Grand Cru. All of Allagash in a single tour.
This past week, we ran our first Grand Cru tour of the Allagash facility. In short: it was a blast.
For those wondering, “grand cru” is a term traditionally used when talking about a premier, Belgian beer. So, to match its name, we worked our hardest to put together a truly top-tier tour of our brewery (and our beer). Basically, when planning the tour, we thought of everything we loved about working at Allagash and then crammed all that goodness into a single event.
The Grand Cru tour spanned three hours and led the group through every area of the brewery: among the fermenting tanks, into the bottling line, through the quality control lab, to the VIP tasting lounge, through the barrel room and finally out to the coolship itself.
The inaugural tour started in fitting fashion, with the group chatting over a glass of our flagship Allagash White with founder Rob Tod and brewmaster Jason Perkins. Then, step by step, our guests were taken through the life of an Allagash beer, from malt, yeast, hops, and water to aged effervescence. The first stop was the brew deck where Patrick—the brewer behind Allagash Saison—took our guests through Allagash’s seventy-barrel system. Our tour guests even got to add hops to a whirlpool full of Hugh Malone, a beer that combines robust, American hops with the delicate esters of Belgian-style yeasts. Each step of the way, the tour was joined by a different employee, ready to deliver a solid dose of beer expertise.
In addition to brewing knowledge, our guests also received a taste of our beer—many tastes, in fact. There was a sample of Helena—a traditional Flemish-style sour red—four ways: recently fermented with house yeast, fermented and soured in the foudre (but not fully carbonated), bottled, and then bottled after fermenting on a mixture of fruit. We tasted one of our pilot beers—brewed in our ten-gallon pilot system by employees—that could one day become the next big Allagash release. There was even a pour of freshly brewed, steaming wort: a sweet, malty drink—which tastes a little like oatmeal tea—to which yeast will later be added to ferment into beer.
These tastes also included the once-in-a-lifetime variety, like a sample straight from the tank of the yet-to-be-bottled Fluxus 2016, an ale with fresh ginger root that’s aged in oak gin barrels, which previously held Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin. (Be aware, while there won’t be fewer tastings on the next Grand Cru tour, samples could be completely different, since they’re based around what’s fresh and available at the time of the tour.)
In the end, all tour members went home with some Allagash gear and a better understanding of everything we do here. Guest relations lead, taproom manager, and tour coordinator Paul encapsulated it well, “Employees get exposed to so many awesome experiences while working at Allagash. We wanted the Grand Cru to be a whirlwind of all those moments packed into one tour.”
The Grand Cru will be returning on July 19th, so grab a ticket if you you’d like to join us (the link for tickets is below). Best of all, the entirety of the proceeds for ticket sales will be donated to charity; so you can sip on craft beer and support your local, Maine community at the same time.
We can’t wait to show you around!