Three Brewtastic New England Getaways

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

Beercations and beer getaways in New England

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Portland, Maine: A beer tourist’s dream.

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.

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