Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By TOM ATWELL
Tod Mott, who has been head brewer at Portsmouth Brewery since 2003, recently left that job to open a new brewery in southern Maine.
Portland-brewed Allagash Curieux, above, and Peak Organic Pale Ale, below, have landed on Men’s Journal’s list of the top 25 beers in the world.
When I spoke with him last week, he didn't have a name, a license or a location. He is hoping for South Berwick, where he lives, but would be OK with any place between the Berwicks and Kittery or York. He was scheduled to meet with state officials this past Monday for various licenses and approvals needed to start the brewery.
"There are no breweries in this area -- they're all up north," he said.
Mott said the operation will begin as a tiny brewery, producing about 500 barrels a year. Among the beers will be the most famous beer he brewed at Portsmouth, Kate the Great imperial stout.
"They will keep the name Kate the Great, but I've got the recipe," Mott said. "Tyler (Jones) was my assistant for four years, and is a very competent brewer, but I promise you it won't be the same."
Mott plans to open with four beers -- probably an IPA, a stout of some sort other than the imperial, a rye and a saison -- along with some seasonal ales.
Mott said there are no hard feelings between him and the people at Portsmouth Brewery. He was just anxious to try something new.
ALLAGASH CURIEUX and PEAK ORGANIC'S Pale Ale were included in Men's Journal's list of the top 25 beers in the world.
The listing is not a surprise. The two beers were also included in a previous ranking in the magazine in October 2010. But it does say a lot about the quality of the beers brewed in Portland when two out of the 25 are brewed here.
The listing was not by ranking, the article said.
Of Curieux, the article said, "The first and best in a special series of barrel-aged beers from one of America's finest breweries, Allagash Curieux is a boozy, golden Belgian-style tripel ale enhanced with caramel aromas and just a whiff of high-test hooch -- the later imparted by eight weeks of aging in Jim Beam barrels."
Of the Peak, the article said, "The all-organic Peak Brewing Company has done the unheard-of: It has made a pale ale remarkable with this, a bright, copper-colored beer with a slightly spicy, hoppy citrus tang muted by a solid toasty malt body."
A couple of other beers with regional connections made the list: Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA, brewed by Sam Calagione, who summers in the Boothbay Region, and Samuel Adams Noble Pils.
For personal reasons, I was pleased to find two other beers on my list.
Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout has been one of my favorite beers for decades. In 1969, when I spent nine weeks in Army training and before I had as much experience drinking beer, I absolutely loved Olympia. The other local was Rainier, which I didn't like.
Of Olympia, the article read, "Paying under a buck for a mass-produced beer usually means hop character is nowhere to be found, but this light and cream golden lager actually has a touch of citrusy bitterness."
So, my palate of 43 years ago was OK.
Olympia is tough to find east of the Rockies, so we should put it with Yuengling on the "let's bring to Maine" list.
MAINE BEER CO. has produced a collaboration beer with Lawson's Finest Liquids in Warren, Vt.
The beer, Collaboration Time I, was brewed with Vermont-grown hops, Maine barley, New York wheat and Massachusetts rye. It had a fairly thick layer of spent yeast in the bottom of the bottle, and it poured a very dark brown and a bit cloudy because some of the yeast at the bottom of the bottle made it into the glass.
The beer had a large, long-lasting tan head and a caramel aroma. The rye adds a bit of spiciness, but I didn't taste a lot of wheat. The malt is the dominant flavor, with the hops in the background, making it to my mind a wonderfully complex brown ale.
Nancy and I both loved this one, although we followed it with a Geary's Summer that was more appropriate for the hot and muggy day we drank it.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: