Have you ever traveled to a place, whether for the first time or somewhere you frequent, and realized there are some local cuisines and brews you have never visited?
Personally I love finding new local spots in my own backyard, but it’s always great to find something new and local while visiting away from home. Recently I have discovered a great way to get a local feel (and taste), and that’s a Foodie tour. “A Foodie tour?” you ask? If you like a bit of history, a little bit of walking and sampling the local favorites than one of these tours would be right up your alley.
Over the summer I had the chance to take a Foodie Tour in Kennebunkport, Maine. Of course, since this is a beer blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the brewery part of the tour, but let’s get the full experience.
Depending on the time of year or season the destination points may vary. I happened to venture upon the following locales:
How it begins; Meet your bubbly tour guide at the designated location. She will give you the spiel on how the program works and then you’re off! It is a walking tour, rain or shine, so bring a good pair of shoes AND your appetite.
To paint a picture, this is a sea-fairing town, complete with shops right on the water. Kennebunk is a little more on the Artsy-Town appearance, while Kennebunkport is more on the suburban level. And smack-dab in the center of it all is a little bridge connecting both. And this little section is where your palate is introduced to a wide variety of gourmet and artisan foods, as well an attractive variety of craft beer from the local brewery.
The tour is about half mile walk from Dock Square to the lower village. A nice perk is you can meet the owners at most of the locations and get to know them on a personal level. The first place we stopped at was Allison’s Restaurant. We were lead to the upper floor for a private dining and were given a bowl of some of the best rich and creamy Clam “Chowdah” you may ever taste.
After sitting and conversing with our guide, and savoring every morsel, we were off to The Clam shack to get a lesson on Lobstering and how their technique really adds to the flavor of all their lobsters. While getting a brief history of the “Shack,” everyone was able to get some samples of a freshly shucked lobster. If you don’t like lobster, after trying the plump salty-sweet goodness of these delightful crustaceans, you will make a conversion.
Of course, once we were done with this portion of the tour, we were a bit parched. What a coincidence, Shipyard Brewing was next! When first walking up it just looks like your normal seaside shops and restaurants. Once we came closer, smelled the yeast and spent grains, and admired the machinery through the viewing windows, we were able to see there was a lot more than meets the eye in this modest building.
Our tour guide educated us on the beer making process, showing step-by-step through each window what part of the process the brewers were on. Once finished, we when to an open patio-style seating area where we were given a few beers as well as sodas to try. This brewery is also part of Federal Jack’s restaurant making it a Brew Pub, instead of just a brewery. Shipyard is not one of my favorite brews, however, they do have a few appetizing and refreshing creations.
The two we sampled that day were:
(Sea Dog) Sunfish Wheat Ale. This is an American Pale Wheat Ale at about 4.6% ABV. So while it’s crisp and refreshing, it’s light enough to move onto other treats. While the description reads: “A light wheat beer with peach essence and a refreshing citrus finish.” I found it had a Strong grapefruit nose, and the peach peeked in the finish.
Portside IPA. An american India Pale Ale standing at 6% ABV, There was a bit of a malty hoppiness in the nose. The body was heavier, with a mellow earthy quality and a hint of a wheat finish.
Each beer was accompanied with pretzels and a delectable beer mustard. Sodas were introduced next and afterwards, we were able to peruse the gift shop and a part of the “educational” section of the brewery. I would recommend saving your purchases for after the tour, since there are still a few more places to visit, and you will receive some coupons.
Are you ready for the next stop? Well good, because on to a local Variety store to enjoy some local coffee and something other than blueberries and lobster that adds to Maine’s fame; The Whoopie Pie!
Yes, H.B Provisions is quite the variety and jammed pack with customers with both to-go and dine-in settings. So when your tour guide offers to get your whoopie pies, let her do the work because it is quite busy. Fortunately we had a beautiful summer day to sit outside at the little chair and table setups and enjoy our coffee and pies at a leisurely rate. Our guide told us about the disputes on this confectionery treat regarding its origin. When you sink your teeth into this local delicacy, the slightly moistened Devil’s food-type bun, and pleasurably creamy with a balanced sweet filling is just enough to hit the spot.
From here we walked a few feet to East Wine Imports. Sadly, when it comes to sampling Maine has a strict(and unreasonable) law so we were unable to try any wine that day. But they have pretty much any type of wine you could ask for. They also feature local wineries, as well as mead. Our tour-guide brought in samples of local cheeses and produce to nibble on as we explored the plethora of fermented selections.
What’s wine without oil and vinegar? Onward to our next location Maine-ly Drizzle. They have a seemingly endless variety of vinegar and oils to sample from. Our tour-guide provided the cheese, fruit, bread and veggies to pair with each sample. Among the vast quantity of oils and vinegar, you can also purchase pastas, sauces and a variety of spices and mustard.
Some of the highlights of the vinegar samples were the raspberry, cappuccino, and jalepeno. For oils, I would recommend the Blood Orange, or the white truffle. I truly encourage you to take some time and explore the wonders of infusion; you may be pleasantly surprised.
Finally, you wouldn’t be able to have a complete food tour in summer without finishing with some ice cream. Rococo Artisan ice-cream truly seals the deal! A young traveling entrepreneur settled down and started this gourmet ice-cream shop and the flavors are truly original, unique and keep on coming. From Blueberry Chipotle & Lemon Creme Swirl, Lemon-Pink Peppercorn, to Salted Bourbon Caramel and delicious Sweet Cream, your taste buds will dance with joy over these concoctions. The tour provides free samples, but after you may get a discounted sample size. This is by far some of the best ice cream you will ever taste.
That’s the end of the tour! I do hope you enjoyed the brief write up and hope that one day you can try one of these tours yourself. For more information on any of these locations, please click on the preceding links and as always enjoy local (especially beer).
I love the history of beer and how its made, the whole beer experience. My philosophy is, finding your beer is like finding your soul-mate, you may have a long search, and learn some lessons, but there is a beer that’s just right for you.