PORTLAND — Chris Girosky lives across from the Shipyard Brewery, but his proximity to the source didn’t stop him from heading across town to the Portland Expo on Saturday afternoon to be first in line for a taste of the brewery’s “Smashed Pumpkin” ale.

“I come for all of this,” he said, looking around an Expo jammed with people waiting in line to sample some of the output of more than a dozen Maine beer makers at the 17th annual Maine Brewers Festival.

The festival draws beer drinkers and beer makers from around the state. Ticket-buyers get a glass and tickets for up to 12 four-ounce tastes from brewers such as Shipyard, Allagash, Sheepscot and Geary’s.

The brewers get people to sample their varieties and hopefully, become regular customers.

For the most part, the brewers trot out their familiar varieties.

At the Allagash Brewing Co. stand, that meant kegs of Allagash White and Allagash Black were tapped, along Allagash Curieux, which is flavored with coffee beans, pitting the forces of light-headedness and sobriety in conflict with each other.

Brewer Greg DeVito said the competition for customers among Maine breweries leads to some experimenting.

Lately, Allagash has been aging its beer in oak barrels for part of the fermentation period and has been using wild yeast — rather than the kind grown specifically for brewing — to give the beer a distinctive flavor. A variety coming out in a few weeks, he said, uses raspberries to add another element to the taste.

That beer has taken a few years to develop, he said. In addition to trying different aging and fermenting approaches — varying the time in traditional fermenting vessels and the oak barrels, for instance — the brewers have also tried different amounts of raspberries in the brews.

“A lot of breweries are trying crazy things,” DeVito said. “Some of it is crap and some of it tastes really good.”

The search for new tastes is ongoing, DeVito said, and has been a staple of Allagash’s approach since it was founded by Rob Tod in the mid-1990s.

“We’ve been brewing for 15 years and making profits for about three,” he said. “The guy who owns the brewery is a patient guy who loves beer.”

Pretty much like the hundreds of people in line at the Expo Saturday.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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