Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Maine Beer Adventures (Page 2 of 3)

Adventures in fermentation at UFF and Maine Beer Company

Right now, I am sitting in my living room in a chair, with the small window-unit air conditioner aimed squarely at my back. The fact that my hair is blowing in my face as I am trying to type doesn’t phase me – at least the air blowing at me is cooler than the air in the rest of my apartment. So, when a friend came up to hang around in Portland for a visit this past Sunday which was just as hot, I knew that my usual routine of aimlessly wandering around the Old Port wouldn’t do.

After a delicious lunch at Duckfat, we decided to turn towards the Bayside neighborhood, since I knew Urban Farm Fermentory (UFF) would be open for tastings that day. On a normal day, this would have been no problem at all. However, as the hill crested and flattened, we began to wilt in the heat. Though high-spirited, our pace continued to slow as we oozed down the street. When we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly employee and a few folks waiting to take a tour. However, it was just as hot inside as it was outside.

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Strong Brewing Meets Fundraising Goal

You did it again! Strong Brewing Company (profiled in this post on the Portland Press Herald) successfully hit and exceeded their fundraising goal. 155 people pledged a total of $8385 to help this Sedgewick, ME brewery take its first step. Congratulations, Strong Brewing Co. and thanks to everyone that supported them!

Strong Brewing Company

Revisiting Allagash – And a Taste of FV13

I visit Allagash Brewing Company during a Maine Brew Bus tour and get a chance to try FV13.

IPA day at LFK with Sebago Brewing Company

Also lovingly known as the “The Hoppolicious Hoppy Smackdown @LFK” this event was a great way to celebrate the second annual IPA day on August 2nd. For those who aren’t familiar, IPA Day was started by a few beer bloggers to celebrate the awesomeness of IPAs and the diversity and prevalence of the style. Bars and breweries put on special events to celebrate the style, and this year the celebration was huge.

I was thrilled to find that I could attend an event at a new bar around the corner from where I live, featuring several different IPAs from one of my favorite Maine Breweries, Sebago Brewing Company.

LFK is a brand new bar on Longfellow square, and I have been waiting to try them out. I walked inside to find a crowd of people talking in a dimly lit, yet fascinating atmosphere. Old typewriter keys spelled out an Emily Dickenson quote (don’t ask me which, I only got to see the last word of it) along the length of the wooden bar curving around the space. Old (not retro, but actually old) ceiling lights provided minimal light, but the front windows let in the streetlights outside, creating a unique feeling of being a writer in the 1900s, squirreling away in the corner of a dim bar to think about that next novel.

Patrons of the bar were very friendly, also, and I actually talked to four or five people while I was sitting, writing notes at the bar, which is slightly unusual for me. I think a place like that could really spark an interesting neighborhood vibe.

The first thing I saw in terms of beer when I arrived was a Sebago cask, sitting on a wooden stand with the bar’s logo burned into it. I ordered one. Just after I got the beer in hand, Kai Adams of Sebago Brewing comes over and asks me what I’m drinking. He told me that I should try the Hoppy Hoppy Nano Nano (their small batch exclusive) before it’s gone, and also that Sebago made the cask stand just for LFK. Now that’s yet another bit of evidence that we have a cool beer community brewing here.

The casked beer was Frye’s Leap IPA dry Hopped With Citra and it was my favorite of the night. Cloudy, pale, and aromatic, the dry hopping gave it a very citrusy twinge, and a freshness. The casking mellowed the hops, even though I would have to say that it is a very well-balanced beer to begin with. Not usually a gigantic fan of casked beer, I was won over completely by this one.

Taking Kai’s advice, I then switched to the Hoppy Hoppy Nano Nano. A tulip glass with a dark orange brew appeared swiftly, and I stopped to inhale it deeply. This is honestly the first time i can say that the overwhelming smell I got was pineapple… really cool. A pilot batch of their double IPA, this one had a completely different (I assume) hop profile than citra’s subtletes. My first impressions from my first sips was that it was slightly drying. It wasn’t a sticky hop bomb but rather one that hits you up front and then makes you wonder what happened. After several sips, though, I was more of a fan, and I can’t wait to see where this beer goes from here. Definitely different than most IPAs around here, this one just comes at you in a different way. I liked it, but realized that my taste buds might be a little shot if I were to try something a little more subtle right after it.

I ended my evening with a Hop Swap, one of Sebago’s single-batch series. Brewed yearly, this ones’s name comes from the idea that they brew an American Ale where the hops are changed each year. This year has Centennial, Cascade and Citra. In between the other two, this one was very drinkable. It had a slight sweetness to it, though I’d like to try it again as my first beer of the evening next time.

All and all, drinking Maine IPAs and hanging out in a bar that Longfellow himself probably would be happy to haunt, was a great way to spend a summer evening. Cheers all.


Additional links:
IPA Day Official Website: www.ipaday.org
LFK, Portland ME: www.lfkportland.com
Sebago Brewing Company: www.sebagobrewing.com

Sebago Full Moon Cask Night (End of An Era Party)

When I was driving home, I heard lots of sirens in Portland. I turned on my police scanner app on my phone and listened to calls about suspicious cars, wildlife and… “a unidentified male running around with an axe.” Thankfully, this axe wielding John Doe was not in my neighborhood, but it made me realize one thing.

It must be the full moon.

I walked downtown on the misty, rainy and beautiful type of night that only can happen in a rainy New England spring. Light from street lamps oozed through the haze and the faint, blue glow of the neon signs of Sebago brewing beckoned me towards Middle Street. Sebago Brewing Company is famous around here for their Full Moon Cask Nights but this night, in particular, was special. It was the last cask night in their current location before moving further down the block to a bigger and better space. And, being American Craft Beer Week, I was not planning to turn down the opportunity for great craft beer.

I arrived, regrettably, later than I wanted to, but the party was still in full swing. Cooler/kegs of beer were positioned throughout the upstairs and downstairs of the restaurant and it was a little challenging to figure out what was going on. Each station had its own glasses, so you just went up to one you wanted to try and paid a few bucks for a sampling glass full of beer.

What made the event interesting was that Sebago wasn’t just pouring their own brews, but there were other beers from the region and beyond being shared there as well. I missed out on Lunch, the new beer from Maine Beer Company, but did get to sample some Sebago Grand Crue (a blend of their Bourbon Barrel Aged Full Throttle Double IPA, Barleywine and Frye’s Leap IPA) and loved how the hopiness of the IPAs played with the sweetness of the barleywine. Next, I sampled their 2010 Barleywine which was both delicious and warming, it smelled wonderful – the barrel aging made it nice and red, and the hoppiness was a pleasant surprise.

While I was there, I got a chance to talk with Luke Livingston and Michael LaCharite of Baxter Brewing. Only 4 months into their brewery’s life and they’re already talking about expansion, and next beers they’ll be brewing. I’m really happy that they’ve found success so quickly, and I think the summer will be a great boon for them as well. Their canned beer has made national news, and the demand for it is definitely growing. I got the rare treat of actually trying their Xtra Pale Ale on cask, and it was perfect! I don’t normally love casked beer I will admit – sometimes there is just a taste I don’t like – but this was almost meant to be casked. It was light but fresh and full of flavor. I think it might be my favorite casked beer that I’ve tried. I ordered two. 🙂

I also ran into a friend in Portland who is well on his way to opening a brewery. I won’t spill the beans quite yet, but I can confidently say that you will really like his beer (I’ve had it, and I even helped make an early batch!), and that it’s definitely filling in a missing hole in the New England beer scene.

Overall, it was a great event with lots of great people. (It is the people that make the beer taste even better sometimes). I wish Sebago luck in their new location. Once it opens, I’ll be checking it out and seeing how Portland adapts to the change.

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