An enigmatic line of text emblazoned across the can of this week’s featured beer – the Sherwood Double New England India Pale Ale from Connecticut Valley Brewing Company – implores us to “Rise and Rise Again”. After a bit of searching, I found that it appears to be part of an even longer commandment: “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions”. This is pretty serious stuff coming from a can of beer; all I wanted was a drink, thank you. And moreover, at 8.2% alcohol by volume, this double IPA is potent enough to ensure that rising is the last thing I’ll want to do after drinking one, let alone rising again.

But whence comes this bold and valiant proclamation and what’s it doing on my can of beer? The Bible, possibly, with all this quasi-Messianic, New Testament talk of lambs and lions? Or is this advice instead Machiavellian in origin? Could there be a hint of Shakespeare in this exhortation, perhaps some forgotten line from King Harry’s rousing St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V?

No, no, and also no. As it turns out, “Rise and rise again” is actually a line from one of the more high-profile film adaptations of the Robin Hood legend — specifically, the 2010 blockbuster Robin Hood directed by Ridley Scott and starring every corvid’s favorite thespian, Russell Crowe (I had to look up the line, having never seen the movie). And as I found out, the quote isn’t even the work of some screenwriter, but was originally coined by someone calling himself “Maitreya The Friend of All Souls”, a New Age American writer born John Lee Douglas in 1943. The-author-formerly-known-as-John-Lee-Douglas claims to have died twice already, once when he was killed in a household accident at the age of eight, and again in 1977, after which he devoted the rest of his life to practicing what appears to be some form of Buddhism. I guess if you have a knack for rebirth, it makes sense to join a religion which places such importance on reincarnation.

Having survived death twice, Maitreya (let’s just call him that for short) now occupies himself authoring spiritual advice in books like the following, from which comes our Robin Hood quote: The Holy Book of Destiny: The Holy Bible of Adhyatma-Yoga-Dharma, God’s Eternal Universal Religion, as given to Humanity by The One Universal God through Maitreya Adhyatma Bhagavan The Friend of All Souls for the Salvation and Liberation of all Souls and to secure the continued survival of Humanity. I wonder if all that could fit on a beer can?

“Is that some kind of Eastern thing?” “Far from it.”

(Speaking of movie quotes…)

Anyway, how this little quote from a hippie-era Buddhist guru from Southern California found its way into the script for a film about a legendary outlaw of 12th-century Norman England of dubious historicity is beyond me — but then again, Hollywood is an odd place. And how it became the tagline on a can of beer from a craft brewery in Connecticut is equally mysterious, but brewers can be a funny bunch, too. I guess it just sounded good. I can’t imagine they were expecting anyone to research the line as much as I now regret doing!

Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way – I hope – let’s get back to the beer, if we may. The “Rise and rise again” line from the Robin Hood movie reverses the order of the animals, of course, but March has long been said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, weather-wise. And Sherwood’s can art features a colorful American Robin (Turdus migratorius), that perennial avian harbinger of spring in North American conventional wisdom.  So, between the robin and the lamb and the lion, it seemed fitting to feature this beer at the end of March – and a very strange March around the world at that.

For its part, Connecticut Valley Brewing Company remains coy about the now-obvious Robin Hood references in their Sherwood Double New England Style India Pale Ale, at least officially. The brewery claims the name comes from Connecticut’s Sherwood Island State Park, the state’s oldest (Yeah, sure…). The brewery also notes that the American Robin is the state bird of Connecticut – not a particularly inspired choice, perhaps, but better than going with a certain skulking warbler named for the state that breeds nowhere near it. All in all, their story almost checks out, but it seems evident by now that someone at the brewery just really likes that Robin Hood movie and got the art and marketing people to play along.

The robin depicted on Sherwood is rendered in an attractive mosaic design, a nod to a primary ingredient in the single-hop beer: the Mosaic hop, an amazingly aromatic variety that’s been incredibly popular with brewers since it was first introduced in 2012. It’s obvious that quite a few of these hops went into brewing this double IPA: the bouquet is veritable fruit basket of fragrant aromas, including raspberry, tangerine, apricot, and rosewater, perhaps with a sweet and savory hint of Vidalia onion, as well. This double IPA is loaded with blueberry and pineapple juice flavors, a pleasing malt sweetness, and concludes with a slightly pithy finish that combines a refreshing piney bitterness with ripe papaya.

Good birding and happy drinking! Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

Connecticut Valley Brewing Company: Sherwood Double New England Style India Pale Ale

Three out of five stars (Good).

Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.