This Gal just loves when little out of the way gems are discovered and Liberty Craft Brewing is just that a hidden gem.
This tiny brewpub is located on the brewer’s proberty above the garage which serves as the brewery. They brew 100-150 gallon batches, 1 batch per week.
The brewpub itself is small with lots of wood, a bar that seats 5 and 2 tables inside with a total capacity of 15. There’s seating outback on the deck too and it just happens to offer an amazing Maine view. Occasionally, they have live music although, I have no clue where they fit a band and for a few of the regulars there’s an exclusive mug club.
This is truly a brewpub in that it serves both beer and food. Like the rest of Liberty Craft Brewing the food menu is small but but there’s something for everyone including a couple of vegetarian options.
This Gal opted for the homemade malted grain veggie burger which happens to be made using grains from brewing. It was fantastic and if your wondering yes, you can taste the grains which are delicious. My bro had the bratwurst which comes from Morse’s European Market down the street. Another must stop if your up that way. Other food items the group enjoyed included a roasted veggie salad with a stuffed mushroom and lamb/veal gyro. All served with a side of house made salsa which is awesome and offers a nice little kick.
Now on to the BEER! Prices are very good and range from $4 to $5.50 for a glass. The taster round is 4 for $10 which, of course, this Gal had to go for. Since there were 6 beers on tap my brother and I shared 2 taster rounds and then each picked our favorite beer as the 3 & 4 beers on the second round. To date Liberty Craft Brewing wins for best taster round glass ware. The proper glass for each style really enhances the overall enjoyment of the tasting experience.
Hay Stack Extra Pale Ale Neither my brother nor I knew what to make of this one. Didn’t really stand out as a Pale Ale.
Night Cap Imperial Porter – AWESOME! Of course, it was his Gal’s favorite of the visit. This is a coffee porter so it has that wonderful roasted chicory quality I just love.
Blueberry Beah This is an American ale brewed using 15 gallons of fresh local blueberries however, the blueberry taste is very subtle.
St George Gold Pilsner A true pilsner, light with just a hint of hops.
Tunk Spruce Double IPA – Bro’s favorite! Spruce + Double IPA were adding up to something I didn’t think I would enjoy but I was wrong. That’s why it’s important to go outside your comfort zone. You never know what you may discover and I discovered that I really liked this beer. It has the slightest hint of spruce that compliments the hops, over all a very good refreshing beer and a wonderful surprise.
Queen Bee Honey Lager – If you like lagers and you like honey this is for you. That being said I’m not a lager fan nor am I big on honey notes in my beer so wasn’t for me.
Some of the beer has the young brew taste to it but I think their beer is going to grow in sophistication, after all, they had only been opened 10 months when we visited. I look forward to visiting again and seeing what sort of growth has taken place at Liberty Craft Brewing.
Upon my arrival in Maine my brother informed me he found two more breweries for us to visit Andrew’s Brewing and Liberty Craft Brewing. I hadn’t heard of either but was certainly up for trying them. First up was Andy’s. This brewery has been around since 1992 and was one of the early pioneers in the Maine Craft Beer industry. The brewery recently moved into a small building attached to The Lobster Pound Restaurant. It’s an interesting arrangement, the brewpub is in the restaurant and they are the same but different. Sort of two in one thing. You can also view the brewery from a glass window in the bar area of The Lobster Pound.
Upon arrival we took a look at the small, but mighty, brewery set up and introduced ourselves to Ben, one of the brewers, who was friendly and welcoming. I say mighty because they had 11 beers on tap which is a hefty number considering the small size of the brewing area.
The brewpub/restaurant wasn’t as exciting. The decor, well it’s lacking something. The wood work is very rustic and beautiful (as in mulled tree truck bar) but the feel of the place is missing something. More color on the walls perhaps. It just doesn’t have that “I want to kick back for a while and hang out” feel that this Gal looks for. It was more of eat, drink and go sort of feel. However, the view is breathtaking and does beg for attention.
The brewpub sits right on the water’s edge of Licolnville. I recommend sitting outside and taking in the view – that’ll help with the kicking back part. Plus, the staff and locals are very friendly and it’s easy to strike up a conversation.
Although, the atmosphere wasn’t necessarily for me the beer was with 11 house beers on tap plus 2 guest taps. The beers are brewed English style and a tasting round consist of 4 4oz pours(pints & growlers are also available). At first I was concerned when I saw pint glasses being pulled from a refrigerator – frosted pints NO! – but upon inquiry I was relieved to hear none refrigerated pints glasses were also available. The breweries preference for serving their english style ales but some locals prefer refrigerated glasses and they’re happy to accommodate everyone – very understandable.
Of course, this Gal and her hop head brother had to go for taster rounds. We decided to do 3 rounds so we could try all the beer and the guest tap of mead.
Here we go:
IPA 5.6% The standard citrus & hops combo taken down a notch. Enjoyable but not outstanding.
English Pale Ale 5.5% Very enjoyable with the usual combo of malt, hops and caramel toasted to EPA goodness.
Shandy 4.5% Shandies are one of my least favorite styles but this was a nice balance of lemon and good summer beverage.
Gold 4.1% Really good! Normally neither my bro or I are a fan of this style but this ended up being one of the favorites for both of us. Excellent!
Red 6.5% Yay a red! Malts, toffee and a slight bitter finish made this another winner. At first my brother was so so about it but tried it with a piece of toffee which complimented the beer nicely and brought the toffee goodness out of the beer. Remember food can really alter your perception of a beer. If in doubt pair it up.
Stout 7.8% This was a lighter body stout but, than again, they’re brewing English style beer. Overall the flavor was good it’s just that this Gal’s prefers a bit more chewiness to her stouts.
Porter 6.1% A lighter body porter but still tasty with bitter after notes that this Gal enjoys.
Brown 4.4% – Woohoo a brown! By now you know how this Gal’s feels about browns – always happy to see them represented and this one represented in a good way with baked bread earthiness, toasted malts and accents of fruit.
Scottish 5.8% If I see a Scottish Ale on a menu I will pretty always add it to my taster round. I just love trying out this style. This particular one was very well done and ended up being one of this Gal’s favorites for the day! Just the right amount of malt, herbs and subtle smokiness to it.
Blueberry– This was blueberry beginning to end from the time it hits your nose and has the follow threw. I’m not a fruit beer Gal (Lambic exceptions) but for those looking for a fruit beer look no further this is everything you hope for and more.
Black & Tan 6%
So happy to see a black & tan on the menu and this one was a good combo of their porter and pale ale. I later mixed this with some blueberry which helped balanced out the fruit for me. Yup, it’s ok to exterminate with your beers. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Mead the mead was from Michigan on the guest tap and ummm, nope still not a mead Gal.
Favorites – Golden, Red, Brown & Scottish
This Gal is certainly interested to see how Andrew’s continues to grow in the brewing world. I look forward to a return visit and taking in the view while enjoying a beer.
Last time this Gal visited Gritty’s was August 1998. It was one of many stops along the way to Lemonwheel. Gritty’s is a classic after all they’ve been brewing beer since 1988. Years ago they only had the one location in Portland, Maine which was small, welcoming and just a great overall hangout. They’ve grown and now have 3 locations in Maine – Portland, Auburn and Freeport. On this visit I was checking out the Freeport location.It’s extremely easy to access as it’s located on Route 1 and just a mere half mile from Maine Beer Company. By know you know I recommend making it a mini beer crawl sort of day.Upon arrival I couldn’t believe how big the Freeport location is. The Portland location reminds me of an old English pub but this one has more of a Maine lodge feel to it. With large rooms, wood beams and accents and lots of windows allowing the natural beauty that is Maine to shine through. Upon entry there is a dining room to the right, back patio straight in front of you and the bar area with tables to the left. Naturally, I wanted to sit in the bar area. Although, after having just spent 6 hours in a car bar stools were not going to cut it so we opted for a table. However, I will say the tables in the bar area seemed oddly short. Still trying to figure that out.
Upon perusing the beer menu I immediately knew I needed to do a taster flight. However, I had another beer stop after Gritty’s plus a bit of a drive a head (although my companion was doing the rest of the driving) so I didn’t do the full flight (10 4oz beers) and opted for making my own size up. Yup, they are super accommodating. This Gal’s flight consisted of 5 Gritty McDuff’s beers.
Best Bitter 4.8% – Of course, I had to include their flag ship beer and truth be told I do enjoy a bitter. I was happy it was served at the right temperature so the malts and hop bitterness could truly be enjoyed the way the beer gods intended. A classic bitter.
Original Pub Style 4.5%
Over all it was good beer a bit light with not much to back it up but enjoyable to drink. The hops were extremely subtle.
Black Fly Stout 4.7% – You guessed it – this Gal’s favorite of the taster flight. This stout scored a perfect 100 from Beer Advocate Magazine and I understand why. Beautiful creamy head with a rich dark body. Overall it’s a lighter body dry stout that makes for easy, smooth, and enjoyable drinking.
English Wheat – Not much going on with this beer flavor wise but would be good on a hot day after mowing the lawn.
Dark IPA – Yum, malts & hops originally thought it was going to be a Black IPA so this Gal was confused by the medium chestnut coloring. I was happy to find out it’s Dark IPA which seems to be a popular style in Maine.
My companion enjoyed a mixed drink and we opted to just have appetizers since we had a grilled dinner waiting for us upon our arrival at the Cabin later. This Gal enjoyed Mushrooms with horseradish and my companion enjoyed the Pork Fries. The food menu is both meat and vegetarian friendly offering pub food as well as the local Maine cuisine.
Gritty’s is Maine institution and with 3 locations it’s worth trying to fit in a visit to at least one of them.
The exploration to Boothbay Brewing went so well that two days later the group decided it was time to go beer sampling again. My bro researched and found Oxbow Brewery was just around the other side of the lake we were staying on. A mere 15 minutes away! Five of us piled into the vehicle, we lost one of non-beer drinkers for this exploration, and headed out.
Oxbow specializes in Belgian-style ales that are brewed in a small renovated barn located in a pretty rural area. One would never know its back there and can easily drive past it. The sign out front on the roadside is small and easy to miss but luckily we spotted it. The minute the vehicle turned on the path to get to the brewery I knew I was going to be one happy gal. I think most places small and hard to find turn out to be hidden gems. Oxbow is just that – a true gem! Their slogan perfectly describes them “Loud Beer from a quiet place”. It’s the kind of place I could seeing bringing a book to enjoy while hanging out relaxing with an Oxbow beer or two.
As we pull up the excitement in the group was growing. Right away we noticed picnic tables and corn hole for outside enjoyment. Off to the left of the path is some sort of wood shed that looks like it might have some use during events. Straight ahead is the tasting room – cute rustic shed and behind that is the brewing barn. All surrounded by woods.
Upon entering the tasting room I fell in love with the place even more and I hadn’t even tried their beer yet! For a small establishment they have nailed it. From everything to the logo, tasting glasses, swag for sale, great customer service and the overall inviting environment for their guest to enjoy. The tasting area is small with a mini bar to order at and then you can either take your beers out front, out back or step down to the small room off the entrance area with 3 or 4 barrel tables to sit at.
One can purchase a sample round, individual full glass pours or growlers. During our visit several locals stopped in to refill growlers. Always a good sign. Of course, this Gal went for the sample round as did the other beer drinkers in the group. The staff working the tasting shed was very pleasant and helpful which always helps the experience be that much better.
Personally, I love farmhouse style Belgian beers but realize they aren’t for everyone. Each beer drinker in the group did find at least one beer they liked. This Gal enjoyed just about all of them.
Loretta – Oxbow Brewing 4%
Refreshing blonde ale that begs to be enjoyed sitting outside on a lake shore of Maine. No one flavor dominates it’s just a very easy drinking beer.
Freestyle 25 – Oxbow Brewing 4.5% (Freestyle is the breweries creative outlet featuring beers only brewed once) Czech Red Ale style done well with toasted malts, floral tones and an unique hop flavor.
Farmhouse Pale Ale – Oxbow Brewing 6%
Right away one can pick up the saison yeast followed up by the hops with a pleasant array of spices and citrus flavors going on. It’s their flagship beer and understandably so – nice job.
Grizacca – Oxbow Brewing 5%
Ummm, no. Not for me but my Bro’s fav of the bunch so much so he had a full class after the taster. It has an earthy grass essence to it followed by a wallop of hops.
Oxtoberfest 2013 – Oxbow Brewing 6%
This Gal’s fav of the bunch and the one I chose to have a full glass of after the taster. This beer wasn’t a fav for the rest of the group. In fact, most didn’t care for it but I found it to be very interesting and enjoyable. Good dry body with a smoky tartness. The sourness complimented the malts without being overwhelming.
It’s safe to say this group will be visiting Oxbow again. Heck, even the non-beer drinker liked the brewery so much she bought a t-shirt from it, as did this Gal. I have to say it’s one of the comfiest t-shirts I’ve ever worn. Even their swag is top notch quality!
Update July 2015: We recently revisited Oxbow and once again thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was amazing to see how the groups beer taste has grown and changed. Last year the Grizacca wasn’t for me but this year loved it – amazing. Has was everything else. I especially loved the Bowie. Also, the group enjoyed all the beers including the ones they weren’t too fond of last year. Yup, taste grow and change.
The Great Lost Bear – Portland, Maine http://www.greatlostbear.com/
On a Sunday in July I made my way to my favorite bar on the East Coast, The Great Lost Bear! They must have been expecting me because they were playing the Grateful Dead when I arrived and continued to do so through out my time there.I told myself 1 beer and 1 beer only since I still had a 1.5 hour drive ahead of me to my final destination. So I needed to choose wisely and did so with Gritty McDuff’s Black Fly Stout. It’s been a long time since I had a beer from Gritty’s. This stout was ridiculously smooth, light in body but packed with big roasty goodness. It runs in the Irish Stout family but enjoyed it more than the typical Irish Stout because of the full malty flavors.It was so good I couldn’t stop and decided to get a small taster round but decided to stick to local Maine beers.Sebago Runabout Red – nice red color, light body, and good accompaniment to food, hops are there but not overwhelming and without any bitterness, starts strong but the flavor quickly dissipates and leaves the taste buds wondering where the heck the beer went.
Rising Tide Spinnaker (wheat beer) – Super light & fresh beer for summer, spiced orange stands out with definite hints of coriander and subtle hints of green banana. True wheat beer.
Sheepscot Pemaquid Ale (Scottish) – I’m not a true fan of Scottish ales but thought I give it a try. Hmmmm, really all I can say about it was I had to swish it around in my mouth to try and find some flavor and, well, never did. A bit boring for my taste.
Gearys London Porter – I chose this beer to be part of my taster round for nostalgia purposes. This particular beer is one of the first microbrews I ever tried and is partially responsible for me getting into good beer. I joined Beer Across American because of Gearys. (BAA was a home delivery of microbrews long before they were available at the local liquor store.) Roasted chicory, dark fruity hints through out, not too heavy but full body, smooth going down and a true black beauty. Is it the best out there? Nope, but I enjoy it each and every time I have it.
There is something special about eating great veggie food, while drinking good locally brewed beer and listening the Dead that makes The Great Lost Bear perfect.
I also purchased some of their locally made hot sauce that is super yummy! Lost Woods Hot Sauce by Maine Men Co.