It’s three in the afternoon. Tim and I barrel up 295 with the singular purpose of acquiring Maine Beer Company’s Dinner. We talk idly about nothing in particular; the clear subtext to this chatter is the nervous energy that when we get to the Freeport tasting room Dinner time will be over.
I was assured by one of the marvelous tasting room pourers at MBC earlier in the week that they made 300 cases this run as opposed to the 70 cases they brewed in the inaugural batch.
Still, my anxiety rumbles with the same intensity of Tim’s tires on the black pavement.
This beer is a big deal. From my review of the beer when it first came out March, I noted that this beer is a panoply of fresh citrus flavor. Just smelling this beer’s aroma is as good if not better than drinking most other beers.
In a dream, Tim pulls off the Freeport exit, turns onto Route 1, and there is the sky-blue Maine Beer Company sign. We park in a surprisingly uncongested lot. Up the steps two at a time, through the door, and I’m greeted by Christina, MBC’s pourer extrodanaire.
“You’re lucky you made it. There are three cases left,” she says as other customers vie for her attention.
“What? I thought they made 300 cases this time,” I say.
“They did. It’s been crazy. Some guy slept in his car last night. The brewers saw him when they showed up at 6 this morning,” she laughs.
Tim and I laugh, but our mirth is cut short by our understanding that we need to act. We procure our bottles — some of the very last bottles available — and Christina stores them behind the counter where they’ll be safe from the ravenous customers.
We order up a couple 10 oz. glasses of Dinner — they still seemed to have plenty on tap at the tasting room — and sit.
Nose to the glass. Breathe. The rough edges of the world are smoothed out. The citrus nirvana is everything I remembered.
Mouth to glass. Gulp. The initial flavor of fresh hop resins shine with Mosaic, Citra, Falconer’s Flight, and Simcoe hops. I taste the alchemy of a hop boil done astoundingly right.
Glass to table. Wait. The way this beer moves from aroma to flavor to that final bitter in the back of the tongue is world class. The bitter at the end is just right. For a double IPA, it thankfully does not annihilate the back of the tongue.
Tim burps. He says, “Even the beer-burps of Dinner are amazing.”
I’m basking in the bounty of my glass of Dinner, when a small man enters the tasting room. He’s the first customer to walk in since they ran out of bottles.
The man: “Do you have any bottles of Dinner?”
MBC beer pourer: “We just ran out.”
The man: “Fuck!”
People are serious about this beer. As they should be. The cloudy yellow liquid is brilliant. It rivals Heady Topper. (Yeah, I said it. Again.) In my estimation, it’s still the best beer brewed in this state, even if you can only get it for a few hours every few months. For those of you who missed out, look for another batch around July.
Before leaving, I say to Christina, “Good luck this week.”
“Thanks. It’s going to be a long week of telling people we don’t have any more Dinner.” She smiles.
With our Dinner securely tucked under our arms and our heads set right by two 10 oz. glasses of Dinner, Tim and I forge back into our lives, rejuvenated with the joy of living in a world where a beer this good is possible.