The city with the highest breweries per capita isn’t Portland, Oregon, or Boulder, Colorado. It’s not even Asheville, North Carolina.
Portland, Maine has 17 breweries and just over 66,000 residents. Maine’s largest city encompasses an arts district and charming old section, but the true draw is its food and beverage scene. From a major global craft label to budding upstarts, Portland is truly a city that revolves around beer.
Here’s the only beer guide that you’ll ever need for Portland, featuring shops, breweries, and craft beer bars.
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You can see Bissell Brothers’s triangular B logo all over the trendy craft beer scene in the Northeast. The brewery has rapidly expanded since it opened in early 2014. It makes sense why. Bissell Brothers is pumping out delicious hazy New England-style IPAs like it’s nobody’s business. Be sure to check their website and Instagram to see what new stuff the brewers are working on — just be ready to wait in line.
Somewhat new to the game, Island Dog’s primary draw is the brewery itself. The label is currently too small to have much of their beer in cans and distributed, but it’s located out by the airport far from the heartbeat of the city. It’s worth the trip. For those looking for easier access, however, there is a tasting room on John Robert Road where you can get growlers. It offers eight beers on tap, homemade root beer, and fruit-infused seltzer water.
Located in South Portland, this brewery occupies an inviting, rustic space with large wooden beams and a wood burning stove to ward off the cold winters. The brewery features (naturally) a New England IPA and a double IPA, but also a fruited sour and a nitro milk stout that’s delicious in all the right ways.
Foulmouthed Brewing is based out of a brewpub in what used to be an auto garage in South Portland. When you make it to the space, you’ll see that it’s not just beer, it’s seasonal food and cocktails, too. It’s the type of place you want to go and make an event out of your trip to spend the day sipping on a sour or a cocktail-inspired ale.
One of the hotter new breweries in Portland, Lone Pine is heavy on the IPAs. The 100-percent mosaic hop Tessellation is one of the best single hop New England- style IPAs out there. You can find fresh cans at some of the better beer stores around Portland, but go to the brewery and try to get your hands on one of the barrel-aged limited releases.
Check Battery Steele’s website and social pages before heading over, because there’s a chance the brewery is sold out of everything — on tap and in cans. If you do happen to be there when the brewery has beer available, be sure to sample everything you can, from the double IPAs to the stouts.
This small, 10-barrel brewery sits in the same space that launched Rising Tide and Maine Beer Co., near Allagash on Industrial Way. Most of the beer is sold on draft throughout the state, but buy up as many cans of Patina Pale Ale and Kon Tiki if you see them.
One of the original Portland breweries. Allagash is famous for its flagship Allagash White, and by all means you should have as many of them as possible when in Portland because it pairs beautifully with just about every New England delicacy there is to eat. But if you make it out to the brewery, you can get a free flight of four 3-ounce beers. Book ahead to schedule a tour; they fill up fast.
You can find some Foundation beers at bottle shops or on tap at Portland bars, but the best choice is to go straight to the source. Foundation has a long list of delicious New England IPAs, but there’s so much more to the brewery. The majority of Foundation’s beers are brewery specific, so be sure to check out any small-batch beers served in the taproom — you never know which one may make its way into the full rotation.
Don’t write off Rising Tide’s year-round beers just because the brewery focuses on small-batch, special releases. The three staple beers are all good enough to hunt down. And if you want something limited, try the Pisces gose or the Maine Island Trail Ale session beer, which can be found in local shops. Check the website for what’s on tap.
Situated right in the heart of Old Port, and it’s a brewery, distillery, bar, and restaurant. Just because it’s got a wide focus doesn’t mean it ignores its beers, though. Liquid Riot pours a variety of beers, from sours to IPAs to Belgians. All are delicious and have some of the most beautiful can art out there.
If you wander around enough bottle shops in Portland, you’re likely to come across Bunker’s flagship Machine Czech Pilz. It’s a nice refresher from the thick and juicy IPAs that dominate the Northeastern beer scene. You should also head to the tasting room, however, for a sample (and maybe a growler or two) of their small-batch beers.
An old standby in Portland, this is the city’s oldest-running brewery. You can find its U.K.-inspired and American craft-inspired beers around the city. The beers are just what you need with a steamed Maine lobster.
An established brewery that’s been around since 1988. The Portland brewpub was the first in Maine since Prohibition, and to this day the location is a staple of the historic district, with pub food, an old-world pub atmosphere, and reliable beer.
Shipyard Brewing Company
You can find Shipyard’s Export all around the city, and it’s often the featured tap at restaurants downtown. During the summer, don’t miss out on the Melonhead watermelon wheat ale.
You don’t have to travel far in Maine to see Sebago beer. Since 1998, the brewery has been delivering reliable ales to the Maine beer scene. The Saddleback Ale is an easy, day-drinking type of beer, while the Lake Trout Stout is a good cool weather companion.
Peak Organic is exactly what you’d expect from the name of the brewery: organic beer. Using all organic ingredients, the brewery makes a flagship Peak IPA, a thicker IPA called The Juice, and, one of the better American pilsners out there, the dry hopped Fresh Cut pilsner.
One Eye Open doesn’t have a tasting room at the brewery, but it does sell cans on the weekends. The space has a home-brewing vibe, and offers professional, experimental-style beers.
Leave behind the hazy, juicy New England IPAs and go to Oxbow for farmhouse ales full of funk and flavor. The large tasting room sells beers in bottle and on draft.
Bier Cellar features a knowledgeable staff and a curated selection. Check the company’s Instagram feed for new releases at the shop and for a peak into what they have before you actually walk in.
This big store has a large selection of liquor, wine, and, of course, beer. It’s especially worth checking out the beer geek section.
If there’s one thing that defines the people of Maine, it’s their friendliness. The aptly named Friendly Discount Beverage has a large beer cave for when you need to grab not just beer, but cold beer.
Come here for a large selection organized by local brews and style with a staff who knows the latest releases and snags the freshest cans of beer possible.
This is one of the bars that ensured Allagash Brewing Co.’s survival in the early days of the brewery, and it remains a staple of the craft beer scene. If it’s a Portland beer that’s served on draft (and in many cases if it’s a Portland beer only in cans), then there’s a good chance it’s at The Great Lost Bear. Go get lost.
Walk out on a pier in Old Port and enter The King’s Head, one of the best craft beer bars in the city. The large wooden bar is ideal for the elevated pub food and all the glasses of beer you can enjoy here, and the staff is endlessly knowledgeable.
This hip beer garden has a large tap list. When the weather’s nice, head out to the porch and play corn hole and sit on the benches. When it’s not as nice, hunker in downstairs and take in the large selection of specialty bottles and drafts.