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The Uniqueness of Maine’s Craft Brewers

Thirsty? Love a tasty brew? Well if you’re in Maine, microbreweries are hugely popular, with nearly 40 and counting throughout the state. Each brewery shares a passion for making their signature brew, and the style of breweries are as diverse as the microbrewers themselves. Take Friar’s Brewhouse in Bangor, for example, with their trademark Whoopie Pie Porter — or the Penobscot Bay Brewery, who, along with their beer, also makes a beer-flavored ice cream.

Sounds delicious, right?

One of the better-known breweries in Maine is Allagash Brewing Company, in Portland. Named after the river of the same name, the inspiration for the name came from owner Rob Tod’s travels to the Allagash as a boy with his family. The brewery has gained national notoriety, with Allagash’s signature brew, Allagash White honored by Men’s Journal as one of the best brews in America.

Rob has a passion for Belgian style beer, and many detractors along the way tried to get him to rethink the type of beer he wanted to brew. He resisted the temptation to brew something more mainstream, and his decision has paid off handsomely. Today Allagash is distributed on the East Coast, in Chicago and even in Los Angeles.

The scenic drive from Portland to Newcastle will bring you to Oxbow Brewing Company, owned by Geoff Masland and Tim Adams. True blue Mainers, Geoff and Tim turned their industriousness into a successful business when they purchased the 18 acres Oxbow now sits on in 2011.

The apex of farmhouse brewing, Oxbow offers two signature brews, Farmhouse Pale Ale and their Space Cowboy Country Ale. To brew their beers they use special yeast called saison — they’re the only brewers in Maine to utilize this essential ingredient.

They stay pretty busy beyond the beer, tending to a few pigs and some farming operations. Plus they self distribute their beer too. Their motto “Loud Beer from a Quiet place” captures their spirit perfectly.

In Lewiston-Auburn, you can stop by and say hello to Luke Livingston, owner of Baxter Brewing Company. He, along with his staff, has embraced the fact that they are kind of geeky — admitting that a lot of science goes into the making of their craft brews. But being scientific doesn’t stop them from having fun with the names they give their products, like Phantom Punch and Tarnation.

Beyond the fun names and the loose atmosphere, they take brewing very seriously. They recognize the toll the brewing process takes on the environment, and they do everything they can to be as green as possible. In fact, while it traditionally takes 7 gallons of water to make one gallon of beer, they have gotten that number down to 4. Surely the earth appreciates it.

Their focus on the environment also comes in the way they deliver their product: in cans. Aluminum is a 100% recyclable material, and much safer than traditional glass, in which 75% ends up in landfills. Brewing at Baxter truly is a labor of love, both for the way they brew their beer, and the quality of the beer itself.

To learn more about Maine’s craft brewing industry, and hear the brewers tell their story, visit mainequarterly.com/beer.

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