Heading north, the first place I stopped off at was Portsmouth, NH at a little place called Gary's Beverages. Gary's doesn't look like much from the outside. In fact, it could be mistaken for just about any bottle shop in northern New England. In truth, it's the best beer store in Portsmouth. The selection is great but the store is a bit cramped and disorganized so hunting for beer takes on a whole new meaning. I stopped here specifically for Smuttynose beer (especially the Big Beer series) and I was not disappointed. I got hold of some Smutty Barleywine, Wheat Wine and some Big "A" IPA. Also found some bottles of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, in this case it was the Triticus wheat wine.
Crossing into Maine, the next stop was Tully's in Wells. Tully's is housed in a shopping center anchored by a Hannaford and is easily the best beer store south of Portland and north of the New Hampshire border. That makes it a popular stop for people from Massachusetts and New Hampshire to find Maine beers that are not distributed outside of the state. (Can you say Cadillac Mountain Stout?) Tully's had expanded their selection since my last visit and had anything you could want as far as Maine brewed products. The selection of Belgian beers was also notable.
Next up was a stop to RSVP in Portland. RSVP is not the best beer store in Portland but it is reasonably easy to get to from the interstate. It's dingy and they don't dedicate near enough of their ample floor space to beer but the selection is still very good, they even sell growlers from draft-only Maine brewers. Again, lots of Maine beers but tons of micros "from away", certainly better than when I lived in state. RSVP also benefits from being in close proximity to the The Great Lost Bear, the best beer bar in Portland. Alas, the GLB was not yet open. That may have been a good thing as a quick lunch at GLB can quickly turn into a lost afternoon and I still had to get further north.
For kicks, I stopped off at Lou's Beverage Barn in Augusta. Lou's always had a great selection but notoriously kept really old beer in the store. It's no different now. I left without buying a thing. Back on 95 North.
Arriving in Bangor, I stopped off at the Natural Living Center and was pleasantly surprised that their beer selection was greatly improved. Natural Living Store had always been the best place for beer in Bangor by default (this is no longer the case, several stores in the area have stepped it up in recent years) but now it was worthy on its merits. Lots of singles, lots of in and out of state micros. I picked up some singles of old friends and some I wanted to become acquainted with...and headed further north still.
I know my destination was Bangor but up in downtown Orono (home of the University of Maine) is Burby and Bates, a fine little liquor store with an emphasis on fine wines and, more importantly, fine beers. You can mix your sixers, they have fresh growlers from area breweries but today I was all about the Dogfish Head. Georgia had recently raised the ABV limit on beer but that was only up to 14%. Hello World Wide Stout and 120 Minute IPA!
I had made better time than I had expected so it was down the street to sample some beer at the Bear Brewpub. Not the most imaginative name for a Maine brewpub, I'll grant you. Still it was a drizzly afternoon and I decided to grab a late lunch and kill some time over a pint or two. The salmon chowder was excellent and I had the house IPA with it. Was it a master stroke of beer pairing? No but the wicked herbal hoppiness did cut the creaminess of the chowder nicely. Not a bad little IPA here. After a couple hours, it was off to Dave's place for a good night's sleep before we ventured out on the next leg of the journey...
Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA
Smuttynose Big A IPA
Smuttynose Summer Weizen
Smuttynose Wheat Wine
Allagash Summer Ale
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Sea Dog Winter Ale "Cabin Fever"
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout
Dogfish Head 120 Min IPA
Atlantic Special Old Bitter (S.O.B.)
Atlantic Brother Adams Honey Bragget Ale
Geary's London Porter
Magic Hat Blind Faith
Casco Bay Pale Ale
Frye's Leap IPA
Unibroue La Terrible
Maine Coast Irish Stout
Unibroue Ephemere Cassis
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