Having only met a few members of our Shipyard compatriots from the US when they had visited the UK, we had an idea of what to expect on our visit across to Portland, but you can never be certain. After being picked up at Boston’s Logan Airport by a senior member of the team, we knew that the trip was going to be laid back, fun and very much what we’d expected. Wearing a casual shirt, shorts and trainers we were greeted with a classic, welcoming American reception and we soon felt right at home. After a short(ish) 110 minute journey North from Boston, we soon came across the Maine state line which read “Welcome to Maine: The way life should be” and if anything epitomised this, it was Shipyard Brewing Co.
We were kindly put up in the Westin – Harborview, Portland which boasted a modern interior with fantastic service and a cracking roof top bar. After a quick change and a chance to catch our breath, we were picked up by the Shipyard mini-van and taken to our first destination, The Sea Dog Brew Pub. Here we found the perfect accompaniment to our pint of Shipyard – “Lobstah” (as the locals say!). It’s the subtle flavours of a freshly caught lobster alongside a cold, refreshing APA that provides that citrusy addition which is a true delight! Unfortunately for us, it’s not exactly easy to come by in the UK, so other shell fish or even a spicier dish combats those citrus, fruity flavours of the beer and go down a treat. Anyway, enough about food…we had a strict itinerary to follow! The rest of the evening was taken up by a mini pub crawl across town including The Pearl Tap House and Three Dollar Deweys, both of which had a great selection of Shipyard Ales and a fantastic atmosphere – recommended to any visitor to this coastal city.
The first day came and went, and our whirlwind tour was in full flow. Our second day included a brewery tour led by the Shipyard brewer himself, Bruce Elam. The tour was both informative and entertaining and gave a great insight into how Shipyard stick to the ethos of creating fresh beer from the best ingredients. This was defined by Bruce’s quote of “if you feed the yeast a gourmet meal, you’ll get a gourmet beer”. Utilising the local water from Sebago Lake, all Shipyard ales are hand crafted to create that perfect “gourmet” beer. Not only do the brewery create the popular American brews of Monkey Fist IPA, Export Ale, Ringwood Old Thumper ESB and many more, they also produce the UK available American Pale Ale. Innovation remains the key here, with a pilot brewing system that brews one keg at a time that can be tested and tasted, before being produced on a larger scale! Genius!
Following an evening watching the local Portland Sea Dogs Baseball game (and drinking more fine ales) we reached our last day with the Shipyard Brewing Co. team, and what better way to finish than where it started, at Federal Jack’s Brew Pub in Kennebunkport Harbour. This is where it all started in 1992 under the watchful eye of Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley. Along with a group of 14 others, we were greeted by cases of chilled APA which were waiting for us on arrival. After more fantastic food and even better company, our time in Portland was over. We really had experienced “the way life should be” and after a couple of jam packed, beer filled days in Boston, Massachusetts, our incredible trip was through…Share