Tag Archives: Maine

752. Bissell Brothers Brewing i-Lucky

Bissell Brothers i-LuckyI believe i-Lucky was first brewed for Pai Men Miyake a Japanese Restaurant on State Street in Portland. It was also available for tasters at the brewery and eventually made it into cans. Unfortunately this beer simply did not work for me and I ended up giving away three of the four cans I purchased.

Appearance and aroma were fine with a nice light orange color, solid white head and a muted aroma of ginger and other spices. Taste is where it fell apart as it was all ginger. I tried this beer on its own and then with my dinner and the ginger simply overpowered everything. Maybe my taste buds are sensitive to ginger or maybe the beer would work with Japanese or Thai food but it didn’t do anything for me. By the time I was half way through the can my tongue was tingling and I decided to move on to something else.

I feel like there was a well crafted beer in there somewhere but the ginger was simply too much for me. 
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Bissell Brothers Brewing
Brewers Description: IPA brewed with rice & fresh ginger. a homage to restaurant workers everywhere.

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751. SoMe Brewing Apostrophe IPA

Some Brewing Apostrophe IPASmall update to this post SoMe Brewing has started to can a few of their beers including Apostrophe IPA. I bought a 4-pack and drank it over the course of a couple weeks and the beer actually seemed to get better over the course of a couple weeks. Really easy drinking IPA with loads of Mosaic hop flavors.

Some Brewing ApostropheDave from SoMe Brewing gave me this beer to try when I met with him at The Great Lost Bear. It is one of their best selling beers and a bit different than most of the IPAs out there. All Mosaic hops for this beer but unlike many single hop beers Mosaic works well for all three components; aroma, flavor and bittering.

Apostrophe pours a deep orange with minimal head and very light on the carbonation. Aroma has lots of tropical fruits and hints of onion. Taste switches gears entirely with some pear and a bit of citrus but the beer is also very sweet. Bitterness is light for an IPA.

Overall a pleasant beer that I recommend you try.
Pros:
Mosaic hops
Cons: Needs more carbonation
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: SoMe Brewing
Brewers Description: Mosaic hopped IPA

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746. Austin Street Brewery Brett Loves Hops

Austin Street Brett Loves HopsThis is the second batch of Brett Loves Hops using only Nelson Sauvin hops. I missed out on the first batch as it sold out the same day it was released but I was able to grab two bottles of this batch, one for now and one for later even though the brewer says not to age it.

Brett Loves Hops looks like your typical IPA with a nice orange color and bright white head that is probably a little thicker than most. Aroma is a nice mix white grapes and a slight funk from the brett. Taste follows with the brett taking a back seat to the fruity hops. I enjoyed this beer but I think I will like it even more when the brett has taken control. Will update this review when I try it again in 6-8 months.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6.8% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Austin Street Brewery
Brewers Description: Brett Loves Hops is an IPA fermented with brettanomyces. This will be a rotating series of beers with the hops changing from batch to batch.  The beer is named for the way brettanomyces and hops interplay and compliment each other so well.  When used as 100% of the primary yeast brett lends big tropical, overripe fruit flavors and aromas to the final beer.  We will work hard to choose the best hops to compliment those flavors.  Despite containing brettanomyces this is still an IPA and is meant to be enjoyed fresh.  We do not recommend aging this beer, but if you must have the signature barnyard funk that comes from aging, you will do so at the cost of hop flavor and aroma.

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740. Bissell Brothers Brewing Swish

Bissell Brothers SwishUpdated for 2016: Bissell Brothers changed the yeast strain they were using across all their beers and I feel it has improved the beers. The more recent releases of Swish have been even better than they were last year making it one of the most sought after DIPAs in Maine.

Original review: I tried both batch 1 and batch 2 of Swish and I am glad I waited for the second batch before writing this review. Not sure if my palate was off for the first batch but batch 2 was much more of what I expected from the Bissell’s.

Swish pours a pale orange, color is actually a little lighter than the photo and certainly on the lighter side for a double IPA. Aroma is strong and filled with tropical fruits; pineapple, grapefruit. Taste has lots going on with layers and layers of hops; grapefruit, passionfruit and pineapple flavors being the most prominent. A fair amount of bitterness in the finish.

Overall very impressed with Swish from Bissell Brothers and glad this one will be available for the next few months. 
Pros:
Big hop aroma and flavor
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Bissell Brothers
Brewers Description: The double IPA we have dreamed about.

availability: october through april
Hops: mosaic, citra, simcoe, apollo
Malts:  2-row, golden promise, flaked wheat

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739. Foundation Brewing Epiphany

Foundation Brewing EpiphanyFoundation Brewing came out of the gate with two solid saisons; Blaze and Eddy. Initially it seemed this would be their niche but they have since released a solid brown ale named Burnside and now with the release of Epiphany a straight up American Double IPA it is clear Joel can brew anything.

Epiphany uses a mix of Columbus, Cascade, Citra, Ella, Mosaic hops and clocks in at a manageable 8% ABV. For me this is a good ABV for a double IPA as you get all the hoppy flavor without the alcohol burn. Most of my favorite DIPAs are right around 8%.

The appearance is really the only thing I can find fault in with this beer, I like the unfiltered orange color but there was minimal head retention and little to no lacing. Other than that this beer is just about perfect with a sweet tropical / citrus aroma. Taste starts off sweet but those hops quickly jump in with a slightly dank and extremely juicy punch. Bitterness is there but not overpowering in the finish.

With the release of Epiphany you now have three great options for DIPAs in one building. Check out Catherine from Austin Street and Swish from Bissell Brothers as well. 
Pros:
Juicy and drinkable
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Foundation Brewing
Brewers Description: We indulged in our desire to create an IPA that personifies the vivid flavors that can be coaxed from the hop cone, painted on a canvas of soft malt that allows the flavors to shine through.  Extensively hopped in the kettle and in the fermentor, we spared nothing in making this beer.

Epiphany was designed to showcase the glorious flavor and aromatics of hops without any astringent bitterness.

Citrus, tropical fruit and pine blend to provide you with a sublimely juicy hop experience.

East or west coast? No. This is a Maine IPA.

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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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730. Bissell Brothers Brewing Angels with Filthy Souls

Bissell Brothers Angels with Filthy SoulsUpdated 2015 batch: I got a fair amount of push back on my original review of AWFS. Many felt that I was far too generous of the beer but I did enjoy the 2014 batch even though it was a bit unorthodox. In 2015 Noah completely changed the recipe for AWFS making it more of a traditional porter and added maple syrup to give it a bit of complexity and that probably also helped to bump up the ABV a bit. Overall a different beer but still enjoyable.

Original review 2014 batch: The 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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727. Bigelow Brewing Lying Bastard Pale Ale

Bigelow Brewing Lying BastardI picked up some fresh bottles of Bigelow Brewing’s Dementia Dog and their Lying Bastard pale ale. Dementia Dog was actually better from the bottle than I remember it, may be that the newer batches are an improvement on the first batch. If you tried their beer early on I would recommend trying it again to see if you notice a difference.

Lying Bastard is Bigelow’s answer to the transition beer and meant to be drinkable by both craft beer drinkers and those that typically drink Bud/Miller/Coors. Because of this it may not appeal to the experienced craft beer drinker. Lying Bastard pours a very clean orange with a thin off white head. Aroma is minimal with a bit of sweet malt but no hops to speak of. Taste reminds me a lot of Sam Adams Boston Lager with a light fruit character but little to no hop flavor.

Overall this beer works well for what it is intended, a transition beer for non-craft drinkers but it does not compare well to other craft pale ales. No doubt it is easy to drink and enjoyable but it will not knock your socks off, if you want hops try the Dementia Dog. 
Pros:

Cons:

Alcohol Content: 4.8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Bigelow Brewing
Brewers Description: 

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726. Foundation Brewing Blaze

Foundation Brewing BlazeUntil recently Foundation only offered beer in growlers either directly from the brewery or at the Bier Cellar in Portland. This changed recently with the introduction of 750 ml bottles available both at the brewery and through select retailers. I picked up this bottle of Blaze at the brewery.

Blaze is Foundation’s hoppy saison using their house yeast with six different varieties of hops to create a very interesting beer. Appearance is an unfiltered orange with a nice off white head. Aroma is a mix of citrus/tropical hops and the spice from the saison yeast. Taste starts with the spicy saison then the hops come in with a nice juicy flavor.

The hoppy saison, Belgian IPA, hopped farmhouse ale or whatever you want to call it continues to grow on me but I still prefer a straight up saison or American style IPA.
Pros:
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6.5% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): 68.5
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Foundation Brewing
Brewers Description: Vivid hop aromas, citrus, and tropical fruits meld with pine and spice. A touch of malt sweetness finishing with a smooth yet crisp bitterness. This is our marriage of classic American hop flavors with the fruity, spicy nature of our yeast. Honoring the tradition of a Saison, while exploring the spirit of the American IPA, this farmhouse IPA blazes its own path.

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725. Baxter Brewing Bootleg Fireworks

Baxter Bootleg FireworksI went directly to Baxter Brewing for the release of Bootleg Fireworks. Baxter is actually the closest brewery to my home and office so making the trip over for the release only took a couple of minutes. Bootleg Fireworks is entirely different from the well balanced In’finiti’s DIPA but Baxter’s intent was to make a hop bomb and they were not concerned with balance.

Bootleg Fireworks is packaged in 16 oz cans like the other special releases from Baxter. I find this interesting as most of their beer comes in 12 oz cans so you might expect a 9% ABV DIPA to be released in the smaller packaging, instead you get the full 16 oz like you do with Heady Topper and many other canned DIPAs.

Appearance is a deep orange with large fluffy head. Aroma has some citrus and tropical fruits but also a fair amount of booze. Taste follows with layers upon layers of fruity hops. Very little bitterness as the alcohol takes control in the finish. I drank all four cans within the first week and I wish I had another to try after a few weeks as I expect it would develop a bit without losing a lot of the hop character, if I come across another 4-pack I may grab it both to make a comparison and because it was an enjoyable beer.
Pros:
Hops!
Cons: A bit boozy
Alcohol Content: 9.0% ABV
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Baxter Brewing
Brewers Description: This beer is intentionally a bit off balanced. It makes sense too, as the beer features 8 different hops, and 4 different dry hops over the course of 2 weeks. The malts are as light as possible to the chunks of hops added to this beer shine.

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