Portland, Maine has become a hotspot for great beer over the past few years. It’s received a ton of accolades (some of the websites being more reputable than others), but the truth is that there’s a ridiculous number of great breweries packed into a small area. It reminds me a lot of Asheville, North Carolina, another popular beer city.
Before we jump into the list, here are a few ground rules for how I picked the spots:
- The beer (keep in mind I’m biased and my favorite type is the hoppy/fruity New England IPA)
- The environment
- Beer Advocate reviews
- Rising stars (newcomers to the scene)
With that being said, let’s jump into the list.
Please note: we included breweries within a 15-20 minute drive from Portland. While they are not technically located in Portland proper, they are close enough to be included. The most memorable ones (in my opinion) will be highlighted and called out.
Bissell Brothers is one of my favorite spots in town. The first time I had The Substance (their flagship IPA) I was blown away. In the past year, they’ve moved to a new location at Thompson’s Point (about 5 minutes outside of the Old Port) and dramatically increased production. The new taproom is worth a visit.
If you visit on a weekend, be prepared to wait – especially in the Summer. If you visit on a Wednesday or Thursday, you should be able to get in quickly. As a local, I clearly prefer weekdays 😉
Besides the Substance, make sure to check out Lux, Reciprocal, or Swish. 4-packs are sometimes available (depends on when you show up).
Maine Beer Company
For my out of state friends, Maine Beer Company is one of the most popular “micro” breweries here in the Portland area. The taproom is technically in Freeport which is 20 minutes North on 295, so be prepared to drive a bit (or have a friend drive).
According to Beer Advocate, Maine Beer Company has the top-rated beer in Maine (Dinner), but don’t expect to walk in and try it anytime soon. On release days, people will show up early in the morning and wait for hours. You’ll have to settle for Lunch, Zoe, or Moe instead.
If you’re not interested in driving, just stay in Portland and grab one of these beers on draft (or in bottles). If you want to take the trip, stop by L.L. Bean’s flagship store, which is about a mile down the road.
Allagash is one of the most memorable breweries in Portland. They are one of the top beer producers by volume and many view it as the one that kick-started the Portland craft beer craze (along with Shipyard). Their most popular beer is the Allagash White, a Belgian-style wheat beer.
Their location is located about fifteen minutes outside of downtown Portland (don’t worry, there are other great spots nearby which I’ll talk about), and up until about two months ago, you could get a free flight of beer (which was insane in my opinion). Now, you’ll need to spend $4, which is still cheap. If you like cornhole, you can play here when the weather is nice. Their beer is not available in cans (yet), but it looks like they are moving that way.
Austin Street is my favorite brewery in Portland. It’s located right across the street from Allagash and the beer is top-notch. My favorites are Rally (session IPA available in the Summer), Patina (their flagship pale ale), and Florens. Yes, the beer is available in cans.
They started canning in the past few months, with the first being Rally, Patina, and Florens. This place flies under the radar compared to places like Allagash or Bissell but is an incredible spot. You need to check them out, especially if you make a trip to Allagash.
Update 2019: there’s a new location in East Bayside (next to Rising Tide).
Enough about the location. The beer is GREAT. Their flagship Portland pale ale is worth your time – my favorites are T-Shirt Cannon, Brightside, and my personal favorite, Oh-J (which literally has an orange juice taste). They’ve also expanded their production, so I expect to see this a bit more in stores around town (and maybe out of Maine). As you can see, they sell cans.
The list of great breweries in Portland is long. Foundation is another solid choice and makes fantastic beer. Their taproom is also located directly across the road from Allagash (on the other side of the building from Austin Street), and their best beer according to Beer Advocate is Epiphany (their flagship IPA). They also sell cans.
Goodfire is a new brewery here in Portland, but it makes a really tasty New England IPA (Prime) that is well worth the visit. I haven’t had Waves yet, but I hear that’s great as well. If you’re over in East Bayside visiting Lone Pine (mentioned earlier) or Rising Ride, make sure to stop by. Their location is a bit tough to find – look for Lone Pine’s building (literally the color of the Prime/Waves cans shown below) and walk up the hill and out back. They sell cans.
Another newcomer is Battery Steele, located about 15 minutes outside of downtown Portland (over in Industrial Way). My favorite is their DIPA, Flume. If you visit Austin Street, Foundation, or Allagash, this is super close by. Yes, they sell cans.
There’s a ton of beer spots in Portland that I didn’t even mention in this list. If you enjoy great beer, you need to make a trip to Portland and experience it for yourself. Hopefully, this list helps, and here are a few articles for you to reference for another opinion:
- A walkable guide to Portland’s East End Breweries
- Travel guide – Portland, Maine
- Another article by CultureTrip
If you like great coffee, I made a list of my favorite coffee shops in Portland too 🙂