Quick science lesson: There is a biological connection between marijuana and the hops that go in our beer. Both are members of the Cannabaceae family and share similar a cellular structure that shows up in their aroma, typically while still hanging from their vines/plant.
I’ve found that the fresher your cone hops are, the closer your nose is able to determine that similarity. Not that I’m growing or hanging out around anything illegal, mind you. Science!
This is all important because it was the first and lasting impression I got when I had my first-ever bottle of Maine Beer Company’s Peeper Ale. It’s got a 93 on Beer Advocate. This generously-hopped pale ale was fresh, delicious and for one reason or another, made me think of the hop’s taboo cousin.
On their website, Maine Brewing makes it very clear the importance of drinking their beers fresh, which I can attest to. The aroma of this beer was all hops, any way you slice it. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was told this brewery was from Portland, Oregon instead of Portland, Maine, thanks to a generous up-front smell of orange and grapefruit from Cascade hops. The use of Amarillo hops gives a spicy and floral addition to the beer’s smell, which is rounded out by Centennial bringing hard, pungent notes of grapefruit and lemon.
Because this beer was bottled roughly a month before I opened it, the freshness of all these hops come together for secondary aromas of pine and fresh grass. Not that kind of “grass,” but …
If there was ever a beer with flavor tied to pot, this is it. While Peeper Ale had no real residual tastes from the lingering hops – something that really impressed me – the overall freshness made me think of hops straight off the vine. The freshest, cleanest use of hops I think I’ve ever had.
The taste of this brew mirrors the aroma with super-crisp hops melting together into an incredible blend of fresh citrus. Grapefruit zest seemed to dominate, but it also left the door open for a bit of orange peel and fresh-cut grass.
In all, it’s arguably the most unique American pale ale I’ve had, despite a basic ingredient profile. Kudos to the brewer who cooked this one up.
Peeper Ale stats:
- Malt: American 2-Row, CaraPils, Vienna, Red Wheat
- Hops: US Magnum, Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial
- Additives: N/A
- ABV: 5.5 percent
- Brewery: Maine Beer Company of Portland, Maine