September 15, 2016 by Cody
Frankly, I probably shouldn’t have spent a day going to a tried and true brewery that I’ve visited on multiple occasions, whose beer I’ve imbibed on many more occasions (almost finishing off a sixtel of Allagash White between 4 people in one day? Yeah, that may have happened….#sickofallagashwhite), but fuck it, this is my vacation, and I love me some Allagash. I don’t ALWAYS need to try new beer, right?!
What can be said about this hallmark of Maine breweries? This place personifies Maine craft beer! Yes, old stalwarts like Geary’s and Gritty’s may have arrived first, but since 1994, Allagash has had a lock on Belgian styles of beer not just in Maine, but for the entire country. Literally, no other brewery in America can match Allagash’s reputation when it comes to Belgian suds. Case closed.
Despite my unabashed fanboyism though, I arrived at the brewery to deliver a fair and balanced critique of some of the best beer on the Planet.
belgian pale ale (4.5%)
Can I just say that this is the perfect house beer? It is such a super drinkable, low key Belgian. In many ways, this is similar to White, but is honestly preferable as a session if you don’t want your palate to be assaulted by White’s large spices. It is of course unfiltered, so there is that unmistakable wheaty flavor Allagash is famous for upfront, but is so much more than just White-lite. This is truly a stand alone brew, and one that really embodies it’s name. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
saison ale (6.1%)
Very mild saison without the unripened bitterness of Euro styles. As an additional contrast to traditional saisons, Allagash’s is sweeter to balance out the ever so slight sourness. This is highly drinkable, and not a cheap stab at creating another mainstream beer. Allagash doesn’t haphazardly release flagship beers, and their take on a true Belgian style is totally in line with the rest of their arsenal. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
ale with noble hops, ginger root partially aged in oak gin barrels
A more mature, well nourished take on the Saison, but doesn’t feature anything groundbreaking in it’s ingredients this year (i.e. sweet potato, black pepper). This is a delicious beer with a great sweetness with nice hints of vanilla and melon. This is one of the better recipes I’ve had in the last couple of years. I’d recommend picking up a bottle before it runs out! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
bourbon barrel aged belgian strong ale (7.7%)
Truly one of my favorite Allagash brews. This puppy is filled to the brim with bold flavors from the aging and style. James Bean is packed with strong notes of brown sugar, coffee, vanilla, and a hint of black pepper, but I have to stress that it is NOT cloying in the least! This is the most remarkable part of this beer; it is not overtly boozy and saccharin sweet. I am a dubious consumer of BBA’s, because much of the time the cloying sweetness and booze can ruin an otherwise great beer (I’m looking at you BBA Mean Old Tom). Also worth noting is the cold brewed coffee used post fermentation. I can’t say with any certainty that cold brewing coffee adds dramatic characteristics that could change this flavor, but I will say that cold brewed coffee, in my experience, does provide a smoother, less acidic coffee drinking experience. If those positives can lend in bettering this beer, than I am all for it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
belgian pale ale (7.3%)
Man, this is one of those beers that people really dig, that I just have a lot of trouble with. It maintains the continuity of other pale ales Allagash produces, but it is super citrusy in contrast to others like the house beer. Another aspect of this beer that just sticks with me in a negative way is the soap sudsy flavor, which eventually leads to increased back end bitterness which does not hit me right. I think I need to try a few more tasters before I can really nix this one. Despite my not liking it this time around, I know this is a well respected brew, so I will encourage folks to try it, but I’d recommend first trying a taster before picking up a full bottle. RECOMMEND A LIL’ DABBLE
Ever since I started getting into craft beer, Allagash has been a constant in my life. Some beers I’ve had have certainly been better than others, but this experience only reinforces why I keep coming back for more.