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Allagash's White Built a Brand

January 16, 2018

By Matt Osgood, January 16, 2018

Part of the dream for independent beer lovers is to see their favorite beer become as ubiquitous as the bigger brands.

There was a time when language of servers across the country at restaurants had almost become as rote and uniform as the list of beers they were repeating on tap. When asked, there was a robotic, monotonous tone, “On draft we have Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Lite. We also have bottles of Heineken, Corona.” There’s nothing wrong with these brands, of course, and they’ve all occupied space at one time or another in most people’s refrigerators.

Then there was a shift, though. In New England, at least, whether dinner was at some chain restaurant that offered something called “Riblets,” or the singular local place that offered everything from lasagna to prime rib to Shepard’s pie, another beer began to enter the pantheon of the oft-repeated beer list: Allagash White. Often, if was forgotten, added at the last second, “Oh, and we also have Allagash.”

And, in a time when independent beer was at its most nascent, it was simply “Allagash.” No need to point out which particular beer with that brand.

White is a fantastic beer and the benchmark for the Belgian White style.”

The Portland, Maine outfit needs no sort of introduction nor defense in any beer publication or website. They’re simply one of the best. Their Belgian-only brewery has been afforded the opportunity and has the clout to simply stay in their lane. They make beer that doesn’t have to chase any of the current trends in craft beer. They do what they do, and they do it better than almost anyone. Find a bad beer in their lineup – it’s impossible. Maybe there’s something non-preferable, but it’d be hard to argue it’s not at least well-made.

And so the White became a staple on draft lists and has stayed there. There’s no lamenting that the in-laws' choice for Saturday night’s birthday dinner won’t be at a place with an independent beer draft list that's 36 taps deep. White has become ubiquitous to the point that beer drinkers know, “Well, at least there might be Allagash.” And they’re typically right.

White’s prevalence on draft lists from large to small restaurants also isn’t a product of some clever, local-only marketing tool by Allagash (though there is that to an extent, probably). White is a fantastic beer and the benchmark for the Belgian White style.

Pouring a hazy, “white” appearance, the heavy carbed head sits atop the beer like a crown. Big, bright Belgian yeast notes – banana, clove, coriander – hit in the nose. It’s well-bodied to provide a depth of flavors – big on the citrus, in the spice. At 5.1%, this beer is an easy drinker and proof that a beer doesn’t need to be big to be balanced, full of flavor, and beautifully nuanced.

Many others have tried their hands at brewing a Belgian White; Many others have made good versions, but Allagash has brewed the standard. It’s often easy to overlook a beer that appears almost everywhere, but White makes it really difficult to ignore.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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