November 7, 2013

What Ales You: Marshall Wharf offers special suds to brewery guests

Beer lovers who want Sexy Chaos or Tug Pale Ale must plan a trip to Belfast.

By Tom Atwell

 When I saw on Facebook that Marshall Wharf Brewing Company was selling cans of its Sexy Chaos, an 11.2 percent alcohol by volume Russian Imperial stout aged on oak chips and vanilla beans, I got excited.

Three years ago I bought a growler of Sexy Chaos when I made my first stop at the Belfast brewery, and I haven’t had any since. But I could not find any Sexy Chaos cans in the Portland area.

David Carlson, co-owner of Marshall Wharf and the related restaurant, Three Tides, told me when I called him that Sexy Chaos was being offered only at the brewery, initially on the brewery’s sixth birthday party. Oh well.

The company’s canned-beer project is going well. Beginning about a year ago, Carlson bought about 80,000 cans with general brewery information but no information about the beer, and canned one 200-gallon batch of beer each week. Workers then apply a separate label to the can, providing information about the beer.

The beer most often available has been Cant Dog, a 10 percent ABV imperial IPA with both a huge malt backbone and a lot of hops, and which the Marshall Wharf website says is the one beer its staff would take if deserted on an island.

Carlson said that in the summer he switched to Ace Hole, a 6.4 percent ABV pale ale that is lighter and more suited vto summer drinking, and also easier to brew during the peak summer season.

Another beer that he has canned, usually available only at the brewery, is the company’s flagship Tug Pale Ale, a classic of the style at 5 percent ABV. Bier Cellar was scheduled to get some last Thursday, and I hope I got there in time.

“Our goal going into the winter is to do Cant Dog on a weekly basis, and Sexy Chaos around the holidays, and maybe do a couple of other things,” Carlson said.

His regular route for delivery of both cans takes him in a triangle with the corners being Wells, Orono and Belfast. He has not been able to add any new clients for either cans or kegs in more than a year because he is already selling all of the beer he can make.

The Marshall Wharf tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and Three Tides is now open year-round, although closed Sundays and Mondays.

“We like to have something to reward people who make the trip to Belfast, as well as the locals,” Carlson said.

Portland Beer Week provided two chances for people in this area to try Marshall Wharf beers: a takeover of 14 taps at Novare Res and a food/beer pairing dinner at The East Ender.

NANCY’S SISTER JANE visited recently, and I had some Geary’s and Gritty’s stand-bys on hand, but I had forgotten that Jane’s husband, Rich, favors dark beers – and I just didn’t happen to have any on hand.

I dropped by the Cape Elizabeth IGA and bought Baxter Brewing’s Hayride Autumn Ale and Bar Harbor Brewing’s Cadillac Mountain Stout.

I have been drinking Cadillac Mountain Stout for a couple of decades, and it has been one of my favorites since I spent an evening in 1990 talking with brewery founder Tod Foster at a Portland Museum of Art event where he and Geary’s supplied the beer. Foster sold the company, and it is now owned by Doug Mafucci of Atlantic Brewing.

Because I am always looking for new beer to write about, I forget about these favorites.

Cadillac Mountain Stout is a world-class beer, a full-flavored dry stout with lots of chocolate flavors and a great mouthfeel. Rich was very pleased with it.

The Hayride isn’t as dark as Rich likes, but it is a good-tasting beer, nicely malty and full-flavored, at 6.6 percent ABV. The label says is flavored with pepper, ginger and oranges, but none of the four tasters noticed those flavors. It simply tasted like a good, malty beer, and we all enjoyed it.

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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