Tag Archives: Allagash

Allagash Interlude 2017

I hear a lot of complaining about the prices of beer, and only some of it is justified. It does feel like some places intentionally inflate their prices, I am amazed how many 4 packs of local IPA break the $20 mark. In fairness, a lot of popular breweries could pump up their prices even more. For example, how high would Tree House prices need to go before those lines started to dwindle? One beer style that typically demands a premium price is barrel aged beers. This makes sense, there is a substantial cost involved in acquiring the appropriate barrels and then storing the beer to age, and the best examples of these styles require significant expertise. I am usually hesitant to drop big money on unfamiliar barrel-aged bottles, unless I have heard rave reviews from trusted sources. There are a few exceptions, breweries that have earned my trust to the point that I’ll try pretty much anything they release regardless of style and price. The number one example of this is Allagash Brewing, their barrel aged and special release beers are usually stellar and always worth the money. A great example is Interlude, released every late fall/early winter. Interlude is a blend on a beer fermented with traditional saison yeast, another fermented with Brettanomyces and a portion aged in red wine barrels. the ability to mix the proper amounts of each beer in a way that lets all of the flavors come together is an art, and few places do it like Allagash. Allagash Interlude 2017 is available in 750 mL bottles while they last.

Allagash InterludeAllagash Interlude 2017 pours deep red-gold with a small white head, The aroma is complex, fruit, funk and a bit if acidity. The flavor is even more complex, there is a lot going on in this beer. The fermentation adds notes of cherry, sour apple, pear and pepper along with a light tart bite. This is complemented by the flavors imparted by the barrel aging, hints of oak, plum, raspberry and red grape. The malts add a backbone of hay and cereal, and there is minimal hop character. Interlude 2017 has a medium body and drinks incredibly easy for a beer with 10.6% ABV. The finish is crisp and tart with a  lingering fruity and funky flavor. This is a stellar beer, amazing flavor and drinkability, releases like this set Allagash apart. Worth every penny. Hoppy Boston score: 5.0/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Coolship Red, Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016, Allagash Sixteen CountiesAllagash TiarnaAllagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black


Allagash Coolship Red

I’m finally finishing up articles related to my trip to Maine, which is now over a month ago. As part of the trip my group registered for a tour of the beautiful Allagash brewery on Industrial Way. While I’ve visited the brewery many times I had never done the tour, and I highly recommend it, there is a lot to learn and many parts to the facility. On the tour I learned that Allagash is discontinuing their flagship Dubbel and that any employee could propose a beer to brew on the pilot system. This led me to suggest a beer to the tour guide, send Dubbel out in style by brewing a final batch and aging it in port barrels. I’ve always liked the idea of mixing dark Abbey styles with wine/port/cognac, and I know I would buy a beer with that combination in a second. I don’t really expect them to brew the beer, but it would be really cool if they did!

Coincidentally, the day that I was visiting the brewery was also a bottle release day, in this case they were releasing Coolship Red. This beer is part of Allagash’s wild fermented Coolship series, which are brewed in the tradition of Belgian lambics. After the standard boil the wort (unfermented beer) is added to the Coolship, an open fermenter, and wild microbes from the environment ferment the beer while it ages in barrels for an extended period of time. After the aging process is complete the barrels are blended and then bottled. I’ve always been interested in this process, and I was really excited to try one of these beers, especially the Coolship Red which is aged with raspberries (my all time favorite fruit). Allagash Coolship Red is available on a limited basis in 375 mL bottles.

Allagash Coolship RedAllagash Coolship Red pours deep pink-red with a small white head. The aroma is fruity and funky, lots of scents from the fermentation and barrel aging process. The wild yeast takes center stage in the flavor too, solidly tart with notes of pear, sour apple and barnyard. The raspberries complement this flavor, you get plenty of the fruit without overpowering the flavors imparted by the microbes. Coolship Red is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 6.2% ABV. The finish has some acidity along with lingering fruit flavor. This is a really good beer, my taste for sour beers is a little slow in developing but this is complex and delicious. I am glad that I bought multiple bottles. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016, Allagash Sixteen CountiesAllagash TiarnaAllagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016

Allagash Brewing Company might be the best brewery when it comes to special occasion beers. Don’t get me wrong, their year-round regular releases are stellar, but you don’t get a full appreciation for Allagash until you start tasting their limited release bottles. I call these beers “special occasion beers” because while I would love to drink these beers all the time, they tend to be on the pricy side, and while they are well worth the expense it isn’t always feasible. These special releases include many beers that are spontaneuosly-fermented, funky and/or sour, and infused with fruit or other adjunct ingredients. One of their yearly releases is Fluxus, brewed with a different recipe every summer to celebrate the first beer that Allagash sold in 1995. For the first time in 2016 Allagash brewed a second version of Fluxus in the winter, called Hibernal Fluxus. Allagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016 is a Belgian style stout brewed with figs. A portion of the proceeds go to Window Dressers, a group that helps underprivileged Maine family reduce their heating costs in the winter. Hibernal Fluxus 2016 is available for a limited time on draft and in 750 mL bottles.

Allagash Hibernal Fluxus.jpgAllagash Hibernal Fluxus 2016 pours deep brown with a solid mocha head. The scent is a mixture of expressive Belgian yeast and roasted malts. The malt leads the flavor, notes of chocolate, raisin and coffee. This is complemented by plenty of flavor from the fermentation, hints of pear, clove and apricot. The figs add some complexity but are mild, I don’t know that I would have specifically identified them without reading the bottle. Hibernal Fluxus is a full bodied sipper, and packs a little punch at 8% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering sweet malt and yeasty esters. This beer is worthy of a special occasion, and perfect for sipping on a cold winter night, grab some before it’s gone! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Sixteen CountiesAllagash TiarnaAllagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Allagash Sixteen Counties

I have lived in Massachusetts for most of my adult life (outside of a 2-year sabbatical to Connecticut for my post-doc), but I was born and raised a Mainer. I grew up in Knox County, my family now lives in Waldo County and I went to college in Cumberland County. I also have some great memories involving towns in many of the other 13 counties in the great state of Maine. I have really enjoyed seeing the Maine beer scene take off and begin to attract national attention, every time I make a trip up north I try to hit a brewery or two and check out their offerings. While much of the attention is being paid to the exciting newer breweries in the state, Allagash Brewing Company has been a Maine staple for many years and continues of produce some of the highest quality beers in the country. One of their newest releases is Sixteen Counties, a celebration of the entire state of Maine brewed with grains sourced from four different local farms. The craft beer boom, and the resulting focus on locally sourced ingredients, has been a boon for farmers and many small malt houses have begun to open in order to meet this demand. Allagash Sixteen Counties is available now on draft and in 750 mL bottles.

Allagash 16 CountiesAllagash Sixteen Counties pours a hazy copper with a huge off-white head. The scent is mostly the fruity esters produced by the expressive Belgian style house yeast strain. The yeast also leads the flavor contributing notes of apple, clove and pear. This is complemented by solid hop flavor, touches of grass, herbs and lemon. The malts round out the profile with hints of whole grain bread, crackers and plenty of body from the oats. Even with the medium to full body and 7.3% ABV the beer drinks very easy. The finish is crisp and dry with a complex mixture of flavors in the aftertaste that makes you want to keep exploring the beer. Sixteen Counties is a great example of what Allagash does so well, expertly melding diverse flavors from a number of ingrdients to create complex beers that are still approachable and delicious. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash TiarnaAllagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Allagash Tiarna

I resisted the urge to start a beer cellar for a long time. Some of it was a stage of life and space issue, but even when those problems were amended I didn’t feel a big need. I typically stock up on quality beers 1-2 times a month and finish most of them before I buy more. This changed when Pretty Things announced that they were closing, I immediately stocked up on some of their beers and started a small cellar, and later added a few ither additions. The issue many beer enthusiasts run into with their special bottles is when to finally crack them open. You want the perfect occasion, but what good is a beer that sits in your cellar forever? Allagash Brewing Company came up with a solution to this with their Drink It Now campaign, a call for all beer enthusiasts to pull out those special beers and share them with friends. You can read more about it HERE. I love the idea of making any Sunday into a special occasion worthy of opening a great beer. Allagash has a number of beers worthy of either holding onto or drinking now, especially their barrel aged and wild ales. A great example is Tiarna, a blend of an ale aged in oak with Brettanomyces and another aged in stainless steel with a combination of Belgian yeast strains. Tiarna is available on a rotating basis in 375 mL bottles.

Allagash TiarnaAllagash Tiarna pours crystal clear pale yellow with a massive white head and vigorous carbonation. The scent is a little like a dry champagne along with a touch of acidity and some fruity hops. Like many of Allagash’s barrel aged beers the flavor is complex but everything seems to work together. The yeast adds some apple and pear along with funky Brett and a mild tartness. The hops are present with notes of pineapple, orange and white grape. Their is also a touch of bready malt and a little oak flavor from the barrels. Tiarna is light and bubbly and drinks very easy for 7.1% ABV. The finish is dry and crisp with lingering flavors from the expressive blend of yeast strains. If you are a fan of wild and barrel aged ales I don’t know that anyone does them better than Allagash, and this is another impressive offering. Buy some and drink it now! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash Confluence 2015Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Allagash Confluence 2015

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 2015Allagash 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:

Allagash CurieuxAllagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black

Allagash Curieux

Tomorrow my wife and I are taking the baby to Maine for a long weekend at my parents’ house. I love trips to Maine, especially in the summer. Since we are traveling with an infant we are going to need more frequent stops, so I have formulated a bit of a plan. Why stop at a rest stop when you could stop at a brewery? I have a tentative plan to hit 3-5 breweries on the way north, we’ll see how it goes. In honor of the upcoming journey my last pre-trip post will be a review of a Maine beer, Allagash Curieux. This beer is an interesting case. Curieux is a version of Allagash’s popular Tripel that is aged in Jim Beam Bourbon barrels and then blended with fresh Tripel. When Curieux was first released there were very few beers aged in whiskey barrels, now they are readily available. Curieux has received high praise from some of my most trusted fellow beer enthusiasts. When I bought this bottle one of the resident beer geeks at CBC Newton commented that it might be the best beer in the store. One of the most entertaining and informative national beer writers calls Curieux his favorite beer of all time. Despite this praise Curieux doesn’t get the hype that accompanies some barrel aged stouts like Founders KBS and Goose Island BCBS. Maybe it’s the lack of an acronym-ready name. More likely it is availability, these other beers are released in limited quantities that helps drives the hype, but Curieux is available year-round. You can find Curieux on draft and in 750 mL bottles.

Allagash CurieuxAllagash Curieux pours a clear light brown with a moderate white head. The scent is a mixture of boozy bourbon mixed with Allagash’s distinctly expressive fruity and spicy Belgian style ale yeast. The bourbon leads the flavor, solid but not overpowering, boozy and sweet with notes of oak and vanilla. The yeast comes through too with touches of clove, apple and banana. There is some malt in the back of the beer, crackery grain and candi sugar, but not much in the way of hops. Curieux is incredibly easy to drink and goes down impossibly smooth for a beer at 11% ABV. The finish is clean with just a hint of yeasty esters and warming alcohol. This beer is extremely good, it is no wonder that it helped inspire a craze for bourbon barrel aged beers. I am surprised more brewers haven’t used tripels as their base for barrel aging, maybe they switched to stouts because they assumed Allagash had already mastered tripels with Curieux! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Allagash Reviews:

Allagash White, Allagash DubbelAllagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide Prince TuesdayAllagash Saison, Allagash Black