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Breweries Coming Soon to Maine / New Hampshire

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Growlers – the best way to drink beer at home

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Case of Allagash House Beer

322. Allagash House Beer

When Allagash announced they were releasing a “house” beer I was not sure what to expect. Then some details started to appear online (although not on the Allagash website) saying it would More »

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Vermont Beercation 7/4/2012

Last week I headed to Vermont for a 3-day trip with my wife, her sister and her husband. I spent a couple of days looking at reviews of places to visit and More »

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Rating System

Details on how I rate the beer I drink. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet More »

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Tree House Brewing

A recap of my visit to Tree House Brewing in Monson, Mass. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet More »

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Hill Farmstead Brewery

Everything you wanted to know about one of the World’s best breweries. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet More »

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737. Wicked Weed Brewing Lusas Naturae

Wicked Weed Lusas NaturaeWicked Weed has been getting lots of great press and rave reviews for their beer. Most of their beer is sold out of their tasting room, restaurant and their new Funkatorium but some of it makes it into bottles. I traded for a few bottles last fall and finally got around to opening my first bottle, Lusus Naturae which is their double IPA with brett.

Appearance is typical of the style with a deep orange color and a bright white head that leaves some lacing on the glass. Aroma is heavy on the hops and light on the brett, lots of grapefruit, melon and citrus and only a bit of funk. Taste starts with the same melon and citrus but that gives way to some dank hops which are quickly replaced with a mild brett funk. Finished dry with very little bitterness.

Really nice double ipa with only a little funk which makes this a very approachable brett DIPA. It would be interesting to revisit this beer in a year to see how the brett developed but this was my only bottle. 
Pros:
Nice mild brett character
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.4% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Wicked Weed
Brewers Description: Lusus Naturae is a dry, North Carolina Double IPA brewed with North Carolina grown Riverbend Malt. It is dry hopped with over 3 pounds per barrel of Mosaic, Amarillo, and Centennial and finished with our house Brettanomyces strain. Drink this hoppy goodness fresh or lay it down to bring out the Funk.

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736. Port Brewing Mongo IPA

Port Brewing Mongo IPAThis was the final IPA included in my box from New Jersey and like the others it is probably not a fair review as I am not sure how old the bottle was. This beer should be right up my alley with an ABV of 8.5% and a nice mix of hops however it seemed to be lacking.

Appearance is what I expect from a DIPA with a deep orange and thick off white head. Aroma was more malt than hops with a nice sweetness and only a hint of spicy / floral hops. Taste followed with the addition of some pine.

Overall a solid beer that may have suffered due to age but I prefer the citrus / tropical hops to the floral / pepper / spice.
Pros:

Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.5% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Port Brewing
Brewers Description: A tribute beer brewed to honor the memory of our fallen soldier Columbus (nicknamed Mongo) who used each of his 9 lives in his short (but brazen) ten months on this planet.

Mongo begins with a massive resinous aroma created by the judicious use of Columbus, Amarillo and Cascade hops. The initial taste reveals notes of Orange, Mango and citrus fruits with a piney bitterness and hoppy spice with some mild malt flavors on the finish.

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735. Garrison City BeerWorks Bale Fire IPA

Garrison City BeerWork Bale Fire IPAThis is my third crowler from Garrison City. The fourth contains their Crowbar porter and is sitting in the back of my fridge as an experiment to see how well the crowler works. I will probably open it up in the next few weeks to see how the carbonation and taste held up.

This was the original batch of Bale Fire at 5.8% ABV. I visited the brewery last week and they have tweaked the second batch as it now stands at 7.0% ABV and the hops come through much better. This first batch had a sweet start with a nice floral and slight lemon bitterness. Overall a very mild and drinkable IPA that has improved in the second batch and may change even further before they settle on a final recipe. 
Pros:

Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.8% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Garrison City BeerWorks
Brewers Description: American IPA Hop forward Centennial hops lead the dry hop supported by Simcoe.

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Bottle Releases & Craft Beer Pricing

There is no question I buy a lot of beer and attend a lot of bottle releases. Just take a look at the list of beer currently waiting to be consumed (link here) and you will get an idea of the depth of my beer buying problem.

AnnThis morning I awoke and checked in with Facebook and Twitter as I do most mornings. There were several posts with lots of comments about the lottery style release of Ann a barrel aged saison from Hill Farmstead. I have been waiting for months to learn the details of this release as it is one of the few Hill Farmstead beers I have never tried. I believe the first and only release of Ann was in 2012 and somewhere around 180 bottles were released making this more rare than even Double Barrel Damon.

The details of the release can be found on Hill Farmstead’s website (link here) basically you register in a lottery, if your name is drawn you get to purchase a bottle for that given day. You can register once for each day of the release and the total cost is around $55 between the bottle, tax and fee for the lottery site. If you do not win you pay nothing, the small fee for entering is returned to you.

If you have ever been to Hill Farmstead, especially one of their bottle releases like the release of Damon, Double Barrel Damon, Flora and Flora Satsuma on 9/26/2013 you know how crowded it can get and the crazy lines that form. My post of that release can be seen here. In an effort not to replicate the crazy lines of that day Shaun decided to do the lottery style release for Ann which I think is great even at $50+ per bottle and here is why.

My time is worth something. I have a very busy job, three kids, a wife and all the duties that come with homeownership. If I can enter into a lottery style event, be chosen for a bottle and know that on February 4th I can show up at 11:00, grab my bottle and leave that is a much better solution than driving to Vermont to arrive at 9:00 or earlier and stand in line for many hours for the chance of getting a bottle. I am sure there were many in September that waited for many hours to have the final bottles sold to the people in front of them.

GashDon’t get me wrong I have waited in line for beer and I will again. Each brewery has its own style and bottle/can releases are no different. Allagash has an event coming up that I will go to, wait in line to get in and then wait again to grab a couple bottles of their new release Emotional Honey and bottles of some older beers that are making another appearance; Old HLT, FV13 and Tiarna.

Allagash does a tremendous job with their bottle releases with lots of games, food and samples. Combine this with lots of friendly craft beer drinkers and you have the makings of a nice Saturday morning. The difference is Allagash has the space to accommodate hundreds of people and while parking is not the best between the parking lot and on road parking everyone will have a safe place to park. Allagash also has many more employees to handle the crowds and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Hill Farmstead does not have the space or parking for such an event and  when they do have an event they rely heavily on volunteers. Coordinating all of this for a weekday bottle release would be nearly impossible.

AlchemistThen there is The Alchemist and their truck load sales. Similar to Hill Farmstead they do not have a space to accommodate a large scale release so they do it in a public space in Waterbury. I have only been to one but it was lots of fun and you can read more about the trip here. I was in line at 6:40 for a sale that started at 9:00. There was a food truck, a band and again lots of great craft beer drinkers to chat with and pass the time.

There is no perfect way to release a beer. You have the retail version with the Bourbon County craziness on Black Friday, the draft only version with Pliny the Younger at Russian River and select bars, the brewfest version that almost ended in a riot at Cigar City’s Hunahpu Day in Florda and countless other beer events across the country with demand that far outweighs the availability of the beer.

In the end breweries have to do what works best for them. For Hill Farmstead, at least with Ann, that is a lottery system and for others it means lines of craft beer fans waiting and hoping the beer lasts long enough for them to score a bottle.

If the beer is good than I want to try it. If the beer has taken years to craft; brewed, aged, blended, bottled, aged again than I will pay more for it. I have yet to be disappointed by a beer from Hill Farmstead or Allagash or The Alchemist and when you have a reputation of creating exceptional beer the beer buying public will pay. I don’t think any of these breweries are pricing their beer artificially high or limiting production to increase profits. Space and time are expensive which causes beer to be expensive. Yes there are plenty of great craft beverages out there that are less expensive but you are not going to be drinking $50 bottles of Ann or $15 – 375 ml bottles of Allagash’s Coolship beers everyday. It is a luxury item, a special treat and one that I am happy to pay for.

Is the beer worth $50+, I don’t know but I hope to find out. I will be submitting a lottery pick for each day, if I am chosen for a bottle then I will gladly pay the $50+ drive to Vermont and pick up my bottle of Ann. If the planets, stars and cosmos align and I am lucky enough to have my name drawn for more than one day than I will make multiple trips and tuck one away in the cellar for a special occasion. I will also be at the Allagash Wild Beer Round Up waiting in line on a cold January morning in Maine and if my schedule and time allows I will attend future truck load sales at The Alchemist. Chances are better that you will find me at one of the many other breweries that are making exceptional beer in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts.

Cheers to all and feel free to share your comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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734. Garrison City BeerWorks Galaxy Pale Ale

Garisson City BeerWorks GalaxySecond Crowler from Garrison City and it was tough to decide which I liked better, the Citra or the Galaxy.

Galaxy pale ale is similar to the Citra pale ale with some tropical and citrus but there is also a nice earthy grass and slightly dank quality that Citra did not have.

Can’t wait to try more from these guys. 
Pros:

Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.1% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Garrison City BeerWorks
Brewers Description: Dry hopped pale ale Southern Hemisphere hops Galaxy, Wakatu and Motueka lend spicy notes along with bright citrus and pine.

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733. Garrison City BeerWorks Citra Pale Ale

Garrison City BeerWorks CitraGarrison City BeerWorks opened in Dover NH on December 13th and the owners were nice enough to let me in on the 12th to sample and grab some Crowlers. Yes that is correct a Crowler is a 32 ounce can that is filled to order and sealed while you wait. Cost is a very reasonable $9 per Crowler which includes the cost of the can, no expensive glass to buy.

All 4 beers were very good so I took home 7 Crowlers; 4 for me and 3 for my brother in law. The first one to be opened was their Citra Pale Ale which pours a deep orange with a solid white head. The aroma was fresh juicy hops; tropical, citrus and a bit of pine. Taste followed with a solid malt backbone that made this a hoppy yet balanced pale ale. Mouthfeel was excellent as well with a nice amount of carbonation. I find carbonation to be an issue with many new breweries but this was right where I would expect to be for a pale ale.

Overall a very nice start from Garrison City BeerWorks.
Pros:
Fresh hoppy
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.1% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Garrison City BeerWorks
Brewers Description: Dry hopped pale ale. Light in color and low in bitterness. Hopped with Amarillo and Citra it bursts with sweet tropical citrus.

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732. Starr Hill Brewery King of Hop

Starr Hill King od the HopsThe last of the IPAs from my New Jersey box and another one that probably suffered due to age of the bottle. The Starr Hill website notes a July 1 release date for this beer and I drank it in mid-December. Assuming this was a single release the beer would be 5+ months old and that can really kill an IPA.

Pours a slightly hazy orange with a fluffy white head that left lots of lacing. Aroma was dominated by floral hops, pleasing but almost perfumy which is not what I prefer in an IPA. Taste started out sweet and then those same floral hops come through with a bit of lemon and a big bitter finish.

Not bad and something I would like to try fresh to compare as I bet it would be a lot better.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 7.5% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 50
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Starr Hill Brewery
Brewers Description: King of Hop Imperial India Pale Ale is brewed with heaps of American hops from the Pacific Northwest. This medium-bodied beer is dry-hopped to achieve an invigoratingly fresh aroma, which highlights the powerful citrus characteristics of the hops. Flavor notes of orange peel, passion fruit, grapefruit, and gooseberry lend balance to the bracingly herbal bite.

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731. Voodoo Brewery Hoodoo

Voodoo Brewing HoodooThis beer was part of the box from one of  my underwriters in New Jersey. Voodoo Brewing is new to me but I am always willing to try another IPA.

Hoodoo pours a nice orange color with a minimal head that left almost no lacing. Aroma was the best part of the beer with lots of juicy hops; grapefruit, citrus and some pine. Taste falls short of the aroma with a sweet start, hoppy middle and fair amount of bitterness in the finish. I had high hopes after smelling this beer.

To be fair I have no idea how fresh this bottle was so that may have contributed to the lack of hops in the flavor.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 7.3% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Voodoo Brewery
Brewers Description: Forged in the bowels of the Meadville bayou, this IPA ushers your soul down a twisted journey on the 7C’s.  This Voodoo brew will insight your dark side and open a portal to your hoppier senses. The 7C’s alchemic concoction of 7 different hop varieties starting with the letter “C” conjures your taste buds into a piney-citrus paradise fit for a Hoodoo doctor.

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730. Bissell Brothers Brewing Angels with Filthy Souls

Bissell Brothers Angels with Filthy SoulsThe fourth beer release from Bissell Brothers Brewing is their first dark beer and it comes in the form of a heavily hopped porter. Angels with Filthy Souls is a reference to Home Alone that I completely missed but both my wife and eldest daughter picked up on it immediately. For those that have not seen Home Alone 100 times Angels with Filthy Souls is the black and white movie playing while Kevin is in the hotel room, the one with the machine gun noise and “keep the change, ya filthy animal”.

As you can see in the picture this beer pours a deep brown with a very thick tan head. Aroma has mix of roasted malts and floral hops, interesting aroma but nothing too exciting. Taste follows the same path a very mild chocolate/coffee start that is quickly replaced by the Amarillo hops and leaves a slightly oily film on the tongue and teeth.

An interesting beer and one I enjoyed but seemed thin for a porter but it wouldn’t really fit into the black ipa/Cascadian dark ale category either. Certainly worth trying if you can find a can of it.
Pros: Unique
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6.3% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Bissell Brothers Brewing
Brewers Description: Our first dark offering; this porter is laced with lactose sugar to balance the tremendous amounts of amarillo hops contained within. Debuted in December 2014 to commemorate both the holiday season and our first anniversary, this unique celebratory ale will always rear its yellow, no-good, fore-flushing kiester around Christmastime.

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729. Hobbs Tavern Something Went A Rye IPA

Hobbs Tavern Rye IPAMade my first stop at Hobb’s Tavern to try their beer and grab a growler. They had a sampler of 5 beers available which included a cream ale, brown, rauchbier, pale ale and this rye IPA.

Sadly the beer was not very good, in fact the rauchbier and pale ale were almost undrinkable. I decided to take home a growler of the Rye IPA more for the growler and this review than for the beer itself. This beer pours a nice orange with a thick off white head. Aroma was slightly sweet from the rye and only a small amount of floral hops coming through. Taste was OK with the same slightly sweet and rye spice coming through. Carbonation was on target and there was minimal bitterness.

Overall Hobb’s Tavern has a wonderful facility in a beautiful setting but the beer has a lot of room for improvement.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 5.2% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 55.3
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hobb’s Tavern
Brewers Description: IPAs were originally developed with greater amounts of hops to help preserve the beer on the long boat voyage from Britain to India. The style has persisted because so many people love the extra flavor. We added rye round out the flavor profile. The mash got “stuck” creating even more work for our brewer, thankfully it is a labor of love and we pulled this very tasty, well rounded brew out of it.

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