CALL ME ISHMAEL

“God bless ye,” he seemed to half sob and half shout.  “God bless ye, men.  Steward!  Go draw the great measure of grog!”

“Moby Dick: or The Whale” — Herman Melville

For many years, your Baron considered Otter Creek’s Copper Ale the ultimate session brew.  Like a white whale sitting on the top shelf of the manor ‘fridge, many comers have failed to slay the Moby Dick from Vermont.  Today, I utter a phrase I never thought I might (for a plethora of reasons): the Dick is dead and your Baron is better for it.

Every so often you crack into a bottle of suds that challenges your conception of the beer universe (henceforth, “the brewniverse”) and, in so doing, puts an unusually wide grin on your Alehead face.  Ishmael is hardly grog but it is most certainly a cause for celebration.  The brain child of Nathan and Heather Sanborn, the brew is the freshman release from the Rising Tide Brewing Company.  Set amidst a pantheon of craft breweries in Portland, Maine, a true New England Mecca for craft brewed goodness, Rising Tide is a small, family run outfit that is already making waves.  And for good reason:  Ishmael is a perfect example of an American copper ale and, indeed, the ultimate bottle of session suds.

The brew poured a warm, toasty copper while a firm, finger-width eggnog head peaked across the surface.  Light lacing prevailed as the drink warmed and evolved.  A crisp, earthy nose yielded to a delicate whiff of macchiato.  Grassy bitters invited the sweetness of delicious caramels and roasted malt across the tongue.  And at 5.1% ABV, I could have continued to enjoy Ishmael all evening long.  Even the Baroness, famously stoic, was impressed.  “Tis’ good,” she cooed.  And ’twas so.  We dubbed the drink 3.5 hops and toasted our newest friends in Portland.

Rising Tide promises an American interpretation of the altbiers of Düsseldorf.  This mission it accomplishes with impressive conviction.  Moreover, it promises an old, old sight, and yet somehow so young: the humble beginnings of a huge and worthy champion in this noble and inspired craft brewed movement of ours.  This auspicious beginning must lead somewhere – “to something else than common land, more palmy than the palms.”

We think Melville would be proud and can’t wait to see what Rising Tide dreams up next.

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5 comments

  1. Excellent…always good to hear about another quality ale factory in New England. Keep us posted about their offerings, Baron. And congrats on the new go-to session brew! That’s always a big occasion in any Alehead’s life…

  2. Looks like they’re already getting some nice remarks on the interwebs, and the interwebs never lie. Love that they went off the beaten path with an Altbier instead of trying to force-feed the public with a nondescript lineup of “Amber”, “Pale”, and “Dark”. Should be heading up to Portsmouth in the next couple of weeks so I’m sure I’ll find a bottle somewhere.

    Awesome, awesome label. Very classy.

  3. I picked up 3 bottles of Rising Tide in Maine a couple weeks ago. I gave a bottle of the Ishmael to a friend (would it be wrong to ask for it back? 🙂 ), but had their Ursa Minor last night. A really interesting and delicious beer. Good thing it was kinda cool last night. Definitely a good beer for cold weather. Have you had the Ursa Minor?

    Cheers!
    G-LO

  4. Sudsy von Brue · · Reply

    Completely agree, G-LO – Ursa Minor is an outstanding brew. The combination of roasty and yeast flavors was terrific, and the bitter chocolate notes were a nice surprise – a perfectly balanced, delicious style-buster. My negligence in posting an Ursa tasting note has everything to do with my night job (I moonlight as a corporate litigator to supplement my Aleheads income), and nothing to do with the suds. Rising Tide has yet to release a brew that’s not damn close to perfect. I haven’t managed to track down a bottle of Daymark yet, but am dying to give it a try. Let us know if you get there first. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    – Sudsy

  5. Yo Sudsy!

    I do have a bottle of Daymark. It’s in the fridge and I hope to have a review up in the next week or so.

    I picked up quite a few New England beers on my trip to Maine. Also have an Allagash Victoria Ale + Fluxus 2011, a couple Rock Art beers, some other funky sounding New Hampshire beer (a smoked something or other), and Maine Beer Company Peeper + Lunch IPA (both were fantastic by the way!). All of this lovely beer goodness practically guarantees another Maine vacation in my future!

    Stay tuned for the Daymark review!

    Cheers!
    G-LO

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