The Maine Beer Trail: Great Hikes, Great Views
Hiking adventures and great brews abound along the Maine Beer Trail
Autumn is the perfect time for hikers to pursue their love of the outdoors and passion for beer on the Maine Beer Trail, which showcases the state’s wealth of breweries and brewpubs. Good beer and tasty food are standard fare on this great adventure, and when paired with Maine’s four million acres of conservation lands and more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails, you’ve got a recipe for lots of healthy exploration and good fun.
“We expect to have more than 100 licensed breweries in Maine by the end of 2017,” said Sean Sullivan, Executive Director of the Maine Brewers Guild, which developed the Maine Beer Trail eight years ago. “It’s an awesome time for beer drinkers in this vast world of beer. There’s a style for every palate.”
One notable pairing of hikes and brews is found on Mt. Desert Island, where Acadia National Park’s 130 miles of trails wind through a paradise of pink granite ridgetops, tranquil forested valleys, pristine ponds, and bold oceanfront cliffs. Cadillac Mountain, Penobscot Mountain, Jordan Pond, Hunter’s Brook and Wonderland are all favorites. When the hiking is done and your thirst is at its peak, head to ATLANTIC BREWING COMPANY’s new Midtown pilot brewery in downtown Bar Harbor to sample an interesting menu of small batch beers and enjoy fresh, locally sourced food.
“We wanted to do something different, so we’re experimenting with many styles of beers,” said Alex Maffucci, Atlantic’s co-owner, Director of Operations and one of three brewers. “Our focus is on variety. We talk to patrons, staff and brewers and ask, ‘what would you like to see?’ We make the beers as one-offs, then we’re on to something new.”
Fall is here, so get your hiking gear together, grab a copy of the Maine Beer Trail Passport, and go! Try these other fine boots and brew combos for starters.
KITTERY: On the Cutts Island Trail, walk through oak and pine forests and along tidal estuaries and salt marshes in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. At TRIBUTARY BREWING COMPANY in the central village, the flagship beer is Tributary Pale Ale, but it’s Mott the Lesser, a Russian Imperial Stout, that really sets the brewery apart.
BELFAST: Minutes from downtown, the Little River Community Trail wends from the old brick pump house and outlet dam on US 1 around the undeveloped shores of two reservoirs. On the waterfront, MARSHALL WHARF BREWING COMPANY and THREE TIDES RESTAURANT feature 17 draft lines dedicated to their beers. Try the classic Tug Pale Ale.
LIMERICK: Hike the Smith Trail to the top of Sawyer Mountain, which lies amid the largest unfragmented block of undeveloped forestland in York County. GNEISS BREWING COMPANY, a back-to-the-land operation in the rural woods of town, specializes in German-style wheat beers. Gneiss-weiss is their very drinkable flagship beer.
SOUTH PARIS/NORWAY: The distinctive west face of Streaked Mtn. in South Paris can be seen for miles around. A short, steep hike leads to the summit ledges. On Main St. in Norway, the interior of NORWAY BREWING COMPANY has the look and feel of an old farmhouse. Mr. Grumpy Pants Oatmeal Stout, the signature beer, is made with Maine Grains oats and Coffee by Design roasted beans.
MONTVILLE/LIBERTY: The Northern Headwaters Trail in Montville leads along old stone walls on Whitten Hill to the headwaters of the Sheepscot River. Housed in a modernized 100-year old post and beam hay barn in Liberty, LAKE ST. GEORGE BREWING COMPANY produces a line of traditional beer styles. The 96 IPA, named for their brewing license number, is most popular.
HIKES & BREWS RESOURCES
— Text & photos: Carey Kish. A resident of Mt. Desert Island, Carey is an avid beer drinker, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide, and author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.