This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

State #7: Massachusetts

Beer: Whale's Tail Pale Ale

Brewery: Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, Massachusetts

ABV: 5.6%

A (good) beer worthy of (bad) poetry.

There once was a beer from Nantucket
They shipped it on boats; couldn’t truck it
So concerning this blog
On geography grog
Sam Adams can just go and... and… stop trying to make 90 styles of beer and stop spending so much money on advertising and maybe focus on making a few styles of beer really well instead, but really, I can’t hate on Sam Adams, because they let the masses know that American craft beer could be both tasty and a profitable enterprise, and perhaps beer drinkers owe Jim Koch a debt for his work, so I would never tell Sam Adams to ‘suck it,’ but I wouldn’t choose one of their beers to represent Massachusetts for this blog either.

So, when I arrived at my parents’ house over the holidays this past winter, I was delighted and surprised to see a couple cans of Whale’s Tail Pale Ale, by Nantucket's Cisco Brewers, lurking in the back of the fridge. God only knows how long they had been there for. My parents don’t drink a lot of beer, and nobody could recall how it got there. But the good thing about beer in cans, and one of the reasons why an increasingly large number of craft breweries are using them (some exclusively) is that they keep light out, and prevent the beer from going skunky (like Caguama from El Salvador, or every Corona you’ve ever had). Coupled with newer can linings that don’t impart a metallic taste on the beer, I’m surprised more breweries aren’t using them (Whale’s Tail is also available in bottles).

Another benefit of beer in cans: the ability to shotgun.
In addition to being the rhymiest beer I will write about for this blog, Whale’s Tail Pale Ale is also wicked tasty. It’s considerably less hoppy than most pale ales, and quite a bit sweeter, but not in a bad way. Another positive attribute of the can is that it pours a nice head more easily than a bottle, bringing out those flavors a bit more easily. According to the Cisco’s web site, these flavors suffer a fate common to a lot of vacation island beers: people try it when they visit the island, and then crave it after they leave, but can’t find it anywhere back home. Sometimes that craving is probably pure nostalgia, but in the case of Cisco’s beers, it’s probably also because they taste good. “Nice beer, if you can get it” is the brewery’s motto, though fortunately their distribution area has grown a bit in recent years, and their stuff is now available in bahs all over the Northeast.

Whale's Tail Pale Ale is not only a catchy name, but it is also evocative of the old whaling industry that ruled Nantucket in days of yore. Seen here is the interior of the Nantucket Historical Association's Whaling Museum (photo from
As if Nantucket wasn’t sufficiently relaxed, Cisco also operates a vineyard and a craft distillery, ventures that started as part of an “alcohol amusement park” in the backyard of the brewery’s founders (who seem like people I would thoroughly enjoy). The combination brewery and distillery is another emerging trend in the craft brewing world, with breweries like Oregon’s Rogue and San Diego’s Ballast Point joining Cisco in making booze.

The self-described "alcohol amusement park," where beer, wine, and booze are made. I don't see any roller coasters, which is probably for the best. (Imagery from Google Maps)

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