December 26, 2013

What Ales You: Sampling some SoMe suds at the new brewery in York

The new brewing company opened Dec. 14.

SoMe Brewing Co. held its grand opening Dec. 14 as the first major snowstorm of the season was bearing down on Maine. The good beer helped make the storm bearable.

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Dave, left, and son David Rowland, partners in the new SoMe Brewing Co.

Courtesy photos

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SoMe brews offered during the grand opening included Whoopie Stout, Box the Compass, Crystal Persuasion and Sweet Solstice.

SoMe is a family operation, located just off Route 1 at 1 York St. in York.

Head brewer is David Rowland, who is called Dave unless his father and partner, Dave Rowland, is in the same room – which he was during our visit. Financing came largely from David’s mother, he told me, and his sister was filling growlers and pouring tastes during the opening.

The biggest question I had was how to pronounce the brewery name. David said he doesn’t care as long as people are saying it, but the real pronunciation is as in: I want “some” beer.

“It’s sort of an Abbott and Costello thing,” he said. “ ‘Where did you get that beer?’ ‘SoMe Brewing company.’ ‘No seriously, what brewing company?’ ”

But it is also an abbreviation for Southern Maine, so he is OK if people say “So Me” Brewing Co.

Rowman is from Philadelphia, and worked as a teacher in New Jersey when he was laid off as part of statewide budget cuts.

He and his wife – both of whom had vacationed in Maine while growing up – had a goal of coming to Maine, and as a longtime home brewer, he had a dream of opening a brewery.

“It just seemed like the perfect opportunity,” he said, although he has since taken a job as a teacher at a private, alternative school in Somersworth, N.H.

SoMe operates on a three-barrel system, and two three-barrel fermenters were delivered the day before the grand opening – which made things just a bit hectic that weekend, he said.

SoMe was pouring four beers during the tasting.

Sweet Solstice is a blonde ale brewed with honey and spices at 4.2 percent alcohol by volume.

“It’s a session beer for when you are at a Christmas party and want to have a few beers in a couple of hours and still drive home,” Rowland said. The spices give it a festive flavor.

Whoopie Pie Stout is a milk stout aged on cocoa nibs and vanilla beans, coming in at 6 percent ABV. He said he purposely avoided making it a traditional thick stout so it would be easier to drink.

“And it does go well with whoopie pies,” he said, noting that he was serving whoopie pies at the opening.

Crystal Persuasion is in imperial pale ale made with 100 percent Crystal hops. Rowland said the recipe came about because his hop supplier offered him the hops, and he created first a regular pale ale – which will come on the menu at some point – and then the imperial version, which is 8 percent ABV. This was a nicely malty beer, with just enough hops bite to make it interesting.

Box the Compass is a double IPA coming in at 9.9 percent ABV, and although it was the hoppiest of the beers on the menu, it was not overpoweringly hoppy.

Rowland said he wants to grow the company organically, selling glasses, growlers and half growlers at the brewery – which has seating for about 30 people – and to bars in southern Maine.

Of the four beers, I liked Crystal Persuasion best, while brother-in-law Fran Gilpin, who was visiting from Tampa, liked Sweet Solstice best, although he admitted it was not his usual type of beer. He bought growlers of those two plus the Whoopie Pie Stout to help us through the storm and the Patriots game the next day.

The blackboard of beers said that beers on deck will include York Gold, a session rye ale; Destroyer, an experimental black IPA; Snowy Day, a winter warmer and Black Sky Rye, a hoppy black rye ale.

It looks like there will be plenty of reasons to stop by again.

THE THIRSTY PIG on Exchange Street held the launch party for Bissell Brothers Brewery while I was away, but since Peter Bissell still works and Noah Bissell used to work at the restaurant, I figured they would have some of the beer when I got back.

They did.

The Substance, coming in at 6.6 percent ABV, was $6 for 16 ounces and was poured into an attractive Bissell Brothers glass.

Although the bartender called it an IPA, Peter Bissell told me when I interviewed him in November that it was going to be a hop-forward American Ale. It was hoppy but not assault-your-tastebuds hoppy with a good amount of malt.

It is a beer I plan to drink a lot of over the next few years.

This is the company’s flagship, and is expected to be available in 4-packs of cans in January.

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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