2018 was a tremendous year to write about beer. Memories, of course, are cloudy and imperfect, and mine, filtered through a haze of hoppy belches, lopsided grins and long nights, are perhaps more suspect than most. Regardless, many of my recollections about beer memories shine brightly. Here, I share my personal Maine beer highlights from each season. Thanks for your support, loyal readers. Here’s to a new year of beer!
Winter: Rising Tide Daymark American Pale Ale
Regardless of the season, the aromas of Rising Tide's Daymark Ale conjure in me the smell of pine sap in the winter. I gulped this beer after a long, fat bike ride through the winter woods. Stillness reigned, the loudest sounds were the blood pounding in my ears and the icy rasp of my breath. After the super-cooled air, the Daymark, with its first sips of lemon zest and dried herbs, felt warming, despite the fact that it was fresh from the fridge. A cold beer after a long, cold ride is a special kind of warmth, a treasure that makes the dark winter bearable.
Spring: Long Trail Medicator
I'd heard rumors about this beer for months, and when an unlabeled box arrived on my stoop, I jumped for joy. The Medicator didn't look illicit, just a pleasant, amber liquid with a nice white head. The aroma, though, had all the skunk of a Phish concert, mingled with pineapple and fresh-mown grass. The flavor was redolent of honey, sharp with herbs, and blessed with a unique bitter character. I enjoyed the Medicator on a cold spring night, its honey flavors warming my belly while rain beat the windows and my mind fizzed with thoughts of summer to come. Weeks later, I heard that the DEA shut down Long Trail's production of this delightful, soothing beverage — a rare spring sadness.
Summer: Banded Brewing Luminaire
I always wait for the first sniff of the Luminaire — an explosion of pine, juniper, basil and grapefruit priming my palate. In my first review of this beer, I made the bold statement that “It's like walking through a pine forest with trees bedecked with pineapples, guava, marijuana, and tropical fruit ice-cream.” I stand by it! This summer, I appreciated the bright, punchy burst of hops, followed by a smooth, refreshing malt aftertaste. On the first warm evening of the year, I sat on my stoop listening to the crickets, the evening breeze raising goosebumps on my winter-white arms. The crispness of the Luminaire fueled my excitement for summer, and washed away the last of the winter.
Fall: Rising Tide Rising Tide Sou'Wester
The Sou'wester glows, as if lit by a soft, inner light. The aroma glows too — with warm citrus, vinegar and lemon-peel. The first sip fuses citrus hop flavors and natural acidity so effectively that it creates a vivid taste hallucination. I can almost feel the little pieces of grapefruit stick between my teeth! I sipped the Sou'Wester slowly as I camped in a tent with my girlfriend near Acadia National Park. The air had begun to cool, and I was grateful for the fire, warming my toes and scenting my beard. The sour pine flavor matched the smell of the wood. It was one of those nights.