The first annual March Beer Madness Tournament, which featured a very competitive field of 64 Maine beers, concluded last week with a new champion: the Maine Island Trail Ale.
A tidal wave of support washed away the field, which included traditional heavyweights like Gritty’s, Shipyard, Geary’s and Sebago, leaving Maine Island Trail Ale floating alone and proud in the salty bay of victory.
Produced by Rising Tide Brewing Company of Portland, in partnership with the Maine Island Trail Association, this crisp American ale is crafted to complement summer on the Maine coast. Introduced just last year, the beer has already gained an exceptionally loyal following.
Besides being a delicious Maine beer, what’s really cool is that a portion of its sales go to support the Maine Island Trail Association and their stewardship of over 200 of Maine’s uninhabited coastal islands.
The Maine Island Trail, of course, is the first recreational water trail in the United States, a 375-mile trail composed of a string of islands and mainland sites extending from the Piscataqua River in Kittery to Cobscook Bay on the Canadian border.
“We are delighted that what was simply an idea in February 2013 caught fire with Rising Tide, Maine Island Trail members, and the public at large,” said Maine Island Trail Association Executive Director Doug Welch. “The beer was only available for about six months last summer, and often sold out, yet it still won the hearts and palates of beer-loving Mainers.”
Kudos to Rising Tide for creating an exceptionally drinkable beer that has clearly resonated with Maine beer lovers, a beer that is “brilliantly crafted and accessible, like a great Beatles’ album or a Steve Jobs-designed Apple product,” said noted Maine beer critic Dave Patterson.
The NCAA-style beer tournament was hosted by Maine.Eater.com and brought well-deserved attention to Maine’s incredible beer scene, world class for sure.
For those of you looking to quench your spring thirst on one or two or more of the refreshing Maine Island Trail Ales, well, you’re in luck. The award-winning beer will be officially re-released this year at the Small Boater’s Film Fest and Auction on May 1.
The film fest is being held at USM’s Hannaford Hall in Portland from 6-10 p.m. Initially packaged in bottles, the beer will be available this year in 16-ounce cans for easier portability… in the soft cooler of your kayak or canoe, or maybe your day pack or bike saddle bag. Yeah!
For more information on the Maine Island Trail and its stewardship organization, check out my article in the Maine Sunday Telegram that appeared late last summer, “Maine Island Trail celebrates 25 years.”