Maine Beer Co. introduced two new beers during the past couple of weeks, and I liked them both. One of them will be around for a while, and one of them might not go on sale again.

The former is MO, named for the recently born twins of brewer and co-owner Daniel Kleban. The twins are named Madeline and Oliver, and MO makes a shorter, easier-to-say name.

MO, a pale ale at 6 percent alcohol, cost $5.99 at Downeast Beverage on Commercial Street in Portland. And while the first batch has disappeared from the company warehouse, co-owner David Kleban told me it is a beer that will be in their rotation in the future.

Son Zachary, daughter-in-law Marah, son-in-law Christian and I all had some MO on Sunday. I didn’t describe it to them, and the other three tasters all said it was an IPA. If I hadn’t talked to Daniel and David beforehand, I probably would have described it as an IPA too — an IPA made before the West Coast trend of heavily hopped IPAs.

The Klebans told me that the MO is a pale ale somewhere on the scale of hoppiness between Peeper, their original flagship American-style ale, and Lunch IPA, their American-style IPA, which I would describe as a West Coast, highly hopped IPA.

We all liked MO a lot. You could taste the hops, but the malt stood up to the hops, and it was just a good, complex beer.

Someday I will go whole hog and have Peeper, MO and Lunch in a vertical tasting, but right now I think MO is the one I like best of all — and not just because it was the one I had most recently.

The other new beer, Thank You Allan, is a one-time — unless the Klebans change their mind — charity beer, and a change for the company. It is a farmhouse ale brewed with brettanomyces, aged in oak barrels and bottled with a cork and bale.

It costs $25 — $10 of which goes to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The company regularly gives 1 percent of all its other sales to environmental charities.

Thank You Allan is a good, fairly strong, tasty beer with the yeast being the dominant flavor. The oak is in the background, and there’s not a lot of hops. It was a superb Belgian style, something we had previously not seen from Maine Beer.

If I had tasted it totally blind, I would have thought it had been brewed a couple hundred feet down the street at Allagash. I don’t know if this is a hint of what is yet to come.

THE PILOT BEER NIGHT at Sebago Brewing Co.’s Portland restaurant on Leap Day proved educational and fun. Sebago has just installed a beer system that will let it test beers in 30-gallon batches, and wanted to gain some public reaction.

I enjoyed all four of the beers I tasted, and was surprised by a couple of them.

Good Man Charles, a brown ale, was created by Marty McMorrow, and it wasn’t what I typically expect a brown ale to be. It was the right brown color, but not as sweet, with a thinner body. It still had a good malt flavor and a fairly complicated hoppiness.

“I wanted to give it a little twist,” McMorrow said, so he used an aromatic Munich malt and Falconer’s Flight hops, a blend of West Coast hops that is new to the market. It had a rich complexity, but was still easy drinking at 4.9 percent alcohol.

McMorrow started working on the bottling line at Sebago a couple of years ago. He said this was his first all-grain beer.

The Throne Extra Pale Ale was another beer experimenting with a new hops, Delta. This is a fairly earthy light beer, at 4.8 percent alcohol, that would make a great summer brew. It has a subtle complexity, but would be a great beer for sitting on the patio or watching a baseball game.

I’m ‘Ol Ale was described as an Old Ale style, and the beer I use for comparison is Old Peculier from England. I’m ‘Ol Ale was lighter in color, body and flavor than Old Peculier, but still rich in flavors of dried fruit and dark sugar, with just a bit of hops. It wasn’t what I expected, but I liked it.

Cocoa Love, a milk stout at 4.5 percent alcohol, was a liquid piece of Belgian chocolate. A nice dessert.

I WROTE ABOUT Narragansett Cream Ale last week, and my wife, Nancy, and I liked it. But I wondered if it was worth the price premium over the Narragansett flagship lager.

Zachary, Christian and Marah all said it was substantially more complex and better than the lager. Again, I will have to taste them side-by-side in the near future.

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

[email protected]

 


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