The sea is a harsh mistress.
We’ve definitely heard this somewhere. However, Google isn’t being terribly helpful to narrow down where we might have heard it. It may have been from The Sea Captain on The Simpsons.
Regardless, the sea, she be a harsh mistress, aargh.
Between the squalls, the weeks kept away from one’s family, the vast and unforgiving oceanscape, the uncertainty, and the fact that once you get a boat it takes all of your time and money, the sea is a harsh mistress, indeed.
And sometimes, that’s why you need a beer.
“One of the great parts of being a brewer is a lot of the time you get to make the beer you want to drink,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm, “and Sea Mistress is a much-loved favorite around here. It’s always well received among our fans, too. I think it just fits into the late-summer season so well.”
It’s been hot lately. Like, oppressively hot. Walking outside feels like walking the sunward surface of Mercury, but with more humidity. The past few weeks have been oppressively hot and muggy.
However, Sea Mistress is the perfect brew for these dog days of summer. Hopheads are looking for a good, hop-forward brew without the high ABV of a DIPA like Coastal Evacuation.
That’s where Sea Mistress comes in.
“It has been crazy hot here lately — like, stupid hot — especially in the brewhouse,” Jimmy says, “so I am really looking forward to having a pint or two after a long day in the brewery, and a few growlers to take home and enjoy while sitting in the shade of a tree or a beach tent.”
Head Brewer Brian Hink agrees.
“It’s the perfect summer time beer for hopheads to drink,” he says. “It drinks like a double IPA, but at 4.2% it’s stupidly drinkable and won’t knock you on your ass after drinking a few rounds of it. Personally, I’m a huge fan of this beer.”
Like the call of the sea, hopheads keep coming back to Sea Mistress. It’s a Session IPA that you can’t help but love. Loaded with citrus and fruit-forward hops, Sea Mistress is insanely aromatic yet bone dry, crisp and ridiculously refreshing.
This is our third year doing this brew, but only the second with the name Sea Mistress. It originally hit the Tasting Room in March of 2015 as Take Five, but a much larger brewery released a 4.2% session IPA with the same name.
“We weren’t given a Cease and Desist by them,” Brian says, “but out of respect to the much larger brewery who made it a full-time brand we opted to rename it.”
The inspiration for Take Five came from one of our bigger releases, City to Shore. Up until about three years ago, we were relatively limited on our hops contracts: we basically only contracted the hops used in Cape May IPA, Centennial (the forebear of Coastal Evacuation), and Devil’s Reach. When we wanted to brew a new hop-bomb, we needed to pull the hops in from the spot market.
“When City to Shore first came out in September of 2013 and we saw what a hit we had on our hands,” Brian says, “we knew we needed to lock up those hops on a contract so we could brew it again and again.”
We eventually decided to keep City to Shore as a once-a-year release, leaving a lot of extra hops for Brian, one of our resident hopheads, to play around with.
“Being a huge fan of drinking super hoppy beers, and yet wanting to be able to keep my wits about me,” he tells us, “I designed a session IPA focused around the hops used for City to Shore. I thought of it like the mini version of City.”
He loves Sea Mistress because it’s something he can go back to time and time again.
“A lot of session IPAs fall flat or fleeting after a couple drinking sessions,” he tells us. “When Follow the Gull kicked two weeks ago I was really at a loss for an everyday drinker. I’m loving Anniversary Ale 6.0 and Crusty Barnacle — I’m getting growlers of them every week at this point — but if I’m going over to the Tasting Room for a shiftie, I’m not interested in the higher ABV beers, which is why Follow the Gull’s 5.5% ABV was nearly perfect for having two shifties. With Sea Mistress coming back, I’m really excited to have a low-alcohol hop bomb available for my sampling pleasure.”
Jimmy’s a big fan of the hops we use in the dry hopping of Sea Mistress: Simcoe, Amarillo, and Ekuanot.
“They go together so well and make a great complex aroma with lemon citrus, papaya, pineapple, a touch of herbal character on the finish, and just the right amount of dank throughout,” he says. “I really dig it.”
Brian loves the complexity of this brew. For a low-alcohol beer, it has a tremendous amount of flavor.
“It’s not just one-note hops,” he says. “You really get a great hop complexity thanks to the three different hops used on the hop side and three different hops on the cold side. You get a ton of orangey-lemon citrus notes, definitely some sweet pineapple undertones, with a hint of dankness and papaya tying it all together.
“I’m always eager to get it back on the brew schedule.”
So, what isn’t a harsh mistress? Sea Mistress. She’s the perfect brew for these ridiculously hot days of late summer.
As Brian says, “It’s a beer that you’ll put back with ease, but after you’ve finished the pint you’re thirsty for more.”
Sea Mistress hit the Tasting Room Thursday and will be out for distribution to better bars and restaurants throughout the area.