Drink This Now: Granite State Destroyer, by Smuttlabs
If you’re hitting up Beer Camp Across America this weekend, make sure you swing by the Smuttlabs booth for a taste of a craft-brewed malt liquor. Yep, you read that right.
Granite State Destroyer, dubbed (slightly euphemistically) an “imperial corn lager” by the brewery, is like the best Colt 45 you’ve ever tasted, made with Saphir hops, flaked maize, and other malts. Smuttlabs—the experimental offshoot of Smuttynose Brewing Co.—first brewed it in 2015, in homage to legendary New Hampshire rock band Scissorfight, says JT Thompson, the companies’ communications lead (aka, the minister of propaganda).
“We were just sitting around talking, and there are always a couple ideas that get filed under, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun as hell if we did X,'” Thompson says. “Making a malt liquor was one of those ideas that just never went away.”
At 8.5 percent ABV, the team decided to brand the brew as an imperial corn lager. One day, they were blasting “Granite State Destroyer,” a track from Scissorfight’s 1999 release New Hampshire, and lamented that Scissorfight was on extended hiatus.
“This would be a great beer to do in tribute to them,” Thompson recalls someone saying. “When you’re thinking about a malt liquor—sorry, an imperial corn lager—coming from New Hampshire, ‘Granite State Destroyer’ is about the best name you could come up with.”
Despite the fact that the band hadn’t played a show in years, Smuttynose sales analyst and musician Joe Grotto was friendly with its members, and he approached them about using the name. They were on board. Then, in February of this year, Scissorfight announced a few reunion shows, so the Smuttlabs team went back to the brewhouse to re-release it to coincide with the band’s return.
Granite State Destroyer hit the Smuttynose taproom on May 14, and the limited run of 32-ounce bottles is long gone. But it’s one of the samples Smuttlabs is pouring at Sierra Nevada’s traveling brewfest this Saturday, and there are still kegs available in the Beer Vault for bars and restaurants interested in putting it on draft. Smuttynose and Smuttlabs launched that unique online portal earlier this spring in an effort to democratize access to its limited releases, Thompson says.
“It’s a simple system that solves a difficult problem,” he says.
Many beer buyers want to carry the latest releases, but it’s hard to keep track of what’s new—especially because small batches come and go so quickly, he explains. Interested buyers can sign up for the site, which shows a live inventory of all of the company’s available kegs. So far, River Bar, Foundry on Elm, the Independent, and the Ginger Man are using the Vault in the Boston area, Thompson says.
“You can literally, as a bar or restaurant, go in and claim anything you want out of the Vault, and the next day, our sales manager verifies the orders and adds it to the wholesaler’s truck. It’s a way to deal directly with accounts who are interested in our beers,” he says.
So if you can’t wait to slay a pint of Granite State Destroyer, let your favorite bar manager know.