The HMCS King’s Wardroom will have a surprise on tap this fall.
Along with its usual assortment of good local brews, the King’s pub will feature a new drink for students to enjoy.
But this is no ordinary beer.
Asher Goldstein and Bridge Brewing Company have been working together to create a unique brew for Wardroom patrons. After a chance meeting with Bridge Brewing owner Peter Burbridge at a BBQ during the summer, the two teamed up to create the first King’s-only beer.
“I knew they already did a special brew for Gus’, and that’s what I wanted,” Asher says. “I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. Got to talking, figured out if we could afford it, I got to know Josh, their brewer over there, and just seemed perfect. So we went down to Josh’s place and picked those hops with his lovely wife Erin.”
Nestled in the idyllic Gaspereau Valley, Josh Herbin’s little hop farm features hundreds of towering 14-foot hop plants, laden with fragrant, green, pinecone-like hops. Asher, armed with a team of eight Wardroom staff, set out to pick the hops that would be used to make their beer. The group spent the day pulling down lush, heaping vines of hops and hand-plucked each of the soft, fluffy cones into buckets – while enjoying a few bottles of Bridge Brew, of course.
Josh, the brewer at Bridge, is a former King’s student. He took FYP in 2004 to 2005 before transferring to NSCAD. Formerly a brewer for Propeller, he left one year ago to help kick off the new little brewery. He’s also been growing hops for years.
“Mom and I had ordered a few plants from out west just as a test to see if they would grow here,” Josh says. “So we grew five plants successfully, and a year later, planted about 800.”
The hop farm has taken off to the point where Josh has far more hops than he can harvest. That’s where Asher came in, offering to help pick and buy out the bumper crop.
“It’s a crazy year for hops in the valley,” Asher says. “That’s why you’re seeing all kinds of cool hop beers cropping up.”
By the end of the day, Asher and the other Wardroom staff had packed several burlap bags full of Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops, which will shape the flavour of the beer. Slightly tired and with hands still sticky from picking hops, they headed back to Halifax. The rest is up to Josh. He will calculate how many hops will be needed, and combine them with three or four malts.
“It will be kind of an experimental brew.”
– Josh Herbin, Bridge Brewing Company brewer, on Hop Truck
“We’ll be using a Belgian farmhouse yeast, so it will be a Belgian, wet-hopped IPA (India Pale Ale), which I’ve never seen or heard of before,” Josh says. “It will be kind of an experimental brew.”
The brewing will be done in Bridge’s brewery and retail store on the corner of North and Agricola streets for a few weeks, before making its way to the Wardroom’s taps.
Asher is excited about more than just the unique taste.
“This is the most ethical beer we’ve produced. That’s gotta be a tagline in there. The money went to Josh to buy the hops from his hop farm in this province,” he says. “We’re buying as many as possible of the ingredients grown here in this province where it’s brewed, which is a step closer to real, authentic, local adaptation.”
Unfortunately, producing fresh-hopped beer is more expensive, but Asher has committed to keeping price at the tap as low as possible. Wardroom patrons can expect to pay $4.50 a pint, but they’ll still be getting their money’s worth.
“They’re slightly more alcoholic brews,” Asher says. “A beer at seven and a half to eight per cent that costs 50 cents more than a beer at five per cent – that’s a good deal.”
The new beer will be called “Hop Truck,” as a shout-out to Bridge Brewing owner Peter’s son Noah, 18 months.
“To sort of distract him a bit — he had his trucks — and we started getting him to fill the bed on his little toy truck with hops and drive that around instead of constantly just scooping out hops and throwing them on the ground,” Asher says. “So he started saying ‘Hop truck, hop truck,’ and I thought it was so funny. It couldn’t be called anything else.”