BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Butter or Cream?
It's the century-old New England decision between its two most popular lobster roll styles — cold with mayonnaise, if you're a traditional Mainer; and hot with butter, for others "from away" and the sandwich's birthplace of Connecticut.
Given the nation's incredible influx of craft breweries, which for the past decade has hyper-localized nearly every region's choice of favorite beverage, it was only a matter of time before this debate would be put to test through a beer can.
Other Half Brewing, co-headquartered in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens neighborhood and Rochester, New York, released two beers last Saturday in collaboration with Portland, Maine-based Bissell Brothers — both are considered masters of the New England-style IPA first made popular in the Northeast.
"Butter IPA" mimics the Connecticut-style, featuring Maine Malt House pale malt, wheat and oats; and Citra, Citra Cryo, Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops.
"Cream Oat Cream IPA" is Maine-style, featuring Maine Malt House malt and oats; a touch of lactose; and Citra, Citra Cryo, Nelson Sauvin and Sabro hops.
OH broke the collaboration with Bissell down on its Instagram: "It’s been five years since we first visited the crew [at Bissell Brothers.] They were in a small garage across the street from Allagash cranking out Substance and Swish. A lot has happened between then and now for both teams. We’ve done a bunch of events and tap takeovers together but never a collab. Thankfully we’ve corrected that oversight with 2 collab beers! An homage to Maine’s favorite food: lobster.
"An unscientific poll of sorts to settle the eternal debate of lobster roll style."
The unfortunate catch, or lack thereof: Your opportunity to taste either beer has likely disappeared like a distance ship on the horizon, unless it's somehow still on tap and you find yourself in Brooklyn very soon. Cans sold out on release day.
"Butter" was gone before "Cream" about two hours after the taproom opened.
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Bissell Brothers, which also has a location in Milo called Three Rivers, released its version of the breweries' collaboration the prior Saturday, July 5, with "Blowin' Smoke" – a triple IPA at 10% ABV, for which OH is especially known, featuring Maine-grown two-row and Golden Promise malts; flaked wheat and oats; and Motueka, Citra, Southern Passion and Vic Secret hops.
It took just five hours for more than 300 cases of cans to sell out.
Bissell elaborated on its relationship with OH in its own Instagram post:
"We met Sam, Andrew, Matt, Anthony, and Joe soon after we both opened our respective operations, without knowing we were both part of a Northeast IPA renaissance. In the interim, as so often happens, years and years passed, and we have loved watching what OH has become, saying "remember when" all the while. It was great to host [OH co-founder Sam Richardson] for this beer, and compare notes and ideas on how to concoct the ultimate NEIPA experience, based on both our companies' histories."
Richardson also commented on his time in Maine, writing, "It was a short but busy trip to Maine. We made it happen with the fine gentlemen [at Bissell Brothers.] Thanks [Noah Bissell] and [Peter Bissell] for hosting!"
A day after the "Butter" and "Cream" releases and subsequent sellouts, Other Half hosted Manhattan-based Luke's Lobster in its Brooklyn taproom. Rooted in Cape Elizabeth, Luke's opened its first shack in 2009 in the East Village of NYC, where it now has 12 locations. It's now in cities across the country and in Asia, and June saw its first full-service Maine restaurant open on Portland's waterfront.
Founded in 2013, Bissell as of July 17 had an overall Beer Advocate brewery score of 4.15 out of 5, with its top-rated beers including Swish at 4.60, Nothing Gold at 4.45 and Here's To Feeling Good All The Time at 4.44.