I’ll admit, I wasn’t that excited to visit Allagash while planning my Portland beer trip. I’ve had some of their more widely distributed brews, such as “White” and “Black”, and while these are solid brews, they just never knocked my socks off. Boy am I glad that I kept this brewery on my list, as they blew my expectations right out of the water. These guys are making some seriously impressive beers, but many of them are only distributed in Maine, or even brewery-only releases.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you check this place out if you are in Portland. The brewery is about 15 minutes outside of the Old Port district of Portland, on a street called Industrial Way. At the time of our visit, Industrial Way was home to three other breweries within very short walking distance of each other. All of these breweries close at the same time though, and on the early side at 7pm on weekends, so be sure to plan ahead.
Allagash offers preselected flights, half pours, and full pours of their on-tap offerings. My friend and I each had the preselected flight, which included their flagship beer “White”, another year-round offering “Sixteen Counties”, and two limited releases “Interlude” and “St. Klippenstein”.
“White” is a beer I’m very familiar with; a traditional Belgian Wit that’s spicy, full of flavors of bitter orange, coriander, and Belgian yeast. This beer is clean, crisp, and bubbly, and is often the beer I recommend to my non-craft loving friends as “Blue Moon, done the right way”. “16 Counties” is a beer brewed with barley, wheat, and oats all exclusively grown in Maine. This beer is malt forward with a light honey sweetness, but the use of one of my favorite hops, Jarrylo, along with Chinook and Centennial, give this beer a light tropical flavor. Unfortunately, I can’t give much comment on the beer “Interlude” as I simply have not been able to develop a taste for beers brewed with Brettanomyces. This Belgian ale is aged in red wine barrels, and uses two different strains of yeast that I’m sure make a wonderfully complex beer, but its nuances are wasted on me as this beer was just too sour, and acidic for my personal taste. The final beer however, “St. Klippenstien” blew me away. This stout aged in bourbon barrels was my landslide favorite of the flight, with a complex taste of chocolate, coffee, oak, and booze. The finish of this beer is unique thanks to the Belgian yeast, and has a slight dryness to it that was unexpected, but pleasant. I thought this flight was a nice sampling of what Allagash has to offer, from their popular mainstay to their more experimental and unique offerings.
While at Allagash, I also had the opportunity to meet a local Portland beer writer (You can check out her site here: www.thebeerbabe.com). She was able to fill me in on some of the cool things that Allagash is doing with beer, as well as a lot about the Portland beer scene. We were able to get a little sneak peek at the Allagash barrel room, as my friend and I missed the regularly offered tours. There are no words to describe the smells emanating from those barrel rooms, and as Carla (The Beer Babe) put it, someone should really make a candle of that scent!
The floor to ceiling barrels contained a wide variety of beer ranging from tripels, to stouts, to their spontaneously fermented coolship offerings. This room was a just a beer-lovers heaven and I can only imagine the delicious brews that will be coming out of those barrels in the coming months and years. Unfortunately, we left Allagash in a bit of a rush, and I was only able to grab a few of their “to-go” offerings, but I can’t wait to return to Allagash again and really explore the wide variety of beers and flavors that they are developing.
Other Allagash Beers:
“Black” is a year-round offering from Allagash that is widely distributed through my area of New York. This beer was purchased at a local bottle shop for review. This Belgian style stout pours jet black with a creamy tan head. The aroma is of roasted malts, and this follows through in the taste with hints of coffee and chocolate. Belgian candi sugar is also present, adding a slight taste of raisins and dark fruits. This beer is light to medium bodied with a silky mouthfeel but dry finish.
Hoppy Table Beer
Another year-round and widely distributed offering from Allagash, “Hoppy Table Beer” is a dry hopped Belgian pale ale. This beer pours a slightly hazy straw-yellow with a foamy head that fades quickly into thin white lacing. Thanks to a dry hopping of Comet and Azacca hops, lemon and grapefruit flavors dominate and are complimented by an addition of coriander. “Hoppy Table Beer” finishes crisp and dry with lingering Belgian yeast flavors.
“Pictavia” is a limited release, and if I recall correctly is only available for purchase directly at the brewery. This beer is a Belgian-style scotch ale, aged in Scotch barrels, that previously held port. Sounds complicated but makes for one delicious brew. “Pictavia” pours a dark chestnut brown and smells boozy, sweet, malty. The taste is caramel and honey, a touch of oak, and a big hit of barrel-aged booziness. At 9.3% ABV this beer is strong, but still smooth and an interesting interpretation of the style.
This beer is a year-round release, but to my knowledge I have never seen it on the shelves in New York. I brought home a corked 750ml bottle of this bourbon-barrel aged Tripel, and I will definitely be looking for more bottles of it in the future. “Curieux” rings in at 11% ABV and pours golden yellow, with a fluffy off-white head. This beer is complex, and more flavors will start to appear as it warms. I got hints of cherry, vanilla, bourbon and honey. The sweetness of the beer is balanced out by the booze, and results in an overall smooth beer that will certainly warm you up.
My trip to Allagash has not only changed my perception of the brewery, but also of Belgian beers themselves. While not my preferred genre of beer in the past, I now can’t wait to try more of these complex styles. I look forward to my next trip to Allagash, and trying more of their unique and flavorful ales.