Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By TOM ATWELL
The Maine Brewers Festival, which will feature two sessions on Nov. 3 at the Portland Expo, will kick off the night before with an "Evening with the Brewers" VIP event at 6:30.
The festival is not officially part of Portland Beer Week, which runs Nov. 4-11. But it could be viewed as an aperitif, and a lot of the same organizations are involved in both events.
Allison Stevens, the brainchild behind Portland Beer Week, has agreed to host "Evening with the Brewers" at The Thirsty Pig, 37 Exchange St., in the Old Port, said Madeline Riley, who is organizing the festival.
Riley said that in many ways, "Evening with the Brewers" is the best value of the weekend.
"We originally started 'Evening with the Brewers' because the festival has gotten so big, and it is quite noisy with the bands and everything, that people don't get to talk with the brewers," she said. "At the 'Evening with the Brewers,' they have a panel discussion, and you can get a conversation going."
The food menu for the evening will include a pig roast.
"It is going to be really fun," Riley said. "Allison has made it all happen, and she gets to the core of what represents Maine beer in a really fun and exciting way."
Riley said she doesn't know the list of participants at "Evening with the Brewers" yet, but Nathan Sanborn of Rising Tide is going to be one of them, and she expects she will have brewers from Shipyard, Gritty's and Geary's – but it had not been finalized when I talked to her late last week.
Tickets for "Evening with the Brewers" are $69, and are limited to 70 people. The price for either of the two Nov. 3 sessions – 1:30 to 5 p.m. and 6:30 to 10 p.m. – is $36. The price for a combination ticket of "Evening with the Brewers" and either of the Nov. 3 sessions is $99.
Riley said the festival is having Eventbrite handle the ticket sales, so that part of the operation should be a little bit smoother. You can connect to Eventbrite by going to the festival website, learnyourbeer.com.
Two bands have been announced as playing the festival. The Mallett Brothers Band, an alt-country/rock band from Portland, is the headliner. Dirigo – made up of Erik Glocklere and Luke Patchen Montgomery of Strangefolk; Stevie Jones; and Russ Lawton of the Trey Anastasio Band – will also perform.
Riley said all of the larger Maine brewers will be taking part in the festival, and she is also trying to get as many of the smaller ones as she can.
"Some of them just don't have the capacity to do a show like this," she said. "Oxbow made a great effort last year when they were just starting out, and they are coming back. And we were really glad to get Rising Tide."
The food offerings are also being changed quite a bit, although Portland Pie pizza will be coming back.
"Love Cupcakes, a food truck working in the area, will be there with some beer-inspired flavors," Riley said. "Amy Gross is actually bringing soft pretzels to sell, the kind you get at fairs and carnivals, and the perfect morsel for matching with beer. And we will have Hella Good Tacos, another food truck operator."
At the afternoon happy hour session of the festival, Nate Bowman of Local Brew TV – whose first pilot effort was a show about Baxter Brewing in Lewiston – will be taping the session for use in a future show, Riley said.
WE BOUGHT a mixed 12-pack of Dundee beers at the supermarket recently, just to test it out. Dundee is brewed in Rochester, N.Y., and owned by Genessee Brewing Co.
Dundee's first beer was Honey Brown, a middle-of-the-road brown ale good for drinking while watching sporting events.
The beers offered in the 12-pack were Pale Bock Lager, Stout, Pilsner and India Pale Ale.
The price for the 12-pack was $11.50, putting it well below the $15 charged by most craft beers.
The only one of the four I really liked was the Pale Bock Lager. It was nicely rich, sweet and fairly complex. The India Pale Ale was pretty good, and the other two were middle-of-the-road.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: