Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Author: Carla Jean Lauter (Page 1 of 152)

Beer Festivals in Maine – Summer Edition

An attempt to collect information about beer festivals happening in Maine in summer 2017 through Labor Day all in one post.

Am I missing something? Let me know in the comments.

Last updated: April 5, 2017


MAY

Black Fly Brewfest
May 20, 2017 | Houlton, ME | Cost: $35 GA – $55 VIP – $10 DD | Tickets |

Itching to get out of town? The Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce proudly presents the 2nd annual Black Fly Brewfest! Over 30 Maine breweries bringing over 100 Maine beers to Northern Maine’s Premier Beer Festival! The drive is beautiful, the town is small and lovely, and the beers are from some hard-to-find locations. Maine-centric, well attended, and tons of fun.

JUNE

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp
June 3, 2017 | Thompson’s Point | $55 GA – $75 VIP – $ 40 DD | Tickets | Website

A traveling, multi-city beer fest put on by Sierra Nevada, featuring the country and the region’s best beer. This is not a festival to be missed – and it takes full advantage of the vast Thompson’s Point venue. Tickets will go quickly, so if you are considering going, pick them up soon. More details TBA.

Tap Into Summer 2017
June 17, 2017 | Bangor, ME | $35-52.50 GA – $50-75 VIP – $10-20 DD | Tickets | Website

Bangor’s biggest beer bash is held on the Bangor Waterfront, and features 25 Maine breweries, many that are hard-to-find outside of the greater Portland area. Unique to this fest are additional ticket options for wine sampling – so non-beer lovers can particpate too! Rain or shine, this tent-based event is a good time no matter what the weather brings.

Allagash Street Fair
JUNE 24, 2017 | PORTLAND, ME | $10-$20 | TICKETS | WEBSITE

Neighborhood block party meets beer and food festival. Taking over a section of the Industrial Way neighborhood, this event is one known for also being very family-friendly. The price of the ticket will include your souvenir drinking vessel for adults over 21, as well as access to both musical stages and circus show, photobooth, kids station, pedicab rides and much more for all involved.

Great Falls Brewfest
June 24, 2017 | Lewiston, ME | $35 GA – $55 VIP – $15 DD | TICKETS | WEBSITE

A huge, outdoor space, a professionally run festival and plenty of fun activities make this Baxter Brewing sponsored festival stand out among other events. Held in Simard Payne park in Lewistion, this fest features 45+ breweries, 150+ beers, 10 food trucks, 2 live bands, vendors, puppies, and more! It is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, and the beer section is always top-notch.

JULY

Craft Brew Races
JULY 1, 2017 | PORTLAND, ME | $45-65 – $15 DD | TICKETS

The Craft Brew Races are a series of timed 5k’s open to beer lovers of all speeds, and beer festivals highlighting the local craft brewing scene. The 3-hour post-race celebration features a sampling of more than 30 breweries, live music, and food trucks. Tickets can be purchased for the race + festival, or just the festival itself at the end. A great way to combine a love for activity and beer!

Pils& Love!
July 15, 2017 | South Portland, ME | Tickets TBD | Website

Oxbow Brewing Company is known for farmhouse ales, but they love drinking Pilsners. In Italy, pilsners are a huge deal, and there have been pilsner-only festivals each year. This year, Oxbow is working with Agostino and Birrifico to host the first ever American version of this festival. This will be held at Spring Point Ledge in South Portland. Details TBA!

Rails, Tails & Ales : The Midcoast Craft Beer Festival
July 15, 2017 | Boothbay, ME | $35 | Tickets | Website

Visitors will enjoy great craft beer from Maine breweries, an outdoor car show, plus a family-friendly setting including steam train rides. A fun festival for those that are interested in more than just the beer. Live blues music and food will also make this fest stand out.

Maine Brewer’s Guild – Summer Session
JULY 29, 2017 | THOMPSON’s POINT | $49-55 GA – $60 VIP – $20 DD | TICKETS  | WEBSITE

An annual summer gathering featuring the best that Maine Beer has to offer. Part homecoming, part beer truck smorgasbord and mostly just a relaxed, wonderful atmosphere, the Summer Session is really the quintessential fest for anyone that’s a fan of celebrating Maine beer. The outdoor venue at Thompson’s Point is a perfect backdrop for the long festival, where you’re free to take your time, take a break and eat a lobster roll or taco, listen to live music, and just enjoy summer.

AUGUST

No festivals announced. If I’m missing any, let me know!

SEPTEMBER

Skowhegan Craft Beer Festival
September 2, 2017 | Skowhegan, ME | $45 GA – $65 VIP – $15 DD | Tickets | Website

An array of Maine craft brewers, local food vendors featuring farm-to-table fare, live bands, guided river walks along the Kennebec, and tours of the Somerset Grist Mill and of Skowhegan’s section of the Langlais Art Trail will combine to make an unforgettable close to summer. All proceeds from this event will support ongoing revitalization efforts in Skowhegan.

Maine Beer Festival
September 2-3, 2017 | Topsham, ME | Tickets – Not Yet Available | FACEBOOK

The “Maine Beer Festival” is veteran-owned and strives to provide the LARGEST Craft Beer festival in Maine, showcasing ONLY Maine brewers/brews. This will be held at the spacious Topsham Fairgrounds, and will go over both days of Labor Day Weekend. The festival will provide a unique VIP and GA experience not seen at other festivals in the state. More details TBA.


If I am missing information on a particular event, please let me know in the comments below and I will update it. This page is listing major beer festivals and events that take place in Maine in the summer of 2017 (May 1- August 31st). Small events, beer dinners, etc., are not included on this list.

The Good, The Bad, and The Buttery

Originally published in the April edition of The Bollard.


As we begin the annual ramp-up toward the busy summer season in Maine, there are a few issues on the tasting-room table that warrant some attention…

The Good

This summer will bring more people to Maine for beer than ever before. A recent report by the University of Maine School of Economics and the Maine Brewers’ Guild determined that Maine beer and breweries brought nearly $228 million into our economy last year, a growth that is forecast to continue. Beer has become a significant part of our state’s draw for tourism, and the beer industry is one that our state lawmakers would be wise to support.

Last month, brewers and other workers in the industry testified in favor of bills aimed at making some behind-the-scenes logistics of brewing and selling beer more straightforward in Maine. One key measure would clarify laws regulating the transfer of packaged beer from one brewery location to another; a second would give retailers more freedom to host tastings and provide free samples. Though these are not high-visibility issues, they are important to ensure that the growth Maine’s beer sector is experiencing can continue. So if you really like beer, you should totally come to Maine, and you can try the best beer there is around, you can even bring your own mug, and if you don’t have one you just need to visit the Top 9 Best Copper Moscow Mule Mugs 2017 – Top9Rated.

In January, Bissell Brothers announced tentative plans to start brewing and selling their beer in the founders’ hometown of Milo, located in Piscataquis County. Without the ability to legally sell beer produced and packaged in Portland at this second location (and vice versa), the brothers’ dream may not become a reality, and Piscataquis could remain the only county in Maine without a brewery.

The Bad

During my visits to Portland breweries over the winter months, I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the tasting rooms full of enthusiastic patrons. But some brewery owners I spoke with expressed unease about the high numbers of customers coming in during what’s normally a slow season. A few admitted they were nervous about their capacity — not just from a production standpoint (can they brew enough beer to meet demand?), but as a matter of crowd management. Many tasting rooms have a modest amount of space for seating and standing, and a small staff whose primary job is to serve beer, not manage crowds.

With more people come more potential problems. In addition to the issue of glassware theft that I’ve raised before, it’s prudent for everyone who supports the industry to be aware of other inappropriate behavior happening at tasting rooms and to do what we can to intervene. If you see patrons drinking beer in the parking lot, acting intoxicated or vandalizing property, let a staff member know. Even one serious or dangerous incident at a brewery tasting room could ruin the relatively generous amount of freedom these establishments have enjoyed, and no one wants that to happen.

The Buttery

It’s disheartening to order a favorite beer only to find it doesn’t taste like it should. Or worse, to take a chance on buying a bottle or a six-pack and get a slick, buttery feeling on your tongue when you drink it. I’ve had both experiences in the past few months, and I’m putting my foot down: We should not tolerate this.

The culprit for these flavors is diacetyl. Pronounced either dye-ass-uh-tull or die-a-seat-ill, this byproduct of fermentation produces flavors reminiscent of buttered popcorn or butterscotch. In most beers, the amount of this chemical that’s present is small enough not to be noticed, or it’s entirely absent. In some English styles, a hint of diacetyl is desired and is produced naturally by some of the yeasts. But you should still be able to taste the beer beneath that slight buttery flavor.

Brewers can rid their beer of diacetyl by adding a few days of “rest” to the fermentation process, giving the yeast a few days to re-absorb the compound so it doesn’t show up in the finished beer. Beer that is rushed to market can often suffer from this unfortunate flavor. Infections from dirty tap lines can reintroduce diacetyl to a beer, as well, which makes it difficult to determine if the brewer or the bar manager is at fault.

In any case, it’s important to recognize this flavor and bring it to the brewer’s or bartender’s attention so they can correct the flaw. I’d rather that we give that $228 million to the breweries and bars that are doing it right, wouldn’t you?

Surrender to the Dark Side

Originally published in The Bollard. Header photo by Benjamin Moore 


Porters and stouts are polarizing. Start talking about a craft beer made in those styles and you’ll likely hear one of two responses: “Does it taste like Guinness?” or “I don’t really like dark beers.”

It’s a shame that so many beer lovers have such a narrow idea of what a stout could taste like. This is due to some stereotypes, some misconceptions, and the fact that before the craft-beer boom of the early 2000s, Guinness was the only widely available stout on the market. But darker styles are showing up more widely on shelves and tap lists in Maine, not just next to the corned beef and cabbage.

First, let’s address the toucan in the room. When poured correctly, and when it’s at its freshest, Guinness is an impeccable beer. It has a thin body that makes it easily drinkable, and the nitrogen (instead of the traditional CO2) used in its draft lines provides a yielding creaminess. The roasted flavors perfectly accent any hearty comfort food, or even a plate of oysters. But this style of stout, a Dry Irish stout, is certainly not representative of the full spectrum of dark beers brewed today.

The Beer Judge Certification Program (an organization that establishes criteria for competitions) recognizes Stouts and Porters as the two main categories of dark beer, each containing a variety of sub-styles. Stouts were traditionally considered stronger, or stouter, than porters, but that line has been blurred and even crossed, of late. Stouts have six officially recognized sub-styles (Dry, Sweet, Oatmeal, Foreign Extra, American, and Russian Imperial) and porters have three (Brown, Robust, and Baltic).

Brewers across our state have taken on many of these styles, and arguably some of the best dark beers around are made in Maine, both because we have long winters that pair well with these varieties, and because we’re fortunate to have water that’s very suitable for brewing them.

Unfortunately for Guinness fans, there are relatively few craft stouts made in the Dry Irish style. Many brewers go straight for the bolder and heavier flavors of Imperial stouts, or use barrel-aging to impart flavors of bourbon or rum into their brews. Thankfully, Fore River Brewing Company, in South Portland, has a delicious analog to an Irish stout, dubbed John Henry. It’s an inky black, yet light-bodied milk stout with a familiar roastiness and a slight sweetness. Fore River’s tasting room often offers John Henry on nitrogen and CO2 draft lines. Try them side by side just to experiment.

If you’re not a fan of the bitter or smoky flavors found in a lot of dark beer, go for some of the slightly sweeter porters. These tend to be rich, but without the vaguely “burnt” notes that more than a few drinkers dislike. A great local example is Foundation Bedrock, a robust porter that carries flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. Its balance makes Bedrock an excellent introduction for those new to the style: it’s packed with flavor but doesn’t feel heavy, and with an ABV of 6.7%, it’s not a booze bomb, either. Bedrock is also one of the few porters in Maine that’s available in 16 oz. cans.

Drinkers venturing into the Dark Side may also enjoy Baltic porters, which typically have plum-like flavors and a subtle sweetness. Dirigo Brewing Company’s Baltic Porter and Bunker Brewing’s Dark Wave are both stellar examples of this style, available at the breweries’ tasting rooms and elsewhere.

Though they’re often considered to be seasonal beers, the right stout or porter can be just as satisfying in the depths of winter as it is served alongside backyard barbecue. In my book, Baxter Brewing Company’s Per Diem Porter is just such a beer. Per Diem, which made my “Best of 2016” list for its can design, is one of the few dark beers included in a Maine brewery’s lineup year round. It’s on the dry side, which makes this porter crisp but still flavorful, and its light body and 5.5% ABV are such that it isn’t limited to being a sipper.

So when St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, don’t forget about the stouts and porters. There’s a lot more on the Dark Side worth exploring.

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