After complementing The Great Lost Bear (a solid beer bar in Portland, ME) on their new website, I received a tip – they had just acquired and were chilling some Rising Tide Ishmael, the brand new, as-of-yet unreleased beer in town. Rising Tide has been making progress over the summer to get brewing, and will officially launch their brews on October 1st. I’d been watching their progress with great anticipation… Luckily, I had an opportunity to sample this before the hungry beer-lovers that live in this town.
I received the beer in a 22oz bottle that was soaking wet – I can only assume they were chilling this on ice – so the picture I took of the label design is less-than-flattering, so I’ve replaced it with the actual art here (right). That being said, it was also too cold to drink immediately but I poured it into a glass to admire its color. A dark copper color with an off-white head, it looked very promising. Billed as an “American Copper Ale” it is described as being inspired by altbeirs, and is brewed with Munich malts – though keeps its foot in the US by using American-grown hops. The smell was initially of piny hops with a nice malt background, though as it warmed the malts came through a bit more. Once it was at a better temperature I dove in.
I admit, I’m always nervous to try a brewery’s first beer. I mean, what if it isn’t good? What if my first impression is that it’s forgettable or, worse, not good? Do I have faith that they’ll improve with time or do I give up forever?
Well, thankfully I have none of those dilemmas to face with this beer – it rocks. It has a hoppy front end with a nice twinge of bitterness before fading into some really earthy malts. The aftertaste and the finish on this one are a delight – and you don’t really get this level of depth too often. This isn’t your typical session beer – its well done, malty with a firm taste that lingers and gives one the feeling of contentment and satisfaction. I feel like this is a very grounded beer – not too lofty or refined, but just solidly there. This may not replace your go-to pale ale or lawnmower beer, but nor should it. This is the type of beer you could drink after a long day of hard work, to reflect on your accomplishments. Its strong, assertive and stays with you – long after you’ve taken the last sip. I caught myself smiling after each sip. That’s a very good sign.
As for the brewery, they’re launching their line on October 1st, so stay tuned for the buzz about that. So far, they’ve been effectively using social media as well, and I have to note that they’re the first brewery I’ve ever seen to include their twitter handle (@risingtidebeer) on the label. Their motto, written in tiny font in a corner under their logo, is “beer first.” I can tell that, so far, they’ve been sticking to that. Keep up the good work – and I look forward to trying more brews soon.