Josh Schlesinger, owner of Sleek Machine Distro, loads a van with Bissell Brothers beer.
Josh Schlesinger, owner of Sleek Machine Distro, loads a van with Bissell Brothers beer.
Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald

GLOBE MAGAZINE

Is Portland, Maine, the best beer city in the US? Judge for yourself

Try these six spots serving some of the best craft brews in the country.

With more than 100 breweries, Maine is a beer drinker’s paradise, and Portland boasts a high concentration in a relatively small area. Here are six can’t-miss taprooms and tasting rooms.

1. Best place for the IPA-averse: Allagash Brewing Company

Founder Rob Tod had no way of knowing that the first beer he got uncannily right in 1995 would still be the brewery’s best seller all these years later. But classics endure for a reason, and Allagash White is a perfect beer. Other great, mostly Belgian-style options include Curieux, the brewery’s Tripel aged seven weeks in bourbon barrels so it tastes kissed by coconut and vanilla. 50 Industrial Way, 207-878-5385, allagash.com

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BREWMASTER JASON PERKINS Allagash Brewing Company. PHOTO CREDIT: Allagash Brewing Company.
Brewmaster Jason Perkins hard at work with barrel-aged Belgian-style golden ale at Allagash Brewing Company.

2. Hop head’s dream: Bissell Brothers

Maine’s answer to “it” breweries like Vermont’s The Alchemist and Brooklyn’s Other Half is Bissell Brothers, where graphic art pops off the walls and lines form for IPA releases like Swish and Nothing Gold. The beers are hoppy in an East Coast, tropical lollipop way, and worth the hype. With lofted ceilings and big garage doors opening onto a patio, the brewery is a fun (and Instagrammable) space for hanging out. 4 Thompson’s Point Road #108, bissellbrothers.com

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3. Most Portland location: Liquid Riot Bottling Company

You could do worse than a brewery on a pier. Liquid Riot’s location, in the Old Port, is a winner, and a visit to the brewery prompts some fun queries: Beer or spirits? (Also a distillery, Liquid Riot makes award-winning Fernet and bourbon.) Wings or pork belly bites? (Get both.) And how much is “just the right amount of coconuts” in Cuckoo for Coconuts, an aged imperial porter? (Three hundred pounds.) 250 Commercial Street, 207-221-8889, liquidriot.com

31bottles -- Blushing Star, a saison brewed with Maine-grown peaches (Liquid Riot Bottling Co.)
Liquid Riot is in the Old Port area.
Liquid Riot Bottling Co.

4. Hidden gem: Battery Steele Brewing

Tucked inside a building housing two other breweries and across the street from Allagash, Battery Steele is easy to miss. You wouldn’t want to, though, because then you’d miss Onsight #7, a pillowy-soft IPA with aromas of melon and stone fruit, and Nine Worlds, a farmhouse ale fermented with Nordic Kveik yeast whose herbal notes scream spring. 1 Industrial Way #12, batterysteele.com

5. Best sour program: Oxbow Brewing Company

Possibly the biggest compliment Oxbow’s sour beers earn is that they’re subtle. Owner Tim Adams aims for dryness first, working in the Belgian tradition on saisons, grisettes, and other styles that mature in barrels or steel tanks. Oxbow’s aged beers are all blended and packaged at the Portland location, where you should definitely crack a bottle of Beautiful Buzz, a saison brewed with honey, made in collaboration with the Japanese brewery Yorocco. 49 Washington Avenue, 207-350-0025, oxbowbeer.com

6. Best new brewery: Lone Pine Brewing Company

Recently named the fifth-fastest-growing brewery in the country by the Brewers Association, Lone Pine makes a bit of everything, from Samara Brown, a maple brown ale brewed with locally roasted coffee, to the Crush Puppie series of fruited sours. But the things to drink here are IPAs like Tessellation, which celebrates the mosaic hop’s aromatics of mango and peach. 219 Anderson Street, 207-536-4952, lonepinebrewery.com