Drink N Brew Turns 3!

Today marks the third birthday for Drink N Brew. Over the past three years we have been able to attend many beer events, have had the privileged to meet and talk with many brewers and beer fans, and of course, sample many great beers. 

To think about making a short list is almost hard to comprihend, but through some thought here are our top 5 beers we have reviewed. This isn’t to say these are all the best beers, but these were great at the time we drank them and have stuck in our memories as great beers that we would drink over and over again. 

1. Brasserie Dieu du Ciel – Aprhodisiaque

An unbelievable beer. Simply wonderful. Full of chocolate and subtle roast and so perfectly balanced. Not at all cloying, but with just a hint of sweetness, this is one to enjoy over and over. Heavenly. 

2. Nebraska Brewing Co. – Apricot au Poivre Saison (Reserve Series, Chardonnay Barrel Aged)

Big, bold, and complex. Apricot sweetness, nicely tamped down by a hit of black pepper. Slight vinous quality from the oak-barrel aging. Every mouthful is an experience.

3. North Brewing Co. – Farmhouse Ale
With aroma and flavours of cherries and dark fruits, this French styled Farmhouse Ale is treat to drink. Malty and dry, funky and balanced. Craftsmanship in a glass.

4. Maine Beer Co. – Zoe

A wonderful American style Amber Ale. Not the biggest hop bomb going, but full flavoured and one of the best red ales we’ve ever had.

5. Bad Apple Brewhouse – Barrel Aged Black and Tackle Russian Imperial Stout

Bold roast with nice whiskey notes. A well made beer showing off the skills of the brewmaster.If you find it, buy it. Sip and enjoy. Smooth: pace yourself, it’s a big beer, but drinks easy.

Cheers to 3 years and we raise our glass to the next three years and beyond!

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Grimross – Maritime Pale Ale

Grimross Brewing is a small brewery located in Fresricton, NB. Opening July 1st, 2013 by Stephen and Dawn Dixon, they have a growing reputation for great beers and expanding operations. Maritime Pale Ale is their first offering in cans or bottles. 

Appearance: Deep golden colour with an off-white fluffy head that is long lasting. Nice lacing on the glass. 

Aroma: Big hop nose of citrus, with a slight pine note and a hint of earthiness. A little malt aroma and a sweet finish. 

Taste: Hops – pine and citrus, little floral. Long lasting, late bitterness on the palette. A little malt comes through, a bit more as it warms. 

Mouthfeel: Light-medium body with a medium carbonation that so quite appropriate. Creamy texture, but cut with hop oil. 

Overall: Very nice. Balanced (little malt, but nice range in the hop flavours). This is one I will be going back to and recommending. I can’t wait to see more offerings on the shelves from Grimross. 


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2016 Halifax Seaport BeerFest

(Photo by Chris Smith – funkfactor.com via seaportbeerfest.com)

Last weekend saw the return of the Halifax Seaport BeerFest, so we laced up our drinking shoes and headed to Cunard Centre on Friday night. It was my (Trevor’s) first time at the BeerFest since it moved indoors, and Matt’s first time ever. After a decade of doing this, organizers have built a pretty well organized, efficient festival, and as always, the beer is the star. Some 110 producers from around the world offered up 326 different beers and ciders, which has to be the widest selection ever offered in Atlantic Canada. On Twitter, I saw a couple people grumbling that many Nova Scotian brewers weren’t there.

IMG_3519Those grumblers miss the point: the Seaport BeerFest isn’t a local craft-beer festival, it’s an international beer festival, and organizers aim to showcase beers not available locally, which included 75% of the offerings this year. (If you want a local craft-beer festival, check out the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival or the Craft Beer Cottage Party in Halifax.)

This year’s Seaport BeerFest included a great variety of beers from the U.S., Ireland, Ontario, Quebec, and Western Canada. Below are our favourites (in no particular order). Were you at the festival? Which beers make your list? Post a comment below to weigh in.


Le Coq by Le Trou du Diable in Shawinigan, Quebec
This, for me was a near perfect beer. Tart cherries with a beautiful malt balance. There are a lot of breweries doing sour beers these days, but few are as perfect as this one.

Buneos Dias by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario
This is a style of beer that has really grown on me. Gruit is a beer brewed in ancient tradition with herbs and spices for flavouring rather than hops. This beer is tangy and peppery with a great dry finish. Each sip begs for the next.

Maine Island Trail Ale by Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland, Maine
This is a great example of how a session IPA should be done. There is a great happiness, but still balanced with a malt backbone. The carbonation is kept at the right level so that the beer isn’t thin. Other breweries could look to this beer to see how to do a session beer right.

Wheat by Side Launch Brewing in Collingwood, Ontario
This is a well made traditional hefeweizen. They hit the balance of wheat malt flavours and banana and clove just right. Nothing is over powering, making this a great hot day patio beer.

Saison Framboise by Brasserie Dunham in Dunham, Quebec
If I just said fresh raspberries that would be enough, but this beer deserves more. The base beer is so well made, with a slight spicy notes and a dry finish, but the bright, fresh raspberries are the true showcase for this beer. Bravo.



Dark Arts Porter by Trouble Brewing in County Kildare, Ireland
It seems near impossible to find a nice dry textbook porter that’s not a booze bomb and/or hasn’t been infused with vanilla (or cinnamon or whatever). Trust an Irish brewery to fill the craving. Balanced, dry, and rich. Velvet in a glass.

Pucker Up Pomegranate Hibiscus Wit by Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia
I didn’t expect a wit to offer a mouth-puckeringly sour sucker punch of flavour, but that’s exactly what I got here, and I loved it. One of my favourite beers ever from one of my favourite breweries ever.

Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale by DL Geary Brewing Company in Portland, Maine
Warm, boozy, and flavourful—at its best, an American strong ale makes me think of a nice whisky. It’s not a style you see often enough. I’m planning a Maine road trip.

Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale by Coal Harbour Brewing Company in Vancouver, British Columbia
Here’s the thing about smoked ales: they tend to taste like smoke, and nothing else. This is easily the tastiest smoked ale I’ve ever had. Subtle peat, chocolate, and malt flavours nicely counterbalance smoky acridity. My favourite beer of the night.

Wag The Wolf Hopfenweisse by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario
This starts out like a classic Bavarian weissbier, but then those New Zealand hops kick in. The result? Wheaty sweetness morphs into a citrus zing, with a surprisingly bitter and clean finish.

MATT’S FAVOURITE BREWERY OF THE NIGHT: Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario
I have tried Beau’s before and thought they were pretty good, but having tried a wider selection of their offerings I’m thoroughly impressed with them. Every sample was a great beer and they came from a wide selection of styles. Not only was the Buenos Dias great, but they had a great kölsch (Lug Tread Lagered Ale), a great milk stout (The Tom Green Beer), and a great hefeweizen (Wag The Wolf Hopfenwisse) – all excellent beers that could have made my list. I will be keeping my eye out for more from Beau’s.

TREVOR’S FAVOURITE BREWERY OF THE NIGHT: Coal Harbour Brewing Company in Vancouver, British Columbia
It’s tempting to pick these guys solely on the basis of the masterfully crafted Smoke & Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale, but the Blackwing Baltic Porter is damn good too (sweet, crisp, and dangerously quaffable at 7.5% ABV). If the list above were a Top 6, it would include Blackwing. I can’t wait to try more from Coal Harbour.


Matt’s love of beer runs to all styles and as an avid home brewer he has brewed many of them.

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.


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A Quebec beer adventure

You know you’re in a province with a good beer scene when the gas station has a better craft selection than your local liquor store. Recently, I took a road trip through Quebec’s Gaspé region, and had the chance to explore some of La Belle Province’s fine brews. Read on for my five favourites from the trip. Note: I’m not saying these are Quebec’s best beers; they’re my five favourite discoveries from this trip. Post a comment below to share your favourite Quebec beers.
L’Épiphanie by Brasserie Artisanale La Fabrique in Matane, Quebec. The best thing about a province with a mature and thriving craft-beer scene is that you find great beers in the most expected places. This little brewpub boasts 20+ taps, mostly pouring house-made beers. This tart, light, and refreshing sour is my favourite. Flavourful without being overpowering, and a great pair with an Oktoberfest sausage that I’m still thinking of a week later.


Écume by A l’abri de la Tempête in L’Étang-du-Nord, Quebec. My most common review of a pilsner is “Meh, it’s a pilsner” so I’m still amazed at how much I like this Magdalen Islands creation. Slightly grainy and roasty, with a faint briny character: especially tasty with a smoked-salmon mousse.


Rosé sparkling cider by Cidrerie Michel Jodoin in Rougemont, Quebec. Man, I wish I’d encountered more ciders on this trip. This rosé-style cider is a big tasty bomb of fresh-apple flavour: slight sweetness balanced with lively acidity, with tart berry and floral notes. Perfect on a summer day by the ocean.


La Gaspésienne Robust Porter by Microbrasserie Pit Caribou in Percé, Quebec. Belgian brewers heavily influenced this part of the world, so you don’t see a lot of porters. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make textbook porters. This beauty is dry and bitter, with complementary hints of chocolate, black coffee, and caramel.


Chantier Naval – La Carrick by Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur in Carleton-sur-Mer, Quebec. This isn’t just one of my favourite beers from the trip, it’s one of my favourite wee heavies ever. It starts with an explosion of chocolate and toasted nuts, which quickly gives way to smoky whisky flavours and a long warm finish. Beautifully crafted.



Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.


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Fredericton Beer Fest: 2016 Edition

IMG_2531This past weekend was the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival. This year the organizers expanded the event, not only with an additional tasting session, but with a full week of activities all across the city of Fredericton, as always, the festival was the crown jewel event. Well organized, in a perfect location, and with loads of great beers.

This year’s event saw many new breweries, several that only opened in the past year, and many regional favourites returning, along with some national and international brands.

Matt’s 5 Favourite Beers (in no particular order)

Big Spruce Brewing (Nyanza, N.S.) Meek Thy Maker: A nice malty Red IPA with a beautifully smooth hoppiness from West Coast American hops. This was the winning recipe by Shawn Meek from Big Spruce’s home brew competition.

Barnone Brewery (Rose Valley, P.E.I.) Lil DIPA: A well made example of what a big IPA should be: big and bold, but still balanced, and very drinkable.

Moosehead Brewing (Saint John, N.B.) Chocolate Orange Ale: I never thought I’d have a Moosehead beer on a “best of” list, but this one really surprised me. Thanks to a friend at the fest we got to try this very limited cask release. Nice chocolate flavour with some orange and residual sweetness—like a malty, liquid version of an orange chocolate. Well done. Keep surprising us with these.

Sunset Heights Meadery/Pollen Angels (McLeod Hill, N.B.) Naughtea: I’ll admit, I’m not big mead drinker, but this one was not what I think of when I think mead. Infused with green tea, it refreshes the palate and begs for the next sip. Earthy and herbal, but rounded with some honey sweetness.

Bore City Brewing (Moncton, N.B.) Marécage: I’m a sucker for a good farmhouse styled beer, and this is a good one. This Belgian-inspired beer is dry with a fruity aroma and the spicy saison flavour you expect. Hints of malty and some bitterness finish it off. This is great now, but would be better in the heat of summer, and I’m now ready for it.

Matt’s Favourite Brewery

For me, this was a tough decision. There were so many great beers, from many excellent breweries that it was hard for me to settle on just one. I admit that I went back and forth. In the end I had to pick Big Spruce Brewing (Nyanza, N.S.). I had several of their beers and they all were top-shelf beers. I’ve always loved the beers from Big Spruce and their showing at the fest exceeded my expectations.

Trevor’s 5 Favourite Beers (in no particular order)

IMG_2538Johnny Jacks Brewery (Oromocto, N.B.) Trench Fighter: Smooth, bitter, and creamy, this American style was the best IPA I tried all night, and a textbook example. 

Maybee Brew Co. (Fredericton, N.B.) Long Carry Brett Red: This one excited me as soon as I heard about it; I figured the brett yeast would guarantee some funky flavours, and I was right. Dry with an interesting dankness. Tastes a lot better than it smells.

Barnone Brewery and Hop Farm (Rose Valley, P.E.I.) La Vaca Loca: I often find milk stouts too sticky-sweet, but I’ve never had a bad beer from Barnone, so I decided to give this one a try. And am I glad I did! Surprisingly dry, light, and refreshing for a milk stout.

York County Cider (Fredericton, N.B.) Sweet William: The best ciders are as straightforward as a punch in the mouth, and that’s a perfect description of this one. Elegantly simple, it tastes like nothing more than a bite into a fresh, crisp apple. Almost perfect.

Moosehead (Saint John, N.B.) Wee Heavy: I know, I’m as surprised as you are to see Moosehead on this list. Brewed just for the festival, this one was on cask and about as far removed from Moosehead’s typical macro lagers as you can get. Rich and flavourful, with hints of caramel; lingering boozy warmth.

Trevor’s Favourite Brewery

It would be more dramatic if this were a tough decision, but Johnny Jacks Brewery (Oromocto, N.B.) locked up my vote pretty early in the evening. I liked every beer I had from them. In addition to the best IPA of the festival, they poured a surprisingly flavourful gruit (an ancient and largely unappreciated hopless style) and a light and endlessly quaffable blonde. Nice friendly folks skillfully crafting distinctive and flavourful small-batch beer.


Matt Small is the founder and head drink-n-brewer at Drink N Brew. Matt’s love of beer runs to all styles and as an avid home brewer he has brewed many of them. 

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.


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Smuttlabs – Thelema

IMG_4898The Craft Beer Cellar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire recommended this Belgian-style golden ale from Smuttlabs.

Appearance: A cloudy golden pour with a thin, eggshell head and persistent lacing.

Aroma: Big nose of red plums, caramel, and cherries. Earthy whiffs of black pepper.

Taste: Vinuous and acidic. Flavours of citrus pith, with a red-wine earthiness. Pepper and cinnamon heat as it warms. A punch of orange oil to finish. 

Mouthfeel: Light body and good carbonation. Slight carbonation bite on the palate.

Overall: Light and easy drinking. Not at all boozy, but gets warm and earthy in its final act. This is a complex beer, that changes tone and develops more spiciness and wine qualities as it warms and breathes. Beautiful craftsmanship.


Smuttlabs (Smuttynose) can be found on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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