The Maine Event

800 Miles and a Mule.   Whose mule?  Well, neither really, just a fantastic road trip in the Northeast to one of the freshest, most concentrated beer scenes in the country ATM.

The roadtrip from NJ to ME is ripe with interesting beercation detours and landscapes.  Although we missed some great stops, we made the most of a few trips and consolidated the route from Connecticut to Maine to include the breweries noted.

Maine Beer Trip Map


 

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Two Roads Brewing:

Located in Stratford, CT, just east of Bridgeport, immediately off Exit 31 on I-95.  Worth a stop.  Good beer, large facility in a re-purposed warehouse building.  Interesting business plan.  Built to be the “Cadillac” of contract-brewing by the founder (a former Pabst CMO), this $20+ million facility generates approximately 75% of their business contract-brewing.  Lawson’s Finest, Evil Twin, Stillwater, Peak Organic and others use this state-of-the-art facility for some of their contract brewing arrangements.  Two Roads has increased the percentage of beer they brew for their own label, and is finding its way into bars and bottle shops in the Northeast. The tasting room is large and attractive, and food is available from on outdoor food truck.  A quote from Robert Frost’s poem is printed on the wall of the tasting room:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

New England Brewing Co:

New England Brewing’s brightly colored cans are available in the area, and distribution is increasing.  Their flagship beer, originally known as Gandhi-Bot, has been renamed G-Bot after a lawsuit claimed the name dishonored the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, is very difficult to find, but can be available on tap at the brewery.  Other beers, with names such as Fuzzy Baby Ducks, Imperial Stout Trooper and Sea Hag are available more easily and worthy of sipping!


 

welcome to massachusetts

Tree House Brewing Co.:

Off the beaten path, in Monson, MA.  We made it for a can release.  Monson is about 16 miles north of I-84, 17 miles west of I-91, or 5 miles south of I-90, near the far northeastern corner of Connecticut.  This is not quite as remote as Hill Farmstead, it’s still a bit of a rugged approach to the brewery.  We waited on line in the snowy driveway for their can release of Very Green, Lights On and Alter Ego.  Despite limits, we heard that there were only 2 cases of Very Green for purchase (not a per person limit, this was all that was available for all).  Although we got there early, the Very Green was gone almost instantly.  No food available, and the bar was closed to tastings since it was packed with people filling growlers.  These hard-to-get Tree House beers are well worth the wait…check the website for hours (very limited) and availability!

Tree House is very new on the beer scene but has already created a buzz around the quality of their beers.

Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company):

Great tour!  If you are in Boston, this is an easy drive or subway ride out.  It is an interesting experience, good beer, lots of free pours at the end of the tour, along with a complimentary Samuel Adams beer glass.  Samuel Adams is the pioneer in craft beer industry and continues to pioneer new processes.

Harpoon Brewery – Boston:

On the harbor in Boston, Harpoon is worth a visit, although lines were long to enter the tasting room.  Upstairs, the tasting room has long tables, ships hull or beer-hall style, that creates sense of community (everyone sitting together at the table, etc.).  Limited bar foods and plenty of beer here.  They also have a location in Vermont that is worth a stop if you are doing the Vermont Brewery Challenge – Passport Program.

Newburyport Brewing Company:

We lucked out and stopped by during one of their music festivals featuring Willy Porter.  Live music, heavy music vibe accented by the beers makes this a fun stop in the Cape Ann / New Hampshire bound area.  Melt Away, an American IPA was absolutely our favorite citrusy session ale at 4.6% ABV.  Green Head IPA, a west coast IPA at 7.2% ABV was also worth a try.

Tap Brewing Company:

The Tap Brewing Company offers ales and lagers in historic downtown Haverhill, MA since 2003.  They serve a broad menu of American pub food.  We tried two flights for a total of 8 of their beers.  The brewhouse is located in the same building, with tanks and an extra pub/restaurant area located downstairs.  It seemed that the beers, in general, were above average.


New England Vacation

Smuttynose Brewing Company:

Located in Hampton, New Hampshire is an established, large brewery with an onsite restaurant called the Hayseed. Good food, plenty of choices of good beer, and an awesome outdoor fire pit make this a worthwhile stop.  Smuttlabs has allowed Smuttynose to experiment and collaborate to expand their quality offerings.


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We finally made it to Maine.  No question, Portland, Maine, with a metropolitan area population of approximately 500,000 (1/3 of Maine’s total residents), is a booming beer lover’s paradise.  There are Maine Beer Tours that are available, but we decided to use google and word-of-mouth to create our own experience.  We know we missed some, and also feel great about the prospect of returning to fill in the missing blanks.  We also tried to meet up with The Beer Babe,  but will have to try again next time…

The Maine Brewers’ Guild promotes and protect the state’s more than 60 breweries and brewpubs — which, combined with retailers and wholesalers, led the beer industry to have a nearly $1.3 billion economic impact in Maine last year, according to the Beer Institute.  How about that?  Beer is good for the economic health of the State :)

Bissell Brothers:

We hit a can release – beers.  The Substance, Swish, Bucolia in tow!!  A snow storm, tastings of most of their beers.  Great beers.  Located in an incubator building, across the street from Allagash; next to Foundation; round the corner from Austin Street.  This is a DO NOT MISS…we loved Swish and The Substance.  Clean, citrusy, hoppy Maine IPA’s are full flavored and crisp.  Bissell Brothers announced that in the second quarter of 2016 they will be moving the entire operation to the Brick North building at Thompson’s Point in Portland. The move will include a significant increase in production capacity, tap room size, & retail efficiency.

Foundation Brewing Company:

A small brewery adjacent to Bissell Brothers offers a strong selection of quality beers, which on its own are impressive.  The buzz about Foundation is strong, and Epiphany, their double IPA is rated 98 by Beer Advocate supporting the satisfied peeps filling the brewery/tasting room.

Austin Street Brewery:

Allagash Brewing Company:

Free tasting – flights.  Big brewery.  Single owner.  Impressive coolship.  Creative with some flexibility to focus on great beers and experimentation without a full focus on the $$.  Allagash continues to fine tune their distribution to focus on effectiveness.  This is a pro-operation with GREAT beers!  Allagash is a master of Belgian styles and have been involved with craft brewing since 1994, and bottle conditions its beers.

Maine Beer Company:

Located in Freeport, Maine (home of L.L. Bean and outlet shops), Maine Beer Co. produces excellent beers in a “green” setting with recycling and solar power evidenced.  Good pretzels and worth a taste while sampling their array of high quality beers.

Ebenezer’s Brew Pub {Lively Brewing):

With over 35 beers on tap—mostly Belgian—and a beautiful hand-crafted bar designed and build by a local artisan, this brewpub (rated at the 19th best in the US) is located in Brunswick, Maine, between Bath and Freeport.  Originally Lion’s Pride, in 2014 the beer bar, attached to Lively Brewing Company (owned by Chris Lively) is related to the world famous Lovell, Maine beer bar, Ebenezer’s Pub (which has been rated as the #1 beer bar in the US).

Fore River Brewing Company:

Sea Dog Brewing Company:

Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub – Freeport:

Oxbow Beer:

It is remote in Newcastle, Maine, about an hour northeast of Portland!  We thought we were turning into a residential driveway.  This brewery is rustic but charming.  Their Belgian beers are great!  They had a new beer named “Bowie” after the recently deceased Ziggy Stardust.  We passed a sign “Welcome to Cowshit Corner, Newcastle, Maine” as we neared Oxbow.

Rising Tide Brewing Company:

Rising Tide Brewing Company is a family-owned craft brewery located in Portland, Maine. Rising Tide specializes in artisanal, hand-crafted ales brewed in small batches, and is distributed in New England.  We really enjoyed their Gose, made with seawater for a salty yet light and crisp beer with lactobacillus and coriander.  Cutter was also a favorite DIPA, well hopped.  Quite a sniper at 8.7% ABV.


welcome to ny

 

Bull & Barrel Brew Pub:

On our way home, we stopped in Brewster at Bull & Barrel.  With Sweet Home Alabama playing, a mechanical bull in the middle of a large rustic building, and events including line dancing…we thought we might have detoured out of the Northeast and stumbled into the South.  The restaurant and brewery is situated near the base of the East Branch Reservoir of the New York’s Croton Watershed supply system and they report that this water is used in their brewing process.  We ate ribs and fried pickles, tried all 9 of the beers on tap, and continued on to meet my Aunt for a long due visit.  Average beers, at best, available on tap or in growlers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jeffrey – NYC

Visit The Jeffrey NYC for a back-to-basics experience for beer lovers in the afternoon and evening.  This venue, located under the Queensboro Bridge at 311 East 60th Street in Manhattan, appears very basic, like an old neighborhood haunt.  Combining two storefronts, this unassuming location and appearance is incredibly impressive from its tap list.

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The Brew Sherpa Mugs for Sale

You asked for it!  And we’ve got it!  Finally, The Brew Sherpa merchandise is available for sale.

We start The Brew Sherpa collection with a 20 ounce dimpled beer tankard, just like those available in Europe, perfect for drinking session ales, pilsners and lagers.

These mugs are available at a cost of $15.00/each!  Combined shipping available for quantity.  Please let us know how many you desire, and the shipping zip for pricing!

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Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn, NYC

Worth the effort to find this tiny brewery in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, NYC!

We made the mistake of driving.  Being a born and raised New Yorker, I decided not only to drive from a luncheon at the Union League Club, but to override the GPS and not go thru the Battery Tunnel and go across the Brooklyn Bridge instead…oh well…the Tunnel is definitely the way to go, since the Tap Room is right outside of the tunnel. If driving, take the Smith Street exit off Hamilton or better yet, take the Smith-9th subway station in Carroll Gardens to get there faster, avoid traffic and parking issues. Read the rest of this entry

“What for?” DuClaw Retribution!

                   DuClaw 2014

This post was delayed due to “life” happening…It was written a year ago, but is as relevant today as it was then :)

Retribution!  If that is punishment, I want me some.  The 2014 bottle release of this bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout was held at DuClaw Brewing Company Restaurants – Arundel Mills, Bel Air, Bowie on October 22-23, 2014.  The NYC Sherpas had a last minute change of plans, and had the opportunity to saddle up the A7 and head down to Bel Air (approximately a 3 hour journey from NYC).  On the way down, we hooked up with Morgan Schell, DuClaw’s Director of Distributor Sales and Marketing at DuClaw who set us up to meet at the DuClaw Bel Air brewpub with Dave.  Just a few minutes later, contact had been made for the meet, and shortly thereafter, we were sitting face-to-face with Dave Benfield, the owner of DuClaw at a hightop table in his brewpub in Bel Air. Read the rest of this entry

Mo’ Pizza, Boy

What do pizza and beer have in common?  Well, the answer(s) probably center around taste, but did you ever think that pizza and beer just pair well together?

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The Sherpas heard so much about Pizza Boy Brewing Co., in Enola, Pennsylvania, that we ventured out one snowy March day to explore.  The folks on the Facebook page Berks Beer Traders rave about the place and we finally succumbed to making the 100 mile+ drive for pizza and beer?! Read the rest of this entry

On the Scent of the Sublime Pie

Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  If Mark Twain’s famous quote is true, how would he lead the statement “____ makes the pizza.”? Read the rest of this entry

New York City Craft Beer, BBQ and Sports Bar Scene – From a Letter to a Friend

The Sherpas were asked to provide suggestions to a friend who was recently visiting NYC.  He and his wife were interested in fun things to do in NYC for a beer aficionado.  Below is a copy of our letter and his response, including a recommendation of his own!


 

Dear Vasily,

Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you on this.  At any rate, here are our suggestions for beer in NYC.  We’ve listed out every bar we can think of and their website for you to check out.   The list isn’t complete, and we’ve probably left something out, but it’ll give you a good idea.  We’ve ranked them below the list, but understand that this list makes no consideration for travel time/cost.  Getting around in NYC can be a real pain in the $%# and/or expensive.  Subways and/or buses are the most economical and, at times, can be the fastest, so check out the public transportation options before driving/parking or taking a taxi.

Think about BBQ, concerts, live sports events and sports bars too, as an added and worthwhile adventure!

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Beer & Food Course – Craftbeer.com

Just a quick note to our readers….

This course can be downloaded for free.

The Brewers Association (http://www.brewersassociation.org/), publishers of Craftbeer.com (http://www.craftbeer.com/), have designed an online five-day course which includes:

  • four days of lecture and reading that can work around existing accredited lab time in a kitchen;
  • two tasting sessions to understand styles and pairing;
  • Lab time to practice pairing craft beer and cuisine, with suggestions for successful pairings and recipes;
  • A draft of the final written exam, to be administered alongside a practical exam that consists of both cooking to a paired beer and pairing a beer to a prepared dish.

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Enter The Scoville Unit (36 Chambers)

I’m not much of a chilihead. Sure, I like some jalepeños on my nachos, or a little Cholula in my ramen noodles, but hot wing challenges seem ridiculous and even torturous to me. So why am I sitting at a table with 4 chili beers, including what is generally regarded as the hottest beer on the planet? Because for me, above ALL else, the experience is what I value and Scott has assured me that his hobby of growing and eating hot peppers is both enjoyable and enlightening and can only be enhanced with the addition of beer. Well, if beer will enhance this experience, then chili beers should turn this into a straight up Wu Tang Gravel Pit party!

The scene sets with a plate of hot peppers (orange habanero and red habanero), sliced into thin rings, Twisted Pine Brewing‘s Ghost Face Killah, Clown Shoes’ Chocolate Sombrero, Evil Twin & Prairie Artisan AlesBible Belt, Prairie Artisan Ales‘ Bomb! and a handy Scoville Units color chart scovilleUnitsproviding the back-story. Tasters in attendance were The BrewSherpette and The BrewSherpette, Scott and Melanie, and Amanda and Nick, with Matt providing expert “spicey” advice.  After some amount of discussion, it was decided that we would first drink the beers, starting with the ale and progressing to the stouts (an ill-advised decision to be sure) and finish with eating the orange then red habanero rings. Suffice to say, my heart was racing with the fear of anticipation and my mouth was watering for some primal reason I am very confused about.

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