers to make beer, says she hopes to diversify the craft beer community.

“I hope that people see Evelyn, an African American, a woman and someone who is not young and say, ‘Oh okay it's not just white dudes with beards that do it.’”

White spent five hours in early September making the beer with Costello and wanted her to try and recreate her favourite stout beer called Mackeson, which White hasn’t tasted in years.

“It's very rich, it has lactose and it has a sweet creaminess to it. We also have roasty notes because of the chocolate malt we used,” says Costello.

Reclaiming My Time will be on tap at the Good Robot starting today.

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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 17
September 19, 2019

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