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Trip Report Great trip to Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME

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5 of us opted to go to Maine for a long weekend of breweries, baseball and more breweries, leaving Thursday August 25. We left CT around 8 on Thursday morning after breakfast at the Vernon Diner. I used to live near Vernon and always enjoyed this diner. Good breakfast at decent prices. It is not far off of the highway for people driving through.

We drove up to Portsmouth for a few stops. Uneventful drive to Portsmouth thankfully with very little traffic and good weather. Our first stop was Earth Eagle Brewery. Drove around the block multiple times looking for the brewery then to find a parking spot. Brewery is located down a small alley so kind of hard to see and no sign out front. Once we got in, it is a tiny brewery with maybe 4 tables and 5 seats at the bar with a beer garden out front. They brew a lot of beers that are not in typical styles. However, they are all very good with a lot of flavor. Note that most breweries serve 4 ounce samples so we were doing flights of their beer (1 sample of each beer). My favorite was their Mayan Mayhem Spicy Sour Gruit. Gruits are a type of beer you do not see a lot of – herbal with no hops added. This one had a sour beer (lighter side of sour) with chili flakes and cocao nibs added. Lots of flavor and pretty spicy. I brought some home too.

Then we jumped over to Kittery for Tributary Brewing. Once again we sampled all of their beers and enjoyed them. Friendly service and a good sized tap room. They had a good variety of styles from Hefeweizens up to an Oyster Stout. My favorite was their Belgian Abbey Ale.

Back over to Portsmouth for Liar’s Bench Brewery. I had never heard of this brewery until someone had told me about it at a bar in CT. Their tap room is still being worked as they have only been opened a few months but it is open-aired and a worthwhile stop. Guys working the bar were very friendly and I enjoyed the 3 beers they were serving.

Located just behind Liar’s Bench is Great Rhythm brewery. We were still in the parking lot at Liar’s Bench when our GPS said we had arrived at Great Rhythm. But you cannot get there from here – train tracks in between. Found our way over there. They had been a gypsy brewery for a few years – no space of their own so contract brew elsewhere. But they finally got their own space. Gorgeous tap room. Only 2 beers available on tap but both were definitely worth trying. Both are on the hoppier side of beers which is my favorite kind of beer.

We then drove up to Newington for Stoneface Brewery. I have had some of their beers before and was looking forward to this stop. Sampled 8 of their beers and again enjoyed all of them. Bought a bottle of most of their beers to bring home. Again, very hoppy beers but they also had some lighter ones so there should be a style for anybody here. Tiny taproom but a good sized brew house to along with it. I really enjoyed this stop.

Over to Dover for Garrison City Beerworks. My favorite stop of the day – all hoppy IPAs with lots of flavor. I knew going in this would be a good one for me. Tried all 5 on tap and really enjoyed them. Bought cans of a bunch of them. Nice tap room with good service right on the Main St. I would highly recommend a stop here if you like hoppy beers.

We walked over to 7th Settlement Brewpub for some samples and a few appetizers. OK beer and food. Nice setup for the brewpub but the beer was a letdown after leaving Garrison City. We just split a few appetizers and took off.

Drove to Wells / Ogunquit. It has been around 9 years since I was up here. But other than the construction (While they were not working, lots of cones out / bumps in road), it felt great to be there. We stopped at the Ogunquit Lobster Pound for dinner. We always ate here when I was a kid for dinner. Enjoyed the twin lobster tails for dinner. For the price, I did feel they were a little too small but still nice and tender. We enjoyed this dinner then went to the hotel to crash.

For the one night, I stayed at the Beach Rose Inn in Wells. Everybody else stayed elsewhere due to availability. Hotel was decent. Since it was so late, they left an envelope for me with the key in a box out front. Small room but not a big deal. TV did not work but again, I was just there for the night. I did feel a little claustrophobic without a window in the room. I would stay here again.

More later on...

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    The next morning, we drove down to Perkin’s Cove to walk the Marginal Way – only to have it start pouring. Instead we went to the Maine Diner. Busy as usual but line moved quick. I had lobster Benedict for breakfast. We really enjoyed this stop. I had to laugh at the Bull n Claw restaurant across the street. When I was young, we went there for lunch one day. After 90 minutes, my brother’s burger was the only food to come out and the waitress said it would be a while for the rest. We decided to walk out – my brother grabbed his burger and ate it while walking out of the restaurant. So seeing the restaurant brought back the memory of this!

    We went and played mini golf and enjoyed it. Not many people playing since it was sprinkling at this point. Drove up to Kennebunkport and walked around the town but still too full from breakfast to have lunch on the bridge at the Clam Shack. Drove out to see President Bush’s house on Walker Point and it was pouring yet again. Easy drive up to Fort Williams Park / Portland Head Lighthouse from here. Due to the downpour, we just drove around the park and got out briefly at a few points. This would have been a great park to walk around at and well worth the stop. We were hoping to get back here later in the weekend but we never had a chance to.

    We then drove out to Allagash Brewery. I have been here before and buy their beer at home too. They make Belgian Ales and never disappoint. They have expanded quite a bit since I have been there. You get 4 free samples of beer of whatever they are pouring that day. I managed to hit it when they had a few new beers for me on draft including Farm to Face – a lighter sour saisson. It is one of my favorite beers I have ever had. Lots of flavor including peach. I could have stayed there all day. I did spend a lot on beer to bring home so that is why they can afford to give away the free samples.

    We then drove across the street to Foundation Brewery and Austin Street Brewery. The two breweries are on opposite sides of the building. Foundation was doing a release party for their Epiphany double IPA cans. It was a fun madhouse. Dealt with the line to get beer and really enjoyed them. Good selection of beers but they are on the hoppier side. Epiphany dIPA was great. Bought a couple of 4 packs to bring home with me. This became one of my favorite stops for the day. There were a few food trucks here. We got oysters from one of them and enjoyed them. Over to Austin Street and enjoyed their two beers. Both were on the lighter side and very enjoyable.

    We then went over to Geary’s Brewery. They are the first craft brewery on the East Coast. Beer was good and worth the stop. Good range of styles so anybody would enjoy a stop here.

    We stopped at Bissell Bros Brewing in Thompson Point. They just moved here to have a bigger tap room. What a great setup and awesome beer. They are one of the more popular beers in New England. Lots of hoppy beer and great IPAs. We really enjoyed this stop.

    We then stopped at Foulmouthed Brewing and Fore River Brewing. Fore River was a good stop with a couple of lighter IPAs. Bought a growler of their IPA to bring home with me. By now, the cooler of ice I had in the back was getting quite full…Foulmouthed was OK. Brewpub so we split a couple of appetizers.

    We then went and checked into our hotel – the Best Western Merry Manor Inn. We stayed in South Portland due to the hotel rates downtown. We knew it was going to be in an industrial area and very non-descript. But it was worth it due to the high rates. We then Uber-ed it to the Portland Science Center on the waterfront. We spent a couple of hours browsing the Titanic exhibit that is on display. I have seen it before but it was well worth it.

    Walked up to Gritty’s for a few flights of beer. OK beer but a good stop for a little while. Novare Res Bier Café was our dinner for the night. Each had a few pints of beer (not that we needed more) and a few sandwiches for dinner. Located in an alley and off the beaten path, it was a great stop with a huge beer selection. I would recommend this restaurant for any craft beer fan. Its more about the beer than the food though. My favorite beer here was the Black Walnut Saisson from Jolly Pumpkin Brewery. Back to the hotel and crashed after this.

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    We got up Saturday morning early and went to the Eastern Promenade to drink our coffees. What a view of the Harbor from here. After this, we went up to Gray and the Maine Wildlife Park. We have been here before but still enjoyed it. Small zoo with wildlife rescued within Maine. The highlight for us was the moose. All were right in the front of their exhibits so nice and close. The bear exhibit turned us off. There are feeders so people can feed the bears. This results in the beers being fed the entire time the park is opened. I hope they regulate how much the beers eat because it didn’t seem right. We spent a little over 2 hours walking around here and felt it was a worthwhile stop. Quite busy though being Saturday afternoon.
    Rising Tide Brewing was up next. Beer was decent and friendly service. Next up was Bunker Brewery – their 3 beers were among our least favorites of the trip. Newer brewery in a very small location that has just opened so I hope they can improve their beer. After here we went to Lone Pine Brewery. Only been open for a couple of months. We enjoyed both their beers they were pouring – a very light pale ale and an IPA. From here, we went up the hill to Oxbow Brewing. Really good beer here. They have a bunch of sour beers on right now and they were among our favorites. I bought a few bottles to go. Huge tap room and a decent size selection of beers to sample.

    On to Hadlock Field and the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox AA Affiliate). We parked right near the stadium and walked in as the gates opened. This stadium opened in 1994 but became a Red Sox affiliate in 2003 with a major renovation of the stadium. We went to the Shipyard Grill in LF for a bite to eat and have a few beers. There is a replica of the Green Monster in LF. Got to our seats behind home plate and sat down. It was Fan Appreciation night. All the Sea Dog players entered through a cornfield (ala Field Of Dreams) wearing 1923 Portland Eskimo uniforms as the announcer was replicating James Earl Jones’ speech from the movie. It was great to see. As part of Fan Appreciation night, all the players then went into the stands to shake everyone’s hands and thank them (last home game of the season was yesterday). This was awesome to see and a great way to say thanks. This delayed the start of the game by nearly 45 minutes – which normally would not have been a big deal but as the great Ernie Banks said, lets play two…The game went 15 innings and lasted nearly 5 hours. Yankees won 4-2 in the 15th. Ugly game with lots of errors and men left on base. By the end of the game, there were maybe 200 people there. Back to the hotel and crashed again.

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    We got up Sunday morning and went to Dunkin Donuts across the street for coffees then headed downtown to walk around the waterfront before taking the Duck Tour. While I would have liked to take the Casco Island Ferry tour, we couldn’t fit it into our schedule. We got on the 10 am duck tour and really enjoyed. Fun way to see Portland and get onto the water. Guide was very knowledgable about Portland. There was a huge cruise ship in port so we got to see that once in the water. Saw one seal not far from the boat. Quick hour tour that I would recommend.

    After the duck tour, it was back to the ballpark and another game. It couldn’t possibly go extra innings, again? Right? Yup, 12 innings with the Yankees winning 4-3 in the 12th – almost déjà vu all over again…

    I had no issues with our hotel for the 2 nights in Portland as long as you don’t expect to be in a scenic area and know it is still a drive from downtown. Hotel was huge but clean and staff was very helpful. I would stay there again.

    After this, it was a 4.5 hour drive home through bumper to bumper traffic – not exactly a surprise but was hoping it was not so slow.
    What a great trip but too quick of a pace.

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    You just described my perfect summer weekend. Maine, Seadogs and craft beer. I noticed you didn't visit some of the larger brewpubs in the area - Federal Jacks, Sebago and Smuttynose come to mind. Glad to hear about these other spots as well. I'm going to save this report and refer back to it all Fall. Thanks so much.

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    Bennie, I have been to Federal Jacks before and really enjoyed it. I have had most of Smuttynose's beers so we skipped it this trip but hope to go back up soon to go to it. We had Sebago beers on Friday at Novare Res and had hoped to make it to the brewery...There is always next time...If I had to pick one Maine brewery to go to, it would be Foundation right now but they were all worth trying! And if at Foundation, the others are right next door...Anderson Street has 6 breweries within walking distance right now...

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    You all know how to have a good time, don't you?

    I may have to go back and count the actual number of beers you had; formidable!

    From the Vernon Diner to the Sea Dogs! I don't like Major League Baseball, but AAA is another story.

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    dfrostnh, We all agreed this weekend we need to get up there more often...even if its just a long weekend

    Bennnie, highly recommend going there. Great beer selection and atmosphere.

    Ackislander, Yeah, we managed to drink a few beers. I actually have an app on my phone that logs the beers I drink. It probably cost me a lot of data this weekend due to overuse...

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