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Hooray for beer! Celebrating National Beer Day

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Beer is booming in Bangor and beyond.

This region has become a hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers in recent years. The craft beer explosion has been a remarkable thing to watch as more and more passionate brewers decide to try and bring their sudsy dreams to fruition.

Leaving aside the economic impact – which is significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer.

And since National Beer Day is coming right up, we thought it might be nice to take a moment and celebrate beer in general and Bangor-area beer in particular.

What’s National Beer Day, you ask?

National Beer Day is what we like to call an “unofficial” holiday. Sure, it isn’t acknowledged on any federal calendar, but that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Look at some of the other “holidays” that share the same month. April Fools Day? Not an official holiday, but who doesn’t love pulling a harmless prank or two? And what about Earth Day? Again, not official, but who would argue against its importance and/or legitimacy?

So it is with National Beer Day (and New Beer’s Eve, of course). Is it silly? Of course it is. Still, there’s something to be said for a day set aside to celebrate something that so many of us enjoy. Beer is a part of our national consciousness in a way that few other consumables are.

Think about the huge variety of beer you see when you go to the grocery store or visit your local watering hole. Think about the utter ubiquity of beer commercials on our television airwaves. Think about the rapidly-growing contingent of small craft breweries offering their own unique takes on the classic beverage. Think about the multitude of homebrewers making their own beers in their own homes – a throwback to those Prohibition days, only without the fear of reprisal.

Beer has become an American institution. So why not set aside a day to celebrate? Tip back a tall cold one on April 7, my friends. Heck, if I had my druthers, I’d make it a whole week, because really, is a single day enough? Let’s remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when you couldn’t just stroll into your favorite pub and order a pint. It’s a freedom that we’re privileged to have.

As for why it is April 7…

Prohibition’s End and the First Beer Day

The Prohibition era in the United States began in 1920 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was effected, outlawing the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol on a national level. The National Prohibition Act, passed in 1919 and popularly known as the Volstead Act, established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor and the assorted punishments for producing or selling it.

The Volstead Act proved exceedingly difficult to enforce, which led to a wildly popular underground economy, filled with bootleggers, rumrunners and speakeasy clubs. In many ways, Prohibition gave birth to the “organized crime” that remains with us to this day.

Prohibition soon lost what little true support it did have, with events like the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 serving as harsh reminders that like it or not, people were going to find ways to drink. Add to that the Great Depression, when people clearly needed something to take their minds off the dismal state of the nation, and Prohibition’s days were clearly numbered.

And so, on March 22, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act. Cullen-Harrison legalized the sale of beers and wines with a sufficiently low alcohol content (3.2 percent or below by weight), effective when?

You guessed it - April 7.

People were once again allowed to legally buy beer. There were lines outside taverns and breweries all over the country as people swarmed for the opportunity to legally buy a beer for the first time in well over a decade. Of course, in December of that same year, the 21st Amendment was ratified, hence repealing the 18th Amendment and effectively bringing the Prohibition era to an end.

The cool, crisp, adult beverage-y taste of freedom. That’s what we’re celebrating. Happy National Beer Day, folks. Drink one for me.

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National Beer Day local beer recommendations from Random Beer Guy

Geaghan Bros. - Presque Island Honey Blonde

If there is only one thing to love about Geaghan’s (spoiler alert: there are MANY things to love about Geaghan’s), it is their commitment to supporting their local growers and suppliers. The Presque Isle Honey Blonde is a light, approachable beer that utilizes honey made up north in Presque Isle as well as malt from the Maine Malthouse in Mapleton. The Honey Blonde is crisp, with a hint of honey on the finish as most of it ferments out, so no need to worry about cloying, sweet flavors. A great beer to have when you are having more than one!

Mason’s - Liquid Rapture

I’m not a religious guy, but this beer has made me a believer! Liquid Rapture is not only a fantastic beer, hopped to high heaven with Idaho-7, Ella and Citra hops, but have you seen the can art?!?! This, along with the other Mason’s cans designed by Maine artist Ben Bishop, are really something spectacular. Come for the can art, stay for the delicious beer!

Orono Brewing Company - Tubular IPA

Ozone used to be the king of OBC IPA, but lately, I have been tempted by the fruit of another. The Tubular IPA is a New England IPA, so it is big on late-addition hops. The triple dry-hopping really makes this one stand above the rest.

Marsh Island - Gronk Spike DIPA

Sometimes, you have to pick a beer because of its name. Gronk Spike is one of those beers. Luckily for all of us, it is a Marsh Island beer, so you know its tasty. Much like its namesake, this beer is bold, assertive, and can appear to lack balance, but it rights itself just before it bowls you over. Trust me, it makes sense, and you are going to enjoy Gronk Spike. (It may be out of season now, but, you know, patience and all that.)

Black Bear - Pail Ale

The beer that made the Bangor/Orono area fall in love with craft beer! A classic American Pale Ale that is hopped generously with Centennial and Cascade for a fresh citrusy finish. This is one of those benchmark beers that really remind you of what craft beer stood for in its early days. While it can be fun to drink the new and interesting stuff, never forget your roots!

Airline - Pride of Ellsworth ESB

There really is something special about an expertly crafted Extra Special Bitter. The Pride of Ellsworth is truly a beer to be proud of! Rich British malt notes are complemented by a subtle earthy bitterness. The entire lineup of cask-conditioned ales at Airline are spectacular, but the ESB really showcases the beauty of what a real ale can be.

2 Feet - Barn Burner

What do you call a farmhouse ale with a little kick to it? Barn Burner, of course! This dark saison is taken to the next level with the addition of Ghost peppers which add a peppery fruitiness and a noticeable amount of heat. Even if you don’t think you are a fan of spicy beer, give this one a try. You might be surprised by how much you like it!

Blank Canvas - Dill Cucumber Pale Ale

At Blank Canvas, the lines between beer and food are regularly blurred and sometimes that can bring forth very interesting results. The Dill Cucumber Pale Ale is a great representation of what can happen when you try non-standard ingredients in a fairly straightforward beer. The herbal aromatics of the dill sit on the front of the palate, mimicking an almost grassy, noble hop quality. The dill flavors hit quick and receded into the malty body fo the beer, and the sip finishes with a lasting flavor if cucumber which imparts a subtle sweetness which matches the bitterness of the underlying beer. Definitely a beer to try if you are getting bored with craft beer!

Sea Dog – Stout

With the large number of freshly brewed option at the Sea Dog, its hard to choose one. The Sea Dog Stout represents everything a stout should be, it’s dark and roasty, but with a restrained nature that leads to an enjoyable drinking experience. I’d hesitate to call anything a session stout, but this one certainly comes close!

Bangor Beer Company - Between The Lines (Brown)

Newcomers to the area, Bangor Beer Company has produced some impressive liquid in their early goings. The Between The Lines Brown Ale really stands out to me, as it represents a true American Brown ale the likes of which I have not had in a while. Smooth and nutty with just a touch of sweetness on the palate.

Friar’s Brewhouse - Whoopie Pie Porter

If you have been sad about the Friar’s Bakehouse closing, cheer up! The Friar’s Brewhouse Taproom in Bucksport is just about ready to open their doors and serve up some of their delicious liquid bread! When you make your first visit to the tap room, look for the Whoopie Pie Porter, a robust American porter that has chocolaty and creamy notes evocative of the pastry for which it is named. It tastes great out of a bottle, but I imagine it will taste even better right from the tap!

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 April 2018 14:05

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