July 11, 2013

What Ales You: Brewers' Guild brings craft beer festival to Portland waterfront

The event Saturday moves to the Maine State Pier after two years in Boothbay.

By TOM ATWELL

The Maine Brewers' Guild is bringing its third annual festival to Portland Saturday after holding the event for the previous two years in Boothbay.

"Craft Beer Comes to the Maine State Pier" will be from 1 to 4 p.m., with a VIP session opening at noon.

"The idea behind it was to have the festival move around the state," Dan Kleban, guild president and co-owner of Maine Beer Company, said in a telephone interview. "We have brewers all around the state, and it is good to mix things up. Having the festival in Portland hits a broader audience … and it gives us a chance to have it right on the water."

The festival will include 24 Maine brewers, with Victory Brewing in Pennsylvania the guest out-of-state brewer.

Dee Dee Germain, who works at Allagash Brewing in Portland and is the guild's communications director, said Victory was selected as guest as sort of a friend of a friend.

"The first year when we had it at Win Mitchell's Boothbay Craft Brewery," she said, "he knew Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and invited him. The second year we had Smuttynose (of Portsmouth, N.H.) as a friend and neighbor.

"This year Win reached out to Sam to see if he had any ideas, and Sam suggested Victory. Bill Covaleski of Victory is really excited to be coming here."

Tickets to the event are $50, with the VIP session costing $25 extra with a chance to taste some beers in that early hour that will not be available in the main session.

"For the VIP hour, all of the brewers are required to bring something that is very limited or a seasonal," Kleban said. "We are going to serve the collaboration we did with the Norwegian brewer Nogne-O, who was at the Shelton Brothers festival (in June)."

Kleban said the brewers are required to remove these specialty beers from the taps after the VIP hour is over, so the people who spent the extra $25 will know that they are getting something extra.

Germain said the guild's goal is to sell 1,000 tickets to the event, although the Maine State Pier will hold a lot more. She said that the two events in Boothbay attracted 400 to 500 people each.

She also said that tents will be set up on the pier to protect people from the rain or sun, whatever the day provides. Each brewer will be tented, and there will be tents where people will be able to hang out.

Kleban said that Charlie Papazian, president of the national Brewers Association and author of "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" will be in attendance.

"He is a craft beer icon, and that should be exciting," Kleban said.

The list of 24 Maine brewers includes some who have started business since the Brewers' Guild conducted its last festival, including Capt. Dick's out of Wells, In'finiti from Portland and Funky Bow of Lyman, and some beer that you can't often get in southern Maine, including Black Bear in Orono, Kennebec River in The Forks and Boothbay Craft Brewery.

In addition to the beers, the admission price includes German-themed food such as bratwurst and wood-fired pretzels, and a commemorative tasting glass.

Tickets are available online at brownpapertickets.com or from Rising Tide, Baxter Brewing, Gritty's in Portland, DL Geary's, Sebago Brewing in Portland and Maine Beer Company in Freeport.

Germain said that while Maine is having more beer festivals than in the past, she does not think that a saturation point has been reached. And Kleban said the Brewers’ Guild will definitely hold a festival somewhere next summer.

All of the profits from the festival support the Maine Brewers’ Guild. More information is available at mainebrewersguild.org.

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

tomatwell@me.com

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