It’s no secret: I like beer.

Some of you might be sick of hearing that, considering the number of beer stories I wrote in the past year. Others are not tired of my beer ramblings yet, given the page views and reactions we get on the beer stories we post online and on Facebook.

This year really seems like it was the year of beer in the Midcoast. While Brunswick lost Ebenezer’s Brewpub early in the year (much to my chagrin, as their Holy Candy was a favorite), it had the opening of Flight Deck at Brunswick Landing, and is now awaiting the opening of Moderation Brewing.

In Freeport, Maine Beer Company’s expansion has massively increased its brewing capacity, bringing a huge increase in production.

Just across the street from the Coastal Journal’s BathPort office, Bath Brewing Company is poised to be the first brewery based solely in Sagadahoc County sometime next year, with work ongoing inside.

And up in Lincoln County, one of my personal favorites Oxbow Brewing Company hosted Pils and Love for the first time at Spring Point Light in South Portland, in partnership with Birrificio Italiano, an Italian brewery. The event was a great success, and Oxbow has continued to make beer after delightful beer.

With all this writing about beer, I’ve never written about what that I believe are ones you should seek out, so I figured I’d put together a list of some of the best ones I sampled in 2017.

OEC (Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores) Brewing’s Frigus Imperium: This is a barrel-aged beer made by the Oxford, Connecticut, based brewery. Aged in South African wine barrels for over a year, unheated or cooled, the beer develops a tart, almost wine-like character. I had this at a bar in Portland on recommendation, and it was definitely a good one. Unfortunately, it’s made in extremely limited quantities, so I don’t know if it’s possible to get any more!

Punch Brook’s aroma may make you remember summer days of yore. Photo courtesy of Oxbow

Oxbow Brewing Company’s Punch Brook: This is a beer I had more recently, and there’s a higher chance of it being available somewhere. I wrote about this in a piece called “The Fruits of their labor.”

The flavor and smell of this beer, which is a farmhouse lager with raspberries, took me straight back to summer as child picking raspberries from a big bush in our yard. The flavor is subtle, tart, and fruity and definitely the kind of beer that would catch someone by surprise.

Other Half Brewing Company’s Double Dry Hopped All Citra Everything: This is a beer I never thought I’d have the chance to try. Other Half is a highly sought-after Brooklyn-based brewery, and this beer is one of those “only occasionally available” types that goes fast.

I have Tim Adams of Oxbow to thank for this beer. Upon a visit to the brewery in Newcastle, he handed me a pack of the stuff from a fridge full of beer from all over the country they get frequently from fellow brewers. Given the sheer amount of beer they are surrounded by all the time, he figured he wouldn’t get around to drinking it.

Hanssens Artisanaal’s Scarenbecca Kriek: From a Belgian-based brewery, this beer is hard to get in the U.S., and when it does show up, it’s in small supply. I snagged this at an event at Portland’s Novare Res, the quintessential beer nerd’s haven.

I wish it was in greater supply here, because the complex, sour, sweet flavor was easily one of the best beers I’ve had. All my friends agree, too.

Mikkeller’s Spontandoubleblueberry: Remember how I was lamenting the closing of Ebenezer’s Brewpub in Brunswick? Well, thankfully, Ebenezer’s Pub up in Center Lovell can fill that void in a big way.
Consistently rated one of the best beer bars in the world, the place is a beer geek’s dream. Spontandoubleblueberry, from Denmark-based Mikkeller, is a lambic, which is a sour ale. Aged with blueberries in oak barrels, it tasted like the best blueberry pie I’ve ever had. Plus, I was drinking it at a fantastic establishment tucked in the mountains of western Maine. What’s not to love?

Cheers! Hopefully, 2018 will bring with it even more fantastic beers.