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Baxter. Ayuh.

October 17, 2011

Maine is well-known for having a lot of things. A lot of moose, certainly. A whole bunch of trees too: despite being the twelfth smallest state, it has more uninhabited forest than any other state except Alaska. But in the midst of all that wilderness is one on the largest and most diverse craft beer scenes in New England, which brings us to the Baxter Brewing Company.

A relative newcomer, the Baxter Brewing Co. started distributing throughout Maine last year, and just recently became available in Massachusetts. The people at Baxter were quick to embrace the craft beer in a can movement, and are currently the only brewery in Maine to distribute their beers exclusively in cans. You might even say they’re a bit fanatical about it; their glassware is also in the shape of a can (I’m not complaining, it’s actually kind of awesome). Cans do have some significant benefits, in that they’re better for the environment (made from recycled aluminum), they preserve beer better (no UV light contamination), and they’re much more practical for the outdoors than glass bottles (because lets face it, if you’re in Maine, there’s a good chance you’re going to be in the woods at some point).

But enough about cans, the beer is what really matters, and Baxter doesn’t disappoint. I recently spent some time up in Maine, and Baxter’s Pamola Xtra Pale Ale was on tap pretty much everywhere, and for good reason. At 4.9% abv, it starts off with some sweet, bready malts, which are backed up by a slight grassiness and some citrusy, bitter hops in the finish. It’s a great session beer, and pairs excellently with food. The name, Pamola, comes from Baxter’s mascot: in local Native American folklore, Pamola was a thunder god with the head of a moose, the body of a man, and the wings and talons of an eagle, who was said to be the guardian of Mount Katahdin (the tallest mountain in Maine, and the endpoint of the Appalachian Trail). Easily one of the best mascots in craft beer, in my humble opinion.

Baxter’s Stowaway IPA is another solid offering, and seems to be wholly different from their Pamola Xtra Pale (which is impressive, because many breweries tend not to stray too far from a specific flavor profile). At 6.9% abv, it pours a burnt, hazy orange, and has a sweet malt backbone that is fleshed out with vibrant hops which produce flavors of tropical fruit, piney resin, and grapefruit, all with a crisp, clean finish. It tastes a lot like a west coast IPA with the touches of tropical fruit and the complex hoppiness, which makes sense because all five hop varieties used in this beer are from the Pacific Northwest.

Canned craft beer is always a welcome sight, and the people at Baxter clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to brewing excellent beers. Coincidentally, the Baxter Brewing Co. is going to be one of the featured breweries during the first annual Maine Beer Week, which is coming up in early November. For a solid week, small craft breweries in Maine will be hosting events and doing tap takeovers at various brewpubs and restaurants around the state. After seeing what Baxter has to offer, I’ll definitely be dodging some moose on the highway to check it out.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2011 5:18 pm

    I also spent time in Maine this summer and was quite impressed with the selection of local, craft beers everywhere we went. Didn’t come across Baxter, and to be honest, would have looked right past it due to the can! When’s that beer week – may have to go take another look!

    • October 24, 2011 11:09 am

      Beer week is Nov. 10-17th. Some local breweries are teaming up with restaurants to do food and beer pairings, and others are doing tap takeovers at different places for the whole week. Should be a good time.

  2. John Irza permalink
    October 24, 2011 5:28 am

    Interesting review. I’ll have to stop by and pick some up 🙂

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