Saturday, August 30, 2008

Not Sure How It Works

I think the best beer brewed in the state of Maine (best as defined by my taste buds) may be brewed at Marshall Wharf Brewing, in Belfast. I want to drink the Big Twitch and the Cant Dog. Here's the problem, it's available only in the bar next to the brewery (3 Tides), and that bar is a 2 hour drive from Portland. I'd do the drive up, but how would I get home?

On the flip side, the new brew pub in Saco is promising because there's a train there (and back). It's run by the folks who own the Liberal Cup in Hallowell. But it's not brewing beer yet. I hold out hope!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Missed It By That Much

I went to the RSVP in search of Barleywine. I didn't find any (although it was not an exhaustive search). I did, however, come away with a locally brewed super IPA. Could Stonecoast's 1260 be the beer I've been looking for?

There were two immediate challenges with the 1260 as my everyday beer of choice: 1)Stonecoast is rumored to be phasing out of the bottled beer business. The brew pub at Sunday River will continue but not their brewing and distribution operations, as I understand it; and, 2) the beer weighs in at a hefty $12.99 per 750ml bottle. Ouch!

The final challenge is the taste--it's just not the beer I'm looking for. It's incredibly flavorful and full-bodied but it's malty and earthy as much as it is hoppy. It tastes a bit like a Geary's HSA on steroids, and the HSA doesn't need performance enhancers.

I have one more bottle to sample. I'll write more if I feel a need to re-assess after drinking a second bottle with different expectations.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beer Writing, Brewery Touring, and Beer Drinking

I'm now a member of the prestigious Maine Beer Writers' Guild. In my first official act as a member, I toured Fedral Jack's brewery and pub with other beer writers. I filed away the technical specifications of the various malts, specific gravities, ferkins, pumps and valves in the old steel trap. Please send me an email if you'd like these details. For purposes of this blog, I'll stick to a high level overview.

The tour was conducted by Mike Haley, a highly professional and knowledgeable young man who is clearly passionate about his chosen field. He's a Pugsley-trained brewer who started working in a brewery as a summer job. That was 14 years ago, he's never left brewing.

To be successful as a brew pub, location and consistency are crucial. Federal Jack's delivers on both (setting aside for a moment its distance from Portland). There are spectacular water views, and the beers are balanced and full of quality ingredients. Careful processing delivers the desired consistently delicious beer. I tried the cask conditioned 'Taint Town, the Old Thumper (one of my favorites), and the Fuggles IPA. All were pretty fugging good. I also drank a Barleywine. I'd never had one before, I guess because of the name, which implies wine (I like wine, but not wine-beer combos, although I'll make some Belgian exceptions to those rules). Anyway, it was good and left me longing for more. A trip to RSVP for a sample is in my future.

Anyway, I normally stray off the pennisula only as far as the GLB but a trip to Federal Jack's is worth it. You just need to choose straws for the designated driver.

In an unrelated note, brewer and beer blogger Ben has brewed a RyePA for Gritty's. I didn't catch when it would be available for consumption (maybe I missed it). It sounds great.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What Would Ghandi Do?

I've continued my non-violent protest. I stood in front of the beer cooler at the former Fat Baxter, now a branch of the Rosemont grocery, for a long time. Then I reached out. I could've bought a smutty, or a white, or a pale, or a summer. All local. But I wanted a hopped up IPA, and they had one. It's brewed in Baltimore, though. But until the locals react to me, and the thousands of other drinkers like me, who demand a flavorful IPAS, I'll continue my protest. I have a dream that one day I'll be able to walk across the street or down the hill and drink the beer of my choice. Until then, I'll continue my protest. I'll walk to Baltimore or Delaware if necessary. I'll walk across this great land, to the mighty Pacific Northwest, if necessary. But I will not give in to fascists and the bigots who refuse to brew the beer we want. The beer we deserve, dammit. I will protest peacefully and effectively by drinking my beer of choice.

The beer I drank--Clipper City Brewing's Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale--is very good. It meets the hops test, and has a nice base line balance that rounds out the flavor. It's a bit sweeter than is ideal but the initial hops bitterness rules the day. Despite the sweet finish it remains crisp and clean.

The packaging is a bit confusing. It seems to have 3 names but I guess the "Heavy Seas" thing is a bit of a tag line. The art and labelling is somewhat childlike but don't be fooled, this is a sophisticated, adult beer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Big Beers

The Smuttynose Big Beer series is a locavore's delight. I'm enjoying the saison, Farmhouse Ale, as I write this. I've previously enjoyed several other of Smutty's big beers, most notably the Big A IPA. I've also enjoyed several lesser beers tonight, so I fear that I'm not writing much of anything. I'll fix it (whatever it is that I'm writing) in the morning.

In short, the Farmhouse is good. I'm going to close out and savor it, the Red Sox win, and my Beach to Beacon run. Later.