Several years ago, I stumbled upon something in New York City that seemed to be an oddity: a delivery truck plastered with signage for Peak Organic Brewing Co. of Portland, Maine. It's not that New York is that far from Maine, but the experience put me on notice that a local brand was putting down wider roots. When I spotted another Peak truck in the West Village this spring, I wondered, what's with Peak and New York?
Peak brewer Jon Cadoux says, "We've found the sweet spot for our consumer base — super food centric, ingredient-driven, just passionate people. People like us, that just love to create delicious food, cocktails. New York has helped us become the foodies' beer."
Peak products are now available in cities beyond New York; they're all along the East Coast and in California, reflective of their 29 percent overall growth in 2014. Cadoux credits the expansion to thriving restaurant scenes in Miami, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Boston, and a sales staff focused on selling the brew as a good beer for food.
Having the word "organic" in your name is sure to help attract foodies, but Peak pushes on that connection. In Boston, the brewery is constantly teaming up with restaurants to offer dinners that pair with its beer. In addition, it is brewing specifically for these dinners, and for your night out with your spouse in Back Bay or Miami's Wynwood Arts District.
Released for the summer months, Peak Organic Citrus Saison is one such beer. Peak has a series of saisons inspired by restaurant cocktail menus. Ginger, citrus, elderflower, and juniper are in play with a traditional Belgian base beer in which the yeast is the star. In the citrus version, organic California lemons and limes adhere to the script. "Sourcing organic ingredients is our reason for being," says Cadoux. "It's difficult in that you can't just pick up the phone to call a middleman to get them. We have to establish direct relationships.
"We build our beers around our ingredients, rather than picking a beer style and figuring out the ingredients from there," says the brewer.
Loosely inspired by a shandy (but technically not one), Peak Organic Citrus Saison is decidedly a saison, with stubborn citrus in the nose and a kind of lemon-lime soda quality you don't get from traditional offerings of the style. It's less sweet than a shandy in a way that's welcome, more earthy than lemony, with a hint of bubblegum. Saisons are known for being good pairings for food, while just about every shandy I've tried is an instant palate-ruiner. The Belgian yeast strips this one of any cloying elements. It works, both as a summer sipper and something more substantial to pair with a meal. Peak Organic Citrus Saison around $9.99 for a six-pack, available at Harborside Wine & Spirits, Scituate, 781-545-0059, and Boston Wine Exchange, Boston, 617-422-0100