I think what I like about this beer is that it’s next to impossible to describe to a person who doesn’t already drink beer. This is only going to appeal to someone who understands that all wild ales are not the same and will not be repulsed by the adjectives woody and leathery used to describe a beverage.
Is there a way to separate different types of Brettanomyces in beer? Is that language established yet? People say things like “It’s a wild ale brewed with Brett” and they expect certain things out of it. They expect it to be tart and funky, but on what scale, and does it necessarily have to be those characteristics? Beers made with 100% Brett can vary wildly from beers made with multiple yeasts. Anyways. Onto the beer.
“This beer is dedicated to all the stray cats out there,” reads the bottle of Maine Beer Company’s Weez. “Our tasting room helps to fund a local shelter that is dedicated to finding warm homes for every cat that comes its way.” Maine Beer Company is the epitome of the guy you want to land on when playing Dream Phone. He rescues kittens from trees, is an upstanding member of his local community, a small business entrepreneur. Your parents will love him. Not to mention he brings you the freshest, tastiest beer ever when he comes over to cook you dinner, probably using all farmers market ingredients.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the type of day where you have to make a Facebook post about how much you love New England in the fall blah blah blah. Anyways, I was given a surprise day off from work so I decided to head into Portsmouth and pick up a growler from a local brewery.
“Go home immediately after,” I kept telling myself. Life is hard when you’re dead broke, yet plagued with a proclivity for good beer and fine dining. I should have had a note pinned to my shirt, telling shopkeeps to refuse me service because I need to be saving my money for canned soup and electric bills.
This is the third installment of Maine Beer Company’s Collaboration Time Series; brewed in partnership with Kjetil Jikiun of Nøgne ø. The bottle notes that the aim of this beer was to use a blend of house Maine yeasts and create a sessionable beer that incorporates elements of a saison and a hoppy American ale.
I know that Allagash has since done some work on the brewery, but here are some photos from when I went this past spring. I’d recommend this brewery tour to anyone who values good beer, the samples are top notch as is the thoroughness of the tour.
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.
What can I really say about this beer that hasn’t already been said? Nothing. But instead of storing it all holy like in my Santeria shrine of craft beer, I shall drink it and add it to the TwoGirl arsenal of brews. Allagash has made themselves one of the premier Belgian-style breweries in the U.S. and this is one of their brilliant efforts. What’s great about the tripel is that it’s available in a 12 oz. bottle as well as a corked 750 ml, which would serve better for cellaring.
What’s also great about the Allagash Brewery is that you get to wear these great protective specs on their brewery tour. Here I am, circa 2011 at their Portland, Maine facilities, all amped up on like five samples of 12% brew ready to get hit in the eyes with some heavy machinery. Bring it on.
Pour this beer and enjoy the sight. It radiates a bright golden yellow, casting a fluffy white head and a wall of lacing. The nose is full of golden fruits; apricots, bananas, and oranges. The first sip envelopes you with a honey sweetness then deepens with the same fruitiness of the nose. Allagash’s special yeast strain adds some spicy notes, and you’ll also find a great balance of bitterness.
The carbonation bursts before becoming soft and smooth; a very interesting texture. And though the body is slightly light, it does not feel thin. It finishes dry with a lingering sweetness. When done correctly, a tripel will mask most of the alcohol and that is definitely the case with Allagash. This 9% beer goes down very easily. Try letting it warm up to release more elaborate flavors.
It is rich and complex, without any sort of compromise on drinkability; a beer that is great for any season. There you have it. Allagash Tripel. A beer that has accomplished more than I could ever dream.
For those who don’t know, I’m staying at my bosses’s house all this week, pet-sitting his dog and cat while he’s on vacation in Georgia. Osterville squattin’, yeaahh. I went to go find a pint glass for this brew, graciously given to me by Tommy Stahle of Earthy Delights , and all I could find was a large wine glass. No pint glasses. In fact, pretty much no glasses at all. A couple small tumbler-like things and a few cocktail glasses, all covered in dust. Further adding to my conundrum on whether this man is extremely ghetto or extremely sustainable.
As the sun sets on the last days of autumn, I bid adieu to my little fall treat, the pumpkin beer. I can faintly recall the excitement evoked by that first glimpse of a smiling orange jack-o-lantern peering out between the Oktoberfests and fall seasonals of whatever fine brew establishment I found myself in. With it comes the vivid memories of autumns pasts, the crunch of fallen leaves, mischievous costumed children . . . um yeah ok, pumpkins are gone. I am fine with it. Here’s to the last one.