Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I haven't written much about Bar Harbor based Atlantic Brewing Company because only a few bottles from their lineup tend to trickle down to Portland, but they do occasionally pop up. I was given this bottle as a thank-you and I was eager to try it because it had been so long since I'd sampled any of their brews.
The MacFoochie's Scottish Ale (7% ABV) is described on the label as an "Ale Brewed With Scottish Heather Tips" making its execution very traditional. The Scottish made a name for themselves in brewing history by using a variety of bittering herbs in their beer (hops do not grow as well in Scotland as they did in the England and other parts of Europe) for hundreds of years, including the plentiful heather plants.
It pours a dark brown to black (looking almost like a cola) with a conservative head, but the aroma swells up immediately upon pouring. The rich, full aromas of toffee, coffee and plums from the malts are unmistakably characteristic of this type of beer, and come in full force. There is a slight bit of herbal quality to the beer, but being largely unfamiliar with what a heather plant smells like, I'm not sure I can definitively tell you it is from the Heather, but it is an interesting element.
The taste of the beer, however, is a little bit more of an open book. First the maltiness and the coffee notes make their presence known, but it is the slight sweetness and the following plum and toffee kinds of flavors that make this special. It is a beer that gives you the distinct impression in its aroma that you will like it, and then follows through when you taste it. It is also very smooth, with no dry harshness like some porters and stouts can have. It is silky smooth, and flavorful in every sip.
A friend I shared the bottle with remarked that it is one of those beers that people who don't like hoppy beers could find it to be "an accessible and interesting entry point into craft beer," and I would have to agree.
Listed on Atlantic's website as a limited release, I am not entirely sure what its availability is. However, if you come across it in your travels, it is one that you should stop and take a side trip to the Scottish Highlands with.
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.