Sitting in the Newark airport, waiting for a delayed flight on a cold and drizzly day, I stared out the window and lamented what I was missing. Rising Tide, one of my favorite Maine breweries was offering a limited release of my favorite beer of theirs after aging it in bourbon barrels. Though I couldn’t think of much else that I’d rather be doing than sipping a satisfying craft beer, I was stuck. I was sure that by the time I returned home from my business trip that there would be none left for me.
Thankfully, because of an awesome local beer blogger named Cecily – be sure check out her awesome Mom’s Malt Barley Blog – a few weeks later I was able to get it in trade (for a bottle of Throwback Fat Alberta, no less).
I opened bottle #33 of 336 of Polaris in my livingroom on a very cold night. The aroma that came out of the pour was inviting. A sweet, burbon, vanilla smell tickled my nose, as did just the right amount of booziness. I also appreciated the layering of nautical/astronomical names – Ursa Minor is a constellation also known as “the big dipper” with two of its stars pointing directly at Polaris, the north star. Pretty cool.
The taste on it is so well balanced it just made me smile. Not a single flaw. It has this delightful warmth, without any alcohol burn and just a sweet vanilla aftertaste. The best part is that the base beer, Ursa Minor, has a wonderfully thick mouthfeel, and for a barrel aged beer it stands up very well. It is rich without being cloying, has depth and the right amount of bitterness. The vanilla is just enough to bring the bourbon to a different, spicier place.
Making the beer even a little more special, proceeds from this special release of Polaris also went to the Autism Society of Maine, which is a great cause. I am a big fan of beer + philanthropy, so I am happy to see local brewers participating in causes they are passionate about in their own local communities.
If you missed this beer, like I almost did, it is rumored to return next fall, so watch out for it, it is worth searching the skies to find it.