So close and yet so far, only two stops left on the Maine Beer Trail.

We were in the home stretch almost ready to claim our prize and revel in our bragging rights. Our tattered, well-worn beer trail map held together with generous amounts of packaging tape, has only TWO blank spaces left. We planned to finish our visits in the spring but then the world paused.

No stamps from Penobscot Bay Brewery or Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company to add an air of finality to our three year adventure. Both breweries are in the mid-coast. Both are just out of reach for now.

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Taste Testing Two Spirit Sipper Infusions from Vena’s Fizz House

I drink wine, craft beer, especially sours, and the occasional margarita but otherwise liqueur or cocktails are a rarity for me although my husband hasn’t given up hope that I’ll expand my repertoire.  When we met, my go to alcoholic drink was Miller Lite. It was almost a deal breaker for him, but fortunately he was able to look past that particular character flaw.

After years of effort and the consistent refrain of “here try this”, my go to beer is now Allagash White and we often enjoy local craft sours together.  While he’s pleased with my progress, his work is not done. He’s still nudging me towards porters, stouts and the real stretch drink experience for me: cocktails.

Fortunately, he has some support in this endeavor. Vena’s Fizz House in Portland is a wonderful, inventive cocktail bar. My first experience tasting bitters was at Vena’s during a Micro Maine Trolley Tour.  Before that visit, I would have said definitively that I don’t like bitters. But, now I know that statement is untrue. Bitters done right can really elevate a cocktail.

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Our travels along the Maine Beer Trail for 2018.

How did we do with year two of our attempt to visit all the craft breweries on the Maine Beer Trail? I’d love to say we finally made it to them all, but since there are over 80 unique breweries in Maine, and new ones continue to open, I’m afraid the finish line still eludes us, at least for now.

While we’re not quite finished, we did have a great time again trying to get to as many craft breweries as we could this past year. For each stop, we usually tried to make a day of it. We’d search out an interesting hike, and look for other fun things in the area as we explored different parts of Maine.

Below is an overview of the craft breweries we visited in 2018.

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Ten places to enjoy craft beer and a meal.

Sometimes we’re in a basement with a few mismatched chairs and tables grouped together to create a makeshift sitting area as we read a hand scrawled list on a chalkboard hung near the taps showing that breweries latest craft beer creations but other times things are not so rustic. Sometimes there is food, wine and mixed drinks along with that stops unique craft brews listed on a more formal menu, and providing a more expansive experience.

While I’m up for either option, sometimes it’s nice to be able to enjoy a meal with your beer. You can also often enjoy some great pairings. This past week we went to Atlantic Brewing in Bar Harbor and their ginger beer was a perfect match for the barbecue sampler from Mainely Meat BBQ located on the grounds.

Below are ten other craft breweries that offer food along with their latest beers.

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Our travels along the Maine Beer Trail for 2017.

How did we do with my 2017 Bucket List item of visiting all the craft breweries on the Maine Beer Trail? I’d love to say we made it to them all, but since there are over 70 unique breweries in Maine, and new ones continue to open, I’m afraid the finish line eluded us, at least for now.

While we came up a little short, we did have a great time trying to get to as many craft breweries as we could this past year. For each stop, we usually tried to make a day of it. We’d search out an interesting hike, and look for other fun things in the area as we explored different parts of Maine.

Below is an overview of the craft breweries we visited in 2017.

Continue reading