Hikes & Brews: The Wilton Area and Ambition Brewing
Ambition Brewing is billed as the “best and smallest brewery” in Wilton (pop. 4,116), a former mill town at the foot of the western Maine mountains that’s coming back to life thanks to the efforts of entrepreneurs like Jeff Chaisson and his business partner, Josh Michaud. The brewery, which occupies a couple of storefronts on Main Street, has become a popular destination for locals and travelers alike since opening three years ago.
At Ambition Brewing, you’ll enjoy a nice selection of drinkable beers, from the English ales favored by Chaisson—browns, porters, milds, and bitters—to lagers, sours, sessions, and IPAs. The taproom features warm colors, lots of wood, and an L-shaped bar made out of old doors. The cozy, comfortable space has the welcoming feel of a neighborhood pub where you can relax, rub elbows, and enjoy a refreshing pint or a flight.
As to the brewery’s name, “We were tossing around a lot of ideas,” said Chaisson. “Josh and I were working hard to help revitalize downtown Wilton (the pair had already established an IT consulting business) when we realized that ‘Ambition’ characterized exactly what we were about.”
“Some of our beer names, however, such as the best-selling ‘Stop. Hammock Time,’ a smooth cream ale, run counter to that,” joked Chaisson. So do the tongue-in-cheek books you’ll find on the taproom shelves, like The Lazy Man’s Guide to Life and The Low Ambition Handbook.
Along with the brews, you’ll want to sample the kitchen’s creative menu of fresh-flavored pub fare, from wraps and sandwiches to pizzas and wings (the Caprese flatbread pizza is delish!) Snacks include a quesadilla, nachos, tots, and a killer trio of marinated chicken skewers, marinated meatballs, and a half of a cheese quesadilla—yum! Regular food trucks roll up out front to add even more variety for good munchies.
When Ambition gets hopping, the crowd spills over into the adjacent community room, a sunny space where there are plenty of tables and a TV. There, Ambition Brewing hosts karaoke, comedy, and open mic nights, plus jam sessions and cribbage tournaments. The outdoor patio is a great place to soak up some sun while enjoying your beer and eats.
Chaisson, who grew up not far away in Rumford, has made Wilton his home ever since getting out of the service nearly 20 years ago. “It’s a cool little town set right on beautiful Wilson Lake,” Chaisson said. “It’s a great place to live and raise a family.” There’s a grocery store, a hardware store, a couple of restaurants, five or six parks, and lots of community spirit.
A few miles up the road are the 20,000 acres of Mount Blue State Park and Tumbledown Public Lands, where there are boundless opportunities for hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Tumbledown, Little Jackson, and Blueberry Mountains, plus Mount Blue, Webb Lake, and Bald Mountain are the big recreation draws. All that and good beer to boot (as well as cans, crowlers, and growlers to go). So bring your ambition to Ambition Brewing and the Wilton area this summer and have some fun!
If You Go
Mount Blue State Park and Tumbledown Public Lands
Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island, ME is freelance writer, avid hiker and beer drinker, and the author of the new book, Beer Hiking New England (available on Amazon in March of 2023).