Here is a guest submission from our good friend Ben who was lucky enough to attend the Maine Brewers Festival in Portland, ME this past Saturday!
This was my first time going to a Brew Fest and as the DD I didn’t exactly “get after it” but I did get to try a lot of cool Maine beers and had a blast people watching which is always entertaining Maine. I don’t know what it is but it seems like everyone you see has something a little wrong with them. Like, you will be thinking some girl is hot then she smiles and BANG! snaggle tooth. And maybe it was just because of the event but there seemed to be a lot of BMW’s in the room which always makes it tough when competing for space in a beer line. And the dudes? Well let’s just say they made me look pretty good and I am a paunchy 20lbs overweight.
Additionally I thought it was a riot the number of people who were wearing beer related t-shirts. And it wasn’t just the token Long Trail shirt on a crunchy beer lover but a lot of shirts that were trying to be funny. I felt like there were a lot of shirts that people only wear to these types of events which raises the question of “is it appropriate to wear a beer t-shirt to a beer event?” I feel like it is a bit of a faux-pas, like wearing the t-shirt of the band that you are seeing to the concert, but maybe I am just an ass. Anyway, on to the beer.
The website for the brewfest is http://www.learnyourbeer.com/ where you can see all the different brewers and beers that were available. I will go through the beers I tried with a few thoughts on each one but a quick note is that I didn’t try any Shipyard, SeaDog, Geary’s, or Gritty’s because I get to have those beers all the time and I prefer to try and find new brewers and beers. The beers assessed are in order that they are listed on Pour List and not in the order of which I tried them… I was drinking, what do you want from me?
Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat:
After trying numerous darker beers, at this point in the night I needed something to lighten the palate. The Peak beers had never been my favorite… but then again I may be just confusing them with Wolvers which is also an organic beer. This beer though was terrific. When you are dealing with fruit you always have to be worried about too sweet of a beer and this just had a subtle hint of pomegranate and then the lightness that comes with a wheat beer. I enjoyed it. It would be better in the summer on a boat or BBQ but put it on your to try list. 5/6
Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black:
This beer was fantastic. It wasn’t something that you were going to ever be able to drink a lot of but with 10% alcohol content you don’t have to drink a lot of it to feel a kick in the pants. The bourbon flavor hit you both in smell and when the beer first hits the palate. What was nice is you get the flavor without the burn though so it is like taking some whiskey with a chaser at the same time. Good beer, Drink it. 6/6
These guys had the coolest setup with a sign that looked like it come out of a ranch in the old west. Unfortunately their beer didn’t live up to the sign. I have tried Oxbow before and have always been disappointed in the bitterness of their beer. I tend to not enjoy hoppy beer and want it to be smooth. I know people who are supposed to be beer snobs like their hops but it just takes the fun out of drinking for me. Pass this beer up. 2/6
Baxter Amber Road:
Another really hoppy beer, which surprised me. This was my first beer of the night and I was disappointed. I think it ended up being one of my least favorites. 1/6
Sebago Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout and 2011 Barley Wine:
I ordered the Lake Trout Stout and thought it was a nice beer. Not as smooth of a stout as I would normally like but it was tasty and a good brew. The Barley Wine was my girlfriend’s choice and it was mostly picked because A. it said “wine” and B. it had a high alcohol content (12% or 13%). This was a HUGE mistake. She hated it, I hated it, I think if you like barley wines you would enjoy this as it was good quality but to me it tasted like badness. Stout- 4/6 Barley Wine 0/6
Sheepscot Valley Pemaquid Ale, Oysterman Stout, Damariscotta Double Brown:
Sheepscot Valley wins my award for best overall beers. I had never had one of their brews before but three of us passed around the Pemaquid Ale, Oysterman Stout, Damariscotta Double Brown and we all liked each of them. I had ordered the brown and it had a nice nutty flavor but a smoothness that I expect from browns (they tend to be my go to beer). The ale and the stout were both tasty and solid beers. Their Stout was the best of the day and the Ale avoided being too hoppy. I’d buy them all. Ale- 4/6 Stout 4/6 Brown 5/6
Bar Harbor Thunder Hole Ale:
With a name like “Thunder Hole” I didn’t want to be disappointed… but I was. Too much hop, not enough bounce (see what I did there?) I want smoothness from an ale, this didn’t bring it.
At the end of the day the Allagash Bourbon Barrel Black was the best beer of the day followed by the Sheepscot Valley Double Brown and surprisingly the Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat. Fun times were had by all and we ended the night at an Irish Pub in downtown Portland Maine listening to Irish music.
We want to thank Ben for his great write up! If you have any questions about the beers or breweries please email Chris@Tasty-Takes.com.