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 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.

 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!