The Beer Babe

by Carla Jean Lauter
by Carla Jean Lauter

All The News That’s Fit to Drink 

Last fall I wrote an article for a national beer magazine that provided a detailed itinerary for craft-beer enthusiasts visiting the Portland area. I wrote it thinking the guide would also be useful to beer tourists arriving this summer, but so much has already changed. For example …

  • Bissell Brothers Brewing Company has left its nest amid the cluster of brewers on Industrial Way, in the Riverton area, and moved to Thompson’s Point, in Portland’s Libbytown neighborhood.
  • The space Bissell Brothers vacated will not remain empty for long. Neighboring Foundation Brewing Company plans to expand into that area. And on the back side of the same building, Austin Street Brewery has just completed a major increase in its production capacity, so they’re no longer the little kids on the block.
  • Steps away on Industrial Way, Allagash Brewing Company has introduced, for the first time in two years, a new beer to its lineup that will be available year-round: Sixteen Counties. A nod to the growing availability of local malted grains, all the malts and grains used to brew Sixteen Counties are sourced within the state of Maine. When you see this fruity and crisp beer on tap or in the cooler, I encourage you to try it.
  • Blue Ox Malthouse recently opened in Lisbon Falls. In addition to being a large-scale malting facility preparing grains for brewers, the warehouse is roomy enough to host bluegrass hoedowns, which will take place on a semi-regular basis this summer.
  • The “yEast Bayside” community in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood continues to grow. Rising Tide Brewing Company recently redesigned and expanded their tasting room, providing more space for seating and activities. And the Rising Tide beer formerly known only as Gose now has a new name, Pisces, and (much to my delight) is more regularly available. Don’t worry, hop fans, the highly sessionable Maine Island Trail Ale remains a summer staple.
  • Just around the corner from Rising Tide, on Anderson Street, new arrival Lone Pine Brewing Company now has a tasting room and is bottling their beer. Urban Farm Fermentory, also on Anderson, just got approved to start brewing beer in their space, in addition to the ciders and kombucha UFF produces. They plan to offer gruits, which are beers brewed with herbs other than hops to bitter them. And yet another brewery in the neighborhood, a nano-size enterprise called One Eye Open, is preparing for a mid-summer debut on Fox Street.
  • Rick Binet, co-founder of The King’s Head craft-beer pub on Commercial Street, has opened a new place in the Old Port, on Wharf Street, called Portland Mash Tun. The small but cozy spot boasts a robust tap list, to which Binet plans to soon add beers from his own nano-brewery on the premises.
  • Speaking of new bars, there’s now a craft-beer gastropub inside Whole Foods! [Hannah Joyce McCain reviewed the food in this issue.] The Somerset Tap House pours 24 mostly Maine-centric selections, with a few beers from other New England states peppered in. I found it a little weird to watch people shop for groceries while I sipped beer at the bar, but appreciated that the atmosphere inside the pub was quiet enough to carry on a conversation.
  • There’s action across the harbor, as well. The new Fore River Brewing Company is South Portland’s first brewery. Located on Huntress Avenue, Fore River has a decent amount of room for groups to sit and sample their brews. It’s also one of the only tasting rooms in Maine that regularly serves at least one beer on a nitrogen-based tap. And just over the Casco Bay Bridge, in SoPo’s Knightville neighborhood, a second beer-maker, Foulmouthed Brewing, is preparing to open a brewpub on Ocean Street in the coming months.

I hope this list helps you catch up on the happenings in the local beer industry since last fall. I’m sure that by the time this issue hits the streets there’ll be more Maine brewery news to report. It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the new brewers and expansions, but that’s a great problem to have.

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