By Greg Carlson
Beer ideas can come from a lot of places. Sometimes they’re inspired by traditional, centuries-old styles. Sometimes they’re inspired by other food and drink. And sometimes your malt supplier says “hey we’ve got some Maine-grown pale malt” and you say “hell yeah I can make that work.”
That’s how the story of one of our newest beers, MR. VACATION, got started. Our friends at Stone Path Malt let us know they had a special, Maine-grown version of their Nor’East Gold pale malt (a lovely malt in its own right) and we thought “well Maine’s pretty cool so let’s find some Maine-grown hops and turn this into a thing.”
Here’s how we did it.
After some extensive research, we found The Hop Yard in Gorham, ME and we were off to the races.
We decided that our hat-tip to the great state of Maine (which, I suspect you’ve already realized, goes by the nickname “vacationland”) would be a pale, hoppy lager. Pale because, well, the malt was pale malt. Hoppy because, well, it’s 2019. And a lager because we wanted a clean and crisp beer that’s light and refreshing in the hot weather, and it would let the stars of the show (the Maine event?) - the malt and hops - shine through.
The hop featured in MR. VACATION is Cascade, which you may have heard of because it’s basically been the most popular American hop for decades. It’s got a classic grapefruit and pine profile with a bit of spice and floral notes thrown in. And friends, The Hop Yard makes a mighty good Cascade. The best, really. As soon as we opened up the bag, we were hit with a huge pungent and well-defined aroma that almost made us forget that we can’t currently buy Galaxy or Mosaic hops for less than $50 a goddamned pound. And the final product delivers those Cascade flavors really well.
As a concept and from a brewing process standpoint, MR. VACATION (yes, all caps, every time), is pretty straightforward. Single malt, single hop, standard lager fermentation, and a rather modest dry hop. But for all its simplicity, it is also delicious and memorable and leaves you wanting more. There’s an overwrought metaphor for vacations or even life itself in here somewhere but I’ll spare you. Just get a crowler and drink this on the beach or by the campfire or something. It’s good for that.