June 22, 2013

Portland beer festival celebrates rare finds

Connoisseurs travel from all over to sample suds at The Festival, where beer-tasting sessions cost $65 a head.

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Hundreds of beer enthusiasts raised their glasses at The Portland Co. Complex as they sampled craft beers from around the world at The Festival on Friday night and Saturday.

click image to enlarge

A crowd gathers at The Festival at The Portland Company on Saturday.

Photos by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A sample is handed out from Hill Farmstead Brewery, which is located in Vermont, at Saturday’s festival.

READ THE BEER BABE'S blog from The Festival.

During the second of three beer-tasting sessions, samplers formed long lines Saturday afternoon to taste rare and exotic suds from about 70 breweries.

Brewers traveled from Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Norway and the United States -- including five from Maine -- to show off their wares.

Joe Cahoon Jr. of Cape Elizabeth treated his father, Joe Cahoon Sr. of Wiscassett, to the $65-a-head Saturday afternoon session as a Father's Day present.

The two said they would try to sample as many beers as they could.

"It is not as decadent as it seems," said Cahoon Sr.

In its second year, The Festival was expected to draw 2,300 before it closed Saturday night, compared to last year, when 900 attended The Festival in Worcester, Mass., said Dan Shelton of Shelton Bros. beer distributors in Belchertown, Mass., one of the festival organizers.

By Saturday afternoon the festival had gone off without a hitch, said Shelton.

He estimated festival goers would consume more than 110,400 ounces of beer by the festival's end, based on the 48 ounce limit per customer allowed under Maine's beer festival laws.

Festival goers received mini-beer steins and 2 ounce samples from the breweries. They included hard-core beer enthusiasts who traveled from Spain and other far-flung places, tourists whose visit to Portland coincided with the festival, and Maine residents.

Joe LaSala traveled from Queens, N.Y., with a group of friends to sample beer.

"We are hitting all the beer (venues) and of course getting some lobster," said LaSala.

Jan and Sally Williams of Hiram said they were happy to wait in a 20-minute line to sample Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen, a Belgian beer.

"It's a special beer," said Jan Williams.

Matthew and Koreen Wapenski of Attleboro, Mass., said they had done some research about the festival and had a tasting strategy in place.

"We are trying to go to the hard-to-find ones," said Matthew Wapenski, referring to beers.

Katrina Murray, a member of the Boston Area Beer Enthusiasts Society -- BABES for short -- said she and her boyfriend, Evan Damiano, traveled from Lowell, Mass., to sample Gueuzerie Tilquin, a sour Belgian beer.

"You can't get it around here easily and the climate in Belgium is perfect for the ingredients. It costs $25 a bottle," Damiano said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)