Because who wants to sit in a warehouse in the winter?
The Danes call it hygge. To Norwegians, it’s koselig. In America, we call it coziness and togetherness. It’s a state of mind we crave in the winter when we burrow into spaces with plenty of blankets, soft light, fleece socks, a fireplace and, for me, a malty, full-bodied beer.
Most new breweries in Maine create an expansive industrial-chic vibe in their tasting rooms. Think warehouse over cozy Hobbit hole. I’m a fan of industrial spaces when I drink beer, but midwinter, when I’m trying to achieve peak hygge, I seek out cozy spaces with soft lighting and – if possible – fireplaces.
These tasting rooms are sure to aid in your journey towards fully embracing the cozy comforts of winter.
FORE RIVER BREWING CO.
45 Huntress Ave., South Portland, foreriverbrewing.com
The tasting room at Fore River Brewing Co. boasts striking wood beams, handcrafted wooden tasting room tables and a well-stoked woodstove all winter. On a recent visit, after the tasting room attendant poured me a glass of the John Henry Milk Stout, she proceeded to add three logs into the woodstove and stoke it with a few hard breaths. The flames rose, and she went back to serve another customer. Hygge achieved. In addition to the woodstove and warm ambience of the tasting room, John Henry is coziness in a glass. The milk stout has a creamy mouthfeel and the right interplay of sweet and smoky flavors from the dark malts. This is a great place to hibernate for a few hours on a Saturday in winter.
BARRELED SOULS BREWING CO.
743 Portland Road, Saco, barreledsouls.com
Barreled Souls’ tasting room has the cozy feel of a bear den in January. The space features a wall of oak barrels filled with fermenting beer, two shuffleboard tables, seating fashioned from repurposed bourbon barrels, concrete flooring covered with a dark area rug and a faux fireplace blazing in the corner. This space screams cozy. The lighting is so mellow that, on a recent visit, it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust. But adjust they did, allowing me to read the list of the dozen beers on draft. The Paper Planes double IPA weighs in at 9.2-percent alcohol and has the warm maltiness and alcohol backbone to make your gut sigh, koselig. The MCAM porter is made with cinnamon, coffee and bacon (yup, bacon); it’s a great companion on a cold winter’s day.
BOOTHBAY CRAFT BREWERY
301 Adams Pond Road, Boothbay, boothbaycraftbrewery.com
You may not think of heading up to Maine’s midcoast in the winter, but you should. Attached to Boothbay Craft Brewery, Watershed Tavern acts as the brewery’s tasting room. Built by co-owner and head brewer Win Mitchell, the tavern was constructed from local lumber milled by Mitchell himself. The exposed wood beams, low lighting, intimate bar area, menu filled with comfort food and roaring fireplace make this the perfect destination for a pint on a snowy day. I highly recommend the Dexter “Rippa” Red IPA with its big malt underbelly and palatable citrus hop aroma. And if you’re lucky enough to find it on the menu, Steganos, an opulent stout aged in bourbon barrels for four months, is a fleece blanket for the soul. Belly up to the bar with a friend, order a malty brew and play cribbage or Cards Against Humanity as the fireplace sings on.