When you click around the beer forums, it doesn’t take long to find the high-profile releases. There are threads asking about their availability and multiple ISO [in search of] postings. In New England, many of the most popular brews are double IPAs: the Alchemist’s Heady Topper [Vermont]; New England Brewing Co.’s Gandhi-Bot [Connecticut]; and Wormtown’s Be Hoppy [Massachusetts; and note, we’re not citing beers that are only available at breweries and/or bars]. When the small batches hit stores, they disappear in a day or two [sometimes in just a few hours]. And all of them deserve their lofty reputation.
Rhode Island finally has a beer that has earned a buzzworthy following: Grey Sail’s Captain’s Daughter. The Westerly brewery’s third year-round offering — and first-ever IPA — shares the qualities of the aforementioned brews: the unfiltered 8.5% ABV imperial IPA is extravagantly hopped; its delightful aroma bursts from the 12-ounce can, and the layers of tropical flavor and velvety mouthfeel are exquisite [it’s made with Mosaic and Citra hops]. It’s really good.
Captain’s Daughter debuted a month ago and was an immediate sensation, flying off the shelves [“I’ve never chased a girl this hard,” winst_n said on a Grey Sail Instagram post] and hailed as “RI’s heady-topper,” “amazing,” and “the best beer in Rhode Island” in reviews at Beer Advocate, where it has earned a 98 [world-class] rating.
We asked Grey Sail co-owner Alan Brinton about the birth of their breakout beer. “Josh Letourneau, our head brewer, brewed a test batch about a year and a half ago when we started kicking around the idea of brewing an IPA. He used Mosaic and a few other hops and it was pretty awesome. That pretty much set the wheels in motion for this recipe. We were fortunate to get our hands on enough Mosaic to brew it commercially.
“The reception for this beer has been a bit overwhelming,” Alan said. “Past Novembers have afforded us the opportunity to catch our collective breaths and ease into the holidays after the summer and Octoberfest seasons end. We’re currently busier than summer and we can’t meet demand. It’s kind of crazy [and pretty cool].”
The third batch of Captain’s Daughter will be in stores in a few days. “This will be our first 30-barrel pack out,” Brinton said. “Previously, we packed out 15 barrels at a time. Thirty barrels will yield about 250 cases and 60 logs [5-gallon kegs]. That’ll have to last Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts for two weeks.”
The introduction of Captain’s Daughter was a great way to cap Grey Sail’s third year [the first batch of Flagship Ale was brewed on 11.11.11; read our Grey Sail origin story here]. On Saturday at the 18th Annual Great International Beer & Cider Competition, Flagship won its third consecutive gold medal in the Cream Ale category; Grey Sail also took home bronze for Robust Porter [Leaning Chimney] and Strong Beer, Belgian-Style [2nd Anniversary], and bronze for Imperial IPA [Captain’s Daughter]. Their Third Anniversary Imperial India Pale Lager [8% ABV] will be available in bombers in a few weeks.
We salute the Grey Sail crew. And we encourage you to get acquainted with the Captain’s Daughter and prepare to be wowed.