Amongst all the cargo hauled back up north the other day were more than a few 22 ouncers from Maine micros like these two from Bar Harbor Brewing Company of that sea coast town about an hour south of the US-Canadian border. Bar Harbor is a bit of a hot bed of micro-brewing, being also the home of Maine Coast Brewing as well as the Atlantic Brewing Company whose Coal Porter and Blueberry Ale I have enjoyed in the past. Pretty good for a population of about 5,000 folks. But that is not including the 476,452 tourists and 345,958 seals. I split these bottles with my kin as we watched the Braves spank the Phillies Saturday night. I received a "hmmm...pretty good" on each. High praise.
The Thunder Hole Ale is described as an english brown and I would say it is meant to be a southern english brown as opposed to the slightly tangy style of Newcastle Brown. It is a good moreish brown without the high hoppiness of many US brown ales. It is on the lighter side of browns but has a malty richness cut with layers of grain, pear and chocolate fruit and various sugars. Lighter than you would describe as dried fruit like in a Belgian brown. The hops provide structural support a bit green working with the pear, a bit twiggy and a marked astringency. All very medium which for a brown is usually a good thing. Well crafted rather than amazing as befits the style, this would make a great session ale. A long long finish. Advocates approve. I have not been able to identify the alcohol content.
Their Cadillac Mountain Stout was on my list of beers to buy as it came first in a recent All About Beer review of stouts and porters. I am starting to think that Maine is one of he hotbeds of world stout making, given the consistent excellence I have found there. This beer pours a big dark beige rocky head. It is rich and creamy, even buttery, and maybe is more smokey than dry burnt roasty. It has some of that fruitiness that Maine Coast's dry stout provides in large measure. There is some mint to the hops but also a characteristic I can only call hardwood. Notes of treacle and cocoa, too. In a way, it is more like a more complex and less sweet caribbean stout like Royal Extra from Trinidad. Certainly one of the best stouts I have ever had. Up there with Freeminer. Here is what the advocates said. Again, no info on the alcohol content.