Three New England Craft Beer Getaways

Your guide to the ultimate beercations, as part of our feature on the best craft beer in New England.

By | Chowder |

Beercations and beer getaways in New EnglandPortland, Maine: A beer tourist’s dream. (Photo via iStockphoto)

Portland

You can’t throw a bottle cap without hitting a brewery in Maine’s largest city — and we just heard about another one: the new Bunker Brewing Company in East Bayside. Did we mention that we love this town?

Can’t-Miss Watering Holes You’ll spot vintage stickers from the Great Lost Bear (207-772-0300, greatlostbear.com) — a hangout that’s been truckin’ since 1979 — on bumpers all around town. About two miles from the Old Port, the Bear has more than 65 taps, not to mention beefy burgers to quiet growling stomachs. Novare Res (207-761-2437, novareresbiercafe.com), down an alley off Exchange Street, means “start a revolution” in Latin; if that involves drinking a Rising Tide Daymark and playing a game of beanbag toss on the pub’s porch, count us in.

Beer-Friendly Excursions The Geary, Allagash, Maine Beer Company, and Bull Jagger breweries are clustered in an industrial park about five and a half miles northwest of downtown. Reserve space on a free Allagash tour and enjoy pours of the brewery’s Belgian-inspired goods (207-878-5385, allagash.com). For beers with a side of baseball, catch a Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Field (800-936-3647, portlandseadogs.com), where a microbrew stand pours Shipyard, Sebago, Geary’s, and other local faves.

Hangover Brunch Spots Poutine — fries smothered with cheese curd and duck gravy — from Duck Fat (207-774-8080, duckfat.com) should soothe your throbbing head. Across town, corned-beef hash at Hot Suppa (207-871-5005, hotsuppa.com) is made from scratch.

Where to Stay Rumored to be a Prohibition-era respite, the comfy Danforth (May rates from $175; 800-991-6557, danforthmaine.com) features recently updated rooms and a cupola with a bird’s-eye view of Portland.

 

Burlington

Vermont boasts the most breweries per capita in the country — one for every 29,797 lucky people in 2010, according to the national Brewers Association. Head to Burlington to sample pints of small-batch beers that haven’t (yet) made it across state lines.

Can’t-Miss Watering Holes When the sun’s out, grab a seat in the garden at the Farm House Tap & Grill (802-859-0888, farmhousetg.com) and sip superlocal drafts like Hill Farmstead, Fiddlehead, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids. The roof deck at Das Bierhaus (802-881-0600, dasbierhausvt.com) is another must. The servers’ Bavarian-barmaid getups are cheesy, but the tasty German doppel-bocks and plates of spaetzle and kraut make up for it.

Beer-Friendly Excursions The copper brewhouse salvaged from Beerfelden, Germany, is one of the highlights on the free Switchback Brewing Company tour (802-651-4114), which is capped off with samples. It’s one of four stops on the “classic” five-hour Burlington Brew Tour (802-760-6091, burlingtonbrewtours.com), a Saturday excursion that also includes Magic Hat, Vermont Pub and Brewery, and Zero Gravity at American Flatbread. A $70 ticket gets you lunch, a driver, and round-trip transportation from your hotel.

Hangover Brunch Spot Locals flock to Magnolia Bistro (802-846-7446, magnoliabistro.com) for lemon-ricotta pancakes and hearty egg or tofu scrambles.

Where to Stay A night at the cozy One of a Kind Bed and Breakfast (Rates from $165; 802-862-5576, oneofakindbnb.com), in a residential neighborhood overlooking Lake Champlain, is a welcome retreat.

 

Portsmouth

Smuttynose, Portsmouth Brewery, and the East Coast outpost of Redhook put this coastal New Hampshire town on the beer-lover’s map. And the drive takes just over an hour. Less travel time means more imbibing, right?

Can’t-Miss Watering Holes The venerable Portsmouth Brewery churns out about 50 different varieties during the year. Fickle tipplers should order the $9 plank, a 10-beer sampler (603-431-1115, portsmouthbrewery.com). Blue Mermaid Island Grill (603-427-2583, bluemermaid.com) takes its craft repertoire seriously, too: In addition to eight taps, the Caribbean eatery recently expanded its list to include big bottles from Allagash, Ommegang, and Peak Organic.

Beer-Friendly Excursions Old Brown Dog fans can go straight to the source on a Smuttynose Brewery tour, offered on Fridays and Saturdays (603-436-4026, smuttynose.com). Your entry fee (a suggested $2 donation) includes six samples. If you get the DIY bug, head to A?&?G Homebrew Supply (603-767-8235, aghomebrewsupply.com) to stock up on malt, mash tuns, hop rhizomes, and more. Owners Alex and Gretchen McDonald also teach brewing classes.

Hangover Brunch Spot The “Guy Scramble” — eggs, cheddar, avocado, black beans, and salsa — at the Friendly Toast (603-430-2154, thefriendlytoast.net) is sure to right your ship.

Where to Stay The Ale House Inn (May rates from $129; 603-431-7760, alehouseinn.com), formerly a Portsmouth Brewing Company warehouse, is decorated with historical ephemera like wooden kegs, bottles, and crates. Bonus: iPads in each of the 10 sleek rooms to help you plan a pub crawl.