This is a continuation of the “Maine Craft Beer Road Trip” series which post every other week on Fridays.
Warning: Some of these trips involve a significant amount of driving in-between locations. Because drinking and driving is never a good idea, I strongly recommend that you bring a designated driver with you to ensure that you are enjoying this adventure safely.
Total Stops: 4 – Roundtrip mileage to Portland: 224 miles
The summer is the perfect time for this journey. Beautiful coastal views and cute little towns. You might have to watch out for a little slow traffic around Route 1 in spots, but take it all in as part of the adventure. This trip is longer than the previous ones, and obviously you can always remove stops if you want to shorten it up.
Brewery hours: Monday – Saturday 8am – 5pm, Watershed Pub hours: Monday – Saturday 11:30-9pm
If you want the true brewpub experience in Maine, this is a great example of one. The Watershed Pub pours all of the Boothbay Craft Brewery beers, and serves an array of food from munchies (cheese plate and charcuterie, Belgian frites, mussels) to full blown meals and even fresh flatbread pizzas. The beer lineup is a solid one, with my favorite (of the ones I tried) being the Rippah Red Ale. They also occasionally experiment with bourbon barrel beers and one-offs, I got to try a barrel aged version of the Rippah as well and it was very tasty. Tucked just off the main road on the way down to Boothbay.
Tips, tricks & notes: Sit a the bar. Talk to people from the neighborhood and from away- it adds to the experience.
Hours: Open seven days a week, 12:00 pm – 11:30 pm
Where did Bull Jagger’s brewing equipment go when they closed last year? It got shipped up to Rockland, and is now being used in the Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery. The pub is larger than I expected, with a dining room and a bar seating area – the copper vessels are behind glass and can be seen from the street. We stopped by on a lazy Sunday, when there wasn’t too much activity at the bar, and it took a little while to get our beer, but we didn’t mind as we people watched out the windows.
Tips, Tricks & Notes: The wheat beer – Breakwater Wheat – was my hands-down favorite, and I’d go back again just to have it again. The fried pickles are also awesome and hit the spot after the bit of a drive to get there.
Tasting room hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 11AM-4PM, 3 Tides Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 4pm – Close
I’m not even going to try and deny it, this was my favorite stop. It’s not often I have a reason to go out to Marshall Wharf Brewing Company, and it’s even rarer that I get a chance to try all of their beers. The drive to Belfast is beautiful, and it’s a town that’s worth a whole day just to check out. There’s this great little cheese shop called “Eat More Cheese” …but I digress. The thing about Marshall Wharf is that they have a great breadth of beer styles – everything from rich stouts to the light and crisp Umlaut Kölsh, to the odd and interesting like Illegal Ale-ien brewed with agave nectar as the fermentable sugar.
Tips, Tricks & Notes: My strategy for visiting Marshall Wharf was to go into the tasting room and get samplers of each beer, then head upstairs to the Three Tides Restaurant and order food with my favorite. I ended up ordering a pint of the Umlaut with some oysters and it was perfect – the outside deck allowed the sea breeze to blow through.
From the seaside to the farm – Oxbow Brewing Company has a fantastic bit of property in Newcastle, ME. Their rustic and ecclectic space is almost always filled with people with clearly interesting personalities – and it’s just as much of a space to chill as it is one to pick up a growler fill or have a taste. The road up there is winding and scenic, and is best undertaken with care. Their farmhouse style beers range from delicate, like the Grizacca, to the bolder and hoppier side. Their Farmhouse Pale Ale is a classically executed saison that stands out in Maine beer – and their Freestyle series is always fun to dive into.
Tips, Tricks & Notes: Always try the latest in the “Freestyle” series. Simply numbered, these are usually only brewed once, and can range in style, but are always interesting to check out.
Any one of these destinations could make for an all day trip – so I would encourage you to build in some time to visit the surrounding areas of Rockland, Belfast, Boothbay and Newcastle/Damariscotta. Now is the time to get out of the city for one of these mini adventures – and see the beauty of Maine on your way to the delicious beer that it has to offer. Cheers!