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The Best Breweries to Visit by Boat in 7 New England Harbors


Post by Adrian Mott - Published on 4/18/19, 9:18 AM
New England is home to Dockwa HQ, and seeing as we're boaters ourselves, it will come as no surprise to you that many of us here enjoy craft beer.  The craft beer scene in New England, especially within the past five years, has become somewhat prolific.

Life’s better by the water, especially for boaters who like to hop aboard and kick back with a cold beverage. This summer, cruise New England’s scenic coast as you tour some of the Northeast’s best harborside breweries. Read on for some personal recommendations from Dockwa’s resident craft beer expert.
 

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Although we're working our way from north to south for this list, it's pretty fitting that Portland, Maine, is at the top. One thing worth noting about Portland: there are so many good breweries that you might struggle hitting even half of them in a week's time.

The breweries in Portland are dispersed regionally a little bit, but there are three main concentrations to plan on hitting: the industrial park in Westbrook, the neighborhood of East Bayside, and Thompson's Point.

 

Westbrook

The industrial park in Westbrook encompasses Austin Street, Allagash, Battery Steele, and Foundation breweries, among others.

This area is a 15 minute drive from downtown Portland, and well worth the trip. My friends and I like to call this building in the Westbrook Industrial Park the "brewing incubator.” Many excellent breweries made their start here, including Maine Beer Company (now in Freeport, near LL Bean) and Bissell Brothers.

The current residents include Austin Street (try the "Patina" Pale Ale), Battery Steele, which was started by the folks who used to run Gritty McDuffs and the legendary Allagash Brewing, one of the original breweries in the area.

Beer to not miss: Austin Street Florens – if you can find it!

 

East Bayside 

The neighborhood of East Bayside is home to Good Fire Brewing, Lone Pine, Rising Tide, and Urban Farms Fermentory. This area of the city is more accessible from downtown (only around a 5 minute cab ride) and the breweries here each seem to have a specialty. Our favorite brewery is also the newest: Good Fire Brewing, which focuses on hop-forward IPAs. Urban Farm Fermentory is also a great spot to check out if you like hard cider and kombucha. Their cider is known to be very dry, not sweet.

Beer to not miss: UFF Dry Cider, especially paired with local oysters!

 

Thompson's Point

Thompson's Point is home to an awesome outdoor music venue as well as some of  the best breweries in Maine (and possibly the East Coast). Started by brothers Noah and Peter Bissell, Bissell Brothers Brewery focuses on fresh, hoppy beers served in tallboy cans. Brews like Swish (a double IPA), The Substance (their flagship IPA) and Baby Genius (a Session Ale) make fans line up before opening to get their hands on cans. You can grab some grub next door in their new and modern tasting room while you sip on some awesome beers, or give the International Cryptozoology Museum a visit.

Beer to not miss: Baby Genius. With its low ABV and very light yet full of flavor, Baby Genius is the perfect summer beer.

Explore Maine marinas

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Featured Brewery: Stoneface Brewing Company

Where to tie up:

While most of the craft beer scene in New England fixates on Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, Stoneface, a relatively new brewery, put New Hampshire on the map with a solid lineup of IPAs, offbeat stouts, and one-of-a-kind Berliner Weisse.

 

Just a 5 minute ride from downtown Portsmouth (or New Castle if you're tying up at Wentworth), you won't forget your trip to Stoneface. Try to get there when their double IPA "Second Clip" is on tap. If you’re looking for a more full and rich flavor, their chocolate infused stouts are for you. While you’re at it, you might as well experience a meal at the tasting room. From small plates to burgers and charcuterie boards there is something for everyone at Stoneface.

Beer to not miss: Second Clip Double IPA

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The Best Breweries in Gloucester, MA and Cape Ann, MA

 

Cape Ann is a big area to focus on, so our recommendations here really vary depending on where you're tying up. We'll cover Gloucester, Salem and throw in a new spot in Beverly for good measure (after all, we just got a new marina listing in Beverly this past March!)

 

If you're docking or grabbing a mooring in Gloucester Harbor, a great option right downtown is Cape Ann Brewing Company, which also serves food. Here you’ll find good traditional brews like the Fisherman's IPA, and in the late summer/early fall their Imperial Pumpkin Ale. There are usually some special beers on tap as well, including some really great session IPAs. You also can't beat the location! Grab a beer here and then head up to Short & Main for oysters and a pizza – you won't be disappointed.

 

If you're in Salem (or even Marblehead), go check out Notch Brewing Company, which opened a new beer garden right near downtown and Pickering Wharf. Notch's beers are 100% session ale, meaning lower in alcohol, a refreshing change from most New England IPAs and Double IPAs. Sit outside, or play skee-ball with your crew, and enjoy a pint or three.

 

One last place we'll mention as it has just opened around Christmas 2018 in nearby Beverly: Channel Marker Brewing. We haven't been here in person yet, but we hear good things about their flagship IPA. Check them out on Rantoul Street, just up the road from Beverly Port Marina and Jubilee Yacht Club.

Beer to not miss: Teenage Riot: Session New England Pale Ale at Notch Brewing Company in Salem, MA

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Boston, Massachusetts

Featured Brewery: Trillium Brewing Company

Tie up at: Boston Waterboat Marina

Trillium Brewing Company started as a Farmhouse brewery, making "saison" style beers, as well as experimenting with some different fermentations and additions to their beer like honeys and coffees. Like many other New England Breweries on this list, Trillium seemed to find their groove when they developed their New England IPA recipe. The hype has yet to die down, as evidenced by the lines out the door that form any time they release their "Mettle" Double IPA.


Trillium expanded quickly, now with locations in the Fort Point area of South Boston and a summer beer garden on the Greenway, right near Rowe's Wharf. Trillium plans to expand further and open a fourth location near Fenway Park by the end of this summer. 


If you're tying up at a marina in downtown Boston or at either of the excellent marinas in Charlestown, head to the Fort Point location or the beer garden (though watch out for the lines here, they can get fierce on the weekends).

Beer to not miss: Melcher Street IPA (try double hopped if possible!)

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Martha's Vineyard

Featured Breweries:

Tie up here:

We haven't been to Bad Martha, but we've heard great things about how these guys are expanding and making an awesome destination brewery right near Edgartown. Known for their care-free vibe, Bad Martha offers yards games, live music, ten rotating beers on tap, and some really good looking food. So grab a mooring in Edgartown Harbor, explore Chappy for the day, and then end up at Bad Martha for a beer and some local cheese. Not a bad way to spend a summer day on the Vineyard!

The island will also be hosting its 4th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival on September 21st. Buy your tickets here and don’t miss the chance to try over 150 beers from 50 different breweries!

Beer to not miss: 508 IPA

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Nantucket Island

 

Featured Brewery:

Tie up here:

What first started as a passion for wine, Nantucket Vineyard soon expanded to encompass Cisco Brewery and eventually Triple Eight Distillery. In 1992, Cisco Brewery was America’s only outdoor brewery. For nearly 30 years they’ve been putting out excellent beers. Fan favorites include Whale's Tale Pale Ale, Grey Lady, and Sankaty Light. They offer tours, tastings, and live music all year round so you don’t need to wait for summer to check this place out.

Beer to not miss: Whale’s Tale Pale Ale

 

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Newport & Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island

Featured Brewery:

Tie up here:

Breweries to Visit By Boat in Newport and Narragansett Bay

 

A relatively new entrant and a bit more off the beaten path, Tilted Barn is another brewery with its roots in Farmhouse ales. One unique characteristic: these guys actually grow their own hops! The endeavor began in 2007 as Ocean State Hops, Rhode Island's first commercial hop farm, and now they craft some amazing beer using their own products.  

 

Located on the western side of Narragansett Bay in Exeter, RI, it's a little far from where you may be tying up in Newport, but well worth the excursion. Tilted Barn's IPAs are exceptional examples of New England IPA -- as their mantra is to stuff as many hops into each batch as possible.

 

Ragged Island Brewery began in 2017 and quickly grew in popularity. Due to the high demand in their taproom they almost immediately upgraded to a larger brewhouse. Now they are expanding even more. Checkout their Facebook page for more details about their upcoming German-style taproom that features a back deck with sweeping views of Narragansett Bay. In the meantime, try their “Surfer’s End” IPA.

Beer to not miss: The Other One Double IPA

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This post was originally published on [date] and was updated on [date] to include an additional harbor:

 

Bridgeport & Stratford, CT

 

As a handful of boaters very kindly pointed out, our original post neglected the fair state of Connecticut! Here are their suggestions:


  • Dockwa boater Mike M. wrote in to personally recommend Stratford, as well as: Bad Sons Brewery in Derby, CT, Beer’d Stonington, Counterweight in Hamden.

  • Sunny C. wrote, “I want to highlight Athletic Brewing Company in Stratford, CT, which offers a line on excellent non-alcoholic beers. Staying sober out on the water Is important!  These craft beers are actually the best we’ve had.”

  • Thanks also to Edward C, founder of Stony Creek Brewery, for writing in to share not only his brews but his love of Dockwa! Stony Creek Brewery is right on the water in Branford, CT, and is notably the winner of the 2016 World Beer Cup among other accolades.

Explore Conecticut Marinas

 

 

This list is just the tip of the iceberg! Let us know your favorite breweries up and down the coast of New England and other cruising regions – email adrian@dockwa.com.

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Post by Adrian Mott

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