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 / 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..
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).
The beer served at our Dover-Foxcroft camping stop included (good labels, decent beer):
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):
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:
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-)
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):
Quite a week. Vacation.