Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By TOM ATWELL
Weez and Another One by Maine Beer Co. were introduced last week, and are the first new beers since the company opened its new brewery in Freeport.
Both beers have Warrior, Cascade, Citra and Simcoe hops. Another One has American 2-Row, Red Wheat and Carapils as its malts, giving it a light golden color, while Weez has Maris, American 2-Row, Munich, C-80, Chocolate, Flaked Wheat, Black Barley and Midnight Wheat, giving it a dark, almost black color.
Our nieces -- Kirsten and Ellen Terry, originally from Everett, Wash., with Kirsten now living in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Ellen in Vail, Colo. -- were visiting, and joined Nancy and me in the tasting.
We started with Another One, thinking that with the lighter malts, it would be a lighter beer. This is a somewhat typical, heavily hopped American IPA: Seven percent alcohol, dry and crisp, with the hops dominating from beginning to end. It's quite similar to Maine Beer's Lunch IPA, one of its most popular beers, but seemed just a little bit more hop-dominant than Lunch. All four of us liked this beer quite a bit.
But we all liked Weez more. With all of the dark-roasted malts, this was a more balanced beer at 7.2 percent alcohol. There was some sweetness in the first taste, followed by the floral and spicy hops, but the malt roastiness lingered on the back of the tongue quite awhile after swallowing. This also had a great mouthfeel with a fairly high viscosity that was very pleasant.
Weez has a minimalist drawing of cat whiskers on the label, and the beer is "dedicated to all of the stray cats out there." The label also notes that the brewery's Freeport tasting room supports Homeless Animal Rescue Team, a no kill, all-volunteer shelter in Cumberland that keeps its cats in an open environment rather than cages.
Both beers cost $6.49 for 16.9-ounce bottles at Bier Cellar.
WE SWITCHED to Rising Tide's Maine Island Trail Ale after the two offerings from Maine Beer.
This also has Citra and Simcoe hops, but is an easier-drinking (yet still flavorful) beer. It's only 4.3 percent alcohol, and went very well with the lobster we served our out-of-state guests.
Nathan Sanborn, Rising Tide's brewer and founder, said he has been surprised by the popularity of this beer, which benefits the Maine Island Trail Association. The early batches disappeared from the shelves quickly, and the 22-ounce bottle we got -- also $6.49 -- was an extra batch that was brewed on June 11.
WHILE KIRSTEN and Ellen enjoyed the Maine Beer and Rising Tide offerings, they were both excited that we had some left-over Shipyard Pumpkinhead on hand from a mixed 12-pack we bought last fall.
Both are big Pumpkinhead fans, and they were happy that Nancy and I are not and had some left over for them.
MAINE'S BEER COMMUNITY was saddened to hear that Donald Chandler, founder of Oak Pond Brewery and Skowhegan, died earlier this month.
Oak Pond is one of the state's smallest, most low-key breweries, and has a fairly limited distribution.
The brewery will continue operation.
"We are a family brewery," Adam Chandler, Donald's oldest son, said when I called the brewery last week. "My mother (Nancy Chandler) works here as well, and if we have anything to do with it, we will continue to run it just as Pop had done."
One place to get Oak Pond in southern Maine is at the Boon Island Ale House in Wells. It is available in many central Maine locations.
THE FESTIVAL, last weekend's beer festival in Portland, is over, but don't worry if you missed it: There are several more beer festivals to come this year.
The Maine Brewers Guild has held a festival in Boothbay for the past two years, but this year, the event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. July 13 at the Maine State Pier in Portland because it has outgrown its previous site. This event includes all members of the guild, and usually one guest brewer.
The Portland Brew Festival is in its third year on Labor Day weekend, with one session Aug. 30 and two on Aug. 31. This event, organized by Mak Sprague, will be held at the Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St.
The Lake Region Brew Fest is a relaxed outdoor event, and will be held Sept. 28 at Point Sebago Resort.
And the granddaddy of them all is the Maine Brewers Festival, scheduled for Nov. 2 at the Portland Expo.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: