Visit #90! Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

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Our third stop on our most recent trip through Portland with Jason and Maureen was Allagash Brewing. They are right across the street from Bissel Brothers, Foundation, and Austin Street Brewing or should we say they all moved in right across the street from Allagash.

 

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If you want to go for a tour, you need to book it ahead of time. The tours book up quickly, and they try to keep them a fair size- so everyone can see and hear the tour guide. The tour is free, but you have to plan ahead. We booked our tour about two weeks in advance, and booked it for four people- not yet knowing who the other two people would be! We booked for the only time slot that had spots for four people, knowing we would have company. We didn’t want the others to not be able to go. The tour includes a private tasting as well.

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Cool bar in the tap room

 

If you find that you aren’t able to book a tour, you can go to their tasting room and try some there! We were unaware that they had a tap room prior to our visit, but now know we can go anytime we are in the area!

 

Our tour guide was Thadius, a local college student, which he reminded us of several times. His fun loving personality made the tour entertaining but he was also quite knowledgeable about the brewery and was able to answer questions people had.

 

We learned a lot about Allagash while on the tour. They told us what makes them special and different, not just the typical story on how beer is made, so we liked that. We learned that 80% of what they produce is Allagash White. They are the 32nd largest brewery in the US, and still a craft brewery. Their biggest markets are LA, then Chicago and Boston.

 

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They operate a 70 barrel system right now. They expanded 2 years ago, and now they are planning to add more fermenters.

This is inside of the newest part of the brewery. This was the old exterior wall, and they left the old Allagash Brewing Company sign up.

They have a custom BrauKon system for producing as much White and Saison as they can.

 

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This newer system is more computerized, but you still need the brewer to check on things and know how to work the system. They brew 5 days a week, 24 hours a day. They have 15 brewers and over 80 employees.
How are they working to be even more eco-friendly?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
*Their spent grain goes to a local farmer, Norm, to feed to his cows.
*They also use steam energy.
*Just last year, they added a beehive on premise to use the honey in the beer. They are using the most local honey they can, and are helping the honey bee population! Another cool fact about the honey- their Accountant is the bee keeper!
*They have the least water usage of breweries, and use local water coming from Sebago Lake (just over 10miles away)

 

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Old system with Thadius

 

They still use an old 15 barrel system that Rob Tod started with back in 1995. They use this older system for their more experimental brews.

 

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They use Microstar kegs, a co-op program so when they ship full kegs to somewhere like LA, a local brewery reuses instead of shipping empty kegs back to Maine, which not only makes it easier for them, but also is more eco-friendly.

Fun fact- about 60% of their production is put into kegs. This is a lot for a brewery of this size.

 

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barrels in their barrel room. Each has the beer’s name or a code name on it.

 

An interesting sounding beer we heard about in the barrel room was the Koelschip series. The Koelschip series are sour and/or funky beers. They use wild yeast to get the sour flavor, and it takes 3-4 years to actively ferment. Megan really likes sour beers, so we will be on the lookout for any Koelschip series releases!

 

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The oldest barrel we saw.

 

These barrels were in a separate temperature controlled building to age.

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large barrels and fermenting beer

 

Allagash has a pilot system in which employees can submit recipes for brewing. Like their Saison? You can thank an employee for that! The Saison is not their first new year round beer in just about twelve years.

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a little view into how large they actually are…

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empty barrels, ready to be filled

 

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the private tasting area in the barrel room

 

Our tasting:

White – 5.2%
The first Allagash beer. We have all had this before and we have liked it. Maureen thought it was light, Megan and Mark order it out at the bar sometimes.

 

Saison – 6.1%
Recommended to have with spicy food. Light and citrusy with orange and coriander taste. Maureen said it was a titch spicy on the back of the tongue. We all liked this as well.

 

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the Saison mmmmmm

 

 

Four – Quad – 10%
Takes four months to make, uses 4 yeast and is complicated to make. Smooth and very flavorful, we all liked it. Jason liked it so much he bought a bottle there, and has bought 2 more since then.

 

Tripel – 9%
Aged in Jim Beam barrels. Light for being aged in Jim barrels. Maureen said she tasted fruit right on the tongue. Good balance of beer, flavor and fruit. Mark bought a bottle of this.

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Cooler full of brewery only beers as well as beers you will find elsewhere!

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Special Release! Midnight Brett Ale

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Midnight Brett Ale:
Megan opted to purchase this one, despite having not tried it. She understood that Brett Ales can be on the tart side, and loves trying beers like that. It had the flavor and aroma of berries and sour cherries. She was very happy to have bought two bottles. Mark had hoped for a bit more tartness.

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the tap room bar, inside the retail store

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t-shirts galore!

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have a kegerator at home?

 

We enjoyed our visit to Allagash, and liked how the tour was- it wasn’t just the “here’s how we make beer,” but what actually makes them who they are. We will certainly be back, especially to see what special releases they have!

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Want to visit?
HOURS: Monday – Saturday: 10am-5pm.
Last tour at 4pm, taps close at 4:45pm

Check their website or their facebook for any changes.

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In the area? Besides going across the street to Bissel Brothers,
Foundation and Austin Street, take the drive to:
Urban Farm Fermentory
Shipyard Brewing Co.

Fall Beer Fest, by the Boston Event Guide, Boston MA

We were lucky to go to Boston Event Guide’s Fall Beer Fest in November. They had three sessions; we went to the 12:00-2:30pm session.
We also had two pairs of tickets to give out to our readers- thank you to everyone that entered!
We hope that those of you that went had a great time!

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The Boston Event Guide prides themselves for being the leading resource for the best events in Boston. It was started in 1995 by Jeff Popkin to connect young professionals with events occuring across the city. He had been hearing about events AFTER they happened, instead of knowing first hand that they were happening. The Boston Event Guide also sends out a weekly newsletter to it’s members (membership is FREE) about what’s going on, what social events and netowkring events are approaching, and any great deals.

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The Fall Beer Fest was held at Cyclorama. The building was easy to find, however parking was not. Next time, we will definitely take the T in (the Boston area train).

When we arrived, we had our IDs checked outside, and then proceeded in.
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After checking in, we each took a cup to use for the day, and were given a map of where we could find the beer.

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map for the afternoon

 

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Cyclorama’s fun ceiling

Some of the many breweries present, and the beer we enjoyed…

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Foolproof Brewing Company
Foolproof Brewing Company opened 2 years ago in Pawtucket, RhodeIsland.
Farmhouse Ale Saison was very good
Backyahd IPA was pretty standard but tasty
Raincloud was a robust porter, good, chocolate and coffee notes
We recently added Rhode Island to our travels, so we will be visiting Foolproof sometime in the future
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Finch’s Beer Company
Finch’s is located in Chicago, Illinois. They are beginning to expand into the Massachusetts and New England market.
We had the Hardcore Chimera (double IPA) and Cut Throat (Pale Ale). Both these beers were really good.
Keep your eye out for these beers, and others by Finch’s Beer Company.

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Strange Brew
Strange Brew is currently a beer and wine home brew supply store, that also offers classes. Rumor has it, they should be opening as a brewery sometime soon…
They had a lot of interesting beer flavors:
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Granny Strange was a sour and/or tart cider. Good but very different flavor.

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Sour Power, as they label it, is an extremely sour ale. A very interesting, very sour and tasty ale.

 

Downeast Cider
Very good traditional cider taste- as Megan says “it’s like getting a jug of cider, but it is alcoholic.”
We have had many family mebers and friends try this cider- and no one has disliked it. In fact, it it now the favorite of many!
We just visited here, look for our post coming soon.

 

 

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Spiked Seltzer
This was a different take on beer. They brew it like a lager, but it drinks like flavored seltzer, despite being 6% alcohol! Spiked Seltzer is all natural and has low sugar, low carbs and is gluten free. They had lime, orange, and grapefruit flavors available to try.

All the flavors were pretty good, grapefruit was subtle and the orange tasted like orange soda. Megan can’t wait until they are all over New England, so she can pick up a six pack! Want to see if they are available near you? Check here

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Redhook and Kona
They were both there. We tried the Winter Hook because we’ve had their other beers plenty of times. The Winter Hook is a super hoppy ale with dark malts.

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Goose Island
We tried their IPA and Festivity Ale.
There’s no doubt they are a craft beer maker, but now they are owned by Inbev, owner of Anheuser-Busch. They like it, they can get what they need when they need it, they have the support of a company that has some pull.

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Blue Point Brewing Company
Our options were their toasted lager (which is their flagship beer), and a pumpkin ale, which was good- not overly spiced so you could taste the pumpkin

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Off Shore Ale Company
One of the many breweries in Massachusetts that we haven’t been able to visit yet- this one is on Martha’s Vineyard.
They had their Beach Road Nut Brown Ale and Hop Goddess.

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Uinta

All of the beers we tried here were good. They had their Black Lager, Yard Sale, Double IPA, and Session IPA. Our only fault with them? We would have to go to Salt Lake City to visit!
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Cape Ann Brewing Company
They brought a fair selection. We both liked the Fisherman’s Brew, but the Pilsner we did not like that much.
If you are interested in visiting Cape Ann Brewery in Gloucester, check out our post about our visit there.

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Ballantine
They just relaunched the brewery after being closed for 10 years. They have been around for a long time, in the 40’s and 50’s the were sponsoring the Yankee’s, they were the 4th largest brewery back then. Now the only beer they make is the Ballantine IPA which was a pretty good, fairly standard IPA.

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They were giving out free waters, which was great- always a good idea to hydrate during and after drinking! This water has a pH level of 9.5, to help keep you hydrated

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We thought the beer fest was good, and different in a good way. The event space fit it well- and allowed for you to walk around without bumping into others. We also liked that we had the opportunity to speak with the brewery representatives at many of the tables. Many tastings/festivals you want to ask questions, but really aren’t allowed to because the focus is to push everyone through the line. Here, the focus was fun and education when wanted.

Interested in going to one of these events, or something else by the Boston Event Guide? Be sure to sign up for their newsletter list to stay updated!

Ready to go drinking? Their Spring Craft Beer Fest 2015 is right around the corner- April 12th.
Tickets are $69. but you can buy them for $19 through December 31st! It looks like an event you can’t miss!

While at the beer fest, we ran into a few co-workers of Megan. They had taken a bus to the event, which was such a great idea!
Group photo, post beer fest!

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Jack’s Abby Brewing, Framingham, Massachusetts

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We have been to Jack’s Abby Brewing in Framingham several times, and picked up their beer in Massachusetts’s packies even more. We went back recently to visit their brand new facility at 100 Clinton Street in Framingham, MA with Mark’s brother Jason and sister Michelle.

 

Jack’s Abby opened in 2011. They are an all lager brewery, which is very unique, and means they use only lager yeast. This is a slow fermentation process, much longer than making ales, and they ferment cold. It is a longer process but you have more control over flavoring. Sugars and yeast cell counts are measured throughout the fermentation process. There is a 4 to 5 week turnaround for 1 beer, where ale’s typically take 2 to 3 weeks.

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On the first tour we went on we learned a lot about the brewery:

  • the three Hendler brothers own the brewery- Jack, Eric and Sam
  • the brewery is named after one of the owners, Jack, and his wife Abby, as a nod to Abby and to the traditions of European monks who created their beers in their abbeys
  • Jack studied brewing in Chicago as well as in Munich, Germany

 

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They purchased a new bottling machine in the Fall 2013. They bottle approximately half and keg about half of the beer they make. 75% of what they make is consumed within the greater metro west area of Boston. They just started canning at the new brewery as well, in 12oz cans as well as 16oz cans for 4 packs.

 

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Mass Rising – DIPL – 8%
Mark and Jason both buy this beer semi regularly. It is a double india pale lager, or DIPL. It is pretty hoppy, somewhat bitter but a well balanced and smooth ipl.

 

Baby Hammer – black lager with lactose – 6%
A brewery only release, very tasty, a really smooth beer, probably a combo of the lager base and the addition of the lactose.

 

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Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10%
A good, smooth baltic porter for 10%. Still a strong, dark beer, but well balanced and flavorful.

 

Sour Time – wheat lager soured in wine barrels – 4.8%
You get sour and wheat flavors from this, just ok but not a stellar sour, according to Mark.

 

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Hibiscus Blood Orange Leisure Time – wheat lager 4.8%
A brewery only release, Megan described it as joy and sunshine, not very descriptive, we know. Mark was hoping it would be a little bit better, not enough blood orange fruit flavor.

 

Calyptra – session IPL – 4.9%
Pretty good overall IPL, not lacking in flavor for a session lager. They are releasing 12 oz cans of this soon.

 

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Excess – DIPL – 7.2%
Really good, smooth for a double. Really good hop flavor and overall balance.

 

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Lashes – red ipl – 6.8%
Michelle got a pint of this beer, which she enjoyed.

 

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One of the reasons we wanted to visit the new facility is that they have a new beer hall and they serve food.

 

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We got 2 pretzels for apps that were very tasty (that’s just one in the picture).

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Potato and Bacon pizza, pretty good.

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BBQ Pork Pizza, this was very good as well, interesting combo with the
pineapple and serrano chili, and BBQ pork.

When we visited it was only around 4:00, so we weren’t quite ready for dinner, we just got a few pizza’s. They were good. Their menu is not that big, and they don’t have everyday bar food, no burgers or sandwiches on the regular menu.

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They have plenty of room for all their new, and old, barrel aged beers. See those really
big barrels in the bottom picture? Must be something tasty in their!

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They have a much, much larger tasting area, or beer hall, now. It seems like it might not be quite large enough for the popularity they have achieved. We tried to visit a month ago, at around 7:00 on a Saturday. Couldn’t find parking or even get in the building it was so crowded.

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Even at 4:00 or 5:00 on a Saturday this is how crowded it was. Luckily we got a seat at one of the longer picnic tables. Unfortunately, they operate the beer hall as seat yourself, which probably adds to the crazyness on busy nights. It looks like they need more room already.

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Cool, reclaimed wood they use as ceiling panels with up lighting. They look
cooler in person, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

We were glad to see they do have a separate bar area, when you first enter, for beers to go, bottles, cans, growlers and swag.

The first time we visited Jack’s Abby Brewing was with Mark’s brother Jason as well. The guys had decided it was time to do a mini brewery and bar crawl through Framingham… Our visits included: Jack’s Abby, Angry Ham’s (featured on Bar Rescue), and John Harvard’s Brewhouse- Framingham.

 

Old sign, and their old logo.

 

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Old logo at the old brewery, hand painted by Jack’s wife, Abby

 

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They also cask condition a lot of beers in Bourbon barrels as well as red and white wine barrels.

 

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samplers before the tour- fun holder too!

 

Cocoa-Nut Barrel Aged Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Coconut smell, heavy coconut flavor with the bourbon flavor, not as much cocoa as expected. Mark thought the bourbon really played up the coconut, Megan wished there was a bit more cocoa

Jabby Brau – Session lager – 4.5% – IBU 20
No longer available?
Everyone liked it, Mark thought it had a touch of fruit.

Hoponius Union – Wicked Hoppy Lager – 6.7% – IBU 65
Year Round
Really good mix of hops and lager. One of their flagship beers, one of Jason and Mark’s favorite. We buy this often, and didn’t bother tasting it in the most recent visit because we knew we were both buying some.

 

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Jason’s sampler, after the tour

 

Leisure – Wheat Lager – 4.8% – IBU 15
available Year Round
Mark and Jason both thought it was a good summer beer. It’s what Megan likes, light and drinkable, citrusy.

 

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Berliner – Megan’s favorite

 

Berliner – Sour Wheat Lager – 3.5%
What Megan expected from a wheat sour, very good with a nice pucker.

Barrel Aged Cherry Berliner – Dark Sour Lager – 5.5%
Although it was barrel aged, the bourbon taste surprised Megan. It did have a god balance of sour and cherries. Mark liked this better than the regular Berliner.

 

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Mark’s sampler, after the tour

 

Framingham Lager – 4.5%
Light, easy drinking, nothing too special, Jason agrees.

Barrel Aged Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Very strong taste, maybe a hint of brown sugar. Strong bourbon taste as well.

PB&J Framinghammer – baltic porter – 10% – IBU 55
Not as strong as the BA Framinghammer. Nutty with a little sweetness at the end. Made Mark smile when he had it, could get the PB & J taste, Jason thought it was more chocolate almond.

 

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Megan’s sampler, after the tour

 

Hopstitution – Extra Pale Lager
Good taste, hops up front, smooth lager base. Mark and Jason both liked it.

Session Rye IPL – 3.8% – IBU 40
Jason liked it, so he shared it, everyone liked it. Definitely had a lighter, rye taste to it.

 

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the offerings during our first visit…

  

 

 

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Yay lagers!

 

We had fun here, and we all found beer we liked, at the old brewery and the new one.

 

 

They also now distribute all over Mass, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Eastern Pennsylvania and into New York as well. Not in New Hampshire or Maine, too bad for us.

Want to visit?

New Beer Hall Hours
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 9 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 am – 11 pm
Sunday 1:30 am – 9 pm

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love this sign!