Here in Atlantic Canada, beer drinkers are just close enough to the U.S. to get tantalizing hints of the great brews we’re missing. American craft brewers like Maine’s Geaghan Bros. show up at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival and you’ll find the odd surprise in stores. But for the most part, the American craft-beer scene is a big tasty world we don’t get to explore.
So when it came time for a family trip stateside in early October, my first thought was “BEER!” Read on for my five favourites from the trip. Note: I spent most of my time in Rhode Island and Maine; by no means did I do a comprehensive review of the country’s (or even those states’) best beers. These are my favourites from what I sampled. You have different favourites? Vive la différence.
Czech Pilsner by Moat Mountain in North Conway, N.H.
A classic Bohemian pilsner: light, crisp and refreshing. A little orange-peel zestiness with black-pepper hints. Clean and dry finish. Easy to drink, surprisingly tasty for the style, and a modest 4.9% ABV: this is an all-day drinker. Best enjoyed on a verandah overlooking the White Mountains.
Frosty Stout by Newport Craft Brewing in Newport, R.I.
I picked this one up after an earnest endorsement from the cashier at Beach Wine and Liquors in Middletown, R.I. and it ended up being my favourite beer from the trip. Produced in collaboration with beloved local ice-cream parlor Frosty Freez, this is a rich and nutty stout, creamy and quaffable with a bittersweet finish.
Pumking by Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, N.Y.
I typically wouldn’t cross the street for a pumpkin beer, but I’ve read repeatedly that this one is the gold standard for the style, so I was keen to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. Spicy, sweet, butter, light-bodied, and well balanced: pretty much the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever had. At 8.6%, it finishes with some boozy heat and packs a wallop. Share with friends.
Pale Ale by Tuckerman Brewing Company in Conway, N.H.
If I had to pick only one style of beer to drink for the rest of my life, it would be the classic American pale ale. Flavourful, easy to drink, and hoppy without stunning the palate. At its best, the style is everything a beer should be. And this cold-conditioned and dry-hopped ale is a textbook example. Naturally carbonated in bottle or keg with the German “krausening” process, this brew has a simple and straightforward profile that belies the craftmanship behind it.
Captain’s Daughter by Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly, R.I.
Balance is important and all things in moderation… but hey, sometimes you just need a big boozy hop bomb. This DIPA fits the bill nicely. Massively hopped with chinook, citra, and mosaic, it manages to have tons of hop flavor without that fresh-cut-grass bitterness that plagues the style. Pleasantly bittersweet, it goes down easily; at 8.5% ABV, it punishes the careless can-pounder.
Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.