Best Pub of Portland, Maine

Drink Allagash Brewery’s White

MAINE’S MOST-LOVED BEER

In 1995, when Rob Tod opened a brewery in Portland, Maine, that only made a cloudy, Belgian-style White Ale, people thought he was bonkers. He started brewing this beer because he wanted something different and unique that you couldn’t already get. Trouble was, there was probably a reason why you couldn’t get it in Portland: no one actually wanted it. Or they didn’t—yet. But Rob persevered through a tough decade and now Allagash White is Portland’s—and Maine’s—beer.

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White is smooth and creamy; the spices—curaçao, orange peel, and coriander seed—play in the background; and there’s some fruity yeast. It’s gentle with underlying power and depth, a versatile beer that’s sessionable yet complex, familiar yet exciting, and the ultimate beer for food.

Allagash Brewery runs free tours around their impressive facility. You can’t buy any beer to drink there, though; instead, everyone who visits gets a 3-oz (85-ml) pour from each of the four taps. The beers change and you can come in every day, if you wish, and get the four free pours. It’s a nice, generous approach to the tasting room and one that encourages people to visit, but then also to go into town to drink Allagash beers in the bars.

To reflect their love of Belgian-style beers, Allagash installed a coolship in 2007 and produce a small range of spontaneously fermented beers to go alongside an extensive barrel-aging program. These are all very good. The coolship beers are comparable to the best Belgian Lambics, while the barrel sours are complex, elegant, and nuanced.

You walk into Allagash and it’s warm, friendly, and welcoming. The simple generosity of offering a few good beers for free is something you don’t see in many places, so visit the brewery, go on the tour, have your beers, then head into town and drink some more Allagash White—it’s a wonderful, pioneering beer and you should raise a pint to Rob Tod for his focused dedication and the way in which he gave Portland, Maine, its most important beer.

Make sure you sign up for a free tour at Allagash.

The Lowdown

WHAT: Allagash Brewing Company

HOW: Open every day, from 11am to 6pm (www.allagash.com). WHERE: 50 Industrial Way, Portland, Maine 04103, USA

LOCAL TIP: A Brewery Secret…

You get four small pours of beer at Allagash, but, if you look closely, you’ll see there’s another tap. Ask your battender about the “fifth tap.”

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