Everyone believes their favorite beer city is the best beer city in the world and I suppose I’m no different. Portland, Maine is a little more than an hour car ride from the place I do the greatest amount of my beer drinking, my home. This means that Portland is a city to which I travel often. Boston, the capital of my state, is about half the distance from me that Portland is, but, given the choice, I’m headed to the Pine Tree State almost every time.
It’s a city that feels paradoxically close, but far removed from other parts of the civilized world in which I live; It feels like a day-long vacation, and we all know the word “vacation” is short hand for day-drinking and over-spending on lunch.
There are more breweries per capita in Portland and the food scene might be the only element that trumps the beer scene. Any place I can sit on the water with a lobster roll and a locally-crafted beer is okay with me and it should be for you as well.
Also, Allagash Brewing is in Portland, Maine, and it should be said that by any objective measure Allagash is one of the greatest breweries in the world. Known for their Belgian-influenced beers, Allagash is a stalwart in the craft industry and, in Portland, they’re the Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant of the town’s craft beer scene’s triangle offense.
Part of what makes Allagash great is that they have the street cred and the luxury to not have to chase trends the way some other breweries might attempt. They don’t need to double-dry hop their IPA; They don’t need to make sure they have a hazy juice bomb to market as “New England Style” in order to stay relevant. All Allagash needs to do is do Allagash. They were here first and they sure as shit will be here last.
The finish is lively with underlying notes of chocolate.”
Hibernal Fluxus 2016 is a Belgian-style stout that somehow clocks in at just 8% alcohol by volume. It’s not big and assertive, so much as subtle and nuanced for a bigger and heavier style of beer, which falls in line with much of what Allagash does.
If we’re ascribing three parts to a beer tasting – beginning, middle, end – the flavor fluctuation is an odd one: Roasted coffee dominates the nose and the initial sip, but the body stands in contrast to the color and flavors, as the Belgian yeast gives this beer a thinner-than-expected body; In the middle, there’s a sweetness from the figs that’s not overwhelming or dominant, just a subtle dark fruit reminiscent of a sweet wine; The finish is lively with underlying notes of chocolate.
Allagash beers tend to remain on the shelves at beer stores in part because of their ubiquity (we craft beer nerds love our scarcity), but also in part because of the price-point. Fluxus is not a cheap beer, hovering somewhere in the $20 range for the large-format bottle Allagash uses. But if we’re evaluating craft beer with the same accord we’re affording wine, the price is on the lower side for a high end beverage.