Late in the evening, in Damariscotta, ME I pulled into a grocery store just looking for some beer after a long day of work, and an early day that would be had the next morning. I expected, maybe, to find Sam Adams, and if I was lucky some Sierra Nevada or Shipyard. But, as it turns out – I was luckier than I would have expected.
The very first aisle featured several racks of bottles that made me instantly smile. Allgash, Chimay, Stone, Sierra Nevada and other bottles stared back up at me – and I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that the selection and emphasis was just what I wanted. Though I was tempted to pick up an Allagash Curieux, I knew that my mission was really to get a beer that would go well with my very unhealthy evening meal of a meatball sub and fried mushrooms from a local pizza place. I scanned the shelves and finally saw Pemaquid Ale from the Sheepscott Valley Brewing Company.
Not one to ignore local flavor, I picked it up. I have heard about this ale – a few people have mentioned that it’s a find – and that’s saying something about an ale as nondescript as this one seemed.
The label featured a sentence about the types of malts and hops used. Apparently, this brew has so much malt character, Kent Golding hops were added to balance it out. This seems to be the inverse of some hoppy beers (I’m thinking of DFH’s 90 minute ale) where malts are needed to balance things out.
It poured with a large foamy head, with big bubbles and lots of energy. It looked like a soda, but the color gave it away. A deep red-mahogany, but still transparent and not cloudy, this one sat very prettily in its glass.
The aroma is actually hoppier than I expected, though in a pleasant way. The malts come in almost smelling like bread or toast being cooked – a faint and slightly bready smell comes in behind with the malt. Interesting!
The taste is great, and it delivers what it promises on the label. The flavor is nutty, and very toast like, with a bit of hops, but with a gentle bitterness just the same. It is very smooth, slippery in the mouth, with a nice, refreshing finish.
I like this one and it makes you desire the next sip because it has its own taste. Not watery at all, and not forgettable. For a local “ale” this is really one to remember – not to be missed if you’re in the area. I bet it would be divine with local oysters.