Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Night out in Newport

Last weekend I spent my birthday out on the town in Newport, RI. Now, Newport has plenty of upscale nightclubs and trendy Irish bars, but if you are looking for good beer there are really only two bars worth spending your time at: Pour Judgement and Yesterday's. An evening in these two bars yielded a few new beers for me to report back on.

Berkshire Cabin Fever Ale
Sample -- Pour Judgement, Newport, RI
a winter warmer, that at 6.8% is really a strong ale. murky brown... breathy alcohol in aroma... malty flavor you would expect but not too heavy. good.
Score: 6

Harpoon Imperial IPA (Leviathan Series)
Draft -- Pour Judgement
served too cold, and even though i waited a solid half hour to warm, the carbonation continued rapidly throughout. sharp sweet bitterness you would expect in aroma and taste is very sweet. hops are citrusy in nature. too extreme for me. kelly agreed: "it's like chewing on a hop."
Score: 3

Newport Storm Rhode Island Blueberry
Sample -- Pour Judgement
i haven't ranked this beer before, but pretty sure i have had it a couple of times. translucent pour, medium bodied. rich, sweet aroma of blueberry cake. pretty amazing really. blueberries are pretty tasty too, only slightly chemically. pretty good, honestly.
Score: 7

Newport Storm Chocolate Porter
Draft -- Pour Judgement
see-through brown... smell of chocolate and roastiness is minor (more because of the temperature served than anything)... heavy roast and following bitterness in flavor. good, not great.
Score: 6

Wolaver's Farmhouse Ale
22 oz -- Vickers' Liquors, Newport
found this at a little liquor store after a walk around newport. pour opaque yellow... very fresh, fruity nose, with non-overpowering yeast... full flavor with sweet malt up front, sour yeast, and stealthy hops. smooth, yet textured. this was a good beer to start the night.
Score: 8

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jim Koch: A Guest Rant

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from my friend Dan Cedrone. I'll warn you going in: it is lengthy. And quite angry, too.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Josh's Beer Blog. (But for the most part, they do.)

"The customer is not always right, it's the brewer who's always right."

I was listening to the local sports talk radio station who had a special guest that night. He was a local craft beer brewer who had come on the station for little publicity and to take a few calls from his fans and customers. The first few minutes of the interview were fine as it was a simple exchange of greetings and introductions. The guy had brought some beer to the studio and everyone seemed content to just sit around and talk about brewing. I even got a little jealous, wishing I was there.

However, It was after the very first caller of the evening expressed his disliking of a certain ale that the quote above came out. Not only did the guest host point this out, but he did so in an arrogant and condescending manner that kind of caught me off guard. From there, the flood gates were open and there was no hiding this guy's true colors. When someone called to commend the brewers pale ale style, he received friendly remarks and had all his questions answered respectfully. But if somebody mentioned they weren't the biggest fan of the Irish Red, the brewer would nearly flip out on the caller and accuse them of being unknowledgeable of beer and not having the proper acquired tastes. In some cases, comments got so heated that the regular show host found himself awkwardly trying to play peacemaker between the brewer and a number of callers. As the interview went on, I just found myself becoming more and more offended and disgusted by this guy's attitude. The way he spoke with people mirrored that of a strict father dealing with his 6 year old son. The arrogance and sense of self worth he seemed to carry himself with practically made me nauseous. This beer brewer was here to let everyone know that he had reached the pinnacle of his craft. You either liked all of his products and placed them at #1 on your list, or you were wrong. And if you were the latter, he couldn't be bothered wasting his time with you. By the time the segment was over, I was fuming. Who in the blue Hell did this guy think he was? It was that night I officially turned against Jim Koch and Samuel Adams.

I had been buying their styles less and less, finding other microbrews offering many similar beers that I found to just be better. I still drank Sam because some of their beers are pretty good, but they were slowly falling down my list. My problem with them stemmed from this nagging sense that told me they didn't really care about what I liked. Their Boston Lager has always been a winner. Their newer Cream Stout had become a winter favorite of mine as well. But beyond that, everything seemed to be made and bottled for the sake of saying they had made and bottled it.

Mr. Koch's interview was the last straw for me. His attitude and disrespect was enough for me to actually swear off his product. One of the things I need to do before I die is attend a national beer show where he will be present, walk up to this stand, which will undoubtedly be serving Boston Lager and Cherry Wheat, and punch him dead in the face.

He's the type of prick who refuses to drink any beer but his own. He's like a chef who never goes out to eat at other restaurants. It's not normal. It's nothing more than the product of arrogance, grossly misplaced at that.

I hate Sam Adams because of the image it tries to portray. Jim runs his advertising and publicity efforts and boosts his products by comparing himself to the Macrobrews served in football stadiums. "My beer is better because I use a lot of hops and Miller Lite doesn't" Are you kidding me? That's the angle you're taking here?¹ Watch those commercials and listen to him in his preachy video shown to tourists who visit the Boston brewery location, and you'd swear that Mr Koch is nothing less than a groundbreaking revolutionist. He's not just a microbrewer. He created microbrewing. The concept exists nowhere else but within the walls of this sacred building in historical Boston. Just walk this way and they'll show you what good beer is. They invented it.

The brand does it's best to latch on to their Boston name and location. Their flagship beer is called "Boston Lager". Another of their regulars is "Boston Ale". They use these names as a way to claim ownership of an entire customer base. They expect (in some ignorant cases, rightfully so) that the locals will develop a connection to something that was seemingly made especially for them. I can't stand seeing people at beer bars mindlessly ordering Sam Adams, without so much as a glance at the tap menu, because they seem to be conditioned to just order the New England brand name they see at Fenway Park by default.

Perhaps the most infuriating thing for me about Sam Adams is their refusing to acknowledge the microbrew market. They act like they ARE the market. They constantly claim to be introducing us to new beers. As though I'm sitting around sipping on Michelob Ultra, desperately in need of some taste. Well I for one am a fan of many different brewers. Some specialize in certain styles, others branch out into more adventurous brews. I've had Oatmeal Chocolate Stouts, Double IPA's, Saison Ales, Smoked Porters, Pumpkin Ales, Scottish Ales, Belgian Ales, Barley Wines, and several equally interesting and complex recipes from countless brewers across the country. None of which you'd even know exists if you listened to the wisecracking, cynical, terribly unfunny, and unknowledgeable tour guide pissants at Sam Adams.²

Now let's review those wonderful styles that pioneer has brought the world. Take a look at some of their regulars.

- Lager
- Pale Ale
- Cherry Wheat
- Brown Ale
- Summer Ale
- Irish Red
- Oktoberfest

Bravo.........(slow clap)

Alright, let's be fair. Where else on earth can you get an Oktoberfest? What's that? Who? Every brewer on the planet makes an Oktoberfest? Well what about a pale ale? Really? What about this lager? Am I even pronouncing that name correctly?

Give me a break.

Jim, I have a friend named Josh Smith. An enthusiastic beer drinker who has only just begun experimenting with homebrewing. I can honestly say that the styles he's attempted thus far put this list to shame.

Lately Jim has been picking up on the fact that his customers are enjoying more complex and extreme beers. Desperate to hold a candle to the likes of Dogfish Head, he has put out a new line of Imperial Beers. Desperate to do this as quickly and probably as cheaply as possible so he still had enough funds left for his "Grains of Paradise"³ the recipe seems to consist of a regular beer with a few barrels of grain alcohol tossed in so he can call it "extreme". I have sampled a few of these beers and have found them be not just subpar, but actually undrinkable in some cases. Unmasked alcohol aromas akin to cheap vodka. Promised roasted coffee notes coming out as flat out burnt. Inexplicable salty tastes. Let's just say I'm not impressed.

So what's his excuse? What do you hear when you take a sip of that Triple Boch and verbally express the memories of Children's Robitussin your mother forced down your throat that has suddenly come boiling to the surface?

You don't know what you're talking about.

At one point during that aforementioned interview, Jim solemnly reminisced about several styles forced into retirement. Not because they were botched recipes, but because the public simply wasn't ready for them. Some people appreciate being shown a good beer. Others just don't get it, and the mighty brewer simply can't afford to waste his time on these peons. He spent time mentioning his annoyance with people who pick up on the wrong scents, detect incorrect tastes, and come away with an overall opinion of his brews that is just....well......wrong.

I know what an Imperial Stout should taste like. I've had enough beers to know when an Imperial Pilsner has too many hops added to it. So do many other people. We're not the lowest common denominator. We know what we like and we shouldn't have to stand for a brewer trying to correct us in our tastes. Furthermore, we certainly don't need someone stepping forward with a beer style already brewed by many accross the country and have the audacity to claim that he is introducing the masses to this extreme beer.

When I order a steak, I don't want it layered in 3 inches of salt and drenched in chocolate sauce. No one does. And no respectable chef is going to serve something like that and tell us it's the new thing.

Then there's the darker side of Sam Adams. The other side of Jim Koch. The side that shows he's little more than a 2 bit whore looking to make a buck. Cherry Wheat? Cranberry Lambic? Blackberry Brew? Some brewers have pride in what they do. Others toss fruit into brown water and call it "targeting the market". If you like Cherry Coke, then drink that and mix in some Bacardi. But for Godsake please stop feeding into this man's ego.

Smirnoff makes a mojito drink that my girlfriend has grown quite fond of. But they don't claim themselves as a beer brewer because of it.

Look, Samuel Adams makes a number of sessionable and enjoyable brews. In the grand scheme of things, I'd rate their beers right in the middle of the vast microbrew market. But they need to accept what they are and stop pretending to be what they are not.

And Mr. Koch, I hope you don't take any of this too personally. I want nothing more than for you to truly utilize your talents while at the same time realizing what your customers want and giving them just that. Even though I know that as I write this you're probably working on a Mango Watermelon Hefeweizen.

You narcissistic moron.

¹Another little gimmick you may have noticed in their advertisements is their wise proclamation that they never use clear bottles, only dark brown because it keeps out harmful light rays. They point this out with such pride while ignoring the large elephant in the room. EVERYONE DOES THIS FOR THE SAME REASON!!!!!!................OK, maybe not Corona. Sam Adams is ahead of Corona in this department. I'll start selling tickets to the award banquet next week.

²Seriously, they're awful. They complete subpar tours as quickly as possible, talking way too fast for anyone to understand them. They actually point out that if anyone has any questions during the tour, it will only delay their trip to the sample room. From there, it's a blur of scripted cheap jokes, funny faces, and a few samples of flagship beers before you're whisked off to the gift shop. Sam Adams should be ashamed by the brewery tour experience. I have been to several breweries in New England (Berkshire, Shipyard, Oak Pond, Brewery North) and have always been treated to friendly and knowledgeable guides who take the time to educate you on the brewing process and love taking questions and opening discussions. Sam Adams needs to either shape up the tour experience or relabel it "Gift Shop with Free Beer Samples".

³You have all seen the commercials. His Grains of Paradise is the "secret ingredient" used to make is overly citrused often skunky Summer Ale, enjoyed by college seniors everywhere, proud of themselves for buying something more expensive than Natural Ice. It's the Abercrombie and Fitch of ales. Certain that he discovered these grains on his own and that no one else is aware of them, he slowly pronounces the name with such enthusiasm that I am quite certain he has achieved full orgasm and ejaculated into his pants during a number of the televised shots.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Homebrew: Crimes Against Humanity Bitter

I have said before that I find it very difficult to rate my own homebrews. I alternate between being overly critical and understandably fond of my own creation. In general, I think my rankings have been too high. I realized I would not rate one of these beers nearly as highly had it come from a craft brewer, but my enjoyment of and attachment to these beers has led me to unintentionally boost the score of these beers. Not to mention the fact that I think there is still a lot of room for me to improve as a brewer with these styles. As I have said before, ratings are most definitely subjective. But I think it helps to 1) take some time before reviewing the brew, and 2) tasting some of my homebrews side by side. After utilizing these strategies, I feel the need to rerank my homebrews.

1) Josh's Homebrews Promised Land Porter, 7
2) Josh's Homebrews Crimes Against Humanity Bitter, 7
3) Josh's Homebrews Hoppy Holidays! / Obama Beer!, 5
4) Josh's Homebrews The-Waiting-Is-The-Hardest-Part Pale Ale, 5
5) Josh's Homebrews You're So Vain... You Probably Think This Stout is About You!, 1

Homebrew number six (a Robust Coffee Porter!) will be done in a little more than a week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, want to hear a little more about this second favorite homebrew? I think this awesome label speaks volumes.
Crimes Against Humanity Bitter
Bottle -- Brockton
brewed as an english pub style bitter ale for my bad bush, good beer party to see dubya out of office. style chosen for its general accessibility to non-craft beer drinkers and its low alcohol content. recipie for palace bitter used from charlie papazian's joy of homebrewing. fermentation took longer than recipie called for, and sadly, beer was not ready in time for party. we did get some use out of the beer by using the label above for a spirited trivia game about these crimes committed by the bush administration. but back to the beer. pours a dark golden color with slight cloudiness and quickly rising head on pour. looks great. smells of semi-sweet malt, faint hops and spice. taste is mild at first, almost watery. but earthy hops, grain, and belgian-like yeast soon come through. maybe i am tasting what i want to taste but i sense that slight butteriness that characterizes many english bitters. hops are fairly assertive and bitterness builds as you drink. i think the alcohol is low enough that this could qualify as a mild style beer. very light and drinkable... goes very well with food. even if butteriness isn't there, i think this english bitter is very true to style and probably the best technical beer i have brewed yet.
Appearance: 4/5, Aroma: 7/10, Flavor: 7/10, Palate: 4/5, Overall: 13/20, Total: 3.5
Score: 7

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Six to add to the list...

Carrabassett Winter Ale
Bottle -- Shipyard Brewery Gift Shop, Portland, ME
listed as a winter warmer (6.8% abv), but it pours a burnt orange. aroma is very malty, caramel. flavor is nutty, diacetyl (like most of carrabassetts beers), with some mild hops hidden inside. creamy mouthfeel. probably the lightest winter warmer i have ever encountered.
Score: 4

Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager
Bottle -- Gordon's, Waltham
my second louisiana beer (after abita) and what i have heard about dixie isn't promising. reddish appearance with minor ammount of dark fruit in aroma. flavor is very sweet malts, light and sticky. better than expected.
Score: 5

Harpoon Celtic
Sample -- Great Lost Bear
an irish red, surprise, surprise. bready... and that's about it. one-dimensional, as most in the style are.
Score: 5

Middle Ages Wailing Wench
750 ml -- Luke's, Rockland
a widely available strong ale. reddish pour with big head. alcohol hits nose even before hops. lots of pungent hops in flavor. this wasn't the let down i half expected.
Score: 8

Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper
Sample -- Great Lost Bear, Portland
a porter with heavy coffee aroma and flavor. watery though. clever marketing on the label, but hard to believe this is the same brewer that made their siberian night.
Score: 6

My favorite:
Oskar Blues Old Chub
Can -- Chris Gasbarro's, Seekonk
pours startlingly dark from can to tulip glass... dark fruit and alcohol in aroma... slightly charred taste, with heavy but not unpleasant maltiness... this was very nice. love these guys.
Score: 9

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Imperial Series

"For nearly twenty-five years, we have taken pride in introducing American beer drinkers to 'Big Beers'..."

Okay, which brewer am I talking about? If you picked up on my note of sarcasm and guessed where I am headed with this, you would be right. This pioneer of extreme beer is none other than Samuel Adams Brewery.

You know, "Big Beers", like Sam Adams Boston Lager! You would think I am making this up, but I am not. Click on that link... it is good for a laugh.

Now typically I would go off on a tangent about how Sam dumbs down their beer styles and how arrogant Jim Koch is, but I don't even think that is necessary here.

As for the Imperial Series itself, I'll be honest, the Double Bock was pretty good. Haven't tried the Imperial White yet, and here was my take on the Imperial Stout.

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout
Bottle -- Cardoza's, Fall River
nice enough pour... smell is mostly alcohol with some chocolate and even a little soy sauce -- don't tell me this is going to be like the triple bock again! incredibly salty taste, that soy sauce again... acidic flavor, almost like bugspray. pretty thick mouthfeel. i found this difficult to drink and dan couldn't even finish it. did i miss anything, mr. cedrone?
Score: 2

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Most Wanted List: Stone Brewing

Before this past Christmas I published my Most Wanted List of beers and my parents, sister Hilary, and Kelly impressively tracked down most of these beers. Of my original list, I have already found 14 of the 22 (Allagash Musette, Allagash Victor, Allagash Hugh Malone, Avery Mephistopheles' Stout, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Shipyard Tremont Winter Ale, Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale, and Smuttynose S'muttonator remain at large.) Here are the two from Stone that I finally had an opportunity to try.

Stone Vertical Epic 08-08-08
750 ml -- Luke's, Rockland
belgian strong pale ale from kelly. pours transulcent orange... spicy, yeasty aroma... tastes of a barleywine, with lots of fruity hops. didn't blow me away and i have heard the vertical epic from other years was better...
Score: 6

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale 2008
22 oz bottle -- Gordon's, Waltham
bright copper color and incredibly sweet, alcoholic aroma. bitterness unfolds right away, with caramel malts and alcohol following. barley wine's are getting a little tired for me but this is a well-constructed 11% monster.
Score: 7

Friday, March 20, 2009

Poll Results: Wedding Beer

Wow, I think this is two failed surveys in a row. This once promising feature may very well not make the cut. The first one was my fault for listing the wrong beers in Sam Adam's Winter Mix Pack. However, the second failure was entirely the fault of one Daniel Cedrone who felt so strongly about his choice that he voted for it 12 times, ruining my poor poll. For that reason, Cape Anne's Fisherman's Brew has been disqualified and Ipswich Original Ale and Shipyard Export are the winners! Congratulations! My reception site will be letting me know shortly which of these fine beers will be made available.

Which beer should I serve at my wedding?

Cape Anne's Fisherman's Brew - 42% (12)*
Ipswich Original Ale - 17% (5)
Shipyard Export - 17% (5)
Smuttynose Shoal's Pale Ale - 14% (4)
Geary's Pale Ale - 7% (2)

*Disqualified because Dan cheated

Okay, next question of the month:

What is your favorite style of glassware?

A. Pint glass
B. Snifter glass
C. Stein glass
D. Tulip glass
E. Other (Pilsner, Stange, Weizen...)

And here is my original post on proper glassware in case you need a little refresher... Please vote responsibly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A couple of post-St. Patrick's Day thoughts

1) Are there any good Irish beers available in the US? Seriously, let me know if so. And, no, Smithwick's doesn't count, Eric.

2) If forced to choose between the big three Irish dry stout's I think I would pick Beamish, then Murphy's, then Guinness.

3) Irish food simply isn't good.

Here are my thoughts on two more of the widely available, subpar Irish beers available around here. (And it is worth noting that I enjoyed each of these beers: Beamish for St. Patty's and Boddingtons last weekend for my brother-in-laws 40th birthday.)

Beamish Irish Stout
Nitro can -- Blanchard's, Brockton
the third big irish dry stout. flavor is roasty with slight chicory taste. a little sweeter with bitterness also registering. still watery, but i would say i prefer this to the alternatives...
Score: 5

Boddingtons Pub Ale
Tap -- Billy's Tavern, Thomaston
an english pale ale. sweet malts with light hops. seemed like a strong beer alongside smithwick's. kind of liked it.
Score: 5

Sunday, March 8, 2009

IPA phase continued

In the wake of my successful IPA homebrew, my IPA phase has continued. Where many of the winter beers are heavy and muddled, IPA's are lighter and crisp, yet flavorful. There are some really fantastic beers on this list.

Bear Republic Racer 5 India Pale Ale
Bottle -- Washington, D.C.
hops are piney to the point that this smells and tastes like a christmas tree. i like it a lot though. very tasty.
Score: 8

Eugene City Tracktown IPA
Bottle -- Luke's, Rockland
a west coast style red (read hoppy). nice translucent red at first, but yeast at end of bottle makes this one cloudy. big flavorful hops. enjoyable.
Score: 7

Oak Pond White Fox Ale
Growler -- Oak Pond Brewery, Skowhegan, ME
they called this an ipa, but it is unlike any ipa i have ever had. citrus hops are at forefront, balanced by crisp malts. slightly odd flavor, but i dug it. we finished this growler in about 5 minutes.
Score: 7

Opa Opa IPA
Bottle -- Gordon's, Waltham
grassy hop aroma but taste only has a few bitter grapefruit hops at the start... perhaps trying to cut costs with the hop shortage?? maltiness does come through in taste though. and i was surprised to see it register a 6% abv, so well hidden alcohol.
Score: 6

Thomas Hooker Hop Meadow IPA
Tap -- Union Brewhouse, Weymouth
huge frothy head... flavorful bitterness, but malts balance it out enough not to be overpowering... sticky texture but very drinkable. east coast brewers are not known for their ipa's, but this could go toe-to-toe with the best of the west coast. as much as i hate connecticut, thomas hooker has not disappointed me yet!
Score: 9

Woodstock Inn Pemi Pale Ale
Bottle -- Gordon's, Waltham
an american ipa, despite the name. translucent pour with nice lacing. sweet malts probably make bigger mark on nose than hops... fairly assertive grapefruit hops in flavor. some butteriness in mouthfeel. not bad.
Score: 6

My favorite (and this was a close one):
Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
Bottle -- Luke's
ballooning billowy head... big, sharp hops in aroma... taste is a big wow. very flavorful piney hops but without harsh aftertaste that makes many west coast ipa's hard to drink. in fact it is very smooth going down. a perfect ipa.
Score: 10

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beer road trip

Ah, beer road trips! This winter I have sat down and planned three different beer road trips: beer and cross country skiing in the midwest (next winter?), beer and my honeymoon in Oregon (this May), and beer and hockey in Maine (this past weekend.) If I make this sound like a chore, its not. The good news is the first beer road trip was a success!

The plan was simple: four friends and myself would drive up to Orono, Maine to watch a college hockey game, stopping at several great breweries along the way. We started our trip on a Friday night at one of my all-time favorite beer bars, The Great Lost Bear in Portland. With 60+ beers on tap, the GLB has a great selection of Maine beers and beyond (although to be fair, it seemed like they were out of about a quarter of them...) With flights available, you can cover a lot of Maine brewers in a short period of time, or even different Belgian beers! (Tip: for $10 you can sample 5 different Allagash beers that would cost you $75 if you bought all those different bottles!) A great place for an introduction to Maine beer.

We started the next day at Shipyard Brewery in Portland's Old Port. The good people at Shipyard have been taking great care of me lately, and this weekend was no exception as they showed us around the whole brewery after the standard introductory video. This is a massive facility, and they deserve kudos for staying in the Old Port when it would no doubt be cheaper to move somewhere else. Our guide took us through every floor of the facility, from the mash tun to the bottling room to the tasting room! Two of them were new to me -- the Light and the Brewers Choice Brown Special Ale (I bought a bottle to be reviewed at a later date...) -- but many were new to my friends and a big hit. The gift shop is really extensive with lots of cool merchandise too; I bought my first tulip glass, Pugsley's Signature Series! This was my personal highlight of the weekend.

And then there is northern (i.e. central) Maine. Good beer is few and far between up here, but I targeted a small brewery in Skowhegan, Maine that is close enough to my house for my father to join us. Oak Pond Brewery may be located in an old chicken barn, but they make some mighty fine beer! The owner Don Chandler was kind enough to show us around the surprisingly clean facility and we each left with growlers and bombers in tow. Needless to say, this is what I aspire to.

Our last stop at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono was a bit of a bust as they were out of beer! So that is unimpressive. And UMaine did lose the game to the hated Catamounts of Vermont, but we took solace in the fact that they have to live with their stupid nickname. Long live the UMaine Black Bears! And long live delicious Maine beer!

Allagash FOUR
Sample -- Great Lost Bear, Portland, ME
disclaimer: not sure i have had a quad i liked yet. dark fruit, figgy namely. dry and quite clean. quality is as good as any allagash beer, but not my favorite.
Score: 6

Marshall Wharf Tug Pale Ale
Sample -- Great Lost Bear
this is positively rated tiny maine brewer that i have been seeking out. but grassy hops and peanut taste did not work. odd texture too. i am going to give them a pass on this one; i want a do-over.
Score: 3

Oak Pond Brewing Pilsner
Sample -- Oak Pond Brewer, Skowhegan, ME
a new beer that had just been tapped that day. pours a light brown. flavor is of what i can only assume is these same toffee malts. not bad at all.
Score: 6

Sebago Runabout Red Ale
Sample -- Great Lost Bear
very nutty all around. not a lot else going on. an average red/amber.
Score: 5

Sheepscot Valley Boothbay Special Bitter
Sample -- Great Lost Bear
sweet bread, which was expected. cherries and bugspray was not. hard to drink.
Score: 2

Shipyard Light
Sample -- Shipyard Brewery, Portland, ME
somehow i don't think i have ever seen this before. they call it a blonde ale, but think something closer to miller lite. not much flavor. slightly better that your average light beer.
Score: 3

Best in show:
Allagash Fluxus
Sample -- Great Lost Bear
now this is a great maine beer! a witbier with expected cloudiness. a big flavor: banana, pineapple, and cough syrup. if that doesn't sound good, than i am not doing it justice. highly recommended.
Score: 9