Category Archives: Events/Bottle Releases

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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October, epic beer month

If you are in any of the beer groups on Facebook you probably have seen the pictures of what is almost always referred to as “the best bottle share ever”. Basically a bunch of people get together, bring a few beers and everyone gets to sample them. These photos gave me the idea of have an epic beer month and a virtual bottle share. No you won’t be able to taste the beer that others post but you will get to see what everyone is drinking and drool at some rare/limited release beers. During the month of October I am going through the approximately 200 bottles of beer in my house and picking out the best of the bunch.

Epic BeerThe list of beers will be long, at least 30 since I average a beer a day, and will include bottles that I have been hanging on to for no good reason. What’s the point of buying great beer if you aren’t going to drink it?

I invite you all to join me in drinking truly exceptional beer for the month of October, post your pics on my Facebook page, share them on Twitter. Use #epcibeermonth hashtag and invite your friends, relatives and other beer drinkers to do the same. If you have a blog and want to put together a similar post go for it, the more the merrier.

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Hill Farmstead Bottle Release 9/26

On September 26th Hill Farmstead had a bottle release including 4 beers; Damon, Double Barrel Damon, Flora and Flora Satsuma Mandarin. I decided to take the day off work and make the trip to Vermont. I took two friends with me and we planned to make a day of it. The bottle release was to start at 11:00 and bottles were limited to 300 of each for everything but Double Barrel Damon which had approximately 190 bottles total. Hoping to get bottles of each we met in Fryeburg Maine at 7:30 and planned to arrive at Hill Farmstead a full hour before the release started at 11:00.

hf line

The line from our spot an hour before the release time

Our timing was perfect and we pulled up to Hill Farmstead at 10:00 AM. The only problem being the line was extremely long even 1:00 before the release was to start. After standing in line for about 45 minutes we determined we were not even within the first 300 people and no way were we included in the first 190 that would get Double Barrel Damon so we made the tough decision to get out of the bottle line and start the growler line. This ended up being a wise decision as best I can tell from the BeerAdvocate thread you would have had to arrive around 9:30 to get any bottles and by 8:45 to even have a chance at the Double Barrel Damon. The lines were much longer than most people anticipated including the employees and volunteers at Hill Farmstead.

We got our growlers and were on our way around noon. The bottle line had barely moved at that point and we headed out to the rest of our stops. Lost Nation in Morristown was our next stop and we had a great Gose there. I grabbed a growler and a glass that you will see reviewed shortly. Then off to Waterbury to stop at The Alchemist, the one case limit was still in affect so not a lot of extra Heady made it back. No where close to the 13 cases I brought home in March. We then had lunch at Blackback which included drafts from Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s and Zero Gravity. Excellent beer and plenty of other people that had gone to Hill Farmstead for the bottle release.

Next stop was the Warren Store for some Lawson’s Finest Liquids and then back to Hunger Mountain Coop to see what other goodies we could find. Ended up with a couple bottles from Prairie that we cannot get in Maine as well as some Crooked Stave. Then the long journey back to Maine. We arrived in Fryeburg around 7:30 and each of us had about another hour from there.

We were initially disappointed to miss out on the bottles at Hill Farmstead but at the end of the day it is just beer and we brought home plenty of great beer to drink. Much fun was had and we will certainly be making this trip again although it probably will not be on a Hill Farmstead bottle release day as we may never see another announced release like that.

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Event Calendar

What a busy Summer of beer events it is going to be. As much for my own benefit as for my followers I have put together a list of events below. If you know of more please comment and I will update ASAP.

5/11/2013 – Oxbow Brewing Sasuga Bottle Release – More Info

5/11/2013 – Prince Tuesday release party at Mama’s Crowbar – More Info

5/14/2013 – Rising Tide beer release with Portland Green Drinks – More Info

5/18/2013 – Allagash Brewing Bottle release including several Coolship beers – More Info

5/25/2013 – Hill Farmstead 3rd Anniversary Event (sold out) – More Info

6/16/2013 – Throwback Brewery – Spicy Bohemian 2013 Release – More Info

6/21 & 6/22/2013 – The Festival US – More Info

7/13/2013 – Maine Brewer’s Guild Brewfest – More Info

7/19 & 7/20/2013 – Vermont Brewers Festival – More Info

7/26 & 7/27/2013 – Southern New Hampshire Brewers Festival – More Info

8/10/2013 – Hill Farmstead Festival of Farmhouse Ales – More Info

8/10/2013 – Kahbang / Bangor Brew Fest – More Info

Seems like I need a clone to make it to all these events and maybe another liver. Please let me know what I have missed as I am sure there are more things happening.

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Hill Farmstead Harvest Festival VIP Session

Well the weekend I have been waiting for since July finally arrived. On Friday I headed out to Vermont with my brother-in-law for Hill Farmstead’s Harvest Festival. I was one of the fortunate few that was able to purchase VIP tickets for this event as it sold out in about 60 seconds. The ticket price was $100 per for the VIP session but what I have learned from prior events is brewers really make sure you get your monies worth and Shaun from Hill Farmstead certainly did that.

We arrived at the brewery around 12:30 on Friday to get bottles and growlers filled before the event. With 500 tickets sold for the Saturday (non-VIP) portion of the event the lines were going to be long so getting most of our beer on Friday was a great idea. I ended up with 2 full sized growlers (Edward and Society & Solitude #5) and brought home another 15 – 750 ml bottles for myself and other beer lovers in Maine. The line was only 2-3 deep when we arrived but most people (including me) were filling 10+ bottles so it did take some time. In addition to the growlers and 750s I purchased 5 bottles of beer – 4 from Hill Farmstead and one from Grassroots Brewing. All will be reviewed here in the coming weeks as they are now at the top of my list of beers to drink.

After getting our fill of bottles we headed South to the Hunger
Mountain Co-op to find some Heady Topper and whatever Lawson’s Finest Liquids we could find.  The Co-op had a two 4-pack limit for Heady and the only Lawson’s was a 40th Anniversary Ale made specifically for the Hunger Mountain Co-op so I grabbed a bottle. We also grabbed some lunch at the Co-op and if you have never been you must go as they have some amazing sandwiches, a salad bar and even do growler fills. I wish there was something similar available in Maine.

After the co-op we headed back to Hill Farmstead and arrived around 4:00 with a few hours to kill before the event  which was scheduled to start at 7:00. After a bit of rest we ended up on a picnic table with a growler of Hill Farmstead Holger Danske and a couple of people from New York / New Jersey. This was their first time visiting Hill Farmstead and they had not tried any beer from Hill Farmstead until then. We ended up finishing the growler before the event even started but it was a great way to start the night.

As 7:00 approached the crowd started to arrive and the food from Mad Taco was cooking. Everything smelled amazing and was being prepared right there with fresh onions being chopped, multiple charcoal grills cooking the meat and lots of great bread. Also the music started and the beer started to flow. There were 2 taps that initially were dedicated to Hill Farmstead beer and at least 2 that were pouring beer from other brewers including a cider from Chicago.

My beer drinking for the night included;

  • Abner without Principle (blend)
  • Ephraim, Society and Solitude (blend)
  • Civil Disobedience 4.5 (blend of this summer’s saisons)
  • Simcoe Single Hop
  • Brasserie Cantillon – Rose de Gambrinus
  • The Alchemist – Heady Topper
  • Cigar City Brewing – Dirac

The beer was amazing and there were no tickets or other limits, basically as fast as you could make it through the line you could get refills. I had very little food but what I had was excellent and the remainder smelled excellent. While the event was going I met some people that follow my blog which is always a lot of fun. Some time after 10:00 they stopped pouring but many people continued to hang out talking beer and enjoying the evening.

Eventually we made our way back to the tent feeling good and full of plenty of great beer. Our plan was to make it out before the masses arrived on Saturday so we woke early, tore down the tent, packed up the car and had some breakfast on one of the picnic tables. They were selling 750s of Ephraim on Saturday which was the one beer we could not get on Friday so we expected to hang around until the bottle filling started at 11:00 for the VIP ticket holders. Around 9:30 the door to the brewery opened and we went in to chat with some of the employees/volunteers that we met the previous evening. Eventually Ephraim made it to the tap and we got our bottles filled around 10:00 just before they kicked everyone out of the fill area.

The ride home should have been about three hours however shortly after getting on Highway 91 in Vermont we had an issue with a tire and had to stop to change over to the spare and eventually found a tire shop in St Johnsbury to get a replacement. This delayed our return home by at least 90 minutes but we still made it home mid-afternoon on Saturday with plenty of great beer in the coolers and a day of rest before heading back to work on Monday.

I believe the next Hill Farmstead event is May of 2013 so keep an eye on their website and/or Facebook page for details. Provided I can score some tickets I will certainly be out there again and would love to meet up with more followers of my blog. In the meantime if you have the opportunity to go to Vermont be sure to plan a trip to Hill Farmstead or if you are bored on a Saturday and want to take a day trip it is only 3-4 hours from most of Central / Southern Maine. It is well worth the trip but be sure to bring cash as they do not accept credit/debit cards or checks. And if you go let me know as I may want to place an order.

All the people that I met at the event; Hill Farmstead employees, volunteers, other beer drinkers, etc were great and everyone I encountered was there to have  a good time and enjoy some World class beer. I posted some more photos to my Facebook page if you are interested click here.

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Hop picking with Peak Organic Brewing

Each year Jon from Peak Organic travels around the State visiting hop farms to collect locally grown hops for his local harvest series. He asked people to join him at Elm Hill Farm to pick some hops. This was my chance to meet up with Jon and also to talk to Arthur – owner of Elm Hill Farm so I made the trek to Monroe, Maine. I arrived shortly after the 1:00 start time and there were several others on the farm. The weather forecast was for 90 degree heat and sun but when I arrived it was 70 and raining. Guess that is what you get when live in Maine. Arthur has a nice building with for harvesting the hops and had 2 tables setup with some hop vines already cut and waiting for us to pluck. After a short demonstration on how to properly detach the hop from the vine we were ready to go. About 15 people were there and everyone was very friendly chatting about beer, hops and anything else that came up.

There was also plenty of Peak Organic beer which certainly made the process that much more enjoyable. While we were busy in the shed Arthur went out to cut more vines and kept us busy for a little over an hour. At that point we had filled the hop drying bins and we were done for the day. Many of the helpers headed off to Monroe falls for a swim but I headed home as it was Friday and I wanted to start my weekend. Arthur’s farm produces hops that are used by many local breweries. The day before I was there Atlantic Brewing was there picking up their hops and the week before Sebago Brewing took a bunch for their local harvest beer. At this point there are 5 or 6 viable hop farms in Maine producing a very small amount of hops but the brewers seem eager to use everything they can produce in their brewing. Hopefully farmers and craft beer enthusiasts will continue to plant and grow hops in the Northeast so we can be a little more self sufficient and provide the many craft brewers in Maine with a quality product they can use in their beer.

If you have a chance to attend a brewers hop picking party go for it. Sure to be lots of fun as you will be around others that enjoy craft beer.

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Smuttynose – Strawberry Short Weiss bottle release

Another stop on my afternoon/evening in Portsmouth and Hampton, New Hampshire was the bottle release of Strawberry Short Weiss at Smuttynose Brewing. This brewery is about 10 minutes from Throwback and located in an industrial park. The building looks a little tired as you can tell from the photos but that is soon to be remedied as Smuttynose is building a brand new facility in Hampton. The new facility will include the brewery and a 95 seat restaurant/pub. From what I saw during the bottle release the brew area is very cramped. The release started at 5:00 and I arrived about 20 minutes after the start.

The line was out the door when I arrived and I waited about 20 minutes to get to the front and get my 4 bottles of Strawberry Short Weiss. Bottles were $15 per and I will be exchanging 3 with some other beer drinkers in the coming weeks. I also purchased a bottle of their Farmhouse Ale from their Big Beer Series as I missed this one when it was released in stores. The employees were pouring samples of the Short Weiss as well as the other beers they had on tap. I only had a sample of the Short Weiss  as I was on my way out for the day.

The sample I had was very good and I will do a full review when I open the bottle in the coming weeks. This was a very straight forward bottle release unlike some I have attended by Allagash and others. Their goal was to get the beer out the door and I am pretty sure they were going to sell out of the Short Weiss that evening.

Website: www.smuttynose.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Smuttynose
Twitter: @smuttynosebeer
Location:  225 Heritage Ave – Portsmouth, NH
Hours: Thursday & Friday 4 – 7 / Saturday 1 – 4
Tours: Friday 5:30 / Saturday 11:00 & 1:00 – you must register online for tours. 
Packaging: 
A bit of everything
Distribution:
 Most states east of the Mississippi

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Sebago Brewing – Brewing for a Cause (4/21/2012)

Each year since 2010 Sebago Brewing Company has opened its doors on a Saturday for a limited number of people to participate in their Brewing for a Cause benefit. Sebago has a team of riders in the Trek Across Maine (click the link to donate) and for a $100 donation you are given the opportunity to “work” in the brewery with the brew staff making their delicious Trekker Pale Ale. I convinced my wife this would be the perfect early Father’s Day present for me and signed up just in time as the event sold out (actually slightly over sold).
Yesterday morning I woke at 5:30 and prepared to head to Sebago’s brew facility located on Sanford Drive in Gorham, Maine. I arrived shortly after 7:30 and the parking lot quickly filled up with other eager participants. For most it was their first time but there were at least a couple that were returning from prior years. We were all encouraged to bring home brew for others to sample however I have not yet tried brewing my own beer so I arrived empty handed.  Shortly before 8:00 we all ventured into the brew facility and found Barnabas and Kevin already hard at work getting the first batch of Trekker in the mash tun.  The Trekker Pale Ale sold out very quickly in 2011 so this year they brewed a double batch.
50,000 lbs silo
Jon Clegg – Brewer / Packaging Manager and host for the day arrived shortly after and gathered us all for a short safety meeting. Everyone was required to wear safety glasses and closed toe shoes. After we all passed the safety check we went to find Barnabas and Kevin to see how things were progressing. The first batch of Trekker Pale Ale was in the mash tun so we went to the grain room to start prepping for the second batch. Sebago has a 50,000 pound grain silo filled with 2-row malt. In addition to the 2-row they use 4 or 5 other varieties of malt for the Trekker Pale Ale and several attendees were able to help pour the additional malts into the hopper. (See more after the break)

High tech malt funnel
The 50 pound bags of malt are poured into Sebago’s high tech system of adding them to the hopper. It is a bucket that has been cut down to work as a funnel and it worked very well. We also had the opportunity to taste the 2-row malt to see how the raw product tasted. Once the malt has been added it is milled, a process that cracks open the husks exposing the inside and it waits to be mixed with the hot water in the mash tun. After we were finished in the grain room Jon, Barnabas and Kevin had to take some time to fix the first problem of the day. The grain mill was not accurately measuring the weight of the malt being added to the mash tun which could cause all kinds of problems with the final product. After some time Jon determined there was a setting that was off and he was able to fix the problem to avoid any issues with the next batch. Brewers often battle with these things during the brew process and this was not the last issue of the day.
Brew system – mash tun on the left and boil kettle on the right
After the problem was resolved it was time to transfer the wert, the hot water that has been steeping in the malt for about an hour, from the mash tun to the brew kettle. Sebago Brewing uses a gravity system from Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) in Canada. Many of the brewers in Maine use a similar system and although the picture does not show this well the mash tun is installed slightly higher than the boil kettle so most of the wert can be transferred by gravity. They do use a pump to get the final bit from the mash tun to the brew kettle. Once the 650+ gallons of wert has been transferred the spent grain is removed from the mash tun and is eventually hauled off by local farmers as feed for their herd. The spent grain looks and smells a lot like oatmeal. I have photos and video of this and have posted them on my Facebook page if you are interested.
Hops waiting to be added to the boil
Once all the liquid is in the boil kettle it is time to add the hops. For the Trekker Pale Ale hops are added at 3 different times during the boil process. First at the beginning of the boil for bitterness, second about 30 minutes in for flavor and finally with about 5 minutes remaining for aroma. All of this may seem like a quick process but by the time the boil has finished the process has taken about 5 hours. For us that means we were quickly approaching lunch time and Jon stepped out briefly to pick up a very nice spread from the Gorham brew pub.  About this time Kai Adams – founder of Sebago stopped by and took the time to speak to each of us. He was also there to help out with the second problem of the day. Seems the boiler was not turning off at the appropriate pressure and after a few phone calls a tech appeared on site to help fix the problem. Like the first problem this one was resolved fairly quickly however we got to experience a true brew day with the minor issues that brewery staff are constantly dealing with.
Tasting room taps
While Jon was gone (or maybe before) several of us found the tasting room which had 7 different Sebago brews including some that were only available during the pilot brew night at the Portland brew pub. The Milk Stout was finished fairly quickly however they had a couple of my favorites; Full Throttle Double IPA and Elegans Saison and another from the pilot beer night The Catch III. Jon made it back with pulled pork, fresh fruit, coleslaw, corn bread and a platter of desserts. The food was excellent and if anyone left hungry it was not because of a lack of food. Also during lunch many of the participants took out their home brews for everyone to sample. There was a wide range of options including a barley wine that did not start out as a barley wine and an IPA from a husband and wife team that was excellent.
Pilot system
During the transfer and boil we also had the opportunity to check out Sebago’s pilot system. This is the brew system they use to test new recipes and give the brewers the opportunity to experiment. Many of the Single Batch Series and the beers available at the Pilot nights were brewed on this system. The homebrewers that were in attendance had a lot of questions about the setup and many of them wanted to take it home with them.  We also had the chance to taste the Porter, Hefeweizen and their first attempt at an Oktoberfest directly from the bright tanks. This is where the beer is held after fermentation until it is bottled and each of these beers tasted wonderful with the Hef having huge amounts of aroma and big banana taste. Even though the beer had not been carbonated at this point in the process it was still excellent.
Yeast in the keg
After lunch was finished it was time to transfer from the boil kettle to the fermentation tank and to add the yeast. The yeast is stored in old kegs and used approximately 12 times before it is retired. This process was fairly straight forward and the primary concern was sanitation. Lots of scrubbing on the nozzles and attention is given to hoses to ensure there is no contamination. The transfer between tanks went fairly quickly and at that point we were ready to start the second batch of Trekker Pale Ale. It may seem like there is a lot of down time while the beer is in the mash tun, boiling or being transferred between tanks but during this time Jon, Barnabas and Kevin were all very busy preparing for the next step, cleaning up from the prior step and at least on this day entertaining 20+ beer enthusiasts. Each of them spent a lot of time answering questions, explaining the process multiple times, giving tips to the home brewers on how to improve their brews and generally entertaining us. The three of them did an excellent job as 8 hours is a long time but the day went by very quickly.
They were not prepared to bottle anything but Jon was kind enough to give us a demonstration of the bottling line including the labeling, rinsing of the bottles and capping. This seems like the a very tedious part of the process and I am sure it gives Jon lots of headaches as the packaging manager. They have a single bottling line which can accommodate both 12 and 22 ounce bottles. Again I have videos and pictures of the bottling line in action on my Facebook page. If you check them out please take the time to like my page to keep up with beer reviews, news and articles.
After the transfer to the fermentation tank was complete and the second batch of Trekker Pale Ale was in the mash tun we had about an hour left in the day. During this time Barnabas, Kevin and Jon answered tons of questions and everyone spent lots of time talking beer. I really enjoyed my time at Sebago Brewing and will certainly plan to attend again next year.
Also towards the end of the day I got another nice surprise. When I registered for the event it mentioned all participants would have the opportunity to bring home some of the beer we brewed. Due to the time it takes to ferment, bottle, etc the beer would not be available on the actual brew day so Jon prepared a list of names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses so he could contact us when the beer was ready to be picked up. I assumed we would each receive a bottle of the Trekker Pale Ale however Jon let us know we could trade our case (12 – 22 ounce bottles) of Trekker for any other Sebago beer so we would not have to make the trip back to the brewery. Fortunately this included their Full Throttle Double IPA. I do enjoy the Trekker Pale Ale but I love the Full Throttle so I took home a case of this as did many others.
I had no idea what to expect when I signed up for this event but for someone that loves Maine Beer and was very interested in learning more about the process $100 was a small price to pay. Also the money was going to a great cause and one that means a lot to me as my grandfather died of lung cancer. At the end of the day the $100 seemed like a bargain for a day spent with great people, tasting great beer and enjoying some great food from Sebago Brewing. If you have not been to this event in the past I encourage you to sign up next year as I am certain you will enjoy it. Also please take the time to sponsor the Sebago team in the Trek Across Maine here as each rider needs to raise $500 and the money goes to a great cause.
Thank you Jon, Barnabas, Kevin and Kai for a great day at the brewery and I will see you all again next year if not before then.
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Maine Beer Series at Frontier with Oxbow Brewing.

As I mentioned in my prior post I attended the first Maine Beer Series presentation at Frontier in Brunswick on Thursday. This was a 2 hour session with Oxbow Brewing owner Geoff Masland and his wife Dash representing the brewery. Geoff did a great job with the presentation including photos, video and the complete story of how Oxbow came to be. He also went into some of the challenges they have overcome being located in a small town in rural Maine and a history of the saison style. The 2 hours of the presentation went by very quickly and there were 25-30 people in attendance. During the session they provided samples of Space Cowboy, Freestyle #3 Dark Saison and at the end we got to try the first bottled beer from Oxbow Brewing. This is a barrel aged version of their flagship beer Farmhouse Pale Ale. The beer has been aging at the brewery for months and it will not be on sale for a few more weeks. Tentative date of 4/14 for the release at the brewery.

Frontier did an excellent job as host of the event keeping sample glasses full, providing quality hors d’oeuvres and the space was a perfect setting for this kind of event. Ample parking and easy to find. They already have 2 more events scheduled – April 12th with Marshall Wharf Brewing and June 14th with Maine Beer Company. I expect to attend each and would recommend any fan of craft beer to do the same.

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Maine Beer Company – Thank You Allan

This is not my usual beer review post but wanted to share some information and a picture of a new release from Maine Beer Company. On a snowy Thursday in Maine they released their Thank You Allan beer. 250 hand numbered bottles available only at the brewery for $25 each. I was there early and was able to pickup bottles #10, 11 & 12 and the bottles are a piece of art by themselves. The photo here gives you some idea of what I am talking about. Green bottle, hand labeled and corked. The brewers description for this one is;

This is our farmhouse ale. It was fermented with a blend of ale strains and aged in french oak Syrah barrels with brettanomyces. $10 from your purchase goes straight to the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund. Thank You!

When I got to the brewery this morning both Daniel and David were there selling bottles along with a couple of employees. There was already 3-4 inches of snow with lots more on the way but that did not stop me from visiting and picking up a few bottles of this limited release.

I am not sure why they chose the gorilla fund but I am sure there is a story behind it as there always is with Maine Beer Company. If you happen to be in Maine and have the chance to get to the brewery they do have some bottles for sale tomorrow March 2, 2012 and the brewery will open at 9:00. Looking forward to drinking this and doing my review, will probably age at least one bottle and possibly share the third with someone that was not fortunate enough to make it to the brewery.

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