In a “normal” year, one where we aren’t dealing with a pandemic, I probably make it to almost as many breweries in Maine as I do in Massachusetts. I usually take 4-5 trips to Maine in a year and every one of them involves multiple brewery stops. Despite that there are still many breweries in Vacationland that are on my need-to-visit list. Location is usually a big piece, I try to hit a mix of new-to-me and old favorites over the course of the year so proximity to other breweries helps. I also make most of these trips with the family on the way to-and-from my parents place in the mid-coast, so I can’t go far off the beaten path or be too disruptive to the nap and meal schedules that dictate the happiness of young children on a long car trip. Due to these factors I still haven’t made a stop at Tributary Brewing in Kittery, although I have heard very good things. Tributary is run by New England brewing legend Tod Mott along with his wife Galen. Tod is responsible for the original recipe for Harpoon IPA and for Portsmouth Brewing Kate the Great imperial stout, one of the original wait-in-line unicorn beers. While Tributary still produces a well regarded and hard to find imperial stout, they are also known for their strong lineup of ales and lagers. Fortunately for me their beers have started landing in Massachusetts, and I grabbed a few on a recent stock-up run. Most of their beers are designated with simple style names, this isn’t a place that is going to churn out 20 different IPAs that are just subtle variations on one recipe with different names and can art. One of the beers I grabbed with Tributary Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale that is one of the brewery’s flagship beers, available on draft and in 16 oz cans.
Tributary Pale Ale pours clear deep orange with a massive off-white head. There is a solid burst of hops on the nose, citrus and floral aromas. The beer is hop forward, notes of lemon, passion fruit, orange and pine with just a little bitter bite. This is balanced by a sturdy malt backbone, touches of bread dough and biscuits. Tributary Pale Ale is light and very easy drinking, not too boozy at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp with a bit of lingering hop flavor. When I first poured this beer I was expecting an old-school or English style pale ale, more malty with muted hops, but it is a nice balanced American pale. This would fit right in at Maine Beer Company, which is high praise. I really look forward to trying more Tributary beers in the near future! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.