With the brewery garage door open on the first T-shirt day of spring, my conversation with Battery Steele Brewing co-founder and head brewer, Shane Noble, was continually interrupted by curious passersby asking, “When are you opening?” and “Can we try your beer?”
“This happens all day long,” Noble said with a smile, after kindly explaining to the inquirers that the tasting room would open that weekend. (Permitting delays forced the brewery to open a to-go window only at first. The tasting room opened Friday.)
“We’ll be here,” the half-dozen beer lovers all replied as they continued on to Austin Street Brewery in the adjacent bay.
The brewing world is itching to sample the goods from the latest brewery to boil wort in the now-fabled 1 Industrial Way complex. I refer to this building and surrounding neighborhood as the Fertile Crescent of Maine brewing, incubating Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide Brewing, and Bissell Brothers Brewing, along with the current tenants, the aforementioned Austin Street and Foundation Brewing. With Allagash across the street and Geary’s around the corner, Battery Steele is opening on hallowed ground.
The history of the building isn’t lost on Noble or his partner, Jake Condon.
“It inspires us to always be looking for ways to make our beer better,” Noble said.
Noble and Condon hashed out the vision for Battery Steele while working at Gritty McDuff’s in Portland where Noble was the head brewer and Condon was the bar manager.
After years of making malty, British-style ales with ringwood yeast, Noble is excited to explore his own voice as a brewer.
He explained that they plan to adhere to style lines of beers instead of committing to flagship recipes. The tasting room will always have an IPA, a double IPA, a farmhouse ale and a stout, but the specific beers will be in constant flux.
“We want to always be playing with different ingredients in our beer. There are so many great hops out there, we want to explore all those flavors,” Noble explained.
And if the beers I sampled on the sun-soaked day in April are any indication, I prophesize that Battery Steele will add its own chapter to the lore of 1 Industrial Way.
The first beer I tried was Kineo, an IPA using hops from the southern hemisphere. The clarity of aroma and flavor are striking in this beer. While many budding breweries take a few batches to dial in clean, vibrant flavors, Kineo spotlights Noble’s skills as a commercial brewer. The beer pours a sunrise gold and emits big citrus fruit aromas from the New Zealand hops. The flavor is crisp and clean from nose to finish.
Noble’s eyes twinkled as he poured me Flume, a double IPA with Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops and lupulin powder. He first tried big IPAs at a Phish show in Colorado in the mid-2000s. From that first sip, he knew it was a flavor profile he yearned to explore. Flume, named after a mountain peak, as all their IPAs will be, is a dream of a double IPA. Like Kineo, the flavors are mountain-stream clear. Juicy mango fruits from the Mosaic hops and fresh grapefruits from the Citra hops shine brightly. The colossal hop profile is balanced by a malt foundation that lets the hops sing.
On the other end of the flavor spectrum, is Bier de Garde, a 5 percent saison. The fruity esters of the yeast pop over the malt base in this beer. For a brewer so in tune with hops, a yeast-forward farmhouse ale is impressive.
Rounding out the lineup is an imperial stout. Along with the other beers in Battery Steele’s arsenal, this beer has a beautifully clean profile with all the flavor notes singing in harmony. The malts offer a smooth flavor ride from start to finish.
“If you use good ingredients and know what you’re doing, you’ll get something good when you brew,” Noble stated.
Indeed. It’s clear that Battery Steele can deliver the goods to earn its rightful place in 1 Industrial Way.
WHERE: 1 Industrial Way, Portland
ON TAP: A rotating style line of IPAs, double IPAs, farmhouse ales and stouts to sample at the tasting room and for purchase in cans and growlers.
WHEN: Check social media for up-to-date tasting room hours
MORE INFO: facebook.com/batterysteelebrewing
OTHER BEERS HAPPENINGS
Oxbow Brewing tap takeover at Novare Res Bier Café
Noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, 4 Canal Plaza, Portland. On Facebook
With expansive tap handles, Novare Res does the tap takeover right. A takeover event at Novare is no small affair but really showcases the full oeuvre of a brewhouse. And this weekend’s Oxbow tap takeover is no exception. The farmhouse brewery will be pouring 34-plus beers on draft at the Canal Plaza beer bar this weekend. If you want the full story on Oxbow’s oft-lauded beers, get to this event. The event also includes eats from Browne Trading and music by Hi-Duke and Superorder, along with live spray paint art.
Maine Brewers’ Guild creates The Maine Beer Box
Ever wonder what’s in those Eimskip shipping containers beneath the Casco Bay Bridge? If you’ve seen The Wire, then I’m sure you have your suspicions. I can report with confidence that one of those containers will now be filled with kegs of Maine beer. The Maine Beer Box, as it has been dubbed, is the brainchild of David Carlson, owner of Marshall Wharf Brewing, along with the Maine Brewers’ Guild. The refrigerated shipping container houses 50 taps and will allow Maine brewers to send their beer to foreign markets. The first stop will be Iceland this summer. There are plans to send the box to European ports in the near future. More great innovation from Maine brewers.