Sebago Brewing Co., which is based in Gorham and has pubs in Portland, Gorham, Scarborough and Kennebunk, has started brewing lagers — and the first try has been quite good.

The Fool’s Gold Ale actually came out in late June, but I didn’t see it until I dropped by Downeast Beverage on Commercial Street last week. It is part of Sebago’s Single Batch beer series, and all three of the people in my tasting group enjoyed it a lot.

Fool’s Gold is Sebago’s version of a California common ale, the most common of which is Anchor Steam Beer out of San Francisco. Although it’s made with lager yeast, it’s fermented at room temperature instead of the cooler temperatures usually used for a lager.

The beer had a stronger, more complex flavor than Anchor Steam and a good hoppiness, and was 5.3 percent alcohol.

“It’s not quite as malty as Anchor Steam, but it has a nice, crisp finish,” said Kai Adams, Sebago’s co-owner and brewmaster.

There will be a few bottles and kegs of Fool’s Gold around, but it soon will be replaced by the 2011 Grand Crue at the Sebago pubs. Like all of Sebago’s special-batch beers, the Grand Crue will be available only on draft and in 22-ounce bottles.

Adams said Sebago brewed an Oktoberfest — a more traditional cold-fermented lager — that will be available on Sept. 2 and be available through October.

WHILE PICKING UP the Fool’s Gold, I also bought MacFoochie’s Scottish Ale from Atlantic Brewing in Bar Harbor, spending $4.99 for a 22-ounce bottle.

This was also a very good beer. It was richly flavored, with quite a bit of roasted malt and a good amount of hops. At 7.8 percent alcohol, it was a beer to sip slowly.

WIFE NANCY AND I were passing through Rockland two weeks ago, and I remembered that Shag Rock Brewing Co. had just opened at Amalfi on the Water. It was lunch time, so it seemed like a chance to test out a new brewery.

The location on the Rockland waterfront was wonderful, and we settled in to try a couple of beers.

The only two Shag Rocks on the menu were Belgian Wheat and an IPA. Nancy is not a big fan of wheat beers, so she got the IPA. And she got the better of the deal.

The IPA was nicely hoppy and richly flavored, with a fairly hearty mouth feel, a nice head and good carbonation.

The Belgian had a decent flavor of wheat and yeast, but it was just barely carbonated. I don’t know if the low carbonation was intentional — some cask beers are lightly carbonated — but it detracted from my enjoyment of what probably would have been a good beer.

The lunch was good — a gyro for me and a haddock sandwich for Nancy — so we’ll give it another try the next time we go through Rockland.

IF YOU DON’T have plans for Labor Day Weekend, put away part of Sept. 3-4 for the inaugural Portland Brew Festival at the Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St. (where the Portland Flower Show has been held every March for the past decade or so). The event is being co-sponsored by MaineToday Media Inc., which owns The Portland Press Herald.

Mak Sprague, who is running the event, said he will have at least 25 brewers from all around New England. Sessions will be held noon to 3:30 p.m. and 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 3, and from noon to 3:30 p.m. Sept. 4.

Tickets are available at portlandbrewfestival.eventbrite.com, and more information can be found at www.portlandbrewfestival.com.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

[email protected]