Design a site like this with
Get started

Day 1: Cambridge, MA to Saco, ME

Gotta start out with two photos for crossing two state lines today!

It feels weird to be on the road again. What feels even weirder is the fact that I woke up in my own bed this morning, and but for the two large saddle bags I could’ve just been going for a regular early morning bike ride. I guess I was more expecting a departure like this.

But Final Fantasy aside, I hit the road shortly after 6am and took a pretty mundane route out through Arlington and Winchester. Then again, what seems mundane to me because I’ve biked it so many times would probably be interesting if I were biking it for the first time, so here’s a photo from the Alewife Greenway in Arlington.

One nice thing about being in familiar territory is I knew exactly where I wanted to get a pastry for breakfast: Gingerbread Construction Company. They do incredible muffins (I got a cranberry walnut), and the cookies aren’t half bad either.

From there I wended my way on back roads for the next 30+ miles until I got to Newburyport, where I crossed the Merrimack River on the Garrison Trail.

Crossing the Merrimack felt a bit like crossing the Rubicon, because the Boston commuter rail network extends as far as the Merrimack but it doesn’t cross the river. So until I crossed the Merrimack I could have decided this was all a colossally bad idea and hopped the next train back to Boston. Once I was north of it though, bailing would be somewhat harder. (Spoiler: I didn’t bail, or this post would be very short.)

A few miles later I entered New Hampshire and merged into US-1. Google was really trying hard to keep me off Route 1, but the fact of the matter is there aren’t many good north-south roads on the NH Seacoast, and at least Route 1 has wide shoulders. I also got a chance to admire Hampton Beach at a distance across the Hampton Marsh.

Now mind you, at this point I was getting pretty close to Portsmouth but it was still morning and would have been to early for me to visit any breweries. (The horror!) I was also a bit concerned about visiting breweries after only eating a muffin and a cookie 3 hours earlier. Thankfully, at this point I just happened to pass by The Juice Box, which was exactly what I needed: fluids, electrolytes, and calories.

With a smoothie in my stomach and a bit of a rest break, I continued on to Portsmouth and conveniently got to Liars Bench five minutes after their 11:30 opening. I’ve only been to Liars Bench a few times, but they make some good stuff. Highlights today included the very refreshing Slurps Up lager and the Hey Okie chocolate saison.

Leaving my bike at Liars Bench, I walked across the train tracks to Great Rhythm. Another brewery that I haven’t been to as often as I’d like. While they’re an IPA specialist, they also have a fair selection of other styles, so I enjoyed a refreshing Vienna lager and a really great Tropical Haze IPA. (Remember, if I’m plugging an IPA it must really be good.) Great Rhythm also has a really nice view from their beer garden.

No visit to Portsmouth would be complete without a pilgrimage to Earth Eagle, so that was my next stop. Historically, Earth Eagle has specialized in gruits, which are a style of beer brewed without hops that instead use botanicals to impart bitterness. (Or sometimes they’ve even used bear meat and moose meat– I’m not making this up!) As they’ve expanded though, they’ve put more IPAs on the menu and now typically only carry one gruit at a time. That said, their Angie amber gruit with angelica root and rose hips was fantastic. The Birds from Mars kveik IPA was also solid. (Digression: When I was in Oslo last month I got a kveik saison at a brewery there. I wish American breweries would make something like that, but instead they only seem to use kveik yeast to make IPAs.)

After Earth Eagle it was time to cross into Maine. Fortunately a friend warned me that the drawbridge on Route 1 typically gets raised on the hour and the half hour during the day to let boats through, so when I got there at 2:03 I wasn’t surprised that it was raised. At least the wait was short.

Having entered Kittery, I made a beeline for Woodland Farms. They have one of the best pilsners out there, but unfortunately they were out of it. (Doubly unfortunately, since they were also out of it the last time I was there!) However the owner remembered me from my last visit– and even remembered that we’d discussed Wordle the last time I was there– so he nicely gave me a sample of their “Cerveza Medico con Lima” Mexican lager with lime. Not quite as good as the pilsner but still really refreshing on a day like today. Lacking the pilsner, I decided to photograph their deer head instead.

From Kittery it was “only” 25 miles up Route 1 to get to Kennebunk. I was definitely starting to feel it in my legs, but overall I had a tail wind and the wide shoulder on Route 1 gave me room to maneuver so at least it was bearable. Actually, there’s a newish brewery on Route 1 in York that I’ve been meaning to try, but wouldn’t you know it, Wednesday is the one day of the week they’re closed. Just my luck. So on to Kennebunk is was, with a stop at Dairy Queen and a little pause to admire the old industrial buildings downtown.

Incidentally, Kennebunk should not be confused with Kennebunkport, home of the Bush compound. The two towns border on each other but they’re separate incorporated communities.

In Kennebunk I turned inland to pick up the Eastern Trail. The Eastern Trail is a dirt bike path that supposedly will someday run from Florida to Maine, but currently the major sections are 6 miles from Kennebunk to Biddeford and 9 miles from Saco to Scarborough. So I did the Kennebunk-Biddeford stretch and it was nice to be out of traffic for a bit, though I really would have preferred a paved trail.

In Biddeford I hit up Blaze, which is in this really cool industrial building by the dam that was formerly occupied by Dirigo Brewing. While I miss Dirigo, Blaze has some nice stuff on offer. My favorite was their Ice Cream Pop fruited sour with strawberry, banana, and pineapple, though the Backshore kettle sour with passionfruit and blood orange was nice as well.

Biddeford is right next to Saco, so it was a quick bike ride to my hotel to freshen up. Then on to dinner at a local seafood restaurant where I wound up hearing the life story of the woman sitting next to me, who was a 65-year-old from Wooster, OH. She was surprised I had heard of her hometown but I explained to her that when you grow up in Worcester, MA you learn about the other Wooster and its spelling.

And now for the highlight of my day. While I’ve visited well over 500 breweries around the world, Barreled Souls is my unqualified favorite. In fact, the reason I picked Saco as my destination today was so I could hit them up; they don’t open until 3pm on weekdays, so if I hadn’t made it this far I wouldn’t have been able to hit them up without wasting most of tomorrow. Now, my love for them is not to say everything they make is excellent, but when they nail something boy do they hit it out of the park. Today, the beer they truly hit out of the park was their Woodford Rye barrel-aged Big Bang barleywine. There’s no way I can describe it other than to say it was a religious experience. And their Gimme the Munichwine barleywine was pretty cool too.

Well, that’s a wrap for today! I don’t plan to make a habit of 6 breweries in one day, so hopefully future posts will be shorter. If nothing else, tomorrow’s ride will be shorter since I have an airbnb booked in Bath, which is only about 55 miles away, so I can sleep in a bit.

Total distance: 98.2 miles
Average speed: 14.5 mph


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: