In the summer of 2012, Maine lobster prices plummeted but the Maine craft beer scene clearly started hitting its peak. Craft breweries and beer bars seem to be everywhere in Vacationland.
The Maine Brewer’s Guild is promoting the Maine Beer Trail and there are twenty-five stops along the trail. Visitors are encouraged to visit various breweries and rewards are offered based on how many stops are officially recorded.
When Pigs Fly Wood-Fired Pizzeria/Ale House is located just north of the outlets on Rt. 1 and has an impressive draft list with twenty offerings from all over the map. Recent choices included Founders Dirty Bastard and Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale. They offer half pours to allow for numerous samples. The wood-burning oven cranks out innovative and delicious pizzas including grilled pineapple, chopped jalapeño and house-cured capicola version.
Maine Foodie Tours is offering a new bike and brew tour of Portland in conjunction with a local cycling company. Bikers are led on a 12-mile historical tour of the coastal Portland and Cape Elizabeth area including visits to five separate lighthouses. The scenery is breathtaking on a clear and sunny day.
Once the biking is finished, a van shuttles visitors around town visiting three different breweries. First up is Rising Tide Brewing Company, an artisanal brewery run by Nathan and Heather Sanborn. Rising Tide started in 2010 and recently moved into a larger facility. Daymark is their version of American Pale Ale with locally grown
organic rye malt. Shipyard Brewing Co. is the next destination on the tour. Shipyard is Maine’s largest microbrewery and focuses on producing English style ales. They offer a 10-minute video tour followed by tastings of current draft offerings. Last stop is Gritty McDuff’s and it is known for being Maine’s first brewpub since Prohibition. Gritty’s brews in a modest space and has eight offerings on draft.
Any beer connoisseur should plan to visit Novare Res Bier Café in Portland’s Old Port District. This place is a destination for a reason. Everything about Novare is impressive including their twenty-five rotating taps and 500 plus bottle list. Try and find a better place to be than on their outdoor patio on a crisp evening, enjoying amazing craft beers from all over the world! Recent drafts included Allagash Prince Tuesday, De Struise Elliot Brew, and Unibroue Ephemere Pomme.
Allagash Brewery is about a twenty minute drive from the Old Port area. The tour starts with four samples in the tasting room. Visitors are then led through the brewing area, bottling process and finally into the vault like aging area. Massive wooden Jim Beam barrels piled high with Curieux and other rarities are a sight to see. The bourbon smell permeates the room and is a true highlight of the entire experience.
Just down the road from Allagash is Maine Beer Company. Daniel and David Kleban are the brains behind this operation and have been gaining high praise for their quality offerings. They currently are producing five beers, however their most sought after is named Lunch. Lunch is described as an “East Coast” version of a West Coast style IPA. Lunch certainly lives up to its online hype; it is fantastic and very balanced. Tours and tastings are on Friday’s at 2 PM.
No visit to Maine would be complete without sampling a few lobster rolls. There are many spots to enjoy these delicacies in the Portland area. Without a doubt, the clear-cut winner is the classic lobster roll from Bite Into Maine, a food truck that parks high atop a hill in Fort Williams Park, overlooking the coast. Be patient while your lobster roll is being freshly prepared, it is well worth the wait.