August 20, 2016 by Cody
As stated in previous entries, my beercation blogging journey has thus far, been a formula in detailed beer reviewing. As much as I’d love to translate every ounce of beer I’ve consumed into the English written word, I’ve come to the conclusion that summarizing is the name of the game, with the story that unfolds being paramount. So let’s continue my journey…just in a more succinct way.
After being incredibly surprised by the amazing summer line up at Maine’s finest strip mall brewery, SoMe Brewing, Patrick, Emilie and I made our way back up the coast to Wells. The brief Southern leg of Route One is exactly the experience we had intended to have coming down from Portland on Route One; old people strolling by in Ogunquit among restaurants, hotels and tourists shops, also reserved for old people and surfers.
Hidden Cove Brewing is a perfect next stop tasting experience, particularly for those who have been cooped up in a car for most of the afternoon. After a brief stretch, we all wandered into the brewery for some tastiness. The tasting room was refreshingly cool and dark, with the highlighted beers on draught scrawled on a chalk board wall at the entry way. Clearly the brewery was promoting Sangio, a flanders red aged in chianti barrels. I have a soft spot for flanders ales, with Duchess de Bourgogne being one of my favorites. Seeing that a local brewery is participating in the revitalization of this old style, is really heartening, particularly for those of us who really enjoy sours.
Sitting down at the bar, we all eagerly ordered our flights. I picked up the Compadre Pale Ale (5.5%), a brew that the brewery claimed has a multitude of fruit flavors, seemed quite low key and middle of the road to me. Booty Raspberry Golden Ale, clocking in at 5.5%, is a scrumptious, super juicy, lightly hopped golden. This ale has amazing, bold fruit flavors that all taste really authentic. In an age where mainstream fruit beers use “other natural and artificial flavors” to create their recipes, Hidden Cove seems to take the approach that simple, fresh fruits is the way to go, and it really made this beer stand out. I hope to find a six pack of this in Portland before the summer is out.
The two final choices in my flight were the finest and boldest. Jali Jalapeno Apricot Ale (8.5%) was more of a fine dining experience, than a bit of beer in a glass. The first sip screams with unbelievable jalapeno overtones; composed by spiciness and a huge breadth of flavor that the uninitiated would never expect from a spicy beer. I’ve had my fair share of awkward spicy beers that were clearly brewed for their campy “originality,” but this…this was different. As the first sips anchored in my palette, I was enlivened by the clever dose of apricot that perked up, just as the spice delivered it’s height of sensation. Good beer is about balance, but this beer is not only balanced, it’s like a well crafted cocktail with so many overt flavors that are totally necessary. Jali is a beer with an actual purpose. It wasn’t brewed as a fun, crazy catchphrase beer to get people talking, it was brewed because the brewers wanted a true experience. This beer doesn’t need to be paired with food, it’s a pairing in of itself. Absolutely brilliant, and I can’t wait to have another down the road.
Last but not least was Sangio (6%), the beer that I was looking forward to before I even sat down at the bar. Sours are a calling, and still in their infancy in America. While we have been producing some fantastic sours in Maine over the last few years, it’s still a new phenomenon, and kind of an adventure to try a new take on what is only now becoming a familiar style. Sour beers are really multi-tiered, with saisons and berliners being entry level, while flanders is far along the sour tiers, bordering on vinegar levels of sour.
Sangio did not disappoint. It has that familiar sour charm, but the barrel aging in chianti provides a level of bitterness similar to that of an apple core, and of course a bit of sweetness that such a booze can provide. While I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist with sours, this is very much worth every beer fan’s time and taste buds. Bravo Hidden Cove, bravo.
So despite me stating I am condensing my trip, I am going to make this a single brewery post, simply because I was so smitten with this place, and because I like to type a lot. I know it’s been a few days since my last post, but I wasn’t feeling too hot, so writing wasn’t really high up on my priorities. Stayed tuned for my “attempt” at condensing in my next post. I am also planning on breaking out of my beercation for other thoughts on my mind. Until next time friends, drink on.