BELFAST — Marshall Wharf Brewing Company and Three Tides bar and restaurant in Belfast are gearing up for their fifth Year of Beer and Pemaquid Mussels event Saturday, Oct. 13, and this year, foodies and craft beer freaks will be dry humping rainbows when they get a taste of the event’s special barrel-aged beers.
David Carlson, co-owner of Three Tides, said he and his team took a trip to Scotland this year to collaborate with a well-known Scottish distillery called Bowmore in order to barrel age their beers using bourbon and sherry casks or butts. They procured eight barrels from Bowmore Distillers and got them shipped back to Maine.
For the fifth Year of Beer and Pemaquid Mussels event, patrons can get a first public tasting of four of those barrel-aged beers — two different versions of the Old 59 and Cant Dog Double IPA. See Marshall Wharf website for descriptions of all the beers.
The other half of this event’s draw is the fresh locally harvested mussels from Pemaquid Mussel Company, and grown in Northport. More than 300 pounds will be reserved for this evening and served steamed in Chardonnay and garlic. The event will also will serve deep friend Belgian-style frites made from 300 pounds of organic potatoes from Aroostook County with a variety of sauces.
Both versions of those beers have been blended in two different barrels that have been aged 12 years, so that the beer picks up a level of char from the wood of the barrel, as well as a flavor profile from the original spirit that has soaked into the wood.
“While other breweries also do barrel-aging, the ones we got will take the beer in a whole new direction,” said Carlson.
Marshall Wharf, one of Maine’s 20+ craft breweries, has created barrel-aged beers before using American bourbon casks. With the success from those batches, they explored the opportunity to collaborate with Bowman’s distillery.
“No one had ever done this before,” said Carlson. “Most distilleries are owned by large corporations and are inaccessible, but we had an opportunity to go to this really well-known distillery in Scotland and audition our beers. It happened to be something they were also interested in and it was good timing to connect with them.”
To see videos of the film crew that accompanied them to Scotland and the barrel-aged process check out their videos at Craft Beer Maine.
Marshall Wharf brews about 40 beers a year. Some are one-offs, such as a special birthday beer or an anniversary beer, according to the brewer’s whim.
“If a beer is capable of enduring we’ll save a keg from batches throughout the year and then they’ll all come out for our annual event,” said Carlson.
This year, they will be pouring 34 different Marshall Wharf beers under two heated tents split up around the Belfast waterfront property.
Here’s how it breaks down. A $30 admission fee gets 10 tasting tickets (of eight ounces each), a custom glass, and access to the evening’s entertainment, Maine's own band,Toughcats. Eight taps will be available for tasting only and based on availability. For those interested in the barrel-aged beers, they will only be available as part of the tasting tickets and when it runs out, it’s gone. (Note: no more than 10 tickets will be sold to each patron.)
Alternatively, one can get in with just a $10 admission fee, which will allow people to purchase pints from the main bar and beer garden bar, featuring more than 25 different beers, with a range from $4 to $8, depending on the brew. This ticket price also gets patrons in to see Toughcats.
Besides beer, the other half of this event’s draw is the fresh locally harvested mussels from Pemaquid Mussel Company, and grown in Northport. More than 300 pounds will be reserved for this evening and served steamed in Chardonnay and garlic. The event will also will serve deep friend Belgian-style frites made from 300 pounds of organic potatoes from Aroostook County with a variety of sauces.
“We’ll also offer Snappy red hot dogs, because we’re big fans of those,” said Carlson, adding that the baked beans will be soaked in their Wrecking Ball Baltic Porter beer (a 10 percent porter brewed with molasses). Have you wiped the drool off your screen yet?
Most of these offerings will be in the affordable $5 range.
“It’s kind of a crazy free-for-all.” said Carlson. ”We served well over 600 people last year. This year, I’ve got emails from people in Canada, in New York state, saying they’re coming.”
Organizers of the event will be ensuring that private taxi shuttles will be available to run people throughout the Belfast area and to hotels so they don’t have to drive. All Aboard Trolley will also be hosting a trip from Rockland to Belfast.
Doors open at 5 p.m. with Toughcats starting around 7:30 p.m. Admittance will end at 10:30 p.m. with the event running until 11 p.m. Tickets will only be available at the door.
(Editor's note: Video courtesy Marshall Wharf Brewing Company/Rob Draper ACS)
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org