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Beer we go again!

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Tim Gallon, owner at Black Bear Brewery in Orono, pours beer for patrons during beer week in October 2015. This year, 15 area breweries will participate in roughly 30 events that will take place over the course of next week. Coordinated by the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, this is the second year the event has been held. Tim Gallon, owner at Black Bear Brewery in Orono, pours beer for patrons during beer week in October 2015. This year, 15 area breweries will participate in roughly 30 events that will take place over the course of next week. Coordinated by the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, this is the second year the event has been held. (edge photo by Kevin Bennett)

Celebrating Greater Bangor Beer Week

BANGOR Beer is big these days and it's only getting bigger.

The number of craft breweries nationwide has exploded in the past few years, with thousands of companies some big, some small, many in-between - seeking to bring their own personal visions of what beer should be to the drinking public. Few places have embraced craft beer quite like Maine has, which tends to rank near the top of any list of breweries per capita.

That should come as no surprise to people in the Bangor area; there is no shortage of locally-produced beer from which to choose. In the past year alone, we've seen new breweries pop up and established ones expanding. This town is definitely a beer town. Craft beer is everywhere, so it only makes sense that a way would be found to celebrate it.

And so we have Greater Bangor Beer Week.

After the success of last year's inaugural GBBW, the event is back and better than ever. From Oct. 16 through Oct. 22, over a dozen breweries will join forces with local restaurants and with one another for a week of beer, beer and more beer.

The Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau was the driving force behind last year's Beer Week and they're back at it again, teaming up with all manner of partners to bring forth an event that they consider to be an important one for the region, bringing attention to an industry that has proven to be a significantly beneficial part of the community.

'Other beer weeks have been happening for years,' said Kerrie Tripp, Executive Director of the GBCVB. 'We have a great group of local breweries who wanted to use this week to truly show the craft and that it is not just about brewing beer, but the ingredients used and the pairings you can make, [as well as] the other businesses brewing benefits such as restaurants, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.'

Lisa Sturgeon, Communications and Resource Manager for Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company, is one of the people working hard to make this year's Greater Bangor Beer Week a success, though there's no disputing that it is very much a collaborative effort in more ways than one.

'I'm part of a beer committee that serves as a sort of catalyst,' Sturgeon said. 'We basically help with the back-end organization of the thing. We try to serve as a clearinghouse; our goal is to get everyone on the same page and push the event as much as possible.'

It's an impressive event, featuring 15 breweries and roughly 30 different events over the course of the week. And even with the success of last year's event, efforts were made to find places to improve the experience.

'After the CVB's Tap Into Summer, you change pace and start working on Beer Week,' said Sturgeon. 'We surveyed area brewers in an effort to figure out which events work best. It's all about the grassroots efforts to raise awareness any idea that's good for Maine beer.'

Those events include tap takeovers, beer dinners and other assorted collaborations, all intended to celebrate the region's vast and varied craft beer options. And part of GBBW's purpose is to draw ever-more attention to the effect the craft beer industry has on the area in general, according to Sturgeon.

'It's a way to showcase the impact of craft brewing on [the area],' she said. 'And everything craft beer does for this town.'

Sturgeon went on to mention the fact that Greater Bangor Beer Week takes place at the same time as another celebratory Bangor event in ARTober, drawing parallels between the two that might not be obvious at first glance.

'There's very much an artistic component to brewing,' she said. 'ARTober gives us a chance to share more of the art side of brewing as well.'

It's also a welcome opportunity for the brewers themselves to take a deep breath after a long and busy production season. Considering the deeply collaborative nature of craft brewing in general and the Bangor scene in particular, it's no surprise that the brewers would embrace the chance to touch base with one another.

'It's a great chance for the brewers to reconnect after the production season,' said Sturgeon. 'The creativity of the business comes from talking and sharing; this week will give a lot of them a chance to recharge a bit.'

Last year's event was definitely a success, but such triumphs also mean that a worthy follow-up effort is expected. Anticipation is certainly high; now that Greater Bangor Beer Week is more of a known quantity, people are fired up.

'People are expecting way more,' Sturgeon said. 'The CVB was getting calls way back in June; people were looking to line things up for their vacation requests. It's just so great to see people looking forward to it.'

Just like last year, there will be a Beer Week Passport. Get your passport checked at five or more events for a 10 percent discount on admission to next year's Tap Into Summer; get it checked seven or more times and you'll be eligible for a beer-related prize package to which many of the GBBW brewers contributed.

It's remarkable to think about, but the truth is that the greater Bangor region is gradually 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 state it only makes sense that there be an event devoted to the celebration of that scene.

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

Bottom's up!

Schedule of Events

(* = pre-sale event)

Oct. 16

1 p.m. Challenge the Brewers Charity Cornhole Event; Airline Brewing Company, Amherst

Oct. 17

11 a.m. 1 p.m. Geaghan's takes over Moe's kitchen; Moe's Original BBQ, Bangor

2 p.m. Maine Malt House Tap Takeover; The Family Dog, Orono

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

4:30 10 p.m. Beer, Brats and Sausage Night; Geaghan's Pub, Bangor

5 p.m. Getting Gneiss with Mason's; Mason's Brewing Company, Brewer

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Orono Brewing Company Collaboration Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

Oct. 18

2 p.m. Maine Beer Company Fireside Chat; The Family Dog, Orono

3-9 p.m. Blaze Wood Fired Flavors at Black Bear Brewing; Black Bear Brewing Tap Room, Orono

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Geaghan's Collaboration Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

Oct. 19

2 p.m. - Gneiss Brewing Fireside Chat; The Family Dog, Orono

3-9 p.m. Moe's Original BBQ Jambalaya Collaboration with Black Bear Brewing; Black Bear Brewing Tap Room, Orono

4-10 p.m. Hops and Yeast Tap Takeover with Allagash Brewing Company and Orono Brewing Company; Woodman's, Orono

4-10 p.m. Flight Paddle discounts; Marsh Island Brewing, Orono

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Mason's Collaboration Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

5-7 p.m. Holy Brew and Blessed Beer! A Night with the Friars' Brewhouse; Bangor Wine and Cheese, Bangor

*6 p.m. First Annual Beer Dinner in the Brew Haus; Mason's Brewing Company, Brewer

*6:30 p.m. Funky Bow Beer Dinner; Blaze, Bangor

Oct. 20

3 p.m. midnight Pro/Am Beer Release with home brewer Jared Lambert; Black Bear Brewing Company, Orono

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Black Bear Collaboration Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

5 p.m. Maine Homebrewers Competition-Winning Brew Release; Geaghan Brothers Brewing, Brewer

5 p.m. Concert built on a Strong Foundation and Rising Tide; The Family Dog, Orono

5-7 p.m. Tap Takeover; Airline Brewing Company, Ellsworth

*6:30 p.m. Penobscot Bay Brewing Company Beer Dinner with The Bacon Tree; The Bacon Tree, Winterport

Oct. 21

4 p.m. Banded Horn Tap Takeover and Beerfest; The Family Dog, Orono

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Banded Horn Collaboration Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

5 p.m. Liquid Riot Tap Takeover; Mason's Brewing Company, Brewer

*5:30 p.m. Cornhole Tournament; Sea Dog Brewing Barrel Room, Bangor

6-8 p.m. Brewers Happy Hour with Geaghan Brothers Brewing at Hops House 99 (currently Celebrity Bar & Grill); Hollywood Casino, Bangor

*7 p.m. Black Bear Wild Game Beer Dinner; Blaze, Bangor

Oct. 22

10:30 a.m. Kegs and Eggs featuring Atlantic Brewing and Geaghan Brothers Brewing; Side Street Caf, Bar Harbor

12-4 p.m. Homebrewtoberfest: Pro-Am v2.0; Central Street Farmhouse, Bangor

5 p.m. Nocturnem/Marsh Island Collaboration Release and Airline Brewery Release; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

5 p.m. Collaboration Tap Takeover; Nocturnem Draft Haus, Bangor

5-7 p.m. Tasting Room Tunes; Geaghan Brothers Brewing, Brewer

All day Pints, Pumpkins and Pizza: A family-friendly event with pumpkin carving and a tap takeover by eight of Maine's best breweries; Blaze, Bangor

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In addition to this jam-packed schedule, there are also a number of week-long happenings connected to Greater Bangor Beer Week. Bars and restaurants are having week-long tap takeovers and offering special menus connected to GBBW.

For more information about everything that's happening, you can check out the schedule on the Greater Bangor CVB website (visitbangormaine.com) or pay a visit to the GBCVB or Greater Bangor Beer Week Facebook pages.

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