What’s better than a finding a great-looking beer from a brewery you haven’t heard of before? Finding out that this brewery is located right in your home town, of course.
Maine Beer Company is an incredibly small brewery (Nanobrewery? Picobrewery?) located on Industrial Way here in Portland. Started by two homebrewing brothers, MBC brews on a small 2-barrel brewing system, focusing on brewing one recipe at a time. Rather than being artificially prepared for the shelves, MBC bottle conditions all their ales. The brewing brothers certainly have their hearts in the right place – their electricity is 100% wind power, they donate all their used grain, yeast and grain bags to local farmers, and 1% of their sales are donated to environmental non-profits. The brewery is definitely still young, as Spring Peeper is their first beer and the bottle I picked up is labeled as Batch #2.
First off, kudos to Maine Beer Company for creating such a distinctive bottle for their first beer. Rather than 12oz or 22oz bottles, Spring Peeper comes in the popular European pint bottle. The label squeezes in a quick history of the brewery, a bit of their mission statement, a description of the ale and an attractive logo based on the peepers here in Maine. Hats off to the upcoming brewers for being able to make their first brew pop on the shelves.
The Spring Peeper Ale pours dirty straw yellow, quite cloudy and sporting a thick, bubbly head. No question about this being a bottle-conditioned ale, as a bit of yeast popped out at the end of the pour. The nose is super hoppy, and really brings to mind hopped-up brews like the Three Floyds Gumballhead and Stone Pale. Specifically, I get the smells of lemon, grapefruit, and some generally herby and citrusy scents I can’t quite put my finger on. Behind all this, there a definite caramel, sweet malty backbone. One of the best-smelling beers I’ve had in a long time. Seriously, mouth-watering stuff right here.
Sipping the beer, things taste deceptively simple. Some malty sweetness, then some floral hops through the finish. That’s it. Simple and refreshing – no knock-you-on-your-ass huge flavors or big alcohol. Things are light and just a bit creamy in the mouthfeel department, and the finish is crisp even as the brew warms to room temperature. The beer is tasty and drinkable, albeit a bit light for me. Maybe it’s my penchant for extreme beers, but everything aside from the big nose just seems a bit subdued to me. Still, the brew is without a doubt easy to drink.
Maine Beer Company’s Spring Peeper Ale is a capital first release from the up-and-coming brewers. The brew is unlike any of the pales from other local brewers, and I look forward to the next release from the beer-loving brothers. Between an incredibly solid initial offering and a green business plan, I hope that Maine Beer Company goes far.
And seriously, even if you don’t like beer, you have to get a whiff of this brew. I’d buy a Spring Peeper Ale air freshener in a second.