In this installment I have a few beers from two small breweries that have big reputations.
First up, Transient Artisan Ales.
Transient is tucked away in Bridgman, Michigan, a small town in the southwest corner of the state, a mere hour and a half drive from Chicago.
The brewery began around 2013 and, recently, have hit it big with a few of their beers. They are now starting to seep their way into a few Chicagoland beer stores (FINALLY!) with their double IPA, The Juice is Loose, leading the way. Like most, that was the first one that caught my attention some time ago too but this is a brewery that focuses on wild ales and farmhouse brews.
Transient loves wild yeasts, like Brett, because, as they say on their Untappd profile, like their name implies their “beers are meant to change with age, and even from batch to batch”.
I must admit I like the funky things Brett can do to beer; so, when I saw a bottle of their Wayward, a Citra and Mosaic hopped Brett pale ale, I just had to pick it up.
Wayward is sold in 16.9-ounce bottles that run a reasonable $6.99. It’s a little higher than some but you know it’s a quality brew. Clocking in at 6% ABV, it’s a solid pale but not going to knock your socks off…except maybe with flavor. I guess we’ll see in a minute.
The bottle warns you to pour it slowly, I complied and the beer flowed a super hazy coppery-orange color with no more than a finger of off white head fizzing upwards. The bubbles were quick to vanish, leaving a thin layer across the top.
On the nose the wild Brett yeast was quite prevalent. There was that spicy, earthy funk that all Brett beers have but, behind that, the Citra and Mosaic hops bursts with aromas of tropical fruits and melon.
My first sip began with a hearty dose of fizz as the carbonation attacked my tongue. The flavors sparkled upwards from the effervescence, starting off with an earthy and peppery attack from the Brett.
From there, the hops move in and cut into that with a blast of citrus. Orange, lemon, pineapple, grapefruit, and light melon all make appearances, as does a dash of bitterness.
The Brett continues to dance across my tongue for the entirety of the taste…imparting a slight tartness towards the end of everything.
At the end there is a tingling that lingers on your palate that is not easily removed. If you swallow too quickly, you can feel it bubbling even as it travels downward too…it’s quite weird how powerful the carbonation is to this brew.
Sticking around after the sip is a light citrus taste and, due to the high carbonation levels, a long dry feeling afterwards. However, Wayward, as it warmed up to 42° and more, became smoother and much more palatable. It went from good to great.
Wayward had a lot of good flavors. In fact, taste alone, this was a really great beer. However, the Brett’s effect on carbonation really overtook everything initially…but, again, after the beer warmed up it was quite delicious without that lingering fizz.
Next up, my favorite brewery makes their fourth appearance.
Maine Beer Co. has been brewing up greatness in Freeport, Maine since 2013, although their origins begin much earlier than that in Portland.
MBC is available throughout the entire Northeast as well as in parts of Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia. Because they’re available near me, I’ve had the pleasure of drinking eight of their ten bottled beers…having yet to try Woods & Waters and Dinner. Until today.
Woods & Waters, which has been one of those two elusive brews, was finally released to the Chicago market a few weeks ago and I snatched a few bottles of it as soon as I could.
This beer is a special release to commemorate the founding of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine. It was made with Maine-grown wheat and barley and five hop varieties: Columbus, Idaho 7, Magnum, Mosaic, and Simcoe. The 16.9-ounce bottle will set you back $6.99 but…if I know Maine, it’ll be well worth it.
Woods poured a cloudy, but translucent, straw color with just under two fingers of airy eggshell white head topping the beer. The foam doesn’t linger around much as, within a few moments, all that was left was a light dusting across the top and a nice solid wall of bubbles clinging to the side.
The aroma was simply outstanding for an IPA. I was met with huge juicy notes of bright citrus that included mango, pineapple, lemon, grapefruit, and orange. Behind the fruit were some hoppy floral scents mixed in with some grassy and doughy notes as well.
My first sip began with just a light carbonation fizz that faded before the flavors really began to pop. And pop they did!
The taste started out strong with a huge burst of citrus – mango was the most prevalent but there was also lemon, pineapple and grapefruit. Behind the fruit was a dash of hoppy dankness. The floral flavors came next with a complimenting grassy component and a sweetness from some lightly toasted malt.
As everything comes to a conclusion there is another swift rush of tropical flavors before the hops close it all out with a small piney flavor that lingers just a moment or two after everything has been swallowed.
Woods & Waters is incredibly smooth and sessionable. I was trying to drink this slow and enjoy it as long as I could…but it was just so delightful that it went down REAL quick. The flavors are bold, juicy, and simply amazing. Plus, at 6.2%, it’s got a solid amount of booze for beer this easy to drink.
As the beer flowed from my glass, the solid lacing I saw at the beginning continued as I drank. There were large web formations strung from all sides of my glass with a few lines designating sip marks.
Yes, it’s no secret I love Maine…their beers are absolutely outstanding. Woods & Waters is just another example of that. Juicy, flavorful, light, and, most importantly, delicious.