Friday Froth: Three Rare Beers You Should Be Drinking

James Gribbon

A single strawberry means a lot when you're in space. Commodities anywhere are delicacies somewhere, and so it is with beer. IPAs from New England Brewing and Two Roads are practically table beers here, but Sea Hag is a hard get just over the border in New York, and Will Gordoncouldn't even find a Lil Heaven in Massachusetts for his Drunkspin session IPA post. Add trophy hunters and the detestable trend of beer scalping into the market, and even local beers can become endangered species. 

Today we're going to look at three beers brewed in New England which still manage to be rare birds in Connecticut. The real life James Bond was an ornithologist, which means he spent a lot of time looking for that short, elusive sighting. Prepare to do the same here, but I've selected three beers which I think are well worth the search.

Grey Sail Captain's Daughter is made in Westerly, Rhode Island, and I've still never seen it on a shelf in Connecticut. Is it vanishingly rare? No. Is it a seasonal product? Nope, it's made year-round. So why is it so difficult to find? Because it's a cult beer. Much like what's become of Heady Topper, Captain's Daughter has been idolized and enshrined in the minds of beer achievement collectors, and its releases tend to be pounced on and snapped up like hyenas on a wounded impala. Like most things in life, I only found it when I wasn't looking. 

I walked to my local package store one day - looking for a pack of Gandhi-Bot, truthfully - and the guy behind the counter shushed me before I could say hi. A finger to his lips, he lead me into a darkened back room like Papa Legba guiding me to the spirit realm before placing a six of Captain's Daughter in my hand. If the loa give you a gift, you take it - so I brought it home.

Captain's Daughter pours a bit dull and cloudy with a head that dissipates quickly, but it has a nose like biting into Costa Rican fruit. The beer itself is positively greasy with lupulin, and some attendant IBUs save it from an almost foppish amount of sweetness. Hop junkies will certainly get their fix from the boatload of mosaic and citras which have been dumped into this beer. That stunning richness means Captain's Daughter is not a summertime refresher, but at 8.5% that's hardly an issue, since just a few will do the job. 

Have you ever gotten a fountain soda which was like 70% syrup? This is the beer equivalent. I see what Grey Sail was trying to do with Captain's Daughter, and it is seriously tasty, but it's juuust a bit too much for me. It is the wafer-thin cookie John Cleese's French waiter forces on the overstuffed diner in The Meaning Of Life.  

Up in Massachusetts, Jack's Abby is doing some wonderful things with lagers. Case in point is a lagered Baltic porter they make called Framinghammer. I was recently able to try the bourbon barrel-aged version on tap and, if you have the opportunity, do not think twice: drink it. I've just made up your mind for you. 

Get a glass filled with this inky liquid and hold it in front of your face where you can smell the burnt vanilla storm cloud it produces. Chocolate malts and whiskey hit you on the first sip, and boozy fumes waver through your nasal passages like heat off a hot street. 90% of this concoction is brewed malts and yeast, but a full 10% is straight up ethanol, and it is a delight. Heavy, dark and sweet, it will knock you cold if you turn your back. Barrel-aged Framinghammer is a warlord in velour

The next is a beer in keeping with our theme of searching: Smuttynose Kindest Find. The name itself is play on words, muddling up the name of the New Hampshire brewery's Finestkind IPA, which I adore. Kindest Find is an imperial red ale, and pours a deep, grand-cru-like ruby with a medium head which dissolves into a thin ring. Hints of roasted grain marble a nose thick with pungent hops. 

KF is sweeter with malts than other imperial reds like Green Flash Hop Head Red, but it's pleasantly balanced by a similarly high bitterness. Drink your way down through the large format bottle, and you'll start to notice the velvety nature of Kindest Find. It's not on quite the same level as my beloved Victory V-12 or Brooklyn Black Ops - which are both akin to floating on a zero-G water bed - Kindest Find is more like getting lost and having the first person you find be the friendly looking trailer park version of The B-52s' Kate Pierson on the bottle's label. She won't let you leave until you've had a cold one and some fried chicken and pie, and before you know it she can name all your cousins and it's dark out. This beer is, in a word, agreeable. It is also as rare as a redhead with a beehive, so grab a bottle or two if you have the chance. It's a seasonal, but Smuttynose beers are available throughout the state. 

Keep and eagle eye out for these three. Good luck, and I'll see you out there.