New out of Mispillion River – The Nor’easter, a New England Rye IPA clocking in at 7.5%ABV. I love the artwork on this one.
“Legends tell of an ancient storm bird from the North who brought wind, lightning, and destruction. Because I’m running out of sentences, you should know that she’s a BAMF who does what she wants. She has returned, bring clouds to Nor’ Easter, a 7.5% ABV New England Rye IPA.”
I try to keep up on the new label art that comes out of Delaware breweries (and sometimes local favorites outside Delaware) but I’ve never done a post like this before.
You see, not only are bottle/can labels available, but keg labels as well. Now, I don’t normally share these because there’s rarely anything to them, usually just a ring shaped label with some words and a box checked indicating what beer is inside.
But I thought for the fun off it, I’d share some of these recent keg labels along with some new label art that will soon be arriving at your favorite brewery/liquor store. In fact, you might have seen a few of these already as I’ve been hording some of these for quite some time.
First, let’s spread some love to the non-beer folks by starting with a beautiful array of label art for wines and meads from the folks over at Brimming Horn Meadery.
Next up is a couple of labels from Painted Stave Distilling, the corn whiskey with the mesquite and apple wood smoked malts sounds interesting.
Time for some beer, first up, Mispillion River with a keg label for Dank Lord IPA (I told you these keg labels usually weren’t all that exciting) followed by their new label art for Weiss City, a Berliner Weisse brewed with mangoes and oranges.
Next, let’s look at a couple of things from Dogfish Head, keg labels for Firefly Ale (which should be no stranger to DFH fans), Unencumbered Antelope (saison brewed with cantaloupe and cucumber), In Your Mace (which DFH describes as “a coffee milk stout brewed with cinnamon verum chips from the Zanzibar Islands, mace spice, milk sugars, coffee, chicory and most importantly … chili oils, the active ingredient in Mace Brand (yep, the pepper spray).”), and new label art for the tasting room exclusive Viniferous, another attempt to win over the wine/beer hybrid fans. The beer is hopped with Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, and El Dorado while containing fermented Riesling and Viognier grape must.
And finally, a few keg labels from 3rd Wave Brewing, Surf School, a New England Style IPA and Juice Box a Berliner Weisse.
It’s time, isn’t it? I mean I could understand it initially. Change brings out the deepest of insecurities and skepticism in people, especially when the thing that is changing is going in a direction of something that has for decades stood for inferiority and questionable quality.
When the initial wave of craft beer in cans began, there was a good amount of backlash from a sector of the craft beer community. But that didn’t deter those breweries from installing canning lines instead of bottling lines, and the trend (if you can call it that) shows no sign of slowing down.
According to CraftCans.com, 81 craft breweries were canning their beer in 2010. Today that number sits at well over 500 breweries which all together put over 2000 canned beers on US market shelves (and I suspect the numbers are even higher. CraftCan wasn’t up to date regards to breweries who can in Delaware and so maybe other states are under represented as well).
I’ve witnessed this growth myself watching the canned craft beer section at State Line Liquors, a small shelf pushed into a corner, grow into a much larger shelf that OK, is still pushed into a corner but you can no longer walk past it unaware of its presence.
Once breweries began to get their patrons over the stigma that beer in cans was inferior, in some way tasted like “canned beer”, or that a hop vine died every time a can was opened; it was inevitable that the convenience and portability of cans would be quickly embraced.
Let’s face it when it comes to the most accommodating friend who is always up for fun, cans are it. They can go places that bottles can’t go, are easier and safer to deal with than a pile of empty glass, and as I pointed out on a recent Facebook chat, they’re far superior based on their shear stackability alone.
These potential benefits weren’t lost on Lori Clough whose 3rd Wave Brewery although having a history of bottling their shelf products on a bottling line inherited when her and her partner Suellen Vickers acquired the old Evolution Brewing site, recently released their seasonal BeachBreaker Apricot Wheat in cans. “We are located close to the Delaware and Maryland resort beaches, lots of hotels and state parks. All of which do not allow (or discourage) glass bottles,” Lori said.
But Lori also commented that canning had other advantages, “As we researched the canning process, we decided to can one year round product and a few seasonals….Cans work so much better in carry in/carry out situations. The cans and the canning process has greatly improved over the last few years. More people tend to recycle cans. Cans protect the product much better than bottles. And last, lots of other breweries are canning, we don’t want to miss out!”
And Lori doesn’t have to look far to witness some of these other breweries that are canning. In fact, she doesn’t even have to look outside of the state.
Delaware’s Twin Lake Brewery has offered their only shelf product Greenville Pale Ale in a can from the very beginning, and Milford’s Mispillion River has canned all their beers except for occasional “brewery sales only” bottle releases. So what can we expect to see from 3rd Waving joining these beers in the future?
Lori told me that their pale ale ShoreBreak will be available in cans all year round and that along with BeachBreak Apricot you can expect two other seasonals, SunSet Peach Wheat and SunDancer White IPA in mid July and late August, respectively.
But if it was just these new, cool kids taking to cans, maybe this whole “craze” might go away but no, some of the more established breweries are also taking advantage of the aluminum resurgence. Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Avery, Victory, Cigar City, Brewer’s Art and Bells all now have offerings in cans and early this year it was announced that industry darling New Glarus had installed a canning line. Except they hadn’t. But then they had.
No, I feel that despite some stubborn naysayers who will continue to hold on to their glass as tightly as Rose did to Jack at the end of Titanic (until she finally…well, you know…), thanks to some breweries who were willing to go against initial skepticism, cans are here to stay and will only continue to grow in numbers on the shelves of your favorite beer stop.
As always I would like to thank Lori for taking some of her valuable time to talk to me.
Today I’m substituting for renowned TV host, explorer and well know cryptozoologist Josh Gates. Gates has made a living out of hosting such shows as SYFY’s Destination Truth and Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown, the gist of which are that he goes to a location that has reports of some strange creature in an attempt to either prove or disprove these claims. He’s traveled all over the world in search of animals that people have claimed they’ve seen or have been attacked by, although there is no scientific evidence of these creature’s existence. For the most part, it looks like fun.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the adventurous nature that Mister Gates does. Well, that’s not true. I would love to travel the world searching for things that may or may not be real (like…say…hipsters! I mean, we’ve all seen the pictures, but do they TRULY exist…hmmm?), but my reality is that I have responsibilities, lack of funds, and no TV deal.
But I didn’t let that deter me the other day when armed with only my resolve and $10, I fearlessly trekked through the densely laden aisle of my nearby liquor store in search of a creature that Josh himself has investigated on several occasions, the fabled goat sucking (Fun trivia fact, that last word is the only word in my four year career of blogging that I made sure I spelled correctly on ten separate occasions before publishing or this could have gone south very quickly) Chupacabra! In my case however, in the form of a mojito inspired ale brewed by Mispillion River.
The expedition was arduous as I circumnavigated past the rum and vodka. When I had reached the Australian wines, I almost lost a member of the team, but I was able to pull him to safety from the end-cap of Yellow Tail he had fallen over.
Soon I was at my destination and not long after setting up base camp I began seeing signs of activity. I ventured out into the beer section, quietly scanning my surroundings for any sign of this illusive creature when suddenly I caught a glimpse of something hidden in the shelving. There! There it was! The fabled Chupacabra! Six of them! In there own natural habitat!
Well damn. That actually wasn’t all that hard. Let’s taste.
THEM: Chupacabra! started as a small batch beer that was tapped at the brewery in March of 2015. The beer at that time was built on a grain bill of 2-row and honey malt, and brewed with lime zest, fresh mint, and wild flower honey. The beer is balanced out with 20IBUs and brings 5.0%ABV to the search.
ME: Not a bad beer on the pour. Not overly carbonated, tiptoes into the amber shade a bit at the top of the glass I’m drinking from. The head recedes quickly to just a ring around the inside of the glass. The nose gives an unmistakeable hint of mint with an under current of lime and other citrus which carries over into the flavor (although I find the mint and the lime more prominent in the nose) where they mix together with a nice touch of honey. The body is light, and the finish is clean.
I wish there was more to say about this beer but there’s really not, which is fine because I believe this is a case where less is definitely more. Chupacabra! is light and approachable, hitting all of the brewery’s descriptive marks while delivering a very drinkable, Summertime beer. Mint isn’t my favorite flavor in the world, so Chupacabra! isn’t something I would normally gravitate towards but I could definitely drink a couple of these and I’m sure that once Tracey gets a taste of it the rest of the six pack won’t be hanging around the fridge for very long.
So if you like mint (or even if you’re not its biggest fan) and you’re looking for a beer built for Summertime drinking, check out Chupacabra! Just make sure you take a picture of it, or your friends just might not believe you.
Mispillion River opened in 2013 after Eric Williams declared to his wife Megan that he was going to open a craft brewery in Milford, Delaware. Alright, so he actually made that declaration two years earlier, and then spent the time leading up to Mispillion River’s opening doing everything he could to open a brewery that as their mission statement reads was, “recognized by its customers and the brewing industry for producing the highest quality craft beer.”
Teaming up with Don and Marti Brooks, and Scott and Tammy Perlot, the Williamses brought in Jared Barnes to brew the initial batches with assistant Ryan Maloney who took over as head brewer about a year after opening.
Sadly, Tracey and I have yet to make it down to the brewery, but we’ve enjoyed their beers on several occasions at festivals and bars, continually finding these guys to be top notch. So the other day when I saw that one of my new favorite liquor stores (The Newark Bottle Shop) was carrying Mispillion’s Holy Crap! Imperial Red I figured this was a good a chance to finally review one of their beers.
Now I try not to go into any review with any bias (especially negative) but I have to admit that this beer and I got off on a wrong foot when I reached into the cooler and only pulled out four beers. That’s right, Holy Crap! comes in four packs, and you know to us, that’s just…..well you know…*
THEM:Holy Crap! is built off of a grain bill of 2-Row, caramel, biscuit and Munich malts while Amarillo hops do all the heavy lifting in the beer to the tune of 50IBUs. The kick tops off at 9.0ABV and according to the brewery it pairs well with spiced Brontosaurus. Fred Flintstone approved I’m sure.
ME: Holy Crap pours a deep mahogany with a nice white head. The nose has gobs of specialty grain and bready malts with a nice balance of citrus and spice you’d expect from Amarillo. Balance is the word that carries over into the taste, moving from sweet malts with a rewarding kick of citrus (I’m getting a little grapefruit or lemon rind) in the front to a touch of lingering hops in the back. The brewery states this finishes with a dry bitterness and yes, those 50 IBUs are not lie, but this beer didn’t seem to be leaving my mouth dry like the Jurassic Age. No, it seemed to have plenty of mouth coating sweetness on the back end that left all those citrus tastes bouncing around on my tongue. It’s a beer that stayed with me for quite a bit after each sip with its mix of sweet malty goodness (Malty goodness – you know I like that) and residual hops especially as I got towards the bottom of the glass. And all that body worked well to efficiently hide that 9% ABV. In fact, if Holy Crap! refers to anything, that is a good thing for it to refer to, its alcohol’s ability to hide like a pack Velociraptors in a jungle.
I’m going to admit, I was initially not a fan of the “putting Imperial in front of a beer style” trend. Things like Imperial Pilsner usually made me shake my head because on the surface it just seemed like an excuse for breweries to hump more alcohol and hops into styles (as in this case amber/red) that normally don’t call for it. But that seems to be what the craft beer drinking crowd wants, so who am I to chide the breweries for delivering. If anything else, Holy Crap! showed me that even in styles I might otherwise raise an eyebrow at, I can find good beer. Although Reach Around is still my favorite.
Time for another beer…
*It’s Devil-Witchery. That’s what a 4-pack is…….Pure…………..Devil…………..Witchery.