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The Pine Tree State

The beginning of brewing history in Maine goes a long way back to the 1700s when Maine was technically still a part of Massachusetts. At this point in time, beer was mostly drunk as a substitute for water and milk, since these two were not considered the safest to drink. Consumed by all men, women, and children, beer was not consumed to get people drunk, but rather for hydration purposes. However, as time went on, the reason for drinking alcohol shifted leading to a great deal of problems in the state.

In the late 1700s during the time of the Revolution, all soldiers were given an allowance of rum, which swayed the people of Maine from beer brewing to spirit distilling. Unfortunately, rum being a more potent alcohol, led to larger statewide problems, including the first Prohibition law, which was passed in 1846, and later became the Maine Law in 1851 thanks to Portland Mayor, Neal Dow (aka the Father or Napoleon of Temperance).

Maine had the potential to be a leader in the craft beer and alcohol movement with over 600 bars in Portland, Maine as of 1815, and even more in the town of Bangor, whose location of stacked bars was better known as the Devils Half Acre. Regrettably, this was not the case, since Neal Dow kept Maine a legally dry state from the 1850s until 1934; a year after the rest of the nation removed the alcohol ban. Some towns in Maine are still completely dry.

During Prohibition, beer brewing was slow and sneaky. A few Maine breweries such as Casco Brewery and Forest City Brewery managed to find a way to operate during their long dry period by making and selling beer to states where it was still legal. On top of this, rumors circulated that brewing occurred in different Maine colleges fraternity basements.

Once Prohibition ended brewing was still incredibly difficult. World War II came along shortly after, which led to the rationing of grain. This put big brewers like Anheuser Busch who were willing to cut their grain bill and add in corn and rice on the top, whereas smaller craft brewers did not want to make this adjustment. All in all, this meant Maine had beer, but it wasn’t good, craft, local Maine beers.

The year 1983 rolled around, and with the help of a man named David Geary, things began to change for the craft beer scene in Maine. David Geary is responsible for opening the first brewery in Maine post Prohibition, which he called D.L. Geary Brewing Company. Next came Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins opening the first Maine brewpub called Gritty McDuffs in 1988. At the start of the 1990s, more and more breweries were opening up along the coast and up in the mountains. Since the 2010s there has been an explosion of craft beer with over 90 breweries across the state making Maine quite the beer destination.

The best beer in Maine comes from breweries all across the state. The most renowned Portland, Maine breweries are Allagash Brewing and Bissell Brother Brewing. Of the breweries in Freeport, Maine, Maine Beer Company is the most popular. Other fantastic Maine craft beer comes from the Maine craft breweries: Baxter Brewing in Lewiston-Auburn, Oxbow Brewing in Newcastle, and Tributary Brewing in Kittery, along with so many more. Maine is also home to Shipyard Brewing, which opened in 1994 and is the largest Maine craft brewery, also responsible for owning the Maine craft breweries, Sea Dog Brewing and Casco Bay Brewing.

We have had the pleasure of featuring some of the best Maine beer from some of the best breweries in Maine in our Craft Beer Club, including:

D.L. Geary Brewing Company
Belfast Bay Brewing Company
Peak Organic Brewing Company
Casco Bay Brewing Company
Sebago Brewing Company

As with every state, we look forward to trying new beers from more breweries that we can then bring to your doorstep!