This, right here, is the 100th post on Love Beer, Love Food.
I can hardly believe it!
The site started out as a creative outlet to pass the time, and has grown into a very serious, but still incredibly fun venture. I strive towards continually improving the site, making it fun, educational and artistic, all while sharing these pieces of my life which I love so much. It makes it all worth it to know there are other beer and food loving folks following along, so thank you.
We’ve been visiting family and friends in New England, with plenty of nibbles and brewery hopping, of course, all which makes for fantastic blog fodder. When thinking about what to write as my 100th post, I had a lot of options to choose from.
Then, our visit to Allagash blew every other option out of the water.
Allagash is hands down one of my favorite breweries on the planet. Sadly, where we live in Ohio, we can’t get their beer. Obviously on our trip, me and the hubs had to visit.
If you’ve never heard of Allagash, here’s a brief introduction.
Allagash is a Belgian inspired brewery, built from the ground up by Rob Todd in 1995. Back then, Belgian style beers were difficult to find in the United States, and certainly not a popular style. At the beginning, Allagash White, a lovely unfiltered Belgian wit style beer, was the only beer made by the one-man show.
White is made with plenty of wheat for that spritzy, bready flavor, plus coriander, curaçao orange peel and some secret spices. Slowly but surely, the beer took off, and throughout the years the brewery has seen expansion after expansion.
Years ago when we lived in Boston, hubs and I attended a fantastic beer dinner and Rob just happened to sit at our table. I remember thinking he was extremely nice, and down to earth. The experience solidified my love of the brewery – excellent beer and good conversation is the way to my heart.
We strategically chose an off peak hour and day to visit the brewery, hoping to achieve a more personal tour. We were a bit early, so chatted up the friendly employees, making jokes and crossing our fingers that the other two folks signed up for the tour overslept.
We were in luck! Our tour guide, Mike, and the two of us were off on our merry, beery way.
Since our last visit about three years ago, a lot has changed. The fermenters from three years ago are still in use, mainly for non-White beers, but they’ve since added an entire brewhouse to support their best seller, the flagship Allagash White, which is 75% of their business. It really is delicious – and perfectly paired with dishes featuring Maine’s copious seafood.
The remainder of the business consists of their other year round offerings: Dubbel, Tripel, Curieux, Black, and their brand new lovely brew, Saison. In addition to all of that, in the past few years they’ve developed quite the barrel aging program with bourbon, wine, even brandy barrels. Allagash is increasingly trying new and experimental brewing techniques such as their novel wild beer program.
They were actually the first in the U.S. to build a traditional coolship to make 100% wild fermented beer (as in your traditional Belgian lambics).
Typically, brewers avoid these natural yeasts by sanitizing all brewing equipment and scrupulously cleaning every area that comes into contact with beer, so that the brewer’s specific yeast alone ferments the beer. With coolship beers, the exact opposite is true.
You may remember from our discussion all about sour beers, but a coolship, or ‘koelschip’ in Dutch/Flemish, is a shallow vessel where wort is cooled open to the natural environment to allow the natural yeasts and bacterias to inoculate the wort – eating up it’s delicious sugars, and creating beer. The beer is then pumped into barrels, where it is aged until optimum flavor is achieved. Koelship literally translates to “cooling ship” in English.
We were extremely lucky on our tour – with some not so subtle inquiry and a smile we were allowed to actually see the Allagash coolship. In fact, we were able to drink some of the Coolship Resurgam, in the coolship! We were honored to view the stunning little space, which is basically a beer chapel with stained glass windows that open to the woods. There was no beer actively brewing at the time, but in this relatively small space, miracles of nature happen as in the old days of brewing.
Overall, the trip to Allagash was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. I can’t thank the folks at Allagash enough for such an amazing, special tour. I know we’ll be back to visit every couple years – to see the changes (all expansion, I’m sure), try the new, special edition beers, and remember the old favorites I miss so much.
And since I couldn’t help myself, here are the remainder of my favorite pictures from our tour.