The Maine Effect: IPAs hit spot after time on slopes
There are places on Earth that craft beer was just made for. One of those places (and times) is northern Maine in March. Let me explain. The weekend before the tournament, I had a speaking engagement in Maine. It was a continuing education conference located at Sugarloaf Ski Resort, which is about two hours northwest of Portland. Laura and the kiddos came up as well, and we had an absolute blast. Sugarloaf has found a way to have first-class amenities and an extremely casual feel at the same time – part of the reason we are so drawn to Maine. So, shortly after we drove through Augusta (and North Augusta), Maine, we were there. The snow was surprisingly more powdery than people had said it would be, and the brews were even better than I remembered from our last excursion to Maine (Sebasco Harbor, 2015).
I lectured from 7-9 a.m. and from 4-6 p.m. for two days. So, that meant ample time to ski with the family and have a burger and a can of craft at dinner. The first one I had was a canned IPA from Maine, and it went perfectly with my burger.
Baxter Stowaway IPA – This local brew from Maine’s Baxter Brewing Company pours a nice light gold with a 1-2 finger head to match. The lacing is as would be expected in a quality New England IPA. Malts and toast are both apparent on the nose and on the tongue, but the expected grass/pine hoppy flavor wind out in the end, with a drier feel than other IPA’s I’ve had. All in all, Baxter Stowaway is a solid, medium-bodies IPA that I would recommend after a day on the slopes – after, of course, you’ve hydrated with some water. I tried mine with a burger, but I would also recommend Stowaway IPA with fried fish or chicken.
Space Dust IPA – OK. So, it turned into an almost exclusive sampling of IPA’s, but, hey, when in Rome… This brew from Washington State’s Elysian Brewery is a bit more potent than Baxter Stowaway, but it has a similar feel as to the heaviness. There are similarities between the two, but Space Dust IPA has more of a citrus tone in all of its aspects, which also provides a dry finish that readily pairs it with a variety of foods. As mentioned earlier, the ABV is on the higher side (8.2 percent). So, don’t let the medium feel throughout fool you. You are sipping something that, while served cold, will warm you in a heartbeat.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Shipyard Brew Haus, which is located just a few yards down a ski slope from the Sugarloaf Inn. If you visit Sugarloaf and don’t eat there, then you’re missing out.