Not to be outdone by the Portland to the west that took its name, Portland, Maine, packs a bunch of breweries into its small, funky waterfront confines. Much of the city's modern brewing history dates only to the microbrewing boom of the late 1990s, but D.L. Geary Brewing puts the town's brewing history back to 1983.
Founded 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 pre-Blue Moon 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. Allagash has since been surrounded by brewers including Portland mainstay Casco Bay Brewing, which has been keeping its simple with red, blonde and pale ales since 1994, and upstart Maine Beer and its hoppy Lunch IPA and potent Mean Old Tom stout. If you'd rather skip the industrial park for the cobblestones and harbor views of the Old Port, head to Shipyard Brewing for a tour and a taste of its flagship Export Ale, Shipyard IPA, Summer Ale and Capt'n Eli's sodas. From there it's a quick walk along the harbor to Gritty McDuff's for home-brewed Black Fly Stout and Vacationland Ale to go with cover bands and pub fare.