Maine Welcomes New Breweries with Open Arms
By Benjamin Moore.
This is an exciting time in Maine’s alcohol history. With demand for great quality beer growing, we are seeing new breweries opening in towns that previously had none. Here we highlight five of the newest kids on the block: the freshman breweries you don’t want to miss. Be sure to check them out and support our local beer.
Fore River Brewing Company
As South Portland’s first brewery, Fore River Brewing Company opened its doors and shared their beer with the world in January. With TJ Hansen and John Legassey at the helm of the brewing process, Fore River currently produces 3 beers: Lygonia IPA, Timberhitch Irish Red Ale, and John Henry oatmeal milk stout. If you find one that you really like you can take it home in a growler.
Almost everything you see when you walk into the brewery is custom made by the owners, out of wood. From the bar top to the light fixtures, everything has a custom look and personal touch to it. The tasting room is located very close to Portland and open Thursday–Friday. You can find their beer scattered about in local bars around the area.
Mast Landing Brewing Company
Mast Landing is located off of the busy Main Street near local restaurants like Portland Pie Company. It’s Westbrook’s first and only brewery. As you walk through the hallway to the tasting room, you’ll notice their gigantic space that I’m sure they will easily grow into. As a two-barrel brewhaus they brew a few styles including my favorite Maine Stay IPA. They’re known for brewing pilot batches of different styles like a milk stout.
At their current brewing capacity, they are only open on the weekends. Make sure to make the small trek to Westbrook to check these guys out.
Bear Bones Beer
Surprising most with their funky yet drinkable styles, Bear Bones Beer is a brand new nano-brewery located in Lewiston, Maine. The first time I tried their beer I drank the best Rauchbier I’ve had to date. It was lightly smokey but balanced enough to drink and enjoy.
Bear Bones Beer brews their beer in a thriving area of Lewiston that is known for eating and drinking. They offer their craft beer in reusable growlers that you can take home.
Lone Pine Brewing Company
An addition to East Bayside, Lone Pine Brewing Company has the smallest selection of beer out of the breweries in production on this list. In an unconventional move, they released Portland Pale Ale to the public in bottle and draught a month before the tasting room was open. Portland Pale is a yummy pale ale with a light bitterness but crisp finish.
The tasting room is across the street from Urban Farm Fermentory on Anderson Street in Portland, Maine. The brewery has plans to regularly have the tasting room open in the summer with food trucks and other fun events happening.
A little over a month after the release of Portland PaleAle, they released their What What Wheat Ale exclusively to the Empire music venue in downtown Portland. Recently, Lone Pine made a collaborative beer with Rising Tide, Shipyard, Bunker Brewing, Oxbow Brewing, and Urban Farm Fermentory. It was an English Pale Ale brewed to celebrate Portland Trails’ 25th anniversary with all the proceeds going back to the trails.
Dirigo Brewing Company
Last, but certainly not least is Dirigo Brewing Company. This is another brewing company slated to open very soon in Biddeford. The co-owner and head brewer Tom Bull has been immersed in the brewing industry in Maine for many years. Do you remember Bull Jagger Brewing Company in 2011? Those delicious lagers were brewed by none other than Mr. Bull.
Dirigo started their buildout of the brewery in the summer of 2015 in an almost-abandoned mill building in Biddeford. Since then they have completely transformed their space into something warm and inviting with spectacular views of the waterfall and river.
Dirigo Brewing will be producing other types of beer than lagers this time around. The plan is to be open before the summer starts with a massive tasting room and delectable beer to follow. As the freshman breweries go this year, Dirigo is the one I’m most excited about.
The Great Lost Bear has been a Portland institution since opening in 1979. The Bear is located about two miles from Portland’s touristy Old Port but well worth the journey across town to the Mysterious Woodford’s Area. The Great Lost Bear features an enormous, eclectic menu with something for everyone, all served in an entertaining atmosphere. They have added more taps as new breweries open throughout the Northeast. Now, with the Craft Beer Revolution in full throttle GLB offers 78 beers on tap with over 40 from the State of Maine alone. Come taste some of the freshest local beer around at the GLB!
Since its founding in 1988, Gritty McDuff’s, Maine’s first brew pub since Prohibition, has brewed creative, quality beers that have earned awards ranging from repeat First Place wins at the annual Real Ale Festival in Chicago, to a silver medal at the prestigious 2007 Great British Beer Festival. The Brew Pubs also have frequently won statewide polls as ‘Maine’s Best Brew Pub,’ ‘Best Maine Microbrew,’ and ‘Best Bar.’ Gritty McDuff’s operates three popular brew pubs in Maine. Located in Portland, Freeport and Auburn, the locations draw crowds of all ages. Known for their seasonal and year-round ales, tempting pub fare, and welcoming atmosphere, Gritty’s pubs have been named an Editor’s Pick by Condé Nast Traveler, highlighted as “a legend among New England brewpubs” by The Boston Globe, and cited on Playboy.com as one of the best bars in America.
Oak Hill Beverage proves you can get a great selection of beer and wine outside of Portland. Since buying the store in 2014, owner/proprietor Robert Denton has focused on increasing the diversity of craft beer and fine wines. In addition to local options from Maine’s best breweries, Denton fills his shelves with rare beers from outside of Maine. They focus on customer service and know a lot about what they sell. They will help you find something to fit all palates and budgets, and also provide party/event planning and delivery.
The Run of the Mill and The Liberal Cup bring the comfortable, inviting atmosphere of English style pubs to Maine. Housed by a sprawling mill building in Saco, ‘The Mill’ offers ample indoor and (seasonal) outdoor seating with views overlooking the Saco River and up-and-coming mill district. Smaller and more intimate than its southern counterpart, ‘The Cup’ is located in the heart of Hallowell – a vibrant, historic town. Both feature hand crafted beer and home-style food surrounded by distinctive architecture and old world charm in rustic brick & mortar structures. Our pub style menus feature an array of lighter fare, hearty entrees and creative specials made from fresh, local ingredients. To wash it all down, we use the finest malts and hops to create 25 varieties of craft beer which flow directly from our in-house breweries. Eat, Drink, Relax & Enjoy!
At 27 years old, Dan ease started Rock Harbor Restaurant on Main Street in Rockland, Maine with the idea of some day making it a brew pub. After 2 years of growing the restaurant into one of Rockland’s favorite pubs, a brewery in southern Maine decided to close its doors. The opportunity to start a brewery presented itself and Dan purchased the equipment and moved it two hours north and installed it at Rock Harbor in July of 2013. After licensing Rock Harbor Brewing Co., the brewing began, and by October, the first pints were poured. Since October, Dan has made three different IPAs, an ESB, Pale Ale and two stouts. His only previous experience in brewing was ten years of home brewing, but through research and experimenting he has been able to create brews that people at Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery are loving.
Benjamin Moore is a photographer and martial artist. He has been blogging about beer for more than five years in Southern Maine.