Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bull Jagger Dirigo Crimson Lager

Bull Jagger has already started making a recognized name in just two years by making the first micro-brew lager in the Portland, ME. But tonight I have their Dirigo Crimson Lager, the second micro-brew lager in the Portland area. I can already tell it's going to be a good one before taking a sip: A deep red hue for a lager and a foamy head that I know will leave a long-lasting foamy residue on my lips.

My nose knew malts would be a BIG player in the taste, but my first though from my tongue was angostura bitters with caramel malts! This might seem to be a negative taste to some, but it's a phenomenal taste to me. The malts have a slight sweetness to them, but bitter is a stronger effect than sweet. There is a very crisp overtone from a bit of hops and the lager body. It is quite full in the body for a lager as well.

Dirigo certainly isn't a lager that can be drunk quickly due to the strong tastes in effect, but it also isn't hard to drink and can easily be enjoyed by anyone who likes a fine beer. So I'm giving it a solid A (excellent) and I recommend you grab a bottle to see what tastes the Maine micro-brew scene is expanding to!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sebago Brewing Full Throttle Double IPA

When I visit Sebago Brewing in Portland Maine, it wouldn't be unacceptable for the bartender to bring me a Frye's Leap IPA before even asking me what I wanted to drink because I ask for it almost every time! Strong floral-citrus hops in the Frye's Leap IPA brew is going to be hard to out-preform, but Sebago's Double Throttle Double IPA is released only once a year. So why is it anticipated?

Unlike many other brewers Sebago's special IPA isn't just more intense than their 'standard', (the Frye's Leap is already very strong), it's a different approach on an IPA by adding malts and using many varieties of hops. The Full Throttle is best described as tasting piney and like grapefruit instead of just crisp and citrusy, because the malt with the hops puts in a unique sweetness. It's still intense on the palate and it isn't hard to notice that this brew is unfiltered. The last thing noticed when put down your throat is that there is little taste of alcohol and the malty-sweet aspect doesn't take away from the tingling dry aftertaste once swallowed.

After you try Sebago's Full Throttle Double IPA the first time, you know why they make it almost every year and why people anticipate it so much. It adds so many flavors and keeps it all balanced. A (excellent)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Urban Farm Fermentory Baby Jimmy

For this review, I'll be moving down the block to Urban Farm Fermentory. They're located just down the street from the producers of the previous two products I've reviewed. (Tandem Coffee Roasters & Rising Tide Brewery). Urban Farm makes many kombuchas, and I'm quite a fan of their ginger one. But I have their cask aged cider in front of me tonight.

It pours like a soda with a quickly rising fizz that sparkles so much that it could make you sneeze if you sip it too soon. But it settles quickly with no sort of 'head' like a beer. The Baby Jimmy's nose reminds me of a chardonnay because it consists of a crisp fruit and oak. Once on your tongue, the oak character becomes more of an oak-vanilla. This matches well to the apples chosen because it's tart, crisp, and slightly acidic like a fresh McIntosh apple. After swallowing a dry reminder of the oak is what's left in your mouth. The dryness and tartness harmonize well, and it's easy to drink unlike other things so dry.

Baby Jimmy is a sipping drink in my opinion, and I recommend pouring this in a wine glass or chalice instead of a pint glass to get a better sense of the smell. Urban Farm has done a fine job on it and I'm grading it a B (good) for bringing the sharply tart apple to the round and dry oak. If you enjoy a nice pinot gris or sauvignon blanc white wine, I'd seek this one out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tandem Coffee Roasters Lake House Blend

I've brought my focus upon the local coffee roasting scene for this review. Tandem Coffee is the newest coffee roaster in Portland, ME, being only 2 months old from when this review was written. Even though Tandem Coffee mostly sells single origin beans, I'm sipping their Lake House Blend this morning and here are my thoughts:

The first thing my nose detects is an earthly-nutty tone, which comes back later on the tongue, but not in a dark way at all. Once past the lips things are very smooth and velvety with no acidic notes at all. Instead almond nuts are accompanied with a fruity (almost "cherry") note, and a bit of honey-like sweetness. Their is a slight floral after-tone as well. I found some of this palate comes out more with cream, which I usually never add.

Please don't think Tandem Coffee's house blend is a flavored coffee at all. They're just showing what can be in a coffee bean without making it too dark! This makes the Lake House Blend a great choice for Tandem's staple house blend, because here in Portland there's a lot of coffee going around. In my book it's a solid B (good) and will be a choice of mine when I want to add a variety to my typical darker choices of beans. I'm sure many will make it their everyday choice.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rising Tide Tempest

Beer and Coffee are Portland's biggest local drink interests, with brewers and roasters creating names that have traveled well beyond the Maine state. This review is about a porter that's from a correlation of Rising Tide Brewing Company, and Bard Coffee: The Tempest. Let's see what Rising Tide can do with a fine bean from Bard.

This beer poured impressively in my pint glass with a light foaming head, and a bit of carbonation seen on the walls. The aura given off of the head wasn't of brewed coffee, but of coffee beans. On the tongue the first thing noticed is the carbonation leaving a tingle of a texture, but the dark roast coffee comes right after and stays throughout the rest of the experience. Like the scent, it's more of beans but not a brewed coffee because this part is not bitter at all. Semi-sweet malts in a dark-chocolate way exist on the palate too, working their way through the initial coffee and carbonation elements after a few sips. It's mid-weight body makes the Tempest very easy to drink in comparison to other porters, even with the coffee and chocolate aspects.

The Tempest isn't the dark beer that will put hair on your chest, (despite the strong palate), because of how well the chords played by Rising Tide's Tempest play together. It's an A (excellent) in my book and will be a common choice of mine when I want something to sip at the end of the day. I hope it becomes a staple on the shelves of fine beer selections.

Friday, October 26, 2012

CiderMaker: Hard Apple Cider

Honey and apples both seem to have a taste that's exclusive to only a few natural things on earth. A sweetness that can't be found in any candy. Their's even an apple cultivar that has a title that connects the two as well: Honeycrisp. Tonight I'm sipping on a glass of CiderMaker: Hard Apple Cider which is a new release from Maine Mead Works. Apparently it's not a new concoction because it's been served under another's label only on tap. It'll be available on many shelves soon, and here's what you can expect.

The first sip I took of this was quite a surprise, because it's nothing like other hard ciders sold in a 6-pack. It's more like biting into a freshly picked apple. The scent on your nose is light but the happenings in the mouth can be described as zesty, crisp, and with apples of course. What makes this zesty and crisp is the sparkle it gives on your tongue in an almost citrus way without the bitterness. If it was only my tongue sensing this, I could mistake this as carbonated. The crispness matches well with the apple palate that leans towards the lighter kind without much bitter.

I don't believe I'd want to have this on tap because it would add bubbles and make it overly crisp. Brittle and dry perhaps? So shelves in Maine should be stocking half-gallon bottles of this cider, or you can go straight to Maine Mead Works and get a bottle that you can bring back to re-fill. An A (excellent) in my book for thinking outside of the bottles of other hard ciders. Sweet in that natural way.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dobrá Tea Korean Nok Cha

Portland Maine is quite well known around town to be full of fine coffee with a roaster right in town and many coffee shops making Starbucks look mediocre. Dobrá Tea is one of only a few places in and around Portland specializing in tea, and thankfully because they're covering that base well. This is my first review of their products.

Dobrá Tea doesn't have any in-house blends of tea because they try hard to keep things to their origins. So for this post, I'll be reviewing their Korean Nok Cha. The first impression it gave me was green in an earthy way. After some further interpretation a round nutty taste is what I found to make the earthy hue. The body of this ties in with these tastes quite well, and can be described as whole, round and buttery. It's so noticeable it almost seems to be a taste, not just a texture.

Dobrá Tea's menu uses the adjective 'oceanic' to tie all these things together. This may not seem what a green-earthy-nutty tea may be, but this is an appropriate word for the taste given. Somehow it has a tone of the ocean if you were a mile or two from it. It could be because these leaves are grown on the coast. It is a solid B (good) in my book and I will certainly have it again.