In keeping with Mike’s brewing and music analogy from last week, beers are like bands, in that there a lot of questionable options (RIP Chumbawumba, which the high school part of me is oddly sad about). But plenty of American breweries consistently demonstrate a staggering grasp of how to properly gurgle yeast, hops, malt and water. Portland, Maine’s Allagash comes to mind, as does Northern California’s Russian River. And now the young Maine Beer Company —also in the ridiculously lucky city of Portland—is quickly proving themselves one of the country’s finest brewers.
At just 3,000 square feet, the place is small even by “micro” brewery standards, fitting given the brewery’s low-key approach to beercraft. With the exception of their Mean Old Tom Stout, owners and brothers David and Daniel Kleban focus on a small line-up of nuanced, hop heavy American ales with tasteful, understated labels. And they’re all near-perfect, with familiar beery flavors honed into a subtle perfection that has just about convinced me to sell my home brew hardware for scrap.
My favorite MBC beer seems to rotate depending on what’s in my fridge. But this week it’s their MO Pale Ale, a nod to Daniel’s twins Madeline and Oliver. It’s an amazingly balanced pale ale with a bit of sweetness and a dry, sophisticated hoppiness a la Russian River’s Pliny the Elder IPA (arguably the gold standard in hoppy American ales). All the usual hop descriptors apply—piney, grassy, pleasantly bitter—but without that syrupy binging-on-hard-candy quality that so many pale ales and IPAs have. There’s also a nice citrus flavor in there somewhere.
If you come across MO at your local beer retailer, or any Maine Beer Company beer for that matter, you should probably just buy all of it. At the moment you can find MO at the Bowery Whole Foods for ($7.99) and Bierkraft ($10.99). And let’s hope for a Maine Brewing/Allagash collaboration one of these days.