This past weekend, Sebago Brewing Company hosted a group of fifty beer bloggers and writers as part of a Beer Blogger’s Conference taking part in Portland and Boston, MA. Sebago Brewing sponsored a well-organized and impressive beer pairing event, to the delight of bloggers.
One special privilege that was given to the bloggers was to be the first to taste Sebago’s newest beer, and to see the debut of its rebranding efforts. Sebago has been undergoing a graphic revamp in the last six months – and I have been eager to see the ultimate outcome. Their new logo (pictured below) keeps the lake and nautical feel, but brings the brewery into a more modern and new-feeling place. It leaves me feeling classy – and I think that’s a good vibe for Sebago to adopt in a crowded beer market of hip new breweries entering the Maine beer scene.
The last pairing in the lineup was a surprise, as it came with Sebago’s new seasonal release the Bonfire Rye. Not officially released until the beginning of August, this beer was given to us as a sneak peek before being released to the public.
The label – which I assume is an example of the look and feel of the redesign – has a bonfire graphic element laid upon an edited photo of several friends sitting down in front of a bonfire behind that, an iconic summer scene. Well done.
It pours a dark copper, with a red undertone, with the color of the beer complemented by the new bottle labels. The aroma is of slightly spicy hops, but without a citrus or grassy feeling. It is very inviting, and not at all intimidating from a hoppiness perspective.
The taste struck me right away as something different than Sebago had brewed previously, as well as something different from other seasonals available in Maine. It is definitely a beer full of flavor, but somehow it is executed in a very balanced package. In addition there is an earthiness to it that comes in towards the end of the pleasantly-balanced hop profile that just adds a final complement to the flavor.
Described by owner Kai Adams as a beer that could “bridge” the seasons of summer and fall – this one is neither too sweet nor too earthy to be inappropriate for either season. One could imagine that it would even work in winter. At 5.7% ABV, this is also one that could go with – as suggested – friends and a bonfire, without worrying too much about things getting out of hand.
Bonfire Rye will officially be released on August 1st, and will be celebrated by a patio party at each of the Sebago Brewing locations starting at 4pm. This is a great chance to see the new face of Sebago, as well as to sample the town’s newest brew.
While you’re there, check out this year’s Hop Swap – a beer that changes its hop profile each year and is built on a malt base that stays the same. Hop Swap impressed me this year, and I greatly prefer it to last year’s which was a little bit thin, but still packed with hop flavor.
Note: Edited to revise the description of Hop Swap.