At long last, we seem to be breaking out of our winter funk. In Boston at least, it's warm for a good 90 minutes a day now. If you catch the sun just right you can sit on the porch and have a beverage in a light sweater. I'm down to three layers for my morning jog.
These cold jokes are tiresome but also indicative of the fact that in most climates, it's still perfectly reasonable to drink winter beer. We're not at the point where a big, bold beer is going to weigh you down or not be refreshing. It's still the season for sippers.
The Maine Beer Company offers several hoppy ales meant for sipping. You may have had Zoe, Peeper, or the hard-to-find Lunch. All are delicious, so my expectations for Lil One were high. I've never had a bad Maine Beer Co. beer.
Lil One is the company's winter offering. It's classified as an American Strong Ale, but you could also call it a Double-IPA. It's a malty one at that. Brewed once a year, this beer doesn't fit any particular style.
Bottled on Jan. 31, my Lil One pours a dark mahogany out of a 500-ml bottle and into a tulip glass. It doesn't look like a Maine Beer Co. beer. The color is indicative of a higher malt content, more fermentable sugar, and a higher alcohol content.
One whiff produces grapefruit, lemon, must. The smell is darker and earthier than the usual Maine Beer offerings. It takes more than one sip to get acquainted with the brew. At first go it's a big, malty IPA that, to be honest, lacks the aromatics of the brewery's typical offerings. Forging on, though, you remember that this is a strong ale packing 9.1 percent alcohol by volume. If you're into strong ales and like hops, this is a good one. I get thick caramel and sticky pine This is indeed a big beer, but it's not overly bitter, with sweet malt wrapping itself around oily hops like you wrap a scarf around your toddler.
I'll still contend that this is not my favorite Maine Beer beer. Weather be damned, I may sneak back to my fridge tonight and grab a more summery Peeper. Cheers.