Beer in Maine

22 Oct

I spent a week biking 400+ miles in Maine recently, a convenient excuse to try a broad selection of local beer. From scribbled notes / quick memories:

3 tides bikemaine

3 Tides / Marshall Wharf Brewing (Belfast):

  • Cant Dog Imperial IPA: By far my favorite beer of the trip. IPAs aren’t even one of my favorite styles– I don’t like them too bitter, piney, or one-note (and I’m not a fan of the Cascade and Columbus hops used so frequently). But this 10% ABV beast was nearly perfect– the alcohol helped subdue the bitterness, there was a nice balance of citrusy hops (but not overly grapefruity– more orange/pineapple?), and a bit of malt sweetness. To compare to gold standards: I’d choose this over Pliny the Elder any day, and it’s getting near my favorites Maharajah and Pliny the Younger. Bravo! (A+)

  • Sexy Chaos (a Chaos Chaos Russian Imperial Stout, further aged on vanilla and toasted oak). 11% ABV but still balanced– a warming, robust, bourbon-like beer that I could sip in front of a winter fireplace for hours.) (A)

  • Ace Hole APA: A fine american pale ale, modest bitterness but nothing special. (B+)

Plus, an outdoor fire / stove and crushed oyster shells under foot..

3 Tides Fire Pit

Black Bear (Orono):

The brown ale (brewed specially for BikeMaine?) was decent, malty, robust (B+), but I didn’t care for their Pale (hoppier than I’d like).

Penobscot Brewery:

The beer served at our Dover-Foxcroft camping stop included (good labels, decent beer):

penobscot brewing

  • Red Flannel Ale: A solid brown ale, malty and a little nutty/spicy without being too sweet, I liked it. (B+)

  • Building 5 Rye India Pale Ale: A nice bold, chewy rye flavor… but a really generic astringent-bitter hop aftertaste. Meh. (B-)

Atlantic Brewing (Bar Harbor):

Atlantic Brewing

Really friendly people, free tasting, I took a detour to go here… and none of the beers interested me. The blueberry beer was about as sickly/blunt as I feared.

Allagash Brewing (Portland):

They give an excellent brewery tour, well worth the visit, and were just starting up their new building:

Allagash Barrels

Allagash Tasting

Alas, the tasting room selection was nothing special:

  • Allagash White (the satisfying old standby– it’s 80% of their business for a reason)

  • Allagash Four (good / fine)

  • Allagash Tripel (ditto)

I did later buy a bottle of the Allagash Fluxus 2013 seasonal ale with blood oranges which was very good– and I expect would be great with food (A-)

Other beers, here and there:

  • Baxter IPA: Eh, generic IPA, some harshness and pine. (C)

  • Manly Man New Guy IPA: A mid-range IPA, a little bitter, not too harsh… but nothing special. (B-)

Novare Res:

At the end of the trip I managed to catch up with an old friend from high school at this bar, which I’d heard about from so many people I know (Maine residents, former Amherst patrons of the Moan and Dove, …)  An astounding selection, Including one of my all-time favorite beers from Belgium, which I thought you could only drink in one cafe there (De Garre):

de garre tripel

Quite a week. Vacation.

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