Sebago Brewing Co. Brings the Outdoors to Craft Beer Lovers This Winter
These days, gathering with friends and loved ones (responsibly) to drink Maine craft beer feels like an act of rebellion against a pandemic vying to stifle one of America’s best beer scenes. This past summer, Maine breweries and bars took CDC guidelines and got creative in putting lovingly crafted ales in our eager hands. We drank beer on patios, sectioned-off streets, inside breweries and bars with limited seating, and for a beautiful moment of normalcy, clinked our glasses of hoppy goodness.
But winter is here. And with it, the cold Maine winds, heaps of snow, and, already, a spike in pandemic numbers.
Before we start fretting over an impending hibernation without our beloved tasting rooms and bars, know that the innovative folks who engineered outdoor spaces this summer are working tirelessly to offer safe ways for us to tipple as the cold winter months settle over the region. (A quick tip, before reading on, go on L.L. Bean’s website and order up a few pairs of thermal underwear. Done? Okay, keep reading.)
A number of Maine breweries with access to land adjacent to their facilities are pairing craft beer with outdoor activities such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, and snowmobiling this winter. Oxbow Brewing Company, for instance, will continue to offer access to their trails at the bucolic Newcastle brewery, while their Beer Garden in Oxford gives patrons access to scores of acres of groomed trails.
Fully settled into their towering brewery and tasting room in Gorham, Sebago Brewing Company has spent the last two years building the infrastructure to provide patrons access to miles of pastoral trails coupled with al fresco beers.
“The Cherry Hills trail system behind Sebago Brewing Company tasting room and brewery is a three-mile loop that goes as far back as the Presumpscot River,” explained Matthew St. Hilaire, General Manager of the Gorham tasting room.
Craft beer lovers suffering from cabin fever this winter can park at the brewery and tasting room, strap on their skis or mount their fat tire bikes and jump on the trail system. Hilaire went on to explain that Sebago Brewing completed the trail access last winter and the brewery had so many craft beer enthusiasts take advantage of the outdoor activities, they had to install cubbies in the front foyer to store winter gear while guests imbibed après beers.
This winter, with limited indoor seating available per CDC regulations, Sebago is preparing to offer a comfortable, if not rustic, patio experience during the winter months.
“Our plan is to keep our patio clear of snow and leave picnic tables out for guests,” said Hilaire. “We also have a nice fire pit on our patio that we can fire up if we get some guests wanting to hang out around it.”
Beer enthusiasts who head to the brewery this winter can expect to have their hibernal thirst slaked by an offering of 16 taps at the tasting room. While five taps are dedicated to their flagship beers, the remaining tap lines are filled with seasonal and experimental suds formulated by Sebago’s arsenal of talented brewers.
“We like to keep a range of craft beer available for our variety of clientele,” said Hilaire. “They can range anywhere from barrel-fermented fruit offerings to a pastry stout we currently have on draft to bourbon barrel-aged beer.”
As winter progresses, let’s keep our spirits high by embracing the marriage of outdoor activities and craft beer being spearheaded by Maine’s innovative brewing community like the crew at Sebago Brewing Co. and remember that our (CDC-approved) actions are a resistance against a pandemic that will not keep us down.
— Text: Dave Patterson. Dave is a novelist, musician, and beer critic from Cape Elizabeth with a great thirst for Maine beer.