June 13, 2012

What Ales You: Brewing community welcomes Bunker to the fold

Bunker Brewing Co. is now brewing on Anderson Street in Portland.

By Tom Atwell tatwell@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

Bunker Brewing Co. has joined the Portland brewery boom, having made beers for the past few weeks at 122 Anderson St.

Bunker Brewing recently joined the busy Portland craft beer scene.

Courtesy photo

Jay Villani, owner of Sonny's and Local 188, was present on March 29 when The Great Lost Bear offered three of Bunker's beers, and I got to talk to him about how the brewery was created.

Chresten Sorenson, who bakes bread for Villani's restaurants, started talking to Villani about beer while making his bread deliveries. Then he started bringing in some of the beers he had brewed at home, and the conversation moved to starting a brewery.

"We ended up getting the one-barrel system that Maine Beer Co. started with," Villani said, noting that the city's beer community has been strongly behind the effort.

So far, Bunker's beers have been available only on draft at Mama's Crowbar, Novare Res and The Great Lost Bear in addition to Villani's two restaurants. The brewery is located in an old brick scrapyard.

The brewer plans to use only "malt, water, hops, yeast, time, temperature and the passion" to make fine beers in small, hand-made batches, according to an announcement for the event at the Bear.

The first beer produced by Bunker was Bunker Ale 2, which is almost but not quite an India Pale Ale. It's a dark reddish-brown color and lightly carbonated, and has a good real ale flavor.

Bunker Lager 1 is a little sweet for a lager upfront. It has an earthy aftertaste that is unusual but kind of pleasant, adding a bit of complexity to the beer, and is lightly hopped. It's a good drinkable beer.

Hopscotch Ale, a Scottish ale, was served for the first time during the March 29 special at the Bear, and it is an interesting beer. "This is a big beer, a bit like a wee heavy," Villani said.

Hopscotch Ale is 8 percent alcohol, and doesn't have the sweetness or body that I might expect of a Scottish ale. It's a very dark amber to brown color, is lightly carbonated, and is a little bit astringent at the end.

I enjoyed all three of the beers, and I am looking forward to having more of them in the future.


ALTHOUGH MARCH had a week of summer-like weather, I was surprised to see the first of Maine's summer beers showing up at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago.

The packaging for Geary's Summer Ale this year was designed by Annie Mora, a junior at the Maine College of Art studying Graphic Design and a resident of South Londonderry, Vt.

Each year, Geary's holds a competition among Maine College of Art students, with the winner receiving a $5,000 scholarship.

When thinking of a design for the Summer Ale, Mora wanted to illustrate the energy of the ocean, Jessica Tomlinson of the Maine College of Art told me. The inspiration for "the splash" came from watercolor paintings that she does in her sketchbook. The colors in the packaging represent warm summer days in Maine.

Geary's Summer Ale is similar to a German-style Kolsch ale, a light but still flavorful ale created in Cologne to compete with the lagers that were being imported from Bavaria back around 1250.

While grocery shopping, I also noticed that Gritty's Vacationland Summer Ale was on the shelves. This is another good beer, a bit hoppier than most summer ales.

And from 5 to 8 p.m. today, Shipyard will be celebrating the return of its Summer Ale with a party at Three Dollar Dewey's, 241 Commercial St., Portland. There will be specials, prizes and giveaways.

With all this summer beer, can we return to some of the summer-like temperatures we had in mid-March?


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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