As fun as it is to visit tasting rooms to see what’s on tap, I always get a little spring in my step when I find a new beer I can take home. Thus, I was happy to find that Moderation Brewing Company has dipped a few toes into the world of canning, with small releases of its beers sold from its tasting room on Maine Street in Brunswick.
Grog Shop is a new beer that will be available on draft and in cans starting this week. It’s an IPA that uses organic rye from Blue Ox Malt House to back up its dry-hopped goodness. Rye is a slightly spicier grain that adds some spunk to the beer’s profile. Following Moderation’s convention of naming beers after local historical references, Grog Shop’s name comes from a speech given at Bowdoin College in 1885 by Neal Dow, the former Portland mayor and champion of prohibition, who called out Brunswick as being “indifferent to the evils of intemperance” and said that the Legislature was always “on the side of the grog shops.” Moderation Brewing found a reference to this speech in an issue of the Brunswick Telegraph, where someone penned an op-ed to defend the town’s honor.
In South Portland, Foulmouthed Brewing Company has also entered the canning market, debuting two beers this week whose names are just as fun as the contents inside. Grawlix is a 6.7 percent IPA and is probably the perfect name for a Foulmouthed beer. When someone swears in a comic or illustration, and the profanity is replaced by nonsense characters (e.g., @#$%&!), that’s called a grawlix. The beer is brewed with local hops, and the description on the beer menu at Foulmouthed says it “features the best @#&! hops grown right here in Maine.”
Foulmouthed’s second beer to make it to cans is called Frobscottle, a fanciful reference to “The BFG” by Roald Dahl. In the children’s book, Frobscottle is described as a fizzy green soda in which the bubbles go down rather than up. The fizziness of the drink is also able to lift people into the air and gives them “whizpoppers” (flatulence). Foulmouthed’s version is a bit more down to earth, but does provide a bit of fanciful fun. While it is not green, it has some fun flavors that dance around in it. It is a sour that has been aged on raspberries, but with oats in the grain bill that provide a smoothing effect to the mouthfeel. It is zingy but mild, making it a nice approachable sour.
Another new beer to the South Portland scene comes from Fore River Brewing. Collaborations between breweries are always interesting, but collaborations between breweries and non-breweries can also be a rewarding partnership. For Fore River, that recently meant pairing up with Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) for a brand new pilsner. On The Point is unique in that it is brewed with a variety of French hops that are new to the United States. The Barbe Rouge hops are grown in France and add a distinct strawberry-like note. The name and label were designed by SMCC staff and students. The cans, with a sleek, fresh look (not to mention fresh taste) were released last week.
Returning to the OG brewers in Maine, the new owners of D. L. Geary Brewing Company (now sometimes referred to as “Geary’s Brewing” or just “Geary’s” on new labels) have come out with a trio of canned releases with a completely new look to their labels. I first spotted Pick Me on the shelf at my local beer store and was surprised by the radically different branding, so I took it home. Pick Me is a blueberry pilsner, which is rather a weird idea to me, especially considering that lagers are usually left somewhat pure in their recipies and usually don’t get involved with fruit. The end result is of a sweet blueberry flavor profile without a lot of beer backbone. If you’re really into blueberry beverages, it might hit the spot on a warm day, but to me, the combination felt a little forced. Geary’s OG Session Lager and a beer called Razzle Dazzle, a “sour raspberry lager” were released with similar labels. I’ve yet to taste the Razzle Dazzle, but I’ll give it a try the next time I come across it.
The new labels, which feature a white background and stylized fonts, with a simple Geary’s in script at the top, are part of a rebranding effort for the brewery’s “contemporary” beer lineup. Riverside IPA and other new beers will get this new treatment rolled out this spring and summer, while classics like Geary’s Pale Ale will keep the shield design of their logo.