I love Portland, Maine for many reasons. It may be a small city, but it has more bars per capita than most places in the world. The beer culture in Maine has always been strong. After all the Maine Brewers Festival is in it’s 20th year. The number of breweries in Portland however, has increased over the past few years. I wanted to share some of the breweries and pubs that Portland has to offer, should you ever make it out this way.
Breweries in Portland, Maine
- Allagash - You may have had Allagash White, but I can assure you it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Anyone that works there is allowed and encouraged to experiment with batches. The tasting room is nice, with a cool outdoor patio in the summer. They’ve recently expanded and are one of the best companies in Maine. Tours and tastings are free and it is always the first thing I recommend to out of state beer drinkers.
- Bissell Brothers – Their Substance IPA Is one of the best I’ve ever had, and is damn near impossible to find in cans. Drafts are available at a few places in town, but they never stay stocked for very long. This is one of the hottest beers in Portland in my opinion. They’ll show you around, and you can try the beer for $3 or $6, which is totally worth it. They’re located next to Allagash, and they just added a pinball machine, giving the tasting room a bar like atmosphere.
- Foundation Brewery Also located next to Allagash, Foundation makes some really nice beers. They can give you a tour if it’s not too busy in the tasting room, which offers $1 4oz samples. Definitely delicious and worth checking out since you’re there already.
- Geary’s – Geary’s has been around for a very long time. They make beers with pretty strong flavor profiles. Also located near Allagash, but they have a very limited tour schedule, so it’s always best to call ahead.
- Rising Tide – Rising tide is a new-ish brewery that used to be next to Allagash (seeing a theme here?) but have since moved to Fox Street. Thankfully there are a few other breweries in that area. They make some great IPA style beer. They’ve teamed up with Allagash to do some really interesting stuff in the past. In fact, most of the breweries have a great working relationship. Free to visit, pay $1 per sample, or you can get pints. They have outdoor games in summer.
- Bunker Brewing Co. – Bunker makes my favorite pilsner style beer in Maine. They’re a smaller operation, basically located next to Rising Tide. They have a close relationship with my favorite place to get oysters, (Eventide Oyster Co) and make a beer using oyster juices or something. It’s surprisingly good.
- Maine Craft Distilling – Not beer, but it’s next to Rising Tide/Bunker so might as well grab some free tasters. Since we’re talking non-beer, be sure to hit up the Urban Farm Fermentory (also near Bunker) for some hard cider or kombucha, as well as Maine Mead Works just up the hill for some delicious mead.
- Shipyard – People go bonkers for their seasonal fall beer, Pumpkinhead. Even if you don’t like it, there’s no denying that they’ve done a lot for small brewing in Maine. They’re the 3rd largest ‘micro’ brewery in the country I believe. They also make the beer for href=”http://www.seadogbrewing.com/” target=”_blank”>Sea Dog.
- Gritty’s – Gritty’s is a pub that brews on premises, has outdoor seating, and typically is packed on the weekends. Food is standard pub fare, and the beer is very drinkable. Really a super fun place to be with live music on weekends.
- Infiniti Infiniti Brews beer and distills their own liquor, also has food and outdoor seating. I haven’t had a chance to try everything they offer, but I like what I’ve had so far. Their food is expensive, but pretty tasty. Definitely going to be a hotspot this summer.
- Austin Street Brewery- I know nothing about this place. They’re brand new in 2014 and just got a home on Industrial Way. Once I check them out, I’ll update with a little review.
How to get around?
Do not drink and drive, ever. There are plenty of taxi services that can get you all over the city at reasonable rates. I am a fan of ASAP Taxi, mostly because they are fast. Portland is small. Many of these places are within walking distance, and lets face it, compared to places like New York or Boston, Portland is tiny. It’s easy to walk around and pub crawl. Do that instead of drive and burn off some of those calories you’ll be packing on.
Two companies, Maine Beer Tours, and The Maine Brew Bus that will drive groups around to various places for a set price. A little pricey, but it’s super fun to do if you have a large gang of beer lovers. Drinking on the bus is allowed, so it turns into a party on wheels pretty quickly.
For those wanting to drink at home, you can purchase local beers at most of the breweries, or you can visit a number of good stores that specialize in beer. The best one with the best local selection and most knowledgeable staff is far and away the the Bier Cellar, while RSVP, and Friendly Discount Beverage have large selections as well.
All in all, there is no denying that Portland has a kick ass beer culture! Come and experience it for yourself. Did I leave something out? Leave a comment and tell me what I should add to the list!