Top 5 Breweries in Portland, Maine

Long before there was a craft beer boom in the U.S., Portland, Maine, was among a rare number of cities that already boasted a lively American microbrew scene.

In the past decade, this small coastal city has continued to evolve. It has grown into a craft beer mecca, turning out some of the finest microbrews in the U.S., if not the world.

Portland has become an exciting beer tourism destination, offering the chance for both visitors and locals to sample some of the best microbrews around.

Allagash Brewing Co.
Allagash Brewing has been producing Belgian-style beer for two decades at a brewery in a light industrial park on the outskirts of Portland. Allagash is pioneering a new trend in micro brewing. It is focused on sourcing ingredients in beer making from Maine farms. Sixteen Candles, a year-round beer introduced in 2016, is an example of that. Free tours and tastings happen seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors get four, three-ounce beer samples at no charge. Tours fill up fast, so book ahead. And enjoy.

Maine Beer Co.
Maine Beer makes American style ales at a brewery in Freeport (the retail headquarters of L.L. Bean), just north of Portland. Maine Beer Co.'s Lunch, an American IPA, has garnered a 96 world-class rating from BeerAdvocate. Tiny Beautiful Something, an American pale ale, also gets high ratings. The pours are generous at Maine Beer. Flights of four are $10. Double the samples, and pay just $18. Tastings are 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.
Bissell Brothers Brewing, located on scenic Thompson's Point, is the new kid on the block that is turning heads for its American IPAs. It's a special treat for visitors from away to sample the microbrews at Bissell Brothers, since the company does not distribute outside of Maine. Substance IPA and Swish double IPA both get ultra-high ratings from BeerAdvocate. The tasting room, with waterfront views of the Fore River, is open Wednesday and Thursday, noon-6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon-8 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m. Expects long lines to buy cans or get tastings.

Shipyard Brewing Co.
Shipyard is one of the granddaddies of beer making in Portland, Maine. Founders Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley like to say that Shipyard was founded at the birth of the American craft brew industry and continues to mirror its phenomenal growth. Shipyard has gained a national reputation for such labels as Pumpkinhead, Old Thumper, Blue Fin Stout and Red IPA. The tasting room is open daily, selling flights, 10-ounce pours and growlers. The lineup always features Shipyard's core labels, as well as pilot and seasonal brews. Call ahead to reserve a full brewery tour.

Foundation Brewing Co.
Foundation Brewing Co. is another upstart brewery. It also is a neighbor of Allagash, located in the same industrial park on the fringes of Portland. Foundation's Epiphany, a Maine IPA, is highly rated by customers and by peers in the microbrew industry. Foundation is developing a strong reputation for creative interpretations of classic beer styles. Like other top beer makers in Portland, Foundation is having growth spurts, briefly closing its tasting room in September 2016 for expansion, while still selling Epiphany and Ember IPAs by the can.

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Linda Fullerton Hersey is a former editor for AOL and for the Portland Press Herald in Maine. She has her own blog about the people and places of Maine.