CFL Beat: Week 7 featuring Beer Barrel: Bonus Edition!

The Maestro
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The Maestro

The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn’t in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
The Maestro
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Vacation here on the Atlantic Ocean continues to go swimmingly. I definitely needed this week to re-charge the batteries for sure – I’m so fortunate to have a place to retreat to whenever I’m in need of some quiet reflection and quality time with family. My family ancestral land of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia is known for many things, including the Bluenose II schooner ship, an odd German-inflected dialect of English, excellent fish and seafood, and a wooden boat festival, but Saltbox Brewing Company is rapidly ascending the list of things you should definitely check out if you ever head to the South Shore.

The ideal spot to be a for a drink or several on a sweltering hot Tuesday afternoon.

Saltbox only recently opened in September 2016, but it’s been a big hit so far –  when I went in, it was mid-Tuesday afternoon on a week where the usual tourist things weren’t happening yet in town, and the place was still 3/4 full… I’m sure it’s absolutely hopping on the weekends. Located in the town of Mahone Bay, NS, a seaside village of about 1000 people nestled in between slightly larger, better-known locales of Lunenburg, Bridgewater & Chester, it’s extremely pretty and a great spot to visit all the same. The brewery itself is located on the main street, though slightly a ways away from the centre of town where the majority of the action happens around the three churches, pewter shop (founded by my aunt and uncle), and various other tourist destinations in town. All the same, it’s simple, but does well to have a good variety of seating available, both inside and out – an important detail, since Nova Scotia weather can and does turn on a dime. The name comes from a traditional architecture feature of many houses built during the late 1700s in the region, which had asymetrically-sloping gable roofs that resembled boxes used to store salt during this era.

When I went to visit, I ordered a five-glass sampler flight, which with tax, worked out to $11.50 CAD, plus a tip. Very affordable for a nice variety of beers on tap. Saltbox has five of their own beers on tap, which they rotate through on a regular basis – they have eight in all currently, with a ninth currently under development. With eight taps in all, they have a few other beers and ciders from other breweries available on a rotating basis as well… The five-glass sampler was all from Saltbox, however.

From left to right: The Loyalist, Nun On The Run, Dynamite Trail, Holy Mackerel!, and Jeezus Murphy.

I had the following beers, in this order:

  • The Loyalist (5.7% ABV): a Yorkshire bitter, with English Fuggel hops and Nottingham ale yeast. They advertise this as a dry taste with some hints of biscuit and grass… and I have to say that I could really notice the earthy undertones to this one. Really smooth, especially for a beer with a higher ABV than some other bitters I’ve had previously.
  • Nun On The Run (4.7% ABV): A cream ale that was named after Protestant leader Martin Luther’s wife Katharina Van Bora, who escaped a nunnery at age 24 with 11 other women in order to join Luther’s Protestant movement and later marry him; she was responsible for running the farm and house, directing a hospital, breeding cattle, and brewing her own beer. With lots of German ancestry in the area, the name selection is fitting. This is a cream ale that is definitely outside the box… they say it has some honey and spice infused into it, and it certainly does, but the aftertaste left is notably strong due to being extremely, extremely hoppy – this beer uses a combo of Huell Melon and Hallertau Mittlefru hops, as well as flaked wheat and Vienna malt to get its flavour. I normally don’t mind lots of hops, but I think that very hoppy beers need to also have something else prominent in the flavour palate so each sip isn’t solely just hoppiness. Still definitely worth a go if you’re a fan of high IBU beers.
  • Dynamite Trail Ale (5.2% ABV): named after the stretch of abandoned railway line that leads between the towns of Mahone Bay and Martin’s River, which also connected to the nearby Dynamite Wharf, where passing cargo ships in the 19th and early 20th centuries would be loaded with TNT, well away from the rest of the rest of the ports that were in town. This is a Hefeweizen (wheat beer) advertised as having some citrus, banana, and clove flavour to it. I think I had my first sip too close to finishing my previous glass of Nun On The Run, so I couldn’t initially taste the more subtle undertones, but the citrus, but most importantly the banana, definitely became apparent after a couple subsequent ones. I also found this one to be slightly smoky in the aftertaste as well, for whatever reason – this beer is made with Bavarian wheat yeast and a combo of Huell Melon and Hallertau Mittlefru hops to get some bitterness as well.
  • Holy Mackerel! Pale Ale (5.7%): the name comes from a popular Nova Scotian expression denoting surprise (which I also find myself often using in public whenever there’s a need to censor language). This is a dry-hopped pale ale using Huell Melon hops; they advertise this as having some citrus and strawberry undertones as well as a lot of traditional hoppiness as well; I was actually expecting it to be even more so, but still a nice take on a fairly traditional pale ale makeup.
  • Jeezus Murphy Irish Red Ale (4.8%): Not only is this a saying I find myself using a lot thanks to my own Nova Scotian upbringing, but there’s some history behind the saying as well –  a number of Irish Catholic families were among the first to settle the area in the mid-1700s, including the Murphys. In Prohibition-era Canada, one of their descendants, a travelling Bible salesman by the moniker of Jesus Murphy, would go door-to-door across the country peddling his wares… which at first glance were a mere Bible, but upon further inspection actually contained a cutout in the book for a bottle of bootleg whiskey. Doing the Lord’s work then, truly. For a red ale, this was actually surprisingly light, and extremely smooth… a lower ABV definitely helped, but with fruity hops (not disclosed to me) and some caramel, this was a really nice one to end my sampler on.

Of all the beers I had, I think the Loyalist and Jeezus Murphy were my two favourites, but I’d be interested in coming back and trying out the Ironbound Scotch ale, Make And Break Double IPA, and Old Foundry Stout the next time they’re available.

Saltbox is onto a very nice start as a brewery; while they’re using a lot of European hops right now in brewing their beers, they are also in the process of growing their own locally in the hopes of launching their own fully locally-sourced beer sometime later this year, dubbed the Dory Racer American Pale Ale. They were actually growing some hops in the planter boxes outside the patio, but I’m certain that they have other spots elsewhere in the area as well, as that wouldn’t be nearly enough for the volume they’re hoping to produce at.

Saltbox sells their beer in 32- and 64-oz Grunter and Growler jugs, and also have 16-oz cans of Nun On The Run, Holy Mackerel! and Dynamite Trail available as well; I’m not certain about whether or not they’ve expanded production yet to be included in the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) depots, known locally as Powerhouses, but they are available on tap in a number of restaurants both in the South Shore, Wolfville and Halifax as well.

Final note – while there’s no kitchen at Saltbox, you can bring your food in, and local menus are available on-site for you to order in; I ended up walking down the street before doing some other errands and followed up my drinks with a Halifax-style donair from Recardo’s; unique to Nova Scotia, this is a wrap featuring shaved beef, a tangy-sweet garlic yogurt sauce, and diced tomatoes & onions. Messy as all hell, but absolutely delicious. Doubly so if you’re absolutely wasted along Halifax’s Spring Garden Road at 3 AM. If you haven’t had one, I highly encourage it – even the one at Recardo’s, which wasn’t ground-breaking by any means, still hit the spot in a way no other food could for me in that moment.

God bless this wonderful mess. [source]

Onto the games!


Montreal 40 vs. Winnipeg 41: Montreal had it in the bag… until they didn’t. Up by 12 points with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Alouettes looked like they’d settled things for this game. Matt Nichols then drove down the field, finding receiver Ryan Lankford to cut the lead to five with just 44 seconds left. After a successful onside kick, recovered by gunner Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg made it down to the one-yard line with just four seconds left. Nichols handed it off to RB Andrew Harris, who managed to punch it in and seal the deal for the Blue Bombers. While it’s a disappointing result for Montreal, the offense continues to take strides forward and looks far more potent than it did even a few weeks ago. Dariant Durant threw an early interception, but battled back and ended his night with 348 yards on 27-35 passing for two touchdowns to BJ Cunningham and Ernest Jackson; the Als also had rushing TDs from Stefan Logan and J-C Beaulieu as well. For Winnipeg, Matt Nichols had another solid game, going 34-43 for 358 yards and two TDs, but the player of the game for the Bombers was Andrew Harris, who not only had two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner, but also had 93 yards receiving to go along with his 41 yards on the ground.

PICK: Winnipeg

RESULT: Winnipeg

BC 26 vs. Edmonton 37: The Eskimos had an excellent offensive night, with Mike Reilly throwing for 412 yards and three receivers cracking the 100-yard mark in Brandon Zylstra, Duke Williams and Vidal Hazelton. Hazelton, most notably, had the play of the evening when he connected with Reilly for a 108-yard catch-and-run TD where he stiff-armed his defender – this was not only the longest play in Eskimos franchise history, but the biggest play in the CFL since 2002. The Lions suffered their second loss of the season – both at the hands of Edmonton. Travis Lulay fell short of 400 yards passing for the first time this year, ending his night 22-26 for 259 yards passing, two touchdowns, two picks, and a rushing TD of his own. The only major negatives for the Eskimos came with the loss of RB Travon Van and kicker Sean Whyte to injury in this game – with #1 and #3 backs John White and Kendial Lawrence also out long-term, Edmonton had to use veteran Canadian FB Calvin McCarty for rushing duties for much of the game. Depending on the prognosis of Van, they could end up signing someone this week. For their kicking replacement, former University of Alberta Golden Bear Hugh O’Neill was brought in earlier this year to work on the practise squad, and he’ll likely be pressed into duty this week.

PICK: Edmonton

RESULT: Edmonton

Toronto 27 vs. Saskatchewan 38: The Roughriders played a complete game this week and looked very good in the process. Kevin Glenn threw four touchdowns on the night, including two to Duron Carter, who also made this insane highlight-reel catch as part of his 131 yards receiving on the night. With the score tied at 17 at the half, it was a close game until the fourth quarter, when Saskatchewan finally managed to bust out and seal the deal thanks to a couple field goals from Tyler Crapigna and a TD grab by Caleb Holley. Even in the loss, Ricky Ray has continued to look excellent this year – a truly remarkable bounce-back season at age 37; Ray had 386 yards and 3 touchdowns on 28-38 passing. Riders running back Cameron Marshall also had a very strong night for Saskatchewan, finishing his evening with 110 yards on 18 carries.

PICK: Toronto

RESULT: Saskatchewan

Hamilton 1 vs. Calgary 60: No, that’s not a typo. Hamilton really was that atrocious last week. Calgary’s offense scored six touchdowns against the lowly Ti-Cats, even after sitting starting QB Bo Levi Mitchell for the second half of the game as they took a 39-1 lead into the break. Receiver Marken Michel had a very impressive 190 yards and a touchdown, but the player of the game for Calgary was undoubtedly RB Jerome Messam, who had 91 yards rushing on just 11 carries as well as three touchdowns on the ground. Backup QB Andrew Buckley, a former standout at the University of Calgary, threw his first CFL touchdown pass of his career and the first thrown by a Canadian quarterback since Brandon Bridge in 2015. For the Ti-Cats, their lone point came on a punt single by Sergio Castillo. After getting their asses handed to them all over the field – they also gave up defensive and special-teams TDs in this game – the calls for head coach Kent Austin’s head to roll will be getting even louder after such an abysmal all-around performance.

PICK: Calgary

RESULT: Calgary

BYE: Ottawa (1-4-1)


Calgary (4-1-1) vs. Toronto (3-3), Thursday, August 3rd, 7:30 PM EST: With the Stamps absolutely obliterating Hamilton last week, nobody’s expecting them to put up 60 again this week, but they’re probably thankful that top Toronto pass rushers Cleyon Laing and Victor Butler have both been added to the 6-game injured list. Bo Levi Mitchell will almost certainly play the whole game this week, as Calgary will need to go drive-for-drive in order to stick with the Ricky Ray’s offensive abilities at home, where they’re 2-1 so far this season. Toronto has yet to lose back-to-back games yet this year, and Calgary has had some road issues so far this year with a tie and a loss on their record… but still, it’s Calgary. They’re always, always dangerous.

PICK: Calgary

Winnipeg (3-2) vs. Ottawa (1-4-1), Friday, August 4th, 7:00 PM EST: Winnipeg goes on the road after an emotional comeback win against Montreal, while Ottawa returns to action rested and hopefully ready. The REDBLACKS signed kick/punt return specialist Quincy McDuffie, a former Blue Bomber, to a two-year deal this week in hopes of kickstarting their return game a bit more. McDuffie had two return touchdowns last year, and was released by Winnipeg in the offseason in order to pursue an NFL opportunity with the Dallas Cowboys. Will he be a difference-maker against his old team? I guess we’ll see. The biggest challenge for the REDBLACKS will be to just not make some of the simple mental mistakes they’ve made thus far this season – all four losses on their record are by a combined total of 10 points. The margin for error is increasingly slim, even in an East Division that is by and large just as weak as last year’s.

PICK: Ottawa

Hamilton (0-5) vs. Edmonton (5-0), Friday, August 4th, 9:30 PM EST: It doesn’t get any easier for the Tiger-Cats, who after getting pummelled last week against Calgary, will take on the CFL’s only remaining undefeated team this week. The Eskimos, even with injuries piling up, are still finding ways to win, and players are stepping up in order to compensate. As I write this, there’s as of yet been no word on the injury to Travon Van and no word of any free agent signings to compensate for his loss either, so Calvin McCarty may get most of the rushing responsibilities; that said, with Hamilton’s secondary so decimated by their own injury troubles right now, the Esks may end up going pass-heavy this game to compensate for both their own lack of depth on the ground and to take advantage of awful coverage.

PICK: Edmonton

Saskatchewan (2-3) vs. BC (4-2), Saturday, August 5th, 7:00 PM EST: Even with a record of 2-3, the Roughriders are playing much better than the win/loss column indicates; they’re the only .500-or-worse team with a positive points differential, and they have both fewer points against than any team in the East, as well as a better points-for-per-game than the entire East Division as well. The trouble, really, for Saskatchewan, is they’re unfortunately stuck playing in a far stronger division, meaning more divisional matchups that will skew the win-loss column further away from their true ability as a team. This game is one such of these matchups. BC is coming off a loss to Edmonton, and they’re likely getting starting QB Jonathon Jennings back this week. Add in the fact that they’re 2-1 at home so far this year and the Riders will have another tough task ahead of them. Impossible? No. Difficult? Probably.


BYE: Montreal (2-4)


East Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
Toronto 6 3 3 0 152 163
Montreal 6 2 4 0 141 150
Ottawa 6 1 4 1 164 169
Hamilton 5 0 5 0 90 201

West Division Standings

Team Games Wins Losses Ties Points For Points Against
Edmonton 5 5 0 0 144 121
Calgary 6 4 1 1 213 121
BC 5 4 2 0 190 166
Winnipeg 5 3 2 0 169 179
Saskatchewan 5 2 3 0 141 134

Passing Yards

  1. Ray, TOR – 2282
  2. Harris, OTT – 1939
  3. Mitchell, CGY – 1832

Passing TDs

  1. Harris, OTT – 12
  2. Glenn, SSK – 11
  3. Nichols, WPG – 10

Rushing Yards

  1. Messam, CGY – 414
  2. Johnson, BC – 343
  3. Marshall, SSK – 316

Receiving Yards

  1. Ellingson, OTT – 643
  2. Green, TOR – 586
  3. Zylstra, EDM – 516


  1. Butler, TOR – 7
  2. Willis, EDM – 5
  3. Hughes,  CGY – 5


  1. Heath, WPG – 4
  2. Yell, BC – 2
  3. Lee, BC – 2

Field Goals

  1. Hajrullahu, TOR – 21
  2. Paredes, CGY – 15
  3. Bede, MTL – 15


Remember to submit your picks here!

Rank Total Points Weekly Score Win Percentage
Spanky Datass 20 4-0 80%
SonOfSpam 18 3-1 72%
Game Time Decision 17 4-0 68%
The Maestro 17 3-1 68%
Balls 16 3-1 64%
Litre_Cola 16 4-0 64%
Joliet Jake Delhomme 14 2-2 56%
Low Commander 14 3-1 56%


The Maestro
The Maestro
The Maestro is a mystical Canadian internet user and New England Patriots fan; when the weather is cooperative and the TV signal at his igloo is strong enough, he enjoys watching the NFL, the Ottawa Senators & REDBLACKS, and yelling into the abyss on Twitter. He is somehow allowed to teach music to high school students when he isn't in a blind rage about sports, and is also a known connoisseur of cheap beers across the Great White North.
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I need to write up my OBF reviews. I need to do a lot of things. Anyway.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

The Loyalist sounds right up my alley. It’s really hard to find a good ESB in San Diego, outside of maybe 2 or 3, but only at a brewery.

Totally thought I forgot to make my picks this week, and pleasantly surprised to continue to keep gaining ground.


Jay Cutler has moved to Brooklyn.

My favorite line,

“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” said Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care. “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”


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Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.


I’m never quite ready for Maestro’s avatar.


Where’s the Molson or Labatt’s?

Game Time Decision

Molson vs Labatt’s – see 1:30 in

Senor Weaselo

Is it more embarrassing to be shut out or to just score 1 point?


This was the Catch of the Century:

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Only used one hand, didn’t display proper “fundamentals”.

Game Time Decision

touchdown Seahawks


Bombers game great CFL, Stamps game not so much