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Carla Jean Lauter

Carla Jean Lauter is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since. In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around. Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe. Subscribe: RSS Feed for The Beer Babe

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Posted: October 29, 2018

Here are the highlights of Portland Beer Week

Written by: Carla Jean Lauter

After the jack-o-lanterns have extinguished and the trick-or-treaters have returned home, November creeps in. Fall leaves, sent skittering down the street by chill winds, hint at the inevitable winter to come. But rather than using early November as a time to wind down, Portland has cemented a new tradition – Portland Beer Week – to delay our reclusive tendencies and descent into winter.

From Sunday through Nov. 11, dozens of Portland-area venues will host more than 60 events to showcase craft beer in Maine (and sometimes beyond). Now in its seventh year, Portland Beer Week allows you to choose your own adventure from a schedule of events that range from serious to silly and feature beers that are familiar favorites and new rarities. As Maine’s beer scene grows each year, so do the opportunities during Beer Week to find new ways to celebrate it.

Though the event lineup changes every year, some of the events that have carried through the longest shouldn’t be missed. The first is the Maine Brewers Guild Freshman Orientation (Sunday, Bayside Bowl, $35), a must for anyone trying to keep up with the latest and greatest in Maine’s beer scene. In this mini festival, breweries that have opened their doors within the past year (or are just about to come on board) pour samples in a speed-dating format. Small groups of participants are moved around the room every few minutes, providing an equal, albeit brief, opportunity to see what the new guys can brew. This year, there were so many new breweries it had to be limited to 12, and all but one are from outside of Portland: Bath Brewing (Bath), Corner Point Brewing Co. (Berwick), Definitive Brewing (Portland), GFB Scottish Pub (Old Orchard Beach), Lost Valley Brewing Company (Auburn), Moderation Brewing (Brunswick), Nuts & Bolts Brewing (Biddeford), Odd Alewives Farm Brewery (Waldoboro), Steam Mill Brewing (Bethel), The Pour Farm (Union), Turning Page Farm (Monson), and Waterville Brewing Co. (Waterville).

The Great Lost Bear, one of the original supporters of Maine beer (before craft beer was cool), hosts events throughout Portland Beer Week. Their lineup hits a fever pitch mid-week when the Maine IPA Tap Takeover occurs (Nov. 7, pay as you go). While nearly every Maine brewery makes an IPA, it is rare to have more than a handful on tap anywhere at once. The Great Lost Bear says it has been assembling “every Maine-brewed IPA we can fit on the tap lines” for this year’s event. If you’re a hop lover or just want to discover your favorite from the massive lineup, this event is your absolute best chance.

As organizers of Portland Beer Week, The Thirsty Pig always comes up with unique events designed to both appreciate beer and to have some fun with it. This year, the bar on Exchange Street has added a singles mixer (Nov. 5) in partnership with Allagash Brewing Co. that they are calling Beer Connection (think: Love Connection) to help beer fans make connections over a pint. For the food-lovers, a potato chip and pickle beer pairing is on tap (Nov. 7), and a cider-based tap takeover featuring gluten-free snacks (Nov. 8) will be inclusive of anyone sensitive to gluten who may not be able to partake in other beer week events.

The week will culminate with the new Maine Brewers Guild Winter Session” (Nov. 10, Thompson’s Point, $49-60). This festival will take advantage of the indoor portion of Thompson’s Point in the Brick South building and will feature a who’s who of Maine breweries (from Allagash to Woodland Farms). The fest will also be the only place to sample the result of the latest Maine Brewers Guild-sponsored Beer Box, which has been filled to the brim with beer from 18 U.K. breweries collected during the shipping container’s recent trip across the pond.

Perhaps one of the things that makes Portland Beer Week special – and different, say, than a typical restaurant week – is that the brewers and industry professionals not only present the events but often attend them as well. The spirit of camaraderie is never more apparent than when a brewery owner shows up at an event featuring a beer that they didn’t make, and they enjoy participating as much as the beer fans in the room. You can even cheer for your favorite brewers laying down guitar riffs at Battle of the Brewery Bands (Nov. 8, Portland House of Music, $5 cover) or taste and judge the fruits of their collaborations with local homebrewers at the Pro-Am Competition (Nov. 5, Salvage BBQ, $35).

Portland Beer Week has, since its inception, been about the beer and the people who make it. Over the years, feedback from participants and brewers has shaped the events into fun, well-attended occasions. There is something there for everyone – providing plenty of reasons to venture out in Portland on a chilly November night. For more information about all of the events, visit portlandbeerweek.org or check the official Portland Beer Week Facebook page.

 

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