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Saturday, September 29, 2007 

Kennebunkport Brewing Company

If you've been to Trader Joe's recently you may have noticed a new line of beers they're selling. Bottles read Kennebunkport Brewing Company, which is also known as Federal Jack's. The bottles say that they are brewed at The Pugsley Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. Along with Shipyard and Sea Dog, these are all under the same parent company. I wouldn't be surprised if these beers and Sea Dog's are exactly the same.

Pumpkin Ale
49 / 100

This time of year is glorious for pumpkin ales but there is a dearth of them available in SoCal. Trader Joe's often has "orphans" (singles) available; so with the jonesing for a pumpkin ale, I had to give this a try.

It's orange in color (surprise!) with virtually no head. The initial scent is gumball, quite pungently sweet. Notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin follow up. But really it's sickly sweet, tasting more like a soft drink than a beer.

Why did I buy 2?

IPA
70 / 100

This was thankfully much better, but still nothing special. Probably more of an English IPA than the American hop monsters I'm used to; I could taste the Fuggle hops but they weren't that in your face. This is definitely more on the malty side. There was a little buttery taste I could have done without. Passable IPA but I probably won't be buying again.

In all, I haven't been impressed by the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. If you are into the Sea Dog beers, these will probably please you. Otherwise, Trader Joe's has plenty of better options.

Californian's all have the same beer taste buds. Hop-centric. Hops is essential but it ends up being like ketchup when overused as it is in most CA and NW beers. Yes I am originally from Back East. Maine in fact. I agree the pumpkin is a bit sweet. But the Sea Dog or Kennebunk IPA is a nice contrast from the 70-100 IBU style beers that flood the market out west here. Any left over Kennebunk or Full Sail LTD please mail to me in NorCal. Try Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA when you get a chance. They are from Delaware. This could be a beer that would be a middle ground for the folks who like New England style IPAs and those who like their West Coast hop bombs.

The buttery taste you experienced was most likely diacetyl. It is a common byproduct of fermentation and usually is described as caramel or butterscotch. I love California and Pacific NW beers and their hop-bombs, but I would agree w/ Mr. Gordy's comment: try Dogfish Head's 60-minute IPA - it is a unbelievably well-balanced, yet still hoppy brew. Their 90-minute IPA (more like an Imperial IPA) is even better. Another east coast hoppy brew that is delicious is Victory's Hop Devil. These are all well-known enough that I probably didn't really need to mention them to you. Other delightful, hoppy brews from outside of Cali that are similar to the DFH and Victory brews are from Oskar Blues: Dale's Pale Ale and Gordon IPA. If you haven't already, give them a try.

I just bought a KBC porter at a Trader Joe's in Michigan. I bought it because it was not expensive and I like porter. I thought it was pretty good, a bit like Fat Weasel that I used to like but OD'd on sometime back. I buy beer based on: #1 alcohol content, #2 price, #3 taste. I know that's pretty "low brow" like in Neanderthal, but not compared to the Bud Lite mentality that is Amoebic or even Inorganic. You might think that taste is unimportant to me because it's #3 but ordination can be deceiving because it doesn't show how close the numbers sit. What really led me to this blog was my wonderment about #1. What IS the alcohol content of the KBC porter? I know, a REAL afficionado could tell you what it is by drinking one on an empty stomach with all the other metabolic factors pretty close to "standard" but then again, beer drinking is not one of the things I'm really good at. I'm still searching.
- Roosky

I love porter too and have tried both the Kennebunkport Porter (found at Trader Joe's) and the Sea Dog Porter (found at BevMo) and note that they were not the same, the Sea Dog being ever so slightly sweeter. Whether this is due to different recipes or perhaps just different batches from the same basic recipe and brewery I have no idea. I'm a West Coast guy and let me tell you that there are plenty of non-hopheads among us, although our local craft brewers may be unaware of this (or just don't care since hops act as a preservative in our intense heat much of the year). I had high hopes that the hop shortage might force local brewers to brew beers with complexity and nuanced levels of balance, but so far-if you'll pardon me--I've been "bitterly" disappointed! Perhaps since all a local "craft brewer" has to do is dump a boatload of hops into the brewkettle, perhaps they lack the talent to do anything else. Sorry to be so harsh--but with few exceptions I believe my criticism is valid.

I live in upstate NY. Usually, I buy Brooklyn IPA. The Brooklyn and Dogfish Head beers are my favorite, but I find some of the Dogfish Head beers (like the 90 minute IPA) give me a headache. This is after one or two beers (not a drunk/hungover headache, but the kind some people get when they drink wine that's high in sulfates). Anyway, I came across the Kennebunkport IPA at the Trader Joe's in Danbury, Connecticut. I normally pay around $10 for a 6-pack of Brooklyn IPA and a 6-pack of the Kennebunkport costs $5.99, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's not bad - Dogfish Head 60 minute definitely has a better flavor and after taste, so does Brooklyn. It has an after taste, but I'm not sure that I would describe it as "buttery". The low price is the real draw for me.

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