Info overload: Newport Craft Beer Festival, King of the Yahd, new Ballast Point brews, Hop Hunter arrives, and much more!

A whole lotta beer news has piled up in the last week or so. Let’s dig in:

The date for the 4th Newport Craft Beer Festival was finally announced: it will take place on Saturday, May 9 on the lawn at the Great Friends Meeting House [we guessed right about it moving to May, since the 9th Great International Spring Beer Festival usurped its last-Saturday-in-April slot]. Newport-Craft-Beer-FestivalThe fest is produced by Newport Storm and Pour Judgement Bar and Grill and features 30-plus breweries pouring during two sessions [12-3 and 4-7 pm]. And new this year: a VIB [Very Important Beers] Event on Friday, May 8 at Newport Storm HQ, with exclusive beers that won’t be poured at the Fest and the chance to chat with the brewers in an intimate setting. Tickets will be available soon; check the website and/or Facebook page for updates.

Speaking of Newport Storm and Pour Judgement, the former is releasing Rye of the Storm IPA. The 8%ABV brew is made with a huge helping of the spicy grain and a mix of Cascade, New Zealand Orbit, and German Tradition hops. Four-packs are in stores now…And Pour Judgement IPA, which is made for the bar on Broadway by the folks at Grey Sail, will be hitting the market in 12-ounce cans.

And King of the Yahd, Foolproof’s Imperial India Pale Ale [8.5%], has made its annual appearance. This year’s batch is made with Green Bullet and Southern Cross hops from New Zealand.

  Quick sips: Ballast Point’s Sculpin and Big Eye have been very well-received since their triumphant return, and more beers from the San Diego brewery will arrive next week: Even Keel, a seasonal session IPA [3.8%, in cans]; Victory At Sea, an exalted imperial porter [10%] made with coffee and vanilla beans; and Grapefruit Sculpin, brewed with grapefruit rind [if you see that one, don’t hesitate — the supply is very limited; we wrote, “The tartness of the title fruit adds another delightful component to the sumptuous Sculpin. You must try this beer”]…Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter has finally reached our tiny state. It’s a groundbreaking IPA made with steam-distilled hop oil. The aroma is a blast of hop manna, and it’s a piney taste treat. After 35 years in the better beer business, it’s even more impressive that SN continues to up its game…The latest offering in Heavy Seas’ Unchartered Waters series is Phantom Ship, a tripel aged in bourbon barrels [9.5%, in bombers]…The folks at Founders describe Blushing Monk [9.2%] as “essentially an ’Imperial Rübæus,’ [made with] four times the amount of raspberries as Rübæus and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain.” It’s the first 2015 release in their Backstage Series, which shares the Michigan brewery’s experimental brews in 750ml bottles…And mark your calendar [no foolin’]: Founders’ KBS [Kentucky Bourbon Stout] will hit stores on Wednesday, April 1…Three of Firestone Walker’s superb brews will soon be available in cans: Union Jack [IPA, 7.5%]; Easy Jack [Summer Session IPA, 4.5%], and Pivo Hoppy Pils [German Pilsener, 5.3%]…Stone’s next batch of Enjoy By4.20.15 — will be available in six-packs [!] for the first time…And CraftBeer.com, the Brewers Association’s website, has produced a Beer Styles Guide, with visual representations of the wide world of brews, a “concise and systematic” tasting sheet, a text guide with “an alphabetical list of triggers — from alcohol to yeast variety — to help describe possible characteristics of a specific beer style,” and more engaging Beer 101 info and fun.The BA folks note that “the list was pared down to 77 common US beer styles inside of 15 style families with unique information added specifically with the beer lover in mind.” Cheers!!

New year, new beers from Sierra Nevada, Founders, and more

There’s a blizzard of new and seasonal beers arriving soon on shelves and taps. And, yes, one of them says “Spring Seasonal” on the label.

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.

Black_rye_bottle_web 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.

durty 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.