Tuesday, December 20, 2011

12/20/11 Expansion Update

This will probably be the last expansion update before Christmas, but a lot has happened and I wanted to share it with you.

We got confirmation that the tanks are in production at JV Northwest and should be ready in mid- January.  

Nearly all the concrete has been poured for the floor.

The support joists have yet to be cemented into place, though that'll happen soon.

These are by far the largest and most fancy drains in the building.  They've even got strainer baskets to catch debris.

The ceiling lights have been moved over in preparation for the roof  extension.

The brilliant engineers at SL Chasse have found a way to build most of the extension without taking the roof off for a long time.  The crews in the warehouse and bottling line couldn't be happier.

Once the extension is fully assembled, the existing roof structure will be removed while coolant and electric lines out to the space.  That'll make it much easier to "plug and play" when all the tanks arrive form Oregon.

We wish you all a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smuttynose Expansion update 12/14/11

Eureka!  That's big!

The first step of the second phase of the Heritage Avenue expansion began yesterday with this massive diesel-powered vacuum.  As you can guess from looking closely, we now have a debris-free roof and a few employees that thought they heard a jet engine when leaving the building for lunch. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Smuttynose 2012 Big Beer Series

Without further adieu, here is the 2012 Big Beer Series line-up:

January- Baltic Porter
March- Really Old Brown Dog
May- Wheat Wine Ale
June/July- Homunculus
September- Scotch Ale
October- Stout (possibly Imperial, possibly something new)
December- Gravitation

Astute readers will notice that two of these releases were carried over from the 2011 schedule.  Due to increased demand for our core brands, we lost the ability to have more than one Big Beer in process at a time.  This capacity reduction caused two significant delays in 2011's series and a few small ones as well.  

We still wanted to brew Baltic Porter and Really Old Brown Dog, so we've simply bumped them into 2012.  Otherwise, we tried to make the new schedule with realistic ease-of-production in the front of our mind.  In other words, we hate missing deadlines so we tried to set more realistic release schedule for 2012.

These changes won't affect the Big Beer Series Subscription, as each subscription is good for nine releases, regardless of when you sign-up or how many beers come out during the calendar year.  It's not too late to reserve a subscription for the beer lover on your shopping list. You'll be giving them a great gift that keeps giving all year long.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Expansion Update 12/7/11

The last few days at Smuttynose have been as busy as usual, but all brewing, bottling, kegging and cleaning has had a new soundtrack: the sound of a jackhammer and a concrete saw.

You're looking at the future home of a custom-poured concrete pad
that will be home to trench drains and LOTS of Smuttynose beer

In our last newsletter, we posted pictures from our warehouse of cleared-out pallet racks, showing the first step of another expansion (our third in two years) at our Heritage Avenue facility.  Now, in the words of Nacho Libre, we're getting down to the "neety greety."  Over the last week, we've had concrete workers tearing up the existing concrete floor to put in the necessary ceiling reinforcements for the roof extension, that will allow the 22.5' height of the fermenters to fit properly.  

A support joist anchor

Once the supports are in place, we can begin increasing the roof height and adding the roof portal through which the tanks will be craned.  Our plumber, Danny Boy, will soon work alongside the Smuttynose maintenance crew of Adam and Adam, to pre-run glycol pipes for the coolant system connections.

It's been nearly a decade since the backs of BBs 1-6 have seen the light of day.

With any change in a complex system like this, there are adjustments that need to be made.  To make room for the new construction, we had to move pallet racks, unassembled packaging and various other bits of Smuttynose stuff to an off-site warehouse facility.  This part of the project gave us a great chance to get rid of some junk, recycle a lot of old papers and tear down a wall that really has opened up our space (see the above picture).  The space already feels different.   

Another interesting effect of this expansion will be schedule expansion and increased staff demands.  We aren't putting in a new brewhouse, so that means we'll have to crank out up to twelve more 50bbl brews every two weeks to keep these tanks filled.  Dave and Greg are currently figuring out how our production schedule will change and what staffing adjustments, if any, will need to be made.  

In total this expansion will allow us to add just shy of 10,000 bbls of annual production to our output, which is a nice little bump.  We've also begun doing some site prep at Towle Farm this week, which is always nice because we're never quite sure exactly where we can fit another expansion here at Heritage Ave.

Nothing says excavation like a thigh-sized tree root surfacing.

Stay tuned for another expansion update!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bottle Fail

The time has come for another blog post and this one isn't fun to write.

In all our communications leading up to the Satchmo (Short Batch #13) release, we told you all that we'd be releasing a limited amount of caged-and-corked 750ml bottles that would be sold exclusively at Smuttynose. We were very excited about this opportunity; we even visited Allagash during their Ghoulship release to see what we could crib from them.  

Unfortunately, our initial bottling of 750's didn't go as we had planned.  The bottled Satchmo is so limited that we have none to sell.  Our small bottler, which also fills the Portsmouth Brewery's bottles, was not working properly when we ran which meant we had to stop bottling short of our goal.  There were three problems on the day and we're glad to be able to explain exactly what happened with each of them.

Here goes:

1) The fill heads that create a pressure-tight seal over the bottle tops didn't fit over the top of the 750s.  These special bottles have wider tops so that the cage has something to grab on to.  The wider top prevented the head from going down far enough, preventing a proper seal.  Without a proper seal between the fill head and the bottle, the partially-carbonated beer will foam as it's put into the bottle, resulting in under-filled bottles.

2) The sacks of oak chips in the bottling tank impeded the flow of beer through the product line causing interruptions in the pump's prime.  When this interruption occurs, liquid doesn't get pumped and the bottle filler recognizes the error and aborts the fill.

3) We were kegging and bottling Satchmo from the same tank (tank 12), a scenario that has never been a problem when running our main filler.  In this instance it was a large problem as the smaller bottler is much more sensitive to pressure variation on the "product in" line which meant rampant filling errors and the loss of some product and lots of time trouble shooting.

The net result of these three problems was a very short period of less-than-ideal, but still acceptable filling.  Needless to say, we have learned a lot from this experience, but it has left a bit of egg on our face, as we know that some of you were very excited about a bottled Short Batch release.

On behalf of Smuttynose, I apologize for any disappointment this may have caused.  We're also disappointed and maybe a bit embarrassed, but we're doing our best to look ahead to future 750ml bottlings. We hope you are too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smuttynose Short Batch #13: Satchmo

"Satchmo," is a collaboration between Smuttynose and Portsmouth's Black Trumpet Bistro.  It's also a collaboration between two fungi, brewer's yeast (sacchromyces cerevisiae) and black trumpet mushrooms (craterellus cornucopioides).  Why on earth would you put mushrooms in a batch of beer?  The answer is simple...

Dave is so skilled at sacking the 'shrooms, he doesn't even need to look while Chef Mallet holds the sack.

The Black Trumpet's Head Chef/Co-owner Evan Mallet approached us about collaborating on a beer.  Being big fans of his award-winning food, it was a no-brainer.  Chef Mallet is an avid mushroom forager (he once showed up for a meeting with mushroom he'd found in our parking lot), so deciding on an angle was incredibly easy; we would make a mushroom beer!  That sounds simple enough but black trumpets can't be cultivated.  After leading his staff on a few foraging expeditions into the woods of Maine, we were well short of the 35 dried pounds that we needed for the 775 gallons of beer.  We were forced to buy the remainder.

Sometimes, you find yourself with a Scarface-like abundance of something.

Best described as a brown porter, Satchmo's base beer doesn't exhibit the roasty notes and black color of our Robust Porter, nor does it have the rich caramelly sweetness of Old Brown Dog; it falls somewhere between the two, but lacks the common taste signifiers of the two styles.  The mushrooms heroically fill that flavor gap with a subtle earthiness and mouthfeel that can only be described as "umami-licious."  

35 pounds of  mushrooms just waiting to infuse their earthiness.

Satchmo also has the distinction of being our first Short Batch beer to be bottled for retail sale.  A limited number of 750ml, caged and corked bottles will be sold exclusively from the brewery's retail nook.  While we don't yet have a sell date or a bottle count, we will be announcing the release through our Facebook page and our email list when it's time to roll them out.

Satchmo Stat Box:    
4.75% abv 
25 IBU
OG 12.5° Plato 
FG: 3.8° Plato 

Malts: North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, C-60, Brown, Chocolate  
Hops: Willamette 
Yeast: WLP-001 California Ale 
Mojo: 35 Dried Pounds of Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Sherry-soaked oak chips  
Batch Size: 25 barrels (775 gallons)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Gravitation: A Powerful Attraction

2011 Smuttynose Big Beer Series Release #6

Belgium is known around the world for its six unique abbey breweries.  Inside the monastery walls, Trappist monks oversee production of rich, fully flavored beers that range from light in body and alcohol to strong, rich and dark.  These sacred beers are known by the names enkel or single, dubbel and tripel.  Singles are the lightest in both color and alcohol and can be seen as analogues to triples, which are also light bodied and colored but can be quite sweet and as strong as 10%.  Dubbels can be simply described as Belgian brown ales; they exhibit a rich, malty flavors, spicy yeast notes and typically range from 7%-9%.  Dubbels haven’t had a stronger counterpart until the relatively recent arrival of Quadrupels, or “Quads.”

With alcohol contents as high as 12%, “Quads” are the richest of the rich and the boldest of the bold and Smuttynose Gravitation is no exception.  Deep chestnut colored, with rich toffee and caramel malt flavors, Gravitation isn’t just sweet and boozy.  The use of special, imported Belgian malts and raisin paste contribute unifying fruitiness that brings harmony to the other two flavor groups.  The prominent malt character makes Belgian-style quads an excellent candidate for aging, as long as you store your bottles upright in a cool, dark space.

Food Pairings
Gravitation is a hearty and hefty beer, so it’ll pair well with foods that are intensely flavored and heavy.  Earthy foods like wild game and bleu cheeses stand up to Gravitation’s intensity by playing against the sweet malty character.  If earthy isn’t your thing, seek out dishes that are fatty, tart or a combination of the two; foods like pork belly, mushroom ragout or rabbit with kriek, a classic dish of Belgian beer gastronomy. 

Stat Box
12.5% ABV 
25 IBU

Starting Extract: 24.9  Finishing Extract: 3.0 
Malts: North American 2-Row, Cara-Red, Aromatic, Special B, C-60, Wheat
Hops: Sterling
Special Guests: Demerara Sugar, Amber Belgian Candi Syrup, Dark Belgian Candi Syrup, Raisin Paste
Yeast: White Labs WLP-500 Trappist Ale
Production Size: 150 barrels (4650 gallons)

2011 Gravitation will begin shipping during the week of September 19, 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Harvesting Farmhouse Ale

2011 Smuttynose Big Beer Series Release #5

New Hampshire has always been seen as a very grounded state and its residents are known for their pragmatism and practical view of the world.  These characteristics can also be found in the agrarian region around the Belgian-French border region, the birthplace of a loose family of beers known as “farmhouse ales.”  In fact, this salt-of-the-earth origins gives farmhouse ales a unique breadth of permissiveness not seen in any other beer style.

While most beer styles are quite rigidly defined, saisons and biere de gardes (the two recognized styles of farmhouse ales) can use nearly any type of grain, hop or spice; some expressions are sweet and floral while others can be bitter and dry.  The style’s permissiveness arose from necessity.  Farmers would brew these beers with whatever ingredients they had on hand to provide refreshment and nourishment for “Saisonnaires,” seasonal farm hands who provided extra labor during the growing and harvesting seasons. 

The brewers at Smuttynose have been most captivated by the unique yeast strains that imbue saisons and biere de gardes with their signature characteristics.  When brewing Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale,  our staff supplements the natural enzymes found in the malt with an extra dose of amylase, which breaks complex sugars into simple, fermentable ones.  This means nearly every bit of starch has been converted to sugar and consumed by the yeast during fermentation.

As with past releases, the 2011 expression of Farmhouse Ale is a strong, unspiced saison, but it has been tweaked a bit.  We dropped the starting gravity from 17º Plato to 15º Plato, which means there are less sugars in the wort at the start of fermentation.  This results in a slightly less alcoholic beer, but fret not dear readers; the beer tastes better!  By reducing the alcohol presence, the other subtle flavors can mingle together to create a delicate, nuanced flavor experience.

Stat Box
8.2% ABV
15 IBU
Starting Extract: 15ºPlato  Finishing Extract 0ºPlato
Malt: Pilsner, Aromatic, Wheat
Hops: Warrior-Bittering, Liberty and Sterling-Finishing
Special Guests: Cane Sugar-to lighten the body, Amylase Enzymes-to increase fermentability
Yeast: White Labs Belgian Saison I  WLP565 
Production Size: 150 barrels (4650 gallons)

Farmhouse Ale has an immense versatility when introduced to food pairings.  Its subtle complexity means you can put it next to almost anything, except the most intensely flavored foods.  From traditional western European peasant foods like cassoulet, roasted fowl, root vegetables and pickled food stuffs to less obvious pairings like ceviche, sushi and brandade, chances are you can create a delicious pairing with whatever you have on hand as well!

In a brewery full of turophiles, we had no shortage of cheese pairings for such a versatile beer, but the best options were earthy, nutty and more firm in texture; cheeses like manchego, aged gouda and morbier 

We hope you enjoy our newest offering in the Big Beer Series.  Gravitation, our Belgian Quad, should be out in mid-September.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Homunculus Cometh

The Homunculus Cometh!
2011 Smuttynose Big Beer Series Release #4

Homunculus, the newest addition to the Big Beer Series portfolio, is also the first beer to move up from our single-batch, draft-only Short Batch Series.  Inspired by “Houblon Chouffe” from Belgium’s Brasserie d’Achouffe, our beer was first brewed in 2007 and was called “The Gnome.”  This was a great name for an individual, draft-only release.  Once the decision was made to scale-up to a Big Beer size, we decided to change the name in respect of Achouffe’s branding and image.  We chose “Homunculus” not only because it’s loosely synonymous with “gnome,” but also because of the word’s absurdity.

So what is a Homunculus?  The term, Latin for "little human,” shows up in disciplines as diverse as psychology, alchemy, and biology.  As you can see from the label art, we were captivated by the biological roots of the term.  Before lenses could be ground and microscopes could be built (circa 1600), medieval scientists constructed many theories to explain the origins of human life.  “Preformationism,” widely accepted at the time, proposed that each new child grew from invisible, miniature versions of themselves (homunculi). 

Enough genetics, let’s hear about the beer!  Like the label says above, Homunculus is a hoppy, Belgian-style golden ale. A special yeast strain created a generous alcohol content of 9.9% a.b.v.  The simple grain bill of 2-Row, Weyermann Carahell, and some cane sugar lends some sweetness, but also a lightness of body.  Bravo hops are used exclusively at the beginning of the boil for a moderately aggressive 45 IBUs, while late boil additions of Sterling contribute a subtly spicy hop flavor.  We’ve already got the makings of one tasty beverage, but Homunculus' real moxie comes from its pungently aromatic dry-hopping.  We infused 150 barrels of beer (4650 gallons) with 176 pounds of Nugget hops and 264 pounds of Sterling hops.  That's nearly 3 pounds of hops per barrel of beer! 

We'll begin shipping Homunculus the week of July 11 and it should begin appearing in stores not long after that.  

Stat Box
9.9% ABV
45 IBU
Starting Extract: 20˚ Plato   Finishing Extract: 2˚ Plato
Malt: North American 2-Row, Weyermann Carahell
Hops: Bittering-Bravo, Flavor-Sterling, Dry-Nugget and Sterling
Yeast: White Labs Trappist Ale Yeast, WLP-500
Special Guests: Cane Sugar, to lighten the body.
Production Size: 150 barrels (4650 gallons)  

Homunculus should pair well with a wide range of dishes.  Its juicy fruit character will accentuate earthy foods like terrines and pâtés, sausages or hearty stews.  Homunculus also has enough acidity to stand up to white, creamy pasta sauces and grilled salmon.  For cheese courses, we suggest nearly any choice except blue cheeses.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Smuttynose Short Batch #12: Noonan

These days, new beer styles and sub-styles seem to pop up every few months, especially if you include barrel-aged variants.  The Black IPA has enjoyed a current wave of trendiness but there's nothing new about the style.  The first batch of Black IPA was brewed on December 4, 1994 by Greg Noonan and Glenn Walter, at the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, VT.  Despite a West Coast attempt to appropriate the style and name it "Cascadian Dark Ale," we're calling our expression of the style what it is- a black IPA.

 We've named Short Batch #12 "Noonan," in memory of Greg, who passed away on October 11, 2009 of lung cancer.  Greg was many things in the brewing community; teacher, author, grassroots activist and founder of three New England brewpubs, The Vermont Pub and Brewery, Seven Barrel Brewery, and Amherst Brewing Company.  Greg literally wrote the books on Scotch Ale and Lager Brewing and was part of the earliest, pioneering generation of New England brewers (which includes Greg's friend, our own Peter Egelston), opening the VPB with business partner Steve Polewacyk in 1988.  The brewing community was genuinely shocked when news of Greg's passing hit.  He hadn't told anyone about his lung cancer diagnosis, so it all seemed very jarring and sudden.  Our staff had always enjoyed talking with Greg during trips to Burlington each summer for Vermont Brewers Fest, so the decision to name our Black IPA after Greg was made without objection.  Over the last few years, the Black IPA has begun to appear everywhere from San Diego to Copenhagen.  Now we're ready to share our expression at this paradoxically-named beer style.

The main challenge when formulating a Black IPA is how to get the black color without making the beer too heavy and acrid.  Dark color in beer is often derived from additions of heavily roasted, and sometimes burnt, malt.  The darker the beer, the more dark malt you need, but you also run the risk of making the beer too astringent.  We knew we could get the hopping right, we just had to get enough color in the beer without turning it into a really hoppy porter.  We brewed a few test batches (one of which even made it on tap in our tour nook) before we got the color/flavor balance where it needed to be.

What we've ended up with is a light-bodied, non-acrid, dark-colored 6.5% beer with plenty of hop flavor and aroma.  Magnum hops contribute an elegant and refined bitterness that parallels the reduced astringency.  The late boil additions of Bravo and Sterling contribute a spicy, piney flavors that stop just short of being out of proportion.  Despite all the tasty hopping, Noonan's light IPA-style body makes this beer refreshing, something you don't normally find in a dark beer.

We packaged all 25 barrels of Noonan into (31) 15.5 gallon kegs, (36) 5.16 gallon kegs, and one firkin, that's on its way to the Great British Beer Festival as I type this blog post.  Domestic shipments will begin shipping in mid-July.  We have no plans to bottle Noonan at this point in time.

SSB #12, "Noonan" Stat Box
Malts: 2-Row, Crisp Pale Ale, C-60, Aromatic, Black, Carafa II
Hops: Magnum, Bravo, CTZ
Dry Hops: 44# Nugget, 44# Glacier  
Starting Extract 15°Plato
Finishing Extract 3.2°Plato
75 IBU
6.5% ABV  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mermaid Madness with Dixie von Trixie and Mayor McSmutt

Coney Island has long been home to the off-beat, the unusual and occasionally, the tawdry.  Just down the list after sideshows, the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship, and the home turf of The Warriors, you'll find that Coney Island is home to the annual Mermaid Parade.

The Mermaid Parade, to quote Wikipedia, "is a lively and welcoming ocean-themed event open to everyone."  From what I can gather though, that doesn't quite seem to do the event justice.  Participation is open to anyone and each year there are celebrity grand marshalls as well as a Mermaid Ball that takes place at the New York Aquarium. The first parade took place in 1983 as both an homage to the old Coney Island Mardi Gras Parades, as well as a signal of the beginning of the summer season.  Participants often number in the thousands and attendance has totaled over 100,000 in the past.  The parade is also famous for it's scantily clad merfolk.

Thanks to Pat Fondiller, bon vivant and President of the Smuttynose NYC Chapter, we'll be entering Smuttynose's first ever parade float in this year's event.  Pat himself will be dressed as King Neptune, while Dixie von Trixie, mermodel from the Star Island Single label, will reprise her role as mermodel du jour.  They'll be rolling around in our custom decorated Smuttynose truck.  Dixie says this has been a dream of hers for many years and we're thrilled to make it come true.

The parade isn't the only event though.  We'll be hosting a pre-parade, Mermaid Awareness Pub Crawl on Friday June 17 around Brooklyn.  Pat and Dixie will be leading thirsty, seal-clad hordes around to some of the finest grog shops in Brooklyn. Here's the schedule:

5:30 Dinner at The Farm On Adderley
7:00-8:45 Happy Hour at Sycamore Bar and Flowershop
9:00 The Double Windsor
10:00 Mission Dolores

Saturday June 18 is the Parade itself, followed by the ticket-only Mermaid Ball.  After a few waltzes, Mayor McSmutt, Dixie von Trixie and company will be heading back to Park Slope, Brooklyn for more flippered hi-jinx.  Festivities will begin at The Gate and then continue on to Freddy's BarSouthThe Black Horse Pub200 5thBierkraft (right in Peter Egelston's old stomping grounds), and High Dive.

We hope you'll join us and sup a few pints of Star Island Single, the unofficial beer of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hello, My Name is Joe.

Joe Grotto, by the Smuttynose Swamp

We'd like to welcome Joe Grotto to the Smuttynose Sales Staff.   He'll be taking the reins as our Eastern New England Field Manager, overseeing all things Smutty in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Eastern Massachusetts.  Joe's experience on the other store of the retail counter, should prove valuable and we can't wait to see what he does.

Since he's only been with us for a day and a half, we couldn't really write a funny bio for Joe, so here he is in his own words:

Mr. Grotto was born near Chicago, spending his formative years amongst loud music, sausage, Italian beef, real pizza and Old Style. Halfway through high school, his migration east began with two years in Pittsburgh spending time with loud music, pierogies, fries in sandwiches and salads, and Iron City. Amherst was next, with a four year tenure at UMASS resulting in a BA in Philosophy and some quality time spent with the finer things in life: loud music, cheap beer, and burritos. After realizing the futility of having earned a BA in Philosophy, he figured it was best to go to graduate school. So off to Boston - Somerville, actually - and Emerson College for a MA in Visual and Media Arts and more loud music, more burritos and, finally, great beer and booze. After graduation in 2003, he became the full time beer buyer at Liquor World in the Porter Square neighborhood of Cambridge and has since signed on with Smuttynose in the spring of 2011. Joe currently enjoys his music loud, his beer craft and his booze in general. Joe still lives and loves in Somerville. He also loves Somerville. When not peddling Smutty, Joe spends his time with his lovely bride-to-be Krista and their two handsome cats Ruby and Spencer as well as playing bass very loudly with Boston's very loud Motherboar.

And here's Motherboar at Great Scott in Allston, MA playing Grillin' and Killin'.    Please note the bass player.  That's Joe.

Friday, April 29, 2011

What's Golden, Malty, and Frequently Seen With Goats?

Nearly three months after its brew day, Smuttynose Maibock is bottled and conditioning in our warehouse.  Maibock is the third Big Beer release of 2011 and marks the second time we've run 22-ounce bottles on our new filler.  This year's release tips the scales at 8.7% abv and will begin shipping out the week of May 9.

Maibock was decoction mashed just like every other year and this traditional German technique really pulls some extra deliciousness to the front of this beer.  The rich, almost grapey malt character pairs amazingly well with Herbs de Provence Chevre from New Hampshire's own Heart Song Farm, one of the pairings we'll be featuring in our "Granite State of Mind" salon at the year's SAVOR event in Washington DC.  If you won't be able to attend the event, we suggest pairing Maibock with traditional German pork dishes, wursts, schnitzels, and so on.

Finally, I can share that we'll be brewing Homunculus during the second week of May.



Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Infamous Smuttynose Axe Murders

If you've joined us on a tour of Smuttynose, or read some portions of our website, you've probably heard us mention the Smuttynose axe murders.  We don't really get into the story because we'd rather talk about beer, though we do sometimes mention the Anita Shreve novel, The Weight of Water and the film of the same name, which uses the murders as a narrative device.

Shreve wasn't the first person to write about the axe murders, which took place on March 6, 1873.  The poet Celia Thaxton recounted the tale in her essay, A Memorable Murder, which was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly, in May, 1875.  Thaxter grew up on the Isles of Shoals, where her father was a lighthouse keeper.  After marrying and moving to the mainland, Thaxter later returned to the Shoals and was living on them when the murders took place.  Though I didn't include it in this blog post (it's a bit long to paste or embed), you can read Thaxter's piece here.

I do want to include the The New York Times synopsis of the events, which is obviously much shorter.  Please note the correct spelling of "Smuttynose," as found on anything we've made.

There is a fair amount of information about the axe murders around the web, should you be inclined to learn more.  You can also visit the Isles of Shoals on one of the many charters that depart from Rye Harbor.  I went out last summer on the Uncle Oscar and they were fantastic.

Thanks for making yours a Smutty,


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2011 Imperial Stout and a few other notes

We're sad to say that the release of our 2011 Imperial Stout, the second release in this year's Big Beer Series has been pushed back.  Shipping will now begin on March 14.   This is a part of our marketing ploy to compete with Guinness.

Also, I want to remind you that it's not too late to sign up for the The Big Beer Series Subscription.  Some newer subscribers have asked which beer will be the first of their subscription.  That's be determined by when you sign up.  If we've already released a Big Beer, then we can't include it in your subscription.  If there's a beer you know you definitely want, then don't delay, sign up today!

We will be participating in the 15th annual NERAX festival.  If you're a real ale lover, please stop by the George F. Dilboy Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Somerville, MA sometime between March 30 and April 2.  In addition to sending a firkin of Shoals Pale Ale, we're very proud to be sponsoring pint glasses this year.  We've designed a great Smuttynose/NERAX imperial pint glass that will available for rent or purchase exclusively at the festival.  Check out http://www.nerax.org/ for more info.

Finally, Portsmouth Craft Beer Week is fast approaching.  We've got a slate of events leading up to Portsmouth Brewery's Kate the Great release on March 7.  We will be offering a 2pm Smuttynose tour on March 7.

That's it for today.  Hopefully, I'll have a positive new bottling line update about the new filler tomorrow.

Have a great Wednesday,


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A few of you may be missing something...

...and boy do I mean a few.

A rare outtake from the Hanami label shoot.  That giant lizard finally won.

Hanami Ale, our spring seasonal release, has been discontinued.  We've had one or two emails asking for release dates, but being discontinued doesn't lend itself to scheduling a release date.  Instead, we decided to extend Winter Ale season and begin Summer Weizen earlier (we just bottled the first round right before we removed our old bottle filler last week), essentially bridging the gap left by Hanami.

There were several reasons for this, but none more vital than slow sales.  Slow sales in and of themselves aren't always a problem, but with seasonal beers, conventional wisdom says they need to sell so a brewery maintain its placements on shelves and in coolers.

Hanami was an odd beer in the sense that it wasn't easy to classify.  Sure, it was a fruit beer but "fruit beer" typically means one of two things.  The first fruit beer style is typically a light, innocuous, golden beers, which may or may not be brewed with wheat, and then get a dosing of  fruit or fruit extracts.  Once the modifier "Belgian" gets thrown in, a second sub-style of sour, tart, fruited lambics enters the discussion..

Hanami wasn't really like any of these beers.  It lacked a dryness that would have accentuated the tartness from the cherry juice, which basically means it wasn't "lambicky" enough.  What the beer did have, was a broader range of flavors beyond the typical American-style fruit beers. This neither-one-nor-the-other character of Hanami left beer drinkers, wholesalers, and sales people scratching their heads.  Some people really loved it and a few actively hated it.  I'm not haughty enough to claim that this beer was ahead of its time, but I'm also not willing to say it was bad; it was just very unique in the most literal sense.

So with this blog post, I officially put Hanami to rest, while wallowing in the irony of several pallets of freshly-bottled Summer Weizen in our warehouse, while over a foot of snow sits on the ground, right outside my window.

Thanks for making yours a Smutty!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Portsmouth Craft Beer Long Weekend Celebrates Locally-Brewed, World-Class Beer

A significant portion of Portsmouth was built by beer.  Frank Jones Brewery, once the largest in America, left a long-lasting imprint all over town and exported large amounts of its beer to the UK, before the blighting hand of  Prohibition swept through the Seacoast.  By 1950, there were no local breweries in operation.  

Cut to 1991:   After a few decades of dormancy, brewing came back to Portsmouth when Peter and Janet Egelston opened the Portsmouth Brewery on Market Street.  Smuttynose was soon to follow in 1994 and together, these two long-serving Portsmouth breweries are providing the nucleus for the second Portsmouth Craft Beer Long Weekend, which runs from March 2-7, 2011.  This week of beer celebrations will peak with the Portsmouth Brewery’s annual Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout release on March 7. 

The last three or four years have seen beer weeks spring up all over the country, with Philadelphia’s being the largest, comprised of over 1,000 events.  These elongated celebrations seek to drawattention to not only the beers themselves, but to establiushments who support these bold brewers.  Portsmouth’s will be on the smaller end of the scale, but that just means there’s much more room to grow.  “We’ve got beer and food pairing events, rare keg tappings, and meet the brewer events,” says Bill Harris, Smuttynose’s New Hampshire Field Manager, “ we’re even showing a beer-themed movie, all in the name of sharing and promoting the world class beer that’s brewed right here in Portsmouth.  However, you don’t have to take my word for it,” says Harris, “come have a beer and see for yourself.”  The events will showcase many different aspects of craft beer: it’s versatility when paired with food, how well certain beers can age, as well as beer’s ability to bring people together.

Event Schedule:

Tuesday March 1st-Tuesday March 8th 

·         Smuttynose is taking over the taps at the Barley Pub for “Seven Days of Sin”  leading up to the Seacoast’s biggest Fat Tuesday bash on the 8th.

Wednesday March 2nd
      Smuttynose – J. Lohr, Beer vs. Wine Dinner at the Blue Mermaid:  Reception will start at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.  We’re pairing with J. Lohr Winery for another culinary throwdown.  If you want to see why beer is better with food than wine, call the Blue Mermaid for reservations, (603) 427-2583
      "Meet the Brewers" at the Portsmouth Brewery.   We will have brewers from Smuttynose and the Portsmouth Brewery on hand to answer any questions customers may have.  Meet the Creator of Kate the Great!  Marvel at his bearded visage!  6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Thursday March 3rd:

 Smuttynose Rare Beer Tapping at the Press Room: Featuring rare and vintage beers.  A real live       Smuttynose brewer will be in attendance from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 Smuttynose Rare Beer Tapping at RiRa:  Featuring our current Big Beer and a selection from the vintage cellar.  Much like the Press Room, you can meet an actual Smuttynose brewer and ask them any questions, but dating advice will cost you money.  8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday March 4th:  
      Smuttynose Rare Beer Tapping at The River House:  Vintage Smuttynose Beer with a tugboat view.  6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      Smuttynose Rare Beer Tasting at Pocos Cantina:  Featuring 2011 Barleywine and something from the vintage cellar.  There’s a water view here and you can get a nice tequila back to go with your Barleywine.  8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday March 5th: 
      Smuttynose Pub Crawl:  We will begin by “Tapping the Barrels” at the Coat of Arms 2p.m.  Blue Mermaid, Fat Belly’s, Poco’s, The River House, RiRa, and The Press Room to follow.  We’ll be tapping three cask conditioned Smuttynose beers at the Coat of Arms-the most ever in Portsmouth!

Sunday March 6th:  
     Smuttynose Beer Geek Brunch at the Chef’s Table:  An open-to-the-public brunch featuring Smuttynose Big Beers, vintage beers, and giveaways.  Who doesn’t love Baltic Porter with pancakes?  10 a.m.-2 p.m.
      Smuttynose, Pizza, and A Movie: replicate your typical Friday night, but in public, with better beer and an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.  The featured film is American Beer, a documentary about the ultimate beer run: 38 breweries in 40 days!  5pm-8pm  Please call the Gaslight for reservations 430-9122. 

Monday March 7th:
      Kate the Great Day!   Doors will open at 11 and the first Kate will be poured at 12:30.  We have no idea what time lines will begin forming but it could be very early.  The Portsmouth Brewery’s Website has all the information about Kate the Great Day events.  http://www.portsmouthbrewery.com

 Smuttynose Brewery Tour:  We'll be offering a special brewery tour at 2pm on Kate the Great Day.  Unfortunately, we won't be able to receive visitors until around 1:30, but that'll give yo plenty of time to drink a glass of Kate before coming across town to see us.

We hope to see you out and about in downtown Portsmouth!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 Barleywine

We'll be shipping out 2011 Barleywine, the first release of the 2011 Big Beer Series.  Here are some ramblings about the beer.  I hope you enjoy them a fraction as much as you will enjoy the beer itself.

            The history of Barleywine is the subject of much discussion; consensus has yet to be reached on the origins of the name or the style.  One thing we do know is that Bass brewed “No. 1 Barleywine,” in 1903, making the first beer to publicly use that name.  Otherwise, we only know that the tradition of British-brewed strong ales goes back for centuries.

            While the American tradition doesn’t go back nearly as far, barleywines have also been a mainstay of our craft brewing culture, which is rooted in the English tradition.  The earliest American barleywine, Anchor Brewing’s Old Foghorn, was first brewed in 1975 and soon other California breweries followed suit, brewing these strong malty ales as special releases, increasing hopping rates to leave their own uniquely American stamp. 

            We first brewed Smuttynose Barleywine around 1998, a time when strong beers of 8 or 9 % were still quite rare and had an aura of danger and mysteriousness about them, like most of the women in James Bond movies.  While the tastes of craft beer diehards have changed, our Barleywine hasn’t.  It’s a beer you can depend on, like grilled cheese and tomato soup on a cold winter’s day.

            We start with over one and a half tons of malt to brew about 775 gallons of Barleywine.  That same amount of malt yields more than twice as much Finestkind IPA.   European specialty malts contribute body and rich toffee and candy flavors that are complemented with the svelte taste of Santiam and Galena hops.

There are few better combinations that pairing Smuttynose Barleywine with delicious artisanal cheese.  We’re especially fond of crystallized, aged Gouda and Clothbound Cabot Cheddar from Greenboro, VT.  If cheese isn’t your thing, you can pair spicy against Smuttynose Barleywine with a habanero apple crisp with a caramel drizzle or use the beer to poach pears with ginger.  Trust us, you won’t need vanilla ice cream!

“This 11%-ABV slightly hazy, copper, thick-headed treat tasted like orange candy slices basted with hop oil, which might not sound good but, oh, it was!”  
Washington City Paper; May, 2010

Named to GQ Magazine’s “50 Beers to Try Right Now”  April, 2010

11.6% ABV
65 IBU

Malts: North American 2-Row, Crisp Pale Ale, Caramunich, Aromatic, Special B, Carahell 2 DH
Hops; Simcoe, Santiam, Galena;  Dry-hop Centennial
Yeast;  California Ale