Two nights ago, I decided it was time to finally crack open a couple of very special bottles of beer that I had acquired. They each stand near the top of their own specific styles of beer and, in my opinion, near the top of the beer world in general. They’re both from New England breweries, which makes them even that much more special to me.
The first beer was the famous Kate the Great from Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. This small brewpub in this small New England city first made headlines when they released their imperial stout a couple years ago. Since then, the hype has grown and the release day has become a national event. I attended it in February and bought my two bottles of the 900 available that day. While the beer on tap was simply amazing and beyond comparison, the bottled version at about 7.5 months old was just as amazing. This is easily the best beer I have ever tried (even when compared to Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds in Indiana or Westvleteren 12, the rare Belgian quad only available at the monastery). It’s chocolate, roasted, dark fruit, and even a slight cognac flavors meld together to create a true work of art. The beer is thick, black with a slight ruby color and a small dark tan head. If you haven’t tried this beer, you should do yourself a favor and give in to the hype. The beer is better than the hype (unlike those other two I mentioned).
The second beer is a slightly lesser known beer from a lesser known brewery in Portland, ME. The beer is the 1260 Triple IPA from Stone Coast brewery. The brewery closed last August shortly after this beer was released to the public. The brewery was famous for its 420 IPA and 840 Imperial IPA, along with a host of other great beers. I was saddened when they announced they were closing as the 420 was my favorite IPA from the New England breweries. It was a New England beer with west coast flavor. The 840 was a great double IPA with big bold flavors and a hint of caramel mixed in. The 1260 built upon the 840 with an even bigger flavor, and even though the bottle is over a year old (it was a birthday present last year), the hops were still very present. Upon reading the bottle, you learned that the beer was actually brewed in 2007 and aged for a year before they bottled it and released it to the public. The hops and malt flavors in this beer were terrific and perfectly balanced, creating one of the best double IPAs I have ever tried. I’d take it over a Pliny the Elder any day (have never had the pleasure of Pliny the Younger). The beer is a red amber color with a nice fluffy head. It’s one of the darker IPAs I have seen. It had some of that caramel flavor from the 840, but the hops of the 420. It was perfect in every way, even after a year in my cellar. Stone Coast is the one brewery I will miss. They were one of my favorite New England breweries. Luckily, the Sunday River Brewing Co. is still alive and kicking in Bethel, ME. You can still get some of the Stone Coast beers there, including the 420 and the Alt, which is also fantastic.