A few years ago, I was up in Southwest Harbor in Downeast Maine grabbing some beers from the Liquor Locker. The kind dude behind the counter mentioned a tasting going on later that week, so I showed up to see what he was laying down. That’s when I first had Peeper by Maine Beer Company.
At that point, it was the most definitive example of a sessionable pale ale I’d ever tasted. What they’d accomplished with those hops was astounding. I wanted more…but couldn’t find it anywhere. It was a quest, whenever I traveled to Maine from Brooklyn, to get my hands on a bottle, or two, or six. Then they released Zoe, which was even better. And MO, which topped them all. By that point, these pint bottles with the simple labels were popping up on more shelves in Maine. When they released Lunch, they were clearly on a freaky streak of strange and unnerving proportions. Each beer was hoppier than the last, but without losing the balance of ingenuity and flavor.
Then, in March of 2014, they announced the release of Dinner.
A double IPA in epic style, Dinner manages to survive a double-dry-hopped bath featuring six pounds of Citra, Falconer’s Flight, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops per barrel. If other brewers attempted such a daring feat, they would end up with a puckery mess resplendent with notes of rotten papaya and day-glo Pine-Sol. But the triumph of Dinner is the elusive balance MBC has managed to recapture from its earliest successes. This is not a hop bomb, despite all indications pointing that way. This is a hop bath. Light a candle and soak in it. Holy mother of yeast, this beer is a miracle.
With no more than 24 hours notice, MBC mentioned quickly on Facebook that the bottle release would happen today, that it was a brewery-only release, and that the maximum would be four bottles per person. Luckily for me, I moved to Maine from Brooklyn and now live ten minutes from Freeport…and work from home.
The line is manageable, everyone is happy, and it’s all in stark contrast to the madness of this year’s Hunahpu release down at Cigar City in Florida. This is Maine, after all.
Onto the real business. Everyone is nice, everyone is orderly, and…they have Dinner on tap??
So I settle in with a pour of Dinner and, well, I’ll have some of that Barrel Aged King Titus too.
Words do not exist to describe the orange hue of Dinner. The closest you can get would be to lay in the grass on a bright late-summer day and shield your eyes from the sun with your fingers until they reproduce this amazing color. The nose is all tropics – papaya, pineapple, a tiny bit of banana, and deep notes of guava. It’s Carmen Miranda in a glass. The first sip is a muted flash of bitter astringency, but only a flash, then it’s a wash of grapefruit and guava and siloed grain.
Some friends stop by and we all soak in the Dinner tub. The pic above shows Tiny Beautiful Something next to Dinner. My BA King Titus is truly exceptional in every way, by the way. But this time, it’s all about the Dinner. I feel very lucky to have those bottles.
Two will be shipped to Andrew and Eric for their two cents – stay tuned. I’m sure they’ll have something to say about it.