November 29, 2012

What Ales You: Bunker's Dark Wave Baltic Porter is no ordinary lager

The lager is wonderfully rich and dark with a nice head but not a great amount of hops.

By TOM ATWELL

Bunker Brewing had three beers at the Great Lost Bear on the last Friday of Portland Beer Week, and I tasted all three of them.

Otter Creek’s mixed 12-pack was consistently good, but the Copper Ale and Stovepipe Porter were excellent.

Courtesy photos

The Dark Wave Baltic Porter, a lager, is a wonderfully rich beer, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was rich and dark with a nice head but not a great amount of hops, and was just wonderfully flavorful. Before Bull Jagger came out with its Baltic Porter, I had never heard of the lager version of a basic porter, so it has been a good experience.

The Bear also had two Bunker rye beers. I liked the Riff Raff Rye Lager the better of the two, because it was a bit milder on the hops side and I could taste more of the rye. The Red Tape Rye IPA was quite cloudy and strongly hoppy, and I couldn't taste the rye much at all. If you want an unfiltered IPA, this is great.

AFTER SIX MONTHS of preparation, the first canned Marshall Wharf beers went on sale in Portland on Nov. 14. The price for a 16-ounce can of Cant Dog Imperial IPA was $4.99, and it is comparable to small bottled craft beers such as those from Maine Beer Co., Bull Jagger and Rising Tide.

Marshall Wharf owner and brewer David Carlson is planning to brew 200 gallons of beer each week to put into cans -- in addition to the beer he puts in kegs -- so it might be difficult to find some of these beers. I am on the Bier Cellar's email list, so I was able to reserve some. And when I was driving on outer Forest Avenue, RSVP had the Cant Dog advertised on its outdoor sign.

This beer has 9.7 percent alcohol and a big malt background. I enjoyed it a lot.

Although $4.99 might seem like a lot to pay for a 16-ounce can of beer, it is comparable to what companies such as Maine Beer, Bull Jagger and Rising Tide charge for their bottles. And Carlson plans to charge less for some of his lower-alcohol beers. The ingredients cost more for the higher-alcohol beers.

You can find more information at marshallwharf.com.

JUST BECAUSE I wanted to try something I hadn't written about before, I bought mixed 12-packs for Saranac and Otter Creek beers recently. Otter Creek has been brewing in Vermont for quite a few years, and is now owned by Long Trail Brewing Co.

The beers in its offering were Copper Ale, Oktoberfest, Black IPA and Stovepipe Porter. The two winners were the Copper Ale and the porter.

The Copper Ale had a nice, rich caramel flavor, a very light hops flavor, and a wonderfully silky mouthfeel. It was a good beer to drink with pizza and chips or any other comfort food.

The Stovepipe Porter was rich, black and wonderfully complex. There was a lot of roasted malt in this beer, and it is one of the best porters I have had in a long time.

The Oktoberfest and Black IPA were good, but not in the same class.

The Saranac is brewed by Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y., and only the Black Forest stood out. This is a Bavarian style schwarzbier, and had some caramel sweetness and a nice head. It is a little leaner than a porter, but richly flavored.

The IPA was a run-of-the-mill English style IPA, while the pale ale and Adirondack Lager tasted almost identical, which should not have been the case. Rather than the mix, I would stick with the Black Forest.

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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