This is the type of beer that you have to be on a sign-up list at your local liquor store to get. People hunched over computers, waiting on the latest Tweet from Maine Brewing Company on when the next batch will be released. Hoop-jumping, near misses, store stalking like a bunch of rabid weasels. I never understood nor participated in the foaming at the mouth fanaticism that some people have for certain craft beers.
After moving to New Hampshire, I started seeing Maine Brewing Company beers in every store. I was familiar with the selection, so when I saw Lunch on the shelf at Leary’s Fine Wines in Newburyport, MA, all that went through my head was, “Oh, I haven’t seen this one around,” not yet knowing about its following, or the Pandora’s Box of Beer I was about to open.
Maine Brewing Company is a small brewery in Portland, Maine run by two brothers. They describe Lunch as an east-coast version of a west-coast IPA. It has a 7% ABV and has been aggressively dry-hopped, not for bitterness, but for aromatic purposes.
Named after a female fin whale that has been spotted off the coast of Maine since 1982, Lunch pours a hazy golden orange with a creamy and billowing white head that lasts throughout the entirety of the beer. The aroma will hit you right away. It’s like squeezing a fresh grapefruit. You get more of that grapefruit in your first sip as well as other tropical fruits and an herbal hoppiness. Then you think, “OK IPA, time to overpower me with hops, so much so that I have to rinse my mouth when I’m done .” But it never happens. The grainy malts come in to help tame the bitterness, and the hops don’t even come close to taking over this beer. Instead, they provide an integrating piney/citrusy freshness. The toasted malts are amazing, adding great balance and a smooth finish.
Any brewery can make a hop bomb, but it takes true craft to make a balanced and simply fantastic IPA.
It’s all rather bittersweet. I didn’t know that I had such an amazing rarity in my hands. I feel like a parent with empty-nest syndrome or a spurned lover. If I had known you weren’t going to be around forever, would I have cherished you more, truly savored our time together? Maybe I had to let you go and if you return, I’ll know we were meant to be.
Ok I’ll stop. But now I know why people do the depraved, Black Friday-esqe things that they do for a rare beer. Lunch is my new favorite IPA and I cannot wait to get my depraved hands on another bottle.