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BITTW: Fraoch

Beer I Tried This Week is back! None of my new year resolutions involve cutting back on alcohol, so that’s good for me. Beer is important. Food and drink review has always been a favorite of mine, from way back in the beginning of my blogging days with Okazu. I like the idea of beer reviews with a feminine touch. Is that my so-called niche?

Hm. No, probably not. But I like it.

Williams Brothers Brewing Company, UK (Scotland)

5% ABV

available year round

bottled

This is a Scottish ale. I’ve tried a couple different imported Scottish ciders over the last few years but, weirdly enough, never an ale. While I do like to focus on New England brews in this feature, and tend to go for Maine beers when we’re out and about trying new things, Fraoch Heather Ale definitely had my name written all over it. I am a sucker for label art. I first tried this at Novare Res, a beer bar in Portland, ME (which you should absolutely visit if you’re in the area). Perhaps it’s my Scottish heritage, but I immediately felt transported. And in love. Williams Brothers Fraoch is available by the pint bottle at Tully’s in Maine, so we bought a couple before the holiday to enjoy at home.

This ale is brewed with heather flowers and Scottish malt. It’s one of the oldest styles of ales still being produced, based on an ancient Gaelic recipe for heather ale, “leann fraoich.” It’s floral with light carbonation and a dry finish. Floral without hoppiness is a beautiful, beautiful thing for a girl who bursts into sneezing fits at the mere sight of hops.

I recommend this if you want a light ale colored by ancient history (and who doesn’t). I found it very easy to drink; it has become a new favorite.

Fraoch Heather Ale bottles and kegs are vegan friendly, according to Barnivore. Casks are fined with isinglass, though this practice is being phased out.

Suggestions for beer/beverage photography? I’d greatly appreciate it.

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I actually drank this a couple weeks ago, but with the site down, a final paper to write, and my mood in a bit of a down swing, blogging was something of a low priority. I’m back! Hi!

My roommate brought this back from her Thanksgiving trip to the Homeland (she has family in Shelburne, and I grew up in the NEK). She also brought back Local Nectar, which is made with all Vermont apples.

BITTW: Woodchuck Out on a Limb

Woodchuck, Middlebury, VT

5.5% ABV

limited batch

bottled

I was nervous about this. I don’t like to mess around with cider. Cider is serious business. When people throw other things in with my apples, I get anxious. I once made the mistake of trying a pumpkin cider and I got incredibly upset. That being said, I feel like I can trust the folks at Woodchuck. They’ve never let me down.

The flavors here are really smooth and subtle. I was so worried about the chocolate being too heavy, that I put off opening this for almost a week. There are distinct chocolate and raspberry notes, but they exist without being overpowering. I would consider this a special occasion beverage, though; I can’t imagine drinking it regularly. One of Tj’s co-workers has a “stout for dessert” thing going on, and I feel that way about this cider. It is unlike anything I’ve had before. If you see this in stores, grab it.

The color, by the way, is gorgeous.

BITTW: Woodchuck Out on a Limb

Woodchuck cider is gluten-free and also vegan friendly.

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The time for wintry brews is upon us! Gone are the days of pumpkin everything (thank you)! Welcome to sweaters and spice! Beer tasting is back with a vengeance! So. As much as I love summer beers, winter offers up a festive selection. It hasn’t snowed yet (not really), but Tj and I grabbed a couple seasonal six-packs last Saturday. My choice? Sebago Slick Nick Long Winter Ale. I’ve never had it before, and it was a joy to try something totally new. Winter beers cover a fairly wide range, but I feel safe grabbing something in unknown territory. This time of year, I know that I won’t be hit in the face with blueberry. It’s too cold for that nonsense in New England.

BITTW: Sebago Slick Nick // girldust.com

Sebago Brewing Co., Gorham, ME

Winter Warmer, 6.00% ABV

Seasonal, winter

bottled

It’s actually a little bit early in the season for this one. Like I said, it hasn’t snowed much, and it hasn’t been all that cold. Slick Nick is a sweet and earthy. This a darker ale, on the malty side.  It’s got a bit of a thickness to it, something I do think it a little more appropriate for January. I enjoyed this one, though, and will likely pick it up again later in the season, when all the holiday beers will be considered inappropriate. This is one I’d like to try on tap.

BITTW: Sebago Slick Nick // girldust.com

The glass pictured above was purchased through Kaufman Mercantile (one of our favorite places!), and was hand blown in the US. We use our pair mostly for wine, as they are intended, but they make fine beer glasses as well. They really are just a pleasure to drink from.

Tj’s choice was Peak Organic’s Winter Session Ale (ME/American Dark Wheat Ale/5.00% ABV), which, even though I don’t really love hoppy beers, was a bit of a better choice. It’s lighter and more crisp, making  it a good transition option.

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BITTW: Waterfront Summer Ale

Waterfront Brewing Co. (Shipyard), ME

American Blonde Ale, 4.40% ABV

Seasonal, summer

bottled

(Shipyard brands, excluding Peak Organic, are currently not vegan friendly)

I bought this, convinced that it was a different beer that Tj and I had recently tried and I had fallen in love with. It wasn’t what I thought it was, but it’s a nice summer ale nonetheless. It’s a light, dry ale with medium carbonation and a citrus-y finish. This was another beer I enjoyed outside, basking in the glow of a citronella candle (because it’s summer in Maine), but it has also served as a decent brew for watching movies.

Waterfront Brewing Company is an offshoot of Shipyard, but their two main summer ales are definitely two distinct beverages.

I really love the art on this label. It’s got a great old school vibe with all the right colors for a summer ale. Look for the orange six pack.

BITTW: Waterfront Summer Ale

I’m hoping next week to step outside the summer brews (the season is almost over), and possibly even outside of New England. I hear your collective gasps.

 Leave a comment with any recommendations!

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BITTW #Sebago Simmer Down

Sebago Brewing Co., Gorham, ME

American Pale Ale, 4.90% ABV

Seasonal, summer

bottled

vegan friendly

Sebago Simmer Down is an APA with mild summer citrus and floral notes.  Normally, I don’t go for super hoppy beers, but this one isn’t hoppy enough to make me sneeze, and honestly I think whatever allergy I may have had is subsiding. When I first started tasting IPA’s, I would sneeze up a storm. I couldn’t stand it. It was like sticking my face into a pile of hay while simultaneously having seven shedding cats on my head. I’ve since tried some beers that I’ve really enjoyed, despite the sneezing, which in turn has made me want to try more. It’s still not my favorite style, but I’ve learned to enjoy pale ale for what it is. I prefer a pale ale with some additional flavor notes. Simmer Down has a very faint fruitiness to it that I find appealing.

This is a medium bodied ale with good carbonation. The taste is a little heavier than the smell implies, and it’s a bit bitter, but I still think this one makes for a good session ale. I enjoyed this in the bottle rather than poured, but it’s got a pale amber hue with visible bubbles.

BITTW #Sebago Simmer Down

Sebago has a great brew pub menu, by the way. Definitely check them out if you’re ever in the area. My favorite menu item is hands down the Vermont panini (roasted turkey, Cabot cheddar, bacon, IPA honey mustard and sliced apples). This was my first time trying Simmer Down, but I’ve enjoyed Saddleback on-tap.

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