Taste the rainbow of Maine beers over the week of events planned for Portland Beer Week. Photos by Ben Moore

Portland Beer Week is upon us. The annual week-long event kicks off on Sunday and features events that center around a single theme: appreciation of the Maine beer industry and all it has to offer.

Portland Beer Week’s aim has always been to bring together Maine beer fans and connect them with the people responsible for creating the delicious beverages that they love. Over the years, it has evolved into a collection of diverse events that showcase the beer industry’s many facets, including the people who make it all possible.

While some beer weeks are focused on having as many beers on tap as possible, Portland Beer Week’s events take a much more diverse approach to beer appreciation. There are tap takeovers, certainly, but they are often specifically themed, such as wild beer-focused Funk Night at Maps, or the Great Lost Bear’s popular Maine IPA night. There are also events focused on food, including Thirsty Pig’s beer and hot dog pairings. Mast Landing is all about seafood, starting with an oyster and stout pairing at The Shop on Washington Avenue Thursday and a tap takeover at Eventide all day Friday and Saturday.

Tod Mott of Tributary Brewing takes the stage at Tales from the Brewhouse.

Portland Beer Week has three signature events. Kicking off the whole celebration is Tales from the Brewhouse (The Thirsty Pig, 5 p.m. Sunday), where brewers and other beer industry folks can tell stories about their experiences. The tales range from brewery disasters to heartwarming accounts of camaraderie and compassion. The current lineup includes people from new breweries as well as long-time industry veterans, and there are opportunities for more storytellers to jump in.

The second signature event is the Pro-Am Competition (Salvage BBQ, 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, $35), the embodiment of the creative and collaborative spirit of the industry. Professional brewers have been paired with homebrewers, tossing around ideas for a recipe, then brewing a beer together, both contributing to the entire process. For the homebrewers, it’s a rare chance to brew at a professional scale, and for the professional brewers, it’s an excuse to get creative and think outside of their brewery’s portfolio. The beers are then judged at the event, which is set up as a blind competition, meaning judges don’t know who brewed what. The result can sometimes be a surprise; brewers known for their IPAs have won for sour beers, and traditional brewers have dared to create crazy flavor combinations. Rumor has it that there are some exceptional – and strange – beers on the docket this year, but you’ll have to show up to Salvage BBQ to try them. A fundraiser for the Maine Brewers’ Guild, this event usually sells out, so it is best to get tickets as early as you can.

Battle of the Brewery Bands is a signature event of Portland Beer Week.

The other long-running signature event is the Battle of the Brewery Bands (Nov. 7, 6:30 Bayside Bowl, $8 cover). When blasting the radio in the brewhouse turns to jam sessions with brewers, tasting room employees and sales reps playing more than air guitar, a brewery band is born. The annual battle is an opportunity for breweries to show off their skills outside of making beer – and a night for people to dance and sing along to some familiar tunes (though some breweries have been known to throw in an original or two). This year, rather than competing just for bragging rights, a portion of the cover charge for the show will be donated to the charity of the winning band’s choice. Seven brewery bands are participating (Allagash Brewing Co., Banded Brewing Co., Goodfire Brewing, Lone Pine Brewing, Rising Tide Brewing, SoMe Brewing Company and Woodland Farms Brewery). The charities that they hope to support include Maine Children’s Cancer Program, Speak About It, The Maine Academy of Modern Music, Pets for Vets Portland Maine and the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

Portland Beer Week details continue to come together, so keep checking portlandbeerweek.org for the latest updates. Individual events have also been created under the Portland Beer Week Facebook page.

Carla Jean Lauter is a freelance beer writer and blogger who lives in Lisbon. Follow her beer adventures at:

Twitter: beerbabe

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