Sometimes you know something is excellent, but it does absolutely nothing for you. Take Victoria Secret supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio. Many fellas think she’s a goddess, but to me she has the appeal of a 12 year old boy (insert Catholic priest joke here). Don’t get me wrong – I can look at her and intellectually understand her appeal, but she does little to stir my inner caveman. She is too refined, too manicured and too “packaged” for my tastes. I’ve come to the conclusion that the beers from Allagash Brewing fall into this category as well, at least for me.
Let me start by saying that, like Alessandra, I think Allagash makes beers worth lusting after, and I often recommend their stuff to folks who are just discovering how refined beer can be. Allagash Victor is my go-to selection for wine folks who are starting to explore the world of craft beer. But if I’m being honest, their stuff does absolutely nothing for me.
This came into sharp focus on Sunday night as I sat down to enjoy a bomber of beer and watch my new addiction, HBO’s Game of Thrones. I like to drink a dark and hearty beer as I watch this show, usually out of a goblet. It goes with the vibe of the show almost as well as rolling a 20 sided die to see how many hit points Ned Stark suffered at the hands of Jamie Lannister’s goons. Whoa – D&D flashback – sorry about that. Anyway, a show this satisfying demands a toe curler, and I always go with a stout or a super-hearty ale like New Holland’s Dragons Milk (after all it has “Dragon” in the title!).
This past Sunday it was Allagash Black, a stout fermented with Belgian yeast. I figured a little extra earthy funk would go well with the rough-hewn nature of Thrones. Unfortunately, I knew I had made a mistake upon taking the first sip. The first thing I thought was “it’s watery.” The mouthfeel is very refined for a stout. The flavor is dainty as well, with a bit of roastiness, a bit of smoke and a touch of sour at the end thanks to the Belgian yeast. All in all, it was a disappointment, a beer far too refined and modest for the job at hand.
And that was the moment that I realized all of the beers I’ve had from Allagash have struck me the exact same way. Each has been artfully crafted and refined, and each has made me think of another beer I’d rather be drinking. This is a personal preference thing for sure, as I know many folks covet Allagash’s stuff – it’s just lost on me.
But before you call me a cro-magnon with a calloused palate, I do enjoy some refined and fancy beers. The best example is the stuff from a brewery that I often lump together with Allagash in my head – The Bruery. So far I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve had from them. They are clever and artisinal in the way they craft their brews, but each is satisfying to me on a level that the stuff from Allagash simply cannot match. Perhaps it’s the fact that they paint in broader lines or that Patrick Rue and I share a similar sensibility when it comes to beer, but I connect with the Bruery’s stuff – Allagash, not so much.
It’s a little frustrating to have people rave about something that you just can’t get into, but to each their own. The great thing is that we have so many excellent choices, our glasses never have to be filled with beer we don’t adore. Just like in the world of supermodels – if you’re not into Alessandra Ambrosio, there’s always Kelly Brook. Now that’s more like it! 🙂