The tap room at Banded Horn Brewing Co. in Biddeford has opened and is selling five beers as samples and as growlers. In a minor bit of history, I was the first person to legally buy a growler of Banded Horn beer – the Norweald Stout.

I took a tour of new breweries conducted by the Maine Brew Bus, with beer writers Joshua Bernstein and Kate Cone as added attractions. We reached the brewery before the noon opening on the tasting room’s first day.

The brewery is in Building 13B of the Pepperell Mill at 32 Main St. in Biddeford, and the tap room is open 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays, with five beers available.

I’d had two of the five beers at different Portland bars before my visit to Banded Horn and have written about them in previous columns. The Norweald Stout that I had at Grace is 6.5 percent alcohol-by-volume, a dry stout with toffee and chocolate flavors. The Veridian IPA that I tried in December at the Great Lost Bear is 6.0 ABV, balanced with quite a bit of hoppiness and a good amount of malt.

Pepperell Pilsner probably will be one of Banded Horn’s most popular beers. It is 4.6 percent ABV, what head brewer Ian McConnell described as a Keller Pils, an unfiltered, unpasteurized lager originally from Bavaria. This is a dry and crisp beer with a great malt aroma and spicy hops. This is going to be a year-round beer, but will be a go-to beer in the summer. It is easy-drinking but still flavorful, nice and refreshing.

Growlers (64 ounces) of the pilsner, IPA and stout were $10 for the contents, plus a $5 deposit on the growler.

The Bineary double IPA is a bigger beer, at 9.1 percent ABV, big and hoppy, a slow-sipping beer. Sometimes double IPAs can be all hops, but this one has a good, rich maltiness to go along with it. The name is a pun, because hops plants are bines and binary means made up of two things. The contents of a growler of this beer was $15.

The Mountain Russian Imperial Stout is an absolutely over-the-top beer, at 12 percent ABV. This beer has huge amounts of caramel and roastiness in the deep malt. Although it comes in at a high 86 international bittering units, the hops is well in the background because the malt is so big. This is a highly complex beer that needs to be savored slowly.

McConnell said Banded Horn has a 22-barrel brewing system, which is larger than most breweries start with, but he has big plans. McConnell started as a home brewer growing up in Etna, located a few miles southwest of Bangor, and moved to New York, where he worked as an unpaid intern at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn and then moved up to brewmaster.

When he moved back to Maine he knew he wanted to start a brewery with his cousin and former home-brew partner, Ron Graves, who is a co-owner and handles brewery operations.

McConnell says he plans to begin packaging his beer for sale in stores in the future, and that he probably will choose bottles rather than cans because he prefers his beer in glass. Until then, people wanting to try these beers will have to find them in various Maine bars or make their way to the brewery in Biddeford.

The other three breweries on the tour were Austin Street, whose opening is still a ways off; Foundation, which will open its tasting room very soon – if it has not already opened – and Bissell Brothers, which will offer its Substance Ale in cans soon, but is already selling it at bars and restaurants. I will write more about those in the coming weeks.

TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE brought me bottles of Spencer Trappist Ale, which has just come out, brewed by Trappist monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., just west of Worcester, Mass.

This is the first Trappist beer brewed in the Americas, and the monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey received permission and instruction from the Benedictine monks in Belgium before they were allowed to sell their beer to the public.

So far the only beer brewed by the Spencer monks is a patersbier, which is a lower-alcohol (6.5 percent ABV in this case) beer that the monks drink with their meals. Other Trappist beers are much higher in alcohol.

This is an effervescent unfiltered Belgian beer, very well done, with the yeast by far the most dominant flavor. I enjoyed it, but at about $18 for a four-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles, I won’t be drinking a lot of this one.

FOUNDATION BREWERY will be holding its launch party from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at The Thirsty Pig on Exchange Street in Portland. Foundation, located at 1 Industrial Way in Portland, is offering two beers to start: Eddy, a saison, and Blaze, a saison-IPA hybrid. The brewer has been working since last fall, and was founded by Joel Mahaffey, a Web designer, and John Bonney, a physician. Their beer will be available at bars in southern Maine and at the brewery.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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