Welcome to the Maine Beer Renaissance

(Originally published in Maine Today Magazine on July 17, 2014.)

We live in a new world, my friends. A fertile world where macro-breweries are losing shelf space by the minute to local micro and nano-breweries all across this glorious country. And nowhere is this brewing rebirth more prevalent than in the great state of Maine.

Maine’s brewing community has the throttle mashed to the floor in terms of production, cutting-edge beers, and vibrant culture. New breweries pop up everyday. Hop yards vine their way through local farmland. In Portland alone you can’t swing a lobster without hitting a drinking establishment that serves a myriad of Maine made beers. And these are good beers. Real good beers.

DinnerI’m overwhelmed just thinking about the electric local beer world Mainers have access to on a daily basis. What I want to impart on you, the good people of Maine, is that there is something here for everyone. Everyone. This community is not only for the beer geeks or the hipsters or a niche group of co-opters with ironic mustaches growing organic kale and fermenting it.

No. The Maine beer scene is a world with its doors wide open and as long as you like beer—and how could you not—there is a Maine beer waiting for you to discover its fresh, local goodness.

Our collective cup runneth over.

Here’s what you shall do this weekend: Google your favorite style of beer and add the words “made in Maine” to the search. Click on the results and read. Now, here’s the next step. It might be intimidating, but you can do it. I believe in you. Walk out of your house, get into your Subaru, and drive to the places you found.

Go right to the brewery and try samples in a tasting room. Chances are you can shake the brewer’s hand. You’ll know it’s the brewer by the tall rubber boots he or she is wearing. Here are a few of my favorites: Rising Tide, Bissell Brothers, and Maine Beer Company. The number of tasting rooms in Maine grows every day. In fact, every time you hear a bell ring, another Maine brewery opens a tasting room. Each tasting room has its own vibe. Visit them all. I dare you.

Allagash Barrels 2Not feeling up for exploring breweries, head to a local 207 watering hole. My recs: Little Tap House, The Great Lost Bear, or the newly opened Slab. Go in and ask the bartender for a recommendation. Say something like, “Hi, I’m John, and I usually drink Budweiser, but I’m looking for a Maine made lager I could drink to support the beautiful Maine beer scene.” Ok, maybe you won’t say all of that, but if you ask, your local pub attendant will slide a brimming pint glass across the bar. One drink and you’ll be on your way to beer nirvana.

We are rapidly shedding the dead skin of archaic Prohibition-era laws and big-brewing monarchies. The Maine beer renaissance is upon us, and every week, I’m going to bring this rebirth to you. So come in. Have a pint. Stay a while.


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