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Black Fly Brewfest returns this Saturday

HOULTON, Maine — The third annual Blackfly Brewfest returns to the Millar Civic Center in Houlton Saturday, bringing a variety of brewers from around the state to the Shiretown.

“The brewers truly love coming up here to Houlton,” said Jane Torres, executive director for the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. “They love the way people are really curious about the whole process that goes in to making brews so it’s not just about drinking.”

Twenty-seven brewers and two wineries will be on hand with nearly 100 beers, ciders and wines to sample.

Sponsored by the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from many local businesses, the event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at the John Millar Civic Center in Community Park. VIP tickets, which include an event T-shirt, provide access to the festival starting at noon and several special craft brews and hors d’oeuvres. General admission begins at 1:30 p.m.

VIP tickets cost $55, while general admission is $35.

Two new beers, with connections to Houlton, will be unveiled at the event.

Spearheaded by Houlton resident John White, who worked in collaboration with Blank Canvas Brewery of Brewer and Barrelled Souls Brewing of Saco, the two new beers have a definite connection to The County.

White has been one of the lead individuals working with the Chamber of Commerce to bring different breweries to Houlton and has even created his own label for brewing called “Naughty Donkey.” The name for his brewing label is a tribute to his uncle, Brian “Donk” Donnelly, who passed away in 2014.

“Houlton Chocolate Milk,” inspired by Houlton Farms Dairy’s chocolate milk, was a collaboration beer with Chris Scofield and Tom Wells of Barrelled Souls, White said Monday.

“It’s basically a white stout beer that we added 40 pounds of cocoa to to give it a rich chocolate taste,” he said. “We wanted it to be a tribute to Houlton Farms Dairy’s chocolate milk.”

The combination of beer and chocolate is not new, but White said they tried to get the taste as close to the chocolate milk sold by Houlton Farms Dairy as a tribute to that popular product. White said the idea for this beer came from Wells, a Houlton native who now lives in Old Orchard Beach.

“We are glad that folks like our chocolate milk enough to try to duplicate it,” said Alice Lincoln of Houlton Farms Dairy.

“Taste of the County,” is a collaboration beer with Steve Genthner of Blank Canvas Brewery. According to White, the beer is made entirely from products gathered in Aroostook County, including using water from Houlton Water Company trucked to the Brewer facility. It is believed to be the first beer to be 100 percent County made.

“I really wanted to come up with a beer that was local,” White said. “I asked Genthner if they had ever made a beer from potatoes, and they had not.”

Mainiacal Yeast Company collected samples in the air at last year’s brewfest and was able to create a yeast culture based on that sample, White explained. The hops for the beer came from Aroostook Hops in Westfield and the Hop Yard in Fort Fairfield, while potatoes were obtained from Nature’s Circle in Houlton; pale malt came from Maine Malt House in Mapleton and the oates came from Aurora Mills in Linneus.

“This truly is an all-Aroostook County beer,” White said.

Three kegs of the “Taste of the County” beer were created. One keg was taken to the Great Lost Bear in Portland, while one remained at Genthner’s brewery in Brewer and the third is being brought to Houlton for the Black Fly Brewfest.

Last year’s event drew about 500 people into the community, with many of those staying at local hotels, eating at restaurants, and buying gas for their return trip.

“We try to build the event each year and are hoping for another great turnout,” Torres said.

For more information, contact the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce at 532-4216.

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