Hikes & Brews: Wells Reserve & Hidden Cove Brewing Company
Spanning the estuaries of the Webhannet River and the Little River along the Gulf of Maine, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm in Wells encompasses 2,250 acres with a diverse wildlife habitat, from grasslands, wetlands and woodlands to salt marshes, dunes, and sandy beach. Formally known as the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, the facility is one of 29 reserves across the U.S. that work to protect and preserve healthy, productive and sustainable salt marsh estuaries.
Seven miles of easy trails crisscross Wells Reserve and with a few pleasant hours to spare, you can cover a lot of ground. Begin your walk at the historic Laudholm Farmhouse, which houses the visitor center and a series of exhibits that describe the changes in the coastal landscape over the millennia and the land’s fascinating history. Interpretive displays along the meandering footpaths and winding boardwalks detail the ecology of this natural gem, while four observation platforms offer glorious views over the salt marshes. Be sure to visit Laudholm Beach, a great spot to wander freely amid the sand and surf.
At Hidden Cove Brewing Company, a few miles south in Wells Beach, “any time is booty time,” according to Richard Varano, a bit of a pirate himself, who opened the place in 2014. With 12 taps of unique, well-balanced brews, there’s certainly a bounty of booty to be enjoyed. Try a flight, then order up a pint, and relax among friends old and new in the welcoming environs of the taproom, which Varano likens to the happy vibe of “Cheers,” that venerable Boston pub of TV fame.
The very drinkable Patroon American IPA is a big seller, but you’ve got to try the Jali, a beer version of a jalapeño margarita. If you’re thinking this will be a five-alarm mouth fire, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and refreshed by the sweet and spice of this awesome sour fruit ale.
From board games, pinball, and tabletop shuffleboard to live music, great beer, and good fun, there’s “a boatload of awesomeness” to enjoy at Hidden Cove Brewing. Got the munchies? Varano’s other establishments, Ristorante Italiano and Billy’s Chowder House, are close by. [Update: Hidden Cove Brewing has been sold to Batson River Brewing & Distilling, which has locations in Portland and Kennebunk. They plan to re-open the Wells brewery under the Batson River name sometime next month.]
Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island, an avid hiker and beer drinker, is working on a new book called Beer Hiking New England (Summer 2022)