Water Street is bustling with booths and people Oct. 2, 2021, during Swine & Stein Brewfest festivities in downtown Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

GARDINER — The organizers of the Swine & Stein Brewfest never know how far people will travel to attend the annual Ocktoberfest-style event, but they know many will come.

And when visitors arrive Saturday, they will find nearly two dozen craft beverage makers sharing the fruits of their labors at tastings from noon to 5 p.m.

New this year is the Urban Farm Fermentory from Portland, which makes kombucha, cider, beer, an old-style beer known as gruit and mead.

“People have come here for the event, and then they say: ‘This place is so cute. I’m going to come back,'” Tamara Whitmore said.

The tradition dates to 2009, when Gardiner Main Street debuted Swine & Stein as its premiere annual event, and it remains the group’s main fundraising effort. After pivoting the brewfest to-go format during the COVID-19 pandemic, it returned to its original in-person format two years ago.

And while Water Street is closed to vehicular traffic for the event, Whitmore said Gardiner Main Street works with downtown business owners to connect with the event and take advantage of the crowds, including offering discounts to those wearing event wristbands or bringing samples into the event.


“It’s such a good time,” she said, “and there is such an ambiance from the event.”

While Maine is widely known for its craft beers, with many local and regional brewers, including Gardiner’s Bateau Brewing and Augusta’s Cushnoc Brewing Co., taking part, other beverage makers have also signed up.

A patron holds a taster glass of Chadwick’s Craft Spirits’ Reaper Revenge, a spicy cinnamon liqueur mixed with apple cider, during Swine & Stein Brewfest festivities on Oct. 9, 2021, in downtown Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Among them, Absolem Cider Co. of Winthrop, Chadwick’s Craft Spirits of Pittston and Aegir’s Den Meadery of Palermo are expected to be joined by the Winterport Winery of Winterport and Run Amok Meadery of West Gardiner.

Whitmore said the event’s new vendor, the Portland-based Urban Farm Fermentory, also makes jun, a sparkling probiotic green tea similar to kombucha. Unlike kombucha, though, it is not sold as an alcoholic beverage because it has 0.5% alcohol by volume.

Whitmore said jun is to be available for tasting by those holding designated driver tickets, which entitle the holders to water and soda.

In addition to the beverage tastings, food trucks and Gardiner restaurants are expected to serve their dining specialties throughout the day, while music is to be provided by the Scolded Dogs, the Tim Sullivan Band and AstroPlanet.


For those who want to branch out even more, the rock, paper, scissors championship is on the schedule, along with cornhole, giant Jenga and the frozen T-shirt race. And the popular beard and mustache competition returns for another year.

Melissa Lindley, Gardiner’s economic development director, said Gardiner has become known for its Swine & Stein Brewfest.

“People from all over the place come here when they are thinking of coming to Maine for the fall. It shows up on the event calendars. It’s just a fun thing to do,” said Lindley, who was the Gardiner Main Street executive director until earlier this year.

General admission tickets are $45 and designated driver tickets are $10.

VIP admission tickets, which allow access at noon, before general admission begins at 1 p.m., are $55, but those are sold out online.

A crowd gathers Oct. 8, 2022, on Main Street during the Swine & Stein Brewfest in downtown Gardiner. Emily Duggan/Kennebec Journal file

“I am amazed at how quickly those VIPs sold out,” said Whitmore, who was hired as executive director earlier this year.


While Whitmore had volunteered at the event in the past, this is the first time she has worked to put it together.

“There are definitely people that this is their favorite event,” she said.

Whitmore said the Swine & Stein Brewfest will go on rain or shine, and the forecast now calls for some rain.

“I’m asking everyone to put a little juju into this,” she said, “but I hope we can squeak it out.”

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