Beer Day 2:
The sky was hazy this morning and a slight chill hit me as I woke up with a breeze coming through my window. Cloudy morning aside, the smell of trees and ocean is never a bad wakeup call in my book. You notice these things after living in a city for a while. It was the Fourth of July and time to kick of the day watching the parade in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. After this the six of us piled into two cars and embarked on our longest day of beer adventuring.
First stop, Allagash Brewing Company. I had been to Allagash once before about a year ago, last summer. It was the brewery that inspired me to try more craft beer and also to start this blog. Needless to say I was excited to go back. Walking up to the entrance we were greeted at the hostess stand and asked if we were going on the brewery tour (we were) and then had to present our tickets. Once they gave us a bracelet for the tour we waited in the tasting room/gift shop as soon as we walked in. It didn’t take long for the tour to start as we gathered by the door to enter the brewery, our tour guide wielding an American flag so we knew who to follow.
The tour started off right in the brewery, kettles towering over us as the warm smell of spices and brew teased our nostrils. The tour guide spoke about Allagash’s expansion from their original brewhouse to the one we were in currently that is an addition to the building. She walked us up stairs to the top of the kettles where they add the grains and where you could see the wort if you looked into the glass window on the tank. It wasn’t a production day so we were able to get up close to where they brew, last time I came we did not go up the stairs. We moved on to the kettles that held the beer as it fermented and next was the bottling area. Allagash had expanded since I’d last been there so this was also a new experience. Lastly we made it through to the old brewhouse which they now use for smaller batch beers. It’s incredible to see how much they have grown not only from when they started until present day but even just within the past year.
As the very informative tour guide wrapped up the end of the tour she led us into the barrel room that stores the beer. This is also where we got to try four of their beers, a small bar was set up right when you walk in. I can’t think of a better environment to get the full Allagash experience. Four beers were available to taste, I’ll start with White. This Belgian style wheat beer is absolutely one of my favorites; it got me started on my craft beer researching a year ago and holds a special place in my heart (and in my fridge). It pours a cloudy golden color with a bit of a head. The spicing in this coats your mouth in a way that lets you know it’s there, but still remains light and refreshing.
The Dubbel is another one I had tried before although this tasting reminded me how much I had missed having it more often. I knew it was good but I needed a reminder, safe to say when I returned home after this trip Dubbel became my go-to beer for the next month or so. It pours a deep reddish-brown color with a nice head. A Belgian Style Dubbel, it maintains the refreshing fruitiness while also giving off a malty taste. Just. So. Good.
The Spéciale Blonde Ale I was excited for having not tried it previously. It gave off a citrus/hoppy aroma and is light. It has some fruitiness to it but you can also taste the bitterness from the hops. I’m not a huge hops fan but if you are you would enjoy this.
Confluence is one I had not tried previously. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I ended up really enjoying this brew! At first sip you can smell the unique spicing and as you taste, a hint of almost apple cider-y flavor comes to mind. The balance between sweet and spicy comes across making for a smooth golden ale. Not dark in color but rather light golden.
As we finished the last sips of our beers the tour guide prepared to lead us out the way we had come in. Back in the tasting room we realized there was one more beer we had to try before leaving, the House Beer. We got a sample from the tasting room bar and gave it a shot. The House Beer poured golden in color and with a nice white head to it. It is a light beer brewed for the employees of the brewery to have after work. Citrus and hops are evident in the beer, making it another good one for hops fans. As we finished off this last beer and placed the glass back on the bar I was more than excited to continue this day. Exiting Allagash was bittersweet… but I also came back a few days later for a t-shirt or two. And I know I’ll go back again.
After a pit stop at the cars to share some snacks before the next brewery, we made our way. Of course by made our way I mean we went across the street to Austin Street Brewery and Foundation Brewing Company, not a long trip at all. The building that both Austin Street and Foundation are in is a warehouse style building. They have a smaller office building attached to a bigger warehouse garage space.
We walked up to Foundation first and were greeted by fellow beer drinkers playing corn hole out front. This place was already awesome, so we went inside and placed out order. We tried three Foundation brews and Michael even got a Foundation Brewing t-shirt. We took the beer into the open warehouse space where they sectioned off with rope a seating area. From it you could see the kettles and brewing equipment inside but also see outside through the open garage door. It was great to be drinking the beer while looking at all of the equipment it took to make it.
The first beer I tried was Eddy. A farmhouse style/saison, it pours light golden in color and leaves a white laces once the head dissipates. It is light in flavor and crisp, giving off a hint of bitterness from the hops that cut through the floral and citrus flavors. As mentioned before I’m not a big hops fan but this is one I still enjoyed, the flavor combination was a good one and I was able to enjoy this.
Next on the table was Wanderlust. It poured a thick head and a medium golden color, slightly darker than Eddy but not by much. A farmhouse ale/ saison it was much more hoppy than the Eddy. It was juicy, filling your mouth with its flavor, and a god flavor for what it was. Just wasn’t my style of beer but everyone else loved it. Michael described it as a, “Killer beer lovers beer” on his Untappd rating of it and got some to take home after we left. Like I said, good for what it is just not totally for me.
Lastly we tried the Ginger Infused Saison, my absolute favorite of the three. This saison infusion was also a light golden color and poured a white head, leaving lacing around the glass. It was refreshing; the ginger in this beer was very likable and fresh. It did not overpower the rest of the beer at all, just gave it a nice twist. Very light and crisp, I would definitely go back for more.
As we wrapped up at Foundation, turning in our now empty glasses, we made our way around back of the building to Austin Street Brewery. Just like Foundation, Austin Street was packed. We didn’t get as lucky with seating here and after going inside to order our beers we stood outside to drink them. It was a nice day though so we didn’t mind at all.
To start off I tried First Light. Light golden in color and with a thin lacing around the glass, this saison had a fruity kind of citrus nose to it. It was refreshing with a hint of sour and very drinkable. Next up was the Crushable IPA, that poured yellow with a little cloudiness in it. The aroma of hops hits you when you go in for your first sip and the bitterness is evident in flavor. It was a good IPA, just not up my ally as I described it on Untappd. I’ll supplement my description with a excerpt from Michael’s Untappd as he is someone who likes IPAs. He described it as a “Big, bold, fill your mouth flavor. Hoptastic without knocking you down.” So do with these what you will. Even though my description is the lesser one, I’d still recommend trying it as I do any beer. It can totally be appreciated for what it is. Our last sample was the Industrial Park Ale #12. This American IPA poured with a nice white head and was citrusy right off the bat. The citrus I enjoyed even though it was an IPA. It still had that IPA bitterness to it.
Following Austin Street we took a much needed lunch break before continuing our journey to Oxbow Brewing Company. Once lunch and some hydration sunk in we made our way to Oxbow’s tasting room in Portland. This tasting room was a unique one, like nothing I’ve ever seen at least. It is discrete from the outside, if you didn’t know what it was you might not know to go in. there was not really a sign, just a large warehouse space on the block that held a really awesome bar. This tasting room was not at the brewery, that’s in Newcastle, Maine. It was in the blending and bottling space though, so it held many barrels of beer being stored there.
The bar and seating area was sectioned off. Music was playing, people were around chatting and snacking on bar food. The barrels in storage had twinkling lights strung over them as decoration. The atmosphere was something else and I loved it. We came across an empty picnic table amongst the many full ones (we got lucky with seating again) and looked over the drink list. I ordered the Continental, one of Oxbow’s beers that I had never tried. It is a blonde saison and uses European hops, not something that I’ve had that often if at all. So I gave it a shot, seeing if I could change my opinion on hops by trying this new one. The balance of the grain and hops flavor was done well. It was sweet but still had that herb and bitterness. I was glad I tried it, it was still bitter but one of the more liked hops I’ve had in a while.
Next I tried the Domestic, Oxbow’s blonde saison brewed with American hops. This one was crisp but, at least to me, a little more bitter. Probably just noticing the difference in hops as it was very similar to the Continental. Following these two new (to me!) beers, I tried the Loretta, an Oxbow favorite of mine. This blonde ale poured light yellow with a thinner head and lace than the Domestic and Continental. It has a prominent wheat taste but also sweet, almost lemony and this combination makes it easily drinkable and refreshing. It is also brewed with European hops, interesting… I’ll have to keep this in mind.
Lastly I tried Bowie, another Oxbow favorite I’d had once before during an Oxbow tap takeover in Philadelphia a few months back. This blonde farmhouse ale is golden-orange in color with thin lacing once poured. Out of the four this one was the least hoppy which is probably why I enjoyed it the most, although between this and Loretta it’s always a tough call. This to me is more drinkable though because of the lack of bitterness, it is smooth. The yeast and malt flavors flow together so nicely, subtly smokey but really not much.
Overall Oxbow was a great experience, the beer itself is worth checking it out for and the atmosphere just adds to it. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the Saison Dell’Aragosta, their saison brewed with Maine lobster and sea salt. Oxbow was our last stop for the day, we had a very beer-filled Fourth of July and it couldn’t have been better. We ended the night with a barbecue.
Allagash Brewing Company
White, Belgian Style Wheat, 5%
Dubbel, Belgian Style Dubbel, 7%
Spéciale Blonde Ale, Blonde, 5.5%
Confluence, Dry Hopped Golden Ale, 7.5%
House Beer, 4.5%
Foundation Brewing Company
Eddy, Farmhouse Style/Saison, 5.7%
Wanderlust, Hoppy Farmhouse Ale, 4.5%
Ginger Infused Saison, Saison, 5%
Austin Street Brewery
First Light, Saison, 5%
Crushable IPA, American IPA, 3.6%
Industrial Park Ale #12, American IPA, 7.2%
Oxbow Brewing Company
Continental, Blonde Saison, 5%
Domestic, Blonde Saison, 5%
Loretta, Blonde Ale, 4%
Bowie, Blonde Farmhouse Ale, 5%