As a former hockey goalie (albeit not a great one), I love attending Portland Pirates games. The Pirates, an AHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers, has a roster packed with players hungry to get to the coveted final rung on the professional hockey ladder: the NHL.
That translates into high-flying, big-hitting action as talented players fight to stand out and get their chance at the big dance.
What does this have to do with beer, you ask?
In their ever-expanding mission to drive craft beer lovers to Maine beer bliss, The Maine Brew Bus has wedded two of my favorite things in life: Maine beer and hockey.
In a tour they’ve dubbed, Pours and Pirates, The Maine Brew Bus drives patrons to a rotating list of three Maine breweries and meaderies, ending the tour at the Cross Insurance Arena for a Friday night Pirates home game.
Before getting to the skinny on Pours and Pirates, here’s an overview of The Maine Brew Bus for those unfamiliar with the ubiquitous bright green buses zipping around Southern Maine. (Full disclosure, I am a former employee of The Maine Brew Bus.)
In 2012 the husband and wife team of Zach and Allison Poole looked at the bourgeoning Maine beer scene and were struck with an epiphany: There should be a bus that drives people around to breweries. So they bought a small school bus, named it Lenny, painted it a conspicuous shade of neon green and started giving tours to a small handful of breweries one day a week.
In three years, they’ve increased the number of tours they offer – in the summer they run tours Tuesday through Sunday—and they purchased two more green buses. As the brewing scene continues to grow at a staggering rate, The Maine Brew Bus grows along with it in a symbiotic relationship.
With this in mind, the Pours and Pirates tours makes three stops at a rotating list of five establishments in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood: Bunker Brewing, Oxbow Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing, Maine Mead Works and Urban Farm Fermentory.
The Maine Brew Bus wants to educate passengers who step aboard their buses on the history of brewing in Maine and the breweries they visit. So more than just a designated driver for an afternoon of brewery-hopping before a hockey game, patrons get a beer education.
At each stop, expect to learn about the business, take a tour of the facility, and, of course, sample the goods. Each stop lasts about thirty-five minutes before patrons hop back on the bus to head to the next stop.
Patrons are dropped off at the Cross Insurance Arena after the two and a half hour tour. All guests sit in one block of seats for the hockey game, and if patrons made any purchases at the breweries, the Portland Pirates staff will secure them in the general office to be picked up after the game.
Pours and Pirates is a great way to get a taste for Portland’s brewing culture and to support professional sports in our great city. This Friday’s home game against the St. John’s Icecaps is your first chance to hop on the bus for a Friday evening of brews and top-notch hockey.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Pours and Pirates Brewery Tour
WHO: The Maine Brew Bus
WHERE: The Maine Brew Bus takes patrons to three breweries for tours and tastings, ending at the Cross Insurance for a Portland Pirates home game
WHEN: Tours begin at 4 p.m. and take place before every Portland Pirates Friday night home games (eight Friday night home games remain in the season including this Friday’s game against the St. John’s Icecaps)
COST: $45 per ticket (includes all tastings and tours of breweries, a snack, and the ticket admission to the Pirates game)
MORE INFO: The Maine Brew Bus
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Funky Bow Brewing Releases Nothing But Treble Barrel Aged Imperial Red Ale
Doors open at 12 p.m. Saturday, Ledgewood Lane, Lyman
A bourbon barrel-aged imperial red ale in the middle of winter? Yes. Please. Funky Bow Brewing is known for their big malt flavors and Nothing But Treble will not disappoint. In addition to being aged in bourbon barrels, this red ale was also aged with Montmorency cherries. The cherry and bourbon flavors should offer a complex backbone to this red ale. And if you’ve never been to a shindig at the Funky Bow farm, this is a great chance to take in the experience of great music, food, and beer while also picking up a bottle of barrel-aged beer.
Session One: 1 to 4 p.m., Session Two: 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Cross Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland. $35, $55 VIP.
By all accounts, last year’s Portland On Tap had issues with being overcrowded. The venue was too small for the number of tickets that were sold, and there was only one session. To alleviate the issue of overcrowding, this year’s Portland On Tap brewfest is being moved to the spacious Cross Insurance Arena. There will also be two sessions this year. This should all lead to a festival experience that is much more enjoyable for festival-goers. Expect breweries from all over New England and a number of Maine breweries.