As you walk into the door at Bier Cellar on Forest Ave, there is a prominent shelf that sticks out a little further than the rest of the beer, and is always the first thing I see in my line of sight when I walk in. It contains some of the freshest and best Maine-brewed beer.
This section is always my first stop, and I’m always pleased to bring home the latest and greatest from one of these Portland greats.
This time I picked up Bull Jagger Brewing Company Dirigo Crimson Lager from that shelf because every single time I have had a taste of this particular beer, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I first had it at Novare Res during their Oktoberfest celebration. I actually ordered three of them that night – in a row – which for craft beer drinkers (and certainly myself) is a rare sight since there are so many beers to try.
Bull Jagger is an all-lager brewery, which means that they brew only styles that use lager yeast – including German-style lagers, pilsners and some porters, which need to be fermented and kept at colder temperatures and kept fresh to be enjoyed. The motto “STORE COLD, SERVE FRESH” is printed on every Bull Jagger bottle, and it’s great advice when dealing with lagers, as many lagered beer styles are very sensitive to temperature changes and tricky to get right. But I’m happy to report that they got this beer very, very right.
The beer pours – as advertised – absolutely crimson. If you hold it up to the light you’ll see that it is genuinely red, a color that does not very often appear in beer. This comes from the malts used, but is still a beautiful thing to see pouring into your glass.
The taste of this beer is primarily malty, with some biscuty notes. There is also a solid hop overtone, that shows up at the beginning of each sip. On the whole, it is one of the most drinkable beers I’ve had in years. Every sip makes you want to go back for another, and I find myself very quickly at the bottom of my glass every time I have one. It’s really about the mouthfeel, I think. It isn’t so heavy that it makes you pace yourself, but yet isn’t thin enough for you to forget about it between sips. The Caramel and Munich malts are just right, and the little notes of hops that come through on the aroma are just right to keep it interesting from the first pour to the very last.
I love the bright red label featuring a star borrowed from the Maine state flag. The iconic imagery pulls you into the past and the future simultaneously. The gold touches to the logo and edges bring another level of class – this label feels like it’s been around a long time.
Though this may remind you of a marzen or Oktoberfest style, it isn’t relegated only to appear in fall, but is instead brewed by Bull Jagger year round, and deserves a place in your regular rotation of Maine craft beer.
If you missed this beer when it came out, it is definitely something you can find. Just look for the star and let Dirigo ‘lead’ you to a tasty beer.