Remember the Maine Beers
This post really has nothing to do with Northwest beers, Oregon, or the West Coast, but it sure does make me reminisce about my home state, the White Pine State, the State of Maine. Maine was right there with Oregon as one of the pioneers in the craft brew revolution during the 80s and 90s and, today, per capita, still possesses the most breweries. Growing up I first experienced craft brew in the two Sams…Samuel Smiths and Samuel Adams. I remember the first time I tasted the Triple Bock from Sam Adams and not knowing exactly what to make of it except the fact that it was a hair bending beast of a brew. When I got a little older, I had the occasional Sea Dog beer, which I never really became totally enamored by. But Geary’s London Porter and Shipyard’s Export Ale still remain fond in my heart to this day. It wasn’t until I lived in Northern California and Oregon in the late 1990s that I really got a sense of what an area’s agriculture could mean for a brew. Full Sail, Deschutes, Anderson Valley, Lagunitas, and BridgePort were among the first beers from this region that really captivated my palate. It wasn’t until after I’d moved to the Pacific Northwest that I even tasted Allagash’s amazing Belgian lineup of brews. I remember seeing the Dubble and Trippel at a Wild Oats market, recognizing the name “Allagash”, a notable river in my home state, and thinking, “that’s a potent brew from Maine, sold.” Today, I have enjoyed more beers that my Mickeys-drinking teenage mind could have imaged looking ahead with a greater appreciation for the vast brands now available on the market. In 2007, I returned to New England to visit family and friends, and even was fortunate enough to attend game 7 of the American League Championship Series with my dad at Fenway Park in Boston to see my beloved team, the Red Sox win the pennant. On my trip, I distributed a suitcase full of beer magazines for a start-up Northwest publication. This was also a great opportunity to visit several beer hot spots in the region. One of my favorite aside from Portsmouth Brewing (Smuttynose) was The Great Lost Bear in Portland, Maine. A British-styled pub with about fifty taps of amiable micro and import brews, the Lost Bear was definitely the place to be. Pictures of the late, great Michael Jackson upon his visit there, adorned the walls alongside Horsebrass-esque breweriana (except with a distinct Maine flair). My only regret is that I did not have more time to spent there.
Love the brews from NH and ME… I went to college in NH and spent many days in Portsmouth enjoying the Portsmouth Brewery. Their Wheat Wine Barley wine is incredibly delicious.
My lovely and talented wife is from Maine, and we head back at least once every couple years to New England. (Some of her family has scattered South to Boston.) I love the beers of New England, which in my mind form a complete pantheon–call it the beer of Red Sox nation. They’re more traditionally English than ours, which seems appropriate. One of the best, which you didn’t mention, is Geary’s. Amazing pale ale.
BTW, I think you’re wrong on breweries per capita. Last I saw the calculation run, Maine’s relatives to the West, in Vermont, had the honors. But it’s still a dispute among family
Geary’s London Porter is still one my favorites. I read somewhere, I believe BeerNews that Geary’s brewed an DIPA. Also I just read an article that Black Bear Brewpub in Orono is expanding into the IGA grocery store across the parking lot. That should be interesting to see what they do. God bless the great state of Maine!