Tiny Nantucket island, thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod, may seem like an unlikely place for a brewing concern, but it is the home of Cisco Brewers, a triumvirate of brewery, distillery, and winery. Cofounder Wendy Hudson started homebrewing beer in California in the 1990s and introduced her husband and cofounder, Randy Hudson, to the hobby when she returned to Nantucket. Their nanobrewery started in a backyard, with only the air conditioner–cooled cold room indoors. From those humble beginnings as the United States’ only outdoor brewery, Cisco has found success and steadily expanded, bringing sister operations Triple Eight Distillery and Nantucket Vineyard under the Cisco Brewers umbrella.
Cisco’s Captain Swain’s Extra Stout, a bold export stout named after one of Nantucket’s seventeenth-century founders, is one of their finest brews. Brewed with a boatload of malts (thirteen different types, to be precise), the big beer has flavors ranging from dark-roast coffee to blackberries and cherry. With significant notes of smoke and hints of pine from dry hopping with Chinook hops, Captain Swain’s is pleasantly reminiscent of a crackling New England fireplace. It’s a beer fit for a captain and the 8% ABV is surely substantial enough to survive the long journey at sea the style originally was brewed to weather.
Review originally printed in The Handbook of Porters and Stouts.
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