YBC on the Road: Portland, Maine
While the first huge snowstorm of 2016 was pummeling the New York area, Mike and I went up to Portland, Maine to visit some friends and check out some of the best breweries best breweries in the Northeast. Ironically enough, we didn’t get a single snowflake up there.
Our first day brought us to Maine Beer Company in Freeport, Maine, which is about 25 minutes from Portland. Ryan, the tasting room manager, was nice enough to give us a private tour of the facility, which was fantastic. The beer was delicious, as expected: Lunch (IPA), Peeper (Pale Ale), Zoe (Amber Ale), King Titus (Porter) were my brews of choice for the four-beer flight at the tasting room. Weez (Black Ale), MO (Pale Ale) and Another One (IPA) were also on tap, as well as a pilot batch of imperial stout. The beer was great, the branding was elegant and simple, and the people were cool…can’t as for much more than that!
The LL Bean Factory Store & Patagonia were also in Freeport, so we figured we’d take a peek before heading back to Portland. The former was like a college campus, it was huge! But I digress…
Upon our return to Portland, we hit up Rising Tide Brewing and grabbed a flight. They had small but cozy taproom. Their interesting brews included Mockingfish, a Gose brewed with Maine seawater and aged in tequila barrels, Waypoint, a delicious coffee porter and a weizen stout called Ursa Minor.
The food scene up there was quite good as well; anyone going to Portland NEEDS to visit these two restaurants: The Great Lost Bear (amazing fish & chips and haddock chowder) and Eventide Oyster Co., which is the place for fresh, local oysters. Pair those babies with an Allagash White and you’re all set.
Speaking of Allagash, that was the next day’s big adventure. My friend Salim is a production assistant there, so he was able to show us around. First, however, we had to show up at the brewery at 8:30am for Wild Beer Roundup, a four-hour event in which the Belgian & sour savants released both new and rare beers (as well as gave out free coffee and donuts). Games were played, prizes were won, beers were tasted and bottles were purchased.
The state of the art equipment, barrel room and wild beer conditioning room were only a few of the impressive things about Allagash. Salim took us all over the giant facility and showed us how things went down on a day-to-day basis. The most interesting (and arguably most impressive) thing about Allagash is their commitment to quality control; that can’t be easy with the kind of volume they do per year, but they make sure fresh beer is going out of their facility at all costs. That, plus their coolship out back was sooooo cool (nerd alert).
We were able to try Helena, a Flemish Red Sour; Resurgam, a coolship sour; Golden Brett on cask and Nancy, a sour red ale brewed with Maine cherries. Some were more sour than others, but all were interesting and well executed in their own right.
In spite of the awe-inspiring Allagash, we still had a few other breweries to visit afterwards. Next, we headed over to Foundation Brewing and Austin Street Brewing, both of which are in the same industrial park. Both tasting rooms were tiny, but the beers packed a punch, particularly Foundation, which had an super juicy IPA called Epiphany.
That night, after a beer (Oxbow Brewing Space Cowboy) at Novare Res, an awesome subterranian-esq bier cafe, and dinner at Central Provisions, we headed over to The Kings Head for a pint (Bissell Brothers Brewing Souls of Filthy Angels) and, lastly, a flight at Liquid Riot Bottling Co. As you can tell, a great deal of beer was consumed on this trip, but it was all worth it. Portland makes some serious beer, period.
In the morning, we grabbed a maple potato donut at The Holy Donut, some Coffee By Design drip coffee and ended our trip at the Portland Head Light, one of the most famous lighthouses in the USA. See below:
We can’t thank Allagash Brewing & Maine Beer Co. enough for all their hospitality. It was an amazing experience and we hope to do a collaboration of some kind with these heavy hitters in the future. For now, all we can do is work towards a goal that these breweries have already achieved: having their name be synonymous with great craft beer that is enjoyed by people throughout the country.
Thanks for reading!
– Nicky Vowels