Maine Beer has been busy this year putting together a tasting room in their new location in Freeport, Maine... but that doesn't mean they're not working hard to develop beers such as this one. Enter Weez, a new ale and part of a duology that uses the same hop varieties (and probably the same hopping schedule), but entirely different malts. The other beer is called Another One, but I haven't seen bottles of it around. However, I did manage to pick up a bottle of this at Lincoln Liquors in Billerica. This hoppy, porter-like beer operates in the realm of a "black IPA" but features darker roasted malts than most in the style. In addition, though, it has a well-rounded, citric, tropical fruit and piney hop profile that, when combined with the malt bill, is sure to make lovers of both porters and pale ales happy.
The pour on this is exceedingly dark and deep with only the slightest shades of dark red gleaming through the mire, as a billowing head of dark brown builds on top and caps this lovely beer off. Retention seems quite nice and lacing is ridiculously tight (as it happens to be with most hoppy MBC beers) with swaths of thick foam sticking to my glass as the foam dissipates. Initial scents include milk and dark chocolate, orange, pine resin, firewood and a light sweetness possibly attributable to the chocolate and Maris Otter malt and flaked wheat used in the brewing process. A punchiness to the hop scent is noted and smells like big-time Simcoe, but the scent is tempered and resembles a coffee porter or stout more than it does a hoppy black ale. The finish has a huge dry closing of citric, piney hops with very little in the way of sweetness, but the middle of the tongue allows the largely-malty body to proceed. Notes of espresso, milk chocolate and charred malt all make their way across the tongue as a staunch bitterness patrols the palate, quelling the proceedings as they make their way to the finish. The malt bill on this beer is the craziest MBC has ever worked with, but it also comes off as a bit unbalanced and seems biased against the seemingly hard-working brightness of the stalwart hops involved... midnight wheat, caramel and patent malt are all big players rounding out the heavily-hopped mouthfeel here and making it drink more porter-like than an "IPA" of any kind, even a black variety as it was intended. Are the hops bitter and strikingly present? Yes. However, there are seeming balance issues here and I think MBC tried to round out their winning hop combo with too many malts and too much sweet flavor. This makes me wish I could try Another One, the other beer in the duology, which uses primarily pale malt to achieve a sticky, resinous yet balanced mouthfeel and flavor; therefore, it doesn't sell itself as well as it should.
One thing that rocks the palate here is the smoky flavor. This feels like a bit of a lingering citrus-bomb after the roast has come through on the palate, but it isn't a bad beer by any means. I think MBC can do better and hope they do. Best way to describe this would be that it has a nice porter-like backbone combined with the hoppiness of an IPA; it's also strong enough to contend in both realms. As an MBC beer, it might not be the cream of the crop but it's certainly worth drinking. It's very heavily biased towards the roasty side of black ales, so if you don't mind some nice, potent dry-hopping with your dark, sweet malt, this is the beer for you. Grab it before it's gone, and try to get a bottle of Another One so you can try 'em side by side. I'll admit this style rarely sells me on its MO (unintended reference to another MBC beer, ahoy!), but this is one that both works and confuses... a hallmark of solid American craft beer, and fairly local at that! Cheers!
The official breakdown:
- Style: American Black Ale
- ABV: 7.2%
- Appearance: Very dark brown (bordering black) with a huge, strong head of off-white foam lacing consistently as it drinks.
- Scent: Orange/citric with big pine resin; roasted malt, espresso, milk and dark chocolate; lemon peel, grapefruit, slight unidentifiable smoke
- Taste: Dry and malty with some flavors of pine, coffee and charcoal. Follow-up seems to denote chalky yeast and a dry, bitter end that lingers for quite a while
- Mouthfeel: Intensely full-bodied with no watery linger. Resinous, with a very bitter and sharp finish. Lots of complexity from the malt bill with major hop freshness
- Drinkability: MBC doesn't specialize in "drinkable" beers, but this is one of their harshest. Somewhat strong (leaning imperial) and with complex flavors, this isn't "sessionable" and could easily be split with friends