Maine was the first state to enact Prohibition, nearly 70 years before the rest of the U.S., so it’s only fitting that it should emerge as one of the hottest states for craft brews and locally produced wines.
With the Maine Lobster Festival’s mega-popular Steins & Vines tasting event going into its fourth year, there will be ample opportunities to taste some of the freshest and most flavorful brews and wines that Maine produces. Here’s some advice to get the most out of the tasting.
Your Guide to the Stein
You don’t have to be a beer professional to sip like one. All you need is the awareness of your five senses. The taste and smell are the most important, but will be hard to describe. No need to consult a thesaurus: just allow the flavor to tell your brain what it’s thinking. Use free association. Is it bitter? Does it remind you of a color or a feeling? Is it hoppy? Or once you’ve had a few sips, do you get notes of fruit or honey on the sides of your tongue? Keep notes on your phone if you like something in particular.
Maine brewers at Steins and Vines will include Andrew’s Brewing Company, Banded Horn Brewing, Funky Bow Brewing, Geaghan Brothers Brewing, Simplicity Brewing, Gritty’s Brewing, Liberty Craft Brewing, Oxbow Brewing, Rock Harbor Brewery, and even one island brewery, Monhegan Brewing Co.
These brewers take pride in using local ingredients to create a variety of interesting pale ales, IPAs, lagers, stouts, Saisons, Belgian styles, and others. If you want to take something home with you, you’ll be able to find it locally or you can hit the Maine Beer Trail on your way home after the festival.
Your Guide to the Vine
Some of Maine’s best wineries will also be represented at Steins & Vines, including Cellardoor Winery, Savage Oakes Winery, Breakwater Vineyard, and Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery. The Maine wine industry has quite a few different flavor profiles that distinguish it from other wine regions, so this tasting will be a perfect opportunity to increase your wine knowledge.
Use the “look, swirl and sip” technique to assess each sample. First, take a second or two to look straight down into the glass to get a sense of the wine’s density and depth. Then, swirl your glass for about 10 seconds to get the wine to release its natural aroma, and lower your nose into the glass. What are your senses associating the whites, reds and rosé with? From blueberries, raspberries and cranberries to a variety of regional grapes, Maine has an incredibly versatile take on fruit wines. Take your time sipping, because your palate will pick up first and last hints and the true flavor of the wine will leave a lasting impression after the final sip is swallowed.
Enjoy the Steins & Vines event at the Maine Lobster Festival on Thursday, August 3, at either of two separate tastings: 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. These tastings sell out quickly, so get more information and purchase tickets now.