To usher in “Drink Maine Beer” month, last night (Saturday November 3rd) the girlfriend and I made our way through the remains of Hurricane Noel to the 14th annual Maine Brewer’s Festival, with a whopping 15 breweries present. And suffice it to say that the only letdown was the absence of Allagash Brewing (due, apparently, to a “scheduling conflict”).
Even though there is never enough time and always lines, I was still able to sample ten very impressive brews. As I am apt to do at large festivals (of any sort, really), I stayed away from the beers which are always readily available to me (Shipyard, Casco Bay Brewing, Geary’s) who hadn’t brought anything extra special to the table and tried to seek out & sample the more obscure. I was even able to scratch out a few notes while waiting in line and ranked each sample on an A through F scale (’cause there’s nothing quite like using an elementary school grading system for ranking beer). My whole ranking is listed below, but my two favorite brews of the evening were Freeport Brewing Company’s Ex-wife Bitter Blonde Ale (*I generally am a big fan of unfiltered blonde ales to begin with, but this one had a little extra clove & hop kick, which was a great surprise) and Gritty McDuff’s Silver-Award Winning Cask-Conditioned IPA (*the sign in front of the cask said “this IPA will knock you on your ass” and it was exactly right, in every good way imaginable), and I gave Freeport Brewing my personal Surprise Brewery of the Evening award.
Overall, I was able to sample brews from The Atlantic Brewing Co. (Bar Harbor, ME), Carrabassett Brewing (a division of Casco Bay Brewing), Freeport Brewing Co. (Freeport, ME), Gritty McDuff’s (Portland/Auburn/Freeport, ME), Kennebunkport Brewing (Kennebunkport, ME), Peak Organic Brewing (Portland, ME), Sheepscot Brewing (Whitefield, ME), and Stonecoast Brewing (Portland, ME). We finished the evening off with a few slices of pizza from Portland Pie Co. and a sample of cheesecake to accompany the beer on its way to our stomachs. It was a great time and one we certainly won’t miss next year (on Saturday November 1st, so mark your calenders now)!
B Limited Edition Auld Ale (Atlantic Brewing Co.)
D Carrabassett Harvest Ale (Carrabassett Brewing)
A- Chocolate Porter (Freeport Brewing)
A+ Ex-Wife Bitter Blonde (Freeport Brewing)
A+ Cask-Conditioned IPA (Gritty’s)
A 2006 Vintage Cask-Conditioned Prelude Holiday Ale (Kennebunkport Brewing)
B- Taint Town Pale Ale (Kennebunkport Brewing)
B+ Pale Ale (Peak Organic Brewing)
A- Damariscotta Double Brown (Sheepscot Brewing)
B High Roller Hefeweizen (Stonecoast Brewing)