Miles of accessible coastline, boundless lobster hauls, day trips to the islands — the list of things that make Maine summers great goes on ad infinitum. Here are four Maine beers that will take the impending Maine summer to the stratospheres of bliss. But be cautious: Drinking one of these beers on the perfect Maine summer day may cause your heart to explode from unencumbered euphoria.
Allagash Brewing Company continues to innovate at an astonishing rate. Their latest offering to the craft beer world is Little Brett, a beer fermented with Brettanomyces yeast and hopped solely with Mosaic hops. The interplay between Allagash’s refined, tart Brett yeast and the Mosaic hop’s mango and bubblegum flavors is divine. This beer is a great introduction to sour beers; it has just the right amount of tartness to tingle the senses without making you pucker. And at 4.8 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a great beach companion.
STYLE: Ale fermented with Brettanomyces and hopped with Mosaic hops
TASTING NOTES: Refined tart, mango and bubblegum flavors
ABV: 4.8 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs at local beverage stores and at the brewery
Known simply as FPA around Portland, Oxbow’s hoppy saison is a beautifully crafted beer. Brewed at Oxbow’s brewery in Newcastle, FPA pours a golden straw color and has bright aromatic and tasting notes of hay and subtle barnyard funk from the farmhouse ale yeast, while the American hops impart luscious citrus notes. There are a lot of complex flavors in this beer, but do not be afraid. Oxbow keeps the flavors balanced, making FPA a very approachable hoppy saison.
STYLE: Farmhouse ale brewed with American hops
TASTING NOTES: Hay, subtle barnyard funk and big citrus fruit hop notes
ABV: 6 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase growlers at the Newcastle brewery or 750 ml bottles at the Washington Ave tasting room, and find it on draft at select bars in the Portland area
I am smitten with Rising Tide’s seasonal saisons – or warehouse ales. Their summer saison, Ete, is no exception. What makes this beer so distinct is that Rising Tide combines French saison yeast and American ale yeast in the fermentation process. As a result, the American ale yeast softens some of the bigger funky notes imparted by the saison yeast. In addition, Rising Tide creates a hop profile of citrus fruits and melons. The two strains of yeast along with the juicy hops mingle to create a final product that is multi-layered, yet inviting. At 4.1 percent alcohol by volume, this beer won’t knock you out on a hot summer day.
STYLE: Warehouse Ale
TASTING NOTES: Crisp hay, funk and melons
ABV: 4.1 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase 12-ounce bottles at the brewery
Despite being 7.2 percent alcohol by volume, this American-style IPA is refreshing and easy-drinking – just what I want in a summer beer. Geaghan brewers use generous amounts of Chinook, Columbus and Cascade hops in Captain Kool, imparting a hop bouquet of grapefruit, dank resin and pine flavors. Unlike the beers above, this IPA doesn’t garner its flavor from the yeast; this beer is all hops with a clean malt foundation. If you have yet to immerse yourself in Bangor’s burgeoning brewing scene, let Captain Kool be your introduction.
STYLE: American-style India Pale Ale
TASTING NOTES: Hop flavors of grapefruit, dank resin and pine with a clean malt backbone
ABV: 7.2 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase six packs at most beverage stores from Portland to Bangor, or purchase growlers at the Brewer tasting room.
To borrow from Robert Frost, Maine’s the right place for summer: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better. Let these four local beers solidify that sentiment in the summer of 2016.
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Bangor’s Beer Festival – Tap Into Summer
1 to 5 p.m., June 18, Bangor Waterfront. $35 General Admission Tickct, $50 VIP Ticket. visitbangormaine.com/tapintosummer
If you haven’t heard, there’s a brewing renaissance happening in the northlands of Maine. Geaghan Brothers, Orono Brewing Company, Mason’s Brewing and Blank Canvas are all churning out artfully crafted beer in the Bangor area. Tap Into Summer is your chance to dive head first into what’s brewing in Bangor. In addition to local breweries, expect to find a number of other top-notch Maine breweries pouring at this festival.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America
1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 18, City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA. $50 per ticket. Search “Beer Camp” on eventbrite.com
Though this event was clearly much more fun when it was held in Portland, Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America continues to be a great celebration of craft beer. This festival features over 100 breweries, including some beers that are not regularly available on the East Coast. What you can expect is an endless array of craft beer, great live music and really good food vendors. If you went to Beer Camp when it was held at Thompson’s Point two years ago, then you know the fun that is to be had at this craft beer bonanza.