Anyone who’s had a beer with me in the last year has had to endure my propensity to preach about the Bangor area beer scene. These conversations usually end with my browbeaten interlocutor saying, “OK, OK, I get it. I’ll check it out.”
I’ve made a number of trips to Maine’s northern metropolis in the past year, and each time I’m more impressed with the people I meet in the local brewing community and the golden liquid being fermented in stainless steel tanks.
Approaching its one-year anniversary, Mason’s Brewing Co. is doing its part to make the Bangor area a legit beer destination.
Located in Brewer across the Penobscot River from the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Mason’s spacious riverfront patio is one of my favorite places in Maine to drink a beer. And inside ain’t too bad either: The expansive brewpub has an inviting European beer hall vibe with a lengthy bar, copious natural lighting and a Euro-inspired cityscape mural.
On a luminous afternoon in April, I sat down on the patio with Mason’s owner and brewer, Chris Morley, to talk about year one and his thoughts on the future.
“I never thought our first year would be this successful,” the energetic Morley said, adding that the support of the local community has been humbling.
Morley and head brewer Forrest Brown went gangbusters into brewing when Mason’s opened. They brewed 24 different beers in their first year, keeping their 16 tap handles stocked with a rotating lineup of beers.
“We spent our first year playing around on our 20-barrel system with all the different styles of beers we love. It was on the scale of spastic,” Morley laughed.
But that doesn’t mean their lineup lacked in focus or continuity — or, more importantly, quality. Morley contextualized Mason’s catalogue of beers, explaining that it’s one-third American, one-third Belgian and one-third German.
Before opening Mason’s, Morley traveled through Western and Eastern Europe, along with America’s West Coast, soaking in the culture of these beer-rich destinations. Mason’s ambiance, décor and beer lineup reflect the best of what he found on his travels. He also gleaned inspiration from Ommegang Brewing in his hometown of Cooperstown, New York.
Going into year two, Mason’s is releasing a new beer series Morley has dubbed the End of Days Series.
The four beers in this series offer aggressive, bold flavors and feature beautifully rendered, post-apocalyptic labels by Portland area comic book artist Ben Bishop.
The first lineup of cans that will be released in this series is Hipster Apocalypse, an IPA single-hopped with Idaho 7 hops. This beer shows off the versatility of the sought-after Idaho 7 hop with flavors of orange marmalade, tangerine, candy, stonefruit and a dank underbelly. The label features a skeletal hipster in a “Stephen King Rules” T-shirt amidst an eviscerated cityscape.
The Mushroom Cloud Farmhouse IPA is a beautiful hoppy saison gushing with fruity aroma and flavors from the French farmhouse yeast and a generous addition of hops. If you’re into hoppy farmhouse ales, this is one of the best I’ve had in Maine.
Continuing with the aggressive flavors is Ghost Reaper IPA, a 5.5 percent American ale brewed with the maniacal ghost pepper. This beer offers just the right hint of ghost pepper burn on the tongue, but doesn’t lay waste to the palate.
Rounding out the End of Days Series is Liquid Rapture, a double IPA brewed with nuclear amounts of Citra, Ella and Idaho 7 hops. Expect this beer to boast all the great notes of those luscious hops.
Search out cans of these artfully crafted and labeled beers or have them on draft at the full-menu brewpub to see how Mason’s Brewing is helping to secure the Bangor area as a must-visit beer mecca.
WHERE: 15 Hardy St., Brewer
BEERS: Sixteen rotating taps featuring American-, Belgian- and German-style, beers along with the End of Days Series
AVAILABILITY: Purchase cans of the flagship beers at local beer stores, along with the limited release of the End of Days Series. (Follow Mason’s on social media for up-to-date info on can releases.)
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
MORE INFO: masonsbrewingcompany.com
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, 525 Route 1, Freeport.
Unless you were one of the lucky few to score tickets when they were released online, you won’t be able to acquire bottles of Maine Beer Company’s Dinner for this latest batch. But fret not, this weekend you can get a pour of Dinner on draft at the Freeport tasting room while it lasts. Dinner currently sits at No. 11 on Beer Advocate’s Top 250 Beers list. Beg, barter or steal to get your hands on a glass of this tropical fruit symphony that stands up to its endless acclaim.
10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Wells Reserve at Laudholm, 324 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells, $50 per ticket. www.eventbrite.com
This symposium focuses on the science of brewing with presentations from Maine brewers. This event is for homebrewers, aspiring commercial brewers and beer enthusiasts. The presentations include talks and panels from Tod Mott of Tributary Brewing, Abraham Lorrain of Funky Bow Brewing, Patrick Chavanelle of Allagash Brewing, and Heather Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing. Patrons can expect beer tastings and plenty of opportunities to ask questions and mingle with the brewers.