The state of Maine is tucked into the far northeastern corner of the United States. For most American’s Maine is as far off the beaten track as Hawaii, Alaska or Key West, Florida. All have a beer scene worthy of Microbrewed Adventures. But Maine is very alive in my life.
One well traveled friend, while recently enjoying a beer confessed, “I’ve been to 46 states, but I’ve never been to Maine.” After I told him of the beer and enjoyment quotient that I experienced, he replied, “Really? I just might have to go.”
Maine, with a population of about 1.3 million people boasts over 30 small craft brewers and several more in the planning. In August I visited Portland, Maine for two nights before heading to Whitehead Island for my annual5-day beer class. There, I attended a meeting of the Maine Brewers Guild, held at the Portland based brewery Allagash Brewing Company. Brewers from Black Bear, Maine Beer Co, DL Geary, Oxbow, Baxters, Sebago, Rays Brewing Co, Rising Tide, Shipyard, Bull Jagger, Marshall Wharf, , Allagash brewing companies and others were in attendance.
Following the Guild meeting Allagash hosted an American Homebrewers Association rally. Over 150 members from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts attended the festivities. As an added bonus 100-yards-nearby Maine Beer Company and newly opened Rising Tide Brewing Company offered brief tours and samples of their brewery.
Heading to Whitehead Island the next day, I stocked up with beer from DownEast Beverage , a treasure trove of craft beers from all over the world. Veteran beer manager Nolan Stewart, knows his stuff.
Beers from Maine were featured at various seminars, discussion and serious relaxation exercises. We explored from Allagash: Black (Belgian stout), Fluxxus 2011 (a strong Munich amber), Vrienden (collab w/ New Belgium B Co – sour with Dandelions and elderberries) and White; from Maine Beer: Zoe (hoppy brown), Peeper (NW-style hoppy pale), Lunch (IPA); from Rising Tide: Daymark Rye, Ishmael American Copper Ale; Baxter Brewing: IPA, Extra PA.
Our taste for Maine not satisfied the group traveled to the mainland spending a memorable day exploring two of Maine’s nearby breweries. In Lincolnville and off the beaten track, Andrews Brewing Company brews pale, brown, golden and porter and is about to celebrate its 20th year in business as literally a farmhouse brewery. Andrew Hazen founder and his son Ben run the operation. From there it was a short trip to the small harbor town of Belfast, where the Marshall Wharf Brewing Company and its pub/restaurant Three Tides explores both the possible and improbable of great brewing traditions. There we tasted 21 different ales and lagers. That’s right – 21! David and Sarah Carlson hosted out long afternoon visit as we toasted them and brewmaster Dan McGovern and his brewers. A definite destination and go to place to hang out with the locals and pilgrims who seek an extraordinary beer experience.
We returned to Whitehead Island, rested, relaxed and ready for more beer lessons.
Maine has hard winters, but I think the locals have an easier time dealing with them since the advent of the Maine craft beer scene.
Worth the effort. Check it out. Love the beer.
Coming up: Whitehead Light Station beer discussions and evaluations: Judging IPAs and Stouts, One of a kind specialty beers, a selection of session beers and Hurricane Croquet, and what to serve with Lobster boil at sunset.