Maine is known first and foremost for its lobster, that delicious crustacean from the coast. The Pine Tree State is also a major producer of potatoes, blueberries, maple syrup, even broccoli.
But beer? Who knew? Well, an ice cold IPA sure goes well with fresh lobster dipped in butter, or Maine fried clams and French fries made from hand-cut Maine potatoes, right?! Beer making is big in Maine. Perhaps the state mantra could be “Maine, the way beer should be” or Maine – Beer Vacation Land.
Maine has became a micro brew state in the past few decades, with new breweries and beer labels popping up like lobster pots in Cape Porpoise harbor. Lots of beer lovers in Maine simply craft their own small batch beer in their basement, but the Maine beer scene is far more sophisticated than home brews in houses.
You can actually visit Maine and make your time in Vacationland into a Maine beer tasting tour, visiting as many breweries as lighthouses and lobster shacks. These top Maine attractions go nicely together, lighthouses, boat tours, lobster bakes and beer.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?!
Maine Brew Pubs and Breweries
In recent years, Maine has become a beer-crafting leader, the low density state now hosts over 50 independent breweries, drafting 200 plus unique pours from porters and pilsners to IPAs and ales. The labels on Maine beers are as tempting and entertaining as the libation contained within each bottle. Baxter Brewing for example offers a Stowe Away IPA with a pirate-like skull and cross bones on the beer can.
Maine’s ski resorts have special small batch beers like Sugarloaf’s Bag and Kettle Brewing Company’s Winter Ale or Joe Stout made with Carrabassett coffee beans, delicious served après ski slopeside with a Bag Burger at Maine’s biggest ski mountain.
Portland has numerous breweries and brewpubs, including the original Gritty McDuff’s in the Old Port. Bissell Brothers Brewery at Thompson Point is popular. Even Tide is a small start up brewery gone big. Maine beer Company makes delicious craft beers. But there are so many good pours – Allagash, Bunker, FoulMouthed, Foundation, Lone Pine, Rising Tide, Oxbow Sebago Brewing, named for Sebago Lake, has its own brew family, with several brew pub restaurants and clever varietals with a vacationland theme like Frye’s Leap, Lake Trout Stout, Simmer Down Summer Session and Saddleback Ale. Full Throttle and Long Winter Ale are Sebago single batch brews, seasonal with a super beefy beer buzz content.
Beer Pairing Restaurants
At Maine’s best restaurants, the beer list is often as lengthy and fermented as the fancy wine list, with local offerings from light ales to blonde beers to porters, stouts and super hoppy beers loaded with barley that resemble bourbon more than beer. Maine’s top chefs now cater to beer drinkers with beer dinners to heighten the palate and pair with their host of culinary treats. Far beyond the beer battered shrimp, restaurants like York Harbor Inn host beer pairing dinners with flights of beer and several courses of seafood and beer braised beef, even a stout inspired dessert to finish off your feast.
Beer Festivals in Maine are huge in summer and fall harvest season. The Portland Brewfest is held Labor Day weekend with over 40 breweries and 70 beers for tasting. In November, the Maine Brewers Festival takes place in Portland with music and Maine brewer samplings. Bangor’s Beer Festival is in June each year with live music, a beer tent and craft fair of local Maine products. The Maine Lakes Brew Fest takes place at Point Sebago Resort in Casco end of September, with a lakeside setting, beer sampling, craft fairs and live music on the shores of Sebago Lake.
There are so many Maine breweries and beer making factories that in 2009, Maine Brewers Guild created the Maine Beer Trail Passport, a clever map and plan of the many brew pubs and distilleries to visit in Vacationland. You can follow along a proposed beer route through Maine, tasting and touring Maine’s beer plants from small scale to full beer brewing factories, or just visit a few breweries between lighthouses and beaches if you don’t like your pilsner so planned.
The Maine Beer Bus is a fun way to have your froth with frequent stops and narration along with way, and a DD. The Maine Brew Bus is a Beer Bus Tour you can charter for a private event, say a bachelor party, or take part in their party on wheels – The Progressive Beer Dinner or the standard Beer Bus Tour of several breweries on the Southern Maine Coast, Portland to Freeport, and Bangor.
Who is to blame for this brimming Maine beer scene? David Geary, yes of Geary’s Beer, he made Maine’s first official craft beer since Prohibition in 1986. By 1988, his fellow brewers Ed Stebbins and Richard Pfeffer opened Maine’s first true brewpub, Gritty McDuff’s on Fore Street in Portland with partners, and the rest is hops history.
While visiting Maine, be sure to frequent a few of these fantastic brew pubs and beer crafting companies along the way, and check out Maine’s wine scene and local vineyards. Drink and drive responsibly or hop on a beer bus tour or a brews cruise ferry to have fun safely.
Maine Breweries, Micro Brews and Brew Pubs:
Allagash Brewing Portland
Andrew’s Brewing Co Lincolnville
Atlantic Brewing Co Bar Harbor
Baxter Brewing Co Lewiston
Bag and Kettle Brewing Company Sugarloaf Mountain
Belfast Brewing Co Belfast
Black Bear Brewery Orono
Bissell Brothers Brewery
Boothbay Craft Beer Boothbay
Bunker Brewing Company
Bray’s Brewing Company and Brewpub Naples
Captain Dick’s Brewery Wells
DJ Geary’s Brewing Co Portland
Foundation Brewing Company Portland
Funky Bow Brewery Lyman
Gritty McDuff’s Portland & Freeport
In’Finiti Fermentation Portland
Kennebec River Pub & Brewery The Forks
Maine Beer Company Freeport
Maine Mead Works Portland
Marshal Wharf Brewing Company Belfast
Oak Pond Brewing Company
Oxbow Brewing Company
Rising Tide Brewing Company Portland
Rocky Coast Brewing Ogunquit
Run of the Mill Public House Saco Island
Sebago Brewing Scarborough, Gorham, Portland, Kennebunk
Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company Whitefield
Liberal Cup Hallowell
Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company and Pub Bangor
So Me Brewing Company York
Banded Horn Brewing Company Biddeford
Gneiss Beer Limerick
Bigelow Brewing Company Skowhegan
Lively Brewing Co. at Ebenezer’s Pub Brunswick
Pennesseewassee Brewing Co Harrison
Austin Street Brewery Portland
Tributary Brewing Company Kittery