Rejoice! Spring has sprung, and you can finally escape your winter hideout and go forth into the real world. There are many new and exciting breweries to visit that have recently opened across the state, so you have more reasons than ever to leave the house and try something brand new.
Starting in the south, Biddeford has recently added a new brewery to its cluster. Nuts & Bolts Brewery is located in Building 10 of the Pepperell Mill Campus, situated between the buildings housing Dirigo Brewing Co. and Banded Brewing (which has recently rebranded from Banded Horn Brewing for simplicity). I found it somewhat difficult to find using GPS, but there are some signs that the brewery has placed near the roadside that point you in the right direction.
This brand-new, one-barrel brewery has been open on and off for a few weeks, so be sure to check its social media accounts for beer availability and hours. I recently visited the small space and loved the industrial-themed décor on the walls, as well as the creative beer selections. I enjoyed the Thai Spiced Saison, with its bouquet of interesting flavors on top of a subtle farmhouse beer. However, Strawberry Basil Fields Forever hit just the right spot. I found it to be a bright and well-balanced beer that was delightfully full of strawberry and basil flavor. Unfortunately, this particular batch kicked a few hours later. The brewery aims to experiment with unconventional beers, so it is definitely worth finding the place to see what it has have going on as it gets into a groove.
While Nuts & Bolts briefly held the title of “Maine’s newest brewery” at the end of April, the reign was short-lived (as it often is in the fast-changing beer world). Last week, Odd Alewives Farm Brewery announced it had opening a tasting room in Waldoboro with four beers on tap last week, with a grand opening planned for the first week of June. The 10-barrel brewery will fill in a conspicuous hole, geographically-speaking, between Oxbow Brewing Co. in Newcastle and Rock Harbor Brewing in Rockland. As opposed to the breweries that have been opening in redeveloped industrial areas, Odd Alewives is located on a real farm. In a Facebook post announcing its opening, the owners advised that “mud boots are the appropriate footwear” and to think “farm fashion” when panning a visit.
Another good reason for a mini road trip are the breweries that opened over the winter that you may not have had a chance to sample just yet. As the weather improves, many are rolling out picnic tables and other outdoor spaces. Grateful Grain Brewing Co. in Monmouth has a friendly but small tasting room in an old barn, but has blocked off an area just as large as (if not larger) for an outdoor beer garden. Sadly, it was too rainy to bring my samples outside last weekend, but listening to people at the bar compare exactly where they live in Monmouth and how long they (or their close families) had lived there was fun nonetheless.
Grateful Grain has a solid lineup of beer, including a hazy, New England-style IPA named The Experience which could easily hold its own with some Portland-based versions. For fans of more malt-forward beer, the Jacobs Ladder Amber is a perfect pint. It has all the sweetness of the malt bill, balanced by a slight bitterness, and is probably the best local amber I’ve had in some time.
We are far from the end of the parade of breweries set to open in 2018, however. Definitive Brewing Co. will open some time in late spring, becoming the sixth brewery on Industrial Way. Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. in Yarmouth just received a huge delivery of brewing equipment and has begun the process of hiring for the tasting room. The Pour Farm, a small brewery with a tasting room being built into a beautiful new barn in Union, is nearly ready as well.
With projects in the works in Bethel, Westport Island, Rockland, Freeport, Pittsfield and Vassalboro, it is becoming more and more likely you will not have to venture far to find some new beer to try this spring and summer.