Unfortunately friend and Maine Beer Writers’ Guild booth-mate Josh at BrewsAndBooks.com beat me to the summary post — it’s taken me three days to recover — of this year’s Maine Brewers Festivals and he touched on everything I wanted to make a point of saying. I think the biggest single take-away from this year’s festival, though, was what a huge improvement it was over past years.
A combination of factors came into play in improving the festival – a larger variety of the state’s breweries so that there were more offerings than the normal English-style ales; a better floorplan (fewer non-beer-related booths) which resulted in more room to spread out and hang out when not in line for beer; and probably most importantly, an earlier start time for the evening session (which cut down on possible pre-gaming, so a lot fewer people arrived already trashed). All factors which came together to turn this once depressing brewfest — so much so that in 2007 Allagash actually threw their own party at the brewery the day of the festival to try and draw crowds away from the official festival — into an awesome time well worth the price of admission.
Running a booth was a lot of fun; we got to meet a lot of new and interesting people, talk a lot of beer, have a quiet place to hang out, get some great promotion for the blog(s) and the Writers’ Guild itself, and (probably because of the press passes) got us a whole lot of extra beers beyond our allotted tickets. Some of the beer highlights of the day were definitely having Bar Harbor Brewing’s Cadillac Mountain Stout of draught for the first time; a bourbon barrel-aged version of the Lake Trout Stout from Sebago Brewing; and of course the Spring Peeper Ale on draught from the Maine Beer Company (who I’m a big fan of, in case you couldn’t tell) – the beer which ran dry before anyone else’s at the festival (and 15 minutes faster in the 2nd session than the first).
So there you have it. If you’d like to see more news, reviews and photos from the Festival, check out the #mebrewfest hashtag, the MEBrewFest flickr page, Sam Cousins’ photo page, and the Maine Brewers Festival Facebook page. And I never thought I’d say this the last time I was there but I seriously can’t wait for next year’s festival. See you in 2010!