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Dave Patterson

Dave Patterson is a writer and musician who is thirsty for craft beer. He's been immersed in the New England beer scene for years as a patron and since 2013 as a beer writer. In his attempt to drink all the great beer America has to offer, Dave has become convinced that the Maine beer scene is among the best in the country. He can be spotted throughout the state at breweries, bars, and backyards imbibing brilliant Maine beers. It is his belief that craft beer plays an integral role in bolstering a vibrant local economy, so he urges you do your part by drinking local beer to support your community. Twitter: @PattersonWriter​

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Posted: January 22, 2018

Warm up with Maine beers as dark as winter nights

Written by: Dave Patterson

In the winter, I want my beers to be as dark as the night sky after the hibernal solstice. Stouts, porters, imperial ales and barrel-aged beers with their dark malts and roasted flavors all hit the spot in the winter months when the sun barely winks over the horizon.

Brewers in Maine take their dark beers very seriously; they have to, they know what we’re living through in these sub-zero months. There is no loss for artfully crafted dark beers in the 207 area code.

Here are four beers that will wrap around your palate like a cardigan sweater. Also, check out my past lists for more winter suggestions.


Photos by Dave Patterson

Dark Wave, Bunker Brewing Co.

The Baltic porter is a great throwback to European brewing traditions. Brewed with lager yeast, a Baltic porter tends to have a crisper finish than other porters. Dark Wave from Bunker Brewing is a delicious example of this style of beer. Pouring an inky black, Dark Wave emits an aroma of roasted malts and a subtle maple syrup. At 7.8 percent, this beer has a big mouthfeel that pairs great with the cold weather. The flavor has notes of maple syrup and molasses, but the sugars are refined and not overpowering — most likely a result of the lager yeast working through the residual sugars. The finish has a nice sharp carbonated bite, indicative of a Baltic porter.

STYLE: Baltic Porter

TASTING NOTES: Roasted dark malts, molasses and a crisp finish

ABV: 7.8 percent

AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 16-ounce cans at local beverage stores and at the Portland brewery.

Mean Old Tom, Maine Beer Company

Maine Beer Company is so brilliant at making hoppy beers that I often neglect to reach for their stunning lineup of dark beers. Mean Old Tom is an old friend that I’ve returned to this winter. Brewed with chocolate malts, vanilla beans and American hops, this stout is loaded with complexity. The nose on this beer has the aroma of milk chocolate and vanilla with just a hint of citrus and pine hop notes. The appearance is jet black while the flavor offers a silky smooth sleigh ride of cocoa, coffee and vanilla beans, all with an undertow of hop flavor. Maine Beer Company’s signature yeast gives this a clean, crisp finish, as vanilla essence coats the tongue in a final flourish. If you mainly think of Maine Beer Company for Lunch and Dinner, consider Mean Old Tom a serving of dessert.

STYLE: Stout

TASTING NOTES: Flavors of milk chocolate, coffee, and vanilla

ABV: 6.5 percent

AVAILABILITY: Purchase 16.9-ounce bottles at local beverage stores and at the Freeport brewery.

Samara Brown Ale, Lone Pine Brewing Co.

If brown ales are for fall, imperial brown ales are for winter. Samara Brown Ale from Lone Pine Brewing is a great example of the flavor complexity that can be packed into an imperial brown ale. Brewed with coffee beans from Bard Coffee in Portland along with Maine maple syrup, Samara Brown gives off sugary, roasted notes in the nose. It has a deep Corinthian leather appearance with a yellowed head of tiny bubbles. The maple syrup and roasted malt notes radiate from this brown ale, with the coffee flavors swooping in at the end. Though there are plenty of sweet sugary notes, the finish doesn’t have any of the cloying sweetness that can be a downfall of imperial ales.

STYLE: Imperial brown ale

TASTING NOTES: Bard Coffee and Maine maple syrup impart flavors along with the roasted malts

ABV: 7 percent

AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 16-ounce cans at local beverage stores and at the Portland brewery.

Cuckoo for Coconuts, Liquid Riot Bottling Co.

Nothing can stave off the winter blues like an 8 percent porter with coconut and chocolate flavors, a killer name and a striking label. In Cuckoo for Coconuts, Liquid Riot shows off its ability to make an outside-the-box porter that is still deliciously approachable. Poured hard from a can, this beer has a rich brown-black appearance and an aromatic bouquet of cocoa beans, roasted malts and coconut. The first time I tried this beer, I feared that it would be too sweet and heavy on the coconut flavor, like a liquid Mounds bar, however, one sip assuaged my reservations. This porter has a balanced flavor profile with a chewy, velvety mouthfeel. The coconut comes through on the finish; it’s clear this beer is brewed with real roasted coconut and not coconut extract. Go cuckoo for this porter. I have.

STYLE: Imperial porter

TASTING NOTES: Big notes of cocoa beans, roasted malts and subtle coconut with a velvety mouthfeel

ABV: 8 percent

AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 16-ounce cans at local beverage stores and at the Portland brewery.

Cheers!


OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS

Rising Tide Brewing hosts: Barrel, Beers, and Bites

3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, 103 Fox St., Portland. $35. rtbbarrelsandbites.brownpapertickets.com
Events pairing food and beer are a great opportunity to experience the culinary aspects that beer has to offer. Rising Tide has long endeavored to brew beers that will complement food. On Sunday, the brewery pairs this food-minded approach to beer with Baharat restaurant in Portland. The event takes place at Rising Tide and includes five small bites matched with five limited-release barrel-aged beers from the brewery host. Brewers and chefs will be on hand to take you through each sensual bite and sip.

Sebago Brewing’s Barleywine ranks No. 3 in Paste Magazine blind tasting

Remember a couple years ago when Maine Beer Company found itself at or near the top of a number of Paste Magazine blind tasting competitions? Well, Sebago Brewing continues to keep Maine brewers at the top of these national tastings by coming in third out of 62 barleywines from breweries all over America. The judges said: “This beer manages to bring the big, assertive flavors and hold them all in harmony with one another — boozy without being harsh, sweet without being cloying and intense without losing drinkability.” I concur. Get some to see why judges swooned over this barrel-aged beer. Congrats, Sebago!

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