Portland (Maine) Beer

26 Nov

If I’m going to rave about great beer in Portland Oregon, I should check out the beer in the original US Portland (which, for your local history tidbit of the day,  was the site of the first law banning sale of alcohol except for medicinal or mechanical purposes, in 1851, far before Prohibition).

I stopped by The Great Lost Bear, which sells tasting sizes of the 40+ mostly-local beers they have on tap, and tried 8 Maine beers I’d never had or even heard of. And at $1-$2/taste I didn’t feel bad taking a few sips and abandoning two I didn’t like at all.

My favorites:

  • Sheepscot Pemaquid Ale: supposedly a Scotch-style ale, it was bright, barely sweet, very slightly toasty, and reminded me of the better stouts I’ve had. Excellent!
  • Allagash Black: Black but not bitter like the black IPAs I’m so tired of. The sweet smell of oatmeal, and a taste of roasted grains (not just oats), balanced without any one dominant flavor. Bravo!

Also good:

  • Atlantic Bar Harbor Real Ale: a dark but not strong beer, with a taste that reminded me of black tea, and very little aftertaste. Good, though I also used it as a palate cleanser between other beers.
  • Sheepscot Boothbay Bitter (cask conditioned): a slightly lemony and funky flavor, minimal carbonation and served closer to room temperature, and a bit watery in texture… but while those may not sound like complimentary adjectives, I liked the overall effect (though others didn’t).

Less exciting:

  • Belfast Lobster Red Ale: this has nothing to do with lobster other than the color (at least, I hope). A solid but unmemorable red ale.
  • Allagash Thing #1: a light, crisp ale with a powerful dose of cloves and probably other spices. Too heavy on the spices for my taste.
  • Rising Tide Atlantis Black IPA: Quite bitter, malty, and I liked it even less than the 21st Amendment Back in Black IPA. It looks like I just don’t like the black IPA style.
  • Allagash Big Little: a light-colored beer with a smell like a wheat beer but a strange taste- a hint of sweet fruit and mint? I didn’t like it at all.

I’d hoped to also make it to the highly recommended Novare Res beer cafe or take the Allagash Brewery Tour (since I like their White, Curieux, Tripel, and now Black), but didn’t have the time or fluid capacity. Next time.

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