Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Cooking..Beer!

Hey, did you know I went to Maine recently?
I may have mentioned it, maybe posted a couple of pictures. ;-)

Well yes, I did go to Maine and when I was planning my trip..about 3 days before I left...I decided that I would stay a couple of days in Portland, because while I had passed through the city several times and had lunch there and checked out Commercial Street that runs right along the harbor, I never spent much time there. So, knowing I would be there a couple of days, I went on one of my favorite travel websites, TripAdvisor, to check out the sites I should be checking out.
You know what was voted the #1 site?
A brewery.

Allagash Brewery.

"Allagash brews a unique variety of traditional and experimental Belgian-style beers made with a dedication to craftsmanship and quality. All of the bottled beers at Allagash are bottle conditioned. This means that just prior to bottling; a fresh dose of yeast is added, along with a measured amount of candi sugar. After bottling, the beers are moved into a temperature controlled cellar, where the yeast will actually begin a new fermentation in the bottle. This new fermentation naturally carbonates the beer, and greatly enhances the traditional Belgian character. It is a long, expensive and traditional process... but we think it is worth it."

Now I have been to several breweries and distilleries in my travels and I always enjoy them. It is an ancient process, beer making, with a history that does back thousand of years, as far as the early Neolithic age or 9500 BC. Also, beer is the third most popular beverage in the world, after water and tea, two others I am very fond of.
So off I set for Allagash, just a short drive from downtown Portland in an industrial park. It was a nice tour of a nice facility, small enough to easily see and understand the whole process and yet big enough to be really interesting, with lots of workers (actually about 40, all of whom you can meet on their their website ) and lots of activity and lots of stainless steel.
And did I mention they had free tastings!

Allagash, which started as a small one man operation in 1995, brews beer in the Belgian style,
"The first release from Allagash was Allagash White, modeled after the traditional "White" beers of Belgium. Also referred to as "wit" beers, they get their unique flavor from the use of wheat in place of barley, and the use of Curacao orange peel, coriander and other spices. Allagash combined these ingredients with their very own proprietary Belgian yeast strain to create the remarkably unique and refreshing beer that is today their flagship brand."

And after tasting a number of their where near the 40 or so they now make...I must say that the original 'White' is my favorite.  Not too heavy, crisp, yet very flavorful, although I would be hard pressed to pick out the orange and coriander..which is fine.

While it is still their best seller it is not, in my opinion, their most interesting beer and that is sort of the point of this post. No, the distinction of the most interesting beers in my book goes to their barrel aged beers. Barrel aging is something I can not say I have ever seen done with beer before. They use that barrels that were previously used to age bourbon and for another beer they use new oak barrels. The first one they did this with was their Curieux, which was one of the beers we were given to taste. When you see their storeroom, not only does it look like they are aging wine, but they even talk about it like it was wine and in it's corked bottles it even looks a bit 'wineish'.
"Allagash Curieux was the first foray into barrel aging. Curieux is made by aging our Tripel Ale in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for eight weeks in our cold cellars. The aged beer is then blended back with a portion of fresh Tripel. The resulting beer is soft with coconut and vanilla notes, with hints of bourbon."

While I think Curieux is their biggest barrel aged beer, they have a number of others, including some 'experimental' ones that they are aging for much longer periods of time. Now I would be curious whose job it is to finally open one of those and taste them. That might be a fun job.

Sadly, while we can't do that, we can all stop in at Allagash if we find ourselves in the Portland, Maine area. Tours are free and their schedule and directions are on their website.
Did I mention the tasting was free too?
Yes, I think I may have.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. I have read two books set near the Allagash River so I think it would definitely be appropriate if I toured that brewery!

  2. Yes, I think beer tasting would be right up there with ice cream taster as a coveted job, lol.

    Looks like a fun place to visit :)

  3. Looks like a fun place to visit, I've never acquired the taste of beer but a visit to the brewery may change my mind.

  4. Were you in Maine recently? I'd have never guessed. LOL.

    Thanks for this post -- I've had Allagash beer before (I'm a fan of Belgium wheat beers) but I never thought of visiting their brewery and, although I knew it was in Maine, I didn't realize it was in Portland. Hummm. Must plan a day trip to Portland next time we're there.

  5. I don't like beers myself but my BF loves them. I will have him read this post :)

  6. Awesome! This would be so much fun...thanks for the virtual tour. I love beer & wine tastings and have been feeling the urge (more so now) to find a new place to do just that lately :D

  7. I would definitely apply for the job of beer taster. How fun! We are hoping to make it up to Maine this summer so we will check this place out.

  8. Isn't Maine just awesome? I've lived here for a little over a year and I can't imagine going anywhere else.. the microbrews are AMAZING - Allagash being at the top of my favorites list.. Glad you enjoyed yourself!

  9. you are a lucky girlie Keely....

  10. Great idea to include a brewery tour on your vacation. I'm amazed the tasting was also free. Here in northern California wine tasting does not come free - just the opposite. The last one I did was $28 for three very small portions of three different wines.

  11. I've been to one tour at Brick Brewery here in Waterloo, Ontario. Too bad I don't enjoy beer. I passed on most of the sampling. The bottling part was quite interesting and noisy.

  12. I have never toured a brewery so I found this post very interesting. The tasting sounds like fun too!

  13. I've toured a brewery or two and it is fun and a bit smelly. The tastings are fun though and this brewery's beers sound delicious! Wish I had plans to travel to Portland.

  14. i love Portland and never heard of this brewery and would not thought of going to tour one! Thanks for the excellent idea for our next trip there!


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