Last weekend my wife and I headed up north to Maine for a day to escape the snow and during our travels stopped in at yet another New England brewery, Barreled Souls Brewing Company in Saco, ME. They had piqued my interest with all the stouts and darker beers they had listed on their website, especially considering that they use oak barrels for primary fermentation of all their beers.
The brewery has been open for about a year and a half now and occupies a very cool space on a lightly populated commercial road on the edge of town. Upon arriving at the facilities, you first go through an outdoor seating area for warmer times (it was covered in snow and 15 degrees outside the day we visited) before walking in through the door into a cellar-like space. You then pass by some brewing equipment before entering a good-sized taproom. Inside the serving area, you are greeted by two shuffleboard tables to your left and a seating area the right with wonderful sets of tables and chairs made out of converted oak barrels. Scattered about these tables are cribbage boards for those who prefer seated gaming while enjoying a few beers. Of course you can also take the more traditional route and pull up a stool at the bar.
There were 12 beers on tap the day of our visit, and I ambitiously (perhaps a bit too ambitiously) was down to try them all. They had a nice mix of styles available and I went through the list more or less ordering by color and potency.
My first flight, listed here from front to back, started me out with a Scottish ale called Half Shilling. Checking in at 4.1%, this beer was light and easy to drink with a bready, caramel malt flavor. I liked this one a lot and it was a great beer to start out with. Next up was Eat a Peach, a 4.6% wheat ale brewed with roasted peaches. Fruity and a little bit tart and sour, the wheat taste was rather subtle but blended in well with the peach flavors. This was another nice little beer, though I imagine it being a bit better suited for warmer weather. Following this came Space Gose, a 4.9% gose beer. True to style, it featured a strong salty, lemony tartness mixed with an herbal coriander flavor which I did not really care for. They accomplished what they set out to do with this one, this style is just not for me. I did notice that it was a popular choice for growler fills so perhaps I am in the minority. Rounding out flight number one was a 6.5% amber ale called Hoppin’ John. Brewed in collaboration with Branded Horn Brewing Company, it was listed as a malty ale brewed with sprouted peas. This was another one that I didn’t really care for. There was an intriguing sweetness to it, but it also had a smokiness that dominated the flavor in a way that I did not really like. To each their own.
Things definitely picked up in my next pair of samples, though. Starting it off was Quaker State, a 6.3% oatmeal stout that drank nice and smooth with a nice mix of sweet and roasty malts in perfect balance. It had a very pleasing aroma to match the taste and was a real pleasure to drink. Following this was Mocha Grande, a 6.8% brown ale brewed with french roast from Katahdin Coffee in Wells, ME. The smell was oddly a bit peppery, but the taste was very strongly and distinctly French Vanilla coffee. It was a bit roastier than I usually go for in this type of beer, but there was such a creamy smoothness to it that I didn’t mind in the slightest. This beer was so good it also made me really curious try out a cup of Katahdin Coffee (sadly not available at the brewery). Excellent brews.
The next round of samples was a somewhat mixed trio (one late addition not pictured). Starting it off was Canned Cran (on the left), a 7.6% amber ale brewed with canned cranberry sauce and smoked cherrywood malt. This was another miss for my taste buds, again on account of the smoked malt. Coming next was a 7.5% black rye IPA called Blackwatch which was probably my favorite beer of the day. It showcased an experimental hop variety aptly referred to as “Pinefruit.” It gave the beer a fantastic piney/tropical fruit bitterness (and smell!) that I really enjoyed. The rye provided a slight bit of spice on the end that mixed in wonderfully with the hoppy goodness. The not pictured late addition was American Pale Ale, a (you guessed it) pale ale dry hopped with Citra. Checking in at 6.3% it had a light bitter and fruitiness to it, but overall this beer didn’t really stand out for me following the wonder that was Blackwatch. Nothing wrong with it, I think it just got overshadowed.
The final flight featured three of the brewery’s best and strongest offerings. Leading off was Munro, a 9.0% Wee Heavy Scotch ale. This is a style I always want to get into more and this particular offering gave me exactly what I have been looking for. Pouring a deep brown body, it had a nice sweet caramel malt and dark fruit richness to it that I really enjoyed. Key for me here was that the smokiness was dialed way down compared to other beers of this style. The smell was sweet and just a bit hot, all in all a really great beer. The penultimate brew, Dark Matter, was a big 10.1% dark ale that was a bit boozy with had a lot rich chocolate malts to give it a wonderful flavor. It had a nice thick mouthfeel that made this a beer that could really be savored. Last, but by no means least. came Deep Space, an even bigger 12.8% imperial stout to finish off the day. This was another fantastic beer combining sweeter malts with delicious bourbon and barrel notes that led up to slightly roasty finish. The mouthfeel was pleasingly thick and perfectly suited the big tastes. Apparently this is the brewery’s flagship beer, so hats off to them for not playing around! Very well done. I came looking for big, dark brews and they without a doubt delivered.
So that concludes my trip to Barreled Souls Brewing Company. I had an excellent time trying out some great beers, and they certainly had a variety of high quality offerings available. If I had to pick a top three I would go with Blackwatch, Mocha Grande, and Dark Matter but you can’t go wrong with Munroe, Deep Space, and Eat a Peach either. If you find yourself in the area, consider stopping in as there is certainly plenty of good beer to be had.