Recently, I took a jaunt up to my hometown of Portland, ME. Being that I grew up there as a boy, I never really got the full scope of adult activities available. I spent most of my time boating, hiking and being awkward so it was exciting to visit as a grown up and see that Portland too, had grown up.
Not only does Portland have an amazing food scene, which we all already know about, it has an amazing beer scene. Beyond the established and sturdy brewers like Shipyard, Gritty McDuff’s and Allagash, Portland is home to upcoming indie brewers like Rising Tide and Bunker Brewing Company.
The streets are laden with good-looking young people decked out in duck boots and flannel. I do my best drinking while wearing my L.L. Bean fleece so it felt all too familiar.
Too Cool for school – Allagash Coolship
The day started with a full flight of Shipyards entire line-up including a couple I hadn’t seen before. Shipyard has a distinctly English style as Alan Pugsley, the founder, had learned to brew under Peter Austin in Hampshire. I enjoy a good Shipyard and the truth is they got me through college however, I feel that the beers there are a little too middle of the road for me. They have too much wide spread appeal to be great.
The treasure trove of Allagash
That’s when I hit my favorite American brewer, Allagash! They hold the key to my heart and they use it generously. They offer a variety of Belgian style ales and barrel aged beers that leave you in awe. The same way that there just isn’t a bad Beatles album, there isn’t a bad beer in their line up. It’s just full of hits. During my time, we hung out with our amazing guide, Ashley, and she gave us the full tour of the barrel rooms where we sampled a curve ball… a sour known as Coolship Resurgam.
I’m not normally one for the sours but somehow Allagash just knows exactly what itch to scratch. The Coolship was off the hook. It smelled strongly of blue cheese and apple slices and tasted of tart grapefruit and Brea. (Check out our VIP tour in the video posted below)
Admittedly we were half in the bag at this point as all Allagash brews are pushing upwards of 8-10%ABV so we grabbed a burger and a coffee at LFK before the next brewery… oh yeah, and an Oxbow wild yeast IPA brew along with a Bunker coffee IPA.
Rising Tide barrel aging
Once we were fully stuffed and becoming sober, it was time to hit our next brewer, the indie favorite Rising Tide. Situated across from a community soccer field with a small tap set up inside the brewing facility, you feel like you walked in on a garage band rehearsing. The great news is, they didn’t play like a garage band. The beers were mature with deep flavor development, just the right amount of balance between edgy and accessible.
We tasted five brews and chewed the fat with the owner Nate Sanborn and for a while. My favorite of the selection was the Daymark brewed with rye grain.
The winds changed directions and we were three sheets South again. For our sober dose this time we went to Eventide oyster bar and had an amazing lobster roll in brown butter with a final nightcap from the Maine Beer Company, the Peeper Ale.
The Tide is Rising on Portland’s beer scene
By the end of the day I was exhausted from the meat, beer and coffee. I slept like I had a loaf of bread in my intestine but it was all worth it. Go ahead and Beer, ME. again!