This column was updated at 6 p.m. June 14 to correct the name of Bull Jagger’s Pilsner beer.

I might have an obsession when I choose a restaurant based on the beers that might be available.

My wife Nancy’s sister, Martha, was visiting from Florida and wanted to take us out to dinner. I suggested Local 188 because I like Spanish-influenced food and because I knew I could find some Bunker beer there. I have not drunk enough Bunker Beer yet.

Back in March, I tried Bunker Ale 2, Bunker Lager 1 and Bunker Hopscotch Ale when the Great Lost Bear had a Bunker Brewing night as one of its Thursday specials.

Jay Villani, owner of Local 188 and Sonny’s restaurants in Portland, and his baker, Chresten Sorenson, started Bunker Brewing with the idea of creating great beers with only the traditional ingredients: “malt, water, yeast, time, temperature and passion,” to quote Villani when I talked to him at the Bear.

Al Diamon — a freelance columnist and blogger for Downeast Magazine and a variety of other Maine publications who once did a regular beer segment on his Portland talk-radio show — emailed me that he had tried a Bunker maibock at Local 188 that was one of the best beers he had ever had.

The maibock was gone on Saturday, so I had the Bunker Mountain Girl Bock, described as a traditional American bock with a nice spring flavor, and I liked this a lot. I am a freak for bocks anyway, so this is not surprising.

Nancy thought it had a musty flavor, which she considered a negative. The rich complexity of a bock could be called musty, and I consider that a positive. It was slightly cloudy, an off-red, 6.5 percent alcohol and quite good.

Because we are going to Barcelona as part of a cruise in the fall, Nancy tried the Estrella dam Barcelona Lager, which was a really good beer. It was clean, crisp and flavorful, and went very well with the cheese plate and grilled moto flatbread that we shared with our beers.

On my recommendation, Martha ordered Rising Tide’s Daymark, but that keg had been replaced by the Six Points Bengali Tiger from Brooklyn. It was a pretty good beer — although as more and more IPAs hit the market, I find they have to do more to impress me. That is probably more about me than about the beer, but I want something — almost anything — other than an IPA.

For the second beer, I had the Bunker Coastal Belgian, a good, cloudy white ale that tasted a bit like Allagash White with just a bit of extra malt and hops.

This was a good beer, but it was a bit calm in comparison to the bock and when paired with the lamb I had ordered. It definitely was good enough that I am going to order Bunker beer whenever I find it.

Martha and Nancy both ordered as a second beer Peeper from Maine Beer Co. Martha had never had any Maine Beer products before, and Nancy has absolutely loved every Maine Beer product she has tasted — even more than I have.

I’ve written about Peeper before, so I will just say it met expectations. A great, straightforward beer, slightly hoppy but not IPA hoppy, and it tastes the way beer should taste.

THE NEXT NIGHT, Martha’s husband, Fran, joined us for lobster, and we did a beer tasting. Beers on the menu were Baxter Celsius, which we had on hand, and the following beers that I found at the Cape Elizabeth IGA: Another Peeper, Rising Tide Daymark and Ishmael, Bull-Jagger Baltic Porter, Portland Lager and Big Claw, and for dessert — after the fresh, local strawberries — a Shipyard Smashed Blueberry that I had on hand.

Fran’s top two beers were the Peeper and the Celsius; Martha’s were the Peeper and the Ishmael; and mine were the Daymark and the Big Claw — which surprised me, because previously I had thought the Baltic Porter was my favorite from Bull-Jagger. Nancy lost track, but liked them all.

We did agree there wasn’t a bad beer in the bunch.

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

[email protected]


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