Last week, some of my beer blogging friends from New Hampshire and Massachusetts helped organize the very successful Portsmouth Craft Beer Week in Portsmouth, NH. As a part of the beer week, the Gaslight in Portsmouth hosted a Seacoast Winter Brew Fest. I eagerly volunteered for the afternoon session, knowing that the local beer featured would likely be something I’d be familiar with and would want to share with other craft beer geeks.
In addition to some young New Hampshire breweries (including Great Rhythm and Earth Eagle) I was pleased to see a bunch of Maine representation – including Allagash, Sebago, and Rising Tide.
After an hour or so into the festival’s second session, I asked Spencer from Rising Tide Brewing if he needed a break, and he let me cover his post for a little while. Pouring from that station were Daymark (a Rye-based pale ale) and Zephyr, Rising Tide’s IPA. Rising Tide is just now starting to distribute their Maine-made beer into NH, so this festival was a great opportunity to make some introductions to craft beer enthusiasts in the state.
Daymark is my favorite year-round beer from Rising Tide, and I’m not shy to admit that to anyone that asks. I have actually ordered kegs of it for other people’s weddings, and even brought bottles of it with me to a conference for beer bloggers (but that’s another story for another day). Daymark has a great yellow color, a fresh and spicy aroma, and is all-around a very inviting pale ale. The rye in this beer is actually grown in Maine, making it a beer that’s in tune with Maine’s palate. The dry hopping at the end really tightens up this beer. This one goes with everything, and is available year-round. I think the level of hoppiness is just right – it isn’t sticky or overly harsh, but bright and clean. I enjoyed recommending this to people who stopped by the booth and professed that they weren’t looking for anything “too hoppy” and watching them actually enjoy the flavors that the hops were bringing to the beer.
Zephyr, which is the newest of the year-round beers from Rising Tide, is on a different end of the hop spectrum. This beer has a flavor profile all of it’s own. The hops include the familiar Cascade and Centennial, but also feature Calypso hops as well. Released as a new hop variety in 2011, Calypso hops bring a fruitier characteristic to beers that are made using them. When I first tasted Zephyr, I struggled to describe it. It wasn’t grassy, wasn’t piney, or any of the other slightly silly adjectives that are used to typically describe hops. What I eventually settled on was “juicy.” There’s an element of citrus or apple that just stands apart completely from most IPAs I’ve had. The best feature, though, is that it really doesn’t dry you out or ruin your palate for beer or food.
As spring approaches, I keep thinking more and more about hoppy beer. These two offerings should be on your short list of craft beer that will satisfy those cravings.