Portland’s Allagash brewing ahead of the curve

Posted April 17, 2012, at 2:39 p.m.
Last modified April 18, 2012, at 11:44 a.m.

The beers made by Portland-based Allagash Brewery are pretty unusual — not just for Maine but for American breweries in general. A Belgian-style brewery, Allagash was founded in 1995 by Rob Tod, who started out making a handful of Belgian beers, the first of which was Allagash White, a Belgian wheat beer. Allagash White is now sold in more than 20 states and is the brewery’s most popular beer — and Allagash itself has expanded rapidly, now occupying a large space on the outskirts of Portland.

“Our most popular beer … is Allagash White, which is an unfiltered Belgian wit. Our second most popular is Allagash Black, which is a Belgian style stout,” said Matt Welch, director of New England sales. “And then we’ve also got our Double and Tripel, which are also year-round beers that also do really well for us.”

They’ve won more medals at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup than can easily be mentioned here. As far as the craft brewing movement goes, Allagash is ahead of the pack. From Tripel, a strong golden ale that’s also aged in bourbon barrels and then called Curieux, to the ever-changing Fluxus variety, there’s something beer lovers of all tastes and palates can enjoy. Allagash isn’t afraid to take chances with its beers, with barrel aging, use of wild yeast and bacteria for special brews and other experiments still not released to the general public.

Allagash regularly offers brewery tours, and representatives attend lots of events in Maine and beyond — coming up, they’re taking part in renowned chef Jose Andres’ America Eats event on April 20 in Washington, D.C., and on May 10, Novare Res in Portland will hold an all-Allagash tap takeover.