Every summer I take a vacation with a friend to Vinalhaven Island – the highlight of which is usually kayaking around the inlets and tiny islands and hanging out with eagles, seals and the sights and sounds that make summer sing with life. I am grateful for the opportunity to do this, but also grateful that the coast of Maine has stayed mostly natural, and that there are so many Mainers that are fighting to protect its beauty. The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) has been working for 25 years to create sustainable ways that people can enjoy Maine’s islands and waters without leaving a harmful impact. Through partnerships with private landowners and public lands, MITA created the first ever water-trail – The Maine Island Trail – stretching 375 miles and including almost 200 islands.

In support of this effort, Rising Tide Brewing Company endeavored to create a beer for summer that would capture a little bit of the feeling of summer in Maine, and also contribute to MITA’s goals of coastal stewardship. To do this, Maine Island Trail Ale was created, and portions of the proceeds from the sale go back to MITA. Making its debut (very appropriately) at Portland Greendrinks, the beer has been well-received – so I went to grab a bottle of its second batch that was released this week.

The bottle is pretty – and features a map of the trail on top. The beer is a session pale ale with an ABV of 4.3% – so this is no alcohol bomb, and can easily be consumed on a relaxing summer evening. It pours a thin copper color with terrific pine and citrus aroma. The beer features Simcoe and Citra hops (two of my favorites) and they are the ones bringing the delightful whiffs of forests and fruit to my nose.

The hops make this one quite “zippy” (at least that’s the word that sprung to mind when I sampled it) and are in no way heavy-handed. There is plenty of citrus in the taste, and it comes off with a very summery feeling. The mouthfeel on the Maine Trail Ale is also pleasantly light. It is a refreshing alternative to those that can coat the tongue with their sticky or resinous feel. This is a beer that would be excellent for a really hot day – lots of flavor without weighing you down. It has a very approachable hop profile to it, and I’d say it might even be a good one to use to get a friend to “test the waters” of hoppy beer while keeping one foot in the familiar.

This is the second beer in Rising Tide’s collaboration series, and I am hopeful that they will continue finding place in the community to participate like this. It is one thing as a brewery to state that you are committed to building community, it is another thing entirely to actually engage with the issues that matter to your customers and to your local area. Rising Tide has accepted this challenge with pride – and I think that their commitment to finding ways to help is worth a toast. Cheers to that!