Allagash Brewing’s Brewmaster Jason Perkins, shown at the brewery in 2021. Allagash won three awards at the Great American Beer Festival, including Brewery and Brewer of the Year. Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

Allagash Brewing Company has won three medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, including Brewery and Brewer of the Year.

Great American is the most widely entered beer competition in the country, with more than 2,000 breweries submitting entries this year. The event was held from Sept. 21-23 in Denver.

The Portland brewery’s honors included a Gold Medal for Allagash Tripel in the Belgian-style Abbey Ale category, a Silver Medal for Allagash White in the Belgian-style Witbier category, and Brewery and Brewer of the Year in the “Brewery Group” size category. Allagash was the only Maine brewery to take home medals from this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

Allagash has won medals annually for the last four years at the festival. The latest awards bring the brewery’s medal count for the Great American competition to eight total, including four gold, two silver and two bronze. Allagash’s Tripel alone has won six medals, including four gold and two silver.

Moreover, Allagash White has won seven medals on its own at the World Beer Cup and Euro Beer Star Awards, two major international beer competitions. Allagash officials say the number of prizes Allagash White has earned make it the world’s most-awarded Belgian-style witbier.

“It’s always an honor to win something at this event, and to win an award like (Brewery/Brewer of the Year) is even more special,” Allagash Brewmaster Jason Perkins said.


“We’ve got an amazing team at the brewery and we care very deeply about quality and how our beer turns out, and that can be reflected in how it’s judged in a blind tasting,” Perkins added. “Winning an award like this is not why we do what we do, but it’s certainly a nice accolade for everyone to be excited about on the team.”

The eggplant and kalamata olive pizza at Peng’s Pizza Pies in Biddeford, which opened last Wednesday. Courtesy of Peng’s Pizza Pies


Peng’s Pizza Pies opened on Sept. 20 on Main Street in Biddeford in the space next to Sweetcream Dairy.

Chef-owner Chris Daniels said demand was high for his pizzas during the first week, and Peng’s sold out of pizza all five days it was open. The pizzeria could have notched even more sales, but for technical issues.

“We had some hiccups with the online ordering system and the phone,” Daniels said. “We’re currently working on that, and we will have more pizza this week.”

Located at 128 Main St., Peng’s puts out pies that Daniels described as a hybrid of New Haven, Conn., and New York styles of pizza.


“It’s thinner than what’s around here (in Southern Maine), and I would say my sauce is a little bit more robust than what’s around here,” Daniels said. “It’s sourdough-based and crispy, and it also has a little bit more chew to it. I cook it at a higher temp so it gets a little well done,” which he noted means a good amount of charring on the crust.

The 730-square-foot space includes a small dining area in front that can seat up to eight. While Peng’s is geared more toward to-go orders, Daniels said he expects to receive a beer and wine license this week to enhance the in-house dining experience.

Daniels said he plans to serve two natural wines, a house red and house white from Devenish Wines, as well as three beers: an IPA, a Belgian saison and Oxbow’s Italian-style pilsner, Luppolo.

Peng’s menu includes six 16-inch pizzas ($18-$24), a Caesar salad ($8) featuring house-made dressing and Basque cheesecake he bakes himself. “I pretty much do everything in house here, outside of curing the pepperoni and the ham,” Daniels said.

Daniels has been a baker for years. He previously worked at Rover Bagel in Biddeford, and in Portland at Belleville in the bakery’s nighttime pizza program. Before that, Daniels helped open Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland.

Daniels said his new restaurant is named for his late father, whose nickname was Peng, short for Penguin. Peng’s is open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.



Rococo Ice Cream has opened its Dessert Bar, adjacent to its recently relocated scoop shop in Kennebunk’s Lower Village.

After 12 years on Spring Street, Rococo moved its scoop shop to 8 Western Ave. this summer.

“For years, I’ve dreamed of creating a place that specializes in dessert and cocktails, as a romantic destination for couples, and families, to enjoy a special night out,” Lauren Guptill, founder of Rococo, said of the new Dessert Bar. “Upon reopening our scoop shop in its brand new location, I decided to wait and open the Dessert Bar in September. I love September in the Kennebunks, when the locals come back out, and I wanted something special to be waiting just for them.”

The Dessert Bar will be open year-round and has an extensive menu of more than 50 items, all averaging $10-$20, including adult milkshakes, mocktails, affogatos and desserts.

Rococo is known for its inventive flavor combinations, and Guptill said fan favorites are already emerging at Dessert Bar, like the “Sea Bacon” Brownie Sundae featuring smoked eel from Portland-based American Unagi. Another popular dish is Cake with Caviar.



Rockland-based Bixby Chocolates has won seven national and international awards this year, including three in September from the International Chocolate Awards for the Americas.

Bixby took a silver award in the “micro-batch plain/origin dark chocolate bars” category for its Belize 70 Percent Dark Chocolate Bar, another silver in the “milk chocolate bars with an infusion or flavoring category” for the Maine Grains Oat Milk Bar, and a bronze in the “infused or flavored dark chocolate bar” division with its Split Rock Bourbon Bar.

In May, Bixby collected four wins in the national Specialty Food Association’s 51st annual Sofi Awards, including three golds and a “new product” award. Bixby won big at the 2022 Sofi Awards as well, earning both a gold award and a new product award for its Crème Brûlée Bar.

“These awards underscore the elite quality of Bixby Chocolates,” said Kate McAleer, founder, owner and CEO of Bixby Chocolate. “We know how wonderful our products are, but it’s especially gratifying and important to have it recognized so prominently.”



On its recently released third annual restaurant list, The New York Times included a bakery/pizza restaurant in Blue Hill on their rundown of the “50 places in the United States that we’re most excited about right now.”

Tinder Hearth – located at 1452 Coastal Road in Brooksville – made the cut, one of only three New England restaurants (not every state was represented on the paper’s list), including Comfort Kitchen in Boston and Ore Hill in Kent, Conn.

“No one who loves Tinder Hearth wants you to know about it,” the Times’ writeup reads in part. “They bake only 150 pizzas a night, in a wood-burning brick oven, and only four nights a week. And what pizzas they are, built on thin but sturdy 17-inch crusts that have been leavened with wild yeast. The thrill comes from a rotating cast of toppings that might include pork meatballs, chile and garden mint, or confit cherry tomatoes, caramelized onion and ricotta with pops of fresh green coriander and honey.”


The Washington Post recently spotlighted the “best” Maine lobster rolls, as chosen by local residents. The Post story noted that the paper consulted with lobsterman Nate Venno, food writer Joe Ricchio and travel adviser Amanda Davis to compile the list.

The Maine-based critics found plenty to love about six spots, including Abel’s Lobster in Mt. Desert (“They’re right on Somes Sound and it’s a really great setup”); Bagaduce Lunch in Penobscot (“nice, fresh lobster, [the] right amount of mayonnaise, some nice cracked peppers, a bit of salt [and] a quality roll,”); The Highroller Lobster Co. in Portland (“They use really high-quality rolls, and the lobster itself is always delicious and perfectly dressed,”); Red’s Eats in Wiscasset (“There are no gimmicks or reinventions, Red’s just offers quality seafood at fair prices,”); SoPo Seafood (“I think adding caviar to a lobster roll is absolutely delicious … The brininess offsets the sweetness of the lobster,”) and Twelve in Portland (“My last meal, death-row lobster roll would be the one at Twelve. They do it on this absolutely astoundingly delicious, buttery croissant.”).


Meanwhile, The New York Times last week canvassed a panel of Maine residents for recommendations on, among other things, the best places to eat and drink in Portland. The group gave shout-outs to Thai restaurant Dok Mali for its addictive drunken noodles; Eventide for serving “the Ferrari of lobster rolls”; “old-school charm” at J’s Oyster; Leeward’s local seafood dishes like Maine bluefin tuna crudo with pickled rhubarb; Smalls for “some of the best coffee and small plates around,”; and the “textbook croissant” at Zu Bakery.


After giving the pizza at Monte’s Fine Foods a business-boosting score of 8.4 last week, Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports released five more video reviews of Portland pies.

Portnoy rounded out his pizza tour of Portland with visits to Belleville, Flatbread Company, Micucci Grocery, Pizzaiolo and Slab. The influential slice critic released videos of each venue over the past several days.

He scored Belleville the highest of the five, at 7.7 (out of 10), noting that he didn’t like it as much as Monte’s, but was blown away by the fresh flavor of the bakery’s pizza. “You’re growing daisies out of your ears, that’s how fresh this tastes,” Portnoy said.

Portnoy called Pizzaiolo “good stuff” and awarded it a “solid score” of 7.5. At Flatbread, he said “for (pizza) this thin, you need it to be a little crispier,” and gave it a 6.8.


Admitting he prefers thin, crispy pizza, Portnoy gave Slab’s thick Sicilian slice a 6.6, and called Micucci’s Sicilian-style rectangular slice “floppy,” deeming it a 6.4.


Aroma Joe’s is marking National Coffee Day on Friday, Sept. 29 with free coffee for all customers.

The promotion, which the chain says will be observed at all 108 Aroma Joe’s locations in eight states, will give each customer a free 16-ounce hot or iced coffee. In addition, members of AJ’s Rewards are eligible to receive one free hot or iced coffee (up to 24 ounces) anytime between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5 by using the chain’s mobile app.

For more information on the special offers or to download the mobile app, visit Aroma Joe’s website.

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