Time for a beer focused blog entry!
Fall is an awesome time for visiting and living in Maine (USA). The weather is usually terrific, the leaves are changing, there are plenty of things to go see, and the brewers are especially active.
First off - Maine has over 30 locations that make and ell locally brewed beers. To help you visit them all, there is a Maine Beer Trail guide, which lists and maps out the locations. I picked up a checklist about 2 years ago, and my wife and I have had fun checking off locations as we travel around the state. You can find the NEW checklist at nearly any brew pub here.
Today we checked off two locations....
Our first stop was a location on the old list that is no apparently on the updated list - the Inn at Peaks Island. The location is on an Island accessible via the Casco Bay Ferry system - the location is an old Inn and restaurant on Peaks Island about 400 feet uphill from the dock. We drove to Portland and brought our bikes. We rode down to the terminal, and after a short wait go on the boat for the island. The ride to the island was good fun, and we met some people on the boat visiting Maine for the first time from Sacramento, California. On arrival at the island, we rode our bikes on a trip to see the 5th Maine Regiment civil war museum, then the old WWII Fort (Battery Steel), and it was a lot of fun to ride around on shore road and off on the inland trails and gravel paths. Eventually we ended up at the Inn, and got seated.
The Inn is preparing to close for the Winter season, so some menu items are now limited. It also ends up they had NO BEER BREWED ONSITE!!!! That was a surprise. They certainly knew about the beer trail (each venue signs your sheet), and apparently were a venue featuring Shipyard Brewing products. My Wife had a Carrabaset Ale, salad, and Lobster Bisque. I had a Chamberlain Ale, Clam Chowder, and a blackened haddock sandwich with slaw. The food was good, beer, good, but we were expecting a Inn-specific beer. The waiter was confused as to whether they still brewed there or not.
We decided to hit another location on the list - we knew that there were a handful of breweries - not brew pubs - on the list, and decided to find where they were! According to our guide, the breweries did not have Saturday tours or tastings. Apparently the guide books were out of date on that information! When we found the Allagash Brewery, the parking lot was fairly full!
The Allagash Brewery is a state-of-the-art brewery, and they ship beer all over the US, in kegs and bottles. We strolled into the Brewery tasting room and was amazed to see a fairly large crowd, with every person in the room enjoying a flight of beer samplers. In the back behind the taps was a glassed wall behind which you could see the brewing operations. We strolled up to the bar and after a short discussion with a guy behind the bar, he brought us two flights of beer.
Today they were offering tastings of Allagash White, House Beer, Curieux, and Hugh Malone. When I told the bartender some white beers make me sneeze, he brought me a taste of a different ale, and then he later brought me a sour ale to taste. So yeah, we tried 6 different beers. Hugh Malone was by far our favorite. It is made with local Maine Barley....mmmm good!
After what amounted to more than a pint of free beer, we made some purchases and headed home....happy, and in possession of an updated beer tail checklist.
That was our 11th place on the beer trail.
We are sending in our checklist to the Maine Brewers Guild - in return they will send us some free swag...and then starting over on the new list! We already have plans to hit three or so of the Portland area locations later this month.
All for now, happy gaming and happy beer-splorations!