Split Rock Distilling, Newcastle, ME

 

We were in the coastal Maine area near the end of summer to visit with Megan’s Aunt, Uncle and Cousin. We went on a mini-alcohol tour featuring two breweries and a distillery.

Split Rock Distilling was our second stop after Boothbay Craft Brewery. Split Rock is located in Newcastle, Maine, which is just a short drive from Boothbay Harbor and Damariscotta.

Split Rock is named after the road traveled by owners Matt and Topher in order to meet. Each spirit is small batch, created with organic grains, organic fruit and organic sugar. Yes, their creations are all organic!

 

Megan and Mark

 

Split Rock is an inviting place, whether you spend your time outside or inside. Plenty of tables and games are available outside, as well as local food vendors (check out their facebook and website for who is coming next!).

 

Jenn and Aunt Terri waiting for us outside

 

Scheduled food truck

 

Washers

 

Jenga

 

Inside, you step up to the bar to try a sample, or buy a mixed drink using their organic spirits.

Matt, one of the owners/distiller, served us our samples. Organic Blueberry Vodka, Organic White Whiskey, Organic Bourbon Whiskey and Organic Gin.

Organic Blueberry Vodka
Uncle Steve and Aunt Terri had two bottles of this at their Maine house… so Megan knew we were in for a treat. Split Rock takes their Organic Vodka and steeps Native Maine blueberries to create each batch. It was very strong, as you would hope a vodka is. After trying it straight, we tried it with a bit of lemonade, and it became the perfect summer drink.

Organic White Whiskey
Made from corn, barley and wheat. Megan was impressed with how smooth it was! It was a bit too harsh for Uncle Steve to enjoy straight.

Organic Bourbon Whiskey
This is Uncle Steve’s favorite. Their White Whiskey, barrel aged for 3-5 months in 5 gallon barrels. Very good, even smoother than the White Whiskey.

 

 

Organic Gin
Their recipe is top secret, but this is the second Gin Megan has actually liked. Usually, when she thinks of Gin, she thinks of the time when one of her friends handed her a gin and tonic and it was quickly passed along … Their organic Gin is citrus forward, with a peppery throat. Star anise is present as well. Complex, in a wonderful way!

 

Prefer a cocktail?

One of Uncle Steve’s favorite items there is organic maple syrup they sell made in Jackson, Maine. Frontier SugarWorks currently ages their organic maple syrup in Split Rock’s Bourbon Whiskey barrels. They didn’t have any available at this time, but they expect it to come in again this fall.

We also had the opportunity to try a secret project Matt is working on…

This was absolutely AMAZING, and we hope that you are able to make it for more than just for personal use.

Matt telling Mark about the distilling process

 

What to go home with?

 

Enjoyed a cocktail while you were there? All ingredients are available to take home, and recreate the perfect cocktail!

 

We ended up buying a bottle of Gin, Bourbon and Blueberry Vodka!

 

Want to visit?

Normal Tasting Room Hours
Open on the 4th of July
Monday – Thursday: Noon – 6 pm
Friday and Saturday: Noon – 7 pm
Sunday Noon – 5 pm
or by appointment call 563-2669

 

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Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery, Oakland, ME

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On a recent trip through Maine to the Bangor area, we stopped at Tree Spirits Winery & Distillery, located in Oakland, ME. They have a nice little shop with a bar and stools for a tasting area.

 

Owner Bruce Olsen has been making wine since 1977. Around 2009 he began experimenting with distilling his wines to make Brandy and other spirits. In 2012 they expanded the business and their offerings.

 

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There were two tastings available, with and without Absinthe. Each tasting included 5 offerings of your choice.

Our tastings:

Pear Extra Dry
Sparkling wine, a little dry with a subtle pear taste.

Apple Picnic Wine
Light, crisp, not too dry but not too sweet. Perfect.

 

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Apple Extra Dry
Lots of fizz and sparkle. Sweet with apple taste, they say ‘delicious and crisp’, we agree! We went home with a bottle of this one.

Pom Sublime
Very sweet and juice like. Originally developed as a mixer, but some people liked it so much people do both with it, use it as a mixer and drink it straight. Definitely a fun summer drink mixer. We bought a bottle, will probably do both with it. Made with their Applejack, pomegranate juice, lime juice, ginger bitters.

 

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Maple Storm
Blend of their Maple Wine and Knotted Maple Spirits. Interesting maple flavor, Megan said sweet like syrup. Has a good taste, that sugary taste with a bite of booze, we both liked it, and bought 2 bottles.

 

Applejack
This is made as essentially a type of Brandy, though it can not be called Brandy because Brandy has to be distilled from grape wine. It was originally made it clear, but people didn’t want Brandy that was clear, they expected it to be brownish. They started barrel aging it for 2 months just to give it that color. We actually like the clear, unaged version better. Smelled and tasted a little bit more fruity.

 

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Maple Jack L- finished product, R- before being barrel aged

 

Knotty Maple – 80 proof
Strong alcohol taste with a light maple finish. It has a good taste, not too sweet which is good. It is basically a brandy, but not distilled from a grape made wine.

 

Absinthe Verte – 130 proof
The only asbinthe produced in New England, and one of only a few produced in the US.  They start with their Applejack and use organic herbs — anise, fennel, wormwood, petite wormwood, hyssop and lemon balm. Megan tasted this, very strong straight. It was then mixed  with sugar water for us and it was much tastier then.

 

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The owner was the one serving us, and was very welcoming and knowledgeable, of course. He told us a lot about the spirits and wines, the process and the story behind them. He was a good storyteller, which made the tasting not only tasty, but informative and fun.

 

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With their set up, it is easier to create more spirits than wines.

 

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Still in the back room.

 

 

Want to visit?
Hours
Wednesday – Saturday: 12:00 – 5:30

As always, check Facebook or their website for updated hours. Hours may
be different during the winter

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Other Places Nearby:

Dragonfly Farm and Winery, Stetson, ME

Oak Pond Brewing Company, Skowhegan, ME

The Liberal Cup Public House and Brewing Company, Hallowell, ME

 

Newport Storm Brewery and Thomas Tew Rum

Rhode Island has been added to the list of states we are visiting now. We recently went to a few places with Megan’s sister Samantha and her boyfriend Dustin. Our first visit was to the Son’s of Liberty Spirits Company. After we finished there, we went to our second stop- Newport Storm Brewery in Newport, RI. They are also the producer of Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum, which is available for tasting as well.

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When you enter, you decide which tasting you would like to do, and after paying, can hop over to the bar for a tasting. If you are lucky enough, there may be a tour starting (3pm, but see website and facebook for additional times). The tour is free. If you aren’t there during a tour time, and want to learn a bit about how the brewery started, you can go on a self-guided tour. Grab one of your tastes and head up the staircase!

Who is Newport Storm?
Four friends decided in college that they wanted to start a brewery, so they spent their college years studying science and ‘sampling’ plenty of the future competitions product. They opened their brewery in 1999 in a 2500 square foot facility in Middletown, RI. They released their first beer, Hurricane Amber Ale in July of 1999. In 2002 they expanded their space by an additional 1000 square feet. In 2006 they started Newport Distilling Company to create Thomas Tew Rum. In 2010 they built their brand new facility, where they currently operate out of, and increased their space to 8000 square feet. They have released over 30 different beers and continue to create new an innovative beers, and the same four friends continue to run the brewery.

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Megan, Mark, Dustin, and Sam at the brewery.

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what’s on draft?

For our tasting, we each were able to try four beers.
Our tasting:

Hurricane Amber Ale – 5.2%
Good amber, tasty, drinkable. Fairly typical for an amber. This was the original Newport Storm.

 

Winter Porter – 6.1%
Flavorful but very drinkable. It is described as a ‘rich, dark Porter style ale’ which is what we were thinking. Everyone liked this beer.

 

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Tasting Card

 

 

India Point Ale – 6.5%
Smells super hoppy, tastes pretty hoppy but well balanced. Megan said ‘not bad’.

 

R.I.P.umpkin – 6.7%
Good pumpkin beer, better than most. Good balance of pumpkin, beer, and spices. They used locally grow pumpkins and have about 3 pounds of pumpkin in each keg.

 

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Cyclone Yoko
Really good flavor, a dark ale with roasted coconut undertones. Good balance and flavor, we bought a few of these.

 

infRIngement
Strong, barrel aged flavor, heavy and dark. This was the product of years of test brewing, barrel aging a Russian Imperial Stout in the Thomas Tew rum barrels for 5 months.

 

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Personalized beer for Mark! Also, one of their past seasonal beers

 

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Growlers to fill.

 

 

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The only sell one type of rum, Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum. In order to make it into a real tasting ($9), they have you try the rum in 3 different stages.

 

Thomas Tew white raw rum is the unadulterated spirit right off the still and proofed to a typical bottle strength. This is not barrel aged, tastes a little harsh with not much flavor.

 

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Thomas Tew Cask Strength Rum is the unproofed rum from right out of the barrel. It is aged for 2 years and is a strong or harsh tasting coming in  at 108 proof.

 

Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum is the distillery’s signature spirit. This has a much better, full flavored rum that is smooth to sip. This comes in at 84 proof.

 

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Plenty of shirts for sale

 

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Some look like this.

 

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Fun soap, made from their beer!

 

Want to visit?

Tours and Tastings…
Sunday, Monday, Wednesday: open 12-5pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: open 12-6pm

Want to try their beer… for free? Look on their Facebook page for Fridays@Six!

Sea Hagg Distillery, Hampton NH

I had wanted to hold off on writing this entry until their Strawberry Rum was out… Mark suggested that we go back for their Strawberry Rum and add to our information then, but it isn’t ready yet and I’m getting antsy! I will add to this entry once we are able to pick some up.

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sign out front

picstitch (37)Display out by their tasting bar

picstitch (39)Rug in the back room (the distillery area)

We visited Sea Hagg Distillery, located in Hampton NH, as part of the Granite State Growler Tour. Sea Hagg Distillery was the only distillery on the tour.

picstitch (38)When we entered Sea Hagg Distillery, we were greeted by Ron with a delicious mixed shot-sized drink- mango lemonade mixed with their blueberry rum. Really good! Not too sweet, but a nice summer-y drink! After another sample, this time Amber Rum, we went out back to see the distillery and hear about the company.

picstitch (31)picstitch (32)their traditional copper alembic pot still

Sea Hagg Distillery is considered to be a craft distillery, producing small batch artisan spirits that are made from start to finish on site. Sea Hagg Distillery produces both rum and fruit brandy, as well as eau-de-vie. All of their products are made using either fruit from local farmers or sugarcane molasses grown in the USA.

Did you know that producing rum and other spirits used to be labeled as a “women’s job”? Well, Sea Hagg Distillery is taking that label and running with it- it is women owned and operated. The idea of Sea Hagg Distillery was created while sitting on the beach in the Caribbean. At first, the idea was to import Caribbean rum and blend and bottle in NH. Once the history of rum and New Hampshire was looked into, the decision to make rum instead was decided upon.

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Products:

They import 4000 pound totes of Louisiana molasses to make their rum! A traditional Colonial rum distilled in the time it took to travel via ox cart from the distillery to the tavern.

Sea Hagg Silver Rum: small batch, made from US grown sugar cane molasses. Sea Hagg’s rum is distilled in a traditional copper alembic pot still, barrel aged and bottled by hand.

Blueberry Rum: contains one pound of blueberries per container!!! They went through 5000 pounds of blueberries last year!

Amber Rum: a true colonial style rum. Colonial style rum was made in the areas between Portsmouth and Newport (RI). 80 proof, aged 5 months. Had a slight oak and whiskey flavor but was very smooth.

Strawberry Rum: when we tried it, it was 60 proof but would grow to be 80. Went down smooth and easy. The strawberries are from a local farm, Apple Crest. Can’t wait to pick up a bottle when they are all labeled! I think it would go great in many drinks, but also over ice.

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Poitin: Irish moonshine. All grain style. When we tried it, we tried it straight from the barrel. It was 120 proof at the time, they will bottle it at 90 proof.

picstitch (42)Peach eau-de-vie: Peach, un-aged brandy. Sea Hagg Distillery enjoys working with seasonal fruits.

Sea Hagg Distillery will also have a Spiced Rum coming out this fall!

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Want to visit?

Complimentary Tastings, Tours, and Sales:

Hours of Operation:

Wednesday – Friday; 12:00pm – 6:00pm.

Saturday; 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Sundays (Holidays); 12:00pm-4:00pm

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Why’s the rum gone?!

Sea Hagg Distillery- coming soon!

On our visit with Granite State Growler Tours, we visited the Sea Hagg Distillery, located in Hampton, NH. I am waiting to write my post about Sea Hagg Distillery until they come out with their… Strawberry Rum. Yes, you read that right- strawberry rum. They have the labels, and it should be out next week. Mark suggested I wait, so we can talk about how delicious it is (we tried it on the tour, but… ok, we just really want a bottle!). Once that bottle is in my hands, and I have had a drink… or two… you will be gifted with a post about how awesome Sea Hagg Distillery is!

Granite State Growler Tours, LLC

Mark and I recently went on a Granite State Growler Tour.

picstitchGreta the Growler Getta, aka the tour bus

The tour currently leaves from Hampton, NH. Once you step on board “Greta the Growler Getta,” you are brought to 2-3 different breweries as well as a distillery and a great craft beer store. You are provided with fun facts about the Seacoast New Hampshire area, a delicious homemade pretzel, a cooler full of water, and a cooler to hold any growlers you may purchase along the way. Why pay to do a Granite State Growler Tour? How else can you visit multiple breweries and/or distilleries in the same day (without having a DD),  get some great discounts (more on that later), learn some fun facts about the history of beer in New Hampshire, and maybe make some new friends.  You also are able to interact with many of the brewers, and get special attention from them due to the tour occurring when most of the breweries are closed to the public.  Depending on what they are working on, you also might have the option to try something new, that is still in the works or not bottled yet for public consumption. It was great to have a basically care free day, with the ability to make many visits without having to worry about one of us driving.

We went on the “Sunday Driver” tour, which consisted of visits to: Earth Eagle Brewings (Portsmouth NH), Sea Hagg Distillery (Hampton NH), Top Shelf Brews (Hampton NH) and Blue Lobster Brewing Company (Hampton NH).  When we climbed onto the bus, we filled out waivers, and were given “Tasting Notes” (to keep track of any notable beers- see below),picstitch (4)

star stickers (to label growlers), a coupon to use on a future visit to Top Shelf Brews, and a homemade pretzel (made with Blue Lobster- Excess Is Not Rebellion IPA). We were also notified that if we went to Community Oven (also in Hampton, where the tour begins and ends), we could purchase a 20oz beer for the price of a 16oz beer after the tour. The tour started with introductions- we found out that David (owner and driver) and Mark (partner and tour guide) have known each other since third grade!

picstitch (1)yummy, homemade pretzel!

Oh! I almost forgot- you also receive a name tag at the beginning of the tour, to not only make sure you stay with the group, but to guarantee any of the stops know you are with the tour for any additional discounts, or special access.

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Mark, the tour guide, really knows his history. He told us a lot of great information about the area, both beer history and otherwise. Although Mark (the boyfriend and co-author of this blog) and I did not know a lot of the area’s history prior to, we also feel that those familiar with the area will enjoy it as well- I shared some of the stories with co-workers and they hadn’t heard the stories before.

Did you know that Portsmouth is the third oldest establishment in the United States (after Jamestown and Plymouth of course!). Things were different in Portsmouth from the beginning, as they came to reap the benefits of the new world, and immediately began to brew beer from their surroundings. Spruce tips, strawberries and apples were all used to make beer, basically whatever they could get their hands on. Settled in 1630, in 1642 a tavern was established. Portsmouth was allowed to have 6 taverns, although most towns were strictly limited to 2.  Only upstanding individuals were allowed to operate taverns, and they had to pledge to not serve to Native Americans or slaves. I would love to share some more of their stories now- but I want you to have something other than delicious beer and rum to look forward to! picstitch (12)

Mark, our tour guide

The stops we made:

Earth Eagle Brewings: Located in Portsmouth, NH, also runs a home brewing store (A&G Homebrew Supply), which we had a tour of and received some great information about the brewing process in. They operate a one barrel brewery, so the beers are always changing and never quite the same. They make a type of beer I was not familiar with until now, gruits, which is beer made without hops.  See my post about Earth Eagle Brewings here!

Sea Hagg Distillery: Located in Hampton, NH creates true, colonial style rum.  It was started by a couple who thought of the idea while on vacation in the Caribbean. Rum is a true New Hampshire item, as it was written in every town budget in the 17th and 18th century. See my post about Sea Hagg Distillery here!

Top Shelf Brews: Located in Hampton, NH is a craft brew store. One of their biggest draws is that they do mixed six-packs. Mark and I bought a mixed four-pack, of four beers and ciders we hadn’t tried before but looked interesting. Great store to go to find a new craft beer, or that hard to find beer.

Blue Lobster Brewing Company: also located in Hampton, NH was started as a retirement hobby and turned into a retirement job.  They feature small batch specialty brews. See more in my post about Blue Lobster Brewing Company here!

*****

One of the great things about Granite State Growler Tour is that they are willing to go the extra mile, and do private events of any location. Both David and Mark are interested in beer, and like making new connections as well as (on their own time) trying new beer. Who knows? Maybe we will join them on a future tour, elsewhere. to cross other breweries or wineries off our list!

*****

Mark and I purchased glasses at each stop, as well as a glass koosie at Sea Hagg.

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I also won a glass on the tour!picstitch (5)

We also went home with a growler of Sage Goose from Earth Eagle Brewings. Thank you to Granite State Growler Tours for keeping it cold for us in the cooler while we enjoyed the rest of the tour!

picstitch (3)The sticker on the Sage Goose top is the star sticker we were given at the beginning of the tour- so we could mark the growlers we took home.

*****

Another great thing, is that the tour begins and ends outside of the Community Oven, located in Hampton NH. The Community Oven will hold a table for any in the tour that would like to continue drinking or want something to eat after the tour. David happened to have a coupon for a pizza, so Mark and I couldn’t argue about it- we had to try out The Community Oven!

picstitch (6)Mark outside of the Community Oven

picstitch (11)Their extensive beer list!

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picstitch (7)Our yummy, free pizza!!

picstitch (9)Delicious, dry rub wings!

*****

Want to go on a Granite State Growler Tour?

Saturday Beer Run

Begins at 11:00am and returns around 4pm.

Stops include:

Sea Hagg Distillery

Throwback Brewery

Blue Lobster Brewing

Earth Eagle Brewings

Venues and times are subject to change even during the tour

Sunday Driver

Begins at 11:30am and returns around 3pm.

Stops include:

Earth Eagle Brewings

Blue Lobster Brewing

Sea Hagg Distillery

Venues and times are subject to change even during the tour

Go here to register for a tour!

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Flag Hill Winery

488041_745753412343_149977491_nTo begin my February Vacation and end Michelle’s (Mark’s sister), the three of us went to Flag Hill Winery in Lee, New Hampshire in 2013. Little did we know, it is also a distillery.

Flag Hill’s tasting room is on location. We have found that some of the wineries in Northern New England have separate facilities for their wine making and wine tasting, but Flag Hill has it all on the same land plot. It appears to be a beautiful place, somewhere worth going back to during the summer, to enjoy a picnic before or after a tasting.
Upon arrival, we were each given a list, with wine on one side and liquor on the other. We were told to pick 8 from the list, but still remaining in order from the list given. Try wines before liquors and whites before reds. They also have a port wine. They create wine that reflect the flavors of grapes that are grown only in the Northeast region, so you won’t find a Chardonnay or a Merlot, but other delicious white and red wines. They also create delicious fruit wines, including Apple Cranberry and Blueberry.
 

Apple Fruit Wine, similar to a Crisp Apple Cider. Michelle took this one home

Vignoles, semi-sweet white wine. Enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t exactly for me. Not sweet enough
Cayuga White, DELICIOUS, sweet, white wine. I left with two bottles of this one!
 
Josiah Bartlett Barrel Aged Apple Brandy, great apple/brandy flavor. 
 White Mountain Moonshine, white whiskey. Mark bought one of these. Really enjoyed it. Loved that it was called moonshine as well
 

Strawberry Liqueur, would be perfect in a mixed drink! We all tried this one

Flag Hill Winery and Distillery offers tastings Wednesday-Sundays 11am-5pm. Definitely worth the time to go. 

(photos of individual bottles from http://www.flaghill.com/wines-spirits/)