Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Ananth Pandian.
L.L. Bean and lobsters are not the only things Maine has going for it. The state has a robust tourist industry (“Vacationland”) as people flock for its vast wilderness, picturesque beaches, and the Maine Beer Trail (PDF). Maine has a strong craft beer tradition dating back to the mid ‘80s and brewers like Gritty McDuff’s have been on the forefront of the craft brew scene in the U.S.
One of the most notable beers Gritty’s produce is a collaboration with the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, Red Claw Ale. Gritty McDuff’s Red Claw Ale is the first beer in NBA History to be named for an NBA (affiliated) team and to be sold outside an NBA (affiliated) arena.
Red Claw Ale, with its dope logo, has been around basically since the Red Claws began operation in 2009. I (AP) caught up with Gritty’s Director of Marketing Thomas Wilson (TW) to find out a little bit about the beer.
AP: How was the Red Claw Ale created? What was the inspiration?
TW: The inspiration came from wanting to support Maine’s first ever NBA (affiliated) team. The Maine Red Claws and Gritty’s met to discuss pouring Gritty’s brands at the (Portland) Expo during Maine Red Claw’s games. During the discussion, the idea of Red Claws Ale just came up and we all thought it was a very cool idea.
AP: How has the Red Claw Ale been received in Maine?
TW: Sales have been rock solid. When Red Claws Ale debuted in 2009 in 22 ounce bottles and on draft, sales were strong and climbing. Which is why we brought out six and twelve packs in 2010. Like all brands, sales of Red Claws Ale ebb and flow. The closer we get to basketball season, the more sales we see. However, a surprise is the sales we get during the summer. They are strong and we add more tap lines all the time. Red Claws Ale sales at the Expo have always been very strong. During most of the games Red Claws Ale is the #1 seller at the Expo.
AP: Anything special in the brewing process?
TW: Red Claws Ale is brewed like all beer is brewed. Water, hops, malt and yeast all combined together to make magic! As we say, it’s the perfect ale before the game, during the game or after the game.
But is it really the perfect ale? Red Claw Ale got a C on Beeradvocate – the lowest graded Gritty McDuff’s beer. Armed with a 12 oz bottle and a chilled Red Claws Ale pint glass, I decided to put it to a taste test while following Beeradvocate’s rating system.
I loved the look of the beer in my glass as it had a nice reddish/amber color to it. I couldn’t really pick up much of an unique fragrance other than the typical beer smell. It had a great taste to start, but the more I drank, it began to seem really watery. It’s not a terrible beer, but it’s not something I would be buying on the regular. I would definitely drink this at a live game though since it is fairly cheap (22 oz bottles are only $4) and has more taste than typical cheap American beer sold at sports venues.
Gritty McDuff’s Red Claw Ale is only available in Maine, so any Mainers or anyone else out there who has tried it, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Ananth Pandian has a beard, two little dogs and owns too many esoteric basketball related T-shirts. He lives in Boston and he’s addicted to the NBA and chap-stick. Follow Ananth Pandian on Twitter.