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. Whether it’s Mud season or any of the other four seasons, combining an inn-to-inn itinerary offered by the eight Maine 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 Maine inn 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 Canterbury Cottage B&B or Saltair Inn Waterfront B&B. Your friendly innkeepers are happy to give you directions to start at Atlantic Brewing Company. Atlantic Brewing beers run the flavor gamut from light and fruity to dark and rich. 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. 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.
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?
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. Stop by and grab a taste, a flight, a pint or take some home with you in a growler.
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. 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.
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 with naturally raised Belted Galloway beef cattle, pork and poultry (making for great photos). 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. 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 Inn at English Meadows, 1802 House B&B and 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 all brewed at 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.
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.
If you’re not in town for the singularly unique Bearded Brewfest, you can always stop by the Shipyard 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 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. Check it out.
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.
For a more detailed itinerary for sipping your way up or down the Maine coast, visit the Inns Along The Coast’s blog.
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, www.barharborcellars.com.
Side Street Café: 49 Rodick Street, Bar Harbor, Me, 207-801-2591, sidestreetbarharbor.com/.
Blaze Restaurant: 198 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, (207) 801-2755.
Canterbury Cottage B&B: Email: Info@CanterburyCottage.com, website: www.canterburycottage.com Reservations: 207-288-2112, Innkeepers: Tim & Martha Searchfield
Saltair Inn Waterfront B&B: E-Mail: email@example.com, website: www.saltairinn.com, 207-288-2882, Innkeepers: Kristi & Matt Losquadro.
Rock Harbor Brewing Company: 416 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841, (207) 593-7488, www.rockharbor.me.
Cellardoor Winery: 367 Youngtown Road, Lincolnville, Maine 04849, (207) 763-4478, 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, www.savageoakes.com.
Breakwater Vineyards: 35 Ash Point Drive P.O. Box 404 Owls Head, ME US 04854, 207-594-1721, www.breakwatervineyard.com.
LimeRock Inn: Email: info@LimeRockinn.com, website: www.LimeRockinn.com, reservations: 800-546-3762, 207-594-2257. Innkeepers: PJ Walter & Frank Isganitis
Berry Manor Inn: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.berrymanorinn.com, reservations: 800-774-5692/ Business line: 207-596-7696, Innkeepers: Cheryl Michaelsen & Mike LaPosta
Granite Inn: Email: email@example.com, website: www.OldGraniteInn.com, reservations: 207-594-9036, 800-386-9036. Innkeepers: Ed & Joan Hantz
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 Distillery: 437 US-1, Freeport, ME 04032, (207)865-4828, www.coldrivervodka.com.
1802 House: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.1802house.com, reservations: (800) 932-5632, Innkeepers: Teri & Roger Walker
Captain Jefferds Inn: Email: email@example.com, website: www.captainjefferdsinn.com, reservations: 800-839-6844, 207-967-2311, Erik and Sarah Lindblom
Inn at English Meadows: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.englishmeadowsinn.com, reservations: 207-967-5766/800-272-0698, innkeepers: David and Kate Parisi