The Maine beer scene is thriving. There is amazing buzz around many Maine breweries and the wide array of beers they are producing. When I visit Maine I always have a laundry list of breweries I want to visit and beers I want to try, and some of them are definitely selected based on hype generated through social media and conversations with other beer geeks. I do have a couple of issues with the beer hype machine, even if I occasionally buy in. One issue is the focus on what is new and/or hard to find over beers that are well known and widely available. The other issue is that the hype always seems to center on a couple of beer styles, typically IPAs and imperial stouts. While I love these styles I also like to branch out, and there are amazing beers of nearly every style that are produced locally. In the (justified) hype around breweries like Maine Beer Company, Bissell Brothers and Foundation sometimes people can forget old guard breweries like Allagash, even though they make some incredible beers. Allagash should be a must stop on any trip to Maine. They have a beautiful tasting room with regular tours and a complementary flight of beer, and the attached retail shop sells a variety of year-round, seasonal and specialty beers. On my recent stop I grabbed a bottle of 2015 Confluence, Allagash’s widely regarded Belgian pale ale. Confluence is brewed with a mixture of Allagash house yeast and Brettanomyces, aged in stainless steel tanks and then dry hopped with Glacier hops before bottling. Confluence is released once a year, and while Allagash doesn’t brew a super-limited amount to drive the hype machine, the 750 mL bottles will sell out before you know it.
Allagash Confluence 2015 pours a hazy yellow with a moderate white head. The scent is a mixture of citrus and earthy hops along with some funky yeast. The yeast is most evident in the flavor, pear, pepper and clove from the house yeast along with the distinct barnyard flavor from the Brett. This is nicely complemented by the hops which add notes of lemon, grass and peach along with a drying bitterness. The flavor is rounded out by the malt bill, some hints of crusty bread and just a little caramel. There is a diverse array of flavors here but they all work together, no one thing overwhelms or seems out of place. The beer has a medium body and goes down very smooth, but it packs a little punch at 7.5% ABV. The finish is dry with a little funk and fruit lingering on the tongue. I am a little embarrassed to say that this was my first time drinking Confluence, but this beer blew me away, absolutely delicious. I highly recommend trying this. Hoppy Boston score: 5.0/5.
Previous Allagash reviews: