October 28th, 2020
Jockey Cap and Saco River Brewing Company
A short hike off Route 302 in Fryeburg, Jockey Cap looks down on the Saco River valley and the Fryeburg area. In the 1930s, the hill was briefly a ski area — and home to Maine’s first rope tow — but has since found a second life as a family hiking destination. From a trailhead behind Quinn’s Jockey Cap Motel and Country Store, the trail quickly climbs 200 feet over rocks and roots to the summit. The quarter-mile climb from the parking lot to the peak is steep, but not terribly taxing — most hikers can probably make a round trip in less than a half hour, without breaking a sweat. The reward at the summit (beyond the panoramic view from nearby Sebago Lake to farther Grafton Notch and Mount Washington) is the spectacular Peary monument. With a large metal compass dedicated to Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary, the monument details all the surrounding landmarks in striking profile.
It’s easy to find your way to Saco River Brewing from Jockey Cap, as the brewery is literally across the street from the trailhead. Tucked behind the Two Black Dogs Country Pub and steps from the namesake Saco River, the brewery opened in 2016. The small tasting room and brewery, built out from an old metal fabrication shop, maintains the industrial feel, with concrete floors and a poured concrete bar painted with an approximation of the Saco River. A red Old Town canoe hangs over the bar and a glass wall holds the ever-changing tap list (offering a window into the brewery). Visible just beyond the wall is a barrel — filled with beer, natch — and the production portion of the brewery. Still in operation in the foreground is a small, one-barrel pilot system, where owner Mason Irish can brew small batches of beer to serve at the brewery.
Hike: Jockey Cap Glacial Erratic, Fryeburg, Maine
— Text & Photo: Josh Christie. Josh is the author of a number of books on beer and the Maine outdoors, as well as co-owner of Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine.