Every week in this column I pontificate on the glorious beer renaissance we’re experiencing in Maine. The Pine Tree State, along with the rest of New England, is brewing a glut of great craft beer not seen since before Prohibition tore down this region’s brewing infrastructure.
So how did we get to this beautiful moment in beer history? In her book, “Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day,” Lauren Clark attempts to answer that very question.
On Tuesday (Oct. 7) at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Maine readers and drinkers alike will have the opportunity to hear Clark read from “Crafty Bastards” (God, I love that title) and illuminate New England’s complex love affair with beer, starting from the tightly wound, yet heavy drinking Puritans, taking us all the way to our beloved beer renaissance of today.
If you paid attention in ninth grade history class, then you remember that after the Black Death wiped out a third of Europe’s population in the Late Middle Ages, Europeans became deathly afraid of their water supply. So how did these dehydrated Europeans survive? You guessed it: they drank beer. The brewing process killed off the bacteria rampant in their water. As Clark points out in <, the beer swilling Pilgrims landed in New England partly because their beer supply was running low. And thus, they came to America for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Beer!
With prose as crisp and clean as a Peeper Ale, Clark’s Crafty Bastards is an engaging, evocative read. She absorbs her reader with intoxicating tales about the complex brewing history of New England over the last four hundred years from European settlers to early hop and grain farming practices to Prohibition to where we stand today. Clark is a longtime beer writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Boston Herald. In Crafty Bastards, she establishes herself as the David McCullough of the beer world.
If you have yet to venture into Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, this is the night to do so. Food & Wine has nominated this Market Street bar for the People’s Best New Bar Award. This uber hip mixology joint serves up cutting edge cocktails and always has delicious Maine brews on draft. The October 7th event will feature a drink menu of beer cocktails made with local beer from Rising Tide Brewing, Bunker Brewing, and Oxbow Brewing. Yeah, that’s right, beer cocktails. If any place can pull off a mixed drink made with beer, it’s Portland Hunt & Alpine Club. In addition to the beer cocktails, they will also be pouring pints of beer by the breweries listed above as well as Bissell Brothers.
So on October 7th, let’s class up our drinking experience, Portland, with a literary beer event. Grab a beer cocktail in a martini glass and sit back as Lauren Clark schools us on how our New England brewing ancestors, just like the New England brewers of today, were some real Crafty Bastards.
“Crafty Bastards” Book Signing and Beer Tasting at Portland Hunt & Alpine Club
When: Tuesday, October 7th from 5 to 7 pm
Where: 75 Market Street, Portland
Drinks:$7 Beer Cocktails, $6Maine Draft Beer
Book: “Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day”
Author: Lauren Clark
Other Beer Happenings Near You
Geary’s Tasting Room Now Open, 38 Evergreen Drive, Portland
With the opening of the tasting room at D.L. Geary’s Brewing Company, beer enthusiasts can now enter the building where Maine’s first legal post-Prohibition beer was brewed. The opening of this tasting room also completes the One Industrial Way tasting room experience. This neighborhood is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon, and it just keeps getting better.
3rd Annual Powder Keg Beer & Chili Festival, Exeter, New Hampshire, October 4 from 12-4
If you’re riding this wave of endless beer festivals in Maine and New England, then keep the good times rolling with this beer and chili event. The festivities will feature beer from regional brewers along with a local chili contest. I can think of no better way to spend a crisp fall day than drinking malty brews and eating a hearty bowl of chili.