I recently had the pleasure of visiting a dear old friend…Maine Beer Company. It has been a few years since my last visit and six since my first visit and review. I had previously been back since they expanded but I decided I wanted to write a quick follow up because here we are six years later and I’m still so impressed by the brewery, staff and beer. Even though they have grown leaps and bounds they have stayed true to their core. The beer is still top notch and some of the cleanest, tastiest beer around, they still partner with several nonprofit charities and the staff has remained helpful, friendly and fun. It’s not only the beer I respect at Maine Beer Company but their philosophy as a whole.
Since my first visit the building has expanded…it’s huge. I’m not gong to front my first visit after the expansion I was a bit shocked by the size of the new tasting room and missed the little one but I was also happy to see them doing so well. They worked hard and deserved it. Now that I’m use to the size it didn’t phase me on this visit. Instead I could really take the time to sit back and enjoy how they have grown yet stayed the same.
What else has changed? No flights, a host to seat you, besides the pizza they now offer a few other snacks plus wine and expanded outside seating. Since the pandemic they have removed tables making the seating more spacious. I also noticed seating on the 2nd level – old tap room – I’m not sure if that was being utilized last visit or if it was added because of the pandemic.
On this particular visit I enjoyed:
Prince Percy Pilsner 5.1% – I was one lucky gal to enjoy two great pilsners in one day, Bissell Brothers prior. A bit hop forward balanced by the malts with classic floral aromas and hints of citrus as well.
Black Barn No. 22 IPA 6.3% – a very nice easy drinking IPA with hints of melon and lemon.
Dinner DIPA 8.2% – Of course! Tropical fruits with hints of Maine Pine and earthy garden. I always enjoy this classic.
I also purchased a bottle of Thank you IPA 6.4% to enjoy later in the week and enjoy I did. There’s a lot going on with this IPA from Saaz hops to malts with notes of fresh baked bread, coconut, mango and lemon.
After spending sometime at with this dear old friend I felt reset, relaxed and ready to enjoy Maine!
To say Bissell Brothers Brewing has been on my Breweries to Visit list for some time would be an understatement. As the saying goes…All in good time and that time finally arrived. I decided I’d be making two stops this year on my beloved trek north to Maine – Bissell Brothers Brewing (Portland Location) and Maine Beer Co.
I had no preconceived thoughts as to what BBB would be like but they didn’t disappoint. They are located a bit off the beaten path, aren’t most breweries, in an old railway building. So yea, the building is pretty cool with its rustic charm and the vibe is bright, energetic and fun! There’s a very nice patio area for outdoor enjoyment and inside the main floor is large with plenty of seating and there’s also a small upper level as well. You order at the bar, the line moves quickly and the staff is very friendly and helpful. There were 14 beers on tap and the list was broken up by IPA & Hop-Forward, Dark & Malty, Lager & Traditional and Funky & Wild. I think the way they had the tap list is very helpful and cuts down on a lot of questions from folks.
Beings there was a Pilsner on tap and that’s my fav style right now, yea I said it, I went with that first. Precept Pilsner 5.6% – Oh yum! This pilsner was so crisp and clean. This particular pilsner uses Mittelfruh & Saaz hops along with Maine Pilsner malts. The malt to hops ratio was spot on and it was the perfect refresher after sitting in the car for 6 hours.
Next up I enjoyed the Zoo Hypothesis Double IPA 7.7% – What a treat this DIPA was. It’s made with Lotus, Citrus and Mosaic hops along with 2-row, Maine Oats & Maine Wheat malts. The nose consists of a variety of fruits including tropical along with orange and grapefruit. The orange and grapefruit are the forward tastes balanced by earthy herbs and spices.
I was surprised they offered a selection of food from tacos, sandwiches and burgers along with a kid’s menu as well. They also offer wine, craft cider and soda
Because we still had a stop at Maine Beer Company and the rest of the drive to our final desertion I had to make do with just enjoying the two beers this visit but I look forward to a return trip.
Next on my list of 2021 Breweries to Visit was Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, NJ. When I found out a brewery had opened in the quaint town of Stockton not only was I excited that there was new beer to try, just a scenic drive away, but felt this would be a perfect addition to the town.
One of the first things to catch my eye about Odd Bird is the logo…it’s gorgeous. This Gal’s background is marketing and graphic design so things like logos and branding, always stick out to me and tell me a bit about the business, whether it be a brewery or something else. If a place realizes the importance of professional design and branding they realize the importance of small but mighty details. Odd Bird does just that…recognizes the importance of even the smallest details and the bigger ones too. It’s an aesthetically pleasing and inviting space and the owners make you feel very welcomed. The tap handles are gorgeous hand blow glass and the wood tables add a nice rustic feel. I look forward to the day the inside is open to the patrons. The husband-and-wife team run the place by themselves so for now only the outside tent patio is open for seating. They are looking to welcome the public inside in the fall.
Odd Bird is small but laid out in the way to make the most of the space inside and out. The tent backs up to a hill and has several low and high-top tables plus a “bar” at the front you can sit at. Parking is tough and my guess is will be better in the colder weather once the tent is gone. The Saturday night I was there I was able to snag a spot right out front otherwise you can park down the street at the Prallsville Mill. Because the brewery is located in a food manufacturing facility no dogs allowed. You are welcomed to bring food in and there is a plethora of places in Stockton to get take out from or take your beer to go to one of the BYOB restaurants. Stockton is really a cute town and worth taking a few movements to walk around and enjoy. There’s also a tow path you can walk or ride your bike on and then stop at the brewery for a beer reward after.
Now onto the beer! Right now, no flights but they are very generous with tasters. There were 9 beers on tap and 1 on cask the night I was there and the list was pretty diverse. As soon as I saw they offered a ESB I knew that’s what this Gal was getting. I’ll say it again – I’m so freaking happy to see this style popping up more and more on tap list! It’s been overlooked for far too long.
Extra Stockton Bitter ESB 4.5% – It did not disappoint. I always appreciate a good malt forward beer balanced by the bitterness of hops.
I was happy that both the IPA offerings were not hazy. Did a taster of each Extraordinary Machine IPA 6.4% and the Catbird IPA 6.9%. Decided on the Extraordinary for the pour. It’s nice crisp and clean IPA that goes down easily with a soft note of hops.
The final taste of the evening for this Gal was the Joe’s Garage Kölsch 5.2%. Another style I’m happy to be seeing on tap list again. A Kölsch is always a good kick back summer refresher. Joe’s Garage is well done. A breath of freshness with hits of floral hops and malt aromas.
The brewery is just a hop, skip and jump away from Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA so incorporating a stop into your day of sighting seeing would be an added bonus! I look forward to watching the Odd Bird grow and become an anchor to the Stockton community.
Next up on my list of breweries to visit in 2021 – Tonewood Brewery. My friend and I picked a gorgeous May weekday afternoon to meet up and see what’s what at the brewery. I love they are open Tuesday thru Sunday. Some of us like visiting breweries during the week rather than wait for the weekend. For whatever reason the location through me off a bit. The location is part industrial and, yet, part residential. I’m not sure what the building used to house and the person from Tonewood I spoke to didn’t know either. Reminded me of an old firehouse but don’t think it was. It butts right up to a residential property and neighborhood. I bet the zoning meetings for the approval had to be interesting. Also, there is a free parking lot across from the side of the building.
My friend and I chose to sit outside at the picnic tables that run along the side of the brewery. Beware you are sitting at a slant and might occasionally have to keep your beer from sliding down he table. The brewery itself is small but there are several tables inside, as well as, a bar. The wood table tops are are beautiful and I love the use of wood showcased in it’s natural glory. Pretty much the entire time I was there they played the Grateful Dead so you know this Gal was happy and it earned them huge bonus points!
Tonewood does not offer beer flights but once I saw they had a Schwarzbier on tap I new exactly what this Gal would be drinking. Black Bird Schwarzbier 4% Dark German Lager and oh so delish! Smooth, crisp and clean with hints of chocolate and pumpernickel. It was the perfect Spring beer for the early May afternoon. The day I was there the IPA’s were all hazy, just not my thing right now, so after the Schwarzbier I enjoyed the Two Versions of Me Dry Hopped Pilsner 5% and a collab beer from Tonewood and Cape May Brewing. It was a respectful Pilsner with tones of melon, white grape and a hint of oak.
Back in early May I had plans to meet a friend at Tonewood Brewing but realized Kings Road Brewery was just 10 minutes from Tonewood so felt it necessary to stop and check out Kings Road first. So glad I did.
Kings Road Brewery is located in the heart of downtown Haddonefield, NJ and what a cute town! A gorgeous downtown that just calls out for one to spend an afternoon strolling the streets, popping into the various mom and pops shops, restaurants, bakeries, and brewery. To say Haddonfield is cute is an understatement and I plan on going back to enjoy an afternoon of #smallbusiness. However, I did stop into a fun little spice and tea shop before heading to the brewery. The brewery is close to the Heritage Winery Tasting Room and across the street from The British Chop Shop which happens to be byob.
There is street meter parking out front and a rather large lot near the rear of the brewery across the street. Beings I was there on a weekday afternoon I had no problem finding parking out front. I opted to enjoy my beer outside in the back of the brewery where they had several picnic tables set up with a tent overhead for some shade. Besides the picnic table area they also had a few barrel tables outside in the front of the building and another outside area in the back with a few hightop tables and lots of sun. Inside the space is generous with lots of warm tones, wood and plenty of seating. You are allowed to bring food in and dogs are welcomed outside. The interior is a nice size and felt warm and inviting. The staff was very attentive and welcoming.
This Gal absolutely adored the tap list. It was really one of the most diverse brewery lists I’ve seen in a while and spot on for Spring. There were so many I wanted to try so opted for a taster flight:
Empire Strikes Back – English Bitter 5.1% ( you know I had to order it with a name like that) Very happy to see an English Bitter and even happier drinking it. This ESB had the perfect combination of malts and hops.
1944 Pilsner – 4.4% My go to style now a days. This was a true classic German style Pilsner. Starts with a bit of doughiness and follows up clean and crisp.
Hell n’ Bock – 6.7% A bock! Love a bock and so happy to see one on their menu. I cannot stress enough how much I loved their selection. This bock wasn’t as malty as some I’ve had but that’s ok there was still plenty of malt and had a slight taste of peppers.
Since the lager had kicked and the IPAs were NE stye, which just wasn’t in the mood for, I opted for the Black Musket Stout to round out the flight.
Black Musket Stout – 6.2% It’s been a while since I ordered a stout. I used to love the roasted coffee flavor to stouts but my taste have changed and since most stouts seem to have the coffee thing going on I tend to pass. This black beauty passed on the coffee and offered up an abundance of dark malts countered by hops and a hint of nuttiness. Rich, Smooth & Creamy.
I wish I had more time to spend at Kings Road Brewery but I had to move onto my next stop but I’ll definitely be back.
Even though my 2020 Breweries to Visit list…oh heck we all know what happened to any plans made in 2020. The fact that 2020 was a wash didn’t stop me from making my 2021 Breweries to Visit list. This year’s list focuses heavily only #NJCraftBeer with a few PA breweries in the mix and so far I’m on track with visits. My latest stop was to Icarus Brewing in Lakewood, NJ. I’ve been hearing so many good things about their beer and had to check it out for myself.
I recently met a friend there on a rainy afternoon so outside sitting wasn’t going to work. However, on nice days there is a small makeshift seating area in the parking lot in front of the brewery. Parking appears to be limited unless I missed a second lot. We chose to go early on a Friday in hopes it wouldn’t be crowded at 1:30pm and our plan worked.
The brewery is much smaller than I imagined but the layout doesn’t make you feel cramped and even though it’s in a warehouse they have it set up to be warm and inviting. There are only a handful of tables with the tables along the wall having hanging dividers between them. There are also hooks along the wall and under the bar to hang purses and coats or whatever, as well as, charging outlets. Very nice touch! (no bar seating right now) Since I had my pups with me I chose the corner table next to the bar which was really out of the way from others.
The tap list is diverse from Pilsner, IPA, Pale Ale, Fruit, Stouts and Quads on tap. I was excited to see two Pilsners on the list, my go to style right now and stuck to them and IPA’s for this trip. I was happy with all my choices. The Three B’s Pilsner 6.9% and Pound of Feathers Imperial Pilsner 7.1% both were well done, clean and crisp and my favs of the day. I enjoyed the Pound of Feathers so much I bought 4 pack for my brother. I also really enjoyed the Piner West Coast IPA 7.4%. I love a good old school W.C. IPA and the Piner was exactly what I was in the mood for with hints of pine and citrus.
The artwork on the walls is fun and I even spotted a Grateful Dead painting so you know that made this Gal happy. The have a large collection of vinyl that they play and I love that they display the album sleeve of what is currently playing. Another nice touch!
We brought our own food to enjoy. I stopped on the way to Icarus at Mama Dude’s a fantastic little mom & pop farm to table take out joint…highly recommend them. We enjoyed lunch, beers and catching up which really made for such a relaxing afternoon.
Right now seating is limited to 90 minutes if crowded, no flights and there’s a take out window up front for purchases. The staff is friendly and happy to answer any questions and the brewery is dog friendly. Mama T. and Sullivan felt very welcomed.
I just received an email from a brewery, I shall not name, that Summer Beers are out and We’re ready for Summer. It’s March 19! The jump on seasonal beers seems to be in strict competition with stores decorating for Christmas in September. I want to enjoy my Spring beer styles first, like Starkbiers, before the marketing of summer beer begins. After all Starkbiers have such a wonderful history and shouldn’t be over looked.
Monks originally started brewing Starkbier to help them through Lent since the monks couldn’t consume any food but could drink. So they brewed a beer that was packed with nutrients and calories. Starkbier translated is strong beer and known as Doppelbock. I would love to see more breweries brewing this style. In 1629 Paulaner monks brewed the first batch – Salvator. Just so happens one of this Gal’s #beercats is named after Paulaner Salvator.
The citizens of Munich heard of this amazing beer but because of laws could not partake. These laws were changed so the monks could share the beer with the people of Munich and thus this was the start of drinking Starkbier during Lent. Germany being Germany created a whole festival around this beer and Starbier Fest was born. Of course, in modern times they now eat during Lent but the tradition of brewing & celebrating Starkbier lives on.
This Gal had the pleasure of traveling to Germany during Starkbier Fest many moons ago. It was an amazing trip which one day I’ll write about. I was drinking Starkbier all over Munich and to this day it’s one of my fav beers and truly my favorite beer season. So I don’t want to see it glossed over. I mean who doesn’t love a German Beer Hall packed to the rafters with folks swinging their liters of beer while singing Joan Jett’s I Love Rock N’ Roll?! If you can picture that then you have a good idea how much fun Starkbier Fest is.
I really didn’t plan on writing about Starkbier or the Fest and I feel enjoy what you want when you want. You want a pumpkin beer in July go for it. I just don’t want to hear how the Fall pumpkin season is here when it’s July 10 or how it’s Summer Beer Season on March 19.
For the first time in a year I was inside a brewery. It was surreal and yet normal all at the same time. Being in the high risk group for Covid I have limited my time out in the public and only visited 3 breweries last year (all outside) and for the most part enjoy beer at home or at my local beer joint down the street that has a year round outdoor patio. Fortunately, their tap list is always top notch. However, it was nice to try out a new place and drink some different beers.
Newton Brewing Company had been on my list of places to visit last year but we all know what happened to our lists of things to do and places to visit in 2020. I’m determined to get through my list this year. Granted I showed up 5 minutes before they opened so I could get there first thing, limited myself to a taster round and promised my partner we would be out before it got people-ly. I had just wrapped up the taster round when others arrived so we had the place to ourselves pretty much our entire visit.
ATMOSPHERE – Like many other breweries it is in an industrial type complex but the minute you walk through the door you forget that. The owners did a top notch job making the brewery feel warm and inviting. I absolutely love all the wood and the overall decor of the place. I also really like that there are a choice of table styles to choose from – high tops, barrels, and regular 4 top tables. (Bar sitting doesn’t exist right now because of the pandemic ) Another bonus sound buffers on the walls and ceilings. The brewery is BYOF and often has food trucks, check out their schedule, and being its PA during Covid hot dogs are available for purchase to cover the required table food law.
THE BEER – The tap list is nice with truly something for everyone. Personally, I was thrilled to see a Dunkel on the list and that was my fav of the day. Their Imperial IPA also ranked high. They also serve wine from a local winery, soft drinks, hard cider and seltzer as well. This place has me excited to visit breweries again and I look forward to my 2021 Beer Tasting Adventures.
Please note me and my partner’s comfort level and precautions with the pandemic are our decision and I will not debate them.