Inspired by this series of posts on If My Coaster Could Talk, I did some ruminating on what brewery collaborations I’d like to see Maine’s breweries involved in. Some of these ideas have been in my head for a while now, others took some thought. The ideas others came up with were quite impressive—many of which I would enjoy seeing come to fruition—but I don’t think you can talk too much about beer, so I’m presenting my responses to these questions as well.
Question 1: What is your all Maine brewery dream team-up? And why?
The greater Portland area has so many new breweries that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the selection and forgo all of the great beer that is being brewed elsewhere in the state that doesn’t get trucked down here on a regular basis. A dream collaboration would allow for some of these less hyped breweries to showcase their talents to all of us in Cumberland and York counties by teaming up with brewers that have name recognition or established distribution channels. Therefore, I propose a Penobscot Bay three-way: Marshall Wharf, Andrew’s Brewing and Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery. All three are located on the beautiful stretch of coastal Route 1 between Rockland and Belfast, which gives them regional unity. Each brewery has their own pub (Andrew’s just opened) where their small batch beers are served almost exclusively, which shows they have an experimental side to exploit in their collaborative brew. Lastly, each brewery has one of the qualities I mentioned above; Marshall Wharf has beer geek credibility, Rock Harbor has little to no distribution or name recognition in southern Maine, and Andrew’s can get its bottles and kegs across the Portland area. I’m sure these three could make something special that would end up in bottle shops and beer bars throughout Maine.
Question 2: What would your Maine + U.S Brewery Team-up look like?
It may very well be that no dreamt up collaboration can top one that has actually happened. Isabelle Proximus, the five-way collaboration between Allagash, Lost Abbey, Russian River, Dogfish Head and Avery, is one of the greatest beers ever made in America; a beer of such renown, legend and rarity, it is a true example of a white whale. But if I have to come up with an answer to this question, let’s not shoot for the moon, but think of something a little more accessible. My favorite kind of beer is a hoppy red ale, so I’d like to see Maine Beer Co., makers of Zoe; Lagunitas, makers of Lucky 13; and Tröegs, makers of Hopback Amber to collaborate on an exceptional example of the style. Those three beers are some of my favorites. A combination of them would be heavenly. Brew it in Hershey, PA to use Tröegs’ hopback, but be sure to distribute it here in Maine. Do What’s Right, make this beer for me.
Question 3: What would your Maine + International Brewery team up look like?
A collaboration across the seas needs to be very innovative in order to justify all the expenses, and when I think of an innovative Maine brewery, I immediately think of Oxbow. Most of what they produce can be lumped under the classification of farmhouse ale, but no two of their beers are alike. They use a wide range of interesting ingredients (local spelt, interesting hop profiles, grain from artisanal malt houses) and have a history of collaborations yielding excellent beers. They also make a beer that I believe is unique to Maine: Sausuga, a rice ale with Brett. Imagine what would happen if Tim and Geoff took their Sausuga recipe to Japan and brewed it at the Kuichi Brewery, home of the Hitachino Nest line of beers? Their experience aging beer in distilled sake barrels could only improve one of the best ales to come out of Newcastle. I’m sure whatever these two innovators brewed up would be epic.
Question 4: Free for all! Anything goes here as long as there is 1 Maine brewery involved.
If time, space and money were disregarded, I would love to see a collaboration between the Lively Brewing Company and Brouwerij Mort Subite. Lively Brewing is the beer making side of the Ebenezer’s family of beer bars. Chris Lively and Michael Lacharite are making some excellent beers in Brunswick. Brouwerij Mort Subite is a very small Belgian brewery specializing in wild ales. They are owned by a company that is itself owned by Heineken, but don’t let that deter you. I said time and space are no object in this scenario, so I want this collaboration to be with the mid-80’s incarnation of the brewery, when they were producing the Eylenbosch line of wild ales. Chris Lively has a rather large stash of Eylenbosch Gueuze bottles, all made and cellared since 1984. It is an exceptional beer. A combination of the flavors Mort Subite was able to concoct at that time, along with Chris and Michael’s interest in wild ales could only lead to a beer that would blow the socks off any unsuspecting drinker walking into Ebenezer’s. And of course, the beer would have to be released as part of an epic, multiple course, multiple hour Belgian Beer dinner, prepared and presented as only Chris Lively can do.
A lot of information online about Brouwerij Mort Subite is only available in French and Dutch, but here’s one site in English.
There are a few collaborations I’ve dreamt about that didn’t quite make the cut in my responses as they aren’t entirely fleshed out ideas, more like sketches, but I wanted to write them out nonetheless.
- A collaboration between Alan Pugsley and any one of the smaller Portland based breweries to make an ‘only the location of the brewery makes it inauthentic’ authentic English mild. Ringwood would be the yeast, but it wouldn’t be a rushed fermentation, and the beer would only be served via traditional cask, following strict CAMRA standards.
- A series of brews made with Mike at the Great Lost Bear (who has brewed at Sierra Nevada) and the various Portland area breweries to be served exclusively at the Great Lost Bear, perhaps for a special occasion; Portland Beer Week comes to mind, or perhaps the Bear’s 35th anniversary, which takes place this year.
- Freeport Brewing needs to team up with someone to make an imperial, barrel-aged version of their chocolate porter.
- I’d like the breweries of Maine to collaborate more with our state’s large population of homebrewers. Perhaps a series of brews and recipe kits made in collaboration with Maine Brewing Supply?
- I’d enjoy more locally made beers aged in barrels used by locally distilled spirit makers. I imagine In’finiti has plans to do this entirely in house. And speaking of Maine’s only combination brewery and distillery…
- I know it’s not a collaboration, but I really, really want to see In’finiti brew a DIPA using only Galaxy hops. It would be named To In’finiti and Beyond, because Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear are awesome and ripe for exploitation via beer name. I’ve already brewed my own Galaxy IPA and named is Space Ranger IPA, but only In’finiti can give Buzz’s catch phrase the beery justice it deserves.