Shipyard Brewing Co.
Tremont Mr. Oktoberfest
It is no longer anywhere near Oktoberfest time. Hell, it’s not even autumn, but I’ve only got a couple of months before this stuff is no good. Tremont is yet another Shipyard brand, but SBC tends to be on the positive side of the plus-minus rating so I’m not too skeptical.
Still working on that Ph.D.
As an Oktoberfest, this beer is a nice ruddy, rusty amber with pumpkin hues in the light. A tan head dissipates quickly but leaves behind a veil of carbonation from some sturdy bubbles rising from the bottom.
The nose is sweet, but doesn’t cloy, like a graham cracker, and has a similar cinnamon and sugar spiciness. Some faint lavender florals hide behind the grain bill, but there is virtually no hop spice or citrus aroma to speak of.
The beer has a great texture – full and with finer effervescence than what the large globules hint at. Oddly enough this beer starts out with some bitters with some slightly tart grassy notes. That cleanliness gives way to a smooth wash of some ale-like characteristics – dates, dark chocolate, and even some brown sugar but with a very tidy finish that is much crisper than the malty aroma intimates.
This seems to be more of an English pale than a real Oktoberfest, but it’s certainly worth a whirl if it’s available.
Casco Bay Brewing Co.
The pour was a bit lethargic, not seeming to offer up much in the way of a supported head, but once it was all in the glass, a quarter-inch was sustained. It’s a nice ruddy tan color and comprised of very fine bubbles.
Red Tide, sans algae.
The color is auburn edging towards chestnut brown. The clarity is excellent and the whole brew is replete with steady fine carbonation.
The nose highlights the malt, but the three hops varietals that are purportedly used in this beer break some of the caramel sweetness of the malts to create an oddly loamy spice that has hints of pepper, starchy rice wine, touches of mild fruit, like cantaloupe.
The mouthfeel is very good – the fine effervescence melts away into a creamy start that carries some biscuity malt across the tongue well. That soon dissipates as bitter green twig tang kicks in through the middle and back of the tongue. Perhaps a bit of lemon zest back there as well.
The beer is a passable ale, but remains a bit unbalanced. It’s probably improved when paired with some lamb or other flavorful or highly seasoned red meat.
Casco Bay Brewing Co.
Carrabassett Pale Ale
I believe that Casco Bay was under Shipyard’s roof but it seems they have a dedicated site now.
The color is a very clear woody copper with a thin and quickly settling off-white head. Steady, fine effervescence travels up the glass maintaining a crackling layer on the surface.
The nose is malty and sweet with touches of honey. The hops come across veiled in a damp metallic aroma.
The mouthfeel is a bit thin, but it picks up a bit as the sip progresses. While the beer boasts a Pacific West Coast pale ale profile, this beer is far more similar to English style pales, creamy and bitter at the same time. Sweet brown sugar dominates but gives way to a peppery bitterness of hops. There is no citrus to speak of, really, and no oily West Coast hops.
Good, but not great, this beer would accompany foods that aren’t too spicy but that have a slight sweetness to them: ribs or pulled pork. OK, really I just want ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, but I do think it would work.
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Prelude Special Ale
A winter scene on the label and dark hue visible through the brown bottle intimates a hearty brew.
A slow pour yields a pillowy layer of beige head that lasts and a deep, deep amber color. held to the light, there is some transparency though the garnet.
The nose is malt with traces of almond, brown sugar, and a bitter zest comes through showing that this probably will not be a sweet molasses ale. There are touches of oatmeal raisin cookie, but I think these are more on the nose as the beer’s clarity and orange tinge hint at a less chewy sampling.
The mouthfeel is exceptional and creamy, aided by that persistent fluff on top. The effervescence is subtle but consistent. The flavor starts with a slightly roasty almond hint but kicks into a soft and velvety cinnamon note with a touch of oak and just a few berries.
The finish is dry but smooth with the hops showing up late and easing what could be a heavy hand on that rich malt. The lacing is some of the best I’ve seen, sticking in circumferential swaths of off-white ribbon.
I’d say this beer is good any time, not just the cold months but I’d recommend trying it then sometime when your belly is full and you don’t think you can manage one of the more chewy winter brews around.
Kennebec River Brewing
The Forks, ME
A low, slow pour into a slightly damp glass still yields nearly a half inch of beautiful white head that is neither rocky nor billowing and settles to a still layer of haze over the top of the brew. The color is a really nice reddish gold. There is real brilliance to the orange in this beer and it alternates between a very red burnt orange to a more straw-like gold.
The clarity is decent, though not crystal clear, which one would expect from a “summer brew” dub – these often get high wheat inputs, for better and for worse. The nose is truly spectacular. There are real floral hops in here, with plenty of grapefruit and a soft alcohol warmth that comes across in a surprisingly milky aroma.
The mouthfeel quotes the milkiness; a full, rich coating that washes away cleanly is perfectly balanced between bitter, slightly lemony hops, maltiness akin to oatmeal bread, and a clean finish that snaps with just enough of an arrowroot biscuit sweetness.
This beer is outstanding. Light enough in body to accompany a large meal and complex enough to complement a wide array of cuisines. I would pair this hoppy, unique brew with something spicy. Thai or Indian food in the summer time, perhaps a teriyaki burger with some red chili pepper in it. I would certainly give this beer a go if you get the chance. Consider getting a hammock to lie in while you do it, just to really get into the summer mood.
Shipyard Brewing Co.
Longfellow Winter Ale
A dark porter (though technically a cross between a porter and a Scottish ale) the beer pours dark, almost opaque, with a faint crimson tone when held to the light. The head is chocolaty and clings reasonably well. The nose is almost like hot chocolate. Cocoa notes and a slight roastiness come through at first. On the tongue, the hop character at the beginning is remarkable, opening up the beer to a wonderful fullness. The mouthfeel is wholesome but not thick, and the roasted barley complements the sweetness of the hops perfectly, though a slight bitterness remains through the swallow. At 5.8%, it’s not a session beer but this is a supremely drinkable brew.