I am very happy to be living in Calgary. I have easy access to the mountains, I have a job that I enjoy, and I met my wife in Calgary. It’s a great city. However, I miss Nova Scotia. I miss the smell of the water, I miss readily available fresh seafood, and I miss my family and friends who still live on the Atlantic coast. It’s a beautiful piece of the world, spoiled with ocean views, good people, and new craft breweries. When I lived in Nova Scotia, your craft beer options were Garrison Brewing and Propeller Brewing, both excellent companies, but since I left, like everywhere else, the craft beer scene has exploded. I knew when I booked a flight to go home for a very brief visit that I would have to be pretty judicious with my brewery selection. The first stop was at Saltbox Brewing Company in Mahone Bay. If anyone is planning a trip to the sea-bound coast, you need to go to Mahone Bay. It’s a stunning town full of artisan shops (my wood wedding ring comes from one of these local artists), lovely restaurants, and a new craft brewery. I ordered a flight and sat back, taking in the new building while saying hello to the very friendly dogs who call the taproom home and I walked out the door with a howler of Jeezus Murphy Irish Red Ale under my arm.
Appearance: Pouring out of the howler, you are instantly impressed with the very inviting amber-brown colour that fills your glass. The clear brew works itself up into two fingers of head that dissipates quickly.
Aroma: There is a sweetness that comes off of the beer. Roasted malts followed up by caramel and fruit.
Taste: Saltbox describes this as a “malt-forward beer.” They’re not lying. You immediately pick up on the roasted malts. Behind that you have some toffee sweetness and some stone fruit. There is some bitterness on the finish, which balance out the malt flavours quite nicely and at 4.8%, it’s an easy-drinking example of the style.
Feel: A medium-bodied beer with light carbonation. It’s a smooth drinking beer.
Overall: I miss Nova Scotia. I miss it when I call my parents, when I see friends’ pictures online, and when I think about how long it’s been since I spent a decent amount of time on the coast. Knowing what’s going on beer-wise back east makes me miss it even more. Saltbox has a wonderful location and is putting together some really good beer recipes, which is evident in this Irish red ale. I will be heading back to Nova Scotia, and Mahone Bay, as soon as I can.