PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The explosion in the number of craft breweries in Maine has been good for the state's economy - not just because more people are working brewing beer, but by also becoming tourist destinations of their own.
Now entrepreneurs are connecting beer lovers to the breweries they love, or have never heard of, in an effort to promote the state's craft beer industry.
"We're trying everything we can to promote the local scene as much as possible," explained Mark Stevens, who operates one of two dedicated beer tour businesses in the city of Portland with his wife, Nichole.
"Our whole focus is drinking local," he continued. "When they are focusing as much as they can on local blueberries, or local this, local that, local spices - I love that concept. It's something I really believe in and it is nice to show others what is going on out there."
His company, Maine Beer Tours operates three tours a week, one on Friday and two on Saturday, bringing beer lovers from the heart of the Old Port to brewers and businesses in greater Portland.
On a recent Friday, the tour brought a group of beer aficionados to Maine Mead Works to see how honey and water combine to make mead. From there the bus rolled over to Salvage where they hopped off to sample some BBQ and brews from all over Maine.
After a bite to eat, the tour left Portland for Sebago Brewing Company's production facility in Gorham. There they were given more samples to try before being lead on an extensive tour of operation while the beer making process was explained.
"People always ask me, 'how can you do this? Watching other people drink must be hard?'" stated Stevens. "I love it. Talking to people, hanging out, I can do this all the time."