Warning: this is not a healthy post.
We left New York on a Friday morning for a Saturday night arrival in Maine. We thought: I-88 to I-87 to I-90 to I-495....yeah, we don't really like driving. So the fastest route seemed like the only route at that moment. Living in today's world, it's always about getting there the fastest, quickest, and most direct. It feels like we sometimes forget the joy of the journey.
For some reason on this trip, we heard from a friend that interstate traffic in to Maine on the weekends is insanity. It's so crazy that the only choice is taking a back road if we EVER wanted to get there. So, being of the "get there fast" mentality, we took that friends advice.
And wow, am I glad we did.
The trip kicked off with a night in Saratoga Springs, NY. It's the home of NY's most well-known horse racing tracks, as well as a large concert venue. It's a busy town in the summer. So we joined the tourists and locals on the main drag of town - Broadway St. It's about a two mile stretch of shoppes, restaurants,and bars. It feels like one of those great American Main Streets with flags and historic architecture. We slowly walked by storefronts, stopping in a few to browse. We bought a dog toy from a shoppe called Dawgdom that makes and sells organic/healthy treats and toys. I just love seeing how excited Mr. Ted gets when a new toy is involved.
So after some wandering, a beacon of light shined from the storefronts. A large metal gate. It was open, and led in to a courtyard area with music, people, and some amazing looking grub. "Where am I?" I thought. I looked back at the gate and realized we had stumbled in to Druthers Brewery. Tanks lined the glass windows throughout the interior, over 10 taps sat at the bar and the smell of hops and malt was unmistakable. So...I think I found heaven?
We parked it at the bar and I immediately ordered an IPA. Delicious! But this was just no average brewery - it was a full service restaurant and bar, with a menu to put some restaurants to shame it sounded so good. We took a seat outside, and I ordered the most amazing, epic, monster burger I have ever had: the Ugly Burger. Gorgonzola, beer cheese, caramelized cipollini onion rings, applewood smoked bacon, and a fried egg. Woah. It was not ugly, it was beautiful. Don't be jealous, go see for yourself.
After that, I got gelato because I am insane. And then went straight to bed.
The following morning, we left to begin the second leg of the journey to the beautiful coastline of Maine. We were happy with this backroad choice knowing we would have to travel through a short stint of Vermont - and, rumor has it, Vermont folks make great craft beer. More breweries per capita than any other state in the U.S., in fact. So we're driving through ski-towns that are slow in the summer, though we do see a kayak on top of about every car we pass on this twisty one-lane road. So us ever-exploring-nature-lovers are still around, at least. And then...we found what we're looking for. Beer!
Long Trail Brewing Co., located right outside of ski-town, Killington, appeared on the side of the road, and was busy. Shockingly so - it's like the 100 people that are still around there when the snow is gone all landed at Long Trail. I parked it at the bar and ordered up a flight of IPA's, from a dark, double, regular, and a traditional pale ale. It was delicious, and a great find on the side of the road. The Limbo IPA was by far my fave. Not to mention it has a great view of the Ottauquechee River flowing right by the back deck. The menu looked great, but we were saving ourselves for another stop on the journey...
Next we finally meandered our way over the Main border. The next stop on this road-trip turned beer-cation? Portland. Known for great beer, restaurants, and a cool downtown -waterfront location. Wandering around the city was fun, but we had one thing in mind: food. A friend recommended a restaurant called Duck Fat earlier that week. Little did I know that this restaurant was the #1 spot in all of Portland, and the chef is a James Beard award winner. Oh em gee, it was some of the best food I have ever put in my mouth. And yet, so simple. Duck fat fries, a pork belly panini, and sishito peppers. I was shocked at how good it was. And saddened because I know that no matter how many times I attempt a panini at home, it will never be as good.
After Duck Fat, we went to continue our beercation by a stop at Novare Res Bier Café. So many people suggested we go there, so it seemed like a legit spot. That evening it was a tap takeover night from Dogfish Head Brewing out of Delaware. Dogfish is know for hoppy IPA (even getting gin to the delicious and dangerous double-triple zone) so I was in heaven. I tried a few unreleased beers - I mean...there were 30 Dogfish beers on draft. It was the beer world at my fingertips. Unfortunately I did not get any photos of the interior of Novare Res because I was just having too much fun. But it was a typical beer garden with a cool vibe and a great outdoor seating area. Loved it.
Finally as we are trucking out of Portland on our way to our final destination in Maine, we have an epiphany. Isn't Allagash Brewing in Portland? Don't they make that crazy-popular Belgian-style beer? Sure enough, it was only about five miles away from where we were standing, so we headed over.
We walked in just in time for their last tour of the day. We wanted to sit at the bar and buy a beer to sip on while we waited, but the tour guide said we could not buy any beer - that it can only be served on the tour. We thought that was weird...but when we sat down at the bar, we were immediately offered tastings. Ok, that works for me!
I am not a fan of Belgian-style beer, but this was just so cold and so fresh...obviously you could not get a more perfect pint than at the brewery itself. This was the most absolute perfect delicious pint of beer that I don't event like. The tour began with headsets because this brewery was workin' it. It was around 5 and they were in full-production mode. Our tour guide helped us navigate the brewery and provided all sorts of amazing info along the way. I can say that this was hands-down the best brewery tour that I have EVER been on.
Except for the fact that the tour guide hated me more than life itself and literally just kept saying "Ma'am. Ma'am!" the entire time as I snuck in a few photos that might have been a little too close for comfort. Though I would disagree. We actually because BFF's with him in the barrel aging/tasting room at the end of the tour because I would care to bet that we were the most interested in the actual brewing process than anyone else in the room.
So that about wraps up beercation....Druthers Brewery in NY, Long Trail in VT, Novare Res/Dogfish in Portland, and finally Allagash. All in less than 72-hours. Cheers!