Drink your way up and down the Coast of Maine
Looking for the perfect theme for exploring Maine’s Coast? Combine an inn-to-inn itinerary offered by the nine Inns Along the Coast, with a self-guided tour of the best watering holes in from Kennebunkport to Bar Harbor and you’ve got one spirited adventure which simply must be shared with your thirstiest and most adventurous friend(s). Add in some fabulous restaurants along the way, and of course fabulous accommodations topped off with a sumptuous breakfast. You may have to swap off who’s the designated driver, or simply pace yourself as there are plenty of stops along the Drink Your Way Up (or down) the Coast itinerary. And it probably goes without saying, you must be 21 years or older to enjoy tastings in the state of Maine.
We’re going to go North to South on this itinerary. Start in Bar Harbor with a reservation Aysgarth Station B&B or Saltair Inn Waterfront B&B. Your friendly innkeepers are happy to give you directions to start at Atlantic Brewing Company. The Atlantic Brewing Company began as Acadia Brewing in 1990 and had a maximum capacity of just one barrel at a time. However, it didn’t take long for demand for their beers to grow so much that they moved to larger digs. Fast forward and again by 1998, demand outpaced space and they moved again to their current location on the grounds of a 19th century Maine farmstead, that features native vegetation and local stonework. Now fast forward to 2017 and Atlantic Brewing is opening a new Atlantic Brewing site to develop exciting small batch beers only seven barrels at a time. This pilot facility will allow fellow brewers from around the state, country and world to collaborate on unique recipes and formulations in a shared environment. These brews, together with other Atlantic beer, will be offered in tasting room setting. In addition, local artisanal foods which can be enjoyed with the brews. The interior and exterior spaces here in the new Pilot Tasting Project are designed to allow visitors the near seamless flow about the entire project, including a rooftop garden.
The store and brewery are open for limited hours in April and May, then 10:00am – 5:00pm Memorial Day through Columbus Day with tours daily.
Bar Harbor Cellars Winery is located at Sweet Pea Farm in Bar Harbor. For over a generation, Sweet Pea Farm has grown fresh cut flowers and produce for local consumption, then added the vineyard in 2003. Both the farm and the vineyard are part of their stalwart commitment to sustainable agriculture on Mount Desert Island. This craft winery produces and bottles wine from both European and local fruit. The Farm and the winery are open from mid-May through mid-October for tastings and purchasing. And just as all things are related in Maine, Bar Harbor Cellars Winemaker Doug Miccuci, also owns the Atlantic Brewing Co. You might say he’s a beverage-jack-of-all-trades. The reds and white wines are created from both grapes grown in small co-ops in the U.S. and Europe and from some of his own organic grapes, (including newly planted hybrids), and several blueberry and apple wines from Maine fruit.
And if that’s not enough, don’t miss the great Happy Hour from 3:00pm to 6:00pm at the Side Street Café in Bar Harbor, where drinks and apps are $3.00 off or $3.00 total. And beer drinkers won’t want to miss the “Beertails” here - guess what the main ingredient in these cocktails is? Concoctions such as the Atlantic Alexander, made of Atlantic Real Ale, Chocolate milk and Allen’s Coffee Brandy and the Downeast Fashioned with Downeast Cider, Jim Beam, muddled fruit, simple syrup and bitters brings beer-lovers running.
Finally, for a fabulous selection of craft beers from Maine and New England, not to mention delicious nosh to go with it, head over to Blaze, in Bar Harbor to enjoy more than 50 craft beers on tap, along with many more in reserve.
Now get on Route One and start heading south (after a long nap or overnight in Bar Harbor). Your next stop is Camden, Maine and the Hawthorn Inn. Just a few miles from the Hawthorn Inn is Lincolnville, the home of Cellardoor Winery and Vineyard. Cellardoor wines are made in small, handcrafted batches with grapes sourced from premier vineyards across the country and from local Maine blueberries. Since first replanting in 2008, this five-and-a-half-acre vineyard has reached maturity where it is able to produce crop loads that are sustainable for wine production now.
There are plenty of locations to enjoy tastings from Cellardoor Winery. Visit the main winery in Lincolnville located in a beautiful renovated 200-year-old barn where you can enjoy a tasting, browse the gift shop, or relax with glass of wine and a local cheese plate or small snacks available for sale. During the warmer months, relax on our back deck and drink in the views. It’s open Thursday through Sunday, from noon to 5:00pm. In addition, daily complimentary tours of the winery facility are offered July 1 – Columbus Day at 2:00pm. No reservations are needed, but please arrive a couple of minutes before the start of the tour.
In addition, complimentary tastings are offered at the Farmhouse in Lincolnville and the Villa in Rockport every day. Guests are welcome to enjoy a selection of more than 20 offerings and in addition to wine tastings, complimentary food and wine pairings at the Farmhouse (Sundays 12-3PM, Mother’s Day-Columbus Day) and the Villa (Saturdays 2-4PM, Memorial Day-Labor Day). No reservations are needed!
Beer lovers won’t want to miss one of Camden’s newer restaurants. The Drouthy Bear Scottish Pub offers up a fine selection of European beers and 70 single malts and whiskeys from around the world along with Scottish fare.
Moving on down Route One to Rockland, your first stop is to check into one of the three Rockland Inns Along the Coast including Berry Manor Inn, Granite Inn or LimeRock Inn. All walking distance from the Main Street restaurant and pub scene and harbor, you may wish to start your tour at Rock Harbor Brewing Company on Main Street. Rock Harbor opened June 17, 2011 when owner/operator Dan Pease decided to blend great pub fare and craft beer in this ever-growing food-centered city. Rock Harbor Brewing Company is still Rockland’s only microbrewery and brew pub. Catch Monday Trivia, Open Mic, Cribbage tournaments, Live Music and other specials and promotions weekly here. While Rock Harbor does come up with some seasonal and special beers, they are pretty much full capacity just making beer for the restaurant. Stop by and grab a taste, a flight, a pint or take some home with you in a growler.
There are several vineyards in the Midcoast region. You can meander on your own self-guided tour using the Wine Guild map provided by your innkeeper, or simply visit one or two on your own.
Breakwater Vineyards is Maine's newest vineyard and farm winery located in scenic Owls Head, just a few miles from downtown Rockland. The winery is named after the mile-long breakwater that protects the harbor in Rockland, ME. In fact, a portion of the profits from the winery are donated to restoration efforts of the historic lighthouse. At Breakwater Vineyards, you will enjoy wine tasting and beautiful coastal views; with four samples for just $3.00. Believe it or not, you’ll find more than 2500 grapevines growing on this 32-acre farm. The owners are committed to being environmentally conscious in how they grow their grapes and make their wines. Breakwater Vineyards is open Monday through Saturday 12 -5pm, May through October. The winery is open for tours on Saturday at 1:00 pm.
In Union, Maine, located between Rockland and Newcastle, Maine, Sweetgrass Farm Winery and Distillery offers wonderful chances to shop and taste at their own store from May 1 through New Year’s Eve. Sweetgrass Farm Winery and Distillery is reportedly Maine's first farm winery and distillery using over 70,000 lbs. of Maine grown fruit and grain. The distilled spirits are hand crafted in old world tradition with a copper alembic still capturing the full flavors of their signature smooth Back River Gin, Three Crow Rum, and traditional apple brandy. There are hiking trails, a picnic area and of course a tasting room and store to visit. The winery and distillery also operate a year-round tasting room and retail shop in Portland, Maine’s Old Port too (324 Fore Street). Throughout the year Sweetgrass also offers a number of events and concerts. Click here to see if you can time your visit with one of these events. The winery’s After 5 experience is another way to personalize your visit with a private tasting or time with the winemaker. It’s your time to customize. Click here to learn more.
Not far from Sweetgrass and in Union, Maine, Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery is found on a picturesque 95 acre Barrett Hill Farm dating back to the 1790s. Supporting production the vineyard offers ten varieties of cold hardy, hybrid grapes and 15 acres of wild blueberries along with naturally raised Belted Galloway beef cattle, pork and poultry. Today, the winery produces fifteen wines from grapes and wild blueberries, grown right there on the farm. The tasting room and store are open from Mid-May through October, then again on weekends during the holiday season Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A number of food and wine related events are scheduled throughout the year including a Summer Concert Series with names like Graham Nash and Lyle Lovett Offering 15 different wines from dry whites to sweet “Blueberry Pi” dessert wines, this vineyard claims the largest selection of Maine-grown grape wines. Tours are $7.00 per person (tasting included with the tour) and must be arranged in advance.
After your stop in Rockland, head onward to Newcastle, an enclave for interesting breweries and distilleries. Here you’ll stay at the Newcastle Inn, where your “Drink Down the Coast” tour will begin in the tiny pub hosted by Julie, the innkeeper. Venture out for an afternoon of tastings and start your journey at Oxbow Brewing, a fascinating tasting room that’s as local as it gets. Located on a beautiful farm, Oxbow is an American farmhouse brewery specializing in traditional Belgian-style ales with contemporary American influence. Here, they brew small batches of beer in a renovated barn in rural Newcastle, Maine, and the tasting room is located here in the same rustic, casual location. Enjoy tastings of a selection of their seasonal brews Wednesday through Sunday. Time it right, and you just may get in on one of the special dinners or events on the farm.
If you love the farmhouse tasting scene, another option is Split Rock Distilling in Newcastle. Named after the actual giant split plug of granite on Split Rock Road between the two owners’ homes, Split Rock Distillery is another example of a local treasure. When owners Matt and Topher started the distillery, they promised one another they would handcraft their spirits the long way: authentic, small batch and grain to glass. You’ll taste that commitment in their vodkas and whiskeys. The distilling room is open noon to 5:30pm and you may have a chance to enjoy some time with the owners when you stop in for a tasting.
To round out the farmhouse offerings here, no “Drink Your Way Down the Coast” tour is complete without a trip to the Fat Friar’s Meadery. Fat Friar’s is a Maine farm winery that specializes in the creation of Mead. Also, called honey wine, mead is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water or fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash, which is strained after fermentation. Depending on local traditions and specific recipes, it may be flavored with spices, fruit, or hops which produce a bitter, beer-like flavor. Fat Friar’s Meadery produces four varieties of meads ranging from dry to fruity. The meadery is in Newcastle, Maine just off Route 215, approximately one mile from the head of Damariscotta Lake.
Next stop on your “Drink Your Way Down the Coast” tour is Freeport, ME. Here you’ll stay at the Brewster House B&B, an easy stroll from Freeport’s shopping and restaurant scene. Start your beer tasting tour at The Maine Beer Co, right on Route One in Freeport. Dedicated to creating a sustainable company, you’ll recognize the building by the solar panels that flank the roof for maximum sun time. Here they’ve signed the Clean Water Pledge, they deliver their spent grains and organic liquid waste to local farmers for compost, fertilizer and feed. And they reduce their energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels through radiant flooring, LED bulbs and the purchase of e-certified wind credits. They also donate 1-percent of their annual sales directly to one or multiple nonprofits in the 1% for the Planet network. You can feel good about drinking Maine Beer Co. products. And their products are varied too, with names like Mean Old Tom (a nitro stout) a tiny beautiful something (a Pale Ale). Maine Beer Co does not currently offer brewery tours, but stop by the tasting room and get an up-close view of the brewery operations through the huge glass windows. The tasting room features 8 beers on tap, including some brewery-only releases. Snacks from local vendors are available, as well as bottles of Maine Beer Co beer, merchandise and gift certificates. The tasting room is open year-round Monday-Saturday: 11am-8pm and Sunday: 11am-5pm.
Just down Route One less than a mile away, Cold River’s Distillery offers a tasting room and tours too. Made from Maine-grown potatoes, Cold River Vodka’s hand crafted spirits are made in small batches and Cold River’s new gin are triple distilled and hand labeled batch by batch. Cold River makes both vodka and gin using the finest Maine ingredients. Tours are at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30pm, midweek and weekends. Tasting room hours vary depending upon the time of year. The tasting room is open 4-5 days a week in winter and spring and 7 days a week in summer and fall.
Nearby in Portland, Maine – just 20 minutes south from Freeport and 25 minutes North from Kennebunkport - you’ll find one of the best food & drink towns in the country, known for its culinary finesse. One great way to efficiently sample Portland’s brew scene is to take a ride aboard the Maine Brew Bus. Choose from several wonderful themed brew tours with names like Breaking Brews or Thirsty Thursday, and make stops for food and at three breweries along the way. Your brew stops will be chosen for you, but might include tastings at some of these Maine craft beer manufacturers: Liquid Riot, Lone Pine, Gruit, One Eye Open, Rising Tide, Austin Street, Foundation, Geary’s, Battery Steel, Bunker, Fore River, Foulmouthed, Flight Deck, Mast Landing, Island Dog, Good Fire. Tours range in price from $50-$65. The best way to reserve a seat is to reserve online.
Another rising star in the Portland beer scene is Allagash Brewing Company, dedicated to crafting the best Belgian-inspired beers in the world. Best known for their flagship Allagash White, you’ll also find beer in oak barrels (beginning with the launch of Curieux in 2004) and spontaneously fermented beers (beginning with their traditional Coolship in 2007) here. In fact, founder and owner, Rob Tod was recently honored as a James Beard Award nominee in the spirits category. Free tours and tastings are available 7 days a week at multiple times. Book your tour online here. For a much more in-depth experience, book the Grand Cru Experience when over three hours a small group of guests will get to see the brewery from the inside: taking part in brewing and/or blending a beer, going in-depth with quality control and sensory programs, tasting beers directly from the barrels, and getting up-close and personal with the packaging department. Before it’s done, they will have chatted with brewers, tried on some favorite local beers in the Allagash private bar, and, when possible, even had a beer with Allagash founder, Rob Tod. Call (207) 878-5385. This company is also committed to supporting local charities through grants and donations.
The final stop on your “Drink Your Way Down the Coast” tour is Kennebunkport, where luxury accommodations await at the Inn at Captain Jefferds Inn. Once settled, start your beverage expedition at Federal Jack’s in Kennebunk, home to the original Shipyard Brewing Company. This picturesque pub on the waterfront, is well-known for its spectacular views, creative pub fare, and award-winning hand-crafted ales. The restaurant and brewery was built on the site where Kennebunk's historic 19th century shipyards built schooners known throughout the world for their grace and speed. Federal Jack's was named for one of the most famous ships built on this site in 1908 - the Federal Jack. One of Maine's first brew pubs, this popular restaurant is the birthplace of Shipyard Brewing Company's award winning-line of handcrafted ales. In 1992, entrepreneur Fred Forsley and master brewer Alan Pugsley established the Kennebunkport Brewing Company (KBC) and Federal Jack's. Word of these fine ales spread quickly throughout Maine and demand quickly outpaced our size, and, in 1994, the expanded Shipyard Brewing Company was built Portland, Maine.
Of course, Portland’s beer scene is so close, when in Kennebunkport, most head to Portland town for their spirits fix. If you’re looking for something different, in fact it’s so unique the business had to invent a word for the concept, try Urban Farm Fermentory (U.F.F.) in Portland. If you search out the definition for a Fermentory, you’ll find only one instance, and it’s this one in Portland. It’s not a brewery, winery, or distillery because their concoctions and products are lesser-known fermentations: kombucha, wild fermented cider, mead, and quite frankly, we think there are more to come. Utilizing naturally occurring phenomena, such as fermentation, small batches of their products are made in house. U.F.F’s Kombucha is fermented tea where alcohol is a natural result of fermentation. U.F.F. also makes farmhouse style cider following in the footsteps left by farmers from the pre-prohibition era. In the case of U.F.F’s mead they use wild apple yeast that is already made in-house. The simple combination of wild yeast, local honey, water, and time concludes in a mead that begins with the gentle sweetness of honey and finishes as crisp as a ripe apple.
While in Portland, you can always stop by the Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland’s Old Port. Full brewery tours are offered by reservation, and the tasting room and store are open daily. Gritty Macduff’s claims to be Maine’s original brewpub. You can see their microbrew operations and taste their signature Maine beers at any of their three pubs in Portland, Freeport and Auburn, Maine.
There you have it. It will take at least seven days to complete your “Drink Your Way Up or Down the Coast” tour. You may want to take your time because naps at the fabulous Inns Along the Coast will be required in-between tastings!
When you Go:
Atlantic Brewing Company: 15 Knox Road, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609, 207-288-2337, www.AtlanticBrewing.com.
Bar Harbor Cellars Winery at Sweet Pea Farm: 854 State Hwy 3, Bar Harbor, ME, 207-288-3907, http://www.barharborcellars.com/.
Side Street Café: 49 Rodick Street, Bar Harbor, Me, 207-801-2591, http://sidestreetbarharbor.com/.
Blaze Restaurant: 198 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, (207) 801-2755, www.blazebarharbor.com.
Innkeepers: Jane Holland & Steve Cornell
Rockland & Camden
Rock Harbor Brewing Company: 416 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841, 207-593-7488, http://www.rockharbor.me/
Cellardoor Winery: 367 Youngtown Road, Lincolnville, Maine 04849, 207-763-4478, http://mainewine.com. Also, the Villa Tasting Room, 47 West Street, Rockport, ME 04853
Sweetgrass Farm, Winery & Distillery: 347 Carroll Road Union, ME US 04862, 207-785-3024, www. sweetgrasswinery.com.
Savage Oakes Farm, Vineyard & Distillery: 174 Barrett Hill Road Union, ME 04862, 207-785-2828, http://www.savageoakes.com.
Breakwater Vineyards: 35 Ash Point Drive P.O. Box 404 Owls Head, ME US 04854, 207-594-1721, www.breakwatervineyard.com.
Oxbow Brewing: 274 Jones Wood Road, Newcastle, ME, 207-315-5962, www.oxbowbeer.com
Split Rock Distilling Co: 16 Osprey Point Road, Newcastle, ME, 207-563-2669, www.splitrockdistilling.com
The Fat Friar’s Meadery: 39 Meadow Ridge Ln, Newcastle, ME, 207-563-5382, http:/thefatfriarsmeadery.com
Cold River Vodka: 437 US-1, Freeport, ME 04032, 207-865-4828, www.coldrivervodka.com/
Gritty Macduff’s Freeport Brew Pub, 187 Lower Main Street, Freeport, Maine 04032, 207-865-4321, http://grittys.com/pubs/freeport/
Portland & Kennebunkport
Federal Jack’s: 8 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043, 207-967-4322, www.federaljacks.com
Urban Farm Fermentory: 200 Anderson Street, Portland, ME, 207-773-8331, http://fermentory.com/.
Maine Brew Bus: 79 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101, 207-200-9111, https://themainebrewbus.com/.
Allagash Brewing Company: 50 Industrial Way, Portland, ME 04103, 207-878-5385, www.allagash.com.
Shipyard Brewery: 86 Newbury Street, Portland, ME 04101, 1-800-BREW ALE, https://shipyard.com.