Cheers to Fall Beer Festivals

beerfestival01Maine is an amazing place to live if you’re a lover of craft beer, and if you’re looking to enjoy lots of great beer it’s going to be a fantastic fall.  Fall is a wonderful time for fairs and festivals, and lovers of better beer in Maine have a lot of great events to look forward to in the last few months of 2009.

First on the calendar is the Maine Lakes Brew Fest, which is coming up this weekend (September 26th) at Point Sebago.  The $25 ticket will net you a souvenir tasting glass, ten coupons for beer samples, and access to the live entertainment for the five-hour festival.  The Bridgton Lakes Chamber promises nearly thirty brewers at the fest, with breweries from all over the northeast pouring alongside Maine’s brewpubs and breweries.  Assuming the weather stays decent through the weekend, drinking and listening to music on Sebago Lake is a great way to spend an afternoon.

On October 10th, the 14th Annual Acadia Oktoberfest is taking place up the coast in Southwest Harbor.  Like the Lakes Fest, tickets are $25 and include 10 sample tickets, a souvenir glass and an afternoon of entertainment.  Along with 23 Maine brewers, the Acadia Oktoberfest will feature wine from Bar Harbor Cellars and Blacksmith’s Winery, an international food court, and booths showcasing Maine artisans and crafts.  It’s another great excuse to spend an afternoon outside on a Maine shoreline.

The next weekend (10/17), Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast is celebrating two years of brewing.  The celebration takes place at the Three Tides Restaurant on Belfast Harbor, and will feature some new and limited release brews from what I’d call Maine’s only “extreme” brewers.  David at Three Tides offers a bit more info;

We celebrate two years of brewing beer on Belfast Harbor. Once again we are pairing up with the Pemaquid Mussel Company and serving fresh, local, rope grown mussels 4 ways. Most importantly we’ll be pouring lots of Marshall Wharf beer, some of it saved from batches long since off tap at Three Tides. We are also unveiling our barrel aged series. Single use bourbon barrels held 3 of our beers for one year. Old # 55, MacFindlay scotch ale and Cant Dog IPA all transformed. One night only, outside and in. For more info email david@3tides.com, or check out marshallwharf.com.

Also worth mentioning on the 17th is the Return of the Belgian Beer Fest in Boston.  I’ve talked before about the awesomeness that is the Beer Advocate fests, and the Belgian certainly won’t disappoint.  A $45 price tag might seem a bit steep compared to the other fests, but it buys you a sample glass, fest guide, and unlimited 2 oz pours.  The lineup features over 20 Belgian and Belgian-inspired breweries, plus about a half-dozen importers bringing in even more Belgian beer.  There are afternoon and evening sessions, so I’d suggest taking the train down to Beantown and checking one of them out.

The following Monday (10/19), Allagash releases Vagabond, the next beer in its limited-release 375 mL series.  Every beer in this series is a limited run of approximately 500 bottles and only sold at the brewery.  I raved about the first beer in the series earlier this year, and I’m sure the second release will be just as impressive.  The brewery opens at 10 am on the 19th, and I’d suggest getting in line early.  Getting to the brewery about half an hour early put Luke and I near the front of the line for Gargamel, but with the buzz around Vagabond I’d suggest getting to Allagash quite a bit earlier.  Bottles are $10 each and limited to two per customer.

Finally, November starts out with a bang with the Maine Brewers Festival on the 6th and 7th.  The Expo plays host to Maine’s breweries and brewpubs, along with local food, local vendors and live music.  Tickets are $32 to the afternoon or evening session, or $99 for entry to the fest and a Friday night dinner with a load of Maine brewers.  While this isn’t my favorite of the fests here, the always-raucous Maine Brewers Festival is a great celebration of Maine’s beer-loving culture and a great start to winter.

So, at which (if any) of these events can I plan on running into you?

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