definitely been looking up for the Shipyard Brewing Company. Back in 1995,
Miller Brewing Company bought an interest in the brewery and greatly
expanded their distribution. Money was invested into the brewery by Miller,
and if you stop down by the brewery on Casco Bay you can see that it must
have been quite a bit indeed. Alas, Miller's dedication to the brand was
less than it could have been, and eventually less attention was paid to the
The good news is that Shipyard eventually bought out Miller's interest and
began to increase distribution again, albeit at a slower, manageable pace.
Craft beers are on the move again, and Shipyard is enjoying the boom,
growing 11% in 2004 alone. The beer of the moment, Shipyard Export Ale,
is the brew that started it all.
I especially love sipping this beer fresh on draft at the Great Lost Bear in
Portland, Maine. It’s also easy to find at the many beer bars located
throughout Portland. Portland is a great beer town, with several great
brewpubs, as many breweries, and lots of funky beer bars all locate din a
Shipyard is the biggest of the lot. At more than 50,000 barrels a year,
they’re far beyond the 15,000 barrel per year microbrewery definition. Using
a Peter Austin brewhouse to produce their ales with Ringwood yeast, Shipyard
is also one of a handful of brewers nationwide to produce a very
English-tasting brew that’s hard to duplicate.
Export Ale is one of their lighter bodied brews. It’s about average in
alcohol content at 5.1% by volume, and available in bottles and on draft.
Recently, I picked some of this old favorite upon a trip to Florida.
Shipyard, it seems, is popular at both extremes of the US Atlantic seaboard.
Shipyard Export Ale pours to a bright golden color with a thick
creamy head formation and a buttery, yeasty nose. The palate has a
wonderfully fresh biscuity malt character, crisp to the point of perfection,
with an appropriate to style amount of Ringwood diacetyl butterscotch
flavor. The beer is not at all overpowering, but there is a pleasant toasty
malt flavor and mushroomy Ringwood yeast character.
The hops are grassy and linger in the long dry finish. That makes Export Ale
extremely drinkable and refreshing. Export Ale is not overly complex, but it
does have a wonderful balance to recommend it. It’s not a huge beer; it
doesn’t have tons of alcohol or a huge malty profile. But it does have all
the things that make a great beer great, and you can easily sip lots of it
on a warm summer afternoon.
I happen to love Ringwood beers, and this one is a classic. I realize they
are, even for many beer geeks, an acquired taste. But this is a taste well
worth acquiring. And they can export all they want down my way, any time.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For
reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.