Not to be outdone by the Portland to the west, Portland, Maine, packs a handful of breweries into one convenient, funky waterfront city. Much of the city's modern brewing history dates only to the microbrewing boom of the late 1990s, but there's one notable exception: D.L. Geary Brewing.
Founded in 1983 when American microbreweries numbered little more than a dozen and most were on the West Coast, Geary's benefited from co-founder David Geary's experience working at nearly a dozen breweries in England and Scotland and still uses an English-style pale ale as its flagship beer. The brewery isn't much to see, and brewery tours are still by appointment only, but a London Porter that The New York Times named best in the world five years ago is a great introduction to the old portside town.
Right around the corner from Geary's is another Portland brewer, Allagash, that owes much of its existence to its distinctly European flavor. Founded in 1995 with a mission to make Belgian-style beers accessible here in the U.S., Allagash staked its claim by combining wheat, Curacao orange peel, coriander and other spices into the Allagash White witbier that's now the brewery's flagship brand. In a time before MolsonCoors (TAP - Get Report) was producing barrels of Blue Moon and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) was getting all lemony with its Shock Top and Bud Light Golden Wheat, this was a huge leap forward.If you want to get out of the industrial park and down to the bars, restaurants, waterfront and more traditional beers of the Old Port, however, go to Shipyard Brewing for a tour and a taste of its flagship Export Ale, Shipyard IPA, Summer Ale and Capt'n Eli's sodas. If you're still up for more after walking it off along the harbor or taking a quick ferry ride to Peak's Island to picnic or peer into the ruins of the old World War II battery, there's a more laid-back brewpub approach at Gritty McDuff's in the Old Port. Established in 1988, Gritty's embraces the tourist vibe that takes over the area for much of the season and serves its visiting post-frat clientle Black Fly Stout and Vacationland Ale along with its cover bands and pub fare.