This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2011 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference itself, visit The Beer Blogger’s Conference Webpage.
Last year, one of the highest rated segments of the Beer Blogger’s Conference was the “Night of Many Bottles” where participants were encouraged to bring local, unusual, or hard-to-find beer to a free-form tasting. With more than 100 participants last year, there were literally hundreds of bottles waiting to be sampled. What I thought was the most interesting bit of that evening was not that there was an infinite selection- but more of what the beer bloggers became as the night progressed. We each became advocates and salesmen of our own favorites. Being the only blogger from Maine in attendance last year, I thought it was my duty to bring attention and respect to east coast beer. Last year I brought Rising Tide’s debut beer, Ishmael, and Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale. Both are outside the box beers – an alt and a great, crisp pale ale with lots of hops – that you wouldn’t expect from little old New England.
This year, I received support from many individuals, businesses and beer folks in order to attend this year’s conference. One of the key supporters of my journey was a local brewery, Rising Tide. I think the brewer, Nate Sanborn, has done a terrific job with the three brews he has released so far, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. So, I decided to bring along my favorite Rising Tide beers to share them with the beer blogging community; Ursa Minor and Daymark, both as a thank-you to the sponsors, but also to continue my tradition of sharing the best of Maine beer with the rest of the beer blogging community.
“Dark as squid ink and moody as the sea, Ursa Minor is our take on a winter wheat beer. Starting with a German wheat-beer yeast and a base of malted wheat, we added a blend of dark crystal and roasted malts to create a wheat stout. Redolent of dark fruit, weizen yeast esters, and roasted barley, Ursa Minor is perfect for an icy winter’s eve.” – label text
When shopping for Daymark, I noticed that there were still a few bottles of this winter release around and I snatched them up immediately. A few months on the shelf also mellowed the brew just enough to make it super special. The thickness of the mouthfeel and the nice roastiness is what I love about this beer. At the conference, it was the first bottle I had opened for me, and the one that went the quickest.
“Chart a new course with Daymark as your guide. We start with a classic, clean and crisp American pale ale brewed with spicy Columbus and Centennial hops. Then we accent the grain bill with rye grown on small local family farms right here in Maine and malted to our specifications at Valley Malts, an artisanal malt house. Finally we dry hop the finished beer for a bright floral aroma.” -label text
It has almost a subtle lemon flavor and it just goes absolutely perfectly with any summer meal. In a large bottle, it’s a little unusual to bring this to a picnic, but I am seeing more people ordering this with meals and sharing the bottle like a bottle of wine. At the conference tasting, a lot of bloggers appreciated that there was a major difference between this and some of the sticky super hoppy brews of the Pacific Northwest, but in a good way.
Having beer bloggers (especially those from the Pacific Northwest, California, etc.) sample maine beer made me start to seriously ponder my blogging focus. I love – LOVE – being an amplifier of what’s going on in New England Craft Beer, and I adore thinking about the ways in which craft beer in New England is completely different, but not less worthy than West-Coast brews. The reality is that New England Beer (vs. West Coast Beer) isn’t an apples to apples comparison. The best IPA in New England is not the same, nor comparable to the best IPA in the West because it’s an entirely different culture of craft beer, a different philosophy of brewing. I plan to write more on this topic later, but it was great to have the opportunity to think about it.