Fit snug into the mouth of the access road to Sunday River ski resort, Sunday River Brewing Company has had many faces over the past decade and a half I’ve been visiting the Bethel brewpub.
Stopping in at Sunday River Brewing Company filled me with questions. Is the beer I’m drinking brewed in house? Are they owned by Stone Coast Brewing Company? Is the 420 IPA their beer or is it a Stone Coast beer?
For many Sunday River ski resort season pass holders, myself included, Sunday River Brewing Company’s identity seemed to be a thing in flux.
In the past couple of years, however, that identity has slowly solidified. And with a more sturdy sense of self, the beer has become consistent and downright delicious.
So why the many faces over the years?
Sunday River Brewing Company was founded in 1992. That’s two years before Shipyard opened and only six years after Geary’s became Maine’s first post-Prohibition brewery in 1986. The brewing world has changed tremendously since 1992, so it makes sense that Sunday River Brewing Company would evolve as well.
A couple years after opening the brewpub, Grant Wilson, one of the owners, founded Stone Coast Brewing in Portland. At this point, the taps at the Route 2 brewpub were filled largely by beers brewed by Stone Coast.
In 2008, Stone Coast Brewing Company folded, and Sunday River Brewing was again its own entity, needing to brew all the beer in house to fill their taps. Eight years later, Sunday River Brewing Company has hit its stride in terms of a clear identity and solid craft beer.
A sign that their feet are planted firmly on the ground is the new arrival of 32-ounce cans in stores around the state. These fat boys – if 16-ounce cans are ‘tall boys,’ I’m dubbing 32-ounce cans ‘fat boys’ – feature four of Sunday River’s signature beers: Long Haul Lager, Black Bear Porter, Jamaican Stout and Mountain Momma IPA.
Long Haul Lager has the crisp graham cracker aroma and flavors indicative of a well-crafted lager. This refreshing light beer is a great way to cap off a day of skiing or boarding down the White Heat run. And at 4 percent alcohol by volume, it won’t wipe you out.
Black Bear Porter is a smooth take on the porter style. There are notes of currants, raisins, and toasted malts. The appearance is a glowing black-brown, not motor oil black like most porters. Black Bear is a great choice on a cold winter day.
Jamaican Stout is a beer you might recall from the Stone Coast days. The 2016 Sunday River Brewing version has burnt malt flavors with a hearty backbone of cocoa and caramel. At 6.7 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a big stout with robust body.
Rounding out their lineup of cans is Mountain Momma IPA. This old school style IPA boasts a balance of citrus fruits and bitter pine flavors. The dry hopping gives Mountain Momma a mouthwatering aroma present as soon as you crack a can.
There’s plenty of winter left, so next time you’re at Sunday River ski resort, stop in to the ski-chic brewpub for an après-ski pint. Or pick up some 32-ounce fat boys at your local beverage store to taste what’s brewing at Sunday River Brewing Company.
WHERE: 29 Sunday River Road, Bethel
WHAT: Release of 32 ounce cans
AVAILABILITY: Purchase at Most Beverage Stores in Southern Maine
THE BEERS: Long Haul Lager (4% ABV), Black Bear Porter (6-percent ABV), Jamaican Stout (6.7-percent ABV) and Mountain Momma IPA (6-percent ABV)
ON DRAFT AT THE BREWPUB: Eight Housed Brewed Beers
MORE INFO: sundayriverbrewingcompany.com
GNEISS BREWING FEBTOBERFEST BREW AND SHOE
12 to 4 p.m., Sunday, 94 Patterson Rd, Limerick. $30. gneissbeer.com/febtoberfest-brew-shoe-2016
If you live in New England, you have to play outside in the winter or you’ll lose your mind. Gneiss Brewing in Limerick has devised a great way for you to embrace the cold month of February with their Febtoberfest Brew and Shoe. Bundle up and grab your snowshoes to romp around on the 8.5 acres of land surrounding the brewery. Following the snowshoe tour, there will be much imbibing of Gneiss’s German-style wheat beers along with German-inspired vittles. The Tectonic Tomahawk Wheat IPA will pair nicely with a crisp February afternoon.
MAST LANDING BREWING COMPANY LAUNCHES INDIEGOGO CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
Yet another Maine brewery looking to open its doors in 2016, Mast Landing Brewing Company has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital to get their brand off the ground. Mast Landing has secured a brewery location in Westbrook, and now they need to raise the funds to start the Herculean task of building the space out, purchasing fermenters, acquiring the permits, and taking care of the endless to-do list of opening a brewery. The Westbrook area is a great place to add a brewery to the Southern Maine area. Check out their long list of perks for donating to the campaign.