2018 began with somewhat of a rough start for the craft beer world. Just two weeks after we rang in the new year, on January 15th, Green Flash announced that they would be pulling out of 32 states after building a distribution footprint that covered the entire country. Three days later, we were hit with news that the legendary Portsmouth, New Hampshire brewery Smuttynose would be sold at a bank auction due to “overleveraging of investments and missed growth projections”. Just one day after that, on January 19th, we learned that California’s Mendocino Brewing and New York’s Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. suddenly closed and laid off all employees as billionaire owner Vijay Mallya faced charges of money laundering in excess of $1 billion.
It was a sad stretch of days within the industry as many questioned whether or not the whole year would be heading down this path. Craft Beer Cellar HQ is based in New England, so of the three, Smuttynose hit closest to home. Though the brewery’s relevance had been waning for years, there’s no debating the quality of beers like Finest Kind IPA and Robust Porter. Taste aside, the combination of dated branding and producing brewpub styles of the 90s had slowly diminished the excitement around Smutty.
Since January, we hadn’t heard much about Smuttynose other than their sale to Venture Capital firm Runnymede Investments back in March. The classic regular rotation beers were still available in the market and demand remained roughly stagnant. It felt as though they may slowly fade into the sunset. That was until we received an email titled, “Smuttynose is making big moves!” earlier this week.
Attached in the email was a press release and information on two new (and hazy!) releases. Mysterious Haze and Whole Lotta Lupulin are a double dry-hopped New England IPA and a Double IPA, respectively, and are packaged in 16oz 4-Packs with fresh, modern sticker labels. The release of these two beers symbolizes a sort of rejuvenation for the Smutty brand that has been taking place behind the scenes in the months since their purchase.
According to the press release, “After ownership transitioned last spring to a local family-owned NH investment firm, Runnymede Investments LLC, Smuttynose has already made strides towards the future. In the past several months, Smuttynose has increased its staff to 84 full-time and part-time workers, added several new members to their marketing team, and beefed up their sales team with more representatives and account managers.”
All of this sounds like things are moving in the right direction for the brewery. The anticipated double release will take place at long-time Smuttynose supporting establishments throughout the end of October and into the beginning of November. Cans are expected to hit stores within their distribution footprint beginning in November as well.
New England IPA
6.7% ABV, 47 IBU
Malt: 2-Row, Malted Barley, Wheat Malt, Oats, CaraHell
Introducing Mysterious Haze, a new year-round offering from deep within the hop labs here at Smuttynose Brewing Co. This medium -bodied, double dry-hopped New England IPA is a master class in showcasing the tropical characteristics of Citra hops, featuring initial notes of grapefruit, guava and mango that melt beautifully into a complex aftertaste of citrus and delicate herbs. Just how much will you love it? That’s a mystery only your first sip can unravel.
Whole Lotta Lupulin
New England Double IPA
8.6% ABV, 90 IBU
Malt: 2-Row, Malted Barley, Wheat Malt, Cara Malt, CaraHell
Hops: Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial
Whole Lotta Lupulin marks its triumphant return to the Smuttynose year-round lineup, a double IPA as bold as it is balanced that’s sure to satiate even the most seasoned hop palates. Brewed with a bursting combination of complimentary hops – including Citra and Amarillo– and anchored by a sturdy yet not overpowering malt foundation, it drinks lighter than its 8.6% ABV might imply, imparting notes of tropical and guava and an intoxicating aroma of floral, resinous pine.