• Sierra Nevada is introducing two new year-round beers: Nooner Pilsner [5.2% ABV] and Hop Hunter [6.2%]. The former is a German-style brew; it will be available in [ahem] bottles and cans. The latter is a groundbreaking IPA made with steam-distilled hop oil. And that spring seasonal is 2015 Beer Camp Hoppy Lager, a collaboration with San Diego’s Ballast Point which was part of last summer’s Beer Camp Across America box [former name: Electric Ray]. The India Pale Lager, whose ABV has been cut down from 8.5% to 7%, was one of the highlights of the mega-limited sampler and does right by its sublimely simple name. [The release is taking Ruthless Rye’s place in the seasonal rotation, but RR will be in the new 4-Way IPA box.] Nooner and Hoppy Lager are on shelves now; Hop Hunter is due on February 2, and you can read about it here.
• Founders is greeting the new year with Black Rye, a “dry-hopped dark ale [7.5%] brewed with copious amounts of rye malt.” It was first made in 2006, but the recipe has been locked away since then. Dave Engbers, Founders’ co-founder and vice president of brand and education [who spoke at Beervana in October] said, “Because of how quickly the craft beer enthusiast community has grown, most people drinking craft beer and even Founders beer today have never tried Black Rye. Officially, this beer is a re-introduction. But for most, it’s a new Founders beer.” The seasonal release is out now.
• Victory Brewing is celebrating its birthday with Anniversary 19 Ale, a session IPA [4.5%] made with Simcoe, Citra, and Chinook hops. And we know a few folks who have been jonesing for the return of Hop Ranch, an extraordinarily well-balanced and ultra-delicious Imperial IPA [9%]; four-packs are hitting stores this week.
• I’m super-psyched for Smuttynose’s second annual batch of Durty Mud Season Hoppy Brown Ale. The potent [8.4%] brew does justice to both elements in its name — a massive hop presence blends beautifully with rich caramel/chocolate malts. It’s shipping this week!
• Narragansett Beer is getting into the literary spirit with the PR for Lovecraft Honey Ale, which debuts on January 19 [Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday]: “When the brewery was shut down, the spirit of Narragansett never died; it went underground, to a deep and dark place. Since reclaiming our beer in 2005, we’ve worked hard to stay true to our roots. But after being in that dungeon for so long, we came back with some baggage. Just like the nameless protagonist from Lovecraft’s ‘The Outsider,’ we emerged in the light a little different. A little…strange. Think of this brew as our bold, our obscure, our tampered-with mind. It won’t be for everyone, and if it isn’t for you, you’ll know exactly who it IS for. This is OUR Lovecraft. The stars are right on 1.19.15.” On Tuesday at Boston magazine’s website, ’Gansett prez Mark Hellendrung elaborated on the news he shared with us on December 29: “We’re celebrating our 125th anniversary here and this is kind of an extension of what we’ve been trying to do at the brewery, bringing back this great brand through a historical lens and local authenticity. One of our ’Gansett Girls is actually a librarian and she had this idea, knowing that Lovecraft’s birthday was in 1890, the same year our brewery was founded. We thought it was a great way to give Sean Larkin, our brewmaster, a platform to really experiment with different styles of beer.”
Mark said the next entry in the series will be Innsmouth Old Ale [after Lovecraft’s novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth]; it’s due in April.
• And Foolproof will help you make Valentine’s Day truly special with the release of its first collaborative beer, Shuckolate, a stout [6%] brewed with cocoa from Garrison Chocolates and oysters from the crew at Walrus and Carpenter in Ninigret. The label notes that the “two natural aphrodisiacs . . . lend a creamy silk mouthfeel [and] slight brininess” The limited release will be available soon in 22-ounce bombers.
• Clearing the desk: My newest Twitter follower: Mahatma Gandhi, “The preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India” . . . And the most-searched article in the Bottles & Cans archive is our November 11 entry on Grey Sail’s Captain’s Daughter. On Tuesday, someone found it by Googling “what is captains daughter liquor.”
NOTE: This entry was updated on 1.7.15 @ 3:29 pm. The earlier version incorrectly stated that Nooner Pilsner first appeared in the 2014 4-Way IPA sampler; Nooner Session IPA was in that box.