Summer in Maine is peak brewfest season. From June to September there are at least six brewfests worth attending, and that number will only rise as the craft beer renaissance continues to chug along with rocket fuel intensity.
But unlike Americans, not all brewfests are created equal. Consumers need to be on the lookout for poorly planned beer festivals that are more of a cash grab for a promoter as opposed to what a brewfest should be: a celebration of artfully made craft beer.
By all accounts, the Great Falls Brewfest was one of Maine’s best beer festivals of 2014, and this Saturday at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston, Baxter Brewing Company will host the Second Annual Great Falls Brewfest.
Based on last year’s experience, I give this beer festival a whole-hearted endorsement.
And here’s why: First, the list of brewers contains most of Maine’s biggest names. Attendees can expect to drink beer from, among other Maine breweries, Allagash, Banded Horn, Barreled Souls, Bissell Brothers, Foundation, Rising Tide, Sebago, and, naturally, Baxter Brewing Company. Just reading that list over makes me feel warm inside.
And the out-of-state breweries at the festival are equally enticing. My picks: Dogfish Head, Founders, Green Flash, Lagunitas, Stone and Left Hand Brewing Company. Left Hand brews out of Colorado, and their Milk Stout Nitro is one of the best out-of-state beers I’ve had this year. The bottle urges you to “pour hard” into a glass. And doing so unleashes a velvet liquid that slowly comes to a dark, frothy head and drinks with roasted malt and subtle milk flavors. Though stouts aren’t great summer beers, if Left Hand is pouring Milk Stout Nitro at their station get some in your tasting glass.
The participating breweries set a rock solid foundation for the Great Falls Brewfest, but a good beer festival needs more than just great beer to be successful. A beer festival also needs great entertainment. This one has it covered with lawn game tournaments and high caliber musical acts.
For the sporty beer fest goer, Great Falls is running a cornhole tournament. There’s no fee to enter, but be sure to sign up early because it’s first-come first-serve. Sabattus Disc Golf will also be in attendance, which is fitting for me, since last summer Baxter’s Pamola Xtra Pale Ale was my beer of choice while hucking discs.
As for music, Portland’s pop hit maker Spencer Albee will be performing along with Connecticut-based The Alternative Routes. Albee’s McCartney-esque pop and The Alternate Routes bona fide hit “Nothing More” will marry perfectly with lawn games and samples of brilliant craft beer.
If you want to turn your festival experience up to eleven, purchase a VIP ticket and get pours of limited edition, small batch beers from each brewer. With this list of brewers, it will be well worth the extra twenty bucks.
This Saturday the Great Falls Brewfest in Lewiston is the place to be if you’re a craft beer fan looking for a superb beer festival.
WHERE: Simard-Payne Memorial Park, Lewiston
WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday for general admission; noon for VIP session
WHO: 30-plus breweries from Maine and beyond
COST: $40 in advance, $45 at door; VIP Session: $60 in advance, $65 at door
MORE INFO: www.greatfallsbrewfest.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Bangor’s Beer Festival On the Waterfront
12 to 5 p.m. Saturday Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor. $25 in advance, $40 at door, VIP $50 in advance, $65 at door. www.waterfrontconcerts.com
Live too far north to attend the Great Falls Brewfest? No worries, head to Bangor on Saturday. Bangor’s Beer Festival boasts over twenty Maine breweries, including Square Tail, Tumbledown, SoMe, Orono, Funky Bow, and Geaghan Brothers to name a few. The Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion is a great location for a beer festival, and the $25 advanced general admission price is hard to beat for a day of drinking craft beer.
Subscribe to Beer This Week’s Email Newsletter
If you want to stay abreast on the weekly happenings of Maine breweries—and who doesn’t – then subscribe to the weekly email from Beer This Week. The email gives up-to-date and accurate information on special releases from Maine breweries, what’s on draft at tasting rooms in Maine, as well as special beer events that are happening. This email is another great resource to help you keep your finger on the pulse of Maine beer.