The interior of Three Tides Restaurant and Bar. Dave Patterson photo
Love a good flight. Dave Patterson photo
Outside Three Tides. Dave Patterson photo
When the weather's good, drink here. Dave Patterson photo
Dave Patterson photo
Nosce te ipsum. Know thyself. It’s a fundamental concept of Western philosophical thought. Yet, in the beer world, some breweries don’t embrace this dictum. Said breweries offer all styles of beer to consumers in an attempt to please everyone. In the process, however, they never achieve a fully-realized identity.
The Maine breweries I love and respect the most are the ones who are unapologetically who they are.
On the midcoast, Marshall Wharf Brewing Company has been unceasingly living out their mission of crafting big beers with funky ingredients since 2007.
If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road ale from Marshall Wharf, you can get bent. This Belfast-based brewery brazenly brews beer with high alcohol content and eccentric ingredients.
Last winter I highlighted their Pemaquid Oyster Stout, a salty, chocolatey stout brewed with ten dozen live Pemaquid oysters in every batch. Yeah, live oysters.
And you may have tried Sea Belt Scotch Ale, an NPR lauded beer brewed with Maine sugar kelp. It weighs in at 8 percent alcohol by volume, an alcohol level par for the course for Marshall Wharf.
Or perhaps you’ve swilled cans of Cant Dog IPA. This IPA clocks in at 10 percent alcohol by volume and is a malt/hop assault. I’ve argued that the slogan for Cant Dog should be: Cant Dog, have too many and you can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t think.
Marshall Wharf garners respect, in part, because they know exactly who they are and they don’t stray from that vision. Oh yeah, and their innovative beers are delicious.
Recently, in my summer mission to highlight Maine’s coastal breweries, I drove to Belfast for fresh pours of Marshall Wharf’s big experimental brews at the brewery’s adjoining restaurant and bar, Three Tides.
The atmosphere inside the bar/restaurant straddles that fine line between coastal chic and Maine dive bar. At my booth, I concoct my game plan of brews to sample from the list of seventeen Marshall Wharf beers on tap. Here are the highlights.
Let’s start with a beer that embodies Marshall Wharf’s mission: Deep Purple Rauchbier. The beer menu asserts that this smoked beer is ‘bacon in a glass.’ I breathe in its smoky aroma and take a gulp. I’ll be damned. This beer does finish with a smoked bacon flavor.
Next up is the Wrecking Ball Baltic Porter. This menacing dark beer is made with molasses and certainly is a wrecking ball at 9 percent alcohol by volume. Whereas most breweries would call this beer a double porter or an imperial porter, in the Marshall Wharf vortex, it’s simply a porter.
Also notable from my flight is the Big Twitch IPA. They call this beer their “lighter” IPA, but at 9 percent alcohol by volume, with big hops and malts, this is still a monster of an IPA.
When you drink any of Marshall Wharf’s big beers, be ready for a hefty malt profile as a result of the high alcohol content.
On this June day, it’s cold and dreary, so I’m not able to fully enjoy the spacious and beautiful outdoor biergarten behind Three Tides. Let me tell you, I could spend many a summer night drinking pints of Big Twitch IPA at this Oceanside biergarten.
It’s refreshing to drink beer from a brewery so in touch with who they are. Before the summer is over, make the trip to Belfast and bask in the big beers and coastal setting of Marshall Wharf Brewing Company.
WHERE: 2 Pinchy Lane, Belfast
TASTING ROOM HOURS: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
BAR HOURS: 4 p.m to close Tuesday through Sunday
ON DRAFT: 17 big beers with experimental ingredients
MORE INFO: marshallwharf.com and www.3tides.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Rails, Ales and Tails: The Midcoast Craft Beer Festival
Boothbay Railway Village, 586 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay
12 to 4 p.m. Saturday, $30 per ticket | railwayvillage.org
Itching to try some of the Midcoast breweries I’ve been covering this summer? Here’s your chance to hit up the breweries all in one place while you enjoy steam engine train rides and ogle vintage cars. This brewfest will feature beer from Boothbay Craft Brewery, Oxbow Brewery, Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company, Liberty Craft Brewing, and a number of other Maine breweries. Boothbay Craft Brewery will be demonstrating brewing techniques throughout the afternoon. This is a family-friendly brewfest set in the unique Boothbay Railway Village.
Marshall Wharf Brewing Company Canning On Hold
So you just read about the bold, inventive beers of Marshall Wharf, and you want to find cans of their beer at your local beverage store. Unfortunately, for the near future, this will not be possible. The seaside building that houses the brewing facility suffered an architectural blow this winter with the backside of the brewery sinking six inches into the ocean. This is the section of the brewery that houses Marshall Wharf’s canning line, causing their canning production to come to a halt. There are plans to remedy this issue; however, since the building is close to the water, permitting slows the process. Rest assured that beer production has not been affected. For now, head to Three Tides to drink their beer, or look for Marshall Wharf brews on tap at your local watering hole. And stay tuned for updates on their canning production.