Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog www.thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and “beer adventures.” Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since. She now also blogs about beer for Maine Today.
Question 1: What is your all Maine brewery dream team-up? And why?
I’d like to see a few Maine Breweries take on collaboration that haven’t worked with each other before. I’m thinking maybe Marshall Wharf Brewing Company and the recently-launched Banded Horn Brewing might be an interesting one. Both Marshall Wharf and Banded Horn have been putting out very flavor-forward beers – including some impressive high-test stouts like Sexy Chaos (from Marshall Wharf) and The Mountain (Banded Horn). Perhaps they could throw in a local coffee shop and make a deep, rich stout? If they didn’t want to go dark, both breweries also have strong IPAs and DIPAs in their respective portfolios, and could combine their knowledge to create some new combinations. Add some Maine-grown hops and you could have a powerful new entry in the New England IPA spectrum.
Question 2: What would your Maine + U.S Brewery Team-up look like?
I would love to see Allagash Brewing connect up with Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project out of Colorado and Epic Brewing from Salt Lake City, Utah. For one, they all have deep and intimate experience brewing sours and Brettanomyces fermented beers, and are very comfortable experimenting with funk, sourness, and wild ales. I feel like the diversity of locations could lend some interesting contributions of ingredients. Perhaps they could contribute their own house yeast strains to make an ultimate blended powerhouse of a beer – or they could each brew the same beer with their own strains, or aged in different barrels, to highlight and illustrate the differences. Either way, I’d love to see these brewers really have some fun experimenting.
Question 3: What would your Maine + International Brewery team up look like?
Whether funky or sweet, yeast can play a huge part in how a beer tastes. One of my favorite Canadian breweries, the Quebec-based Unibroue, has a characteristically strong yeasty taste to most of its beers. One of my favorites, La Fin Du Monde (which translates to, “The end of the world”) is a Tripel with a bready and spicy aroma and flavor profile. When Gneiss Brewing opened a few months ago, their first beer – Gneiss Weiss – made quite an impression on me, and I haven’t forgotten about the banana aromas and the spiciness that made that beer special. While I don’t know officially if the brewers at Gneiss would count Unibroue among their role models, they seem to emulate some of their best qualities – strong and recognizable flavors in each of their offerings. This could be a very interesting matchup – like a small band getting a chance to play on stage with their idols. As a bonus, the breweries are a mere 4.5 hour drive apart – making this cross-border collaboration a relatively inexpensive proposition.
Question 4: Free for all! Anything goes here as long as there is 1 Maine brewery involved.
I have to mention Prairie Artisan Ales (Oklahoma). They did collaboration with Blue Lobster Brewing (called “Little Lobster on the Prairie”) in New Hampshire that just knocked my socks off – and even their “regular” beer lineup is outstanding. I think that Prairie and Oxbow Brewing Company could be an impressive and interesting combination. Both are good at producing beers that are a mix of farmhouse style and hoppy, and do it in different, yet complementary ways. The resultant beer would probably be just as good as their others brewed alone – but the synthesis between them could also produce something above and beyond the sum of the parts. Throw a brewery like Hill Farmstead (Vermont) and you’ve put together a farmhouse ale dream team.
Maine Dream Team-Up Project Participants: