Eight breweries. One night. All the bragging rights.
The Great Lost Bear on Forest Avenue in Portland has been a steadfast supporter of Maine craft beer since pouring some of the very first pints to roll out of D.L. Geary Brewing Company in the late 1980s. It seems only fitting that the bar – which has one of the largest selections of Maine beer available in the state – would be the host of a friendly brewery vs. brewery competition.
The “Industrial Park Challenge” is tonight (Thursday, Jan. 15) 5-9 p.m. The idea is simple. Eight competing breweries will offer one beer on draught for $2.99, and whichever sells the most by 9 p.m. wins the challenge cup. Because it’s purely a popularity contest, getting fans to show up and drink beer is the way to success. Last year, the title (and the awesome bear trophy) were snagged by Bissell Brothers Brewing for their flagship, The Substance Ale. This morning, there’s been a little flinging back and forth of friendly trash talking between several of the competing breweries on their respective social media pages.
This year’s brewery lineup: Bissell Brothers, D. L. Geary Brewing, Allagash Brewing, Austin Street Brewery, Rising Tide Brewing, Foundation Brewing, Bunker Brewing and Oxbow Brewing.
Here’s the preview of what will be pouring tonight.
Bissell Brothers – The Substance: This hoppy beer was the winner last year, and the flagship returns to defend its title. Expect a flavor-packed beer without a ton of overwhelming bitterness.
Geary’s – Pale Ale: A tried-and-true pale ale of the English style, this is milder, but has stood the test of time, and is still one of the more popular draft lines at The Great Lost Bear. There are some die hard fans of this one out there, so if they show up, watch out.
Allagash – White: One of the “tamest” of Allagash’s beers, this one is a Belgian style white that’s a million times better than something like Blue Moon. Lots of spice aromas and flavors. Does it have a big enough following to beat the newer locals?
Austin Street – Patina Pale: This is a hoppy, almost delicate pale ale from Austin Street. It’s refined yet leaves an impression on you. Brewed in the smallest batches (most likely) of all the competitors, there might be enough people pining for Patina that come out in force to support its debut entry in the challenge.
Foundation – Epiphany: If you haven’t seen this around yet, this might be your chance to try Foundation’s first real full-on IPA, Epiphany. I like this one for a lot of the same reasons I like The Substance; tons of flavor without wrecking your palate.
Bunker – Machine Pils: Entering a pilsner into a beer popularity contest is a bit risky, though this is a tasty one to enter, and might also appeal to those not quite as stuck on hops. Classic and crispy, this one is quite refreshing.
Oxbow – Farmhouse Pale Ale: One of my go-to Saison style beers when I can find it on tap, this one never fails to satisfy my craving for a farmhouse-style beer. It’s slightly more of a niche style than something like an IPA, but has been embraced widely on tap and works amazingly well with food.
Rising Tide – Skipper: Here’s where the strategy comes in. You could bring a flagship beer, or, you could take the risk and bring a brand new, small-batch one like Rising Tide has. Pros: People want to try new beer, so they could get a bump because of the novelty effect. Also, it’s a session beer (3.8% ABV) so it’s easy to have a few in a row, maybe helping the numbers too. Cons: It’s unfamiliar to people, so some want to go to their favorites before switching it up. We’ll have to see if this risk pays off for them.
If you ask me which I’ll be voting for, the answer is several of these. Best of luck to all the entrants!