Seth Levy

Seth Levy

Strawberry Beers Forever

In these waning days of summer, I'm tasting beers with added fruits, berries, and other unusual ingredients. Earlier, we tried three beers brewed with added strawberries. Two weeks ago, I reviewed a notice that two breweries I follow were releasing strawberry beers and I took it as a sign. Summer ain't over yet, and there's more strawberry to drink!

 

Hidden Cove Fragola

ABV: 6.0%

Format Sampled: 16 oz corked bottle

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market

Tasting Notes: Pours a luminous orange/amber with no head at all. Aroma has fresh acidity, tempered with a fruity balsamic character. The fragile aroma of fresh strawberry is evident as well. The first sip is pleasantly tart, with a refreshing sourness that is almost immediately overtaken by the pulpy favor of strawberry. The berry is so fresh, especially over the sour backdrop, that it's like a scoop of fresh sorbet on my tongue. The addition of strawberry in this beer is so natural that it makes me appreciate the flavor of strawberry in ways I haven't before, noticing it's inherent, decadent creaminess, and profound sweetness. The berry flavor continues throughout, both bold and delicate. The body is quite thin and fluid, setting up no boundaries to drinking this lovely beer quickly. The bracing acid character lends itself to an aperitif, or perhaps a pairing with a fruit dessert

 

Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Ale

ABV: 5.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy copper with a short-lived off-white head. Aroma is powerfully berry-like, sharp and almost buttery in its concentration. The initial flavor is sweet, filled with sugary strawberry, oozing with jammy intensity. The berry flavor is so potent, it's like eating a tablespoon of strawberry jelly directly from the jar. This is not a “berry flavored beer,” or a “beer inspired by berries,” this is the result of a mad brewer, drunk on organic intoxicants, brazenly squeezing a kilogram of strawberries directly into the bottle. This may be too sweet for some, but it would be an amazing accompaniment to vanilla ice-cream, fruit salad, or perhaps the base of an interesting beer cocktail or shandy.

 

Lindemans Strawberry Lambic

ABV: 4.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped and corked bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy pinkish, with a short-lived head of tan foam. Aroma is filled with meaty, stewed berries and mulled wine, much less sweet than the Sam Smiths. The initial flavor melds the essence of strawberry with a pleasant hint of balancing acidity. The sweetness is on par with the actual experience of eating a fresh strawberry, rather than a jammy distillation of the fruit. There is a pleasant fruit-like sourness, melding with the sweetness, and creating some level of balance. This, too, might be too sweet for some, and could also serve as a winning accompaniment to a vanilla dessert.

 

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Dreaming of tangerines — Respect the fruit

In the waning weeks of summer, I'm sipping beers that include fruits, berries and other unusual adjuncts. This week, we'll explore beers with tangerine flavors. Many citrus fruits are surprisingly natural additions to beers, because they contain chemicals that echo the flavors of popular hop varieties. Tangerines are no exception to this rule. In fact, this particular variety of citrus fruit contains a unique and varied mixture of essential oils, many of which are also found in hops. In addition to many others, your average tangerine contains: alpha-pinene (piney, herbal flavors), myrcene, citronellal (lemony, citrus flavors), thymol (herbal thyme flavors), and more! Happy sipping, loyal readers!

 

Long Trail Citrus Limbo IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottled

ABV: 7.6%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich amber with a thin, off-white head. Aroma has citrus peel, and the warm scent of fresh baked bread. The initial flavor features the deep, complex flavors of hops. They are rich, smooth and deeply herbal — not sharp, almost as if they were stewed and mellowed over time. The citrus evolves naturally from the hop flavors, a rich, spicy, honeyed, almost oily flavor. As the citrus fades, a broad foundation of bitterness is evident, playing nicely with the smooth, sweet malt backbone. The body is moderate, tending towards syrupy. In combination with the heavy flavor impact, this beer merits some respect, contemplation and consideration. Delightful!

 

New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 6.0%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich gold, with a moderate off-white head. Aroma is redolent of spicy hops, and potent, oily citrus peel. The initial flavor marries the sharp astringency of a tangerine peel with the mellow, juicy sweetness of the fruit. Bitter hops, with plenty of citrus character themselves, brace the juicy flavor and give it depth and complexity. The sweet fruit flavor continues to evolve, becoming more and more mouthwatering as it develops. The aggressive carbonation keeps lifting and redistributing juicy clouds of citrus flavor around my palate. This beer balances lovely herbal, bitter complexity with a fruity sweetness that's shockingly easy to drink.

 

Stone Tangerine Express IPA

Format Sampled: 24 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 6.7%
Availability: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a burnished copper with a thin white head. Aroma is pungently hoppy, with piney, herbal characters that waft feet away from the glass. The initial flavor is bracingly bitter — a full-on assault of deliciously dank hop flowers. The tannin, acid quality of the citrus joins the party, adding its own dimension of bitterness. After my tongue recovers, I perceive other aspects of the fruit that are sweeter and more subtle, but the bitter qualities dominate this potent brew. The finish is dry, with lingering notes of tangerine peel.

 

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Strawberry Sippers — Guzzling Fruit in the Waning Days of Summer

For the next few weeks, we're exploring delicious, quenching beers made with fruits, berries and more. This week, we'll be sipping a few beers brewed with strawberry. Fragaria × ananassa is technically a fruit, not a berry at all. Regardless of classification, its delicate, distinctive flavor is the essence of summer, distilled into a sweet bundle. Many brewers add strawberry to sour beers, using the sweetness to achieve a balanced flavor. When pairing these beers with food, it's the dominant sourness that dictates the pairing — not strawberry. Enjoy them alone, with fruit, with salad, or any other dish where the acid character doesn't clash. Cheers!

 

Black Hog Strawberry Gose
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.0%

Availability: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy, turbid yellow with a dense, bone-white head. Aroma is clean, and sharply acidic, with hints of strawberry leaf. The initial flavor has a brief, sour slap that rapidly evolves into the ephemeral, sunny flavor of a strawberry. The strawberry is distinct, but fades away so rapidly, it nearly gives my palate whiplash. It's as if I've awoken in a room full of strawberries and sunshine, blinked, and they were gone! After the brief berry flavor, the warm, bready malt kicks into height gear, joined by a savory, salty salinity. It's salty enough to induce involuntary lip-licking, and it's a delight! I'd pair this with chips and salsa in a heartbeat!

 

Eviltwin Brewing James Beer

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 3.5%

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Detonates an explosive foam shower immediately. What an opening! When it settles, the beer is a pale straw, with a towering head of white effervescence. Aroma is sour, berry like, and briny. The initial flavor is aggressively tart and salty, with a distinctly marine funk. It's like drinking a Berliner Weisse next to a berry patch, on a clam flat at low tide. In a good way! The palate cleansing acidity paves the way the briny, umami flavors of the olives to titillate my palate, shot through with surprising notes of berry flavor. For a beer designed to be paired with food, this is one of the most complicated, distinctive beverages I've had in months. Some drinkers may not appreciate the challenging acidity, and unexpected proteinaceous notes, but the beer geek in me can't help but appreciate the statement, and the artistry of packing so much flavor into a 3.5% beer!

 

Stowe Cider Strawberry Fields*

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 6.5%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours an absolutely clear pale yellow with no head. The aroma has honey, mint, and a gentle, nondescript fruitiness. The initial flavor has fresh strawberry character, not jammy, but still distinctive. Immediately after the fruit, a clean, subtle burst of mint acts as a built-in palate refresh. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed mint flavor in a fermented beverage — but this works surprisingly well. The overall flavor profile tends toward sweet, but the body is on the thin side, and the overall drinkability is off-the-charts. Serve this with a fruit salad, and savor the last days of summer!

*I know. It's cider, not beer.

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The Citrusiest Summer — Gulping Down Orange Brews

The summer swelter is in full effect, and it's doing strange things to my palate. I'm tired of lagers, and have to venture into stranger and stranger beers to keep my palate engaged. So, I'm kicking off an extended jag of tasting beers with fruits. Last week, we sipped some blood orange beers, so this week we'll try a few different beers that incorporate regular orange. This marriage of flavors might appear unusual at first, but the addition of orange to beer has a solid chemical rationale. Myrcene, an essential oil found in many hop varieties, has a distinct citrus aroma! Here's to orange beers, loyal reader!

 

Otter Creek Brewing Orange Dream

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.5%
Availability: Purchased at Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a pale, fuzzy yellow with a thin white head. Aroma has sweet corn meal, some spicy hops and a faint orange-blossom tinge. Initial taste is sweet, flat, and grainy – the same sequence of flavors I remember from my days of consuming copious quantities of mass-market “Cream Ale.” The orange reveals itself slowly and subtly, so faint, in fact, that it's hard to identify as orange at all. It's more of an impression or an emotion of sweetness. The finish is a saving grace, dry, fuzzy and tannic, with a definite orange-peel character. The overall effect is intriguing. This would be a wonderful beer to sneak to a  mass-market beer aficionado!

 

Clown Shoes Clementine White Ale

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 6.0%
Availability: Purchased at Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich, glowing gold with a thick, white head. The aroma has clove, banana, warm yeast and orange peel. The initial flavor is crisp, fruity and sweet. It's the lovely, sharp, simple sweetness of an orange, so light and brief and tasteful. Immediately after this sweet salute, the complex, spicy flavor of a solid white ale presents itself. The hazy clove flavor that's characteristic of this style melds incredibly well with the orange, yielding a bright, mulled taste experience. This would be amazing paired with Thai, or Jamaican foods. It can imagine this annihilating some serious spices, but the sweet flavors would hold their own.

 

Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance Citrus Blonde

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.75%
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Pours a golden yellow with a moderate white head. The aroma has a tantalizing whiff of piney hops and preserved citrus peel. The initial flavor has is a gentle wash of citrus zest, juicy fruit, and prickly hops. The citrus fades first, leaving a durable hop bitterness, citric in it's own right, but with a slightly herbal character. A chewy, fun sweetness follows up the hops. It's the kind of slinky, slippery sweetness that brings an involuntary smile to my lips. It's characteristic of blonde beers, and is perfectly incorporated here.

 

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Flesh, Pulp, and Blood Orange Beers

The torrid heat of August is upon us, and it's given me a royal thirst. After a month of drinking lagers, my palate, brain and liver are crying out for  variety, so I'm launching into an exploration of fruited beers. This week, we'll explore beers brewed with the Citrus × sinensis, also known as the “blood orange.” This hybrid orange has a vivid, reddish flesh, rich in antioxidant chemicals known as anthocyanin. The unique combination of chemicals makes the blood orange a particularly good source of vitamins, and contributes to it's rich, tart flavor. To your health, loyal reader!

 

Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood IPA
Format Sampled: 12 can

Available: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

ABV: 7.5%

Tasting Notes: Pours a reddish amber, with an orange tint, and raises a rocky off-white head. Aroma has candied orange, grapefruit and dank, resinous hops. The initial flavor has the warmth and spice of a  sun-ripened blood orange. Despite the cool liquid, the flavor is so evocative, I can almost feel the warm, juicy flesh of this exotic fruit, fresh from the tree. Every part of the fruit is represented, the sweet juice, the bitter pith, and the fragrant, oily peel. The experience is perfectly complimented by the citrus aromatics and subtle bitterness of a carefully selected range of hops, and a mild, understated malt foundation. This juicy, exotic treat is not to be missed. Drink one while the weather is still hot!

 

Peak Organic Crush

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

Available: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

ABV: 7.0%

Tasting Notes: Pours an orange/gold with a fine head of off-white foam. Aroma is flagrantly hoppy, with piney resin, bitter orange peel, and sweet citrus blossom. The initial flavor is mouthwatering and bitter, with pine-forward hops setting the pace, and the sour, tangy flavors of the citrus following quickly behind. It's subtle, but the bloody, juicy quality of the blood orange sneaks in, adding some softness to the snappy citrus and pine bitterness. The malt structure is elegant and refined, supporting the herbal hops and bitter citrus peel without adding too much weight or body. This is an enticingly bitter, highly drinkable beer.

 

Eviltwin Brewing Sanguinem Aurantiaco

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

Available: Purchased at Bow St. Beverage Public Market House

ABV: 3.25%

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy pale yellow, with almost no head at all. The aroma is strikingly sour and woody – almost nose-prickling. The first sip is both sour and savory, with a wholesome malty, woody quality swooping in after the initial sour blast. After the swirl of sour and savory, there's salute of citrus juice – more lemon than orange, to my tongue. After the initial lactic sourness, the citric acid flavor is almost mild in comparison, and fades away quickly, without much aftertaste. Highly chilled, this is a bracing and fascinating aperitif!

 

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Maine Lager Redux — Local Beers Are Worth Coming Back For

 

I'm a bad beer writer, loyal reader. Last week, I promised “No more lager.” I intended to keep my promise too! I thought I had enough lager for the summer and craved new flavors. That was before I chanced into a local establishment with a wide variety of Maine lagers that either slipped my mind, or recently entered the market. In seconds, I was drooling, my mind spinning, and my liver throbbing. I knew what I needed to do: taste some Maine lager and share my experiences with my loyal readership. Next week I promise we'll move on to something else, but this week, I'm tasting several delicious Maine lagers!

 

Peak Organic Fresh Cut

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 4.6%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours a fuzzy greenish-gold with a thin head of pure white foam. Aroma pops with citrus, dried hay, wet asphalt and dank, sticky herbs. Perhaps the hoppiest lager I've enjoyed this season? The initial flavor explodes with juicy hops. It's as if some grapefruit juice was dusted with citrus zest, and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice. Zing! The citrus has a nice, piquant bitterness underneath that ties it together and offsets any perceived sweetness. The bitterness fades, sliding effortlessly into a slinky smooth malt flavor. The Fresh Cut effortlessly melds the hoppy front end of a pale ale, with the mellow, refreshing simplicity of a pilsner. Delish!

 

Geary's OG Lager
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.75%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours an absolutely transparent yellow, with an ephemeral white head. Aroma has butterscotch, vinegar and honey — a peculiar blend of sweet and sour. The initial flavor is sweet and buttery, with the faintest suggestion of some European hop flavor to balance the sweetness. The body is quite thick, almost syrupy. As the beer warms, some hop bitterness tentatively pokes its head out and retreats under the sweet, concentrated malt character. This is a heavy lager, suited to those that like plenty of substance without the hoppy bitterness that typically characterizes more substantive beers. The OG would mix well with a hearty meal like baked beans, roast chicken, or a meat-heavy barbecue.

 

Sunday River Brewing Company Long Haul Lager
Format Sampled: 32 oz. can*

ABV: 4.0%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours a crystal clear yellow with a thin white head. Aroma is sweet, clean and piercing. The initial flavor has the sweet, grainy flavor of corn mash on the griddle. It's not at all cloying, and the accompanying subtle bitterness provides a nice offset. The flavor doesn't develop much, and that's just fine with me. It's a simple, uncomplicated American-style lager in a can big enough to boil a hog in. This is a beer to lie on the beach with, to drink in quantity during yard work, and to bathe in if necessary!

 

*Yes. You read correctly. This can is the size of my head.

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West Coast Lagers: Taking a Break From Maine Beers

It's been a mild ride this summer, loyal readers. We've been focusing on lagers, those even-tempered, highly quaff-able beers that are lower in alcohol and hops. We've sampled many lagers from Maine, and the Northeast in general, so it's time to broaden our horizons! This week, we're sampling lagers from the west coast. Next week, I'm taking some sorely-needed time-off. What will I sip when I return? I don't know! If you're so inclined, visit the Phoenix on Facebook, and tell me what style of beer you'd like me to sample in August!

 

Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.3%

Availability: Purchased at Joe's Super Variety

Tasting Notes: Pours a pale, greenish gold with a short-lived white head. Aroma is fresh and crisp, with green apple and some sourness. Initial flavor is bright and brassy, the tip sharpened with a modest but punchy dose of hops. The hops have the restrained flavor of the European “Noble” variety, so this is still recognizable as pilsner. The body is light, thin and snappy — easy to drink, but certainly not routine. The malt structure is refined and understated, giving structure to the subtle hops but not contributing too much sweetness. This is an elegant, strait-ahead pilsner, with just enough hops to keep the geeks interested. I just wish it came in a larger can!

 

Sierra Nevada Summerfest

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 5.0%

Availability: Purchased at Joe's Super Variety

Tasting Notes: Pours a completely clear yellow with a fine white head. Aroma is fresh, metallic and slightly skunky. The initial taste is a broad wash of mellow malt. It's faintly sweet, in a grainy, wholesome way — like fresh polenta. The hops provide a subtle, spicy bitterness, primarily perceptible at the edges of my tongue. This beer is stunning in its simplicity. Crisp, sweet malt, simple, spicy hops. That's it! No sour, no “hop hash.” Just a clean, pure, simple lager. For all their technical skill, Sierra Nevada has pulled of a masterpiece of elegant minimalism. Cheers!

 

Crux Pilz

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.2%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours a slightly opaque, brilliant yellow with an enduring pure white head. Aroma has citrus oils, apricot, and a bakery-fresh sweetness. The initial flavor jumps with unique, fruity sweetness. Continuing the initial aroma, it's reminiscent of fresh apricot essence, tempered by a bit of burnt butterscotch. The sweet flavor is slightly tempered by a mild, herbal bitterness, but the overall impression remains on the sweeter side. The creamy body and the sweetish flavor make this lager an ideal pairing for a fruit salad, or perhaps even ice cream!

 

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Northeastern Lagers

This summer, we're exploring lagers – mellow, easy-drinking beers that are perfect for summer. We've tasted lagers from Maine, and  New England, and now we're broadening scope to lagers from the entire northeast. Lagers are ideal beers for summer for several reasons. First, they tend to be quite low in alcohol (5 percent seems to be the average). Second, through hopped lagers are becoming more common, the style as a whole is typically only moderately bitter. This moderate bitterness prevents palate fatigue, and ensures that lagers pair with a wide variety of different foods. Finally, lagers are light-bodied, with few residual sugars, so they are relatively “thin” and easy to drink.

 

Switchback Citra Pils Keller Bier

Format Sampled: Stubby 12oz. capped bottle
ABV: 5.1% ABV
Available: Purchased at Whole Foods
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy yellow with a nice white head. Aroma has citrus zest, clove, and the toasted smell of yeast. The initial flavor is like a hazy, grown-up orange soda! The orange-zest flavor of the citra hops plays amazingly well with the hints of clove, and nutty yeasty flavors. Over the sweetly simple malt base, the combination of flavors is so refreshing that it's hard to imagine it's beer at all. The aftertaste combines subtle piney bitterness with a lingering citrus hit, leading naturally to another sip. What a refreshing beer!

 

Von Trapp Pilsner

Format Sampled:12 oz. capped bottle
ABV: 5.4% ABV
Available: Purchased at Whole Foods
Tasting Notes: Pours a bright, clear yellow with a puffy white head. Aroma is clean and fresh, slightly sour and floral. The initial sip carries the brisk, spicy flavor of noble hops. It's the subdued, slightly skunked flavor that foretells a great lager experience! In this case, the hoppy foreshadowing does not lie. This pleasingly bitter note continues as the flavor profile develops, setting off the savory malt character and keeping things complex and refreshing. The body is quite light, and the aftertaste is simple, clipped and bitter. Overall, the flavor profile is remarkably simple, well-structured, and elegant. A true old-school lager!

 

Sixpoint Brewery The Crisp


Format Sampled: 12 oz. skinny can
ABV: 5.4% ABV
Available: Purchased at Whole Foods
Tasting Notes: Pours a glassy gold with a big stack of white foam. Aroma is fresh with apricot and spring flowers. The initial flavor is just as bright as the aroma. There's the subtle, citrus sweetness of dried apricot, offset by a slightly more bitter citrus flavor, perhaps grapefruit pith? The malt flavor is ephemeral and mild, a nice biscuit-like crunch to balance the fruity, floral character at the opening. The body is very light, slick and fluid. The supreme balance between floral, bitter and sweet, combined with the light body make this a supremely-slam-able beverage.

 

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The Lager Binge Continues

We've been on a lager binge for the past few weeks, a bender I hope to continue well into the summer. It's easy to adopt a “go-with-the-flow” attitude with lagers. These beers are created by a lazy yeast that live on the bottom of the beer as it ferments. After a slow fermentation, lagers are stored in a cold room for an extended period ('lager' means storeroom or cellar in German) so this lazy yeast can finish its work. The long wait is worth it if you prefer a beer with a mellow, understated flavor profile. Lagers aren't spectacular beers, but their understated simplicity makes them ideal for the summer season. Hot weather can mean drinking in quantity, and the low ABVs many lagers exhibit permit drinkers to remain vertical during an extended sipping session. The lower levels of hops typically used in lagers prevent palate fatigue, and don't clash with the hot, spicy foods typically consumed during the summer. Is the lager the ideal summer beer? I don't know, loyal reader, but I'm committed to finding out.

 

Moat Mountain Czechmate Czech Pilsner

Format Sampled:16 oz can

ABV: 4.9%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery.
Tasting Notes: Pours a crystal clear pale yellow with a rapidly dissipating white head. Aroma has apple blossom, and faint sweetness. The initial flavor is nicely balanced. There's a sour-citrus nip of some  hop blossom, subtle, playful, but still punchy. There's a pleasant malt middle that's introduced by the hops, sweet like a bed of fresh straw, and crisp like a fall apple. After the malt dissipates, there's a refreshing snap of acidity – zing! The body is moderate, and the aftertaste is clean, clipped and pleasant. Perhaps a 16 oz can is too small?

 

Jacks Abbey Craft Lager

Format Sampled: 16 oz can

ABV: 5.2%

Availability: Purchased at Joe’s Super Variety
Tasting Notes: Pours a clear pale gold with an enduring, though thin, white head. Aroma has delicate floral notes, and a distinct white grape character. The initial sip is so smooth and unctuous, I'm concerned this beer will drink itself. The predominate flavor is a mellow malty sweetness. It's sweeter than a cracker, and approaches fresh cornbread – sweet, but in a “grainy” way. The hops are quite faint, and take some swirling and warming to reveal themselves as mildly herbal and lemony. The body is on the upper end of moderate, lending a warming, substantial feeling to this beer. The aftertaste is slightly thicker and sweeter than I prefer, but overall, this is a very quenching, classic lager.

 

Two Roads Ol'Factory Pils

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

ABV: 5.0%

Availability: Purchased at Joe’s Super Variety
Tasting Notes: Pours a clear, greenish yellow and raises a thin, rocky white head. The aroma is slightly sour and lemon-like, with a faint piney undertone. The initial flavor is bright and snappy, combining a refreshingly sour flavor with subtle hops. It's as if this beer had been dusted with lemon zest! Under the citrus, there's a little explosion of hop bitterness, redolent of pine. The malt is understated, lending some substance to the overall flavor without adding sweetness. The body is light, thin and fluid – lending this a dangerous score on the “chug-ability” index. The aftertaste is faintly, lingeringly bitter. I crave a salty pretzel with the Ol' Factory, just to make me thirstier!

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More Maine Lagers to Beat the Summer Heat

'Tis the season when the sun rises early, and emboldens our neighbors to begin such silent, meditative tasks as lawn-mowing, scrap-metal tossing and competitive yelling, bright and early! Why not escape the stress of 5 a.m. yard maintenance with a trip to the beach? But first, perhaps a brisk, 15 MPH drive, amid hordes of reflex-impaired tourists, piloting whale-sized RV's. You know what? Let's turn on the A/C, pull a beach towel over our heads, and wait for the first frost. In the meantime, we'll continue tasting some lagers from Maine — ideal beers to beat the heat, humidity, and frustration of the summer.

 

Boothbay Craft Brewery 27 Lager

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
Availability: Purchased at Old Port Spirits and Cigars

ABV: 5.7%

Tasting Notes: Pours a glowing reddish amber with a thin tan head. Aroma is sweet and coppery, with some apple-cider character. The first sip is nutty, with rich hazelnut, and savory, mealy chestnut. The nuttiness is cut with restrained hops, which provide a faint bitterness, and a similarly faint citrus/herbal flavor. The malty character, evident in the initial nutty flavors, continues, imparting flavors of fresh-baked bread and ground buckwheat. The aftertaste is spare and sweet. The body is rather thick overall, and the character a little sweet for my taste, but this is an excellent lager for those who don't like bitter, hop-forward beers.

 

Banded Horn Lumaire Lager

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage

ABV: 5.5%

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy greenish-gold, with a huge, lofty head of white foam. Lemondrop and pine hop aromas boil from the glass. Initial flavor features the sharp, mouthwatering citrus flavors of the hops. It's just bitter enough to define its own sweetness in contrast — like those little gummy orange wedges dipped in a sour, sugary coating. The malt is lightly sweet, perfectly suspending the citrus swirl of bitter hops, that deepen and feature piney, dank, herbal notes. The body is quite light and the flavor, though distinctive, isn't overbearing. It's like the best parts of drinking an IPA and a lager, together!

 

Banded Horn Wicked Bueno

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage

ABV: 4.3%

Tasting Notes: Pours a crystal clear pale gold with a thin white head. The aroma has a high, lonely note of faintly herbal hops, and a distant sourness. Initial flavor is super-duper clean! There's a hint of hop flavor, present mainly as a slight bitterness, and some subtle citrus character. That's it. No funk, no floral, and no "tropical hop aromatics," just a quick hit of bitter! The malt flavor unspools more slowly, showcasing a simple sweetness, and the smooth taste of cornmeal. Maybe it's tacky to praise an adjunct flavor that mars many a macro-brew, but the explicit call-out of this old-school macro-lager flavor reads more like a classy tip-of-the-hat in the bueno!

 

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