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Celebrating National Beer Day

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Beer is booming in Bangor and beyond.

This region has become a hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers in recent years. The craft beer explosion has been a remarkable thing to watch as more and more passionate brewers decide to try and bring their sudsy dreams to fruition.

Leaving aside the economic impact – which is significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer.

And since National Beer Day is coming right up, we thought it might be nice to take a moment and celebrate beer in general and Bangor-area beer in particular.

What’s National Beer Day, you ask?

National Beer Day is what we like to call an “unofficial” holiday. Sure, it isn’t acknowledged on any federal calendar, but that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Look at some of the other “holidays” that share the same month. April Fools Day? Not an official holiday, but who doesn’t love pulling a harmless prank or two? And what about Earth Day? Again, not official, but who would argue against its importance and/or legitimacy?

So it is with National Beer Day (and New Beer’s Eve, of course). Is it silly? Of course it is. Still, there’s something to be said for a day set aside to celebrate something that so many of us enjoy. Beer is a part of our national consciousness in a way that few other consumables are.

Think about the huge variety of beer you see when you go to the grocery store or visit your local watering hole. Think about the utter ubiquity of beer commercials on our television airwaves. Think about the rapidly-growing contingent of small craft breweries offering their own unique takes on the classic beverage. Think about the multitude of homebrewers making their own beers in their own homes – a throwback to those Prohibition days, only without the fear of reprisal.

Beer has become an American institution. So why not set aside a day to celebrate? Tip back a tall cold one on April 7, my friends. Heck, if I had my druthers, I’d make it a whole week, because really, is a single day enough? Let’s remember that there was a time, not so long ago, when you couldn’t just stroll into your favorite pub and order a pint. It’s a freedom that we’re privileged to have.

As for why it is April 7…

Prohibition’s End and the First Beer Day

The Prohibition era in the United States began in 1920 when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was effected, outlawing the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol on a national level. The National Prohibition Act, passed in 1919 and popularly known as the Volstead Act, established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor and the assorted punishments for producing or selling it.

The Volstead Act proved exceedingly difficult to enforce, which led to a wildly popular underground economy, filled with bootleggers, rumrunners and speakeasy clubs. In many ways, Prohibition gave birth to the “organized crime” that remains with us to this day.

Prohibition soon lost what little true support it did have, with events like the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 serving as harsh reminders that like it or not, people were going to find ways to drink. Add to that the Great Depression, when people clearly needed something to take their minds off the dismal state of the nation, and Prohibition’s days were clearly numbered.

And so, on March 22, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act. Cullen-Harrison legalized the sale of beers and wines with a sufficiently low alcohol content (3.2 percent or below by weight), effective when?

You guessed it - April 7.

People were once again allowed to legally buy beer. There were lines outside taverns and breweries all over the country as people swarmed for the opportunity to legally buy a beer for the first time in well over a decade. Of course, in December of that same year, the 21st Amendment was ratified, hence repealing the 18th Amendment and effectively bringing the Prohibition era to an end.

The cool, crisp, adult beverage-y taste of freedom. That’s what we’re celebrating. Happy National Beer Day, folks. Drink one for me.

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A selection of the area’s best brews

As part of our celebration of National Beer Day, we thought it might be fun to offer a look at some of the tastiest offerings from our area’s wealth of top-notch breweries. These breweries might be all over the map in terms of sizes and styles, but they’ve all got something uniquely their own to offer. So why not share some of the best and brightest with you, the reader?

Of course, we’re big fans of maintaining impartiality – or at least the illusion of impartiality – here at The Maine Edge. And the truth is, we can’t possibly be expected to be objective about all the great beer to be found round these parts.

So we enlisted a mystery expert – heretofore to be known as Random Beer Guy (or RBG) – to choose one highlight beer from each of our local favorites. We agreed to keep this person’s identity a secret so that he could choose freely and without reservation.

It should be noted, however, that no one who knew his identity would dispute his beer bona fides – a significant amount of expertise is at play. It should also be noted that these selections are not necessarily favorites; they’re simply highlights that he thinks craft beer fans should experience.

And as you’ll soon see, there’s a LOT of exceptional beer to be had here.

Airline Brewing Company

Location:

Brewery/tasting room: 22 Mill Lane, Amherst

Brewpub: 173 Main St., Ellsworth

Hours:

Brewery/tasting room: Th-F – 4-10 p.m.; Sat – noon-10 p.m.; Sun. noon-8 p.m.

Brewpub: M-Sun – 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

RBG’s Pick - Pride of Ellsworth ESB

There really is something special about an expertly crafted Extra Special Bitter. The Pride of Ellsworth is truly a beer to be proud of. Rich British malt notes are complemented by a subtle earthy bitterness. It tastes great in any situation, but it is best enjoyed on cask at the Ellsworth Pub.

Black Bear Brewing Company

Location:

Brewery/tasting room: 19 Mill St., Orono

Hours:

Brewery/tasting room: Mon-Wed – 3-10 p.m.; Th-F – 3 p.m.-midnight; Sat – 2 p.m.-midnight

RBG’s Pick - Pail Ale

The beer that made the Bangor/Orono area fall in love with craft beer. A classic American Pale Ale that is hopped generously with American hops for a fresh citrusy finish. Pail Ale is crisp and refreshing and an all-around great brew.

Blank Canvas Brewery

Location:

Brewery/tasting room: 46 Betton St., Brewer

Hours:

Brewery/tasting room: Th-Sat – 4-9 p.m.

RBG’s Pick - Sidamo Brown

Beer and coffee are becoming the new peanut butter and chocolate. It seems that a consistent way to make a great beer even better is to add coffee to it. Sidamo Brown is an illustration of just how much coffee can bring out the best in a beer. Full-bodied with complex notes of coffee and malt sweetness. Best brunch beer ever.

Geaghan Brothers Brewing Company

Location: 

Brewery/tasting room: 34 Abbott St., Brewer

Pub: 570 Main St., Bangor

Hours:

Brewery/tasting room: Th-F – 4-8 p.m.; Sat – noon-7 p.m.

Pub: M-Th – 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; F-Sun – 11 a.m.-midnight

RBG’s Pick - Bangor Brown

The beer that bears the Queen City’s name may just be the best in town. A well-rounded, slightly Americanized version of a classic brown ale. Full bodied, crisp bitterness and a finish that keeps you coming back for more.

Marsh Island Brewing

Location:

Brewery/tasting room: 2 Main St., Orono

Hours:

Brewery/tasting room: M-W – 4-10 p.m.; Th – 4 p.m.-midnight; F – 3 p.m.-midnight; Sat - noon-midnight; Sun – noon-6 p.m.

RBG’s Pick - Wooly Bugger Pils

When you want a beer to drink and you don't want to have to think too much about it, grab a Wooly Bugger Pils. This classic pilsner-style lager is cold-conditioned for four weeks to make it exceptionally clean and crisp. Wooly Bugger goes with just about everything under the sun - especially when you are out in the sun!

Mason’s Brewing Company

Location:

Brewery/pub: 15 Hardy St., Brewer

Hours:

Brewery/pub: M-Sun – 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

RBG’s Pick – Roggenbier

Rye not? Beers made with rye salt have a unique spicy character, and Mason’s Roggenbier is no exception. The protein in the rye creates a velvety mouthfeel; the noble hops balance the flavor out. It all comes together to make this brew a quaffable delight.

Orono Brewing Company

Location:

Brewery/tasting room: 20 Main St., Orono

Tasting room: 26 State St., Bangor

Hours:

Both locations: Mon-Th – 3-10 p.m.; F – 3 p.m.-midnight; Sat – noon-midnight; Sun – noon-7 p.m.

RBG’s Pick - Ozone IPA

If you are looking for hops, go no further than Ozone. Loaded with Galaxy and Mosaic hops, Ozone is citrusy, peppery and floral with just enough body to make it crushable. There is a reason they package this one in 4-packs - one is never enough.

Sea Dog Brewing Company

Location:

Brewery/pub: 26 Front St., Bangor

Hours:

Brewery/pub: M-Sun – 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

RBG’s Pick– Sea Dog Stout

With the large number of freshly brewed option at the Sea Dog, it’s hard to choose one. The Sea Dog Stout represents everything a stout should be; it’s dark and roasty, but with a restrained nature that leads to an enjoyable drinking experience. I’d hesitate to call anything a “session stout,” but this one certainly comes close.

2 Feet Brewing

Location:

Brewery/pub: 80 Columbia St., Bangor

Hours:

Brewery/pub: M-Th – 3-9 p.m.; F-Sat – 3-11 p.m.; Sun – noon-6 p.m.

RBG’s Pick - Barn Burner

What do you call a farmhouse ale with a little kick to it? Barn Burner, of course! This dark saison is taken to the next level with the addition of ghost peppers which add a peppery fruitiness and a noticeable amount of heat. Delicious, but definitely not for the faint of heart!

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An Ode to Maine Beer

I do believe that I shall never find

A beverage that tastes so very right

As you, sweet beer, and all those of your kind;

Your foamy head is a creamy delight.

Your colors excite, be they dark or pale;

There is beauty in your condensation

And delicious crispness within your scent.

I take great pleasure in every detail

Of this truly inspiring creation,

With nary an instant of discontent.

 

You’ve yet to fail to satisfy me, beer;

An affection you would never betray.

That love began in my 21st year

And continues still to this very day.

Your refreshing nature is coy and cool;

There’s always a chance that you will surprise,

Though always informed with élan and joy.

Men who deny you are nothing but fools

To say no to you, so tasty a prize,

Your flavors that we embrace and enjoy.

 

Countless varieties tickle my tongue,

From lagers to ales to stouts and beyond.

In pubs near and far, your praises are sung;

Hymns to those flavors of which we are fond.

Blank Canvas and Mason’s just can’t be beat.

Nor Geaghan Bros., Atlantic or Gneiss!

OBC and Shipyard, Black Bear and Strong!

Plus Marsh Island and Airline and 2 Feet!

All over Maine, you needn’t ask twice

For lovely craft brews that won’t do you wrong.

 

I love that I find you most everywhere;

Your presence is indeed ubiquitous.

Your amber wonder an answered prayer,

Your attitude never duplicitous.

Of course, I strive not to drink to excess;

Responsibly is how I enjoy you,

For too much of you is simply no fun.

For National Beer Day, I must express

Love of all your forms, the old and the new -

But my favorite beer? It’s the next one.

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 10:44

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