Friday, August 12, 2011

Ryan Does Portland, ME – Part 1: Allagash Brewery

I, Ryan Prescott, am a full-fledged beer geek. Sometimes, I don’t know how I got here. In 2009, I was in college drinking 30s of Busch and Keystone Light. Beer was nothing more than a mechanism for drunkenness - it didn’t matter what kind it was, just as long as it would provide buoyancy to a ping-pong ball.

Now, I can’t plan a vacation without my mind wandering to beer. What beer does (insert vacation locale) have that I can’t get here? What breweries are in the area? Any brewpubs or beer bars worth checking out? I just can’t help myself.

So, it’s hardly a surprise that when I decided to visit Portland, Maine for the first time with my girlfriend, I had to make a few stops; the first of which was a tour of the Allagash Brewery.

Yes, I'd like to solve the puzzle? Is it, "Allagash Brewing Co.?"

The Allagash Brewery is located 10 minutes or so from the heart of Portland, on the same road as two other breweries (Maine Beer Co. and Rising Tide Beer Co. – both closed to the public on the Tuesday we were visiting). We arrived at 1 pm for a guided tour, and were happy to learn that the first part of the tour was the beer tasting.
The (quite generous, in my opinion) tasting consisted of four different brews:

1. Allagash White – Allagash’s flagship beer, which, according to our tour guide, comprises 80% of the brewery’s sales. That’s kind of a lot. This beer is clean tasting, citrusy, crisp, and just perfect for a hot summer day. I may start substituting it for Gatorade in the near future.

2. Allagash Tripel - Spicy, even more citrusy than the white, with a little alcohol bite. Delicious. Had to buy a 4-pack.

3. Allagash Curieux – This beer is nothing more than the Tripel, aged in Jim Beam Bourbon Barrels. It pours a darker color, with a stronger, smokier taste to it, and the Bourbon aging bumps up the ABV to 11%.

4. Allagash Victor – This beer was brewed with wine grapes, which gave it a nice sweetness compared to the previous brews.
From there, we put on our sweet protective goggles and began the tour of their facilities, checking out the impressive brewing equipment, going over the brewing process (which Kyle and I know all about because we homebrew like bosses), and staring at the bottling line for a while, because it’s mesmerizing and I can’t help it.

Watching the bottling line > Counting sheep

From there, we went into the barrel aging room, a room filled from floor to ceiling with experimental brews that have never seen the light of day. It’s always nice to see a successful operation like Allagash continue to push the envelope and try wacky new things with their beer, so it was interesting to think of the possibilities that lay within those barrels.

Brittney tried drinking one before it was ready, and she turned into a blueberry.

All in all, it was a good time that I’d recommend to anyone. The tour is fun and informative, the samples are free and plentiful, and it’s always cool to see what goes into putting those tasty brews in those pretty bottles.

Check back soon for Part 2: The Sebago Brewpub.


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