The beer scene in Portland is as strange and beautiful as any in the great American beer cities. A city of roughly 66,000 people, we rival behemoths like San Francisco, San Diego and the other Portland. And our beer scene keeps getting better with each new brewery that ferments its first beer and every beer bar that lays down a rustic bar top.
If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to immerse yourself in Portland’s beer world, or you just want to get out on the town and celebrate our fair city’s surplus of great beer and beer joints, then Portland Beer Week is for you.
Portland Beer Week runs from Saturday to Nov. 7. This year, brewers and pubs have put together a smattering of smashing events that are sure to offer something for every beer drinker in town.
Here’s a rundown of my picks for Portland Beer Week:
Beer Week Scavenger Hunt
All day | begins and Ends at The Thirsty Pig
Port City Running Tours organizes this scavenger hunt filled with beer and history-inspired riddles that will have your team scouring the city for clues. You can expect stops at bars, breweries and Portland landmarks.
Maine Brewers Festival
1-5 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. | Portland Expo
This is Maine’s oldest brew festival. They always boast good music, good food, and solid beer choices. It’s a great way to cap off the first day of Portland Beer Week.
Nails N’ Ales
1-4 p.m. | The Thirsty Pig
This event weds beer and manicures. Using inspiration from beer labels and packaging, participants will paint their nails to match a favorite brew design. Get dolled up right for Portland Beer Week!
Maine Homebrew Underground Tour with The Maine Brew Bus
Ever wonder how Maine brewers cut their teeth and perfect their recipes for commercial sale? Get on the bright green Maine Brew Bus and visit the home operations of some of Portland’s most prolific homebrewers. The tour will include a tasting glass continually filled with beer, tours of homebrewing set-ups and plenty of opportunities to ask questions. (Disclosure: I work part time for the Brew Bus.)
We Own the Night
7 p.m.-close | The Thirsty Pig
Bissell Brothers Brewing and the Massachusetts brewery Night Shift have been working on collaboration brews, and on Monday night these collabs will be on draft at The Thirsty Pig. Try the brew-children of two cutting edge breweries.
Allagash 10th Anniversary Party and Barrel Aging Event
7 p.m.-close | Arcadia National Bar
Allagash is giving Curieux and their other barrel-aged beers the 10th birthday party they deserve with a video contest on their website and events at the brewery and around Portland. This event pairs Allagash’s award-winning barrel-aged beers with Arcadia’s collection of vintage video games.
Inaugural Pro/Am Beer Competition
6 p.m. | Salvage BBQ
Foundation Brewing Company opened its brew kettles to homebrewers to create collaboration beers and on Tuesday at Salvage BBQ these beers will be on draft as they go head to head in a battle for the best professional/amateur brewing collaboration. Expect plenty of beer and delicious bbq.
All day | Novare Res and other Portland bars
This is the event you’ve been hearing about in the papers and on the nightly news. Novare Res co-owner Shahin Khojastehzad ran a raucous media campaign to get Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray) to Portland for Portland Beer Week. Local brewers have created Bill Murray beers for the event. There is Vigo’s Pink Ooze from In’finiti, Jaguar Shark from Oxbow Brewing, and, my favorite name, Lost in Fermentation from Banded Horn. Will Bill show up? Who knows? But if he does, you don’t want to miss the chance to share a brew with a comedy legend.
Maine Brewed IPAs
5 p.m.-close | Great Lost Bear
The argument could be made that without the Great Lost Bear, Portland’s beer scene never would have gotten off the ground in the late 1980’s. Head over to the Bear on Thursday night to feast on a stellar lineup of Maine’s delicious IPAs. This event is a must-attend for hopheads.
Slab New Breweries Night
5 p.m. | Slab Sicilian Street Food
If you want to know what’s new in Portland beer, get to Slab and try a lineup of beers from budding breweries trying to stake a claim in the local brew scene. And be sure to try a hand slab.
5 p.m. | Nosh Kitchen Bar
Home to Geary’s, Allagash, Bissell, Foundation, and Austin Street, One Industrial Way is a Portland brewing Mecca. On the last night of Portland Beer Week, Nosh will host a slew of taps from the brewers of the Industrial Way neighborhood. Get a gut-busting sandwich from the kitchen and a heavenly beer from the Industri-Ale tap line.
Allagash Mega Bash
5 p.m.-close | The Great Lost Bear
To end beer week with a bang, Allagash and The Great Lost Bear are teaming up to offer 5 oz. pours of rare Allagash samplings in a free tasting glass to commemorate a beautiful week of beer drinking.
I hope you’re as invigorated as I am after reading this sampling of events from Portland Beer Week. But, as they say, that’s just the tip of the brewing iceberg. Head to Portland Beer Week’s official website for a dizzying overview of all the events as Portland celebrates beer and maintains its position as one of the best beer cities in America.