Tag Archives: shipyard

5 Maine Breweries That Should be on Your Radar

State of Maine Map

Earlier this month, I hopped a train from Boston to Portland, Maine for Portland Beer Week. And I quickly realized that Portland is not only a beautiful city on the Atlantic ocean, but it has an amazing craft beer scene. Portland and the entire state of Maine are home to a handful of world-class breweries and beer bars.

Here’s a list of five Maine breweries you should be aware of, two of which you’ve probably heard of and three you’ll very likely be hearing more about in the not-too-distant future.

1) Allagash Brewing Co.

Allagash Brewing Co. Dubble Ale

Portland-based Allagash is already well known, thanks to its top-notch Belgian-style white ale, which is available throughout the United States. In fact, many folks outside of New England simply call that white ale “Allagash,” and they’re not aware that the brewery also makes a number of additional high-quality Belgian styles. (I’m partial to its Confluence wild ale and Hugh Malone Belgian IPA.) Read more about Allagash on the brewery’s website.

2) Maine Beer Co.

Maine Beer Company's Lunch IPA

Maine Brewing Company, also based in Portland, is the Maine brewery that I’m most impressed with. I’ve been drinking Maine Beer Co. brews for a couple of years now, and I’ve never met one I did not like. I would be very surprised if the popularity of this small, humble Maine brewery—with the motto, “Do what’s right”—doesn’t spread like wild fire through the United States and beyond. Maine Beer’s Lunch IPA is one of the best IPAs I have ever had. (Read my review of Lunch here.) Learn more about Maine Beer Co. on the brewer’s website.

3) Oxbow Brewing Co.

Oxbow Brewing Co. goblet glass

Oxbow Brewing Co. in New Castle, Maine, calls itself an American farmhouse brewery that makes “loud beer from a quite place.” I attended an Oxbow tap takeover at Novare Res Bier Cafe during Portland Beer Week, and I was very impressed with the range and quality of the brews. I had a fantastic IPA with tropical-citrus flavors and Brettanomyces called Funkhaus, and another solid IPA called Freestyle No. 8, both of which were complex and unique. Learn more about Oxbow Brewing Co. on the brewer’s website.

4) Bull Jagger Brewing Co.

Bull Jagger Brewing Co. logo

Bull Jagger is a newcomer to the Portland, Maine beer scene, but it’s quickly making a name for itself with some solid lagers and other noteworthy brews, including a fantastic porter, called Baltic Porter No. 19. I also attended a Bull Jagger tap takeover during Portland Beer Week, and I was very impressed with a tart, strawberry infused limited-release lager called WILD BJ. Visit the brewer’s website for more information.

5) Shipyard Brewing Co.

The Shipyard Brewing Co.

You’ve very likely heard of Portland’s Shipyard Brewing Co., makers of the insanely popular fall seasonal Pumpkinhead ale. (FWIW, I hate pumpkin beers; here’s why.) Shipyard also brews an export lager that’s widely distributed across the United States. I visited Shipyard’s brewery while in Portland, and as a New Englander, I’ve been drinking Shipyard brews for years. My favorite is probably its Monkey Fist IPA. For more on Shipyard Brewing Co., visit the brewer’s website.

(Honorable mentions: Baxter Brewing Co.; D.L Geary Brewing Company; and Rising Tide Brewing Co.)


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Why I Hate Pumpkin Beers (And You Should Too)

Pumpkinhead with Shipyard Bottle

Pumpkinhead drinks Pumpkinhead!

Okay, the headline on this post is a bit of an exaggeration; I don’t really HATE pumpkin beers. They’re okay. Sometimes. When you’re in a certain mood and you haven’t had one for a while. And you’re just glad it’s fall because the summer is too damn hot.

I hate what pumpkin beers represent. Pumpkin beers are the Christmas decorations on store shelves in October of the craft beer world. They’re the Halloween candy in supermarkets in August. Pumpkin beers represent the gimme-it-now, I-can’t-fucking-wait mentality that’s discoloring all corners of American life today. (Where do you even get pumpkins in July? That shit’s not natural. Are all the pre-fall pumpkins for these brews hydroponically mass-produced in some remote warehouse all summer? Flown in from some distant, more temperate locale?)

If you really like the taste of pumpkin beers you’re probably glad they arrived earlier than usual this year—I first started seeing them in Boston in early August. And that’s fine, everyone should drink whatever it is they like to drink, whether it’s canned Bud Light with Lime, Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella or Shipyard Pumpkinhead.

But something is lost when you can have pumpkin beers four months a year instead of just two. Brewers first started creating seasonal beers to be enjoyed in certain atmospheres, in certain temperatures and with certain seasonal foods.

I understand why brewers want to release popular fall beers earlier and earlier each year; people will buy them, and it’s another way get drinkers to choice that brewer’s beers over competitors’ offerings. So I don’t necessarily blame the brewers. But the next time you sip a pumpkin brew in late July or an Oktoberfest in August, you’d do well to stop and consider how—and why—that brew might taste better a few months down the road.


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