Seven things that the Maine beer scene is missing.
I spend a lot of time talking with people about the beer scene in Maine, and all of the wonderful things it has to offer. Every once and a while, the topic of “what’s missing” comes up, and I’ve finally collected thoughts from many beer-fueled conversations. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Personally, I don’t mind PBR too much, but it does tend to give me a headache. No idea why. But we need a local beer to fill this niche of the super-cheap-yet-better-than-macro beer – especially on price point. I love all the crafty brews that are coming out of this town, but would love to see something truly sessionable that’s under $4 a can at a bar.
I confess – I still miss Bull Jagger Brewing Company, who closed in 2013 after a short stint brewing some excellent German-style brews. Their Portland Lager, when fresh, was an excellent example of the style and I came home from work many nights craving the simple and straightforward crispness and the slight nuttiness. The discontinuation of this beer has left a void still unfilled, in my opinion.
Think “off-centered” like Dogfish Head Brewing. I am craving a brewery that will take risks and do odd things and be strange. Though, I did just read that Hidden Cove Brewing is making an Apricot & jalapeño beer, so there’s that. While I appreciate consistency and quality from brewers above all else, I also dig innovation and experimentation, and our beer-drinking populace might be ready to dive in to some weirder brews.
Elements in Biddeford is a coffee shop, bookstore and bar. This is awesome for several reasons – I don’t feel weird firing up my laptop in there and drinking a beer at the same time, and if I’m meeting someone to talk with them, they can choose to grab a tea or beer depending on personal preference. With the recent success of Arcadia National Bar, there’s a need to have places that are more than just seats and taps. What about more beer + bookstores? Beer + record store? Beer + donuts? Let’s get creative!
I spent a lot of time at Slab this summer, and it wasn’t just for the food. The outside seating there and at Novare Res Bier Cafe, Pai Men Miyake and the like are a rare gift during our short summers. But I’d also love to see more bars with more of an open-air feel or with more windows. It doesn’t have to be dark, and there’s plenty of beauty in the state we could look at while sipping a local brew.
Why stop beer tourism with bus tours? Hospitality industry take note: people are visiting Maine for its beer now, and it’s about time that we welcome those types of tourists with open arms. Having restaurants within hotels that serve local beer, having local beer put in rooms ahead of time, or pre-combined tour itineraries or “where to go” documents should be created, and I haven’t seen this embraced as much here as it has been in other places I’ve traveled.
As much as I enjoy spending time at bars and restaurants, I’d sure love to be able to bring a lot more beer home. Put it in an aluminum can. Or a glass bottle. Or an aluminum bottle. And let me pick it up at places like Bier Cellar and I’ll be a lot more likely to become a regular drinker of your beer.
So there’s my list. What else is the Maine beer scene missing? Leave me some ideas in the comments, or we can always discuss it over beer. Cheers!