As I gleefully ambled around Thompson’s Point at Sierra Nevada Beer Camp back in August, the name of a new Maine brewery kept coming up in conversation.
“Have you tried Barreled Souls yet?” a friend asked.
Another friend implored, “You have to try Barreled Souls.”
Even in line at the porto-potty, I overheard a woman say those two words with reverence: “Barreled. Souls.”
The universe was telling me something. So I cajoled my way to the Barreled Souls booth, only to find I was too late. All that was left were the ghostly remains of an empty table.
When the dust settled from Beer Camp – literally, Thompson’s Point is a dusty wasteland – I began digging into Barreled Souls. Turns out the Saco brewery ferments their beer in oak barrels using the Burton Union system. This system of brewing allows Barreled Souls to harvest the healthiest fermentation yeast for future pitching while imparting a unique flavor profile into their beer. It’s a method no other brewers are using in Maine.
Here’s a bold statement: Barreled Souls might have the hippest tasting room in Maine. I know how incendiary that sounds based on the number of chic tasting rooms in the state right now, but believe me, this room oozes cool.
Patrons can inspect the small brew kettles and brite tanks. The seating accommodations are made from repurposed oak barrels. The room is all warm woods and soft light from Edison light bulbs. The Burton Union system is available for ogling. And the big kicker for this beer writer: a legit shuffleboard table.
Of course, no matter how hip a tasting room may be, ultimately, it’s about the beer. And how is the beer? It’s damn good.
On my last visit, I started with the 4.9% Space Gose. (Love the play on Space Ghost.) As the sour beer movement progresses, more and more microbreweries are trying their hands at a Gose, a mild, low alcohol sour. The Space Gose from Barreled Souls is the best I’ve had thus far. It possesses a refreshing, subtle tartness from the yeast and has a nice salt finish from the Maine sea salt they use in the brewing process.
I also tried the MC AM, a porter brewed with cinnamon, bacon, and bacon fat washed cold brew coffee. What? Yup, all that magic is in this porter. It’s a bold brew at 7.6% ABV and might not be for the faint of palate.
I finished with Paper Planes, their double IPA. This beer is exploding with aromatic hop resin from the Amarillo and Mosaic hops. Hop heads will revel in this IPA.
By all accounts, Barreled Souls lives up to the mythical origins it garnered at Beer Camp this summer. If you visit the Saco brewery, and you must, keep in mind that they brew small batches of beer, and the brewers have a predilection for experimentation, so the tap list is ever-changing. But fret not, because all the beer that touches their oak barrels has a mighty taste.