The Maine Brew Bus is parked near Merrymeeting Bay as a group of birders disembarks to look for birds and ducks on the Ducks to Draughts tour, part of the Birds on Tap event series, in which a road trip combines birding with stops at local brew pubs. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

With younger generations showing a preference to spend money on experiences – like traveling and eating out – over possessions, consider giving the gift of a beer experience to the beer-loving person on your holiday shopping list.

Visiting breweries might be something your giftee is already doing, but you can upgrade their experience by booking a multi-brewery tour. You may have spotted a bright green Maine Brew Bus parked at tasting rooms throughout the city. Its tours provide transportation, information, food and logistics while stopping at several breweries. You don’t have to worry about driving, getting a tour or getting to talk to a member of brewery staff; it’s all taken care of. I particularly enjoy booking tours with my family when they come to town, because the tour drivers and guides are incredibly knowledgeable and are used to talking to people with all levels of experience in beer. They can go to the absolute basics for someone new to beer or geek out about tiny details, and in the end, it ends up enjoyable for everyone.

The Maine Brew Bus has several tour routes that stop at different breweries. Ranging in price from $60 to $75 per person, the tours typically make 3 to 5 stops and last between 3 to 5 hours, giving you plenty of time to have beer samples, ask questions and get a look behind the scenes of Maine’s breweries. If you’re not sure about the best timing for your gift recipient, you can opt for a gift certificate that can be used to book a tour in the future, which – along with tour tickets – can be purchased at

If a straightforward brewery bus tour isn’t enough, Maine Brew Bus also offers unique adventure trips, including a few that are perfect for when you feel like you have cabin fever this winter. It partners with the Pine Tree Curling Club to create a beer-and-curling adventure. After learning the fun and unique sport of curling from the pros at Portland Ice Arena, you can warm up by two different breweries in Greater Portland (varies by tour date).

If curling isn’t your thing, you can buy a seat on one of the monthly Birds on Tap adventures, a tour that brings attendees birdwatching at locations around the state and stops at two breweries. January’s tour will head to Augusta, seeking bald eagles and a variety of gulls. Local birding (and beer) experts will be on board, so if you have a birder and beer lover on your list, you are set.

If you’re in the mood for a chilly but fun atmosphere in which to sample beer, the recently announced Carnaval Maine event that will happen in Portland in January offers a fun option. A Bites & Brews igloo located on the Eastern Promenade will become a beer and food venue. For $65, beer and food lovers can pop into the igloo to sample beer and food pairings from Maine craft brewers (including Allagash Brewing Co., Bissell Brothers, Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide Brewing Co., Shipyard Brewing Co. and Urban Farm Fermentory) and Maine restaurants with pairings to be announced. Tickets are available at

For a warmer food-focused beer experience, look into buying tickets to one of Stonewall Kitchen’s beer pairing dinners. The dinners are on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Stonewall Kitchen’s test kitchen, where chef and beer-focused author John Holl will prepare a multicourse meal made with beer and beer ingredients, pairing each with the perfect brew. The Jan. 31 dinner is rustic and wintry, while the following evening’s event will have a Breakfast for Dinner theme. Tickets are $65 per person for each dinner and available from Stonewall Kitchen’s website.

Carla Jean Lauter is a freelance beer writer and blogger who lives in Lisbon. Follow her beer adventures at:

Twitter: beerbabe

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: