I’ve spent the past two weeks traveling through New England. I started off in Maine when I flew into Portland, rented a car and decided to drive back to New Jersey while visiting all of the states in New England over the course of two weeks.
I had spent a good majority of the week working in Camden Maine. If you’re into beer, Camden may not be the best spot for you. You’ll find local beers, but it’s not a beer destination spot. The most notable beer that I had there was Peeper Ale from the Maine Beer Company (http://www.mainebeercompany.com), which was also the beer recommended by all of the bartenders and beer loves I encountered.
After leaving Camden on Thursday to come to Portland, I was in a pretty big rush. Allagash Brewing (http://www.allagash.com) was holding their 3pm tour and I was trying to make it over there in time. I’ve been drinking Allagash for the past few years and thought this would be a great opportunity to check out their facility. My colleague and I arrived at the brewery just in time for the tasting.
- Hugh Malone
The tour itself was pretty basic. The most interesting part was when we entered the barrel room where experimental beers and other aging beers dating back to 2006 were stored. After the tour, we picked up some stuff from the gift shop: Allagash Four and a few glasses and headed back to the hotel.
Later that night, after an incredible dinner of lobster, clams, muscles and pasta at Street & Co (http://www.streetandcompany.net/) in the Old Port Downtown Area of Portland, I went out to visit some of the local Portland beer bars that I had heard about. The first stop was Novare Res Bier Cafe (http://www.novareresbiercafe.com/), which is in Canal Plaza. Walking up the street, I saw a small sign that pointed me into a small alley way which led to the bar.
As you could tell from the name, this is a Belgian inspired bar. As such, the majority of the beer on the menu was Belgians, but there was still a decent amount of craft beer from Maine and the rest of the US. They had roughly around 30 taps and 300 bottles. After starting at the menu for a few minutes, I decided to order the Oxbow’s Freestyle Farmhouse Pale Ale which was dry hopped with Simcoe (http://www.oxbowbeer.com). I had never heard of this brewery before so figured I ought to try it out. One disappointment was that there was little to no head in the pour and very little carbonation. At first taste, it had hints of the Belgian yeast, but the simcoe hops really overpowered it. I can’t complain though because I love simcoe. Mouth feel was good and it had a long, dry, bitter finish. I feel that if the carbonation was more apparent, then it might have made this a little bit harder to drink. I’d like to try other beers from this brewery to see what else they offer, but the production on these beers are pretty limited. Prices at the bar were fair for the quality of beer ($6 – $9 per pint), but if I was going to drink more that night, I was going to find a place that was a little cheaper.
Next stop was The Great Lost Bear (http://www.greatlostbear.com/). This was roughly 10 minutes away from Old Port Downtown Area. This bar had an entirely different feel from the last place. It’s a restaurant and sports bar that features roughly 60 taps, a lot of which are from Maine and other New England breweries. Lucky for me, it was Pumpkin Beer night there and all pumpkin beers were only $3/pint. Decided that out of all of them offered, I would choose the Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout to start. A lot of breweries nowadays are making pumpkin beers – which is great – but I feel it’s becoming an over crowded market with an over use of cloves, cinnamon, etc in the beers. There’s less of a concentration of actual pumpkin taste and more of an emphasis on the spices that we typically associate with pumpkin pie. The Fisherman’s Pumpkin Stout was a great way to stand out a little bit. Refer to Beer Reviews for a review of this beer.
My colleague and I hung around here for a while watching a baseball game. I ordered a few more beers: Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale, and Harpoon Pumpkin UFO. I’m not even really going to bother describing these beers because if you’re reading a beer blog, you probably already have an idea of what they’re like anyways.