Monday, December 9, 2013
On Friday I stopped by The Great Lost Bear, a Portland craft beer institution for a soft release of Maine's newest fledgling brewery, Funky Bow Brewing of Lyman, ME. While I was there, I got to taste the first batch of their End of the Line Pale Ale, as well as sample a new beer from Bunker Brewing.
Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company is the product of the father-and-son team of Paul and Abraham Lorrain. Brewing in a converted garage, they officially got their Maine state brewing license approved in mid-January. They plan to be on tap very soon at several awesome Maine bars and restaurants including Local 188, Eventide Oyster Co., Flatbread, Grace, Sonny's, Fore Street and El Rayo Taqueria. Hearing that they planned to do a little release party at The Great Lost Bear, I decided to go over and see if I could get a sip before it became more widely distributed.
I got a pint of End of the Line Pale Ale, named after a Traveling Wilburys song by the same name, about 20 minutes before they ran out of it, and consider myself lucky to have gotten in under the wire. The beer itself was a lovely cloudy straw color, with lots of lacing being left on the pint glass. My first sip of any small brewery's beer is always a tentative one. Were they able to scale up well? Will the beer fit into the craft beer scene in Maine?
After tasting it, my reservations faded immediately. The End of the Line has a very professional quality to it, and has no trace of the "homebrew taste" that some new – especially smaller – breweries can be plagued by. The hops are present right up front and have a tart quality to them. There is a slightly earthy finish, but one that makes me happy to go back for more. I am not sure what the ABV is on the beer, but I found it to be clean and solid. Because it's a pale ale, this isn't a hop bomb, but I can definitely see that these guys like their hops to shine. Here they are using Cascade and Centennial hops, and a really simple malt backbone. I hope that this is only the beginning of a line of great beers from them.
Unable to get my hands on another pint of Funky Bow because it had run out, I scanned The Great Lost Bear's list for anything else local that I hadn't yet tried. (There are so many new releases I'm always bound to have missed something). I spied Bunker Brewing Company's Peninsula Pale Ale and ordered one.
Located in the upcoming area of East Bayside, Bunker Brewing has been putting out their beer since January 2012 and have had a year of beer releases under their belt. Being on tap and growlers only, I've missed quite a few of their different beers, but plan to stay on top of them a little bit more in the future. I did get an opportunity to try Bunker's "Lager #2" at LFK a little while ago and I found that brew to be well-balanced with a great flavor profile – my favorite of theirs that I've tried yet, so I was eager to see what happens when they involve some more hops.
The waitress at the Bear put down the Peninsula Pale in front of me and I was happy to see that it, too, was an orange color, though a little less cloudy than the Funky Bow. The head was creamy with tiny sheets of foam sticking all around the glass. According to Bunker's facebook page, the Peninsula Pale is made with Simcoe and Mosaic hops.
When I tasted it I have to admit I was a little let down. Its mouthfeel was quite thin, and the hops weren't really breaking through the malt of the beer. It was drinkable and had a pleasant aroma, but just didn't quite live up to my expectations. I don't know if it needed some more time or just some additional hopping, but this beer was not my favorite of the night.
All in all I am always happy to see Portland bars and restaurants showcasing local beers (and not just the special or rare releases). I am looking forward immensely to watching Bunker grow and continue on their journey, as well as following what Funky Bow is up to as they move down "the line."Tweet
Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since.
In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around.
Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe.