Rising Tide’s Maine Island Trail Ale, a hoppy American pale ale that is only 4.3 percent alcohol by volume and perfect for summer drinking, will be launched Thursday at the Maine Island Trail Association’s Small Boaters’ Film Fest in Portland.

The best news of all is that this year the beer will be available in cans.

Rising Tide had intended MITA Ale to be a one-time specialty batch, released first as part of a Portland Greendrinks event last May benefiting MITA, and with part of the proceeds of all the beer sold going to the association. That first batch disappeared almost instantly, and Rising Tide continued brewing the beer all summer.

The beer has been a critical success as well, winning the Maine Madness Beer Tournament that took place last month at maine.eater.com.

When I asked Nathan Sanborn, Rising Tide head brewer and co-owner, whether the popularity of the beer was because it is a good beer or for a good cause, he responded, “It is a very good beer, and a great cause,” but he is not sure what caused the great sales.

“I wish I knew, because then I could do it again,” he said.

Sanborn also said that MITA Ale was caught up in a surge of popularity for Maine beer that hit last year, and that while MITA Ale sold five times as well as his projection, another Rising Tide beer introduced last summer, Spinnaker hefeweizen at 4.5 percent ABV, also sold five times his projections.

Rising Tide announced the plans to can April 7 when the company’s Facebook page showed a forklift loading the empty cans at the Rising Tide brewery at 102 Fox St.

MITA will be the only beer Rising Tide expects to can. The Maine Island Trail supported by the association is a string of islands off the Maine coast with landing spots and sometimes places to tent, used by kayakers. Cans are more convenient for outdoor activities, including kayaking, because they are lighter, less likely to break, pack better and cool more quickly.

Iron Heart Canning Company of Monroe, Conn., which also canned Geary’s Summer Ale earlier this spring, are doing the canning at Rising Tide, with the first run to wind up Thursday. Heather Sanborn, Rising Tide co-owner, said the company plans to have Iron Heart back to can again later in the summer. The 16-ounce cans will be available in four-packs.

The Small Boaters Film Fest is happening from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine. Admission is $15 at the door.

Heather Sanborn said two other events will be held to celebrate the re-release of MITA Ale. One will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, which is also First Friday, at the Thirsty Pig at 37 Exchange St., which will benefit the Maine Island Trail Association. The second will be May 15 at Andy’s Old Port Pub at 94 Commercial St., to help the the trail association to kick off its season.

SHEEPSCOT VALLEY BREWING CO. Scottish Ale was on tap when I met brother Steve at Portland & Rochester Public House at 118 Preble St. in Portland last week. This beer is an old friend, and I knew I had to have one.

Sheepscot Valley in Whitefield was founded in 1995 by Steve Gorrill, and I was drinking the beer – usually bought in growlers at RSVP in Portland but occasionally at the Great Lost Bear and other bars – long before I started writing about beer. The Scottish Ale is sometimes called Bold Coast Pemaquid Ale or Pemaquid Ale, and it is the company’s flagship.

Scottish ale is a bit of a misnomer. It isn’t quite as strong as most Scottish ales – I was not able to find the ABV on this, but it did not seem much more than 5.5 percent – and is more of a slightly strong English pale ale. But it is malty, keg conditioned and therefore slightly carbonated, with a good hoppy finish. If you see it on a bar menu, you should try it – unless the Double Brown is on the menu, which you should try for its nutty malt flavor, wonderfully viscous mouthfeel and overall richness.

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

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