Unlike some Mainers who bemoan the dark days of winter, I pine for the bite of winter’s hard frost and deep snow. Wintertime means great skiing in New England, and the release of stouts and porters from Maine breweries. When the cold sets in, my palate yearns for porters and stouts that have hints of chocolates, coffees, roasted grains, nuts and raisins.
The myriad of talented brewers across the Pine Tree State offer Maine drinkers a plethora of porters, stouts and dark ales to assuage the quest for the perfect dark beer to pair with a night by the fireplace or an après ski beer with friends. Below are two stouts and two porters made in Maine that will hit the spot as the mercury drops below zero in the coming months.
Oyster stout? I was skeptical, too. Then I tried this salty, chocolaty wonder in a can. Now I’m a believer. The aroma coming off this beer is a mysterious mixture of coffee and the ocean. Its flavor is a world-class ride through roasted malts, coffee and chocolate tones, and a heavy undercurrent of salty oyster brine. In theory, this beer should be a mess. But it’s not. It’s a successful balancing act of sweet and savory. FMI: www.marshallwharf.com
I catch flack as a beer writer for ne’er mentioning the old guard brewers in Maine. Well, pay attention, because here’s an old Maine favorite that stands up to our recent influx of microbrews. The Black Fly has what I want in a stout – a thick malt body, dark chocolate tones and a slight hop bite at the end. This beer has the creamy, full-bodied mouthfeel of a great stout. FMI: grittys.com
Unlike stout, a porter is generally less thick in body and has more smoky, nutty flavors coming through the dark malts. Coal Porter is a great example of this style of beer. Atlantic Brewing Company has created a porter with not only one of the coolest names in all of Maine brewing (Cole Porter!), but also one with a raisin, chocolate balance with a nice yeast bite at the end. This beer is aged for six months before it is released for public consumption, and I believe it’s the aging that gives this porter its complex flavor profile. FMI: www.atlanticbrewing.com
King Titus is one fine porter. It pours black with a foamy head of tiny beads indicative to Maine Beer Company beers. This porter is a sleigh ride through coffee and cocoa and roasted malts and hints of vanilla. It finishes with a strong American hop flavor at the end from Centennial and Columbus hops. At 7.5% ABV, this beer has a big alcohol backbone to compliment the complex flavors. All the parts of this porter work from start to finish.
Embrace the winter with Maine stouts and porters. With the robust brewing scene in full swing, you can find countless winter offerings from all of Maine’s breweries. Venture out to your local beverage warehouse, pub, or visit the breweries directly to get into the winter spirit with local dark beers. FMI: www.mainebeercompany.com