October 31, 2013

What Ales You: Maine Beer Co. in Freeport rolls out Red Wheelbarrow

And a new brewery called 
Gneiss in Limerick has some nice wheat beers.

By Tom Atwell

Maine Beer Co. in Freeport has two new beers. One will become part of the company’s regular lineup, while the other is a one-time-only collaboration.

The brewer will make two 30-barrel batches of Red Wheelbarrow this year, Colleen Croteau, director of business operations, said in a phone interview last week.

She said the beer will be available only in bottles this year, and will be available throughout Maine Beer’s distribution area. The company describes it as a stronger, more hop-forward red ale, at 7.0 percent alcohol by volume. It was made with five different malts and with Columbus, Amarillo and Falconer’s Flight hops.

Red Wheelbarrow started out as a pilot batch created by Dan Roberts, one of the company’s brewers. Croteau said it will not be available on draft, but Pilot Beer No. 4 at the tasting room is an earlier, slightly hoppier version of Red Wheelbarrow.

The bottle poured a dark amber with a tall, stiff, cream-colored head. The beer was mostly clear with the first pour. It turned cloudy when I poured in the last few ounces because of the sediment at the bottom of the bottle, left as part of the bottle conditioning.

The beer has a piney hops aroma, some good malt but not quite as much as most reds, and nicely bitter hops finish, and a smooth mouth feel. It went well as a sipping beer for the first game of this year’s World Series – Red Wheelbarrow for the Red Sox.

The second beer did not come out until Tuesday, so I didn’t have a chance to taste it before this column’s deadline.

The brewery’s fourth-anniversary beer is a collaboration with Allagash and In’finiti and is a blend of two separate fermentations. Maine Beer’s part was made with its American ale yeast and Falconer’s Flight hops. The Belgian version was made with both the Allagash house yeast and a Trappist strain used by In’finiti along with Saaz hops. People were scheduled to have a chance to try the separate strains on Tuesday, but the blended version will be available in bottles until it is sold out.

Croteau said the brewery’s new location at 525 Route 1 in Freeport has worked out well. Until this spring, the brewery had been located in a small area at the Portland Industrial Park, down the street from Allagash.

“We have had a steady business, with a good mix of tourists and locals,” she said. “Now that it is fall we see more of a local crowd, and we hope that keeps going through the winter.”

She noted that one of the big disadvantages of the former location was that Maine Beer had no place to greet the public, and they have that now. And the brewers love having all the extra room.

I WAS EXCITED when I dropped by The Little Tap House at High and Spring streets to meet brother Steve and find out that they had Gneiss Weiss on tap.

Gneiss is a new brewery in Limerick, and I have been following their start-up on Facebook for a couple of months. The Weiss is a hefeweizen, a wheat beer that originated in Bavaria, 4.8 percent alcohol, quite a bit of wheat, a cloudy orange color and fairly light carbonation. It had a fairly sweet and floral finish, but overall it tasted good.

The Weiss is Gneiss’s flagship beer and was the first one to come out. The company website says Gneiss plans to brew all of its beers with at least 50 percent wheat, which under German law is a requirement for any product labeled hefeweizen or weissbier It also has produced Tectonic Tomahawk wheat IPA and a wheat stout called Obsius. I’ll let you know when I try them.

DURING A STOP at The Great Lost Bear I had this year’s version of Fall Summit Ale from Peak Organic Brewing, and it is a good choice for the season. This is a red ale with a nice spicy hops bite, a light malt flavor and a crisp finish. It is another one of the really good fall beers from local brewers.

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

 

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