Shipyard has just introduced a new year-round beer, Monkey Fist IPA, which sits about halfway between the company’s two other IPAs — its original Fuggles IPA, which has been around since 1997, and its Pugsley Signature Series XXXX IPA, introduced in 2007.

IPAs are growing in popularity as people seek beers with more and more hops, so it makes sense for Shipyard to add an IPA. The original Fuggles is an enjoyable beer that features only the traditional Fuggles hops, and comes in at 5.8 percent alcohol.

Monkey Fist has three types of hops — Warrior, Glacier and Cascades — and comes in at 6.9 percent alcohol.

Bruce Forsley, director of sales at Shipyard, said Monkey Fist was a couple of years in the making.

“We have been struggling to find a flagship brand for California,” he said. “California has redefined what is expected in an IPA.”

As a result, Fuggles IPA was seen as bland when compared with many other IPAs.

“It is really a very balanced beer,” Forsley said, “and we were looking to form something that was a little, well, imbalanced.”

And while the heavily hopped IPAs started on the West Coast, the love of that style has moved quickly to the East Coast and is beginning to take over in Maine.

When I tasted Monkey Fist, I was expecting the big West Coast IPA. It was that, but not an over-the-top version of that. There were floral notes in addition to the bitterness, and there was a good deal of maltiness in the background. It was tasty and complex.

I liked it overall, but I would go with the original Fuggles if offered both of them side by side.

One interesting note from Forsley is that Fuggles sales are up 18 percent over the past year.

“I think maybe it is the first step for some people into IPAs, moving from Export or other ales to the next level,” he said.

The Great Lost Bear, 540 Forest Ave., Portland, will be featuring Monkey Fist tonight at its regular Thursday beer event.

MARSHALL WHARF Brewing Co. in Belfast will be selling beers in 16-ounce cans sometime this summer.

“We have just gotten the labels approved from the feds,” founder and owner David Carlson said last week, “and we are six to eight weeks from having cans out and released.”

Carlson said Marshall Wharf has purchased a two-head manual canner similar to the one used by Moat Mountain in North Conway, N.H., and he got some training from Will Gilson, Moat Mountain’s brewer. It is a small system, and can be fit into the back of a pickup truck.

Carlson said he can’t really increase his beer production this year because he is limited by the hops contracts he signed. But he wants to test the process so he can contract for more hops next year.

“We have decided to commit to canning one batch of beer each week,” he said. 

With Marshall Wharf’s seven-barrel brewing system, that means about 200 gallons, or 1,600 cans of beer weekly.

The minimum order is 155,000 cans, and the federal government approved a generic can with the name of the beer company and a UPC code. But the specific type of beer will have to be written by hand on each can.

Carlson said Marshall Wharf is going to continue to distribute its beers on its own, and hopes to make runs of kegs and cans at the same time in its region from Kittery to Orono and down to about Bar Harbor.

“One of the biggest complaints we get is that people say they can’t find our beers,” Carlson said.

He hopes that having beer in cans will help remedy that, but that the cans will likely be in smaller specialty beer stores that can handle having a limited of supply of Marshall Wharf beer and having the style change just about weekly.

Marshall Wharf has a reputation for producing high-alcohol beers, but one of its most popular new beers might change that.

“Our brewer, Dan McGovern, and I wanted to create a low-alcohol beer that is really flavorful. So we created Pinchy, which is a 3 percent red ale that is nuanced and flavorful,” Carlson said. “It is a true English-style session beer.”

I haven’t had it yet, but I will be looking for it.

AMERICAN CRAFT BEER WEEK begins Monday and runs through May 20 with events all over the country.

Sea Dog brew pubs in South Portland will be running a Mystery Firkin contest, with patrons being challenged to identify the beer that is being sold as part of its Friday Firkin event.

Mama’s Crowbar on Forest Avenue will be pushing the date by offering a collaboration by Allagash, Rising Tide and Maine Beer from 4 to 9 p.m. this Saturday. That beer will be available elsewhere for the rest of American Craft Beer Week.

For details, visit craftbeer.com/acbw.

Tom Atwell is a Cape Elizabeth freelance writer.  He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

[email protected]