You can’t swing a growler in Maine today without hitting a new brewery crafting high quality beer. Gone are the days of swilling Shipyard and Gritty’s because you were dying to drink local beer. Maine has joined the brewing revolution with full force. Rising Tide, Maine Beer Company, Oxbow, Baxter Brewing, among others, have brought Maine to the forefront of the craft brew renaissance.
Now that we have so much choice, it’s time for this hop-head to ask the question: Who makes the best IPA in Maine?
That’s a loaded question.
It seems like the new breweries in town are brewing imperial IPA’s. These double IPA’s often come in a 22 oz. bottle costing the drinker as much as a six-pack. Beers like Maine Beer Company’s Lunch and Rising Tide’s Zephyer might be magical, but they are special-event beers. Beers you buy when someone special’s in town, or when you want to treat yourself. Who can shell out that kind of cash on a daily basis?
Not this guy.
So let’s revise the question: Who makes the best drink-me-everyday IPA in Maine? Who brings the citrusy, piny hops without asking you to take out a second mortgage on your house? One you can pick up in a six-pack at Hannafords?
The answer surprised even me.
After drinking Baxter’s Stowaway IPA, Shipyard’s Monkey Fist, Peaks’ Organic IPA, and a few less noteworthy Maine six-pack IPA’s, it became clear that the IPA of choice has existed in this state long before the recent micro-brew renaissance hit Maine.
Ok, don’t get your microbrew panties in a bunch. Just because this beer’s been around since the last century doesn’t mean it doesn’t kick the other IPA’s asses. Just because the brand doesn’t exude hipster obscurity and the brewpubs don’t feel trendy doesn’t mean Frye’s Leap doesn’t demolish the competition.
Because it does indeed demolish the competition.
Frye’s Leap was part of the cascade hop movement of the late twentieth century. That means it has the clean citrus aroma and bittering effect that comes from IPA’s hammered with cascades. (It’s not a double IPA, so don’t expect it to pummel your mouth with the bitter.) It also doesn’t commit the sin many heavily-hopped IPA’s commit: too much malt. For some beautiful reason, Sebago brewers had the wherewithal not to destroy the delicious citrus taste of the cascades with bucket loads of malt. Thanks, Sebago!
This is a beer that will run you about $10 a six-pack and can still stand its own against the new we-don’t-distribute-six-packs breweries. It’s a beer you can have one or two of everyday without experiencing a chasm in your budget. It will bring a refreshing smile to your hop-hungry tongue.
It’s an old friend that has stood the test of time. Get some.