There are only a handful of breweries that I can say I have never had a bad beer from — Allagash Brewing Company being one of them.
More than likely, if you love beer, you know Allagash and their reputation for brewing exceptional Belgian-style beers ... maybe the best outside of Belgium. Founded by the craft beer legend Rob Todd in 1995, they have been producing “Belgian-inspired” beers for some time now. Their flagship “White” Ale is commonly found on tap up and down the East Coast, and if you like the Belgian Witbier, one taste explains its prominence. “White” is one of the beers, among a few other classics, that really opened my eyes to great beer.
While I am almost embarrassed to admit that I have been to their hometown of Portland, Maine, a couple of times now without stopping by the brewery, word is they offer an outstanding tour, and that it sells out fast most days. On a recent brief but unparalleled tour down Maine’s coastal Route 1 in August, I had time for a couple of other stops in Portland: “The Thirsty Pig” for a few sips from local breweries new to the scene (paired with a taco-style sausage plate ... whatever that means); “Holy Donut” for a potato donut for my dessert-oriented traveling companion followed by a mini lobster roll being sold by a street vendor on the corner in a pirate ship (shamelessly declaring our tourist nature); and lastly, my first visit to the legendary beer bar, The Great Lost Bear, which has an entire beer tower dedicated to Allagash called “Allagash Alley.”
Sitting down at this meandering bar, and enjoying my proximity to this “Alley,” I had to go for a flight followed by a glass of Allagash’s much lauded sour “Farm to Face.” Poured into a 13-ounce tulip, this juicy, tart peach sour is one special brew. Initially brewed as a pale ale, it is fermented for 10 months in stainless tanks with house yeast followed by a secondary fermentation where strains of Pediococcus, and Lactobacillus are added, and of course fresh peaches. Many fruited beers taste artificial, or cloying, but this beer is the product of master brewers — a tart yet balanced experience with pleasant acidity, and a dry peachy finish. If you have the chance to try this or any other Allagash beer, ready your sampling shoes and thank me later.
This week’s recommendation: Allagash Brewing Company’s “Farm to Face,” a sour ale brewed with peaches for aromas of green apple and graham cracker accompanying a lingering peachy finish. 6.1 percent ABV. Portland, Maine.
Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.