Maine and New Hampshire, a Beer adventure

Once upon a time…Well if that isn’t the most overused opening line, but I figured it was an apt start to this wonderful adventure to the northeast.

Here’s a little background to our story, my brother recently started dating a girl from Maine. Since she is a craft beer enthusiast she has a knowledge some great locales. As  dating goes, sharing special locations of fond memories is part of the process.  Fortunately, she invited myself and some others to take a trip through memory lane in Portsmouth, ME and Kittery, NH. Thus begins our excursion.

When we first pulled into the rustic town of Portsmouth, we were  enthralled by the “Olde” style buildings  and shops along the main streets. I love these old port towns.  After finding a parking spot, we walked to our first location Portsmouth Brewery.


Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Brewery is a wonderful brewpub, with a marvelous menu with almost an artistic and classy flare. Before entering, you can gaze upon the beacon of a golden stein overflowing with frothy nectar, just beckoning you to enter.Inside is long, narrow and two tiered, with a bar on the right upper level. Straight to the back right is where the magic happens. The brewery is behind tall glass frames to observe the brewing process if you so choose.

We sat in the back left at the “large party” table. I started off light with a bowl of clam chowder and spinach arugula salad. The salad was accompanied by a Bleu Cheese spread on toast and a warm pretzel bun. The chowder was great in consistency and deliciously hearty, but it seemed to lack the clam flavor overall.  The salad was absolutely savory.


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Now to the more important topic, the beer! A few of the beers that stood out were the Imperial Pumpkin Porter, The Oak Aged Holidaze porter, and the Knuckle Busta.I will save the descriptions and a full detail of the brewery for another time. I hope if you are in the area you can visit, and if not, then please make the trip.


Earth Eagle Brewings

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After completing our sampling and good conversation, we took a walk around the town. A very brief walk, in fact, our walk was about as brisk as the temperature. Gotta love good ‘ol New England air. About this time, my brother’s girlfriend says we have some time to kill.  ‘Warmth’ immediately popped in my mind, and ‘beer’ soon afterward. If only there was some facility that served locally made beer, and was heated. So I of course take out my UNTAPPD app and search for any local breweries and what do I find? Lo and behold:Earth Eagle Brewings!One might almost miss it since its located down an alley towards the end of a street. The little yellow sign, and the orange and red paint do make it stand out, if you are looking. It’s a small venue, with a bar and kitchen, and a few tables and stools. Looking around you’ll see memorabilia, art and other trinkets.

Earth Eagle Brewings (which I hope to write more about), specialize in sours but that’s not all they have. I loved when we first walked in and a tall bearded local holding up a growler looks at me and says “This is some great beeya.” Then proceeds to get a refill.  While most of my party weren’t partial to the beer, I enjoyed the variety, complexity and flavors of the brews.
If you are looking for inexpensive sampling, this is not the place. At $11 a flight I was a bit skeptical and really hoped it was worth the cost, and I was not disappointed.


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Here’s a picture of the flight with its generous serving sizes. One is missing because the keg kicked, so they were in the process of getting me a new sample.My top three were: Crabapple Ambrosia, Nocturnal and Anarchist. If you do not like sours, or licorice or are not adventurous at all this might not be the place. But with friendly and local brewers who love what they do, and innovative beer, to me this is definite a must visit.

Also, part of the same complex you will find A&G Homebrew Supply. I picked up some yeast for my hard ciders while there.


A Couple of sites along the way

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Tributary Brewing

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Before we ventured to our next destination, we needed to make a pit stop to warm up some. Next stop Joe’s Coffee on York street.  After Joe’s, we stopped by Long Sands Beach (a bit of a misleading name with all the rocks) where my brother’s girlfriend grew up and then took a cold but majestic reprieve at Nubble Lighthouse.  Photographers took the place of seagulls as they littered the beach to get the best shot of the light house before the daunting clouds saturated the remaining few hours of daylight.As memory lane was nearing its end, we went to our final brewery of the day, Tributary Brewing.

I enjoyed this place, the live music, the viewing windows into the crisp clean brewery, and the mellow atmosphere. I could immediately tell the locals loved the place, and just came to let loose and relax.


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Fresh Flight

Even though they do not have a Flight Paddle, I ordered a flight of their four available beers. I was able to try their porter, winter saison, pale ale and rye pale ale.It’s a decent sized facility, and they loved to tell you about the beer.  You can even bring your k-9 companions into the main area.

Sadly, this was our last brewery of the day, but was surely not our last stop. I mean, really, we cannot survive on beer alone. Onward to dinner, and our final destination Black Birch!


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Drinking buddy

Black Birch restaurant

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I’ve repeatedly thought about this restaurant and how to describe it, and yes I will be doing a write up on this establishment. Nonetheless, I have decided no matter how I describe this place, I will do it no justice. You just have to experience it for yourself.It’s a small location, and gets a bit cramped, but for good reason!  Have you ever teared up while trying just a bite of a meal? I don’t mean because of spice either, I mean total emotional overdrive based on the succulence of a meal? Have you ever just treasured each savory morsel of not only your main course, but everything that came to the table? That is what you will be heading for when you visit.

The creativity alone is admirable. They serve an item called “the Daily Devil.” If you do not like deviled eggs, you will still enjoy these! With different varieties every day there’s bound to be something you will like. I particularly reveled in the sweet potato pie deviled egg complete with mini toasted marshmallows. So if you want great local cuisine with some artisan flare this is a hands down MUST GO.

Beer? “But do they have beer” you say? But of course! Though I would recommend this place with or without beer, they are a craft beer central for their area. Complete with crafts from local New England breweries, and imported crafts like MOA. If you aren’t into beer, please consult a doctor, but in the meantime they do provide a variety of wine and cocktail options.

I hope you enjoyed this little review of my trip to Maine. If you are in the area, or would like to plan a trip seek out these locations. If you have been to any other local Maine or New Hampshire breweries and restaurants, feel free to leave a suggestion and description. Meanwhile, enjoy local and keep reading!

-Nick
thebarleymen@gmail.com

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