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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Offshore Ale Company, Oaks Bluff – Marthas Vineyard

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Near the end of the summer we made a special visit to Martha’s Vineyard to visit the 2 breweries on the island. We started at Offshore Ale Company for beers and lunch. They are the ‘only brewpub on the island’ and are ‘open year round’. We point those in quotes because that’s how they advertise themselves. The only brewery competition they have on the island is Bad Martha’s Brewing Company.

 

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We arrived right before 12:00 when they opened. We went with Megan’s immediate family and all ‘the boys’. That would be Megan’s parents, Megan and her 3 sisters, and the 4 boyfriends.

 

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The flight is chosen by them, you can not pick your own, Brewer’s Choice, which was a little disappointing. You get four 5oz samples for $10.50.

 

East Chop Lighthouse – 4.2%    8 IBU
Lighter and less flavorful than most people expected, even for the non-craft beer drinkers in the group. Megan and Mark thought it was ok for their lightest offering, a slight citrus flavor and made from 100% pilsner malt.

 

Amber Ale – 5%    25 IBU
Megan said creamy and smooth with a good flavor. Most people liked this better than the Lighthouse. Mark thought it was just ok, fairly typical amber taste but slightly lighter in body, probably made to be more ‘drinkable’.

 

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Amity Island Ale – 5%    30 IBU
Megan was hoping for a good summer ale, was stronger than she expected. Mark said it was hoppy and malty, stronger than a regular summer ale, because it was an ‘English style summer ale.’

 

Lazy Frog IPA – 7%    70 IBU
This was a much more hoppy and bitter beer, a lot of the group did not like this, especially Sam. Mark thought it was pretty good, so did Dustin and Kevin. A touch sweet with strong hop flavors, a little bitter with a sweet finish. Definite west coast influence.

 

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Pints:

Menemsha Creek Pale Ale – 5%    39 IBU
Mark said this was light for a pale ale, was described as ‘clean and approachable’ with a decent smooth hop flavor.

 

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Islander DIPA – 8.2%    90+ IBU
Strong, good hop flavor with some citrus notes. Finishes with a strong malty flavor, a little bit of a heavy flavor for Mark, but pretty good.

 

Offshore Blueberry – 4.5%    9 IBU
We had mixed reviews of this. It had a strong blueberry smell, which we think skewed peoples view of the taste. Mark said it was really, really light in body, it is only 9 IBU’s. Megan thought it had an artificial blueberry flavor, Jess didn’t taste much blueberry at all, and Marilyn thought it had a strong blueberry taste. Mixed reviews, but just ok over all.

 

Food

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Turkey Pub Sandwich with salad

 

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Mark got the Fish Sandwich. There was a lot of fish on there,
it was good, and the fries were good.

 

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Winter Salad

 

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Offshores Finest Burger w/provolone cheese and bacon

 

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Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad Over Boston Lettuce

 

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Brewhouse Pulled Pork Sandwich

 

A lot of people ordered the same sandwiches, with the
different option of a side salad, fries, or chips.

 

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They have wood fired pizza, but we didn’t try it.

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It is a small place, they have about 12 tables,
3 high top tables, and 12 or so bar seats.

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The atmosphere and service was really good. The food was pretty good, we don’t think it blew anyone away, but we ordered mostly sandwiches for lunch, and everyone was satisfied and filled. The beer was just average brew pub beer to Mark and Megan. It seems like most brew pubs (who serve food and beer) make their beer approachable for the average beer drinker. It’s not our style, they are there for tourists, so they want everyone to like their beer.

 

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Hours

Brew-Pub seating
LUNCH 11:30 am – 3:30 pm
DINNER 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm Sunday -Thursday
DINNER 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm Friday & Saturday

 

Downeast Cider House

This past fall, we took a trek into Boston with Mark’s sister Michelle, Megan’s sisters Heather, Jessica and Samantha, Samantha’s boyfriend Dustin, and friends Bre and Lizzie. We took a walk from the nearest train station to Downeast Cider House. On a warm day, this walk would be nothing. On a windy day (like the one we had), the walk was a little harsh. In good weather, walk. In cold weather, take a cab or drive.

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When they say they are located down under the Tobin Bridge, they are serious. Right under the bridge.

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A little farther in…

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Around the corner…

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And you are there!

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They give you these sampling glasses at the start of the tour. They come around and give you samples of what they have on tap during the tour. We all liked this, you get to drink while on the tour.

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We have had Downeast Cider plenty of times before, and we have had a lot of people try it as well, including everyone who came with us on this visit. They press from fresh apples year round, and it tastes like it.

Original Blend – 5.1%
It tastes like a regular jug of cider you would get from the produce department. It is a blend of freshly pressed blend of Red Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland and Gala apples.

Cranberry Blend – 5%
Good blend of cranberry flavor and cider, not too tart but just enough cranberry flavor. Several of us actually got growlers of this.

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Kegs, growlers, and cans, lots of cans.

Hard Honey – 5.1%
This was a spring release this year. A sweeter, definitely honey flavored cider. Good but sweet. When we had tried this, they had said it was the lemonade at first… So, many of us weren’t fans. After finding out that it was the Hard Honey, we wished for another taste.

Lemonade – 5.1%
This was a summer release, light and easy drinking.

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They have a Winter Blend out now that we did not get to try. It is 6.5% and aged on oak chips, cinnamon bark, and nutmeg, sounds like a good winter cider. Next fall they may be making a pumpkin cider, and possibly a hard iced tea for the spring, though that is just a rumor.

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Back row: Lizzie, Dustin, Mark Middle row: Michelle, Megan, Heather, Jessica, Samantha Front: Bre

We had quite a group of people visiting with us.

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It was a little hard to hear on the tour, it is an operating brewery, so equipment and coolers were running. We were on the largest tour of the day on a Sunday afternoon, too, so we couldn’t get too close to the tour guide. The tasting during the tour is a good touch. We recommend Downeast to everyone we think might like it. That includes you!

Want to visit?

Tastings, Tours & Growler

SATURDAYS 12-8pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 7pm
SUNDAYS 1-6pm, every half-hour, Last tour at 5pm

Mayflower Brewing, Plymouth MA

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Mark, myself and a few friends went to Mayflower Brewing Company, located in Plymouth Ma, as part of my birthday celebration. My sister Samantha joined us- it was her 1st brewery (she had joined us a few weeks before for a trip to Cape Cod Winery). Mark’s brother Jason and sister Michelle joined us (they had both been with us when we visited Blue Hills Brewery, and Michelle when we had visited Flag Hill Winery and Distillery). Our friends Andrea (went to Cape Cod Winery with us), Bre (went to Gilmanton Winery with us) and Katrina joined us as well. After we visited Mayflower Brewing Company, we went to Plymouth winery! See that post soon!

Mayflower is located in an industry park area of Plymouth, off of exit 7 near Colony Place.

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When we entered, we were welcomed and quickly started our tasting. The glasses were larger than dixie glasses, and we were given decent sized pours for each beer.

100_0570100_0579 Mayflower Brewing had us try 7 beers. We were lucky enough to be able to try both the Summer seasonal as well as the Fall seasonal.

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Our tasting:

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Summer Rye Beer: A Belgian style rye. Good flavor, but wouldn’t be my first choice for a summer beer. Michelle shrugged, that it was ok. Katrina doesn’t care for Belgians in the least (so I enjoyed most of her pour). Mark liked it, stated that it is defiantly a summer beer, but doesn’t have a fruity taste as many summer beers do.

Golden Ale: A crisp and dry ale with a malt flavor. I did not enjoy the Golden Ale. Sam enjoyed it more than the Summer Rye Beer, but stated that it needed more of a flavor. Andrea agreed with Sam, that it was better than the previous one. Michelle said it “tastes like beer.”

Pale Ale: British in style has more bitters in it. I actually liked it, which surprised me (I usually don’t enjoy Pale Ales). When I mentioned this to the woman pouring our beer, she mentioned that their Pale Ale is British in style, and has more bitters in it than an American Pale Ale.

Mayflower IPA: surprisingly good. Mayflower uses four varieties of American hops to create a balanced flavor. Both Michelle and I are not typically IPA lovers, but we could say that we enjoyed Mayflower’s IPA. Sam enjoyed drinking it, but did not like the after taste, she wanted a piece of gum after.

Autumn wheat: A dark wheat beer. Michelle, Sam and I thought it was really good. Katrina loved it, as she tends to love fall seasonal. Jason: thumbs up

Mayflower Porter: Mayflower uses five varieties of malted barley to make this delicious porter. Not heavy tasting. Sam stated that “it look(ed) like soda” when it was first poured.  Good porter.

We also tried the Single Hop Ale as well as the Mild. Both were part of the “Cooper Series.” I really enjoyed the Mild, it was delicious, but definitely a beer I could only do a pint or two of.

Katrina stated that she has enjoyed Mayflower beers before, but finds it is only good when it is super fresh (not in a bottle, or an old keg/tap line).

Jason didn’t have one he didn’t like.

100_0571Me, enjoying a beer tasting (see the pours are of a good size!)

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100_0574Family Picture #2: Mark, Jason & Michelle

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Take 2

Our tour:

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At the beginning of the tour, we were instructed to keep our shoes on and not to touch anything. And to keep our shoes on. Apparently people feel the need to walk around without their shoes on in a factory?

The brewery smelled like a farm, as someone pointed out. The scent was due to the grain that is being used by the brewery.

The brewery was started in 2008, when there was no other brewery on the South Shore. The location of Plymouth was easy for two reasons:

1. soft water of Plymouth makes an easy starting point to make beer

2. the owner is a 10th generation descendant of the cooper on the Mayflower (John Alden).

A cooper? What’s that? John Alden was responsible for the many barrels of beer that were on board the Mayflower. According to the tour, those on board the Mayflower had thought about landing in Provincetown, but did not because there wasn’t a running water source for them to make beer (which they needed to survive).

The tour went over the brewing process, image (13)and the tour guide compared the beer making process to something most are familiar with: making tomato sauce. We found out that all of their bees, with the exception of the Summer Rye are filtered (Summer Rye still is, but not to the same effect). We had the opportunity to see their Mill Room, where they keep the grist.100_0586

Mayflower Brewery tries to be as green as possible, and they send the spent grain to local prisons for farm land. Mayflower does not use chemicals to help close and seal their bottles.

Bottling Assembly:100_0587  
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100_0591   100_0589 100_0590Michelle commented at the end of the tour that it was good and the tour guide was personable.

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We had to end our tour with a couple of group photos:

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Back row: Mark, Sam, Andrea, Jason

Front row: Michelle, Katrina, Me, Bre

image (6) image (10)For our last picture, she told us to JUMP!

Thank you very much to Bre, who stole my camera (and then proceeded to take photos with her phone when it died)!

What else did we do for my birthday celebration? Soon to come, Plymouth Winery!

Cape Cod Winery, East Falmouth MA

imageOn a rainy camping morning, my sister Sam mentioned that she wanted to do something, and then had the grand idea to go to either a winery or a brewery. Sam had recently turned 21, and had never been to a winery or a brewery. This  Since it was a Sunday, breweries in the area were closed, so we decided to go to the Cape Cod Winery. This was also the first visit to a winery for two others who went with us, my sisters Heather and Jessica. Andrea, a literally life-long friend (met when we were 3 years) had been to one winery previously.

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Andrea, Jessica, Heather, Samantha, Mark and I pulled up to Cape Cod Winery and could see all of the beautiful grape vines growing. The signage on the property directed you inside for a wine tasting.image (4)
When we walked inside, I was somewhat surprised at the size of tasting room. Although I have been to smaller tasting rooms, like that of Gilmanton Winery, I expected something more like Flag Hill’s tasting room due to the location. Cape Cod is a vacation land, and when it rains everyone looks for something to do. The winery was very busy, due to it sprinkling out, and we weren’t the only ones with the great idea of going to the winery. I was just a little surprised about the size of the tasting room.

image (13)The tasting was $5 per person and included a full sized wine glass.

We tried six wines:image (5)
Pinot Grigio: smooth, notes of apricot, hazelnut and pear. The grape skins are left on for this wine (like a red) for 24 hours to create a richer, fuller flavor and a golden color. Jessica thought it was good for a white wine. Andrea, Mark and  I would drink it, but it wasn’t amazing. Heather didn’t enjoy it, and Sam’s face spoke what words could not.
Nobska White: a blend of Seyval and Vidal grapes. Some tropical fruit highlights, but no where near the tropical fruit flavors you might get from a Cayuga. Andrea, Heather and I enjoyed this one more. Mark and Jess also enjoyed, with Mark commenting that it had notes of tart apples. Sam still didn’t enjoy this wine.
Nobska Cranberry Blush: Seyval white wine with a splash of cranberry. This wine sits for six months with whole fermented cranberries. Prior to trying this wine, I had assumed this would be a favorite- cranberry wines from southeastern Mass & the Cape are usually quite good. Jess, usually a cranberry fan, did not enjoy this one. It was too light in cranberry flavor. I thought it was the best I had tried at the time (and then the 2nd favorite of mine there). Mark, Heather, Sam and Andrea agreed.
Merlot/Cabernet Franc: 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. Aged in oak barrels. Jessica really enjoyed this one (red wines are her favorite, especially merlot). Sam, Andrea and Heather tried it and then passed their pour on to Mark. Mark and I thought it wasn’t bad, but too dry for our tastes.
Nobska Red: was not available for tastings, as it was waiting to be bottled.
Regatta: sweet, with a slight (very slight) strawberry flavor. At this point, we were rushed to our next taste and I wasn’t really able to find out other’s opinions. Would have loved to learn more about this one, especially since it was not listed in their wine list pamphlet. I think it was a dessert wine??
Nobska Blue: mezzo dolce wine, a blend of blueberries and grapes. This was Heather’s favorite (mine as well, I went home with a bottle). Heather mentioned that it would be great with real blueberries as garnishment. If you are someone who likes their blueberry wine chilled, you could also freeze blueberries and use them as ice cubes! image (8)

image (6)Also available for tasting were two jellies. It was good, but seemed like a typical jelly

The Cape Cod Winery grows the majority of the grapes they use on their property- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Seyval, and Vidal Blanc. These are grapes most commonly found in southern France and northern Italy. Cape Cod Winery chooses to grow organically.

image (12)Pros:

organic

Local

Have a tasting notes/order sheet you can pick up

Offer $1 off a bottle for purchasing a tasting/glass

Offer other discounts (3-5 bottles, $3 off; 6-11 bottles, $8 off total; 12 bottles, $20 off)

Cons:

not a good winery to go to with people who are new to wine or wineries- not a good first impression of the way things work

not enough room to have a tasting unless you are the only people there (and this one I tried to hard to go with because I work in the industry!)

Not enough people working to learn about the wines (although he did a great job with making sure everyone was trying, we just didn’t learn anything)

Wine was expensive to purchase ($14-$17 per bottle)

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Want to go?

Summer Wine Tasting Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, June 26th through Labor Day 11-4 pm.

Fall Wine Tasting Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 11-4, through Christmas.

 
This winery was one that I am glad I went to so I can now cross it off my list, but not one that I would want to go to again.
My thing is that if you don’t like wine (or beer), it’s that you haven’t found one that you like yet and you should continue trying different ones. Hopefully, those that also went with me and didn’t find anything worth bringing home (I was the only one to buy a bottle) will try another winery with me again soon… Or maybe it will be a brewery next time 🙂