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Dave Patterson

Dave Patterson is a writer and musician who is thirsty for craft beer. He's been immersed in the New England beer scene for years as a patron and since 2013 as a beer writer. In his attempt to drink all the great beer America has to offer, Dave has become convinced that the Maine beer scene is among the best in the country. He can be spotted throughout the state at breweries, bars, and backyards imbibing brilliant Maine beers. It is his belief that craft beer plays an integral role in bolstering a vibrant local economy, so he urges you do your part by drinking local beer to support your community. Twitter: @PattersonWriter​

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Posted: June 20, 2017

It’s a tough choice, but Maine beer fans have to make it: Allagash Street Fair or Great Falls Brewfest?

Written by: Dave Patterson
An Allagash beer outside its brewery on Industrial Way in Portland. Photo by Dave Patterson

An Allagash beer outside its brewery on Industrial Way in Portland.
Photo by Dave Patterson

Maine beer lovers have a difficult decision to make this weekend: Live it up on Industrial Way at a block party with some of the city’s best brews, or head to Lewiston to sample beers from four dozen breweries while playing cornhole and cuddling puppies? Whether it’s the kid-friendly aspect that sways you toward the Allagash Street Fair or the scenic riverside setting the pushes you in the direction of the Great Falls Brewfest, the good news is you can’t go wrong. Here’s some information to help you choose:

Want to go to a block party in one of America’s most storied craft beer neighborhoods — a neighborhood that arguably birthed Maine’s 21st-century beer renaissance? The answer can only be a resounding “Yes!”

The scene from a past Allagash Street Fair on Industrial Way. Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

The scene from a past Allagash Street Fair on Industrial Way.
Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

On Saturday, Allagash Brewing is throwing its third annual Street Fair on Industrial Way. The first Street Fair was organized to commemorate Allagash Brewing’s 20th anniversary. The event was such a success that Allagash has decided to throw this party every year.

Street Fair isn’t a traditional brew fest where festivalgoers fill their tasting glasses with endless pours of craft beer. This event is a block party that celebrates the thriving brewing community of the Industrial Way neighborhood.

“Street Fair is more like a community party that has really good beer, as opposed to a beer fest with some cool stuff to do. The focus is on the overall experience of the day — people coming together with families and friends. As strange as it sounds, the beer is sort of secondary,” explained Jill Perry, head of retail operations and merchandise for Allagash.

But don’t be fooled. There is great beer to be found at Saturday’s Street Fair.

Allagash is shutting down Industrial Way, allowing patrons to stroll freely to purchase $6 pours of beer from the 12 breweries at the event. All the breweries that call Industrial Way home will be pouring, including Austin Street Brewery, Battery Steele Brewing, Foundation Brewing and D.L. Geary Brewing, alongside Allagash.

In addition, Street Fair will feature hard-to-find beer from Tröegs Brewing of Hershey, Pennsylvania; Creature Comforts Brewing of Athens, Georgia; and The Lost Abbey of San Marcos, California. A dollar from every beer sold will directly support the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Foundation. (The event also supports a number of other local charities.)

Unlike most brew fests, Street Fair is kid-friendly. Children under 12 get in for free. The event features performances by Circus Maine, a photo booth, a Pinewood Derby open to any entrants and an open-air arcade by Arcadia National Bar.

“The Street Fair is Allagash’s biggest event. We love that beyond beer, it’s about getting the whole community together for a celebration on Industrial Way,” said Allagash founder Rob Tod.

In addition to great beer and kids’ activities, Street Fair will also have two stages of live music, food trucks and crafts from local artisans.

Make your way to the neighborhood that helped create Maine’s world-class beer scene and throw down with Allagash Brewing at this year’s Street Fair.

I don’t know about you, but the recent Sierra Nevada Beer Camp event at Thompson’s Point left a bad taste in my mouth. The brew fest was overpriced, underrepresented Maine brewers and, excluding the presence of Tree House Brewing of Massachusetts, didn’t wow with out-of-state brews.

My palate is in severe need of a locally-run beer fest with great Maine beer and a commitment to the surrounding community.

Lucky for my palate, Baxter Brewing is hosting the fourth annual Great Falls Brewfest on Saturday at Lewiston’s Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

The Great Falls Brewfest offers 186 beers from 47 breweries, with a strong representation of Maine’s best brewhouses. These include, among others, Banded Horn, Barreled Souls, Mast Landing, Lone Pine, Liquid Riot and Lewiston-based Bear Bones Beer and Baxter Brewing.

But as craft beer fans know, beer selection is only part of what makes a successful brew fest.

The location of the Great Falls Brewfest has a brilliant central Maine vibe. Located on the banks of the Androscoggin River, Simard-Payne Memorial Park offers striking views of towering mill buildings constructed during the Industrial Revolution. The location of this brewfest is a great example of how Baxter Brewing and other Lewiston businesses are working to reimagine and repurpose the area’s long-abandoned mill spaces.

The scene from a past Great Falls Brewfest in Lewiston, now in its fourth year. Photo by Dave Patterson

The scene from a past Great Falls Brewfest in Lewiston, now in its fourth year.
Photo by Dave Patterson

The Baxter Brewing team has put together an afternoon of creative activities and entertainment for festivalgoers.

As you fill your tasting glass in the shadows of Lewiston’s mill buildings, you can participate in the annual Brewfest Cornhole Tournament (signups begin at 1 p.m.), enter disc golf challenges from Sabattus Disc Golf, cuddle with puppies from the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, compete in the CanAm Summer Slam Beard Competition and vote in the Blue Ox Malt House Androscoggin Brewers Challenge.

Baxter Brewing founder Luke Livingston explained that the Baxter team wanted to design a relaxed brew fest atmosphere that goes beyond simply drinking beer.

“We’ve built a festival around an experience, not just around waiting in line, pounding samples as you run from booth to booth. There’s always been an understanding that you can have a sample or two, go check out another activity and then come back to the beer,” Livingston said.

Having represented Baxter Brewing in a number of events, Livingston also wanted to create the kind of brew fest he would want to pour beer at.

“I think the best brew fests out there are the ones where the breweries themselves are having the most fun being there. That fun is infectious, and festival attendees definitely feed off those positive vibes,” he said.

Cheers to that, and to a locally run brewfest centered firmly around Maine beer and the local community.

Third annual Allagash Street Fair

WHERE: Industrial Way, Portland
WHEN: 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday
ON DRAFT: Beer from 12 participating breweries including a number of Maine breweries and out-of-state brewers
ENTERTAINMENT: Two music stages, food trucks, Pinewood Derby and other children’s activities
COST: $20 per ticket, beers available to purchase for $6
MORE INFO: allagash.com/street-fair-2017

Baxter Brewing presents the fourth annual Great Falls Brewfest

WHERE: Simard-Payne Memorial Park, 46 Beech St., Lewiston
WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday
WHO: 47 breweries pouring 186 beers
ENTERTAINMENT: Live music from the Van Burens and The Toasters, disc golf expo, cornhole tournament, beard competition and a puppy petting area from the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society
COST: $40 for general admission, $60 for VIP ticket
MORE INFO: greatfallsbrewfest.com

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