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Celebrate Octo-beer!

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Celebrate Octo-beer! (edge photo by Kevin Bennett)

BANGOR – Here in 2018, the Bangor-area beer scene continues to blossom.

The craft beer scene in the greater Bangor region is as robust as ever these days. Over a dozen breweries are plying their trades in the vicinity, bringing delicious beer to the masses. Plenty of thirsts are being quenched as these businesses – some just a few years old, others with decades-long histories behind them – offer up a wide variety of tasty brews.

And this boom is good for business, too. These breweries, large and small, are helping to drive the economic engine of the region. They’re providing jobs and spending money and paying taxes. They’re drawing people in, and not just to their tasting rooms – there are plenty of local restaurants and bars that have taps pouring locally-sourced suds.

It’s not just locals either. Beer tourism is definitely happening right here in our area. Spend any amount of time in a local tasting room and you will inevitably hear someone mention being from Massachusetts or New Brunswick or whatever, talking about how they’re here for the beer. Sometimes, the beer is a reason to stop over in the Bangor area on their way to their destination. Increasingly, however, it turns out that the Bangor area IS the destination, thanks in no small part to the beer scene.

(For the record, the longest distance traveled by anyone I have overheard while eavesdropping at a tasting room was the trip taken by a lovely older couple from South Carolina. They had come to do Portland and apparently heard such good things about the Bangor area scene that they extended their trip to come check it out.)

There have been all manner of events recognizing the value of the local craft beer scene over the past few years. There have been brew fests and beer weeks galore. And those events will continue to play a big part in expanding the area’s beer footprint. Heck, there’s some great stuff right around the corner.

But regardless of whatever events might be coming down the pike, this story is about keeping it simple. We’re just here for the beer, you know?

Here’s the thing: The Maine Edge digs beer. We cover it a fair amount in these pages. We even have a semi-regular weekly column devoted to it (even if Mr. Three Pint Stance Tim Bissell can occasionally be a bit distracted thanks to his full-time job working as one of the founders of Limerick’s Gneiss Brewing and forget a deadline now and then).

That being said, we thought it might be nice to get a different perspective. And so, we have recruited a beer expert of sorts, one familiar with the local scene and the beers it produces. We wanted thoughtful and honest appraisals about some of the local operations. Considering the small-world nature of the craft brewing scene, we thought it would be easiest for our expert to be forthcoming if we ensured their anonymity.

So we did.

Here’s our anonymous expert offering up some quick-hit thoughts on a number of area breweries. If you figure out who it is – and you might, if you’re familiar with the scene – please keep it to yourself. It’s not like there are any hit jobs – it’s all very nice, actually. The person just wanted to be discreet and we’d like to honor that.

And now, enjoy these Octo-beer thoughts.



Geaghan Bros. Brewing

What was once a small addition to a beloved local pub is now an institution unto itself. Geaghan Brothers Brewing has rightfully earned a reputation as a brewery that can produce a range of beer styles with consistency and quality. And goodness knows they’re getting after it – they just celebrated their one-millionth can! Whether it’s at the pub or the Brewer tasting room, there’s good beer to be had. Old standbys like Bangor Brown and everybody’s favorite Smiling Irish Bastard and newer offerings like Kings Pine show that while Geaghan Brothers favorites ain’t going anywhere, GBB certainly isn’t sitting still!

Sea Dog Brewing

The brewery that started it all! What was once the only place to get a fresh brewed pint of beer in Bangor has become one among the crowd of upstart breweries. While their beer may remind you of a time many beers ago, there is something timeless about a quality-made beer from a well-maintained Peter Austin brewing system. With so many new offerings kicking around, you might drink Sea Dog beer a little less often than you used to, but when you do, I recommend going right to the source and having a beer at the pub. The freshness is really what brings those Ringwood fermented beers home. 

2 Feet Brewing

You'll find 2 Feet Brewing just off Main St., and when you get there, you'll find their beers are somewhere just off mainstream. 2 Feet Brewing have been operating on Columbia St. in Bangor now for just about two years (Happy Anniversary! Big party on October 13), and in those two years they have become known as a place to grab a bite and a pint, but beware, because that pint might bite back. Barn Burner, a dark saison with ghost peppers added, has become the must-try beer when at 2 Feet - if you can take the heat, that is! 

Bangor Beer Company

One of the Bangor area’s newest breweries, Bangor Beer Company has turned more than a few heads with their offerings to date. From well-constructed IPAs (in all of the various and sundry permutations that IPA comes in these days) to clean and nuanced beers like their helles lager Brite, Bangor Beer Company is producing a solid variety of beers that all taste like the house specialty – head brewer Jared Lambert has quickly made his mark on the local scene. Oh, and try the Bang Bang Cauliflower while you’re there.



Blank Canvas Brewing

They might not be Brewer's largest brewery, but Blank Canvas Brewery has turned out an impressive list of innovative beers in their three years in business. From the Roasted Garlic alt to their Dill Cucumber Pale, Blank Canvas has a way of taking ingredients you've never seen in a beer and blending them with the right malts, hops and techniques to make those non-standard flavors work. Blank Canvas recently made the move to start canning small amounts of their product, so look for it on a store shelf near you!

Mason’s Brewing Company

The Bangor side of the river seems to get all the attention, but there is something brewing on the Brewer side of the river that is worth swimming over for (or I suppose you could take one of the three bridges, if you’re a coward). Mason's Brewing Company is not only a great place to belly-up and grab a pint of some of Maine's tastiest IPAs, but it is also a fantastic spot to grab a bite to eat with the family, friends or even people you don't like very much (at least the food and beer will be good, right?). While Mason's has gained a bit of notoriety for their Hipster Apocalypse IPA, newer offerings like the lime- and salt-infused gose Freya show that Mason's still has a lot of tricks up their sleeves. 



Orono Brewing Company

Few breweries have enjoyed the early success that OBC has, and that success has come mainly because of one thing. Damn. Good. Beer. From their modest beginnings at the old Dr. Records location in Orono (now the OG OBC tasting room) to their lovely space on State St. in Bangor to their almost-open new spot on 61 Margin St, OBC has maintained a reputation for making quality beers and having a damn good time while doing it! The expansion to 61 Margin made it possible for OBC to get their canned beer out across the state, so now it’s easier than ever to grab some Tubular! IPA before you head out to do something super rad with your buddies. 

Black Bear Brewing

Anyone that went to the University of Maine at Orono - or lived in the Bangor/Orono Area back in the early days of craft beer - has not only a soft spot, but a feverish reverence for Black Bear Brewing Company. In a time when fresh, local beer in Central Maine was most definitely not a thing, Black Bear made it a thing - and we are all so much better because of it. Very few breweries have been able to pivot with the changing industry and stay relevant, but with their ever-changing list of beers (while still showing love to old favorites) and now two lively tasting rooms in operation (one in Orono and one in Bangor), Black Bear is clearly one of the few that has figured out how to change with the times.

Marsh Island Brewing

Operating out of the Swett's Tire building, just a stone’s throw from Burby and Bates in Orono, Marsh Island Brewing has been making all sorts of beers for about three years now and you know, for a tire shop, they make pretty good beer! Jokes aside, MIB (awesome acronym, BTW) is one of those breweries that you walk into and you know instantly that there is an immense passion for beer there. The brewers are always innovating and coming up with fun beers and even more fun beer names (Gronk Spike, anyone?). Stop into their tasting room and you'll see what I mean right away. Oh, and make an appointment to get those tires balanced and rotated while you are there!



Airline Brewing Company

An authentic British cask ale in Amherst? Well, yeah, what else did you expect! Airline Brewing Company is making the kind of beer that you just don’t normally find around here, and everyone should love them dearly for that. Many beer lovers have to go far out of their normal circles to find a properly made, properly pulled pint of cask ale, but the folks at Airline make is oh so convenient for Bangor/Ellsworth area drinkers. Stop in at either their Amherst brewery tasting room or their Ellsworth pub, grab a pint and be transported to the British Isles!

Fogtown Brewing Company

Fogtown Brewing is the kind of brewery that every small downtown in Maine should have. Located in Ellsworth, they make an excellent, ever-changing variety of beers that explore many different areas of the flavor spectrum, and they are focused on creating a fun and inviting community gathering space that is about so much more than beer. But at its heart, it IS about the beer and that is why Fogtown is absolutely crushing it right now. Stop in and see for yourself!

Atlantic Brewing Company

Maine is pretty well known for blueberries, but there is so much more to Maine than blueberries. In this way, Atlantic Brewing Company and Maine are similar. I'm sure you have had the Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale, and when someone mentions Atlantic Brewing, that is definitely the brew that comes to mind. That said, do yourself a favor and get to Atlantic Brewing Company ASAP and drink all of the dark beers. ABC has a way with the dark malts, and it shows in the Cadillac Mountain Stout, the Coal Porter and in Ellen's Coffee Stout. While everything Atlantic puts out is worth the experience, the dark beers always steal the show for me.

Penobscot Bay Brewery

Winterport’s Penobscot Bay Brewery is one of those breweries that pops up on your radar every now and again, and it is never a bad time when it does. One of the longest-running breweries in the area, Penobscot Bay has always tended to keep their product rather close to home, so finding it out and about isn’t always the easiest task. With their new canning line, that is getting easier and easier, and although the contents of the can are always more important than the label, the artwork for the Red Flannel and Old Factory Whistle cans is just fantastic. Keep an eye out for those beauties!

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 October 2018 12:15


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