Calling All Beer Connoisseurs


10.3% brew is local company’s first bottled beer

Half Cocked Brewing Company released its first bottled beer Tapped and Feathered on December 22, 2018 and it’s flavourful. With an alcohol by volume of 10.3%, the new maple batch is a warm buzz in a bottle with a hint of vanilla and chocolate flavour.

The beer is a maple sap imperial stout with quality ingredients sourced from North Grant in Antigonish County. After aging in a Glenora whiskey barrel for 6 months, the beer is bottled. Sap from Haveracre maple farm in Antigonish is slightly noticeable. The beer’s vanilla flavor comes from the oak wood of the barrel used for aging. 

On a shelf in the staff room sits a small jar of the whiskey that was absorbed in the wood of the barrel when the beer was aged. It smells powerful and smooth. Co-owner Greg Oicle commented on the beer’s high alcohol by volume, “The high gravity makes it safer to age. For barrel-aging beer, you want the gravity higher because you have less likelihood of bacteria and yeast or other contaminants over time. It went into the barrel at 8.5% and it came back from Glenora at 10.3%.”

The warm feeling one gets from drinking whiskey is a unique feature of Tapped and Feathered. 

A bottle of 650ml sells for $17. Of the 286 bottles made, half of them are already sold.

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

Photo: Facebook @Half Cocked Brewing Company

In addition to sourcing local ingredients, Half Cocked Brewing Company supports local business. Luc Boudreau is the artist from the Maritimes, creator of Maritime Grime, responsible for the top-notch label design on the Tapped and Feathered bottle. 

Boudreau is also the designer of the company’s logo symbolic of the family’s chicken farm that was built by Oicle’s grandfather and partners in the 1960s.

Oicle’s parents bought the farm in the 1980s. As the oldest boy growing up on a farm raising 24 000 chickens, Oicle is familiar with a strong work ethic. In the summer of 1999 before he started his Geology degree at StFX, Oicle worked on building an additional barn where Half Cocked Brewing Company is now located.

The bottling gear for Tapped and Feathered is provided by Big Spruce Brewing, a company from Nyanza, Nova Scotia. Big Spruce Brewing has been supporting Oicle since the early days when they delivered growlers to The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery for sale. The business model quickly evolved and Oicle now does growler fillings and pints weekly on Thursday evenings at their location.

Oicle is the head brewer and majority shareholder of Half Cocked Brewing Company. His passion for home brewing started in 2014 when Oicle and his brother experimented with recipes. 

The inspiration came from walking into the NSLC and   noticing only a handful of beers were made in Nova Scotia. He remembered, “A year before we opened, we were refining our recipes by brewing for friends and family.”

Founded in August of 2017, Oicle is already looking at brewing equipment to expand the business, “In the course of a month I make 800 to 1000 litres of beer. With a new system, I can be making that much in a day.”

StFX students confirm that the Half Cocked Brewing Company honors its mission to brew delectable, yet down to earth beer. After tasting Tapped and Feathered, Joseph Goodwin wrote, “The variety of flavours create an experience unlike any other beer and despite its robustness and high alcohol content, it is unbelievably smooth.” 

Julia McKaig described Tapped and Feathered, “The first dark beer to ever perk my ears up. Perfect for an uplifting night. Heed warning, it may keep things lively until morning.”

Stop by the brewery on Thursdays from four to seven for excellent service and       quality products at 1290 off the old Highway 245 in Antigonish.