No vacation would be worthwhile without beer involved. So, since we had 4 beer geeks in the car, there were a few stops.
Gritty McDuff’s Brewpub, Freeport, ME
On our ride up to Sunday River, we stopped in Freeport to visit the flagship LL Bean retail store(s). Since it was lunchtime, we decided to stop into Gritty’s Brewpub just down the street. The place is big and pretty open. There are 2 halves, one with a bigger bar than the other (it’s got the casks). The side we sat in had the smaller bar with just some taps and regular drinks. The tables were mostly picnic style tables, kind of like a German bar. The food was excellent. I had a burger that was fantastic. The others in our group also really enjoyed their food. They had their IPA and Scottish Ale on cask. I got the IPA, Susan got the Scottish. The IPA was awesome, but the Scottish was way off. They also had the Black Fly Stout on nitro, which was also excellent. We stopped by the gift shop, picked up a mini-keg of the stout and got some t-shirts.
Sunday River Brewing Co., Bethel, ME
At the end (or beginning, depending on which way you’re going) of Sunday River Rd. is the Sunday River Brewing Co. This brewpub used to be owned by Stone Coast, before they went out of business. It’s now the only place you can still get fresh Stone Coast beer, and what good beer it is. I had the Alt and the IPA (still the good old 420 IPA). Others in the group got the Red, which was also very good. Their food is excellent. They do a great BBQ and their house-made pastrami is awesome. It’s also really cheap. Pints are normally $3.50, but on Wednesdays from 3-7, they’re just $1.50. If you’re in the area, SRBC is a “don’t miss”.
Shipyard Brewhaus, Whitecap Lodge, Sunday River Resort, Newry, ME
While this isn’t an actual brewpub or brewery, Shipyard has a bar at the Sunday River resort. It serves beers other than Shipyard. It’s a little on the pricey side with regards to the food, which is pretty good, but nothing special. However, they have pretty much every Shipyard beer available (with the exception of the Pugsley’s Signature Series). The beer is good, and pretty cheap. Pitchers were just $15. They had the Brown Ale, which is a special one, and it’s a good one. They also had their Bluefin Stout, which was also excellent. If you’re at Sunday River, you should stop by the Shipyard Brewhaus at Whitecap Lodge for some beer (though you can skip the food here).
And now… last but most certainly not least… (in fact, I saved the best for last)…
Ebenezer’s Pub, Lovell, ME
Note: I’m going to include a review of an inn here as well, because it’s necessary to spend a night if you plan on visiting Ebenezer’s.
The last night of our trip, we stayed at the Olde Saco Inn in Fryeburg, ME. The inn is off Rt. 5, but way back in the woods. In fact, the street wasn’t found on my GPS, probably because it’s really just a driveway for the inn. The inn is gorgeous and the innkeepers are super nice and friendly. They were very welcoming and accommodating. The rooms were nice. There was a huge fireplace in the middle of the first floor, which kept the whole place nice and warm and smelled fantastic. They were baking cookies when we arrived. The morning after, we woke up to the great smell of maple and bacon. Since breakfast was included, we also got a huge meal. It was well worth the cost. It should also be noted that they run a shuttle service in conjunction with Ebenezer’s. You drive to Ebenezer’s, drink a lot of great beer, someone from Ebenezer’s will drive you back to the inn, the next morning, the innkeeper will bring you back to get your car.
Now onto the stuff you wanted to know… Ebenezer’s!
Ebenezer’s Pub is a small restaurant and bar also set back in the woods (apparently, it’s on a golf course, but in the middle of the winter, you can’t see anything but white). A lot of their business was snowmobilers, for whom they kept the heat down (my only complaint as it was quite chilly in there). It was packed when we arrived, so we ordered some beer and waited for a table (Susan wasn’t able to sit at a bar height table because of her knee). The tap list looks like you’re at a bar in Belgium that also serves a few American craft beers. It ranged from the common Stella Artois (which I doubt he carries often) to the rare Black Albert and Cantillon St. Lamvinus. In fact, the only non-craft beer on the list was Stella. He did have bottles of Bud and Corona, probably to keep him in business. Most of the people in there were drinking something other than the great draft beers they had. After we ordered food, one of the waitresses started talking to us and bringing us samples of some of the great beers on tap, including Black Albert and a couple Cantillon lambics. We drank a lot of beer, more from samples than actual orders. They had Samichlaus Helles on draft as well as a 2004 Stone Old Guardian Barleywine. Both were excellent. The 4 Cantillons I had (2006 Framboise, 2006 Kriek, Rose Gambrinus, and St. Lamvinus) were excellent, though not quite as sour as they are from the bottle. The Black Albert was simply amazing. It was a little light in body, but the flavor was awesome. The bartender had also brought us a bunch of samples. The staff couldn’t have been better.
Ebenezer’s is a must visit for anyone who loves beer. While they may not have the most taps or the biggest bottle list, they make up for it 10 times over with their staff. We didn’t even get to meet the owner, Chris.
This doesn’t include all the beer we drank at the condo (Shipyard Export Ale, Geary’s Pale Ale, Geary’s HSA, Sebago Frye’s Leap IPA, Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout, and more…). It also doesn’t include the stop we made for lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery on our drive home. I’ll write more about that next as it’ll include a bit more than just that lunch stop.