If you’ve ever bawled your head off over the ending of the children’s book Charlotte’s Web, you’ve visited Brooklin, Maine. How, you say? Well, while you read the book aloud to hour kids, told them about Wilbur the pig, Templeton the rat and Charlotte the spider, chortled “Congratu- contratu- congratu-lations,” the mantra of the barnyard goose, you transported yourself to the setting of what most certainly was E.B. White’s saltwater farm. I’ve chosen Brooklin as my adopted town, and just came back from my second stay there.
Taking a vacation in Down East in Maine during the first week of June may seem counter-intuitive. Some might say you should wait until the weather gets really warm, or even hot, to head further north to the ocean. But there are two simple reasons my husband and I have decided to rent a cottage in Brooklin, Maine this time every year: it’s a way to celebrate our anniversary and rest up before the onslaught of visitors that make me feel I need an event planner on my staff to wrangle them. Oh, three reasons: we have fallen in love with this adorable town.
This year, I used the location to full advantage for my upcoming beer book. There are three breweries in the area and I set up appointments to visit all three. In addition to the beer makers, there are some other great finds up there: great locally roasted coffee, homemade soups and sandwiches to warm the soul on a rainy afternoon, a sweet library that welcomes visitors and even lends to them, and a general store that truly seems to carry anything you might need.
First the beer: there isn’t a brewery in Brooklin yet. But boy, did I think about opening a nano-brewery there. Get a nice 1 barrel system and I’d have my own home business. There is a brewpub nearby in Blue Hill called Deep Water Brewing and that is the brainchild of Tim Hikade and his parents, who own the long-running fine dining restaurant Arborvine.
Tim and his golden retriever Bella go back and forth between the pub and the brewery and Tim is Arborvine’s chef, too. Talk about child labor! The tasting room is located in a 200 year old barn moved from another location and rescued with a complete renovation. The tasting room itself is still under construction, but will be finished soon. The pub, however is up and running for the season. We took home a growler of Otto Lager, named for Tim’s Austrian great-grandfather. This was a dark-hued lager with a nice malty resonance on the tongue. Perfect with cheese and crackers on the deck.
Next stop was Strong Brewing Company in Sedgwick, a short drive from Deep Water. Mia Strong was holding down the fort, since her husband and brew partner Al Strong was working that day. Al, like many craft brewers, has to work full-time and brew whenever they can around that. Mia decried the new trend of “killing styles,” and we had a great talk about the new “hybrid” beers. The hoppy “Localmotive” went down beautifully with steamed clams that night.
Mid-week we drove up to Bar Harbor and visited Atlantic Brewing Company. Founder Doug Maffucci, a fellow Colby alum, walked me around his fantastic and creatively designed grounds, which includes a fenced-in playground for kids in sight of the beer garden and BBQ tent. Mainely Meats BBQ serves up great grub that couldn’t ask for a better companion than Doug’s beers. Lovely daughter Enrica Maffucci is now working there summers and I’m told as a baby she used to play in the brewery while Doug worked making the beer.
Those are the beer options up north. Next post I’ll fill you in on the other gustatory delights in Brooklin.