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Beer, there and everywhere! - Greater Bangor Beer Week

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BANGOR – Beer is big in the Bangor region. And it’s never bigger that it is during Greater Bangor Beer Week.

The annual event – spearheaded by the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau and now entering its third year – is bringing Bangor’s best brews to the forefront from Oct. 15-21. For one week, the area’s craft beer producers and consumers alike can come together in a celebration of a scene that continues to evolve and grow.

It’s no secret at this point that craft brewing is a significant economic and cultural phenomenon. The number of craft breweries has simply exploded in recent years. Hundreds upon hundreds of companies, ranging from big to small to somewhere in the middle, have taken it upon themselves to bring their own sudsy visions to bear on the beer-drinking public.

And few places have leaned into that trend like the State of Maine. We’ve embraced craft beer here; our state always appears near the top of any list of breweries per capita.

Not that that fact is the least bit surprising to folks here in Bangor. We’ve borne witness to all manner of craft breweries as they’ve popped up all over the area; in just a few years, we’ve seen operations spring up with creative and exciting ideas about what it means to make beer.

Make no mistake – Bangor is a craft beer town these days. So it stands to reason that the powers that be would come up with a way to embrace that fact.

Hence – Greater Bangor Beer Week.

The Greater Bangor CVB has come together with well over a dozen local breweries and other craft beer-friendly establishments to continue pushing this event. The value of the craft beer industry to this area is obvious to anyone who takes the time to look, so the CVB has done their due diligence in making sure that this third GBBW lives up to the two that came before it.

(And if you’re planning on hitting up multiple events over the course of the week – and you really should – the CVB has made available GBBW Passports. These are available at all participating establishments (as well as at the CVB offices at 330 Harlow St.); get checked off for at least seven of the week’s happenings and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a pretty phenomenal Brewers Prize Package.)

Now, we can talk about the craft beer scene until we’re blue in the face – goodness knows I yammer on about it often enough – but what does it really mean? How does an event like Greater Bangor Beer Week impact the scene? And how does it affect the relationships that are established between the area’s various craft beer creators and providers?

We reached out to some of the folks involved in the week’s events to see what they thought.

“Greater Bangor Beer Week has allowed a light to shine on the local beer industry as more than just beer,” said Lisa Sturgeon, Communications and Resource Manager for Geaghan Bros. Brewing Company. “It supports other businesses in the area that make the region great. It means jobs, and growth. This week is a celebration of all of that.”

Chris Morley, owner of Mason’s Brewing Company in Brewer, echoed that sentiment.

“I think that as the craft beer scene in Bangor continues to grow, it drives other businesses to grow alongside the local breweries,” he said. “Additionally, it can potentially inspire folks to maybe think of investing their time and money into the region.” 

There are plenty of other ways in which Greater Bangor Beer Week influences the local beer scene.

“It’s a great way to get the breweries and the beer fans together to celebrate Maine beer and our area's contribution to the Maine beer scene,” said Abe Furth, owner of Orono Brewing Company.

“Greater Bangor Beer Week has helped to broaden the audience to the overall scene by locations hosting events that can appeal to many,” said Gene Beck, owner of Nocturnem Draft Haus. “Also, just the publicity gets the message out there to more people.”

“The beer scene in Bangor keeps getting bigger,” said Stephen Genthner, co-owner of Blank Canvas Brewery. “The number of breweries and events keeps getting bigger. Patrons are going to have a hard time getting out to see and do everything they'd like as the events look great. This is such a great opportunity for the local brewers to really shine and show the community what we love to do. With so many diverse offerings, maybe we could attract even more folks into the craft beer camp.”

Of course, as with any event of this sort, there have been some changes along the way. A few of the respondents weighed in with their thoughts on how GBBW has evolved.

Morley offered that he felt like the outside attention elicited by such an event has grown.

“I’ve seen a lot more interest in our local craft beer scene from outside the area,” he said.

Beck’s response placed him firmly on the same page.

“The event has grown from basically just a couple of venues in Bangor to most everyone participating at some level,” Beck said. “We have also had many breweries from outside our area develop an interest in being a part of the Bangor scene. Again - more awareness and a broadening of the market. Also, [an event like this serves to] make our area more legit in the beer scene.”

Sturgeon added that she felt like the event’s growth has led to a diversity that is extremely attractive to beer fans near and far.

“Over the past three years, this event has grown to be something that people use their vacation weeks for,” she said. “The lineup of events has something for everyone; the events are as unique as each brewery’s beer styles.”

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of an event like Greater Bangor Beer Week is the opportunity for the various area brewers to come together. Celebrations like this one offer camaraderie and contemplation, as well as the chance to take a deep breath after a hectic summer season and open up channels of communication for potential collaborative efforts down the road.

OBC’s Furth is all-in on GBBW bringing the community together in a specific and engaging way.

“[Events like this are] a fantastic excuse to spend some time with the brewery community,” he said. “It's fun to get into a room together and to enjoy each other's work.”

“It’s a great time to decompress from the summer push and reconnect,” said Morley. “As a whole, we are still all a pretty tight group.”

And while a business like Beck’s is built on an already-robust relationship with local breweries, he also feels like Beer Week offers even greater opportunities.

“We have always had great relationships with our local breweries because that's our mission,” he said. “But it has been an idea generator spawning some cool collaborations, dinners, pairings, etc. Again, it’s all about opening up the partnerships to more locations to create more awareness.”

Again, it’s not like these folks aren’t in fairly regular communication with one another. The dynamic of the scene is one of cordiality more than competition – a rising tide raises all boats, after all. But GBBW allows them to come together in a specific, devoted way. That coming together is something that these brewery people really embrace.

“Brewers are a communal bunch,” said Genthner. “We like to share what we know and share what we do. If anything, Beer Week helps to show others how easily we can put our creative minds together to create fun events. [There’s] the beer we've made together or honestly what we've been inspired to brew because of other brews we've tried. No one brews in a vacuum.”

In the end, Sturgeon sums it up nicely.

“The breweries in this region have always held a high level of camaraderie for each other and the craft of brewing,” she said. “This week allows us to celebrate the end of summer and allows us to reconnect - whether through collaborations, dinners, tap takeovers or even more.”

Ultimately, there’s a lot to love about Greater Bangor Beer Week. We’re lucky to have such a vibrant and thriving scene right here in our community, packed with passionate brewers who have committed themselves to creating the best beer they can make.

Maybe you’re into IPAs. Maybe you prefer something darker – a porter or a stout. Maybe you like to be adventurous with something sour. Whatever your preference, there’s someone nearby making something that will tickle your taste buds and pleasure your palate in precisely the right way.

Or maybe you’re someone who just doesn’t really care for beer at all. Even if you can’t be convinced otherwise – though I’d be willing to wager that at least one of the wildly-varied local breweries likely has something that could change your mind – you can concede that the craft beer explosion has been nothing but beneficial to the area economy. After all, while you might not drink it, plenty of other people do – and there are more and more of them every day.

Get out there and check out an event or two or seven for Greater Bangor Beer Week. It's remarkable to think about, but the truth is that the greater Bangor region is definitely establishing itself as a legitimate, no-fooling craft beer destination. And with so many great beers being brewed right here - not to mention the wealth of breweries around the rest of the state - it only makes sense that there be an event devoted to the celebration of that still-growing scene.

To all of you, I say: Cheers! Prost! Slainte! Skal! Salud! Or whatever your toast of choice may be!

Bottom's up! I look forward to clinking a glass or two with you along the way!

(For more information on Greater Bangor Beer Week, visit the Greater Bangor CVB website at www.visitbangormaine.com or look for Greater Bangor Beer Week on Facebook.)

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Greater Bangor Beer Week: What’s Happening

SUNDAY October 15:

Charity Cornhole and Darts Tournament – Airline Brewing Company, Amherst.

MONDAY October 16:

Cre8iv Juice Beer Release Party & Art Judging – Geaghan Bros. Brewing Company, 5-8 p.m. 

TICKETED EVENT: Tickets available for purchase at the Tasting Room and on Eventbrite.

TUESDAY October 17:

Geaghan Bros. Brewing Co. takes over Moe’s Original BBQ, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Greater Bangor Blind IPA Tasting – Bangor Beer Company, 5 p.m.

Meet the brewers of “Brett Fest,” a collaboration for Bangor Beer Week – 2 Feet Brewing, 5-7 p.m.

Sour Night – Orono Brewing Company, 5-8 p.m.

Beer Can Yoga – Geaghan Bros. Brewing Company, 5:30 p.m. 

TICKETED EVENT: Tickets available at the Tasting Room.

Deep Stash, Allagash & Oxbow – Three nights and 48 draft lines of funky and wild beers – Blaze, runs noon Tuesday till midnight Thursday.

WEDNESDAY October 18: 

$1 Off Pint Night – Marsh Island Brewing, 4-10 p.m.

Home Brew Winner James Rausch Alt-Beer Release – Mason’s Brewing Company, 6 p.m.

Deep Stash, Allagash & Oxbow – Three nights and 48 draft lines of funky and wild beers – Blaze.

THURSDAY October 19:

Flight Night ($1 Off 4, $1.50 Off 6) – Marsh Island Brewing, 3-11 p.m.

Maple Braggot Annual Bottle Release – Blank Canvas Brewery, 4 p.m.

Wilds and Milds: A Comparative Tasting – Nocturnem Draft Haus, 5 p.m.- close.

Orono Night: Band of Brewers – Orono Brewing, Black Bear Brewing, Marsh Island Brewing, 5-8 p.m.

Come Celebrate Bangor Beer Week With Us! – Hops House 99 at Hollywood Casino, 5-9 p.m.

Cheers! A Fundraiser – Bangor Wine & Cheese, 5-7 p.m.

Evenrood’s and Banded Horn Collaboration Beer Release – Evenrood’s, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Journey into the History of Beer Trivia – Sea Dog Brewing Company, 6 p.m.

Deep Stash, Allagash & Oxbow – Three nights and 48 draft lines of funky and wild beers – Blaze.

FRIDAY October 20:

GBB Sensory Session – Geaghan Bros. Brewing Co, 4:30-6:30 p.m. 

TICKETED EVENT: Tickets available at the Tasting Room.

Hazy – Bissell Brothers and OBC will be taking over 12 draft lines including the exclusive “night before” Fall release of SWISH – Blaze, 4 p.m.

SATURDAY October 21:

Brewer’s Brunch & Humane Society Charity Shuffleboard Tournament – Bangor Beer Company, 11 a.m.

2 Feet/Mainiacal Collaboration – Brett Fest – 2 Feet Brewing, noon.

Brother Adam’s Braggot Cellar Release – Atlantic Brewing Midtown, 3 p.m. 

WEEK LONG EVENTS:

Week Long Celebration of GBB Brews with discounts on daily featured beer at Geaghan’s Pub & Craft Brewery.

Back to the Roots of Brewing at Nocturnem Draft Haus, 3 p.m.- close.

Week Long Tap Takeover at Airline Brewing Company in Ellsworth.

Week Long Tap Takeover of Local Breweries at Mason’s Brewing Company.

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