Maine Spirits

Red wine,grapes and cheeseBy Erika Blauch Rusley

What better way to enjoy Maine’s diverse array of local foods than with a glass of locally sourced beer, wine, or spirits?

Peak Organic Brewery is a leader in local sourcing from the New England region, and many of Peak’s ingredients are exclusively made in Maine. Aurora Mills, in Linneaus, supplies grains for many of Peak’s brews. For its Local Series beer, Elm Hill Farm, located in Monroe, provides the hops. Coffee amber and stout include coffee by Portland’s Coffee By Design, and oats from Brownfield’s Grandy Oats are used in Peak’s Maple Collaboration beer.

Maine Beer Company, Oxbow, Rising Tide, and Sebago are among the growing number of breweries that also make beer from Maine-sourced ingredients.

It isn’t easy to grow grapes in Maine, but a handful of vineyards have seen success. Among these is Dragonfly Farm and Winery in Stetson, which grows grapes including St. Pepin, similar to Riesling, and Frontenac, a cherry red. Another prolific vineyard, Savage Oakes, in Union, makes a variety of Maine-grown white, rose, and red wines. And Lebanon’s Prospect Hill Winery has long produced exclusively estate-grown wines.

The mead, or honey wine, at Portland’s Maine Mead Works is as local as it gets. Every batch is made from locally-gathered honey, and flavor varieties might incorporate Glendarragh Farms English lavender, Snell and Maxwell Farms strawberries or Heath Hill Farms elderberries. Blueberry mead made from wild coastal blueberries is a popular choice.

Another  fruit-based beverage that is growing in popularity in Maine is cider and the three varieties from the Urban Farm Fermentory are made exclusively of Maine grown apples.  Choose from dry, hopped and barrel-aged.

Maine Distilleries has turned one of the state’s biggest crops into three elegant beverages: Cold River Classic Vodka, Cold River Blueberry Vodka, and Cold River Gin. The distillery, which is located in Freeport, even plants its own potatoes to ensure the highest quality product. For a fruity twist, try the apple brandy at Union’s Sweetgrass Farm, made out of local apples and aged for months. Bottoms up!

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