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Walk, Talk, and Taste Your Way Around Historic Portland, Maine

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The expert guides of The Maine Brew Bus are able to show you around Portland on foot. And there is no better way to drink in the rich history of Maine’s largest city than to also visit and taste beer from three legendary breweries in the city.

First founded in 1632, Portland’s location along the sea has always been its strength. The harbor is actually situated on a tidal river so it does not freeze. That makes Portland the closest sheltered, deepwater, ice-free harbor to Europe on the East Coast. This has led to tremendous growth in the city based on the maritime shipping and fishing industries, and later with the railroads that connected Portland to locations throughout the United States and Canada.

Portland has suffered more than its share of devastating fires, with the most significant coming in 1866. Each time, Portland has rebuilt, and by showing its resilience it has adopted the motto Resurgam (I will rise again) and the city symbol of the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Working-class Portland has had a tumultuous relationship over its history with alcohol. Leading up to the 1850’s, all of Portland was fueled by New England Style rum which was made from molasses shipped in from warmer climates. Portland is also the birthplace of Prohibition, with temperance crusader Neal Dow leading the charge and gaining momentum after penning the Maine Law in 1851 which made Maine the first dry state.

The City of Portland saw the first craft brewery to be established in all of New England, Geary Brewing Company (1983).  It welcomed Gritty McDuff’s (1988) as they opened their doors in the Old Port to become the first brewpub in the state. It witnessed the dramatic rise of Shipyard Brewing Company (1992) to be one of the county’s largest brewing enterprises that now spans well beyond the U.S. to shores far away. The world-renowned Belgian-influenced Allagash Brewing Company (1995) is also found within the city limits. Sebago Brewing Company (1998) counts Portland as one of their five locations serving their delicious beer along with amazing food. Even one of the world’s only brewery-distillery-restaurants was formed on Portland’s waterfront once Liquid Riot (2011) turned on their open sign.

But there are many other breweries in neighborhood pockets around Portland that are forging their own history in the present day. Maybe you have heard of Foundation, Lone Pine, Austin Street, Definitive, Rising Tide, Brewery Extrava, or Urban Farm Fermentory?

The guides of The Maine Brew Bus are here to expertly tell the stories of Portland’s breweries on our three different Walk, Talk, and Taste tours. Each tour is in the open air and is limited to a maximum capacity of seven guests.

Three different neighborhood locations each with two departures are available every day. Choose among the Old Port, East Bayside, and IndustriALE Way itineraries.

a couple of people that are sitting on a table

Old Port Itinerary – Book online now!
This leisurely walking tour covering 1.5 miles allows you to visit and learn about notable Portland landmarks including numerous former brewery sites, the Workingmen’s Club, Mariners’ Church, the Seamen’s Club, and the working waterfront that was essential for importing and exporting of alcohol during times of prohibition. As part of this historical journey, we will stop at three legendary Portland breweries for included samples (schedule varies): Shipyard Brewing Company – Gritty McDuff’s – Liquid Riot Bottling Company – Sebago Brewing Company

a group of people standing next to a man talking on a cell phone

East Bayside Itinerary – Book online now!
This two-hour walking tour allows you to visit three different breweries that are all making a name for themselves in the industrial area known as East Bayside. Along the way, your expert guide will talk about the historical importance of Portland Harbor, how attitudes towards drinking alcohol changed drastically in the 19th century, and how the craft alcohol industry has exploded in more recent times. As part of this adventure, we will stop at three Portland breweries for included samples (schedule varies): Austin Street Brewery – Rising Tide Brewing Company – Brewery Extrava – Urban Farm Fermentory – Lone Pine Brewing Company

IndustriALE Way ItineraryComing Soon!
First charted when David Geary chose the area for his trail-breaking brewery based on the proximity to the highway and the relatively low price of the land. Now, many breweries past and present call the neighborhood home anchored by the industry giant in Allagash Brewing Company. You may be surprised to learn the names of other well-known companies who also started in the brewery incubator building called One Industrial Way. On this adventure, we will stop at three Portland breweries for included samples (schedule varies): Foundation Brewing Company – Austin Street Brewery – Battery Steele Brewing – Definitive Brewing

Take an informative walk and drink in the incredible history of Portland with our Walk, Talk, and Taste tours!

See the current Health and Safety policies for Maine Brew Bus tours here.

Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Brew Bus Tours. He enjoyed a few cups of Alanzo’s Double Dark from Coffee By Design while preparing this post. Twitter: @BeerinME