Allagash Brewing brewmaster Jason Perkins is all about local ingredients, in both his beers and others. Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

With so many Maine beers to choose from, it can be hard to decide what to try next, so who better to look to for a recommendation than the people running Maine’s breweries?

We asked the brewers and presidents at some of the state’s biggest breweries what they’re drinking now, and while they gave shoutouts to go-tos from their own lineups, they didn’t hesitate to name their favorites from their fellow Maine beer makers.

Allagash Brewing Co. brewmaster Jason Perkins is loving local ingredients, particularly from farm breweries Sasanoa on Westport Island and Outland in Pittsfield.

“One beer that I really enjoyed recently was Sasanoa Brewing’s Lime Basil,” he said. “It’s made with all-organic, Maine-grown ingredients, including lime basil from their own farm. It was dry, drinkable and nicely balanced.

From Outland Farm Brewery, Perkins’ pick was the Silo Pale Ale, also made with ingredients from Maine, including Cascade hops from the Hop Yard in Gorham, he said.

“That one had a great mix of sweet caramel malt and some pleasant biscuit-like notes.”

Perkins, who has been with the Portland brewery since 1999, likes to incorporate as many Maine-grown ingredients into Allagash brews as he can.

“I’ve been loving Fine Acre,” he said. “It’s our first year-round, certified-organic beer, and, the way I see it, it’s like a quick trip to Belgium. It drinks like the ‘blond’ ales you’d find in pretty much every Belgian bar. Put another way, at 5.5% ABV, you could think of it as a mini version of our Tripel Ale.”

Shipyard Brewing President Bruce Forsley has been enjoying Patina Pale from Austin Street Brewery in Portland.

“I’ve moved away from high alcohol and overly hopped IPAs,” he said. “The Patina is light enough to drink a few and hoppy enough to be interesting without being hop-dominated.”

Forsley, who joined Shipyard in Portland in 1993 for what he thought at the time would be a temporary job, said his favorite Shipyard brew lately is Bayley Brown Ale.

“Brown ale is so versatile and food-friendly,” he said. “It’s nice to have a beer that expresses the malt instead of relying on hops for character. The Bayley Brown has a smooth richness, nuances of chocolate and a nutty characteristic – all natural flavors from the malt.”

For Jenn Lever, president of Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, it’s all about the dark beers.

“Foundation’s Coffee Burnside is always my choice if it’s available,” Lever said about the Portland brewery’s brown ale, brewed with a rotating selection of locally roasted coffee.

Flava Dave! is sour ale made with rotating fruits, and featuring Baxter Brewing President Jenn Lever’s brother on the label. Photo courtesy of XOTA Brewing

Her favorite Nitro brew, she said, is John Henry Milk Stout from Fore River in South Portland. She’s also preferential to the mango version of Flava Dave! from XOTA Brewing Co. in Waterboro – and not just because her brother is pictured on the label. Although the sour ale, brewed with rotating fruits, is not currently available, the brewery is planning another batch – fruit TBD – for around the end of March.

As Baxter celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the Auburn native will celebrate her second year as president of the company. It’s hard for her to pick just one Baxter favorite, but you’ll probably find her drinking their limited-release Innuendo White Russian Stout this week.

“It is absolutely my go-to right now and most likely until it is unavailable,” Lever said. Picking from the taps at Baxter’s pub, Lever’s likely to go with a Coffee Dunkel, while Logger Road is her favorite from Baxter’s year-round and Ice Storm of ’98 is her seasonal beer of choice this time of year.

Rusty Packer, head brewer at Sebago Brewing Co. in Gorham, is all about the hops. He fell in love with West Coast-style IPAs as a young chef working in the Bay Area, exploring the beer scene in his free time. After his wife gave him a home brew kit, he never looked back.

Rusty Packer, Sebago’s head brewer, can’t get enough hops. Photo courtesy of Sebago Brewing Co.

“When it comes to beers from Maine, I find myself constantly picking up a four-pack of Tubular from Orono Brewing,” he said. “For me, it captures all the best attributes that New England IPAs can offer. It’s super hoppy with peach and apricot aromas that are no doubt a product of one of my personal favorite hops: El Dorado. I keep coming back to Tubular time after time because it drinks super soft with little-to-no hop burn at the end.”

It’s no surprise that IPAs are his go-to from his brewery too.

“At Sebago, we’ve also been embracing the New England style over the last couple of years and have had great success with our first year-round New England-style IPA, Haze Forward, which I love.”

“In a delicious contrast, we just released a West Coast-style IPA called No Comply,” said Packer, who has worked at Sebago for almost nine years. “It’s currently one of our heaviest hopped beers to date – although I’m always looking for a reason to up the ante, ha! It drinks resinous and piney with a chewy malt backbone, while also undeniably hitting all the classic dank, citrusy, and stone fruit aromas too. No Comply relies heavily on Maine-grown flaked barley to balance out the bitterness that West Coast IPAs are classically known for.”

Whatever your go-to beers or styles are, take these recommendations from the experts as inspiration to try something new.

Catie Joyce-Bulay is a Winslow-based freelance writer who recently moved back to her home state. Find her writing on beer, travel and people pursuing their passion at catiejoycebulay.com or Twitter: @catiejoycebulay.

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