Some women like beer and some women really really like beer. The Maine Beer Mavens are in that second category.
“Have you heard of the brewery on Monhegan?” one woman says, sipping a pilsner.
“Yes! I want to get out there. Did you go to the hockey thing at Oxbow?”
“No. That’s one of the ones I haven’t been to. Have you tried Austin Street yet?”
The Maine Beer Mavens is a women’s beer club (that’s a thing, around the country, apparently). Every month or so the group’s leaders post what the new adventure will be — a brewery tour, an oyster-and-beer pairing at a bar, maybe a road trip to Belfast to check out Marshall Wharf. There are two, and only two, requirements to be a Maine Beer Maven: Be female, love beer.
Yesterday a bunch of us (12, maybe? That’s a typical turn out.) showed up to Banded Horn in Biddeford for a private tasting and tour — which sounds fancier than it is. Mostly, it was a bunch of cool 20-and-30-somethings saying, “this tastes so good” between sips, munching the free pretzels.
Ian McConnell and his cousin Ron Graves (both from central Maine) run the shop, which is hidden in a brick mill. The space is huge, bright, and not yet painted. There’s a ping pong table, a scooter, and a huge cement slab with their fermenting tanks (and other equipment that they built, in part, “from crap we found in the mill”). The music is fun — I definitely was humming along with Fleetwood Mac. Perfect night.
I hung out with Jill, who drove up from Gorham and is a regular at the Maven events. By the time we reached the second-to-last beer, the Bineary double IPA (hops grow on bines), she looked like she found heaven.
“I could throw back a couple growlers of this in a sitting,” she said, looking at her small glass. “Why drink it by the glass when they sell growlers?”
The 12% alcohol-by-volume Russian imperial stout — which uses about twice the malt as most beers (or, as Ian said, half the water) was last. It’s amazingly flavorful, dark, drinkable. I turned to Jill and hers was gone by my second sip.
“That’s embarrassing,” she said. Followed by the chant of the night: “it tastes so good.”
The Maine Beer Mavens organize on Facebook where leaders Carolyn Tesini and Lora Burns (who used to be in a women’s beer club when she lived in Philly) post what’s up next. The events are cheap — the Banded Horn one was $10 a person to try all five beers. The next event might be a pub crawl in Portsmouth. If you’re a woman who loves beer, you can request to join the Facebook group.