Unless you've been living under a rock on Popham Beach, or aspire to be the next North Maine Hermit, you've probably heard of (and likely tasted) at least one of the beers brewed here in Maine. The craft beer scene has been rapidly expanding nationwide, and Maine is no exception, ranking in the top five states with the most breweries per capita. As of January 2017, there are 93 active breweries in the state, a number that has tripled since the year 2000.
There's no doubt about it, those statistics are something any beer-loving Mainer should be pretty darn proud of. With our new blog, we hope to raise our BeerME glass to those brewers, breweries, and beers that are born, based, and made here in Maine.
After stopping by Rising Tide Brewing in Portland earlier this winter on a drive up to Sugarloaf, we decided to chat with Nathan Sanborn, founder and director of brewing there. Nathan had been experimenting with brewing for more than a decade before setting out on his formal adventure at Rising Tide, and now has a sizable production going on. One of their most popular seasonal beers, the Maine Island Trail Ale, releases tomorrow.
When you first started in 2010, how big was your operation/team/brewing capacity? What’s it like now?
I started the brewery with just myself and a 1 barrel (31 gallon) system—I could brew only 1 barrel of beer at a time and had fermentation capacity for about 12 barrels of beer. Now we have a team of 20, brew 15 barrels at a time and up to 45 barrels in a day. At any given time we might have as much as 412 barrels of beer in fermentation—that's about 100,000 pints of beer.
How long have you been in your current space in Portland?
Our brewery has always been in Portland, but we moved to our current location in March of 2012. (You can find Rising Tide Brewing on 103 Fox Street in Portland)
What’s special about brewing beer in Maine, and what’s the Maine beer scene like?
Brewing beer in Maine is phenomenal—we have such great colleagues at the other breweries around the state, all brewing top notch beers, we have incredible water, and most importantly because we have amazingly passionate and supportive beer drinkers. Add to that the incredible food culture and you have the perfect storm for a great beer scene.
Say you’re trapped on a deserted island and you can only have one of your beers with you. Which one would it be?
I'm inclined to say MITA (Maine Island Trail Ale), our hoppy session ale as it is low ABV, beautifully hoppy, and completely crushable, but I always come back to Daymark, our rye pale ale. We brew that beer to be crisp with a refreshing bitterness and a beautiful citrus and floral aroma. As much as I love all of our beers, that would have to be my deserted island beer.
To learn more about Rising Tide Brewing, head over to their website, and keep your eyes peeled for their Maine Island Trail Ale, hitting shelves soon!