By Sharon McDonnell
Maine is famed for lobsters, lighthouses and blueberries. Now you can add craft beer to the list. New England’s Portland is, in addition to being a delightful small foodie city, a wonderful place to enjoy craft beers. Allagash Brewing Company pioneered Belgian-style brews in Maine back in 1995. Besides its flagship, Allagash White, it makes seven other tart-tasting brews year-round, from black, Saison to Tripel, plus wild-fermented brews flavored with raspberries (Coolship Red) or cherries. The wild-fermented beers are dubbed “Coolships” because the wort is placed in big shallow pans called “coolships” before being exposed to the cool night air, then aged in oak wine barrels.
Rising Tide Brewing Company produces three beers year-round, like Ishmael, a copper-colored brew that channels German altbiers, along with seasonal beers like Maine Island Trail Ale, a hoppy American ale for summer (a portion of sales benefits the Maine Island Trail Association). Nearby is Oxbow Brewing, specializing in Belgian-style beers, which year-round offers both Farmhouse Pale Ale, saison-brewed with American hops, and Grizacca, an American grisette.
Maine Beer Company, whose brewery and tasting room with solar panels and other “green” features, is technically in Freeport, but – since it began on Industrial Way where Allagash is located, and Freeport is a mere 20-minute drive north of Portland (and the home of L.L. Bean) – we won’t hold that against it. Expect West Coast-style hoppy ales in Lunch, an IPA, and Dinner, a Double IPA that wins rave reviews.
Must-go Portland pubs: Great Lost Bear, an old-style pub with over 70 craft beers on tap, and Novare Res Bier Café, a specialty beer bar with German, British and Belgian choices in 25 rotating taps and more than 500 bottles.
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