Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Maine Beer (Page 1 of 24)

What are you doing this weekend? I’ll be at #beercamp

Portland, Maine has made itself into a craft beer destination, and I’m lucky to live near an area with so many prolific and excellent brewers. I write this blog and my column to celebrate Maine’s breweries, beer, and events because I love to let the rest of the country (and world) know what’s going on in our little northeast corner of it. But as our beer scene builds, we get to reap other rewards as well. The best example is not from within, but outside – when a famous west-coast brewery packs up and brings some wonderful breweries on tour for a festival.

The 2017 Beer Camp festival tour sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has picked Portland, ME as one of only eight cities it will visit – and the festival is coming up fast in the first weekend of June. Slated to be hosted at Thompson’s Point – probably the state’s best outdoor festival venue for beer events – this festival is one not to be missed just because it is “from away.” On the contrary, the festival will feature breweries both locally and incredibly difficult to come by around these parts – and many of the brewers themselves will be traveling with the show. The last time this festival passed through in 2014, it turned ot to be a beautiful day of drinking, chatting and tasting some incredible beers.

Here’s a list of the breweries attending as it currently stands:

21st Amendment Brewery - Aeronaut Brewing Co. - Allagash Brewing Company - Austin Street Brewery - Banded Horn Brewing Company - Baxter Brewing Co. - Black Hog Brewing Co. - Boothbay Craft Brewery - Collective Arts Brewing - Dirigo Brewing Company - Downeast Cider House - Elm City Brewing Company - Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Foolproof Brewing Co. - Fore River Brewing Company - Foulmouthed Brewing - Founders Brewing - Funky Bow Brewery & Beer Co -Geary Brewing Co. - Good Measure Brewing Co. - Great North Aleworks - Gritty's Harpoon Brewery - Knee Deep Brewing Company - Liquid Riot Lively Brewing Co. - Lone Pine Brewing Company - Long Trail Brewing - Lord Hobo Brewing Company -Magic Hat Brewing Company - Maine Mead Works - Moonlight Meadery - New Belgium Brewing Company - New England Brewing - Otter Creek Brewing - Oxbow Brewing Co - Pabst Brewing Co - Peak Organic Brewing Co. - Revival Brewing Company - Rising Tide Brewing - Rogue Ales - Saint Arnold Brewing Company - Samuel Adams - Sebago Brewing Company -Shipyard Brewing Company - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. -Sixpoint Brewery - Small Town Brewery - Smuttynose Brewing Co. - Stoneface Brewing Company - Stowe Cider - Surly Brewing Company - The Run of The Mill - Tree House Brewing - Trout River Brewing Co. - Two Roads Brewing Company - Urban Farm Fermentory & Gruit Brewing Co. - Vermont Cider Co - Von Trapp Brewing - Willimantic Brewing Company - Woodchuck -Woodland Farms Brewery - Wormtown Brewery

For the beer geeks, this means you can get Tree House and an Austin Street beers in the same place, and eat a lobster taco from a food truck in between. It means that you can have a rich, Founder’s Breakfast Stout or crisp Dirigo Brewing Company Lager, while sitting outside on a warm Maine spring day.

If that isn’t novel enough, there are also a dozen US and international breweries who have collaborated to brew beer just for this event (which is also sold in a special 12-pack by Sierra Nevada) which will be poured at the event as well. This year’s theme was “Beer Camp Across the World” and includes beer from 6 breweries from the US (Avery – Colorado, St. Arnold – Texas, Tree House – Massachusetts, The Bruery – California, Surly – Minnesota and Boneyard Beer, Oregon) and 6 international breweries (Fuller’s – England, Garage Project – New Zealand, Duvel – Belgium, Mikkeller – Denmark, Kiuchi – Japan and Ayinger – Germany).

I was lucky enough to be provided media samples of these beers before they went on sale in the special packaging – and it’s a great mix of styles and tastes. I was struck by how many had some kind of additional ingredient – from honey to fruit, to spices – and how different each beer was from one another. The full list is below, but I did have a few favorites from the pack. Frankly, I wish I had access to the Ayinger Dunkel Weiss (Germany) on a regular basis, it was a solid and robust beer that didn’t need anything else to enhance its flavor. Similarly, the White IPA with Yuzu from Kiuchi Brewery (Japan) was flavorful and bright, but without being too heavy handed with the fruit addition. I recently had a Samuel Adams beer with Yuzu in it and it was overpowering – this one was just the right amount. On the other end of the spectrum, I thought that the Thai-Style Iced Tea from Mikkeller (Denmark) was using the bouquet of flavors in the traditional drink in a bold and yet, somehow not literal or mocking way. I’d like to try it again on a hot day.

  • Atlantic-Style Vintage Ale brewed with Fuller’s Brewery of London, United Kingdom.
  • Campout Porter featuring manuka wood and honey from our friends at Garage Project in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Dry-Hopped Barleywine-Style Ale, combining two classic barleywines from Sierra Nevada and Avery Brewing Co. of Boulder, Colorado.
  • Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden, a hop-forward rendition of the golden ale style that is classically Duvel from Puurs, Belgium.
  • Dry-Hopped Berliner-Style Weisse brewed with Saint Arnold Brewing Company of Houston, Texas.
  • Dunkle Weisse brewed in collaboration with Ayinger Brewery of Aying, Bavaria, Germany.
  • East Meets West IPA is an unfiltered, golden IPA from the pioneers of the New England style, Tree House Brewing Company in Monson, Massachusetts.
  • Ginger Lager is a bright, crisp flavor bomb made with the good folks at Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Raspberry Sundae boasts raspberry, cocoa and vanilla in an ultra-complex beer from The Bruery in Placentia, California.
  • Thai-Style Iced Tea is a nod to our globetrotting friends from Mikkeller Brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • West Coast-Style DIPA is an intense Double IPA created with the hopheads at Boneyard Beer of Bend, Oregon.
  • White IPA with Yuzu is a hopped-up White Ale with bright tartness from our friends at Kiuchi Brewery in Naka-shi, Ibaraki, Japan.

While I’m not the rabid pursuer of one-offs and rare beers I used to be, the opportunity to get beers I haven’t had access to is still something I find to be a fun way to spend an afternoon, as is sharing our local beer perspectives with visitors from away. To that aim… I’ll be at Beer Camp, and I hope that you will too.

General Admission $55, VIP access $75 (an extra hour of tasting) Tickets hereMore info here.


As compensation for this post, I received tickets to attend Beer Camp and beer samples to review courtesy of sierra nevada. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Ain’t No Party Like a Craft Beer Party

Originally published in the May 2017 issue of The Bollard


You’ve dragged your patio furniture out of the shed, dusted off the umbrella, and now you want to throw a party. Maybe it’s a barbeque. Maybe it’s tacos and a rousing round of Cards Against Humanity. Craft beer is a must, but what do you pick to serve your friends?

Something hoppy is mandatory. Thankfully, the Maine beer world is inundated with excellent IPAs and double IPAs. If you don’t have the time to wait in line or search for some of the rarer choices, go for some of the hopped-up brews that are widely available, like Rising Tide Zephyr, Baxter Stowaway, or Maine Beer Company Peeper.

Breadth of style is also important, though. To be inclusive and cover your bases, pick something light but decidedly not hoppy — Allagash White is a great choice for this — and then something with a maltier body, like a Geary’s HSA.

If you’re in a rush, there’s a new option that many breweries are offering these days: the mixed 12-pack. Twelve-packs of cans have gotten a bad reputation. They remind some of us of picking up the cheapest beer possible from the corner store by the college and drinking it as quickly as possible. But times have changed. Craft companies are including three or four different kinds of beer in the same 12-pack box. Sebago Brewing Company and Baxter Brewing Company regularly produce mixed 12-packs of cans that are great for gatherings of friends with diverse tastes.

In addition to the crowd-pleasers, I like to serve at least one oddball beer for people to discuss, like Banded Horn’s Samoan Drop. “Have you had this one?” I’ll ask. “They brewed this porter with Girl Scout Cookies!” Serving an unconventional or limited-release beer is a good way to display your craft beer fandom without being snobbish about it. Find something that piques your curiosity and take a risk.

In the same vein, there are a lot of interesting fermentables that double as great conversation-starters. Maine Mead Works has a series of “session” meads called Ram Island. The meads in this series are really palate friendly, not overly sweet, limited to 6.9% ABV, and come in a variety of flavors, including an Iced Tea Mead, Lavender Lemonade, and Ginger. These meads are much more satisfying than the so-called “malternatives” (malt alternatives) that include artificial flavorings.

Don’t be afraid to stray from local beer. There are some excellent out-of-state breweries that have recently begun distributing in Maine. Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company has finally crossed the heartland to bring their Fat Tire amber ale to our backyards. It has a different hop profile than what we’ve grown to love here in New England, and the departure is a welcome one. From across the pond, the makers of Guinness have released a beer in the U.S. that they had been brewing specifically for the Belgian market for years. The Antwerpen Stout is nothing like a regular Guinness. It has its own distinct body and some really fine, dark flavors.

Lastly, it is wise to consider the macro drinkers. Despite the growing popularity of craft beer, the macro brands (those owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller) still dominate the market, though they’re losing share every year. The gracious thing to do is to try to accommodate these drinkers, but rather than running out to grab a rack of Bud Light, find a locally made pilsner that won’t turn them off and may turn them on to the wonders of the micro world. I’d grab a six-pack of Bunker Brewing Company Cypher, Banded Horn Pepperell Pils, or Peak Organic Brewing Happy Hour. Dirigo Brewing Company will begin canning their flagship Dirigo Lager this month, which is another good option. These flavorful, lighter-bodied beers will be familiar enough for non-craft drinkers, and you won’t be stuck with beer you won’t drink if there are still some cans floating in the cooler the next day.

The Loud and Quiet Beers of Portland Summer

To be in Portland during the summer is to experience the full spectrum of sound. It’s fireworks and the echoes of waterfront concerts, and it’s the gentle lapping of water against a pier and the soft rustle of a kite lazily swooping through the air above the Prom.

Many of my favorite Maine beers can be similarly categorized. Some are bold and celebratory in flavor, announcing their character in shouts. Others require a quiet moment to appreciate, and are best enjoyed while contemplatively gazing at a sunset or a campfire.

The Loud

Baxter Bootleg Fireworks

A double IPA (DIPA) is the apex of hopped beers; many brewers sacrifice some balance to put the hops more fully into the spotlight. But this beer manages to keep its high alcohol content (9%), hops and body in harmony. It’s slightly thinner in mouthfeel than your typical DIPA, which makes it easier to drink more quickly. For that reason, I do not recommend pairing it with actual fireworks. Best to leave that to the sober professionals.

Bissell Brothers Lux

Rye is an alternative grain that is used in conjunction with barley to change the texture of a beer. It can also impart a slight spiciness. Lux, a rye IPA, combines a very tropical hop lineup with the rye grain to make this memorable, richly flavored hop bomb.

Sebago Whistle Punk

Another DIPA, Whistle Punk manages to bring more fruit flavors into a beer than I thought possible (without actually adding fruit to the glass). The aroma of pineapple, grapefruit and citrus is so strong that it emanates from the can before you’ve even poured the beer, though the beer itself is hearty enough to hold its own in the face of all that fruit flavor.

Banded Horn Greenwarden

Greenwarden is a “spruce beer” brewed with painstakingly harvested spruce tips that grow for a very short time at the beginning of summer. Used as a bittering agent, these tips bring a bright, piney bite to this beer that can be refreshing, but can sometimes overwhelm its pale ale base.

The Quiet

Allagash Little Brett

The Brettanomyces yeast used to make this beer gives it a dry texture and funky flavor. The dryness keeps it light, and the complexity is such that this beer plays out a little differently on the tongue with each sip. Not to be consumed quickly, Little Brett is well suited for lazy days in the lawn chair.

Austin Street Patina Pale Ale

I have something of an obsession with this beer. If I see it on a menu I nearly always order it, but I tend to enjoy it the most when I know I won’t be distracted while drinking it. There’s something in its malt bill that gives Patina a dry and remarkably delicate character despite the wave of citrusy hops that appears in the middle of each sip. Lovely.

Gneiss Weiss

Allagash Brewing Company arguably put wheat-forward beers on the map with their flagship White, but Gneiss Brewing Company (in Limerick, Maine) has something more to say on the matter. Their Weiss is a straw-colored beauty with all of the right aromas (banana, cloves) and a traditional taste that rivals that of its better-known Bavarian counterparts (like the popular Weihenstephaner brand from Munich).

Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale

I always feel a little bad for Peeper. Its big brothers, Lunch and Dinner, get all the attention and shady Craigslist re-sales, while this beautifully crafted ale stands steadily in the shadows. If you’re looking for a beer that’s not bold but still tickles your tastebuds with some hops, Peeper Ale is the one for you. It’s not a summer ale, specifically (yet another reason it gets overlooked), but it gets along with everyone in all seasons.

Everything Else

Your best opportunity this month to find the beers to match your summer moments is the Maine Brewers’ Guild Beer Festival, which takes place July 23 on Thompson’s Point, in Portland. Maine’s craft beer showcase, this fest is a must for anyone interested in what’s happening in the state’s thriving brewing scene these days. Tickets and more info at MaineBrewersGuild.org.

Brewers-Guild

 

Photo Gallery: Bissell Brothers New Location @ Thompson’s Point

Bissell Brothers opened their new taproom at Thompson’s Point this weekend. I stopped by to check out the new space and some beer. Enjoy!

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