While I’m personally of the opinion that the best beer in the country is brewed right here in the great state of Pennsylvania, there’s certainly plenty of arguments to the contrary. In addition to our sizeable selection of local brews, Creekside Beer also stocks plenty of craft beers from all around the United States and abroad! In the interest of fairness to those making terrific beer in places I don’t happen to live, I figured I should highlight a few of them this week.
Hailing from, well, Maine, this awesome brewery has been around for a decade now, pumping out great beers in their signature minimalist bottles. They’re mainly known for their pales, but their porters, red ales, and stouts are also noteworthy. However, the crown jewel of their year-round lineup is Lunch IPA. Named for a whale off the coast of Maine that appears to have a bite taken out of her fin, this brew has a unique flavor profile. From the brewery, “Maine's 'East Coast' version of a West Coast-style IPA features intense hop flavors and aromas of tropical & citrus fruits, as well as pine. A subtle malt sweetness brings the beer into balance.” This brew clocks in at 7.0% ABV and currently sits at a 4.20/5 on Untappd.
This self-proclaimed “small third wave brewery” was founded in 2012 in McAlester, Oklahoma. Known predominantly for their big, bold imperial stouts (be still my beating heart), they also churn out super crisp farmhouse and sour ales that are worthy of equal praise. But still, their most popular and well-known brew has to be their Bomb! Imperial Stout. According to the brewery, “Bomb! is an imperial stout aged on Nordaggio's espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla beans, and ancho chile peppers. All the flavors meld to create a truly unique beer. The peppers add just the right amount of heat to complement the intense coffee and chocolate flavors.” Coming in at a whopping 13% ABV, this powerhouse holds a 4.31/5 on Untappd.
Now that you’ve heard what the breweries have to say about these flagships, what do I think?
Maine Beer Co. Lunch IPA
Look: This brew pours a pleasing burnt orange color with a thick, lingering head and lacing throughout. It’s got a touch of haze to it, but not insanely thick.
Smell: It smells quite piney. A touch of citrus as well, but pine is most prominent.
Taste: A unique and tasty brew! It’s earthy and features tropical fruit notes as well. I think I detect some grapefruit.
Thoughts: I really liked this brew! It was low in bitterness but still has a touch of that hoppy bite to it. It’s a balance that a lot of IPAs that are super West Coast or New England seem to lack. The balance of West vs East Coast (if only Tupac and Biggie could have taken note) reminds me of Altered Genius’ Just Wright IPA. A beer I’d definitely drink again, though now I’m on the hunt for its big brother, Dinner DIPA!
Tyler’s Rating: 4.25/5
Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! Imperial Stout
Look: With a pitch-black body and the lightest, quickest dissolving head, this brew is a beautiful sight in the glass!
Smell: Aromas of chocolate and coffee grab me first. I think I’m noticing the chili on second sniff, but it could be a placebo because I read the label and know it’s there.
Taste: There’s a whole lot going on with this brew and I love all of it! It’s thick and chocolatey, with the additional notes of vanilla and coffee helping to keep the booziness at bay. Just a pinch of spice on the finish wraps things up nicely.
Thoughts: Much like Ron Burgundy loves scotch, I love stouts. And this one hits all the markers I’m looking for:
1.) High in alcohol
2.) Super dark, thick, and roasty
3.) Conditioned on something sweet that helps to counteract that high
ABV and keep it drinkable
The subtle spice reminds me of BrewDog’s Choco Libre or Stone’s Xocoveza, which are both very good, but Prairie puts them both to shame! I completely understand why this brew holds the high rating that it does. Definitely worth the price of admission!
Tyler’s Rating: 4.75/5