Trifecta Brewery Reviews: A Journey Through Craft Beer Maine
Welcome to the Brewery Review series here on Trifecta Sports Network, a new series where we go to breweries both large and small and taste and rate the beer. The first part of this series is in the heart of craft brewing in Portland, Maine. It is important to note that we visited the following breweries in early March so that will determine the type of beers we tried and available to tap or for purchase if you visit them.
The breweries visited in Portland consisted of Allagash Brewing Company, Foundation Brewing, Geary’s Brewing, and the Shipyard Brewing Company. All of these breweries are within twenty minutes of each other and in fact the first three mentioned are all in the same industrial complex. There was one brewery we left out in that complex and that was the Austin Street Brewery, no particular reason we left them out and we would be honored to go back and try them if invited.
Allagash Brewing Company
The first stop on our brewery adventure was the Allagash Brewing Company located at 50 Industrial Way in Portland, Allagash is the largest of the four neighboring brewing companies and has a friendly pricing strategy when it comes to tasting their beers. And that strategy is free, for anyone over the age of 21 they give you one free flight of beer along with a free tour if you reserve it online.
When we visited the brewery we walked into a warm and friendly environment that you could simply spend your whole afternoon in. It was a bustling place with plenty of craft beer to drink, but the brewery gives each and every guest that enters four types of beer on their flights hand selected by the bartenders and meant to be drinkan in the order of placement to allow the Stouts to get to a warmer temperature to ensure your enjoyment of the beverage.
When we visited the four beers available were the Hoppy Table Beer, the Dubbel, Map 40, and St.Kilppenstein. Below is our thoughts on each beer individually.
Hoppy Table Beer:
The first drink in the flight was the Hoppy Table Beer, a belgian style citrusy beer that goes down with ease. Every beer that we rate goes on a scale of 0-5, the Hoppy Table Beer lands in at a very solid 4.0/5 all three of us. It is not often that all three of us give the same rating on a beer, but this one is spot on and can be enjoyed anytime of the year.
This light bodied beer is one of Allagash’s mainstays and if you are trying this brewing company for the first time this is the way to go for you.
This red colored belgian style beer gives the drinker a variety of complex flavors including malts, chocolate, and a back taste of nuttiness. Going into this beer the three of us were very intrigued and excited, unfortunately though only two of us actually finished this sample with the beer disappointing across the board.
It is a very flavorful beer but our ratings come in at an average of 3.30 out of 5 with all three scores combined. After being disappointed with the Dubbel I wanted to check and see if it was just us, after a quick check the beers rating with over 18,000 drinkers rated it a 3.69 out of 5. That is a respectable rating and I am a man enough to say this beer was not for us.
The Map 40 is a stout offering at Allagash that combines a variety of notes in the beer including nuttiness, raisins, chocolate, and the signature coffee taste that pairs so well in a stout. This beer stands alone in terms of the other ones we tried there given the immense pleasure it gave the two of us that adore stouts.
For our rating it is a 4.75 out of 5 and maybe one of the better stouts available on the craft beer market as a whole. Unfortunately for us though this beer for the time being is only available at their brewery in Maine but we are hoping it hits the market in Southern New England soon.
This was another one of those beers that just didn’t fit in our wheel house with our entire group unable to finish this bourdon barrel aged stout that comes in at 11% alcohol. In addition to the bourdon flavored notes there are hints of vanilla and coconut.
Out of 5 we all gave this stout a 2.5/5 with the reason being the acknowledgement of us not liking a stout aged in a bourbon oak barrel. This beer is rated just over 4/5 by over 8000 drinkers which is an above average score for a beer and can be found in many venues around Southern New England.
Allagash In Review:
Allagash was a warm friendly brewery with plenty of free beer to drink and some more you can purchase exclusively and take back home with you. While we didn’t take a tour of the brewery plenty of the patrons did and seemed to enjoy the experience. Overall the beers we tasted were 2 out of 4 in terms of what we really enjoyed, the one beer that stood above the rest was the Map 40 that could easily be a big seller for them in the future.
We would definitely recommend someone traveling in the are to stop at Allagash as they get our stamp of approval.
Foundation Brewing was the second stop on our list as we arrived at the little available parking location, the parking situation did not deter guests however with many coming in droves to visit the small and quaint craft brewery. Foundation does not give away free samples and does charge in this writers opinion a tad much for the beer they serve at their brewery. A 4 oZ glass of beer on draft is $2 each or you can get a flight for $8 not giving a discount on a flight. Based on the amount of clientele present it seems this pricing strategy works well for them, but knowing the industry fairly well there should be an incentive for the customer to go with the flight.
Overall though $8 for a flight is not a bad price and the quality of beers at Foundation was high and the those interested in sampling beer can pick from any of the available on tap for that particular day. All three of us received different beers for the most part so I will review the ones that I personally tested at Foundation.
The Epiphany IPA gives you what I consider the perfect balance for an IPA beer with plenty of aromatics of hops without an aggressive bitterness taste a lot of the current market IPA’s contain. The Epiphany has notes of tropical fruit and a pine taste that provides a wonderful hoppy experience for any IPA lover.
Out of 5 this beer is a 5, perfect IPA and well worth the high price of $16 for a 4 pack.
Another beer another IPA, this one is Foundations Venture IPA that like the Epiphany gives you excellent aromatics of hops but it balances the bitterness well. Also like the previous IPA this one brings a tropical fruit and pine notes, unlike Epiphany though this one provides the note of berries in the beverage. Overall this one is a solid IPA offering, but it falls just short of Epiphany in my opinion and receives a 4.5 out of 5.
The Helles is Foundations basic Lager offering and it is a light bodied beer that goes down clean and smooth on the pallet, this is one you can drink during a ball game and is a good attempt at a lager option. I gave this beer a 3.75 out of 5 which for a Lager is a good rating, for craft lagers I use Sam Adams Boston Lager as a base model and the Boston lager is a solid 4.
Mind The Gap:
Mind the gap is an English Bitter that is a light bodied bitter beer that has notes of malt and toffee. This beer had an earthy feel to it and when it comes down to it a middle of the road offering with a 3.50 out of 5 rating.
Foundation Brewing In Review:
This a solid small craft brewery option that offers beer loves some quality high end options and their price points reflect that.
Geary’s Brewing is just down the road from the previous two breweries and its serving room is the size of a large closet. This brewery claims to be one of the first craft breweries in New England and interestingly enough was sold the day before we tasted their beers. They also charged for their samples with the same price point for samples as Foundation.
Only one beer was tried at this small venue and that was their Industrial IPA which came in at a strong 4.25 out of 5 rating providing the drinker with the perfect balance of flavor expected out of an IPA.
For those looking to visit though I would suggest keeping an eye out on the news as who knows if the supreme quality of the beer will hold up under different leadership.
Shipyard Brewing Company
Shipyard Brewing Company is the grand daddy of them all and is located towards the center of downtown Portland. Shipyard like the previous two breweries charges for their testing area and is the exact same price point mentioned in the Foundation Brewing portion of this article. Shipyard however holds the larger brand and name recognition, but unfortunately for them that doesn’t mean they were the best beers on this Maine Brewery trip.
This is actually part of Shipyards Sea Dog Brewing Company brand and is a full bodied beer with notes of nuttiness and of course hazelnut. This porter went down smooth and had a distant taste of coffee but it could have used a tad more of a coffee flavor to help it as it rates at a 3.5 out of 5 which is actually .02 points higher than the average drinker who has rated this beverage.
Brewers Choice Coffee Porter:
Another porter here and this one is definitely a better option for those who like the darker beers. This porter had stronger notes of coffee and comes in at a 3.75 out of 5 and was the best beer I tried at Shipyard.
The Export is a pale ale light bodied beer that has notes of citrus but it is well balanced and is goes down smooth. For that it gets a 3.75 out of 5.
Fruity Pebbles Tea Beer:
The final beer tried at Shipyard was a beer they called Fruity Pebbles Tea Beer, while it did not taste exactly like fruity pebbles it was a solid beer. It is listed as an IPA but it lacked any real hoppiness, it is a brand new offering from Shipyard and is only available right now at their brewery and has only been open for testing within the last week. It gets a 3.50 out of 5 and is a solid first impression on a beer that can be improved upon over time.
If you happen to be in Shipyard Brewery I recommend trying the Brewers Choice Porter or the Fruity Pebbles beer as both are different from what you can find elsewhere.
Overall Shipyard, Foundation, Geary’s, Allagash Brewery Rankings
Obviously it is worth noting that we only tasted a few of the vast beer selections at each venue, but down below is the overall ranking in terms of average ranking of beer tried and then a separate rankings on the brewery experience.
Beers Sampled Averaging Rating:
*Geary’s we only had 1 beer tried and with a sudden change in owners we cannot comfortably put in the top spot.
Brewery Experience Ranked Overall:
This is out of 10 and is just a personal preference that includes the beer quality, service staff, atmosphere, price point.
If you have to go to one brewery and only one the answer I would tell you is Allagash, perfect atmosphere, friendly staff, great beer, free tours, free samples, and an ample amount of exclusives to purchase for home use.