It’s no secret that Maine is a destination for craft brew enthusiasts and brewers alike. The industry contributed $228 million to the state’s economy last year, and with new breweries opening every year, the boom is unlikely to stop.
According to a University of Maine economic impact statement by Andrew Crawley and Sarah Welch, 16 new breweries opened in Maine last year. For craft beer enthusiasts, this equates to a new, unexplored frontier.
With three microbreweries: Orono Brewing Company (OBC), Black Bear Brewing Company and Marsh Island Brewing, Orono can offer a taste of Maine without ever leaving the town.
OBCs Bangor Barrel Project is slated to release new limited-edition barrel aged beers. Using barrels to age the beer gives the brewer the ability to add unique flavors.
OBC’s Head Brewer, Asa Marsh-Sachs, likes the creativity the barrels give him.
“I can get a bunch of different flavors in a bunch of different barrels,” Marsh-Sachs said. “It’s more to work with.”
This summer, OBC released the Ta-da Golden Sour, one of their barrel aged beers created at their experimental brewery in Bangor. A combination of oak, Brett, Lacto, Pedio, the Ta-da is part of OBC’s Bangor Barrel Project.
You can’t get the Ta-da at the tasting room anymore, but at the upcoming Greater Bangor Beer Week, OBC will be pouring from a keg of Ta-da along with their newest barrel aged beer called Lola Sour Wheat.
The Lola Sour Wheat is being brewed with chamomile, coriander and orange peels.
Marsh-Sachs’ passion for this method of brewing is apparent when he discusses the barrel aging process.
“It’s been a totally different style of brewing… with the barrel project, you’re able to take one flavor and combine it with another. Your toolbox is expanding so much,” Marsh-Sachs said.
Still to come from the barrel project is a Hazelnut Brown Ale. According to Marsh-Sachs, this is one of the best-rated beers in the country, and he expects the barrel to add a raspberry jam-like flavor.
OBC also recently collaborated with Medusa Brewing Company to create the Laser Moose IPA, a double IPA with “Hawaiian Punch flavors… Juicy, fruity, and ripe red fruit character.” With 7.6 percent alcohol by volume, this beer packed a punch.
OBC will also be expanding into a new property off Island Ave. The former rock crushing facility will become OBC’s new canning plant. The new plant should increase OBC’s canning capabilities from 40 cases of beer in six hours to 30 cases in one hour.
Both Marsh-Sachs and Tasting Room Manager Justin Stoderberg expressed gratitude toward the brewing scene they are a part of.
“We really do bond together… Maine’s just unique like that,” Marsh-Sachs said.