Looking for something to do on a Saturday? How about a road trip south to a few breweries and beer places? Yesterday I packed my thirsty self in a car with a few friends and we spent the whole day in York County and New Hampshire. We hit Biddeford, Kittery, Portsmouth, and Hampton. Here is what we did:
The initial destination was Tributary Brewing Company in Kittery. Tod Mott has successfully raised enough money via Kickstarter in June to start building the brewery. Yesterday Tributary opened their doors to the public for the first time with a juicy pale ale on tap.
A Quick Stop At A Beer & Book Store
BUT FIRST, we stopped in Biddeford to check out Elements Books Coffee Beer. It’s a new-ish establishment that’s a bookstore, bar, and café. I’ve always wanted to visit Elements and spontaneously had the opportunity yesterday. They only have beer by the bottle but that doesn’t mean the selection sucks by any means. They had a few Maine Beer Company bottles, Lagunitas IPA, Six Point Resin, and a few Rising Tide bottles just to name a few varieties. You can’t buy the beer and walk out thought, you have to consume it inside. I was a big fan of the environment. It felt like I entered a nice little café that’s relatively quiet and filled with people reading or on their laptops. The only exception was that not everybody had some designer-looking coffee/tea in hand; they had beers and wine too. The entire place had little element signs for everything. I can definitely see myself spending a bunch of mornings/days in Elements. Did I mention they host Cribbage Night every Wednesday at 5:00pm?
One Tributary Leads To Another Maine Brewery
Where was I? Oh, right! The grand opening of Maine’s 55th brewery Tributary Brewing Company! We parked in what used to be a grocery store parking lot and saw a few custom beer-themed vanity license plates. The tasting room is very blue and inviting. Hardwood floors and Blue walls with a nice wave design on the back wall. They had blue painted picnic tables as their primary seating with bar space and a few sofas in the corner.
As we expected there was a line for beer that wrapped around the perimeter of Tributary’s tasting room. There was only the pale ale on tap but that didn’t stop the flocks of people from consuming it. Jeff Goodno and Tod Mott plans on kegging their nut brown ale that evening for today’s thirsty crowd. We saw Alex McDonald from Earth Eagle brewing at Tributary. He inspired us to go 10 minutes south to Portsmouth and have lunch at his awesome establishment Earth Eagle Brewings.
The Earth Eagle Experience
Upon arriving at Earth Eagle Brewings I ordered a brie sandwich and was blown away. I also had to get a flight of their 6 beers on tap. Earth Eagle is known for brewing both gruits and non-guits. A gruit is a beer that uses herbs as bittering agents in place of hops. They can be quite delicious and different. Earth Eagle had these beers on tap in order of the tasting glasses:
1. Gal Pal – Sweet Gale Pale Ale 6%ABV
2. Kiichigo – Raspberry Dunkelweizen 5%ABV
3. Ms. Behavior – Sour Gruit 8.3%ABV BIG BEER
4. Ancestral IPA 6.4%ABV
5. New England Gangsta’ IPA 6.4%ABV
6. Huixtochihuatl – Amber Salt Gruit with yarrow, bay and kelp 6.4%ABV
I particularly liked the sour gruit and the raspberry Dunkelweizen very much. They went well with the sweet brie sandwich. This whole time Carla AKA The Beer Babe was tagging along and suggested we head 15 minutes south to Smuttynose Brewing Company’s new facility in Hampton, New Hampshire.
Smuttynose’s New Brewery
The new Smuttynose Brewing Company was vast and awesome. They expanded 40% immediately when this new facility was online. The tour guide was explaining how Smuttynose is entering a few new national and international markets. I’m excited to hear New England craft beer will be all over the world.
After the tour JT Thompson was pouring samples of their 10 beers on tap. I tried the Belgian Tripel 8.1%ABV, Clusters Last Stand 8.8%ABV, and Pumpkin Ale 5.8ABV. The Belgian Tripel had that nice Belgian sugar sweetness and was very balanced. I’ve always been a fan of Clusters Last Stand IPA that Smuttynose collaboratively created with Stone Brewing Company. Did I mention Cluster’s Last Stand JUST came out in bottles? We left Smuttynose wanting to try more beers but could not afford the time.
These places hit just a few of the awesome craft beer places south of Portland, Maine. We could have also stopped at Barreled Souls, Run Of The Mill, Portsmouth Brewery, etc. Maine and New Hampshire has plenty of awesome places to sit back and enjoy a pint of hand crafted goodness.