It was a grand year to be a beer writer, loyal reader. My 2016 was a series of blurry, drunken reveries. Based on eyewitness accounts from trusted friends and colleagues, I am confident in saying that I'm relatively certain I had a good time. I think. This week, I'll share some of my favorite Maine beers, as well as the memories I made with each one. Here's to a happy, healthy 2017, with many more memories and great beers!
Banded Horn Barrel Aged Mountain Russian Imperial Stout. Cautiously sipped from a 12 oz. capped bottle.
The aroma of the Mountain is a cloud of boozy yeast, aged rum, coffee and black cherry. The flavor is a tidal wave of rum-soaked fruitcake, vanilla beans, dark caramel, toffee and burnt cream. I sipped this beer after a wonderful evening at the Maine Huts and Trails. A raucous group of friends hiked through complete darkness to a warm, well-lit hut with a blazing fire. We talked and ate well into the night. After a long drive home, I kept the buzz of the conversation and the warmth of the fire going with the Mountain!
Peak Organic Ginger Saison. Slurped from a 12 oz. bottle.
The aroma of this beer is peculiar, with sulfur, apple-cider vinegar and ginger. The first sip is refreshing as the aroma is funky. There's musty, herbal ginger, clove and lemon. It's deliciously close to a dry ginger-ale. I enjoyed the Ginger Saison during a multi-day bike tour from Acadia National Park to Patten. I rode with a diverse group through sun, rain and fog to raise awareness of the (then proposed) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The beer was a refreshing end to the second day of riding.
Foundation Epiphany. Gulped from a 16 oz. can.
A riot of citrus aromas escapes from the can. The tropical fruit aroma is so intense, I expect the foam to be bright orange. The flavor is juicy, so plush and herbal that I try to lick the bottom of the can. I opened this beer in a canoe, at sunset, on Moosehead Lake, on my birthday. A friend and I spent the day fishing, talking about the birth of his daughter, and marveling at the accumulation of memories over time. As the sun set, a galaxy of hop warmth rose in my soul. What a night and what a beer.
Sebago Bonfire Rye. Sipped from a 12 oz. can.
This beer is spicy, dry and toasty, evoking gingerbread, pumpernickel toast and campfire smoke. The body is thin, and the alcohol level moderate — an ideal combination of refreshment and substance. I enjoyed the Bonfire in front of a campfire near Bethel. I had just biked nearly 70 miles over the Grafton Notch in blazing fall colors. The air was cool, I had a full belly, and smoke from the fire mingled with the rye in the beer.