The beer scene in Portland, Maine is insane, both in the sheer quantity of breweries for a small city and for the high quality of the beer being brewed. Portland has a wide range from stalwarts like Allagash to buzzy upstarts like Bissell Brothers and Foundation. The popularity of these breweries has made Portland into a destination beer city for beer fans from around the world, and this had led to even more new breweries opening up shop. One newer addition that has started to build significant buzz is Lone Pine Brewing Company. Lone Pine makes a variety of beers with a focus on IPAs that showcase new world hop varieties. I was able to stop at Lone Pine on a recent trip north and I grabbed a selection of cans to go. The brewery features a small tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s an easy stop off of I-295 if you are driving through the city on your way north or south. Among the beers I grabbed was their flagship IPA Brightside and one of their double IPAs named Oh-J, which uses citrus forward hops to give the beer it’s distinctive juicy flavor and aroma. Both beers are available on a regular basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Lone Pine Brightside IPA pours slightly hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity hops that makes you want to dive right in. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of tangerine, guava and melon along with a little bitter bite. This is complemented by a mild malt backbone, hints of crackers and bread crust. Brightside is light bodied and has the smooth drinkability you look for in a NEIPA, but it packs a little punch at 7.1% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a stellar IPA, well crafted with huge hop flavor. It has a little more bitterness than some NEIPAs, but I would still put it into that sub-style. Brightside guarantees that Lone Pine will become a regular stop on trips to Maine, it is on par with any Maine IPA I’ve sampled. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Lone Pine Oh-J pours slightly hazy light yellow with a large white head. The scent gives you a huge whiff of citrus and tropical fruit from the hops. These fruity hops lead the flavor too, notes of orange candy, lemon and peach but minimal bitterness. There is also solid malt flavor, touches of bread dough, honey and a little residual sweetness, although I’m not sure if it’s from the malt, the booze or the fruity hops (probably some combination of the three). Oh-J is medium bodied and drinks very easy for a DIPA, especially for a beer with 8.1% ABV. The finish is somewhat crisp with some lingering hops. I’ve heard lots of buzz for this beer and I understand why people like it, although that sweet flavor was a slight minus for me (personal preference). Still worth a shot for fans of New England style DIPAs. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.