Five Maine Beers to Drink This Summer

These beers from Pine Tree State breweries pair perfectly with the beach or barbecue.

Photo courtesy of Banded Brewing Company

The past year has been a hard day’s night. But there’s a gleam of light in this tunnel. The shadow of the pandemic has been illumined by vaccines and our collective effort to mask our smiles to save our neighbors. And it’s not just the metaphoric light of science and goodwill—the summer solstice has also just drenched our fog-clouded minds with sunshine.

I can think of nothing more profound in its simplicity, more able to imbue the world with a glint of normalcy, than kicking back in a beach chair with an effervescent summer ale. Maine now boasts more breweries per capita than any other state. With 156 brew houses churning out beer in the Pine Tree State, the drink choices for backyard lobster bakes and dreamy afternoons at the beach are, at the very least, dizzying. Here are five Maine beers to revitalize the spirits as we soak in all the light we can see, and all that delicious glow on the horizon.

1. Northern Lager, Oxbow Brewing Company

Photo by Michael D. Wilson.

Over the past five years the craft beer movement has seen a resurgence of clean lagers and pilsners as a reaction to the ubiquity of atomic-hopped double IPAs. And I’m all for it—especially on a hot day in July. Oxbow Brewing’s Northern Lager is a great representation of a craft lager. Poured from the can, it has a golden hue lively with carbonation bubbles. Soft graham cracker notes fill the nose of this beer, while the drinking experience is a quiet symphony of bready malt, a ping of hops, and a delicate bite in the finish from the lager yeast.

2. Little Grove Sparkling Session Ale with Black Currants, Allagash Brewing Company

Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company.

On paper, this beer shouldn’t work. A low-alcohol Belgian beer mixed with fruit juice? Get real. But Allagash Brewing Company is one of the best breweries on the planet. If they put it out, I’m trying it. This low-calorie, 3.8 percent ABV, fruited ale offers a riveting flavor ride of fresh fruit with a spicy Belgian ale finish. The black currants infuse the session ale with the right balance of sweet-tart notes, while the light grain bill offers just enough malt to remind you you’re drinking a beer.

3. Hacienda Lime Mexican-Style Lager,
Bunker Brewing Company

Photo by Jared McKenna.

When Budweiser first released Bud Light Lime it felt like an existential impasse for beer in America. Bunker Brewing, however, proves that a craft approach to beer can take even the most banal corporate idea and inject it with inspiration. Hacienda Lime’s flavor is built on the solid foundation of a crisp Mexican lager topped with fresh lime juice. Simply put, this beer is delightful. It’s a bright companion to haddock tacos or freshly shucked oysters.

4. Mango Sorbet IPA, Banded Brewing Company

Photo courtesy of Banded Brewing Company.

If the ice cream truck that circles your neighborhood in the summer served a beer, this would be it. The citrus-forward IPA is a bold balance of hops, mango, and—at 6.8 percent ABV—a sturdy alcohol back-bone. The interplay of juicy American hops and fresh mango sings over the palate, while candied malts coat the tongue with a finish akin to an orange Creamsicle. Brewed in collaboration with Sweetcream Dairy in Biddeford, this playful IPA will bring out the kid in you.

5. Kresge Kölsch, Cushnoc Brewing Company

Photo by Ben Macri.

Perfect warm-weather beers, kölsches ride that refreshing line between pilsners and ales. Kresge from Cushnoc Brewing in downtown Augusta is a great example of this old-world beer style born on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne, Germany. Using ale yeast in tandem with a light malt bill, Kresge hits the tongue with the subtle sweetness of a sugar cookie. True to the kölsch’s heritage, the brewing team at Cushnoc uses German noble hops to impart an herbal aroma and a spicy hop finish. Birthed on the mighty Kennebec River, Kresge is sure to slake your summer thirst, just as kölsches have done for over 400 years.

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