Category Archives: Beer of the Month

Pale Ale Month Wrap Up

I had a great time sampling and reviewing American pale ales in April. I know that IPAs are the king (and I love a good IPA), but pale ales can provide plenty of hop flavor and aroma in a lighter, less bitter and very easy to drink package. I would love to see more brewers use the APA style for their session and single hop beers. The style of the month for May is Maibock/Helles Bock and Helles Lager (I know they are separate styles, but I needed to combine them due to the scarcity of beers on the market). Feel free to pass on any suggestions. Here are a few awards to wrap up American pale ale month, as always the links lead to the full reviews!

BBC Steel RailA Local Classic: Berkshire Brewing Steel Rail. Originally brewed to introduce macro-lager drinkers to full flavored beer, but still holds up after many years.

English Style Pale Ales Are Good Too!: Ipswich Original Ale. English style pale ales, with their more balanced/malty flavor profile, have fallen out of popularity in favor of the hoppier American versions, but many are still interesting and tasty beers. Ipswich makes one of my personal favorites.

Hardest Name To Pronounce: Down The Road Pukwudgie. Down The Road’s flagship beer has a weird name and a strange creature on the labels, but the beer is easy drinking and full of hop flavor.

Night Shift WhirlpoolProof That We Need More Session APAs: Night Shift Whirlpool. Tons of hop flavor and aroma, light bodied and crushable, sold in tallboy cans. What more could you ask out of a session beer?

Further Proof We Need More Session APAs: Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale. One of Rising Tide’s most popular beers for a reason, and a staple of my summer drinking.

Beer I Forgot About Until I Started Looking At Old Reviews: Slumbrew Island Day. I really enjoyed this seasonal release, but haven’t seen it around this spring. Any idea if they are still making it?

Long Trail Stand OutThe Best New-To-Me Pale Ale: Long Trail Stand Out. This new release showcases the fruity and herbal flavors of Equinox hops, and is a very well crafted and delicious beer.

A Damn Good Beer Over-Looked Because the Lack of Three Letters: Maine Beer Co. Mo. Yes, it doesn’t have IPA in the title, but Mo is still a celebration of big hop flavors, and it’s much easier to find than the MBC IPAs.

Trillium Fort Point Pale AleMy Favorite Local Pale Ale: Trillium Fort Point Pale Ale. When I did an informal twitter poll on people’s favorite APA this was the overwhelming choice, and I can’t disagree. I actually prefer FPPA to any of Trillium’s IPAs, which is saying something.

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Tripel Month Wrap-Up

I am a big fan of the Belgian tripel style, it might be lighter in color but it still packs bold flavor and alcoholic punch. I was disappointed at how few examples I was able to try after naming it the style of the month for March, there are relatively few breweries making tripels. I think tripels are an under utilized style, there is an opportunity in the market for more versions. I would especially love to see some more experimental versions, especially ones with large late doses of New World hops. Come on, who is going to say no to a beer with fruity hops, complex Belgian style yeast and a big hit of booze? Hopefully a few local breweries see this potential and start tinkering with tripel recipes. Here are a few superlative awards base on tripels I have tasted and reviewed, the links lead to the full review when it’s available. Now we are onto April, and the style of the month will be American Pale Ales!

Westmalle TripelThe OG of tripels: Westmalle Tripel. They literally invented the style, and their version is still full of flavor and very easy to drink for a bigger beer.

The “classic for a reason” award: Allagash Tripel. Allagash gets a lot of well-deserved props for their barrel aged and wild ales, but their flagship beers are all stellar versions of classic Belgian styles.

Victory Golden MonkeyA strong runner up in the category: Victory Golden Monkey. Another delicious beer that is readily available and worth re-visiting if it’s been a while.

Tripel that should be part of your regular beer rotation: Slumbrew Trekker Trippel. One of Slumbrew’s flagship beers, bold and boozy with complex flavor. Now available in cans!

Proof that more breweries need to barrel age their tripels: Allagash Curieux. We have so many barrel aged imperial stouts and we are seeing more quads and barleywines, but it’s amazing that more breweries haven’t aged their tripels. Maybe they just realize it would be hard to compete with bourbon barrel aged Curieux.

Overshores Tripel BrunMost interesting experiment with the style: Overshores Tripel Brun. Overshores went the non-traditional route, adding caramel malt and making a slightly darker version of the classic style.

The beer I am really missing this spring: Pretty Things Fluffy White Rabbits. One of my favorite Pretty Things beers, great use of hops to complement the flavors provided by the yeast. I would love to be drinking a bottle of this right now. Anyone have a good clone recipe?

My favorite local tripel: Idle Hands Triplication. It is good to see Idle Hands back on store shelves, and I am looking forward to checking out their new space. I am hoping that Triplication returns to the regular rotation (and it would be nice to see it in some smaller-form bottles or cans, 750 mL is a lot of tripel).

Cheers!

Porter Month Wrap-Up

I had a lot of fun with my first style of the month selection, it was great to compare and contrast similar beers and try many that I had missed. I’m glad I started with porter, one of my favorite styles and a perfect beer for February (even if parts of this month were unseasonably warm). In doing this I’ve realized that even though current beer culture is obsessed with hops there are still a number of breweries making amazing dark and malty beers. Here are a few superlative awards, any porter that I’ve reviewed in the past was eligible, and the links lead to the full review. Cheers!

Smuttynose Robust PorterLocal beer that is a staple of the style: Smuttynose Robust Porter. Just a delicious beer, one of my all time favorite versions of the porter style.

Local classic that gets overlooked: Geary’s London Porter. Geary’s has taken some flak for being stuck in their ways (though there are a few signs that is changing), but this is a beer they need to keep brewing. Also, love that it is a sessionable offering.

National beer that gets overlooked because it is so widely available: Founders Porter. I think that says it all, just a great beer that you can find in any decent bottle shop.

Foolproof Peanut Butter RaincloudCraziest ingredient added to a porter (while still making a delicious beer): Foolproof Peanut Butter Raincloud. It has been brought to my attention that other breweries have made peanut butter flavored beers, but I was very impressed with how well this worked, mixing the subtle PB flavor with the natural chocolate notes from the roasted malts.

My favorite beer that I tried for the first time due to porter month: Riverwalk Winter Porter. This was mentioned in a number of “best new beers of 2015” articles and it’s definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the style.

Proof that hop-focused breweries can also make must-try malty beers: Maine Beer Co. King Titus. Take a break in your search for Lunch and Dinner and have this malty brew for dessert.

Trillium Pot and KettleProof that oats aren’t just for stouts: Trillium Pot and Kettle. Another brewery that is more famous for it’s hoppy beers but makes a stellar version of the porter style. The addition of oats add that hearty full body you crave on a cold evening chilly weather.

Best porter with a little twist: Bog Iron One Down. The addition of cherrywood smoked malt adds a subtle smokiness, contributing depth and complexity.

My favorite Baltic porter: Jack’s Abby Framinghammer. Also wins the award as the easiest drinking beer with double digit ABV. Tons of flavor and 10% ABV but still smooth and clean.

Night Shift AwakeMy favorite coffee porter: Night Shift Awake. There are a number of coffee infused porters on the market and this was my favorite, just enough coffee flavor and aroma to complement the tasty beer without overwhelming it.

A close runner-up in the coffee porter catagory: Rising Tide Waypoint. This was a very close second to Awake, also a must try for fans of the style.

My favorite porter: Mayflower Porter. No crazy ingredients or out of whack ABVs, just a well crafted and delicious beer. Also serves as a base for amazing beef stew!