Now that the deep sigh of summer has arrived, it’s time to hit Maine’s wondrous midcoast and be enveloped in her loving arms. This spring, I lauded Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery in Rockland, but that’s just the tip of the lobster claw of brewing in coastal Maine. Throughout the summer, I’ll highlight more Maine coast breweries you need to get to know.
First on the list: Boothbay Craft Brewery. On a drizzly June afternoon I made my way up the coast to see what was happening there.
This Lincoln County brewery located 10 miles off Route 1 brews a line of well-crafted American style ales along with high-caliber single batch beers, and the adjoining Watershed Tavern has a warm ambiance, solid pub fare and a great beer drinking vibe.
Walking in to the cozy tavern, with its exposed wood beams and a roaring fireplace to stave off the rainy chill, I noticed the homage Boothbay Craft Brewery pays to American brewing forefathers by displaying wooden Allagash Brewing and legendary Dogfish Head signs. Good omens.
I ordered a flight of six beers from the affable waitress, then worked my way from light to dark beers. Here are my picks from the draft list.
The flagship 633 Pale Ale is a great example of an American ale in the tradition of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. An American ale should have just enough hop presence and malt backbone to awaken the senses, but not enough to nuke your palate. 633 Pale Ale rides that line. This citrusy ale is very drinkable.
Though stouts don’t traditionally make great summer drinking beers, the Black Rocks Stout hit the spot. This finely crafted dark beer boasts heaps of chocolate, caramel and black malts that impart a nice stout heft both in mouthfeel and in alcohol content at 6.1 percent. I got a strong currant and raisin aroma coming off the glass. In the fall and winter, this beer will make a great friend.
The winner among the regular rotation of Boothbay Craft Brewery beers is the Dexter “Rippa” Red IPA. Most red IPAs are too malty for my palate, but this red IPA has just the right malt-hop balance to keep the citrusy American hops from drowning in a sea of malt. If anything, the spicy malts in this red IPA create a beautiful interplay with the bigness of the hops.
If you’re going to call a beer an IPA it better have a significant hop presence. I can gladly report that Dexter “Rippa” IPA brings the citrusy hop flavor with its Columbus and Centennial hops. And the best part is that this beer is now available in burly 32 ounce cans. 32 ounces! Take that, 16 ounce tallboys.
In addition to the regular beers on draft, I also tried two of their “big beers.” Steganos, a New England imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, is a hulking beast at 12 percent with huge bourbon flavor. And Cryptos is a diabolical imperial IPA that speaks my language at 100 IBUs (international bittering units) and 11.2 percent ABV.
These artisan small-batch beers are made with the careful touch of a skilled brewing team and are a signpost of a good brewery. Limited edition wax-sealed bottles of Steganos are available at the brewery.
Boothbay Craft Brewery is a must-visit this summer as you traipse around the midcoast. Try the flagship beers, the big beers, and don’t forget to pick up some 32 ounce cans. Cheers!
301 Adams Pond Rd, Boothbay | 207-633-3411 | www.boothbaycraftbrewery.com