Something old, something new: Shipyard’s lineup, with classic beers like Export and Prelude, gets refreshed with new styles, including Blue Fish Brut IPA and Lager. Photos by Carla Jean Lauter

With construction of its brewery hotel progressing in the Old Port, you’d think Shipyard Brewing Company would have put its beer on autopilot or at least held off on any drastic changes while the project is underway. But with new and refreshed beers and some international partnerships on the horizon, Shipyard is doing anything but sitting still.

Shipyard’s Blue Fish Brut IPA is a somewhat late addition to the style trend.

Shipyard Brewing’s newest beer is taking advantage of a recent trend in styles: the brut IPA. Blue Fish Brut is brewed in a style that is modeled after the big, energetic bubbles and the clear look of champagne and prosecco. Although it’s hard to pin down their exact defining characteristics, Brut IPAs are usually brewed with a yeast that provides a clean finish, both in appearance and taste. The style made a big, quick splash in 2019, but it’s hard to tell if it has staying power. Shipyard’s slightly late contribution to the style brings a quick, dry hop taste to your tongue and removes it just as quickly. The effect is a more craft-beer hoppy profile than mass-market lagers, but just as clean finishing and crisp. It is a little bit thinner than a typical IPA and lighter feeling overall, but the effect is a positive one. It gives the little punch of flavor without taking over the show.

Another beer to check out in Shipyard’s newer lineup is its lager – simply called Lager – which, like Blue Fish, is available in 12-ounce cans. It’s a departure from Shipyard’s other flagship beers because it uses lager yeast instead of the more traditional English Ringwood yeast, which is what gives Shipyard’s foundational beers like Export and Prelude their characteristic taste, with a touch of buttery flavor. There is none of that in Lager, a crisp, cereal-like beer that could find a home at any tailgate or in the hands of those who think that craft beer is too “fussy.” Lager is totally unfussy, and some days that’s exactly what you need.

It seems that Shipyard’s strategy of branching out is working. Instead of focusing all of its attention on winning over (or winning back) local fans, it has continued its long history of reaching out internationally. A few weeks ago, Shipyard signed a continuation of its trade partnership with Marston’s PLC in the United Kingdom, allowing it to distribute some of its classic lineup to the U.K., where those styles originated. But the bigger news is a new agreement with a brewery in Australia that’s intended to kick off a broader international beer exchange initiative.

Shipyard and Sydney-based Rocks Brewing Company, which has been open since 2008, are sending each other beer to share in their respective tasting rooms. The first pair of Australian beers that thirsty Maine patrons will be able to sample are The Governor and The Hangman, which will be tapped in Shipyard’s tasting room on Thursday. The Governor is described as a golden ale with notes of stonefruits and malts, and according to its tasting notes, is “light and easy to drink.” The Hangman is an “Aussie-style pale ale” featuring three different hops that give it a “big, brash and bitter” profile. Both are fairly low in alcohol, with the Governor coming in at 4.5 percent and the Hangman at 4.9 percent.

On the flip side, Rock Brewing Company, which has already begun pouring Shipyard’s beers, is featuring an Australia-brewed version of Finder (which Rocks is calling “Aussie Finder”), Export, Blueberry and others in the Shipyard core lineup.

Carla Jean Lauter is a freelance beer writer and blogger who lives in Lisbon. Follow her beer adventures at:

Twitter: beerbabe

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