It took a little looking around to find Island Dog Brewing, tucked away as it is on the backside of a business park building at 125 John Roberts Rd. near the Maine Mall in South Portland, but it was so worth the effort. Thanks to the nice people at Otto’s Pizza, clearly visible from the street, who happily sent me around back to Island Dog Brewing, with a menu in hand (they deliver to the brewery, yum!).
Light and airy inside the tap room, a crowd of beer people were seated around the tables enjoying a game of trivial pursuit. I settled in at the bar right in front of co-owner Tim Francis. Damn, I get one of the top dogs right out of the gate, I say, and we get right to the important business of talking beer.
The menu over the bar lists 11 brews on tap, a little something for everyone. A flight is surely in order, but Tim suggests the “Super 8,” and I wholeheartedly agree. Eight picks off the top two tiers of the menu. It was gonna be a pretty fine and quite lazy afternoon (it was Sunday afternoon, I was staying nearby and was on foot, so I had nowhere to go and all day to get there).
My favorite of Flight #1 was the Apriweizen. Not always a fan of fruity beers, this one surely hit the mark and nicely suited the palate. It’s made with apricots, of course, Blue Ox grains and Hop Yard hops. The Kaisertown Kolsch, a German-style brew that’s light in color with a slightly dry, crisp finish, was a close second.
The best in my book of Flight #2 was the Silverhound, a pale ale made with Sterling hops from Hop Yard and Blue Ox malts. Second by a nose was the Clear Cut IPA. Big on the hops, it’s made with Warrior, Citra and Ella hops.
All oh so good, and a good way to dawdle away a couple pleasurable hours.
Island Dog Brewing was started by Jim and his wife Jody in 2016. Jim was pretty busy around the place, so I didn’t grab his last name (I’ll be back again for another fact finding visit – code for more good brews – sometime soon). Not too long after, Tim and his wife Melanie joined the business as partners. Together these great folks are hard at work producing a lineup of refreshing Belgian and German inspired ales, herb and spice ales, and seasonal ales, served in a comfortable and friendly neighborhood pub atmosphere. Can’t go wrong there!
There’s no food at Island Dog Brewing, yet anyway. They’re focused on good beer for now, and happy to let Otto’s Pizza right around the corner do the heavy lifting on good chow (remember: they deliver to then tap room).
Now, normally I try to hike first and then head for brews. Not this time. Ahh well. So, with a big smile and a belly full of good beer, I grabbed my daypack and sauntered out the door and 0.3 miles up the road to the Clark’s Pond Trail, marked by a low sign on the right. I ducked into the woods and soon turned right, following white blazes. Skirting a ravine down to the left, the pleasant footpath through the thick maple woods soon reached the junction with Red Brook Trail.
Beyond an opening of rubbly rock, which looked like an old railbed of sorts, the trail came close to I-295 and then veered away again. The Maine Mall is an incredibly congested and built-up area, but this little gem of a trail takes you through a wild stretch of woods, defying your proximity to the surrounding hubbub.
Clark’s Pond Trail, a wonderful project of the South Portland Land Trust, soon reaches Long Creek, which continues to widen as you continue along its length. Several spurs lead to the edge of the creek, worth some extra exploring for sure. The trail bends around several ravines to arrive at a granite bench above the creek, a real nice spot for sitting for a spell.
Steps and a footbridge lead through another ravine. After a section along a high bank above the creek, the path crosses a wet area. Once more above the creek, the wide path meanders down steps again, over a footbridge across a little stream, then climbs log steps out.
At a chain-link fence line on the right, Clark’s Pond Trail becomes a paved walk. The trail ends at super busy Westbrook St. adjacent to the I-295 ramp. Be sure to walk out along Westbrook St. to get a full-on view of Clarks Pond, which is held back by a concrete dam. Despite all the noise and chaos, the place is popular with wildlife. Ducks were on the pond on my visit.
Retrace your steps back to John Roberts Rd. and Island Dog Brewing for a nice, easy hike of 2.6 miles. An hour and half show do the trick. Enjoy!
Carey Kish is working diligently this summer on a new book entitled “Trails & Ales: A Hiking and Walking Guide to Maine’s Microbreweries and Brewpubs.”