- July 22, 2019
Fearless. Bold. Independent.
Last year, Heavy Seas declared this their mantra. Since then, they’ve proven that it’s more than just a saying slapped onto a t-shirt.
Over the past year, Brewmaster Christopher Leonard and his team at Heavy Seas have ushered in a new era. Along with their new slogan, they’ve created a new logo, released plans for a taproom renovation and started brewing limited releases on a 15-barrel system. What lead to all the changes? Leonard puts it simply, “Change is necessary, and we like to shake things up.”
Heady Times caught up with Leonard at the Baltimore brewery to find out more.
- Back in the day, Heavy Seas went by a different name. “Heavy Seas began as Clipper City Brewing Co. Our founder Hugh Sisson brewed his first beer here in 1995.”
- The success of their first IPA, Loose Cannon, launched the Heavy Seas we know today. “Heavy Seas was originally the name of a lineup of Clipper City beers that were stronger and more potent. Loose Cannon, brewed in 2004, was so successful and sold so well that we decided to rebrand the brewery as Heavy Seas.”
- About the new logo, Leonard said, “It’s been a three-year process. We worked with a local business to develop it. It’s easier to work with, the message is simpler. It’s both adventurous and serious at the same time, which is what Heavy Seas is.”
- Since Leonard has joined the team, Heavy Seas has continued to expand. “In 2013, we were brewing about 33,000 barrels of beer a year. This year we’ll get up to about 45,000 barrels.”
- During his time at Heavy Seas, Leonard has ushered in a new era for their “Cannon Crew” of beers. “With the success of Loose Cannon, we decided to try a double IPA, which became Double Cannon. At first, we were concerned about how it would be received because it clocked in at 9.5% ABV. To our surprise, it really took off. The following year we made it available year round.”
- If they thought Double Cannon was a surprise success, their next idea was even bigger. “By the time 2015 hit, citrus IPAs were a big deal in beer, so we added TropiCannon to the Cannon lineup. It sold out even quicker than Double Cannon. We now have AmeriCannon as well – a 5.75% double dry-hopped American pale ale to round out the portfolio. The Cannon Crew includes a range of flavor profiles and styles, so there’s something for everyone.”
- A new 15-barrel system allows Leonard and the Heavy Seas team to innovate like never before. “We’d been looking to incorporate some type of pilot brewhouse. When Dan [Kopman, new CEO of Heavy Seas] came on board, we all decided it was the perfect opportunity to go all-in on a 15-barrel system as well. It allows us to make smaller batches and brew new styles.”
- Their new 15-barrel offerings have been flying out of their taproom. “The first one we did was a take on Loose Cannon called Joose Cannon, a hazy, juicy IPA brewed with tangerine purée. That beer was released on a Friday and was gone by Saturday morning. Next up is a Brut IPA brewed with yuzu juice, which I never would have thought to do a few years ago. The new system allows us to be more creative.”
- There may be more changes for the Cannon Crew afoot. “We’re always looking at options. We like new mashups. Right now, we’re getting close to finalizing our 2020 portfolio and you’ll see some new twists and surprises.”
- Until then, Leonard will be enjoying Heavy Seas The Great’er Pumpkin & Night Swell. “They are fearless, bold and independent beers.”