I want to tell you about Maine Beer Company. Initially, I thought I would only tell you about their delicious pale ale MO, but after drinking it, and then wanting terribly to drink another one (not to be confused with Another One, their India Pale Ale, which I’d be happy to tell you about some other time), it became clear that I needed to tell you about more than just the beer.
Some things in life seem to act naturally as a sort of reset button. Like pushing in that trip odometer to get everything back to zero before a road trip, it’s not resetting in the sense that you’re starting over, it’s more like a reminder that there’s adventure out there and a symbol that you are ready to go.
Read the brief story of Maine Beer Company found on their website and try not to be reminded of some of the reasons you fell in love with good beer: Two brothers home brewing in Maine and one brother turns to the other and asks, “Do you want to be a lawyer or brewer for the rest of your life?”
From the beginning their mantra has been “do what’s right” and you’ll find it printed on every label. Obviously that idea applies to the beer they brew, but it extends beyond that. Click through their photos and you’ll notice lots of solar panels and lots of smiles. They also participate in 1% for the Planet, giving back 1% of sales to environmental non-profits.
Beyond the heart-warming narrative and ethos of Maine Beer Co., it’s the beer, specifically this MO pale ale, and really any of their beers, that serves to reset your mind and remind you why you moved on from those big brewers of the world however long ago that was.
The finish rolls up and down on gentle hills, as if powered by the breeze and then it is gone, and you’re left with an instant of pleasantly sweet aftertaste.”
Right from the pour, you see the pale golden color and that perfect white head – the kind made up of tiny bubbles packed real close together, like if you shrunk down and walked on it, it would give a little but still support your weight – and you realize that it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a beer that looks like this and you think, maybe in the voice of Matthew McConaughey, “man, does this look good.”
The aroma, while subtle compared to expectations based on recent experience, is a wonderful combination of pine and grassy, almost spicy, citrus – not quite grapefruit flesh, not quite orange peel. Behind that is a suggestion of bread crust, like the whole wheat that I buy from the grocery store and cut off the crust for my daughter, and I can’t help but picture my hands and those sandwiches and the daily routine that takes place over the cutting board.
A second approach to the glass, armed with that memory, and I’m wondering if I’m picking up the faint idea of berries or if the thought of my daughter’s favorite berry jam is just bleeding through as I simultaneously drink this beer on the couch and and imagine making sandwiches in the kitchen.
The first taste highlights the dry grass and pine from the aroma, but the more I sip the more those hints of berry seems real. Or is it more tropical than that? It’s faint and potentially imaginary so let’s move forward. The finish brings more pine and citrus bitterness and dry grass and I’d like to say that they all crack like a whip, but they don’t. They roll up and down on gentle hills, as if powered by the breeze and then they are gone, and you’re left with an instant of pleasantly sweet aftertaste.
The hops in this beer are Falconer’s Flight and Simcoe. Falconer’s Flight is an aroma hop, presenting floral, citrus, and tropical notes, and it should be mentioned that a portion of the proceeds from every Falconer’s Flight purchase go toward the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, a non-profit that provides opportunities for aspiring brewers in the form of brewing scholarships. Simcoe is a dual purpose hop, used for both bittering and aroma, with notes of pine and passionfruit, and sometimes berry – so maybe that berry I noticed existed more than just in my mind.
I could go on with more tangents and strange memories because the beer is simply that good and seems to promote that sort of thing.”
Put the beer down and ruminate for a few moments, pretending you’re alone in the room, because maybe you are, and starting over, those subtle layers of sweet berries or tropical fruit and bread crust that you had nearly forgotten return, like finding an old postcard in a closet shoebox, from a brief college romance, written while she worked that job at the art museum gift shop. Chances are the postcard was never paid for, and never mailed, instead hand delivered in a rubberbanded bundle of 10 or 12 or 15 postcards, all stolen, with fine art on the front and the intricacies of missing someone handwritten on the back.
I could go on with more tangents and strange memories because the beer is simply that good and seems to promote that sort of thing – filled with more nuance and complexity than most other pale ales out there. It drinks light and airy and makes you wish all beers drank like this and that you lived in Maine, or at least closer.
There are no hammers here, no fireworks in the aroma or taste that widen the eyes, rather everything is layers and nothing distracts. Your mind wanders as you try and pinpoint a specific element to say out loud because lately your glass has been filled with things that scream “MANGO” or “ORANGES” and that conversation was easy.
This won’t be that way. This conversation will have more questions, “Are you getting…” and I would say berries and you would say no. And hopefully you and I are quick to quit trying, and just enjoy it and then order another and maybe talk about something other than beer.