September 12, 2013

What Ales You: In pursuit of hoppiness: Two new untested beers

Fresh Cut is the first lager Peak Organic has done on a commercial basis; Calcutta Cutter is a new double IPA made by Rising Tide.


This week, I am writing about beers that I have not even tried yet, which means I am doing something that goes against my principles for the column. I expect I will have rectified that oversight by the time this column appears in print, and I will give my opinions later on.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

I thought you should know about the beers early so you don't miss out. And I trust both brewers to put out a good product.

The first offering is Peak Organic's Fresh Cut Pilsner. I found out about the beer on Facebook in August, but never found any in my shopping or at the local bars, so I called founder and head brewer Jon Cadoux.

"We made a teeny little bit just to get started," Cadoux said in a telephone interview, "and it sold out quickly, which is good news. We are going to make a bunch of it, and it will be at the usual locations."

Fresh Cut is the first lager that Peak has done on a commercial basis, but it has done some small batches of lager in the past.

"We were inspired to do something that is a little more flavorful and hop-forward," he said. "It is a distinctly hoppy beer. It's got a ton of Chinook, and a lot of Citra and some Summit."

Fresh Cut is only 4.6 percent alcohol, and it doesn't have a lot of malt, so the amount of residual sugar is low.

"It is very dry, so it finishes very dry like a German-style pilsner," Cadoux said.

He believes that there is a trend toward lower-alcohol beers.

"A couple of years ago, people were doing really big beers," he said, "and we were guilty of that with King Crimson (at 9.5 percent alcohol) and Weiss Principal (8.6 percent), and I still love those beers.

"But there is a switch to beers that are more sessionable, but still have something to bring to the table with flavor."

I was wondering how he could brew the beer, because Peak brews its beer at Shipyard and basically rents the equipment. And Shipyard uses the Ringwood ale yeast almost exclusively.

"Shipyard has plenty of closed-top fermenters," Cadoux said. "We have been doing beers on all different kinds of equipment and a lot of different yeast strains over the last five years."

Cadoux said it took him a couple of years of playing around to come up with Fresh Cut, and he expects he will have some more beers sometime in the future.

RISING TIDE has bottled 60 barrels of a new beer -- a double IPA called Calcutta Cutter, which went on sale last week.

Nathan Sanborn, Rising Tide's head brewer and co-owner, said when I dropped by the brewery a couple of weeks ago that he made seven barrels in March.

That batch -- which I somehow missed -- was so popular that he did a 60-barrel batch, which will be available in 22-ounce bottles, on draft for samples and growler fills at the brewery, and perhaps at local pubs.

"Once this is gone, it's over for this year," Sanborn said.

He has already used up all of his Citra hops for this year, and Citra and Calypso are the prime hops in this beer.

Sanborn said he came up with the name on a whim, because he liked the alliteration, and because it is an India Pale Ale.

"I never intended it to be a regular beer," he said. "I'm going to have to be more careful about naming the small batches" because he never knows which of his trial batches his customers will want him to repeat.

The federal government required him to put a disclaimer on the label. It reads, "Just in case you were confused, this India Pale Ale is a product of the USA, not Kolkutta, India."

He thought it was unnecessary, because it says elsewhere on the label that Rising Tide is brewed in Portland.

Sanborn noted that he also thought the federal officials might object to the tone of his disclaimer, but they did not object at all.

Calcutta Cutter went on sale last week.

While at Rising Tide, I tasted a seven-barrel batch called Andromeda, named after the Andromeda Galaxy, which is the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way. It is pure Galaxy hops, and has a lot of hoppy flavor without necessarily being bitter.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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