Drink Your Way Up The Coast of Maine - A 6 Day Itinerary
Did you know that New England has 5 seasons? Besides spring, summer, fall and winter, we in New England sport a fifth term – mud season! Given the winter of 2016, we think that Mud Season in Maine might arrive a bit early this year. You’d think that Mud Season might be the most unattractive time of year to explore the Maine Coast. Yet that is only true, friends, if you don’t have a sense of adventure and a thirst for the unconventional. And speaking of thirst, we at Inns Along the Coast, bring to you the first-ever Inn to Inn Drink Your Way Up or Down The Coast itinerary!
Whether it’s Mud season or any of the other four seasons, combining an inn-to-inn itinerary offered by the Inns Along the Coast, with a self-guided tour of the best watering holes in Bar Harbor,Rockland and the Kennebunks makes for a spirituous adventure which simply must be shared with your best adventurous friend(s). Add in some fabulous restaurants along the way, a beerfest or two and of course fabulous accommodations topped off with a sumptuous breakfast. Who cares about mud when there are interesting microbreweries, wineries and beer festivals to visit?
The beer & wine scene in Bar Harbor
Start in Bar Harbor with a reservation at 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 and increased their capacity to seven-barrel batches. 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. Atlantic Brewing beers run the flavor gamut from light and fruity to dark and rich. By varying amounts of the same four ingredients – water, yeast, malted barley and hops –their beers are unique and independent. Closed through March for renovation, 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 also several blueberry and apple wines from Maine fruit. This is a beautiful hilltop winery is located in a Civil-War era home. Try the Riesling or Dry Blueberry, you’ll be happy you did.
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 all of 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.
Beer & Wine tasting in Rockland
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 seized the chance to bring great pub fare and craft beer to this ever-growing food-centered city. Two years later, Rock Harbor Brewing Company was born and it is still Rockland’s only microbrewery and brew pub. Demand is high, but visit the restaurant and you’ll find between five and ten of Rock Harbor options on tap at all times. 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 a number of 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.
Heading down the coast from Bar Harbor, the first stop for wine drinkers might be Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, Maine. Located on a scenic 68-acre, 200-year-old farm that has had only a handful of owners since its fields were first plowed, Cellardoor has turned into quite a complex. Owner, Betina Doulton has restored the beautiful 1790s barn and old farmhouse and recently constructed a state-of-the-art winery across the road. Open nine months of the year (re-opening in April through Christmas) stop in for a tasting, browse the extensive gift shop, enjoy a glass of wine and a local cheese plate, and in the warmer months, relax on the back deck and drink in the views. More than 20 varieties of wine are created and complimentary tastings are offered at both the Lincolnville location and the Villa Tasting Room in Rockport. Winery tours are free and offered throughout the summer and fall months. Throughout the year, guests are invited to take part in specially scheduled intimate tastings and cooking classes, dinners amongst the vines, and larger themed events with entertainment.
In Union, Maine, Sweetgrass Farm Winery and Distillery offers wonderful chances to shop and taste at their own store from Mother’s Day 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 in Portland, Maine’s Old Port too (324 Fore Street).
Not far from Sweetgrass and also in Union, Maine, Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery is found on a picturesque 95 acre diversified farm dating back to the 1790s. Supporting production the vineyard offers ten varieties of cold hardy, hybrid grapes as well as 15 acres of wild blueberries along withnaturally raised Belted Galloway beef cattle, pork and poultry. Today, the award winning winery produces fifteen wines from grapes and wild blueberries, grown right on the farm. The tasting room and store are open from Mid-May through October, then again on weekends during the holiday season. A number of food and wine related events are scheduled throughout the year including a Summer Concert Series. 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 and tastings are $7.00 per person (tasting included with the tour) and must be arranged in advance.
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 Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 -5 until October. The winery is open for tours on Saturday at 1:00 pm.
Beers and Fermentatories in Portland & The Kennebunks
After your stop in Rockland, head onward to the Kennebunks where luxury accommodations await at the Captain Jeffferds 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 created by the Kennebunkport Brewing Co (KBC). 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.
Portland, Maine, one of the best food & drink towns known for its culinary finesse, is just 20 minutes from Kennebunkport. If you’re on the Maine Coast on March 19th, and you feel particularly thirsty or hairy, consider heading to Portland and the Bearded Brewfest, 2016. Enjoy unlimited tastings from some of the world's best craft breweries, while browsing interesting beard-related vendors. How’s that for a combination? The CanAm Beard and Moustache Competition will also be taking place at The Bearded Brewfest while 32 Maine brewers and 30 beard-related vendors will be on hand. It’s all for a good cause. Proceeds of the 2016 Bearded Brewfest will benefit TIL DUTY IS DONE - a Veteren support non-profit aimed at reducing veteran homelessness, unemployment, and assisting with successful reintegration.
If you’re not in town for the singularly unique Bearded Brewfest, you can always stop by theShipyard Brewing Company or Gritty McDuffs for some some not-so-secret brews coming from the great state of Maine along with free brewery tours.
Nearby, Cold River’s Distillery offers a tasting room and tours located nearby in Freeport Maine 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.
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. It begins by brewing a batch of fair trade organic green and black tea. The brew is cooled and then blended with liquid from a previous kombucha batch, introducing UFF’s tea to the yeasts and bacteria native to their Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria & Yeast, or SCOBY. U.F.F. also makes farmhouse style cider following in the footsteps left by farmers from the pre-prohibition era. Dependent on their autumnal yields, farmers would press their apples in the fall and allow them to ferment in barrels during the cold months, relying on wild yeasts to ferment their cider until it was tart and crisp. U.F.F. makes it their mission to further that farmer tradition, standing behind the belief that hard cider tastes best when dry, not sickly sweet. 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.
There you have it. It will take six days to complete your “Drink Your Way Up or Down the Coast” tour. Take advantage of the Inns Along the Coast’s 6-day package, with two-nights accommodations in each location and special offers along the way.
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
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,
Portland & Kennebunkport
Federal Jack’s: 8 Western Ave, Kennebunk, ME 04043, (207) 967-4322, www.federaljacks.com
Bearded Brewfest: March 19th, Sullivan Complex - University of Southern Maine 66 Falmouth Street, Portland, ME 04102. Tickets $20-$55. Info: Click here.
Urban Farm Fermentory: 200 Anderson Street, Portland, ME, (207) 773-8331,http://fermentory.com/.
Shipyard Brewery: 86 Newbury Street, Portland, ME 04101, 1-800-BREW ALE,https://shipyard.com.
Cold River Vodka: 437 US-1, Freeport, ME 04032, (207)865-4828, www.coldrivervodka.com/