Those in the know when it comes to craft beer are aware of the amazing resource that BeerPulse.com provides. Originally founded in 2008 by Adam Nason when he was just 23 years old and then called BeerNews, the website has continued to grow and provide information on releases, happenings, and stories from all around the beer world. For us at Brewpublic, Nason’s prolific reporting work has been a great inspiration to say the least. We finally caught up with Adam at the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego where he agreed to grant us this exclusive interview. Read More…
Lewiston, Maine has not been a destination for tourists in the Pine Tree State for quite some time. In fact, the Lewiston-Auburn (known locally as L-A) region, the hub of Androscoggin County and with a population about the same as the state’s largest city Portland (about 65,000 people), has endured a shaky reputation since the closure of many once thriving textile factories in the mid-20th Century.
Once at the forefront of textile production making goods such as Union Civil War uniforms and shoes, today the combined L-A metro is making strides in Read More…
It’s been too long since a Weekend in Review hit the site here on Brewpublic. Finally, I have returned to Portland, Oregon from the deep recesses of Central Maine. I can’t say that I didn’t love Maine, my homeland, with all its peaceful white pines and much slower pace of living. Still, there’s always the great beer of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest that was on my mind. You really can’t beat the beer selection in Oregon. Nowhere else have I been that compares, not even Massachusetts, Washington, California, or Colorado. As far as the good stuff goes, Oregonians, especially those of us in the greater Beervana metro area are truly blessed by Ninkasi and the rest of the Beer Gods and Goddesses.
My first beer upon returning to Oregon was Read More…
While in New England, I had the exciting opportunity to sample some unique brews worth mentioning. On the East Coast, since hops are not in quite the abundance that they are here in the Pacific Northwest, brewers often rely on showcasing other nuances and complexities possible in great craft beer and often pay homage to the Belgian and English practices, yet with their own unique spin on things. Thanks a Read More…
Down an unsuspecting rural road about ten miles from Skowhegan, Maine near the mighty banks of the Kennebec River resides Oak Pond Brewing Company (OPB). Initially founded in 1996 in a converted chicken barn, OPB today offers a distinguishing portfolio of both ales and lagers that is patently a family affair.
In 2003 co-founder and brewer Don Chandler has taken a purposeful and punctilious approach to his artisan brewing craft. Operating on a 14-barrel brew system acquired from Prince Edward Island, Canada, Chandler along with wife Nancy and son Adam, have arduously labored to fill an alcove for artisan beer in this region of Central Maine. Chandler admits his venture is the result of a point in his life when he was unemployed and unable to find work. OPB’s spotless brewhouse parallels the quality of offerings concocted within its walls. Chandler admits that keeping on top of his laborious operation has been trying and has involved seven years working about 70 hours per week. In 2010, he says, OPB has yielded just over 500 barrels of beer. This consisted of a fairly proportionate of ales and lagers.
On our visit on New Year’s Eve, OPB featured three ales and three lagers. These included: Read More…
About a year or so ago, a longtime Mainer friend of mine informed me of a little brewer in Down East Maine that I ought not to miss out on. Spending the past few weeks in the doldrums of Dover-Foxcroft in Central Maine, I’d grown accustomed to the bite of a cold wind, an impending degree of snowfall, and the blinkered terrain of limited craft beer offerings. A a few days of unremitting cold, wind, and flurries, the weather finally halted and I set off with my father to the seaport village of Belfast to encounter the offerings of Marshall Wharf Brewery.
Established in 2007, Marshall Wharf has more than filled the void that now that Belfast Bay Brewing Company left (ShipyardBrewing now produces the brand out of town). Spearheaded by craft beer visionary David Carlson, Marshall Wharf has turned to a team of brewers headed by former Belfast Bay brewer Dan McGovernto put forth some of Maine’s finest spectrum of delectable brews. Here, a stone’s throw from the harbor by Belfast’s charming colonial downtown, Marshall Wharf’s handy 7-barrel brewhouse roils forth some flavorsome cutting edge beer tipples.
At Marshall Wharf, we met with the amicable Carlson, production brewer Jared Mahrunic, and a staff of clued-up and inspired folks offer a range of modern and traditional beer styles that appease both the furrow browed fisherman, and the progenies like those who subscribe to Brewpublic’s venturesome outlook. About an hour-and-a-half drive where I’d been staying in the shiretown of Piscataquis County, Belfast’s lone brewery announced the New Year’s release of a special barrel aged Cant Dog Pale Ale constituted of 25% barrel aged beer and 75% fresh ale, exercising a portion of two year old esterous brew laid down in twelve year old Elijah Craig bourbon casks. In addition to Cant Dog, Marshall Wharf will be releasing two other bourbon-aged ales.
Carlson, obliged my aspiration to sample this spectacle slated to be unveiled to the public on New Year’s Day 2011 by offering up a taster of this divine potion. Rampant with compounded notes of caramel, vanilla, wood, and bourbon, the beer, was by some standards young, yet immediately gratifying. “Barrel aging has become a hot trend” says Carlson. “ We had the opportunity to get some decent bourbon barrels. And though blending is new to us, we’re quite pleased with the result. And it is easy to taste why. Carlson says that Marshall Wharf has served beer enthusiasts from New Hampshire and Massachusetts who are becoming more and more aware of the beers at his quaint 400 square foot brewery. Well known Maine craft brew outposts such as Novare Res and the Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine have opened tap space to Marshall Wharf’s patent biddings.
Unlike many traditional Maine craft breweries, Marshall Wharf steers clear of exhausting English yeast varietals like Ringwood and Nottingham, and have opted for a mellifluous and fruity Chico ale strain while tinkering with divergent Belgian sorts. Next door at Carlson’s Three Tides Restaurant and Bar, a Marshall Wharf’s inventiveness runs the gamut of savor with about 25 mainstay, migratory, and chance-taking pickings.
A sampler tray at Three Tides exposed the likes of Read More…
My own pursuit of hoppiness and great beers lead me to Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine for their 6th Belgian Beer Festival. This trip has been managed by the Bieropholie website. I could gather with friends and get a private driver for the whole weekend. Isn’t that beautiful?
We left Montréal on Friday to reach Le Siboire, another great brewpub that opened within the last three years in our province. Located in Sherbrooke, it came to the world in an old train station. Brick walls, wood, nice view of the brewery, smiling staff, and with music not too loud that offers an inviting ambiance to a quite young crowd. A tasting panel revealed a high quality of beers, without defaults. The Belgian White Capricieuse and the Abbey Tripel Trip d’automne III where among my favourites. The brewer Jonathan Gaudrault, poured us some of his new Citra Pilsner directly from the fermentor. These new hops (for me) provided a bold citrus taste and made this sampling experience very interesting. I like it when brewers go out of normal bounds to make the effort to try new recipes instead of just keeping the classical blonde, brown, red and black.
On Saturday, we pick up some US bottles to bring back to Canada at Glen Beverage, in the cosmopolitan city of Glen. Lots of classics (Stone, Rogue, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada), so we didn’t purchase anything special there. Few hours after, we reached Lovell, Maine. I was expecting for a crowded site, without any place to put our tents and it stressed us a little, but when we showed up, there were plenty of places, so much that we could have a table for twelve. Except the glasses and the t-shirts printed for the event, nothing gave us the feeling that a beer event would take part here. Instead of a legion of beer geeks, families with kids and grand parents were in the place. It was miles away of my first thoughts. Nevertheless avoiding long queues, and being served promptly always a pleasure. The tap menu was a real Belgian Beervana. A majority of beers I’ve never tasted before and some I’ve never even heard of. This sort of experience pleased our group. I give big thumbs up to De Struise Black Albert, an imperial stout brewed specifically for the pub, a great mix of vanilla, coffee and black chocolate flooded through 13 % of alcohol. Simply excellent. Another great extreme brew was the Mocha Bomb, also from De Struise. Another explosion of coffee, chocolate and bourbon barrel. Again, I discovered a brewery that creates products that brings your tastebuds to another level. Thanks De Struise.
I had the opportunity to have my first Cantillon (Cuvée des Champions) on tap. Acidic (of course), sour and a bit funky. Great Cuvée that you want another pint of. I had, like everybody in bar, a glass from a Methuselah of Val-Dieu Triple. I think this bottle has been offered by Chris, the owner. If not, thanks to the guy who order a too big bottle and to his decision to share it with the rest of us.
For the evening, an event has been planned by the pub, and Alan Sprints from Hair of the Dog was invited. I thought there could be a booth, a promotion on HOTD beers, some special kegs, but the event was a presentation from Alan in the Ebenezer cellar including a tasting of Doggie Claws, Matt and Dave. Yes what you red is definitely true, a taste of Dave. Of course, some selected bottles from the pub’s cellar did complete this presentation/tasting. Would you like to see the pictures? Well, don’t ask me. I wasn’t there. Only 20 peoples were admitted in the cellar and the entrance was sold at 50 USD $$$.
Everything has a cost in life, and it is valid for beer, too. I choose to not pay this amount for 2 ounce tastings. Try to appreciate a beer when you share it with 20 people… Even if it is a rare bottle, it is quite ridiculous. Sometimes, you have no obligation to join the family. That’s why I continued to have beers with my folks at the table. At the closure, we received a bill of 966 $ USD for the whole table. Ouch! But it was so good.
This huge dinner has been continued at the tent village beside the pub with folks randomly met. We brought some of our great brewery products of Québec like Microbrasserie Charlevoix and Unibroue. Some other folks from brought growlers of Hill Farmstead brewery. This brewery will be considered for another trip to Vermont.
Back home on Sunday, we stopped at the Moat Smoke House & Brewing Co. It’s been a while I had beer for breakfast. Gee, I discovered that passion has limits. The worst is that I wasn’t impressed by what I tasted, and it was not caused by the early hour. Do you know only one great beer is brewed with blueberries? Can it be only used for jam and pies please? That was my feeling of the Violet’s B’s Blueberry. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the German Hefeweizen was quite refreshing. I can’t really recommend that place, but if it’s on your way, you might give them a try, but try to have a breakfast before.
Vancouver, Washington is a unique cultural pocket that many Portlanders rarely explore.However, thanks to the creative beer-centric minds of David and Arlene Nunez of By The Bottle, this has been changing for metro area beer connoisseurs. In recent weeks, the quaint downtown Vancouver bottle shop has expanding into what was once back offices to put forth a comely taproom strewn with eight choice taps. Most of these draught options are brews that are not readily available across the Columbia River in Oregon.
Co-owner Arlene Nunez says “Things are rolling in our tap room. True to our vision, you can be sure to find something tasty on our draft list that you won’t be able to find within a 150 mile radius. Some of the beers we’ve offered so far aren’t even bottled. So, unless you’ve been to these breweries, chances are, you’ll be trying something you haven’t had before.”
Just across the river By The Bottle is a great option for beer nuts who simply want to try something different. And do to restrictive state beer distribution laws in both Oregon and Washington, the business offers Oregonians a dynamic offering of beers uncommon in the state.
Upon last notice, we have been informed of the following beers on tap at By The Bottle:
On a recent adventure to New England, we spent a good chunk of time in the great state of Rhode Island. The smallest state in the United States as far as total land area (1045 square miles, about seven times the size of Portland, Oregon and in land area 1/94 the size of Oregon) is concerned, Rhode Island aka “The Ocean State” has an interesting history. It was the first of the thirteen original colonies to declare independence from British rule and the last to ratify the United States Constitution. In 1639, one of the first American brewhouses was established in Providence and overseen by Sargeant Bauleton. In Newport, the White Horse Tavern claims to be one of the oldest remaining Taverns in the United States, dating back to 1673. Still, Rhode Island’s craft brewing culture remains almost as small as the state itself. However, unlike states such as Alabama and Mississippi who still adhere to pre-Prohibition philosophies surrounding craft brew, Rhode Island is beginning to pick up some traction and progress into the 21st Century where good beer is not only tolerated, it is expected.
Perusing the pages of a copy of Yankee Brew News, a Northeastern rendition of Northwest Brewing News, a vast assortment of craft beer destinations were listed throughout New England, and especially in Massachusetts and Maine. However, Rhode Island was surely lacking. While the Brew News mags are certainly not the end all be all of pointing folks toward delicious beer, they surely are a welcomed and often accurate road map to some worthy destinations. YBN listed 37 breweries in Massachusetts and 30 in Maine, while Rhode Island could only boast 5. Initially you might equate this to the seemingly minuscule size of the Ocean State, but in reality, Rhode Island possesses a far greater population density that the two, and, population-wise is more than 80% the size of Maine (according to 2000 US Census Bureau).
According to a recent article by the Providence Journal’s food editor Gail Ciampa:
Rhode Island beer distributor McLaughlin & Moran noted the increasing interest in microbrews and, in late 2007, began aggressively promoting the craft beer market, said Chuck Borkoski, vice president and general manager. Until then the company had an exclusive agreement with Anheuser-Busch and their Budweiser portfolio. They gave up that exclusivity to add a new division called Elevated Spirits which is dedicated to craft beers, wines and spirits.
So does having a small number of independent craft breweries mean Rhode Island is a place to avoid for beer hunters? Absolutely not. Considering Rhode Island’s proximity to other fine beer destinations, good beer is no longer hard to find, especially in places like Providence, less than an hour’s drive from Boston, where some of the best beer in North American can be sought.
So, forget lumping Rhode Island into the same category as the doldrums of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Alabama. Craft beer lives here and is beginning to thrive. In this series we will point out some Rhode Island spots to check out if you ever pay a visit. And, yes, our scope of what constitutes a valid vacation spot is heavily myopic and centered greatly around the pursuit of worthy beer, but those who have been to Rhode Island know it beholds some of the best parts of America in the ways of natural beauty and historical significance.
The first time we visited the Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine, we knew it was a place we would make a point to revisit when back in town. Reminiscent of the U.K.-inspired Horse Brass pub in our Portland it immediately presented an atmosphere exuding great craft beer culture.
Nearly as old as the good ol’ Brass, the Bear has been serving up tasty regional microbrews and artisan imported brews since 1979. About two miles from the city’s touristy Old Port District, the establishment is unassuming from the outside, but within its wall lies a history of Old World style and New World innovation. Bedecked with a plethora of breweriana and inviting beer signage, the Bear’s telltale indicator of greatness is a framed photo of the mighty Michael Jackson upon his visit to this destination for every enthusiast of barley art.
Housing sixty-five taps of wonderful beer, the Bear regularly features four beer engines and a constant supply of unique Allagash offerings. All About Beer Magazine justly claims this establishment to be one of “125 Places to Have Beer Before You Die.” With regular events centered around a love for beer, the Bear maintains a rotating array of Belgian and Extreme Beer selections guaranteed to excite anyone from the newby quaffer to the seasoned connoisseur.
Some advantages the bar offers include a long-standing smoke-free environment and a diverse spectrum of food offerings that cater to both carnivores and strict vegans. The local weekly, The Portland Phoenix, named The Great Lost Bear as having the best burger in the city. They also offer tasty housemade soups and hearty burritos to pair with a frothy cold one.
Upon our last visit, we enjoyed a cask pour of Allagash Black, a Belgian-style stout brewed with German 2-Row barley, torrified wheat and oats, and balanced by a large addition of Belgian dark candy to give the it a full and silky mouthfeel. Roasted malts give this stout its classic chocolate, toast and malty taste, and contribute to chocolate notes and a hint of roasted coffee in the aroma. The Black is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain and refermented in the bottle with the methode champenoise to make this beer truly unique.
Many of the beers offered at the Bear are those brewed in Maine. Tempting offerings here include Sebago Runabout Red Ale, Belfast Bay Lobster Ale, Gritty McDuff’s Black Fly Stout, and Atlantic Brewing Bar Harbor Real Ale. During the warmer months, one can enjoy themselves on the establishment’s outdoor patio. There’s a little something for everyone at the Bear. If you find yourself in Portland, Maine, make sure to pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed.