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BANGOR – There’s no disputing the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses large and small. Everyone has been forces to find ways to adapt, to seek out a new normal and carve out a spot for themselves.

Craft brewing – long a booming industry here in Bangor and all over the state – is no exception.

Here’s the thing: The Maine Edge digs beer. We cover it a fair amount in these pages. We feature it on our cover at least a couple of times a year. We’ve run a beer column in the past. And our editor (also the writer of this piece) enjoys the wares of just about every one of the brewers in the region.

So let’s talk about ways in which we can continue to enjoy those wares while still being responsible and safe, shall we?

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I am intimately familiar with the protocols in place for every single area brewery. I’ll freely admit that there are some – even on the list you’ll see later in this piece – that I personally have not visited since the pandemic struck. I’ve visited many of these spots, but not all of them, so I can’t speak in absolutes.

What I WILL say is this: Everything that I’ve seen from the places I HAVE visited tells me that the vast majority of the region’s breweries are taking all of this very seriously and doing their very best to follow the rules and keep their patrons and employees safe. Not that it should surprise anyone familiar with the scene – these are all good people who want nothing more than to make good, interesting brews and do right by the world.

And that’s the thing – even in the midst of all this, these people are still making really good beer.

Published in Cover Story
Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:11

Here’s to Octo-beer!

BANGOR – Here in 2019, the beer scene continues to shake things up.

The craft beer landscape in the greater Bangor region is as robust as ever these days. Over a dozen breweries are plying their trades in the vicinity, bringing their delicious and diverse beers 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 make no mistake – this boom is good for business, too. These breweries, large and small, are helping to drive the area’s economic engine. 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.

Published in Cover Story

In recent years, Bangor and beer have become synonymous. The region has become a legitimate hotbed for interesting and talented beermakers. 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 undeniably significant – it’s just great to know that there are places all over where you can find and enjoy an exceptional beer. We’re up to our ears in options from breweries large and small. No matter what your taste might be, you’ll be able to find something to suit your particular palate at an area brewery.

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? We sure do love it here at The Maine Edge. 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 and with the assistance of dedicated outlets such as our own Central Street Farmhouse.

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…

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 06 February 2019 14:05

Three Pint Stance - When beer fests go EXTREME!

Recently, I had the pleasure to pour for Gneiss Brewing Company at the 2019 Extreme Beer Festival in Boston. This is the fourth time Gneiss has attended the festival and it just gets more fun every year. 

This year brought an interesting wrinkle to the festivities, as the organizers, BeerAdvocate, asked brewers to bring “Extreme Session Beers” – beers that are at or below five percent alcohol but also utilize ingredients or techniques that make them extreme! 

There were all sorts of wonderful low-alcohol beers packed with flavor, a favorite of mine being the Key Lime Gose from Weldworks Brewing.

At Gneiss, we brewed up a beer inspired by Mexican sipping chocolate and cheeseball Star Wars jokes called “Hot Rebellion,” an Anti-Imperial Stout made with cocoa nibs, cinnamon and habanero peppers. Clocking at 2.5 percent, it had a ton of flavor but wouldn’t get you so drunk that you can’t pilot your X-Wing home.

(Editor’s note: I’m disappointed that you didn’t use blue milk in the process. That being said, I’m proud of your commitment to safety and responsibility. Friends don’t let friends fly drunk.)

New to EBF this year was the VIP ticket, which got attendees in 30 minutes early as well as access to the VIP lounge where they were serving some special beers and free pickles! I think every brew fest needs to have pickles from here on out, but that’s just me. I’ve seen some festivals where the VIP ticket doesn’t really get you much, but BeerAdvocate really seemed to make it worth the upcharge. 

All in all, it was another fantastic weekend celebrating the quirky weird things that seem to unite us all in the Brewing community. Sure, we all love a classically crafted pilsner, but sometimes it’s fun to try a beer made with hot dog water too. I mean, it wasn’t good, but that’s not the point!

It was so … EXTREME! 

Published in Style
Wednesday, 30 January 2019 13:44

Three Pint Stance - Bring on Flagship February

Today’s craft beer marketplace is very much a “What have you done for me lately?” type of market, where the new shiny object seems to get all the attention until some other new shiny object comes along and replaces it. This month’s must-have hazy IPA is next month’s shelf turd as a newer, even more dry-hopped beer takes its place in the craft beer zeitgeist, as it were.

Published in Style
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 20:40

Three Pint Stance - Help! My beer is frozen!

With the recent drop in temps as of late, I figured it would be a good time to talk about what has become a bit of an occupational hazard for me and something that maybe a few of you have experienced before: frozen beer.

Published in Style

During my weekly appearance on “Downtown with Rich Kimball” last Thursday, I was reminded by the namesake host himself that not everybody eats, sleeps and breathes beer every day of their lives like I do. Specifically, when I casually mentioned that choosing an East Coast IPA over a West Coast IPA has more to do with flavor preference than hometown pride.

That led me to think it might be a good use of newsprint this week to go over the major differences between East and West Coast IPAs and how the IPA style has changed over time.

Published in Style

A new year is once again looming, and much like many other lazy, phone-it-in columnists around the globe, I am opting to write about some arbitrary New Year’s resolutions that neither you nor I will follow.

The new year will be filled with endless possibilities, yet-to-be-discovered adventures and most importantly, NEW BEERS! Here is a list of beer-related resolutions for your 2019. Instead of setting unattainable goals and drowning in the inevitable impossibility of lofty personal ambitions, try these easy-to-follow New Beers Resolutions for a quick buzz and a shot of dry-hopped self-esteem!

Published in Style

‘Twas a few nights before Christmas, alight with tidings of cheer

I peeked in the fridge, to find a craft beer

The egg nog was present, snug in its spot

Along with last year’s fruitcake, long since forgot

Up and down each shelf I did franticly look

“Did I forget to buy beer?” I said as I shook

I looked past the milk, and again round the ‘nog

But all I could find was some cider and grog

No IPA, no stout, nary a lager was seen,

I’d even take one unfinished, a beer that is green

A thought crossed my mind, “Maybe it’s still in the trunk”

But I could find there was clutter and junk

So I gave up my search and headed to bed,

Sober as a judge, and filled up with dread

But as I slept, something magical occurred

A delivery of sorts, my plea had been heard

As I woke to check if it all was a dream

I beheld a sight that near made me scream

“Honey come look!” I said to my wife

She looked at me strangely and said “Get a life”

The once craft-free fridge was now filled with abundance

Epiphany, Weiss, Hipster and Substance

There was beer from up North, down South and between

E’en a rare can of Tributary Pilsner was seen

I opened the crisper and much to my delight,

A six-pack of Stein Song, so clean and so bright!

Not to be outdone, in the deli drawer I spy

A Howler from Fogtown, a spot I had yet to try!

As I continued my search, I uncovered more treasure

Cans from VT, Hermit Thrush and Good Measure

Overwhelmed, I collapsed; I had finished my standing

Only to notice Gunnars Daughter, a can from Mast Landing

Pushing aside the ‘nog, I took in the grandeur of this haul

Beers from nearby breweries, some big and some small

Stars in my eyes, I couldn’t believe my luck

My fridge, once barren, looked like a distributor’s truck!

SoMe, Foundation, Battery Steele and Cushnoc

Along with Strong, Atlantic and the Harbor of Rock

As I peered through and made way towards the back,

I found an Allagash Coolship and an Oxbow four-pack

I filled with a joy I didn’t think possible to achieve

Know this, friends: in Beer Santa, I firmly believe!

I cracked open the first, an IPA with some bite,

And settled in for a delightful December night.

So, fair Edge readers, my gift is this rhyme

It would have been better, but I ran out of time

I wish you Merry Christmas and a New Year that’s fine,

And in 2019, I resolve to be better about deadlines.

MERRY CHRISTMAS - DRINK LOCALLY AND RESPONSIBLY!

Published in Style

Usually, at some point around the holiday season, I will put together a list of things that would be cool to get for the beer lover in your life. This year, I am going to do that, but only sort of. Here’s the deal, a beer lover usually only wants one thing. Beer. So instead of just wrapping up another pick-six from the local bottle shop, do the right thing and get that hop head on a brewery tour bus!

Published in Style
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