The Maine Beer Company ‘Lunch’ IPA
In my mind, three craft IPAs throughout New England stand out beyond all others. The most notable of these is Vermont’s Heddy Topper, which many a New Hampshire beer enthusiast has been known to come striding eagerly into shops such as Bert’s in the hopes of finding, only to learn that the exclusive brew is available only in Vermont. Following this, New Hampshire’s Stoneface IPA likewise brings in a considerable number of beer-seekers, due to its growing and well-earned reputation as a top notch India Pale Ale.
Yet alongside these two regional rock stars, another IPA offering – this one from the Maine Beer Company of Freeport, Maine – has also rightfully gained a notable distinction, both for its quality and relative scarcity throughout the area.
Upon a pour from the elegant yet humble one pint bottle, its drinker will note immediately a clean and uncomplicated aroma. Possessed of a golden, slightly amber coloring and a bountiful white foamy head, the ‘Lunch’ IPA is itself an incredibly smooth, exceptionally well balanced brew. With its distinctly East Coast hop profile, the bitterness to this particular IPA is one of subtlety, with each of its delicate notes melded beautifully in a delightful, earthy crispness.
With little to no noticeable maltiness and a clean, almost satiny finish, it is easy to understand why this small batch, regular release from Maine Beer is so highly sought after. With typically only one to two cases being allotted to New Hampshire retailers every few weeks, many shops (including my own) limit how many bottles each customer may purchase as some have been known to buy the entirety of a store’s stock with little regard to cost. And while creating scarcity and the allure of exclusivity is a well-known merchandising trick designed to fool consumers into hoarding what they can of a given product, upon sipping the ‘Lunch,’ it becomes clear that the demand is rooted firmly in quality.
Though the brewer states on the label that ‘Lunch’ has been named after a particular whale seen frequently off the Maine coast, who is said to appear to have a bite taken out of her, the name itself is a subject of reasonable consideration, as this delightful, easy sipper could quite easily be enjoyed with one’s midday meal. Providing both a smooth, highly drinkable overall presence, as well as a light and joyful mouthfeel, it does not take any great stretch of the imagination to see the beer being the highlight of a light, lunch hour meal such as a wrap, a salad or just a bag of chips.
Added to this, the repeated times in which fans of the brew have used some portion of their workday lunch breaks to drop into the shop and secure a bottle for themselves, only to say, “Yes, I’ll be having Lunch for dinner,” the simplicity in its moniker seems applicable however you wish to take to it – be it whale or meal, or simply just a joke. However, regardless of what you might conclude from the name, the straight take-away from the ‘Lunch’ IPA is one of a well crafted, well balanced and entirely delicious work of careful brewing.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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