Baxter Brewing Company
Pamola Session Ale
The Penobscot Nation is a federally recognized tribe in Maine and their folklore tells of a god-like spirit named Pamola (or Pomola) who inhabits Mt. Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine. He has the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings, legs and talons of an eagle. Atop Mt. Katahdin today, at 4,919 feet, is Pamola Peak.
Pamola was said to create cold weather and was particularly associated with wind, snow, night and storms. His name roughly translates to “he curses on the mountain” and he was known to resent anyone who climbed Mt. Katahdin. Because of this, the Penobscot people considered climbing the mountain to be taboo. The Penobscot also believed that anyone who crossed his path would be killed and eaten.
Many Penobscot Indians claimed to have seen Pamola but there are two unique accounts that stand out. One is of a young man who was trapped on Mt. Katahdin after a terrible snow storm. He was destined to die so in a desperate final attempt at survival he called on Pamola to save him, and Pamola agreed. Pamola brought him to a place inside of Mt. Katahdin and gave the young man his daughter to marry. Pamola also allowed him to go back to the Penobscot people after one year but told him that he could never marry anyone else. Eventually, after returning to his village, the tribespeople persuaded him to marry again and so he did. The very next day, the young man disappeared and was never seen again.
The second story is of a young woman who refused to believe that Pamola existed so she decided to go looking for him. While standing next to a lake, Pamola appeared before her and forcefully grabbed the woman. She was taken inside of the mountain where she stayed for a year and became pregnant with Pamola’s child. Pamola also told the woman that she may not marry anyone else and that her child would someday be filled with great powers. She was told that he would be able to kill any animal or person simply by pointing at it with his right hand and that he would also save the tribe from destruction. The woman was then sent back to her village.
The child was born and he was beloved. His mother would simply point his finger at an animal and it would fall dead. With this gift, the child was able to feed the entire tribe with ease and his powers were praised but as he got older, he became reckless. During one incident, he innocently pointed at a man walking towards his house and the man dropped dead. Out of fear for their safety, the Penobscot banished the child and his mother into the forests but, like before, the Indians also persuaded the mother to marry again and, also like before, just after doing so, both she and her son disappeared forever.
The Penobscot Indians were stunned when a group of white explorers climbed Mt. Katahdin in 1805 and then returned to tell the tale, a trick the climbers would later use to increase their influence in future negotiations. Pamola’s image is used throughout Maine today, including in the Boy Scouts, at a motor lodge, as a heavy metal band and, of course, in Baxter Brewing Company’s Pamola Session Ale.
Baxter Brewing Company takes its name from Baxter State Park in north-central Maine. The park is named after former Governor Percival Baxter (1921-1925) who used his personal fortune to purchase over 200,000 acres and then donate the land to the state of Maine. The centerpiece of the park, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the namesake of two U.S. Navy ships, the subject of many famous novels, the inspiration for a symphony and the home of the legendary spirit-being Pamola, is Mt. Katahdin.
From the Brewer: Pamola Session Ale—formally Pamola Xtra Pale—was Baxter’s first production release in January, 2011 and still cozies up very closely to our collective hearts. Paving the way for session ales in Maine, before session ales were even a common category, Pamola blurs the line between pale ale, cream ale and, with its distinct dry, lingering finish, a German lager. ABV 4.9%, IBU 46
Luke Livingston - Founder
Artwork by Josh Fisher and courtesy of Baxter Brewing Company