Historically Maine has been known as a haven for seafood lovers and outdoor adventures. It’s only in recent years, as the states craft beer industry has grown exponentially, that Maine has also become a travel destination for beer enthusiasts.
Now boasting over 90 breweries and brew pubs (with more on the way), we regularly hear visitors asking where they should go to try Maine beer. While just about every restaurant, pub and diner with a license to serve beer will have at least a few Maine brews on their menu, here’s a few more recommendations on how to drink beer from here.
1 – GO DIRECTLY TO THE SOURCE
Visiting a brewery directly is appealing for a number of reasons.
- Variety – you’re going to be able to sample the widest variety of what a specific brewery has to offer at, its freshest, when you’re in their tasting room.
- Tours – Many breweries and some brew pubs offer tours. Get a behind the scenes look, pick the brain of the brewer and/or staff, and sometimes (like at Allagash Brewing) get a taste of something that’s not on the regular tasting room taps.
- Pet-Friendly – If your like us and want to take your canine companions with you when you travel, many (although not all) breweries at least seasonally offer dog-friendly outdoor seating/drinking.
- Earn Swag – The Maine Brewers Guild has created a Beer Trail Map which you can pick up while visiting your first brewery/pub, or you can print one, although we’ve found it’s kind of ungainly to print. It’s important to make sure to get a worker bee to initial and date it with your visit, or it doesn’t count. Once you reach between 10 – 19 being signed off on you can choose to mail it off for a MBG hat. This can easily be reached if you visit Portland. If you want a t-shirt instead, you’re going to be putting in more mileage to visit 20 less than the number of breweries that are on your map, which with the new 2017 summer maps is pushing 90. If you are really up for a challenge, you can complete your whole map and get a surprise prize package, which is what we are personally working towards. Keep in mind, with the ever growing number of craft brew businesses, the longer you wait, the bigger that list is going to be!
2 – BEER DINNER PAIRINGS
The culinary and craft beer community love collaborating, whether it’s to feature a new beer release, for charity, or just because it’s a great way to bring people together. Beer pairing dinners offer a delicious and educational experience, showcasing the talents of both chef and brewer. A couple of our favorite spots to watch for these events to be happening in Portland are Sur Lie and Bao Bao.
3 – FIND A CRAFT BEER SELLER
We know you don’t want to just enjoy Maine craft brews while you’re visiting, you want to take some home too! Next to visiting a bevy of breweries, the best variety is going to be available at local specialty stores. A few of the spots in Portland to try are:
- Craft Beer Cellar, located on the corner of Fore St. and Pearl St.
- Old Port Spirits on Commercial St.
- Maine Beer & Beverage is tucked away in the back of the 1st floor of the Public Market in Monument Square.
- RSVP on Forest
- Bier Cellar on Forest
All five carry a nice selection of Maine craft beer as well as beer “from away” as we say and you can often mix and match singles.
4 – VISIT A LOCAL FESTIVAL
A few festivals both great and small in size to look forward to include:
September 23, 2017 – Beer Meets Woods put on by Beer Advocate and Allagash at 58 Fore St. in Portland. This event is a celebration of barrel-aged craft beverages with both a mix of local and international brewers. There are two sessions and we expect this event to sell out, so get your tix early!
September 30, 2017 | Maine Lakes Brewfest takes place in the Sebago lakes region. An outdoor event prepared for rain or shine, offering a nice selection of local and out of state beverages.
October 7, 2017 | Swine & Stein Festival in Gardiner, Maine. This event offers the hometown feel, so it’s one that families can attend. Enjoy a sampling of local brews and quirky activities such as the Beard and Mustache competition.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 | Maine Brewers Guild Winter Session kicks off Portland Beer Week. Tickets will be available soon. If you missed the summer session, make sure to make it to this one. The most Maine brewers in one spot, and you get to sample your way through as many of them as you can handle. For those working on their guild maps, you’re still going to have to visit the breweries to get a stamp, as festival events don’t count towards your potential swag package.
November 5 – 11, 2017 | Portland Beer Week Our favorite event of the week to attend is the Freshman Orientation with the newest breweries from all over the state showcasing their brews.
**The 2nd Tuesday of month you can also attend Portland Greendrinks. They’re local non-profit who partners with Maine craft breweries and other Maine non-profits who promote economic, social and environmental sustainability to create educational and fun networking events.
5 – JOIN A TOUR This one’s our favorite
If you are looking for a specifically beer-centric experience, our friends The Maine Brew Busare the way to go. They offer year-round tasting tours with transportation to a wide variety of Maine’s craft breweries. These all-inclusive tours come with a designated driver, a “guideance counselor” who is your primary tour host, the samples and gratuity at each stop.
For those that wanna earn their beer, we recommend Summer Feet Cycling’s Bike’s and Brews tour. Enjoy seaside views and loclal brews as you pedal from Portland’s Old Port to the beverage-centric neighborhood of y’East Bayside.
Lastly, you can join us on a Maine Foodie Tour! Each of our itneraries includes an opportunity to try some local craft beer for the 21+ set, and like the Brew Bus, our tours run all year long.
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