Despite its hardscrabble exterior the Saco/Biddeford line has established itself as one of the best places in Maine to drink craft beer. In a span of less than three miles, a beer lover can spend an afternoon sampling an array of well-crafted beer styles.
On the Saco side of the river there’s Barreled Souls, a nano brewery that ferments their beer in oak barrels, and Run of the Mill, a brewpub focused on British style beers. Just across the river in a repurposed Biddeford mill, Banded Horn brews American-style beers.
An area as rich in brewing as the Saco/Biddeford line needs a great beer bar to tie everything together. Luckily, capping off this gritty brewing sanctuary is Elements, a beer-forward bar that marries three of life’s greatest essentials: books, coffee, and beer. This weekend Elements will be celebrating their second anniversary with a lineup of specialty beers that reads like a Maine brewing all-star roster.
Before getting to the details of this weekend’s gala, let’s take a look at the brief history of Elements. In 2012 owner Michael Macomber was one of three winners of the Heart of Biddeford’s Main Street Challenge, whose goal is to bring businesses to Biddeford’s still-charming Main Street. With this victory, along with the desire to bring the best of books, coffee, and beer to his patrons, Macomber solidified Elements as a Biddeford mainstay.
By looking at the kegs Elements is tapping this weekend, it’s clear that the brewing community greatly appreciates this Biddeford bar’s place in the world of Maine brewing. Their beer list for their second anniversary celebrations includes specialty beers brewed just for this event by Bunker Brewing, Banded Horn Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing, Austin Street Brewing, Gneiss Brewing, and Foundation Brewing. The Foundation beer is a tea-infused saison brewed with the help of Elements’ manager, Katie Pinard. Also on draft will be a brewery-only keg from Maine Beer Company that has yet to be determined by time of publication.
Read that list of breweries again. Ridiculous, right? Some of Maine’s best brewers are flexing their muscles for this event.
Rounding out the beer list is a collaboration beer brewed with Chris Schoefield of Barreled Souls called Grapes of Wrath. This is a literary IPA hopped with Simcoe and Centennial hops and fermented with zinfandel grapes. Hops and grapes? On paper it shouldn’t work out. But beer isn’t drunk on paper, so on a snowy day in February, I seek out this strange brew at Elements.
Surrounded by books and espresso sipping twenty and thirty-somethings, I order up a pint. Grapes has a deep gold, almost amber appearance. The aroma is a wonderful blend of pine from the Simcoe hops, a light citrus from the Centennial hops and sweet wine notes from the zinfandel grapes and malts. Taking a healthy gulp, the complex flavor ride of this IPA rolls over my tongue: first are the zinfandel grapes, then comes the pine, then the sweet malts, and finally the zinfandel grapes return. The finish is a balance of pine and grapes. This is a complex beer and an inventive take on the seemingly played-out IPA style.
This weekend’s celebrations at Elements begin at 7pm on Friday and continue with great beer and music from Muddy Ruckus and Nice Places through Sunday. Grab a book, sip an espresso, and order a few pints of the specialty beers this weekend to see why Elements has become an integral pillar in the Saco/Biddeford beer haven.
WHAT: Elements: Books, Coffee, Beer 2nd Anniversary Celebration
WHERE: 265 Main St., Biddeford
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday to 9 p.m. Sunday
ON TAP: Specialty Beers from Bunker Brewing, Banded Horn Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing, Austin Street Brewing, Gneiss Brewing, Foundation Brewing, Maine Beer Company, and Barreled Souls
LIVE MUSIC: 8 p.m. Friday: Muddy Ruckus; 8 p.m. Saturday: Nice Places; Sunday: TBD
HIGHLIGHTED BEER: Grapes of Wrath
ABV: 7 percent
INGREDIENTS: Brewed with Simcoe and Centennial Hops and Zinfandel Grapes
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Bangor On Tap Beer Festival, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor
If you missed Portland on Tap or want to attend another America On Tap event, then here’s your chance. The only gripe I heard about the Portland On Tap event last month was that too many tickets were sold and the beer lines were unruly. If you attend, expect some Maine breweries along with national brands that distribute in the state.
Marshall Madness at Novare Res Bier Café. Noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. 4 Canal Plaza, Portland
Drink Marshall Wharf Brewing beers with the Marshall Wharf crew. Expect the flagship Marshall Wharf beers along with a few rarities on draft and in cans. The Belfast brewery is known for their outside-the-box brews, so expect some fun beer treats.