Thursday, December 12, 2013
Beer and the Fourth of July go together like, well, beer and hot dogs, or beer and fireworks.
So as far as I am concerned, you can show your patriotism by drinking any American-made beer this weekend. Heck, I'll even say it's OK to drink Miller Lite, if your mouth is averse to flavor.
But if you want to double down on the Fourth, you could drink red, white and blue beers. Offer your guests a choice. You'd have just about every range of flavors except heavy stouts, porters and browns, and they aren't really meant for summer drinking -- although, as cold as it has been this year, they might be OK.
The hardest beer is the blue. And the one I would recommend is Sebago Brewing Company's Bass Ackwards Berryblue Ale.
This single-batch beer -- available only on tap and in 22-ounce bombers at specialty beer stores -- could actually qualify as both a red and a blue. It's brewed with real Maine blueberry juice, but there are no artificial flavors, so the taste has only a hint of blueberries.
The beer also pours red. Maybe there is just a hint of blue, but it is redder than most any amber, which in the brewing world is a synonym for red.
When I bought mine at Sebago's Portland restaurant, the crystal-clear beer almost shimmered in the glass. This is a pale ale, with clean, crisp flavors that would go well with most Fourth of July dinners, including salmon and peas.
And, since this beer is only 4 percent alcohol, you could drink a few without any serious effect. It is just an absolutely perfect summer beer.
For white beers, the choice is Allagash White. Allagash makes a lot of excellent extreme beers, but this is its most popular choice.
It comes in 12-ounce bottles, is not overly expensive and is the perfect example of an American Belgian-style wheat beer. It's called a white beer because the yeast and wheat make it a bit cloudy.
It's 5 percent alcohol, and goes well with the seafood you might want to eat on the Fourth. It's a darn good beer.
For the red, I am going to recommend Belfast Bay Brewing Company's Lobster Ale.
This was created by Dan McGovern at a brew pub in Belfast that is now out of business, and is contract-brewed at Shipyard in Portland.
It's smooth, red and a little hoppy, with a good amount of carbonation. There's nothing unusual about it -- it's just done well.
There are some good alternatives out there. I liked both the Blueberry Ale from Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor and Sea Dog in Portland. Atlantic had just a little bit of blueberry, and Sea Dog had more of a blueberry flavor. They come in 12-ounce bottles, which might be more convenient if you can't find someone who wants to share a blueberry ale with you.
I reported on Shipyard's Smashed Blueberry a couple of weeks ago. It's very good, but it's intense enough and high enough in alcohol content that you might want to drink it at home when you are winding down for the day.
Sebago's Runabout Red is another very good red ale that's pretty widely available if you can't find the Lobster Ale. I also liked the Peak Organic Amber Ale quite a bit.
As an alternative to the Allagash White, I tried Peak Organic's Weiss Principal, described as a cross between a white ale and an IPA, with an unusual mix of flavors -- banana and pine among them. I liked it, but at a bit more than 8 percent alcohol, it's best as another sip-at-the-end-of-the-day beer.
Wife Nancy and son-in-law Christian both disliked the Weiss Principal severely. Christian said the heavy hops fight too much with what is supposed to be a smooth-drinking white.
If you find any other red, white and blue beers on your own, go for them. I'm sure there are many I missed.
Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at: