11/14/21: Oxbow Brewing Company's Sap Haus

11:03 AM

This season, I'd planned for two respites from the heavy, stout-laden maple offerings I'd be drinking. The first was a maple cider. The second is this afternoon's beer: A smoked lager featuring maple syrup. I figured that ought to be light enough, right?

I'm actually excited for today's beer, mainly because I've never before encountered a lager that features maple syrup as an adjunct. But, somehow, Oxbow figured out the trick to pulling it off. I bought this can back in February or March of this year (the canning date stamped on the bottom is January). I'm following the instructions printed on the label: It's been kept cold in my fridge since I brought it home and I'm enjoying it within a year of it's production. 

Now, without further preamble (excepting the bit immediately below where I talk a little about Oxbow), here's Sap Haus.

Oxbow Brewing Company's a proudly Maine brewing operation. They have three locations: Their original, rustic-inspired Farmhouse brewery in New Castle, where they focus on farmhouse and European-influced beers; their Portland Blending & Bottling spot, where they barrel-age their beers and condition sour ales; and their Beer Garden in Oxford, which features wood-fired pizza and a wide selection of their offerings to-go. All told, they boast an impressive portfolio of venues and beers.

Today, as you're by now well aware, I'm drinking a pint of the brewery's Sap Haus. This is a 7% ABV smoked dark lager that's brewed with maple syrup. My can specifies that it's Maine maple syrup, but that should be a given by this point.

The most forward note on the lager's bouquet is the smoke--it has that same rich, almost meaty quality that all smoked beers carry. Behind this, there's the traditional lager notes: malt sweetness and hop crispness. I'm not really sussing out any maple here, which is probably why Purrl gave my open can six whiffs (for the uninitiated, she's not a huge maple fan).

I'm find cola in the lager's flavor--call it a mix of the smoke and the maple. The smoke hits first, followed by a deep, dark lager hoppiness. Then, however, the maple kicks in and makes the full pull cola-reminiscent through the finish. I'm not picking up on any noticeable booziness from the moderate alcohol content.

Sap Haus' mouthfeel is standard, reliable lager: frothy, crisp, crushable. Really, it's perfectly drinking for a beer flavored as this is.

You ever just drink a beer and know immediately what its best food pairing would be? Mind you, I'm not talking about wide swaths like "all beer goes with pizza" or (one of my favorite pairings) "hefeweizens pair well with fried chicken." I'm talking about something more along the lines of "Brewery X's stout is a perfect match for these pecan sandies!" 

I ask this because, as I work my way through this can of Sap Haus, I'm immediately struck by what it should be paired with for maximum flavor enjoyment: Chinese food. Now hear me out. Grab a can, call up your local carry-out place, and order some sweet and sour chicken with a side of cream cheese wontons. Now, crack open your can and enjoy your meal. Then, come back to this post and tell me that that wasn't the perfect pairing. We both know you'll be lying.

Positioning Oxbow's Sap Haus as a respite between some of the heavier hitting beers this month was the correct play. It's not super mapley, but the syrup is here, providing an impressive backing the whole cola thing the dark lager has going for it. I'm giving my can an 8.5/10. It's delicious in its own right, regardless of the fact that I'm drinking it in the middle of Maple Month.

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