Friday, March 7, 2014
By TOM ATWELL
Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Co. in Lyman is a father-and-son operation that has been selling beer for a couple of months as an offshoot of a commercial organic farm.
Funky Bow labels reflect the brewers’ love of music.
"We've been putting this together for a couple of years," Paul Lorrain, the father, told me in a telephone conversation a couple of weeks ago. "We have an organic farm (Sunset Farm) that has been the region's largest supplier of salad mix for the past 15 years."
Lorrain said his son, Abraham, had been urging him to expand the greens business by making a brewery. Once they decided to take the step, it took about a year and a half to get all of the required licenses.
So far, the brewery has made only two beers for sale -- End of the Line Pale Ale and So Folkin' Hoppy IPA.
Both father and son are big music fans, so the pale ale was named for one of their favorite songs by Traveling Wilburys.
I bought both Wilburys albums twice, once on tape and a retrospective CD with a DVD on the making of the albums, so I knew we had something in common.
I had the pale ale at the Great Lost Bear a while back, and found that it was about the sweetest pale ale I have ever had. I liked the flavor all right -- a good bit of malt but sweeter than the amount of malt should have accounted for, and a good bit of hops as well.
I had the IPA on May 16 at the beer's introduction at Flatbread Pizza in Portland, and again, the name of the beer was a bit different from the flavor. So Folkin' Hoppy sounds like it should be a West Coast hops bomb. Instead, it is a moderately hoppy English-style IPA with a good amount of caramel malt.
I enjoyed the IPA a lot more than I did the pale ale.
The alcohol content of both beers was not available at either the Great Lost Bear or Flatbread, and neither is it on the company website, funkybowbeercompany.com.
At Flatbread, Lorrain said, $1 of the cost of every pint of beer was given to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and there were a lot of Common Ground Fair T-shirts being worn to cement the association.
The introduction drew a big crowd, and I wandered the restaurant for an hour while drinking my IPA hoping to recognize Lorrain from his Facebook photos, but it never happened.
Lorrain said that when it came time to print the labels for his beer, he considered doing 1 percent for the planet as Maine Beer Co. does, but opted instead to give 1 percent of all sales to MOFGA, where he has been a member for several decades.
Lorrain said Funky Bow is brewing on a 3.5-barrel system, and is expected to jump to a 7.5-barrel system sometime in June.
For a new brewery, Funky Bow is getting some pretty good distribution. In addition to the Bear and Flatbread, it has been on tap at Nosh in Portland and at Run of the Mill in Saco.
The Lorrains are selling their beer at the Saco Farmers Market -- along with their salad greens -- in growlers and mini-growlers, which are similar to Grolsch bottles, Lorrain said. The beer is also available at the farm/brewer, 21 Ledgewood Lane, Lyman.
Lorrain said the brewery is planning a milk stout and a saison in the future, and the website shows Five String Oatmeal Milk Stout as one of its beers, but I have not yet heard of it being sold.
THE SAMUEL ADAMS Beers of Summer Variety Pack showed up at Shaw's a while ago, and I bought it partly because it was on sale for $13.99 and partly because Nancy and I have stock in the company and like to see what it is doing.
In addition to Boston Lager (which I love) and Summer Ale (which I dislike), the 12-pack included Porch Rocker, a sweet beer with a bit of lemonade like a Shandy; Belgian Session, a pale imitation of Allagash White or Hoegaarden; Little Hill Rye, which disappeared on Mother's Day before I got to taste it; and Blueberry Hill Lager.
The lager was definitely in the top half of the blueberry beers I have tasted, with the Boston Beer Works version at the absolute top and Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale as the best in a bottle. (Even though my wife, Nancy, prefers Sea Dog blueberry.)
There was enough interesting stuff going on in that collection that I will buy it again -- as long as I can find someone else to drink the Summer Ale.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at firstname.lastname@example.org