Reviewed: Maine Beer Company Lunch
Official description: Lunch is a special whale that has been spotted off the Maine coast since 1982. She has what looks like a bite taken out of her fin, which adds to her unique character. We dedicate this beer to her determination and persistence. Keep on swimming! Malt: American 2-Row, Carapils, Caramel 40L, Munich 10L, Red Wheat. Hops: Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe.
Maine Beer Company – Maine Beer Company Lunch – 1 pint .9 oz bottle served in stemless snifter – 7% ABV
Maine Beer Company first wowed me back in 2011 when I had their Spring Peeper (now just called Peeper) pale ale. Since that time, Maine Beer Co’s distribution footprint has expanded all the way to California, they’ve expanded their brewery, and their lineup has grown to include several other pale hoppy ales. Lunch is perhaps their best-selling beer, but it competes in the very congested segment of regular strength IPA. It also nearly prices itself out of the market with a Russian River-style single bottle price of $8 plus tax. When you can buy a really good 6-pack of IPA for around $10, it means that Maine Beer’s offerings have to absolutely impress. Is it worth paying the luxury level price for this IPA? Let’s find out.
I’m sampling this from single 1 pint .9 oz bottle that I picked up while visiting the East Coast. On the side of the label is a printed date of 5/14/19. Though Maine Beer omits telling you whether this is the packaging date or the best by date – a big oversight. Lower down on the side label in Maine Beer’s characteristic size 6 micro font is “Drink this beer fresh, within 90 days of the stamped born on date.” So we know this beer is only three weeks old, but it isn’t abundantly clear at first glance.
Into my glass, Lunch is hazy, deep golden in color with a medium-sized head of eggshell foam that collapses too abruptly – in about a minute or less. The aroma starts off with juicy Mandarin orange and just stays there for the entirety of the experience. Most beers I sample have a variety of aromas that wax and wane over time. Lunch stagnates with this one-note citrus hop aroma that isn’t very interesting, especially in today’s IPA segment.
Flavor-wise, Lunch is rough around the edges with intense bitterness that brings you a punch of spicy hops and not enough sugar for balance. The body isn’t silky smooth like I would expect and the overall impression I get is that the flavor profile is a bit outdated. Rich fattiness/oiliness that I find in some of the best IPAs is absent. The caramel malt, Munich malt, and wheat additions don’t boster the body in the way that I’d hoped. If anything, Lunch finishes semi-dry with a lingering bite that is almost all grapefruit rind.
Perceived Specs for Maine Beer Co. Lunch
If you are big on spicy, citrus hops, Lunch delivers that perfectly. But I was hoping from something a bit more nuanced with better balance. For such a fresh example of a super well-regarded, expensive beer, this was a disappointment. But regardless of your preference, Lunch doesn’t wow enough to justify the high price and outdated single bottle format. The good news is that picked up several other Maine Beer Co. hoppy beers on my trip and was pleasantly surprised with the others. Stay tuned for those reviews!
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