Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By TOM ATWELL
I stopped at Mama's Crowbar in Portland of couple of weeks ago and was surprised to find a Rising Tide beer called Tempest on tap. It was a coffee porter brewed with beans from Bard Coffee.
Rising Tide's Tempest is a coffee porter brewed with beans from Bard Coffee.
Because I have been drinking Rising Tide since the brewery opened a couple of years ago and have liked all of its beers, I had to try this one.
Tempest was rich and roasty with the aroma of coffee beans and an opaque (almost black) color with a lot of maltiness, and was not very bitter. It is only 5 percent alcohol and lightly carbonated, but with a good, stiff head.
My brother Steve, who met me at the bar and is a bit less adventurous in his beer tastes than I am, liked this one too, so I think it's a beer that will satisfy a lot of different palates.
When I dropped by an open house and tasting at the brewery on Saturday, Heather Sanborn -- who founded the company with her husband, brewer Nathan Sanborn -- said Tempest was one of the company's first experimental beers in its seven-barrel system, which used to be the main system until it recently upgraded to a 30-barrel system.
"The response has been so great, we have decided to brew a 30-barrel batch," she said.
Now that the brewery has the 30-barrel system to brew the company's year-round brews, Sanborn said they will be using the seven-barrel system to create new beers. Those beers will be available only on draft at bars and restaurants around Maine and for tastings and growlers at the Fox Street brewery.
The seven-barrel beer on tap Saturday was a farmhouse-style ale that Rising Tide is calling Entrepot.
"It is a farmhouse-style ale, but since we have a warehouse instead of a farmhouse, we are calling it warehouse-style," Sanborn said. ("Entrepot" is French for "warehouse.")
Sanborn said they are planning a series of Entrepot ales, and the one available Saturday had a lot of oats in the mix, so it is called Entrepot (oats). It uses a blend of French and American ale yeasts and a blend of Pilsner and hard red wheat malts. It comes in at 7 percent alcohol, has a hazy orange color, a fairly spicy flavor and a smooth texture that comes from the oats. Son-in-law Christian and I both liked this beer, and he bought a growler of it to bring home -- while I bought a growler of Atlantis, a black IPA that I have had and liked before.
I will be looking forward to more Entrepots and other beers from the seven-barrel system.
BACK TO MAMA'S CROWBAR. It is a beer-only, cash-only small bar at 189 Congress St. that always has an interesting collection of beers. And when we visited at 5 p.m. on a Monday, all of the beers were $4 -- a bargain, considering the kind of beer available.
I also had an Oxbow Loretta, which I had never tried before, and an Allagash Fluxus, which I had drunk before but not in the 2012 version.
Loretta is described on the Oxbow website as a grisette, a beer type similar to a saison farmhouse ale but brewed for miners in a mining region of France. Loretta is brewed with spelt -- an old type of wheat grown on a draft-horse farm in Pittston.
It is as close to a lawnmower beer as Oxbow is going to come, only with 4 percent alcohol. It's lightly flavored and smooth, with a light, cloudy, yellow color. Steve and I both liked this.
Fluxus is a beer marking Allagash's birthday, and the recipe changes every year. The 2012 Fluxus is a Belgian strong ale, also brewed with spelt, and has some peppercorns. It is 7.7 percent alcohol and has a strong, musty flavor, which I liked and Steve didn't.
It definitely was the most complex beer of the three I had at the Crowbar.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: