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Casco produces one of the best Irish Red Ales we've had the pleasure of evaluating. Very few examples of this style are available today although "red" beers have always been pop-ular with U.S. micros. Riptide Red Ale is brewed with a combination of two-row pale, Munich, Caramunich, special-B and chocolate malts. The darker malts, which are imported from Belgium, give this ale its distinctive deep red color and rich, malty flavor. Casco uses a top fermenting ale yeast and conditions this ale like a lager (longer than usual) to produce an ale that is very clean, crisp and complex. This tasty red ale is hopped with cluster, cascade and crystal hops. Look for a big malty hop nose with hop spice evident as well in this full-bodied deep reddish ale. The body is packed with flavor, balanced wonderfully and quite complex. Note a lingering sweet malty finish. Overall, one of the best red ales produced in the U.S. today. We loved it. So did the judges at the 2000 World Beer Cup - it took home the Gold medal in the Irish-style Red Ale category (no small feat, considering that the World Beer Cup is considered one of the top two beer competitions in the world!) The brewery suggests pairing it up with beef, spicy foods and inclement weather.
The Casco Bay Brewery first opened on the Portland coast of Maine in Spring of 1994 with a capacity of 6000 barrels annually. Within 6 months, capacity quickly had to be increased to meet the striking increase in demand. The owners were already well respected home brewers and served as judges at the Great American Beer Festival. In fact, one of them even founded the largest homebrew club in Maine, the Maine Ale and Lager Tasters (M.A.L.T.). Their line of Katahdin Beers quickly became big sellers and soon found their way into an impressive distribution network. In early 1995, one Bryan Smith joins the brew-ery as a part time bottler. But it seemed that he had bigger plans in mind than working a few extra hours a week on the bottling line… Within five months, Smith had worked his way up to brewer (we’re impressed!). In September of 1997, Smith left the brewery to attend American Brewers Guild brewing school located at UC Davis - California. While he already had over two years working experience in the brewery, he needed to learn the biochemistry and micro-biology side of brewing. He be-comes versed in recipe formulation, brewery management, and regulatory issues as well as many other helpful skills. And the plan is thus set in motion…In January 1998, Smith, Alex Fisher and Stew Maloney bought out half of the original ownership team, with Smith taking over all brewing operations (the latter two fellows are also the founders of Planet Dog, a retailer of dog toys and products based in Portland). In May of the same year the brewery introduced their Casco Bay Pilsner - it is the first beer under the Casco Bay brand name. Thus begins the new line of Casco Bay Brews, and their commitment to producing the world’s finest beers continues with renewed fever. With the introduction of Casco Bay Lager a few months later, they became the only brewery in northern New England committed to brewing year-round lager style beers. By the end of the year additional renovations were necessary and capacity was increased yet again.In early 1999 all Katahdin beers were dis-continued, however one of the strongest, the Katahdin Red Ale, undergoes a slight recipe “tweaking” and is reborn as Casco Bay Riptide Red Ale. About a year later, Casco Bay bought the brand rights to Carrabassett beers, an already popular line of beers. This acquisition mandates that capacity be immediately increased from 8,500 to 11,000 barrels per year!In March of 2002, Smith, Fisher, and Maloney bought out Bob Wade, the remaining half of the original ownership pair. Since then, the new team has been hard at work streamlining production and enhancing their now famous line of signature ales and lagers.The Casco Bay Brewing Company has certainly gone through a lot from the time when we first featured them years ago. We’re proud to say that they have since grown to become the 3rd largest brewery in Maine. For more informa-tion about the brewery, check out their web site at: http://www.cascobaybrewing.com/, or pick up that funny little thing with the buttons on it and press these numbers: 207-797-2020.
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