I still don’t drink coffee. Many of my colleagues are shocked that I didn’t pick up the habit in graduate school, the 70-80 hour weeks in the lab drove many towards any additional boost they could find. I joked afterwards that I had one more big test, which started almost 7 months ago with the birth of my son, and I am still holding strong. The thing is, I am pretty sure I would like coffee, I like the smell and I enjoy a number of coffee infused beers. There are a number of reasons I don’t give it a shot; the cost (assuming I don’t stick to the free stuff at work), the additional empty calories (assuming I don’t drink it black, I get plenty of empty calories from beer), and my sensitivity to large doses of caffeine. There are some days where coffee would come in handy, like a Monday morning after a vacation that ended with an overtime Sunday night Patriots game, but I am still holding out. As a mentioned, I do enjoy many coffee infused stouts and porters, the key for me is adding enough coffee flavor to complement the malts without overwhelming them. One new addition to the local stable of coffee beers is Waypoint, a collaboration between Rising Tide Brewing Company and Tandem Coffee Roasters, both located in Portland, ME. Waypoint is currently available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Rising Tide Waypoint pours pitch black with a small light brown head. The scent is a mixture of roasted barley along with coffee. The beer is very malt forward, notes of dark chocolate, cappuccino, fresh bread and toffee. The coffee flavor is well represented without overwhelming the beer. The hops flavor isn’t strong but is helps dry out the finish and gives a coffee-like bitterness to the beer. Waypoint is medium bodied and smooth, and at 4.8% ABV it is sessionable by many definitions. The finish is crisp with some lingering malt and coffee flavors. We need more porters and stouts that have big flavors without tons of booze or crazy adjunct additions, and this fits the bill perfectly. I would highly recommend giving Rising Tide Waypoint a try, it’s perfect for chilly early winter afternoons. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale, Rising Tide Printemps, Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter, Ursa Minor Weizen Stout
So I am going to break a couple of my unwritten, poorly defined and completely arbitrary blog rules with my review today. The first is that I try not to do reviews of beers from a single brewery on consecutive weeks. There are so many great local breweries, even when I visit a tap room and have a few different beers from one place to review I try to spread the posts out. The second is my anti “unicorn beer” stance, one of the goals of this blog is to identify great beers that are also readily available at your local bottle shop. Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale would have been considered a unicorn beer last year. The first run was only available in the state of Maine and even in state it sold quickly. I was fortunate enough to try it on a trip to Portland last spring. This year a limited amount was distributed to Massachusetts, and I was fortunate enough to grab some at CBC Newton last week. I decided to post quickly (even though I reviewed Printemps last week) to give you a chance to try the beer before it’s gone. My reviews might also get a little more haphazard in the coming weeks due to some major life changes, so I figured I would share my thoughts on this beer before that happens. Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale (or MITA) is a sessionable American pale ale brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops. It is available in the spring/summer on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans. A portion of the proceeds from the beer benefit the Maine Island Trail Association.
Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale pours a pale straw yellow with a monstrous white head. The scent is a big burst of juicy citrus hops. There is also substantial hop flavor, notes of lemon, grass, pine and peach. The beer is remarkably light and easy to drink, the hop bitterness is present without being overwhelming. This is obviously a pale ale and not an IPA. Their is a mild malt backbone that contributes some cracker flavor and just enough balance and complexity. This beer is hop focused without being one-note, the problem that many hop-forward session bees run into. The finish is clean and dry with a touch of lingering hop flavor. This is a very well done hoppy session beer, one of my personal favorites, a great beer for BBQs and other outdoor activities that come with the warmer weather. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Rising Tide Reviews:
Rising Tide Printemps, Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter, Ursa Minor Weizen Stout
Happy Marathon Monday/Patriots Day! For those of you that don’t live in Massachusetts, today is a state holiday where most of metro Boston closes work and has a big party while some elite athletes/insane people (or both, depending on your perspective) run 26.2 miles. This is one of the best days to live in Boston, it’s our own private holiday and a true celebration of our city. The day has even more meaning after the events of two years ago and the response of the city and it’s residents.
While spring technically started almost a month ago I’ve always circled this day as the true start of spring in MA. It fits this year too, the snow is finally gone, we’ve had some seasonal weather recently, I even opened the porch and cleaned off the grill this weekend. I have long stated that my favorite beer for the springtime is the Belgian saison style – it’s the perfect combination of light body and full flavor to complement the season. Last spring I dedicated a couple months to exploring the saison style and found some new favorites, you can read my superlative awards HERE. While I am not going into that much depth this spring you can expect a number of saison reviews over the next few months. I’ll start with Printemps, part of the special release entrepot series brewed by Rising Tide Brewing Company. Saisons are also called farmhouse ales since the style originated in Belgian farmhouses. Most American craft beer is brewed in industrial parks instead of on farms, so Rising Tide jokingly calls Printemps an American warehouse ale. Rising Tide Printemps is available during the spring on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Rising Tide Printemps pours a clear straw yellow with a mild white head. The scent is all Belgian style yeast, spicy and fruity. The yeast leads the flavor too, notes of green apple, pear and black pepper. This is balanced by a full pale malt backbone, bready with some wheat and just a hint of sweetness. While this isn’t a “hoppy” beer, there are noticeable American hops that add complexity to the yeast flavor/aroma, notes of lemon and peach with a little late bitterness. The beer is light bodied and easy to drink, at 6.5% ABV it is about average for the style. The finish has some fruity esters and some drying bitterness from the hops. This is a really good saison, full flavored and refreshing, perfect for a spring BBQ. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Rising Tide Reviews:
Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter, Ursa Minor Weizen Stout
Unlike many industries that focus entirely on competition, craft brewers love to collaborate. Most of the popular craft breweries have brewed collaboration beers, Sierra Nevada is even releasing a 12-pack with twelve different beers each brewed with a different brewery this Summer. In a seminal series of articles Bangor, ME based beer writer Chad Lothian had a group of Maine craft beer experts pick their dream collaborations involving Maine breweries. You can find the results HERE (and I highly recommend following his If My Coaster Could Talk blog, some of the best Maine-centric beer writing out there). It is no surprise that three of the breweries that made frequent appearances on these dream-team lists were Allagash, Rising Tide and Maine Beer Co. Both Rising Tide and Maine Beer Co. started in the “craft beer incubator” on Industrial Way next to the Allagash brewery, and while they have grown into new spaces there is still a strong sense of community amongst these old neighbors (for a write up of my visit to the current breweries on Industrial Way see: Part 1 and Part 2). Recently Allagash released Prince Tuesday, part of their Tribute Series, in collaboration with Maine Beer Co and Rising Tide. Prince Tuesday is a Belgian Rye Pale Ale brewed with rye malts from Rising Tide, hopped by the hop experts at Maine Beer Co. and then fermented using the Allagash house yeast. It is available on a limited basis in 750 mL bottles and on draft, with a percentage of the proceeds going to Portland Trails.
Allagash/Maine Beer Co/Rising Tide Prince Tuesday pours a deep gold, hazy with a massive white head. The smell starts with a huge burst of citrusy hops, followed by undertones of spicy and fruity esters from the Belgian yeast. The yeast comes through strongly in the flavor with touches of pear, bubblegum, clove and peppercorn. The hops are also present adding tastes of mango, grapefruit and guava. There is significant malt to balance the beer out, spicy rye and whole grain bread. Prince Tuesday is pretty easy to drink, the hops add a ton of flavor but pretty mild bitterness. The drinkability hides the alcohol well, you don’t taste any of the 8.1% ABV. The finish is complex with fruit, spice and just a hint of bitterness. This is a great beer, tons of different flavors but all of them are harmonious. I need to go find some more before it’s all gone. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Allagash reviews:
Allagash Saison, Allagash Black
With the ever increasing number of craft breweries competeing for attention from customers, as well as shelf and tap space, it is important for any new brewery to have a calling card. One of the most effective calling cards is a beer that creates buzz. Typically this beer will be a seasonal/limited release, and it should either be a unique flavor profile or a very well done version of a popular style. Having this “calling card” beer gets people excited about the brewery and encourages consumers to sample other brewery releases. Rising Tide Brewing of Portland, ME has their “calling card” beer in Calcutta Cutter. Named after a single masted sailing vessel, Calcutta Cutter is a double IPA. Rising Tide refers to the beer as their homage to hops, with additions early, late, very late and dry. I had heard some positive reviews and buzz around Calcutta Cutter, and needed to sample it for myself.
Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter pours an amber gold with a mild white head. As you sip it a full lacing tracks down the sides of the glass. The smell is pungent hops, citrus and tropical fruit mixed with some floral notes. The first taste gives you a huge burst of hop flavor, grapefruit, orange, guava, mango and some pine. While the beer is very malt forward there is a solid malt backbone, with touches of grain and caramel. The beer is nicely balanced. The solid hop bitterness you expect from an IPA is slightly mellowed and complemented by the full malt flavor. At 8.7% ABV Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter is definitely not a session beer, but it drinks pretty easy for a full bodied double IPA. The finish leaves a pleasant tartness on the tongue and keeps you coming back for more. I had high expectations for Calcutta Cutter and it completely lived up to them. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Rising Tide reviews:
Ursa Minor Weizen Stout
The quaint ocean-side city of Portland, Maine has become a hotspot for emerging craft breweries. One of the developing stars in Portland is Rising Tide Brewing Company. Rising Tide was founded in 2010 by brewer/owner Nathan and his business partner Heather. Rising Tide brews a series of year-round and seasonal ales available on draft and in 22 oz bottles. They currently distribute to Maine and Massachusetts. Rising Tide’s winter seasonal beer is Ursa Minor, a weizen stout brewed September through April. Weizen stouts, or dark wheat beers, are an intriguing fusion of a German style wheat beer and a stout. Dark wheat beers can vary depending on the balance the brewer finds between the wheat malts and dark roasted barley malts, along with the selection of yeast. Ursa Minor is brewed with a German style yeast typical for Hefeweizens, along with several types of wheat and dark roasted barley.
Rising Tide Ursa Minor pours molasses brown with a substantial and sustained tan head. There are some dark malt smells present, but the stronger aroma comes from the wheat. It smells a lot like a hefeweizen, with some notes of clove from the German yeast strain. The weizen flavors lead the taste too, with notes of clove, bubblegum and whole wheat bread. The dark malts come in afterwards, with touches of coffee and roasted barley. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side for a dark beer, and the beer is solidly carbonated and easy to drink. At 6.7% ABV this is a solid beer, and the warming alcohol starts to come through as you get to the end of 22 oz bottle. This beer is very different and interesting. I’m typically not a huge fan of hefeweizens, but I really enjoyed the interplay with the subtle dark barley flavors here. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.