Some of my best friends in the world come from New England. They have a unique perspective on life and nature from my Southern cohorts, but like us, they fiercely defend their friends, loved ones, and way of life. Today, a special shout out to all you New England Craft beer lovers out there. I raise a glass to you. So, from the land known for the saying "You can't get there from here," comes one of the best breweries in the country. Give it up for Maine's own:
BEER & BREWERY #67
Allagash Interlude, 9.5% ABV:The first release of their experimental series. Using a Belgian farmhouse yeast and their own house strain of Brettanomyces yeast (Yay!), Interlude is aged in French Merlot and Syrah barrels and then bottle conditioned.
Lovely perfumed nose. Distinctive aromas and flavors of wine: oak, red & black fruits. With its preponderance of red fruit, and not seeing the bottle, we guessed Pinot Noir barrels. Oh well. The Brett adds a nice dose of yeasty breadiness. This is a perfect beer for easing a hardcore wine drinker into Craft heaven. Remember folks, there is ALWAYS a Craft beer to convert with, just find a person's style, and you'll have 'em hooked!
Tasted at Dr. Bill's Rare Beer Tasting during GABF, I wish I had more time with this one. With everyone clamoring for the next uncorking and treasured pour, there wasn't alot of discussion time. However in in our little corner, my comrades and I attempted to savor and truly enjoy each delicious sip of this beer.
One of my favorite breweries in the country, Allagash began in 1995 as a solo operation by owner Rob Todd. With a 15-barrel brewhouse, the first release was the delicious Allagash White, which quickly acquired widespread popularity. Staying true to their Belgian influence, Allagash employs traditional techniques to produce fine and complex Belgian-style ales, from their classic Dubbel and Trippel to their Barrel Aged and Tribute Series. Personal favorites include Curieux, Odyssey, and Fluxus. While admittedly, they are a tad on the expensive side, I believe they are worth it.
BEER & BREWERY #66
New England Gandhi-Bot, 8.8% ABV: Uh oh. Not working. This beer is not balanced between the nose and palate. The nose is not welcoming, but carries an overbearing aroma of dried flowers and potpourri. You might like that, but it makes me think of an old lady's house. Not the predominant smell I want to have on an IPA. And yes, it was stored properly refrigerated from the moment I received it. No real entry or mid-palate to speak of and a bitter finish. Too much bittering hops implemented. Sadly, it just left me confused and unsatisfied. I wanted badly to like this beer, to say "See? Craft beer in a can DOES work outside of Oskar Blues and Maui!" Unfortunately, this beer won't make that commercial.
New England Brewing began back in 1989 by owner and brewer Rob Leonard, and is now located in Woodbridge, Conneticut. As a Brewmaster at John Harvard Brewhouse, Rob took a GABF Gold in the German Altbier category. Later becoming the Brewmaster and Operations Manager at New England, Rob had the opportunity to take over the business, and the rest is beer history.
I refuse to wholly judge a brewery on one beer alone, so I look forward to a redemption from New England Brewing (Tosh.0 style), perhaps with their popular Elm City Lager or Sea Hag IPA. We shall see....
BEER & BREWERY #65
Shipyard Pugsley Series Barleywine, 8.5% ABV: If there is such a thing as a pretty, feminine Barleywine, this is it. Lovely aromas of sweet cherry, Sauternes-style apricot, and florals. A very drinkable palate with a nice hop bitterness that intensifies on the finish. A little Barleywine wake up call, if you will. And at 8.5% ABV, it won't put you on the floor, like some other heavy-hitters.
Located in Portland, Maine, Shipyard opened in 1994 by Master Brewer Alan Pugsley and Fred Forsley. At present, Shipyard is Maine's largest brewery, with operations including a whopping 140,000 barrel-capacity brewhouse and distribution in 38 states. CLICK HERE to see my review of Shipyard Blue Fin Stout during my very 1st 100 beers. 30 days. challenge!
So, here I am in the middle of my challenge, right in September/October and I haven't tasted an Oktoberfest beer yet!! Must be cured, and I knew just the beer I wanted to try. And okay, I realize this brewery isn't in New England either, but I wanted to get this post out before all the Festbier is gone!
BEER & BREWERY #64
Victory Festbier, 5.6% ABV: Every year, I'm on the hunt for a good Oktoberfest beer, to serve and drink with my numerous football cookouts and fall dinners. AND one that any visitor, Craft beer drinker or not, will enjoy. I think I may have just found that beer!
A super-easy drinker, this beer can appeal to many. With its autumnal color of amber caramel, you are already thinking of changing leaves. Aromas and flavors of orange peel, baking spices, toasted bread, caramel, light brown sugar, and nuts. It's like munching on a handful of caramel malt. (I love chewing on malts. I feel slightly like a horse, but they are yummy)
Buy a few six packs and chill for your Thanksgiving potluck with friends or family dinner. (Talk about Freudian slip. It's early, and I kept typing e instead of i, over and over. Wink.)
Recently named Philly's Best Brewpub, Victory had become one of the most well-known and loved breweries in the country. With their wildly popular Prima Pils and their fantastically varied selection of beers, Victory has carved out its place in Craft beer history. Began in 1996, Victory has grown from 1700 barrels to over 42, 000 in 2008.
Beers range from the deliciously hoppy Hop Wallop and Hop Devil to the dark richness of Storm King Stout. Personal favorites include Baltic Thunder, a Baltic porter, and V-12, a vintage-dated Belgian Ale. And by the way, President and Co-Founder Bill Covaleski is just about the nicest person you would ever want to meet. CLICK HERE to see my first meet with Bill and Sam from Dogfish Head, at their collaboration session at Stone, and my first taste of Victory's Wild Devil.
Until next time,
Stay happy, healthy, and even if you don't drink often, when you do, drink Craft beer. Not Dos Equis.