So many breweries, so little time! What a problem to have, but I do. I wouldn’t have imagined it only a few decades ago when the craft beer revolution in America was still young, but today it’s very true indeed. Breweries are popping up everywhere you look, and I know I can’t keep up with them all. Often, I have to pass on hitting some of them when I’m out and about, because I want to spend time at others.
All that said, after enjoying a few beers and the smell of stewing malt at Portland’s D.L. Geary brewery, there was no way I was passing up a stop at Allagash Brewing Company. It’s literally right across the street, and when two great breweries are that close, there’s just no excuse for missing out. So I went over to see Allagash for a small tour of their very impressive brewhouse, and enjoyed a few beers while I was there. One of these was Allagash House Beer.
I’ve been an Allagash fan since there was an Allagash brewery, but this was the first time I’ve managed to tour the brewery. Good news for brewery fans who want to try their beers: they’re free here! That’s right, Allagash will treat you to a sampler of 4 3-ounce beers (they added a fifth in my case), and they only ask that if you enjoy them you consider buying some to take home. I didn’t buy here, not because I don’t love Allagash beer, but because they’re readily available in Georgia and I am a frequent Allagash drinker there.
I tasted these beers here:
When I got home from Maine, I realized that I had a bottle of Allagash Saison in my beer fridge. It had about a year of age on it, so this would be an interesting comparison after tasting it fresh at the brewery.
Allagash says the following of their saison on their website:
Allagash Saison is our interpretation of a classic Belgian farmhouse style. It is a golden hued beer, brewed with a 2-row blend, malted rye, oats, and dark belgian candi sugar. Saison is hopped with Northern Brewer, Bravo and Cascade hops. Fermented with a traditional saison yeast strain, Saison exhibits notes of spice and tropical fruit in the aroma. Citrus and a peppery spice dominate the flavor and make way for a pleasant malt character. Saison is full bodied with a remarkably dry finish.
Ingredients, again from the website:
Grains: Allagash 2-row Malted Barley Blend, Malted Rye, Oats
Hops: Northern Brewer, Bravo, and Cascade
Spices/Other: Dark Belgian Candi Sugar
Allagash Saison has an alcohol content of 6.1% by volume and runs $9.99 a four-pack here in Georgia. That's a bit high I think, but this beer is truly wonderful and worth the price in my opinion.
Allagash Saison pours to a bright yellow white color with a thick creamy head and a tart sour nose laced with notes of peppercorn and coriander. Taking a sip, the beer at a year of age has tart crackery wheat up front followed by loads of spice: the pepper and coriander the nose promised plus a hint of anise and a slightly tart, dry spicy finish. The finish is actually very spicy with a long dry hint of bitterness; the tartness helps it to finish bone dry.
I think I like this beer better with a bit of age on it, though you can’t go wrong either way. The spices seem to pop a little more than they did at the brewery and the beer seems drier. I like to pair this beer with poultry or seafood, or just sip a glass on its own at the end of a long day. Or a long drive from Maine to Georgia…..
Update 6/3/2016: Allagash Saison, such a wonderful beer, on tap at Taco Mac, and a full mug pour, too. You know I was all over that, and $6.75 does not seem so unreasonable for a delightful beer like this. Just as spicy as I describe above, wheaty, tart, peppercorns, cloves, and a perfect complement to fresh house-made guacamole and tortilla chips.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.