November 21, 2013

What Ales You: No. 1,000 for Sebago Brewing brought to you by the letter M

The brewery produces a good, strong ale to celebrate the milestone.

Sebago Brewing Co. has a new ale called M, the 1,000th variety of beer the company has produced since its founding in 1998. It’s a quadruple Belgian ale coming in at 10.1 percent alcohol.

Introduced Nov. 9 as part of Portland Beer Week, M was served in a brandy snifter, a stout black with a thick head and a wonderful aroma of malt, caramel and raisins.

The mouthfeel was superb, smooth and silky. I saw online that they used a lot of traditional Caribbean rum sugars in this beer to boost the alcohol, and that was supposed to give the beer a bit of a rum flavor. I didn’t find that, although there was a complex sweetness to the beer that I liked.

It had just a little bit of a hops bite at the end, but not a lot of hops aroma, making a big change from a lot of Sebago’s recent hoppy beers. I liked this beer a lot.

I did not have a Slick Nick, but even though it was still early November, that winter seasonal was also on draft at the Sebago Brewing restaurant in Portland. I will have to go back for some of Slick Nick when it is closer to Christmas.

A bit before that, I found some Sebago Local Harvest at RSVP. I bought that and enjoyed it on a cool evening after doing a last mowing to pick up fallen leaves from our lawn. That brought to mind the wonderfully warm and sunny day in late summer when I was one of a group stripping hops from the vines for that beer.

ON THE FIRST DAY of Portland Beer Week, I stopped by Bunker Brewing at 122 Anderson St., not for a special event but just because it was open.

The beer I tried was called Hombre, and I had to try it if only for the Elmore Leonard novel of that name that became a Paul Newman movie, which I liked a lot.

This is a dunkelweizen, a dark wheat beer style from southern Germany, but this one came in 7.5 percent ABV and included pablano peppers.

The beer had a nice chocolate malt flavor, with the peppers giving it just a bit of a kick but certainly not dominating.

Brewer Chresten Sorensen said the beer was made in collaboration with Eventide Oyster Company for an event to be held at Port City Music Hall that ended up being canceled, so the brewery has been sending it out to a few local bars and serving it at the brewery.

I also saw Sorenson’s new 15-barrel conditioning tank, which he said will be dedicated to Bunker Machine Pilsner, which he has just named his first flagship beer. It’s a Czech-style pilsner made with Saaz hops, and while hoppier than most lagers, does not move into the category of India pale lager that several breweries are now experimenting with. It also has a good, biscuity malt flavor. It isn’t overly carbonated and has a thin head, but it is a good, easy-drinking beer. It is available at the brewery and at a lot of bars around Portland.

AFTER DOING a one-year update on the Marshall Wharf cans, I found the opportunity to drink some of that beer.

I found Tug Pale Ale, which I wrote two weeks ago was about to come to Portland. It had sold out at the Bier Cellar, so I continued down Forest Avenue and found it at RSVP.

This was a very good, 5 percent ABV pale ale, with good but not overpowering hops well balanced by a smooth malt. Nancy, Christian and I both enjoyed this with some cheese and sandwiches on a Sunday afternoon, and I am looking forward to the other two cans.

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