Brewery Review of Maine Beer Company in Freeport, ME.
I know I’m going to get a lot of grief for this review, but I believe Maine Beer Company (through no fault of their own) is the equivalent of an over-hyped movie. Everyone makes a huge deal out of it and fawns over it and it sells out very quickly, and unfortunately it can’t measure up to the ridiculously high expectations. In my neck of the woods bars announce days ahead of time when they are getting a certain Main Beer Co. beer on draught (like Lunch IPA), and it can often sell out in a day, maybe two at most. Also, there is often audible gasps from the bar patrons around me when they unexpectedly come across a Maine Beer Co. beer on draught, like a giddy schoolgirl they exclaim, “Oh my God,… they have Peeper here! We better order one before it’s gone!”. Naturally I had to know what all the fuss was about, so I went there.
First, let’s talk about all the positives. Maine Beer Co. and its tasting room are in a nice modern facility that has a farmhouse feel. The tasting room is of adequate size to meet the demand and they had 8 of their beers to choose from. Every beer I tried was well-crafted and an excellent example of the genre it represented. In fact, that was my biggest takeaway from my visit. Maine Beer Co. makes really awesome traditional-style beers, with only classic, pure ingredients. What I mean is, they have taken the time to make the best version of each beer style in their lineup, like Porter, IPA, Stout, Pale ale, etc. with no fuss and no gimmicks. Like a craftsman of old, a tanner who makes the finest leathers, a milliner that make the highest quality hat or a blacksmith making a sword for royalty.
What I didn’t find at Maine Beer Co. was innovation, experimentation or any whimsy (not that whimsy is required in beer-making). You won’t find any beers that are smoked, barrel-aged, sour, or have any non-traditional ingredients in the brew (like fruit, spices, cocoa nibs, maple, vanilla, coffee, hot peppers, etc.). That’s just the way they choose to do things, like beer purists, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, they make a damn good beer, and that’s why I feel a little bad about this review. The folks at Maine Beer Co. have done nothing but put out a quality product, but…
It’s not worth all the hype. It’s good beer. I’d say some of it is really good beer. However, I wouldn’t say it’s any better than many of the beers from other local breweries in that coastal Maine area, like Hidden Cove, Bissell Brothers, Funky Bow, etc. They certainly aren’t some superior entity when compared to all the great breweries in New England. The bottom line is, they didn’t ask for the hype, and I’m not sure what caused it to snowball, but it does exist. If you want a high-quality well-made beer from people that obviously care about their craft, go to Maine Beer Co., but if your looking for the latest trend (Funky Bow Midnight Special Coffee Porter) or something inventive (Bissell Bros. I-Lucky IPA w/ Rice & Ginger), or just something you’ve never tasted before (Hidden Cove Jali Sour Jalapeno Apricot Ale aged in Tequila Barrels), Maine Beer Co. may not be the place for you.