“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.