Peak Organic Brewing Co.’s newest beer is Hop Blanc, the brewery’s first foray into Belgian-style beers.

Alex Selby, who conducted a tasting at the Bier Cellar on Forest Avenue last week, described the beer as a white IPA, made with a Saison Dupont-style yeast and mostly Citra and Simcoe hops, with a little Centennial at the beginning of the boil for bittering.

Hop Blanc is not overly bitter, has some malt sweetness at first sip, and a combination of spicy and fruity hops flavors that linger well after you swallow the beer.

Selby, an assistant brewer at Peak, said the beer is a sibling to Hop Noir, the black IPA that Peak introduced a couple of years ago, but the Hop Blanc is the quieter, more sophisticated one of the two beers.

I bought a six-pack of the Hop Blanc to have over the weekend, and it was priced at $11.49.

Also offered at the tasting were Fresh Cut, Peak’s first lager, which I wrote about a few months ago, and the Oak Aged Mocha Stout, which I wrote about last winter.

The stout was about the same as I remembered it, but Selby said he thought it had a bit more chocolate this year. Last winter when I was fighting a cold, I spent one Saturday sipping a bomber of this as a restorative.

Coincidentally, Nancy and I had been drinking a mixed 12-pack of Peak beers, including the Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale, IPA and Fall Summit Ale. The Fall Summit had a wonderfully earthy flavor, a lot of malt flavor and some grassiness in the hops. 

I DRANK MY first beer from Banded Horn Brewing Co., the new brewery in Biddeford, at the Great Lost Bear last week.

It was the Veridian IPA, and I think it means good things for the future of this brewery. It was an unfiltered IPA, pouring just a little bit cloudy.

It was definitely an American IPA, but East Coast American rather than West Coast. Although it was hoppy, it was still balanced, and there was a flowery nose and flavor to the hops. 

WE BOUGHT Samuel Adams Winter Favorites 12-pack recently because it had two new beers.

The Juniper IPA is a flavorful beer, with quite a lot of hops and a sharp spiciness that might have come from the juniper or from the hops and 5 percent ABV. The only way I have tasted juniper is in gin, and this did not have that kind of juniper flavor. The aroma was nice and fresh, but I couldn’t really get the juniper there, either. Despite that, I liked the beer.

The company says it has made White Christmas before, but I don’t remember it. It is a wheat beer with cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel, and it did have all those flavors, along with the traditional wheat flavor. It also was 5.8 percent ABV.

I expected to hate the Cherry Chocolate Bock because I disliked last year’s Chocolate Bock and I am not a big fan of cherries, either. Instead I found it OK. It tasted mostly like cherries but avoided the cherry cough syrup flavor I find too often. I would never intentionally buy this, but when I get it out of a mixed pack, I will be able to drink it. 

I DROPPED BY Gritty McDuff’s in Portland early enough in the day of the brew pub’s 25th anniversary party to taste the cask version of the Bachelor’s Bitter I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. It was worth the effort, but the cask version seemed hoppier to me than the regular version. Gritty’s own Best Bitter is usually available on cask at the Portland pub, and it would be my choice of the two.

The Old Porter also available that day was superb. A great, rich beer, with a great roasty flavor, and one of brewmaster Ed Stebbins’ favorites. This is a beer you should buy whenever it is available. 

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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