When I was driving home, I heard lots of sirens in Portland. I turned on my police scanner app on my phone and listened to calls about suspicious cars, wildlife and… “a unidentified male running around with an axe.” Thankfully, this axe wielding John Doe was not in my neighborhood, but it made me realize one thing.
It must be the full moon.
I walked downtown on the misty, rainy and beautiful type of night that only can happen in a rainy New England spring. Light from street lamps oozed through the haze and the faint, blue glow of the neon signs of Sebago brewing beckoned me towards Middle Street. Sebago Brewing Company is famous around here for their Full Moon Cask Nights but this night, in particular, was special. It was the last cask night in their current location before moving further down the block to a bigger and better space. And, being American Craft Beer Week, I was not planning to turn down the opportunity for great craft beer.
I arrived, regrettably, later than I wanted to, but the party was still in full swing. Cooler/kegs of beer were positioned throughout the upstairs and downstairs of the restaurant and it was a little challenging to figure out what was going on. Each station had its own glasses, so you just went up to one you wanted to try and paid a few bucks for a sampling glass full of beer.
What made the event interesting was that Sebago wasn’t just pouring their own brews, but there were other beers from the region and beyond being shared there as well. I missed out on Lunch, the new beer from Maine Beer Company, but did get to sample some Sebago Grand Crue (a blend of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Full Throttle Double IPA, Barleywine and Frye’s Leap IPA) and loved how the hopiness of the IPAs played with the sweetness of the barleywine. Next, I sampled their 2010 Barleywine which was both delicious and warming, it smelled wonderful – the barrel aging made it nice and red, and the hoppiness was a pleasant surprise.
While I was there, I got a chance to talk with Luke Livingston and Michael LaCharite of Baxter Brewing. Only 4 months into their brewery’s life and they’re already talking about expansion, and next beers they’ll be brewing. I’m really happy that they’ve found success so quickly, and I think the summer will be a great boon for them as well. Their canned beer has made national news, and the demand for it is definitely growing. I got the rare treat of actually trying their Xtra Pale Ale on cask, and it was perfect! I don’t normally love casked beer I will admit – sometimes there is just a taste I don’t like – but this was almost meant to be casked. It was light but fresh and full of flavor. I think it might be my favorite casked beer that I’ve tried. I ordered two. 🙂
I also ran into a friend in Portland who is well on his way to opening a brewery. I won’t spill the beans quite yet, but I can confidently say that you will really like his beer (I’ve had it, and I even helped make an early batch!), and that it’s definitely filling in a missing hole in the New England beer scene.
Overall, it was a great event with lots of great people. (It is the people that make the beer taste even better sometimes). I wish Sebago luck in their new location. Once it opens, I’ll be checking it out and seeing how Portland adapts to the change.