I found this beer at Wild Oats in Portland, Maine last week. $8.99 US for a six and it comes with the "Pry Off" cap - click the photo for the details. Why twist when you can pry?
First, this is not an old school porter with the required sourness up front in the vein of, say, Grants or that relatively unfortunate Sleemans experiment of last Christmas. This is a malty modern version, somewhat like the Cooperstown Benchwarmer but a bit bigger, with more graininess. Porters like these are actually the first beers a home brewer should try as there is lots of flavour but not one stands out for the style to be respected. There is a lot of room for both error and expression.
So, the Butte Creek take is a dark mahogany brew under a quickly dissipating white head. There is that pumpernickle-molasses rich dark sweetness with an edge of rough non-citric hop cutting the cloy. In the side by side with the Benchwarmer, there I note a bit of lime in the hop, giving it a bit of a vineous quality, there but nothing like an Ithaca Nut Brown. Compared to those two, the Butte Creek has none of it. It is more like a pale ale in its focus on grain with the hop playing the supporting role. At the bottom, however, there is a nice tang which I am guessing is more yeast than hop. All in all pretty fine.
Mike has done some excellent research with a map he has found showing the first places of libation in his hometown and my old stomping grounds of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Go read. If he'd scan the map we could put it up here as some interactive history with an edjificational twist. Just thinking of the youth of the nation.
Monday, we were in the Leatherstocking Region of central New York en route to Ithaca and the end of the vacation. Heading to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we stopped in at Cooperstown Brewing not actually in Cooperstown but in nearby Milford south on #28 about 7 miles...maybe. I reviewed their variety 12-pack last year and for the first time felt a little funny in doing what I do, going up the drive past the hop plantings and into this micro, having said bad things about their stout. These people work hard and who am I to say...no, I am the customer. I should rule...a bit.
No fear as I found a nicely laid out shop with very friendly staff. I noticed a brown I have not tried before but grabbed a six of their excellent Benchwarmer porter as well as a bright yellow t-shirt of the same. I took some photos (which I will post) of their small 1940-ish hanger-like structure by the railway tracks.
If you do go and you have kids, be there at 11:00 am as that is when the Milford to Cooperstown old fashioned railway leaves the depot next door and your kids think that is why you are there.
In April I picked up a IPA and Brown from Sebago and reviewed them here when I got home but last night we visited the Mall of Maine location and had the stout on tap. I don't know why Mainers make the best stout on the planet but they do. This one is creamy, licorice and chocolate. The location is in a mall parking lot but the service was friendly, the spinach and artichoke dip really good and prices for burgers good. But that stout on tap. Oh baby. The IPA on tap was great. The stout amazing. The logo is pretty nice as well.
Next, I get to find out of Connecticut has any weird beer laws that are worth reporting.
Short of sending gifts of pawning value, which I fully encourage, the best way to get mention around here is to flatter and fawn. Consider these two recent emails and the excellent example they set:
Exhibit A:That is the way, me laddos, to find your way onto this scrap of digital paper, this passing glimmer in the great parade of time. I have no idea as to the quality of the tankards or the need to determine whether the subject was drunk or not but I leave that to you all...all you all I mean.
Hi there Alan, was just hoping you could mention or link to my www.drunkornot.com web site from somewhere on your blog? I would be happy to return the favor of course. Getting the support of a well established site such as yours would be a great boost. Let me know, thanks.
Hello, my name is Don Lewis and I am writing to ask you if you would be so kind as to add my webpage to your links page. For the past 14 years I've made wooden beer tankards and steins and have sold roughly 20,000 of them across the United States. My page is: www.donlewisdesigns.com. A review of my product can be seen here. Thank you for considering my product for your links page. Naturally, I will be placing your link on my page immediately,
Cheers, Don Lewis
Portland Maine is one of the best places to buy beer if convenience, selection and quality is the thing you are after - and not only at great bars like Gritty McDuff's. Because Mainers are rightly proud of their many local producers and actually turn that pride into purchasing support, there are loads of places to find a decent selection. Above right and below are shots from Downtown Beverages on Commercial Street: beer, wine, hootch and stogies. There was an excellent selection of locals as well as Belgians and other exotics. RSVP Liquors is another favorite specialty store which I may try to get to for a moment or two...unless another clamcake on a bun distracts me.
Downtown Beverages is a specialty shop but good beer can be found in corner stores and grocery shops as well. Below are some shots from an organic grocery, Wild Oats, that had an amazing selection including a couple of Butte Creek's ales from Chico California. I have been working on a six of their porter this week which I will post a note on if I don't decide to go to the beach, eat more seafood and just lay around instead.
Portland is also a home to brewers like Allagash and Shipyard. Below are a few shots from the public end of Shipyard Brewing which is on the waterfront by the north end of Commerical Street. I have written about a couple of their beers before and I keep coming back to them. There is a salty tang to Shipyard's brews that sets them apart for me. Their bottles are pretty well everywhere here and even make it as far west as Galeville. Even though I bought the t-shirts and the glass, I may still go on a tour to get some photos of the open square fermenters used by Shipyard...but then again there is that laying around the beach thing I have to explore a bit more on this holiday.
So take comfort if you are ever stranded in Portland Maine. There is plenty of good beer will help you through.
Interesting to note that Ontario, through the LCBO and Ontario Craft Brewers, has witnessed the launch of a beer route for beer related tourism. This is similar to the idea moving through New York's legislature that we read about last month. The LCBO, the province's semi-monopoly on hootch supply has the following plans:
As part of the month-long Beer Spoken Here promotion, currently in stores until August 13, the LCBO has produced 300,000 copies of an Ontario craft beer route map for consumers called "The Great Ontario Craft Brewers Tour Map"; 250,000 copies will be inserted in the Toronto Star on July 26 and 50,000 copies will be available in 130 LCBO stores across Ontario. During the beer promotion, the LCBO will feature more than 300 tastings of Ontario craft beers in select LCBO stores throughout the province.Too bad plans do not appear to include ensuring that the 25 brewers get their stuff into most LCBO stores most of the time.
Been a long time since I poured out a beer. It was not skunky or foul or anything. It looked really pretty with a nice caramel colour and white fluffy head. Sweet with a bit of a rough hop edge - nothing that is testing your tastebuds but...then it starts...that feeling. It is that brewer's sugar cheat, that tacky feeling on the lips after a slug of ale made in large part with corn sugar. Sink. The can, however, was quite attractive and I got a good photo which I may post someday.
Update: there. Best thing about the beer is that photo.
There are a number of stories popping around about how the USA is turning from beer to wine, such as this...
Beaujolais has beaten the Busch. For the first time since the Gallup Poll began keeping track in 1992, more Americans say their alcoholic beverage of choice is wine, not beer. According to Gallup, 39 percent of U.S. drinkers said they imbibe wine most often, while 36 percent said beer is their favorite. The rest prefer liquor, and a small percentage rate all three equally. Technically, the pollsters said, wine and beer are statistically equal, considering the margin of error. Why the shift? Experts say wine is more affordable and more available than it used to be. They also cite the quality of California vintages, studies indicating that moderate wine drinking can have health benefits, and even wine's featured role in the film "Sideways."But this US wine vendor points out a truth:
They happily sell $8 bottles - provided the wine hails from family-run vineyards that value quality over quantity, artisanal authenticity over mass-market domination. That $6.99 Yellow Tail he keeps spying on tables at BYOB restaurants in Collingswood and Philly? It makes Moore cringe a little. "Industrial wine" robbed of character by mass production, he frets. "A shame" to drink. "Penitential." And that is why David Moore isn't exactly thrilled that more Americans are choosing his drink of champions. "If they're drinking Yellow Tail, they don't really care what they're drinking," he says. "Wine is so much more than just another delivery mechanism for alcohol. It's an experience."But for now in the USA, access to affordable quality still is with the brewers according to a New Jersey Brewer, Gene Muller of Flying Fish Brewing:
For Muller, good news is selling 300 cases at the WXPN-FM music festival on the Camden waterfront last weekend. Or finding a way to donate his spent grain to local farmers for cattle feed. Or getting another local pub to give his porter a taste test. Bad news is realizing that, judging by the Gallup poll, "Americans are getting dumber." Beer, Muller points out, is usually marked up about 30 percent. Bad wine sells for 50 to 100 percent more than it costs.I think this mirrors my experience. When I can buy 750 ml of 9% great Belgian style ale for 8 bucks why would I spend 8 bucks for 750 ml of 12% bottom of the line plonk? Wine is a racket. Real beer is an obsession.