Tag Archives: Sebago

Summer Beers: Slumbrew Island Day and Sebago Simmer Down

Although I have been drinking a lot of craft pilsners during these warm summer days, I also love light-bodied hoppy beers when it’s hot and humid. In particular, the bright and fruity flavors of American style hops are a perfect complement to a summer BBQ. A couple summer beers I tried recently fit this description. They are light and drinkable, but feature big bursts of disntictly new world hops. The first is Simmer Down, the summer seasonal from Sebago Brewing Company in Gorham, ME. The second is Island Day, the new summer beer from Slumbrew (Somerville Brewing Company) in Somerville, MA. Neither beer specifies a style (not that it matters), they are both on the borderline between an American pale ale and IPA. Regardless of style designation, both beers are a celebration of American hops and brewed to be enjoyed during the few short months of warm weather we get in New England.

Sebago Simmer DownSebago Brewing Simmer Down is a summer session ale brewed with El Dorado, Mosaic and Ahtanum hops. Simmer Down pours a copper-orange, slightly hazy with a very mild white head. The smell is lightly hoppy, some fruity scents but not overpowering. The hops come through a little stronger in the flavor, with touches of orange, mango, lemon and passion fruit. The bitterness is pretty mild and nicely complemented by some malty grain flavors. Simmer Down is very light and crushable, at 4.9% ABV it can be classified as a session beer by some definitions. The finish is clean with just a hint of bitterness lingering on the tongue. Sebago Simmer Down is a great beer for summer. The mild hoppiness and low alcohol make you think of outdoor parties on a hot summer day. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5

Slumbrew Island DaySlumbrew Island Day is a golden ale brewed with Ella, Pacific Jade and Calypso hops. Island Day pours a cloudy pale orange with a small white head. The smell is all American hops, big bursts of citrus and tropical fruit. The hops dominate the flavor profile too, notes of pineapple, guava, lime and orange. The hop flavor is accompanied by a nice mild bitterness, you get some bite but it isn’t mouth-numbing. There is a little malt for balance, but this is clearly a beer brewed to showcase these varieties of hops. Island Day goes down smooth so I was a little surprised that it had 6.5% ABV. The finish is hop-forward with a pleasant bitter tingle on the tongue. This immediately became one of my favorite Slumbrew releases. A great hoppy beer for a warm summer evening. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5

Previous Sebago reviews:

Sebago Frye’s Leap IPA

Previous Slumbrew reviews:

Slumbrew Snow Angel, Slumbrew Trekker Trippel, Slumbrew Sittin’ on Hop of the World



HoppyBoston goes to Portland Part 3: Sebago Brewing Co., Novare Res Bier Cafe and The Thirsty Pig

My wife and I did a quick trip to Portland last weekend to visit some family, and decided to make it an overnight and check out the local craft beer scene. Over the last two days I’ve documented the breweries we visited in the afternoon, Allagash and Austin St., then Foundation and Bissell Brothers. After checking out the breweries we headed down to the Old Port for a nice seafood dinner folowed by visits to a few local watering holes. We grabbed a before dinner pint at Sebago Brewing Company’s Portland Brewpub, then hit Novare Res Bier Cafe and The Thirsty Pig after our meal. I am getting a little too old to stay out all night drinking, so the stops were on the brief side, but gave us a chance to check out each place and get a feel for what they offered.

Sebago After a little walking tour of the Old Port we decided to grab a beer at Sebago Brewing and watch the Belmont Stakes before heading to dinner. The brewpub occupies a large space with a massive bar and plenty of tables. The draft selection is all Sebago beers, including their popular Frye’s Leap IPA. They also have a rotating cask, this past weekend it was their Simmer Down Summer Session Ale. The Summer seasonal was light and refreshing, noticeably hoppy without wrecking the palate, perfect for a warm summer day. We didn’t eat at Sebago, but the food coming out of the kitchen looked and smelled delicious. A full meal will be a strong consideration on our next visit to Portland.

untitledThe first stop after dinner was Novare Res Bier Café. This establishment has been recommended to me many times by craft beer enthusiasts, both locals and those have visited the city from out of town. The bar itself is a little off the beaten path despite being in the middle of the Old Port. Once you find your way Novare Res occupies a large basement room, with exposed stone walls and communal tables. There is also a spacious patio area, which was perfect for some outdoor beers on a warm June evening. The beer menu is extensive and impressive, I think I could go back every day for a month and still get excited about new beers to try. We focused on beers brewed in Maine and not distributed to Mass, sampling beers from Oxbow and In’finiti as well as the Maine Island Trail Ale from Rising Tide. In addition to a stellar list of local selections, Novare Res has a solid draft list of US and international beers. The crazy menu is their bottle list, which spans multiple pages and includes many hard-to-find imports. I would love to spend an afternoon with some fellow beer geeks grabbing bottles of rare Belgians to share, but with a packed house on a Saturday night I kept it simple. Next time I’m in town I will take my time and enjoy more that Novare Res Bier Café has to offer.

The Thirsty PigOur final stop of the night was The Thirsty Pig, right down the road from Novare Res. The Thirsty Pig has a large dining room with a sizeable bar towards the rear, as well as patio seating out back. The beer list is very heavily Maine focused, with selections from Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide, Allagash, Shipyard, and many other local breweries. I had a bottle of Lunch, the spectacular IPA from Maine Beer Co., a perfect way to end a great day in Portland. I would like to go back to the Thirsty Pig for a meal at some point, just looking at the picture of their sausages on the website is making my mouth water.

That ends my recap of last weekend’s trip to Portland, ME. It was a great day, I sampled some amazing beer and can’t wait to go back at some point in the near future. I strongly recommend all craft beer enthusiasts to make the trip. There is so much amazing beer, many of which you can’t find outside the great state of Maine.

Sebago Brewing Frye’s Leap IPA

Sebago Brewing is another mainstay of the Maine craft beer scene. They have been in operation since 1998, and now operate 4 brewpubs in southern Maine (Portland, Gorham, Kennebunk and Scarborough). They also bottle their beer and distribute to most of New England. Sebago brews a number of year-round and seasonal beers, along with a limited edition single batch series of specialty brews. One of Sebago Brewing’s flagship beers is Frye’s Leap IPA, which they have brewed since their first days of operation. Frye’s Leap IPA is named for the ledges on Sebago Lake where daring swimmers can take a dive in. Frye’s Leap is brewed with pale, caramel, and a touch of chocolate malt along with Cascade and Centennial hops. Cascade and Centennial are quintessential American hop varieties, and Sebago uses them in the boil as well as to dry hop, promising a strong hop flavor and aroma. Frye’s Leap IPA was brewed before the hop-forward IPA style became such a staple of American craft beer, so I was interested to see how it measured up to many of the modern hop-driven examples of the style.

Sebago IPASebago Brewing Frye’s Leap IPA pours a reddish gold, slightly cloudy with a mild white head. The smell is all the great aromas of the American hops, strong citrus fruit and resin. The taste is very also hop-forward with grapefruit at the forefront, almost like they added some fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice to the batch. Secondary hop flavors are floral, along with some touches of lemon and pine. There is a little malt in the backbone, but the hops dominate the flavor. The beer is crisp, clean and very easy to drink for a hoppy beer. The finish is nicely bitter, it leaves a very pleasant and mild tart flavor on your tongue. Many IPAs from earlier decades tend toward the British style, some hops but more malty than the hop-bomb IPA’s many American brewers have developed. That is not the case with Sebago Brewing Frye’s Leap, a hop forward and delicious beer worth grabbing on any trip to Maine. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.