Smuttynose Brewing Co. announced a partnership with San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. for the New Hampshire brewer’s first collaboration brew: Cluster’s Last Stand. Cluster once comprised 90 percent of all the hops grown in the America but has since fallen out of favor. The limited release beer is a recreation of the legendary Ballantine IPA, complete with the original retro hops varieties. Brewing takes place the morning of June 17 at Smuttynose. Greg Koch, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stone, will represent the brewery as part of his whirlwind tour through Portsmouth, N.H.
“Cluster’s Last Stand is a tribute to the original American IPAs and the hops that that made them great, including Cluster,” said David Yarrington, director of brewing operations at Smuttynose. “While the name started out as a way to lampoon a hop variety whose moment had passed, we realized that working with Stone, particularly in the wake of Brewmaster Mitch Steele’s book, was the perfect way to create a serious tribute to the earliest American IPAs and showcase some important, but forgotten hops that many aficionados find passé in 2013.”
Package information and release details will be announced over Smuttynose’s blog and Facebook page ahead of a mid-July release. A few kegs will be sent to Stone’s farm-to-table restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, to serve to eager guests, marking the first time Smuttynose beer has been for sale in California.
Steele literally wrote the book on IPAs and did a tremendous amount of research on the most popular beer style in the U.S. Not only does the book, IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, have some great information and historic recipes, it also gives a nod to Portsmouth’s Frank Jones Brewery as the home of America’s first IPAs. While that recipe hasn’t surfaced yet, the Ballantine recipe is in the book, and that’s what will become a mid-July, 30-barrel (930 gallons) release in the New Hampshire brewer’s Short Batch Series.
A previous batch of Cluster’s Last Stand was brewed at Portsmouth Brewery in January 2012, with Steele, Yarrington and Tod Mott, then Head Brewer at Portsmouth Brewery. That batch, a slightly altered version of what’s being brewed now, made just 220 gallons. Confined to the Portsmouth Brewery’s four walls, it came and went, pleasing beer drinkers with its antiquated deliciousness. The beer wasn’t super piney or citrusy, nor did it smell like New Zealand white wine, but it was quite hoppy, deeply resinous and by all accounts, unique. A few bottles made it back to Koch at Stone. He and Steele both liked the beer and everyone thought it would be exciting to brew it on a larger scale.
Smuttynose brews more than 25 different styles of beer for distribution in 23 different states. In 2012, the company brewed, packaged and sold nearly 41,000 bbls. In August 2012, Smuttynose officially broke ground on its new production facility that will be operational by the end of 2013.