New England Brewery Series: Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME)

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A couple of weekends ago, just before The Festival (see my review here) my girlfriend and I visited the venerable, funky, and scenic Allagash Brewing Company.  Allagash’s brewery is located a short drive outside the city of Portland, ME in a nice little industrial zone with a good amount of forest cropping up around them.  The brewery is made up of a fair amount of shiny fermentation tanks and metal girders on the outside.

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Inside the tasting room, however, Allagash has rustic, cream white paint on the walls, rustic wood grain everywhere, and a nice reserved red for their window frames.  The frames look out on the actual brewery, which is very clean and full of shining mashtuns, lautertuns, whirlpools, etc…  Unfortunately, on the day I went, I forgot to reserve a spot in their tour ahead of time.  For anyone considering a visit to Allagash, I highly advise you to plan ahead and use Allagash’s nice, free online tour registrationthat they offer on their website.

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The tour aside though, Allagash still offered a free tasting of four of their beers at a big beautiful bar, or at some awesome barrel tables, and my girl friend and I gladly partook in that.

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My girlfriend and I sat at the bar and got the flight, which started with Allagash White, their witbier, and also the witbier by which every other New England witbier is judged.  Clean and crisply refreshing, while full of spice and flavor, White is a hell of a wit.  Curieux, on the other hand, was not really my cup of tea, though it was the second beer I sampled.  Curieux is a bourbon barrel aged tripel, but to me it tasted far too much of hot booze with not enough else to make it worth a sip.  I know others are big fans of Curieux, and I hate to rag on it, but it was my least favorite of the tasting.  My next beer, however, was the Allagash Table Beer, a beer that is only ever sold from their brewery, and can only be purchased by the crateful.  Table Beer was crisp, clean, and had just the right amount of flavoring to slake my thirst and make me want to knock it back all day long.  Guess who is heading back to Portland sometime soon for some a crate of beer?  My final beer was Allagash Tripel, a beer I have enjoyed for quite some time, but have never gotten around to review for some reason.  The Tripel is nicely hopped, with a good bite to underlie the sweet, funky trappist yeast, and to give the beer a great deal of balance.

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At the end of the visit, I walked away with a bottle of Coolship Red (see review here) from their brewery only coolship series, but I opted to not get any other bottles.  I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Allagash, and I love what they do for the craft beer world, but I’ve always found their beers a bit overpriced.  At the brewery, they are a little more manageable, but I still feel like I could get a similar beer for less.  I know that they do a great deal of barrel aging, and what-not, but I can never justify purchasing their bottles.  I also haven’t had the best luck with their bottles so far, and have mostly enjoyed their selections more on tap than from the bottle.  Their brewery, however, is a cheap, fun, and beautiful experience, with a great selection of bottles to purchase, and a great look.  I advise checking it out.

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