Fans of local microbreweries can sample a variety beers and ales made in Midcoast Maine during their stay at Newcastle Inn.
Our brewery “tour” starts at the Oxbow Brewing Co., a neighbor of ours right here in Newcastle. Oxbow describes itself as an American farmhouse brewery so it should come as no surprise that its beer is made in a renovated barn. Oxbow’s specialty is its Farmhouse Pale Ale, which is modeled after Belgian farmhouse ales but uses American hops with saison yeast. Oxbow also is famous for experimenting with different combinations of flavors, so chances are you’ll always find something that you’ve never tasted before and may never taste again. The brewery has tasting hours Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. You can taste the current beers on tap, purchase a growler or buy bottles of the brewery’s barrel-aged beers.
About 14 miles north in the town of Whitefield, you’ll find the Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company. Established in 1995, Sheepscot Valley’s signature brew is Pemaquid Ale, a full-bodied Scottish ale. The company also brews Boothbay Special Bitter, Damariscotta Double Brown and New Harbor Lager. Sheepscot Valley’s brews are available in many area taverns and restaurants, and you can stop by the brewery to visit and purchase a growler. The brewery recommends calling ahead for visiting hours.
Still farther north is the Liberal Cup Public House & Brewery in Hallowell, just south of Augusta. Unlike Oxbow and Sheepscot Valley, The Liberal Cup also serves its brews in a full-service restaurant. Throughout the year it produces 21 different ales and lagers, each one with a distinct character. They run the gamut from a Pilsner to a Cask-Conditioned Bitter to an Oatmeal Stout.
If your travels include trips to coastal towns, there are breweries in Lincolnville and Belfast. In Lincolnville, which is along Route 1 about 35 miles from Newcastle, you’ll find Andrew’s Brewing Company. It was the fifth craft brew operation to open in Maine. Andrew’s brews four different ales — Summer Ale (seasonal) Brown Ale, English Pale Ale and St Nick’s Porter. All their beers are sold in Maine and Vermont in select locations. There are no tasting sessions or gift shop at Andrew’s.
If you head as far north as Belfast, which is about an hour away, you can check out the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co., which pours 17 different beers at Three Tides, the brewery’s adjoining brew pub. The standard beer line-up includes Happy Dog Coffee Porter, Ace Hole Pale Ale, Cant Dog Imperial IPA, Deep Purple Rauchbier and many more.