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MAINE BEER BLOG

May 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

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MAINE BEER BLOG

Beer, beer, beer…..everybody loves it and the craft beers/ microbrewery explosion (especially huge in Maine) does nothing but widen and deepen the experience. In Freeport, we have two micro-brews, and there are many more very nearby!

 

This week I did my fifth “Go-Trippin” interview with the lovely Colleen Croteau of the Maine Beer Co. www.mainebeercompany.com. David and Dan have only been selling beer since 2009, and only moved here in April of 2013, but have cut themselves quite a reputation in the region with many fine ales, and I have to say, I’m thoroughly relishing their porter in my frig. They do tastings in their Freeport facility, which overlooks their brewing operations. My son is going there tomorrow for a personal inspection (of course, I can’t fit it in!).

We also have a Gritty McDuff’s here in Freeport., www.grittys.com, which is quite the local hotspot for imbibing, as well as excellent pub-fare.  After the mosquitoes are fed, you might head out to their deck for a mix of Maine air and chilled brew!

 

Although we’ve sadly been unable to get there yet, there is a Sea Dog Brewery (http://www.seadogbrewing.com) in this dizzying 90’ over the Androscoggin River location, in an old mill building in Topsham (right over the River from Brunswick) only about 5 miles north of Brewster House.  Believe me when I tell you, their deck location is AMAZING!!

Of course, Portland (15 or 20 minutes south of Freeport) has “brewery row,” including such notable names as Shipyard, Bunker, Geary, Rising Tide and so on!!

 

One of the major challenges inherit in this beer tasting sport is the “who’s going to drive?” question! Well Bunky, we’ve got you covered! The aforesaid sweet Colleen was kind enough to share several local “beer tours,” whereby this question is effectively eliminated!

 

In no particular order, first we have Zak and Don with the The Maine Brew Bus, out of Portland. Learn more about their tours $55 – $65) at www.themainebrewbus.com . Some include snacks too, others a full lunch, so all things considered, an excellent deal!

 

As a second option, there’s Mark at Maine Beer Tours www.mainebeertours.com.

 

Finally, as a connoisseur of beer, in Maine you can be rewarded for these visits yu signing up for “The Maine Beer Trail Pass!” 10 visits gets you a hat, 20 a t-shirt. Think how proud you could be! Climbing K2 will seem trivial by comparison!! Go to www.mainebrewersguild.org for details.

 

Of course, this is going to be exhausting, so you’re going to need a hell of a breakfast to get you started and a great bed to recover. Brewster House is the natural solution! Start with check our availability before booking your adventure, make a reservation and know we’ll have your back!!

 

As I was reading over a pub bar in Killarney a couple of weeks ago (actually it was in Gaelic), “Drunk is bad, but thirst is worse.”

 

Salud!

Eight Awesome Mid-Coast Maine Things To Do

May 1st, 2014 by Scott Gile

Boothbay_Harbor_High_Tide-21. BOATS– In our view, if you really want to appreciate Maine (or at least our part of it), there is no substitute for experiencing our gorgeous coastline, islands & peninsulas on a boat. Whether that be the Portland Water Taxis, Atlantic Seal Cruses out of Freeport, an antique schooner trip,  the experience of where the land and water meet is intoxicating! If you have the time, spend the day cruising out of Boothbay or New Harbor to Monhegan. It’s 8 or 10 miles offshore, high, windy & naturally stunning with huge cliffs and puffins nesting in them, populated by a few hardy fishermen, and a thriving year round artists colony, and a 100+ year old hotel. One fabulous breather!!

2. BEACHES– Maine has some beautiful beaches, as different in character from each other as the far reaches of our huge State! South of Portland, there are several long sandy stretches, from the black long sands of York, to the white beaches of Wells, Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach. In Freeport, we have our own Casco Bay facing beach at Winslow Park, and at either end of the Kennebec River two stunningly wild, different and unspoiled State Parks including both Popham Beach on the west, and Reid State Park at the east end of the River.

3. LIGHTHOUSES– There at least five of these within an easy drive of Freeport, including Cape Neddick Light in York, Goat Island Light on Cape Porpoise, and the Portland sisters, Cape Elizabeth (or Two Lights) and the photogenic queen, Portland Head. Less than an hour east of here, you’ll find the Pemaquid Point Light, sitting on a huge striated, slanted granite ledge that can only be described as breathtaking! DON’T MISS the lighthouse boat tours of the Kennebec lighthouses offered by the Maine Maritime Museum either (see link in “Museums)! We have specials at Brewster House built around these explorations!

4. OUTDOOR ADVENTURE– Wow, this is a HUGE category!! I’d put such diverse items in this box as kayaking, bicycling, golf, white water rafting (see Kennebec, Dead & Penobscot Rivers) Northern Outdoors, hunting, fishing, cross-country, Discovery Outdoor Center, ziplines and downhill skiing, mountain-biking, ATVS, snowmobiles…..and so on!!

5. RAINY DAY?– Museums such as the magnificent Maine Maritime Museum in Bath , Portland Art Museum, the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum  (the man who saved the Union Army at Gettysburg), or the Sabbaday Village on Rt. 26 where you can experience a still active Shaker village and their magnificent furniture and handworks, or check out the DeLorme Maps store and 30’ globe 5 miles south on Rt. 1!

LLBeanBoot-sm6. SHOPPING, ETC. – This one is obvious; Freeport being the center of the LL Bean Universe, (5 separate stores) and all of the surrounding outlet stores is 3 blocks south of Brewster House! Kittery and its outlet stores are about 40 miles to the south. If you’re of the gambling persuasion, there is the Oxford Casino, about 30 miles northwest on Rt. 26 too (1/2 mile paved racetrack nearby)!

7. EATING– Again, HUGE category, Freeport has a pretty high food bar, as well as the adjacent towns – Brunswick & Bath! Portland has really become elevated as a “Foodie” center of the east coast. Pahk your cah at Congress Square in Portland and check out the amazing choices of cuisine, or head to the waterfront for ATMOSPHERE+!! Obviously, seafood and fresh local meat and produce is a big part of that program. Check out our neighbors at the Azure Café.

8. DRINKING – Many, many choices for wine, beer or martini lovers within a very short drive!! For beer in Freeport, check out The Maine Beer Company or Gritty’s McDuffs. Both microbreweries, and Gritty’s is a pub style restaurant as well. There is a relatively new “wine bistro” in Freeport, very popular among locals (yes, we’re working our way there too!) called “Conundrum”. Last summer, some guests from Georgia shared their fabulous experience with “Wine Wise Events” of Portland, who does wine tasting cruises, restaurant samplings and other really fun such imbibing adventures ! I’ll be talking more about Christa’s company soon.

That should get you stahted this summah!!

THE DOWNEASTER- LL BEAN OUTDOOR DISCOVERY WEEKEND

April 12th, 2014 by Scott Gile

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God, thank you for today!!  Mid-sixties, no wind and you could even feel the warmth of the sun on your skin!  I took a big gamble and took off my snow tires! 

What’s the last thing you want to do on the weekend, after a week of commuting?  No more driving, or sitting in traffic, right??  Brewster House has your answer!!  Take your comfy seat on the Downeaster, (North Station, Woburn, Haverhill or Exeter, NH), even bring your bicycle, and enjoy the ride!  http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com.  We will pick you up and drop you off at the station, if you let us know when you’ll be arriving.
Then you ask, “what will we do, Tonto?”  Brewster House recently arranged for you to join LL Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Schools!!  For very short money, LL Bean offers an amazing array of choices of “learn to” activities.  The tie in to being car-less here is that you simply walk the 3 blocks to meet them, and they will take you by shuttle to their Discovery Center where these activities are offered (near Wolfs Neck).  If you can imagine this, you could be learning to fly fish, skeet shoot, kayak, paddleboard, or canoeing!  Further, at specified times, they will be offering mixed activities for more extended adventures, such as biking and camping, sea-kayaking including camping, etc.  In the winter, they offer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing lessons as well (snow conditions permitting).    Check out their website for dates, times and availability http://www.llbean.com/llb/ods/33?page=outdoor-discovery-schools. 
 
Our new website is only weeks from being operable.  In fact, it could be sooner, but we want to hold off to include new photographs showing off our newly renovated rooms, which Christian Giannelli http://www.christiangiannelli.com will be taking for us next week.  In re-evaluating some of what’s on our current website, and what we inherited vs. new directions we think we should take, we will be offering several new packages.  We know you will find them to be simply elegant and will want to come spend time with us!  One of these will be the “LL Bean Outdoor Discovery Package,” including your choice of activity, and a dinner gift certificate to reward you for your outdoor efforts.
Not being a shopper myself, I’ve long thought we should be offering a package making it clear that shopping does not have to be your activity to enjoy the area (even though it may be your partners)!  I haven’t settled on a name, and please don’t jump on me with the “sexist” label, but I’m thinking of something like “Women Shop/ Men Play Package.”  Please know I am open to other name suggestions!  It is my intention to offer a range of active choices including golf, boating or LL Bean adventures, and maybe a spa treatment for the ladies!  Of course we need to reunite the group with dinner, so a dinner gift certificate will be in order as well.  I don’t know about your relationship, but in ours, usually the guys and ladies team up for such weekends, so this is a perfect set-up for two or more couples!
We are working with a local company who owns five golf courses, including the Bath Country Club and Sunday River Golf courses for a Golf  n’Stay Package.
You know those less exciting seasons?  Here we call them stick and mud season, but you may feel the same about winter.  Don’t forget Reconnect Weekends, where during our slower seasons, you and your family/ friends/ college buddies/ co-workers can take the whole inn for a VERY DEEP DISCOUNT.     

Jump into Spring with a plan to come to Brewster House and play!!  Please call if we can help you plan, or answer questions for you!  We love to help people relax and enjoy life!!!   

White Water Rafting Maine

April 4th, 2014 by Scott Gile

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For those of us Mainers who love the outdoors, a significant transition marker every spring is the annual four day Reggae Fest at Sugarloaf Ski Resort, http://www.sugarloaf.com/activities-and-nightlife/reggae-festival. A fabulous outdoor event marking the coming of spring with the last days of spring skiing!! If you haven’t participated and you’re a lover of Reggae, skiing, boarding or the outdoors, GET HIP!!

In other miscellaneous news, Amtrak is offering $10 one-way adult fares between Brunswick (one stop past Freeport) and Haverhill, MA on the Downeaster weekends of April 12 & 13, and May 17 & 18. COME UP AND SEE US!! We’ll even pick you up and drop you off at the Freeport Station (call to make arrangements)!! We’re already pretty busy for that second weekend, so don’t wait to make reservations!http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/deals is the link to Amtrak, but my instructions read you need to call Natalie Bogart at 207-780-1000 x108 to make arrangements.

Ahhhh, WHITE WATER RAFTING, one premier wilderness Maine experience!! If you’ve not had one of these thrill rides, this year is the time! Rafting is a team event, with the in-raft guidance of your personal experienced guide, who is also your boss, calls out instructions and steers the raft. The three rivers we run in Maine, the Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers, are all dam controlled, and transit pristine wild, beautiful country. The first two are also the primary drainages for the state, the Kennebec enters the Gulf of Maine not far from here, and the mighty Penobscot carved out Penobscot Bay, an hour + east of here.

All full trips run about 4 or 5 hours and cover about 15 miles of river.  Many companies run shorter ½ trips too.  The Kennebec and Penobscot are run year round, depending on daily releases from hydro-elecrtic dams for the ride.  The Dead is run a couple of weekends in the spring and fall, via flood control releases from Flagstaff Lake, east of Mt. Bigelow, across Carrabassett Valley from Sugarloaf, and is the only ride with consistent rapids the entire distance.  The Penobscot run starts east of Moosehead Lake (just south of Baxter State Park), and as the river includes class 4 and 5 rapids, is the wildest ride of the three.  Out family has rafted all but the Dead multiple times and will agree the Penobscot is the most intimidating, although many of it’s later stretches laze bucolically under the majestic Mt. Katahdin.  Most of the rafting companies that run the Kennebec are quartered in The Forks on that River, and you get in below the dam at the West end of Indian Pond, which empties Moosehead Lake (which at 45 miles long is one big a– lake!).

YOU WILL GET WET, so a wet-suit rental is a good idea on all but the warmest days, as the water that emerges from the depths of these big damned lakes IS COLD! All rafting companies have them available, as well as including helmets and other safety equipment. Rides begin with a safety briefing and practicing your teams response to your raft Captains’ commands. Halfway down any trip, you pull over for a scrumptious grilled lunch, hot drinks and of course, the brews flow after any trip, as you watch videos of yourselves negotiating the rapids.

A Google search will produce a number of options, but a place to start might be www.northernoutdoors.com. Most of these are based about 2 hours north of Freeport, and the plan is for us to be your cony refuge after (or before) your adventure! Believe me when I tell you that you can’t have more thrills (& lunch) for under $100!!<

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

PB_Choc_Cookies-smOne of the challenges at Brewster House, like most bed and breakfasts, is coming up with recipes that are good enough to use, but also meet special dietary requirements of some guests.

We often seem to have guests who have restrictions on wheat flours or are otherwise gluten-free, so afternoon snacks of cookies, cakes, etc., can be a bit of a challenge.

That’s why we were thrilled when, a few years ago, Ruth came across this recipe for flourless peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips in Southern Living magazine. Scott loves peanut butter, and combined with chocolate it is ideal! This recipe has become his favorite of any peanut butter cookie, with or without flour!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (chunky may be used if preferred)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (or morsels)

1. Stir together first five ingredients in medium bowl, using wooden spoon. Stir in chocolate chips/morsels

2. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet

3. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes or until puffed and golden (Cookies will be soft in the center). cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, remove to wire rack.

Enjoy!

Brewster House Baked Pineapple

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

baked_pineappleModified from a recipe received from a friend, this fruit dish is similar to a bread pudding — and very popular with our guests.

Makes about 8-10 servings.

  • 4 slices bread — Cubed. We use 4-5 slices of maple cinnamon bread, but cinnamon raisin works well also.
  • 1 stick butter — melted
  • 15 1/4 ounces crushed pineapple — (1 medium can)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 can mandarin orange sections
  • whipped cream

Place cubed bread in large mixing bowl. Add melted butter and stir until butter is absorbed.

Beat egg in separate bowl, add sugar and beat until thick. Add crushed pineapple (NOT drained) and pour over bread mixture and mix Pour into 11×7 in. baking pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees F until brown around sides.

Spoon into individual servings (at Brewster House, we use champagne glasses with stems).

Garnish with 3-4 mandarin orange slices and a small amount of whipped cream, and serve warm.

If this makes more than you need, you can freeze the excess and warm it up for another time.

Fresh Strawberry Syrup (for Croissant French Toast)

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

strawberry_croissant_fr_toastA simple, yet delicious, syrup made from strawberries and sugar, to make for a very special dish.

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries — sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind — grated

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and let stand 30 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until warm. Serve over Croissant French Toast

Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

strawberry_croissant_fr_toastA delicious French toast, made with croissants and served with a strawberry compote, this unusual and delicious variation on French toast is really a winner.

Makes 4 servings.

  • 4 large croissants — day-old (stale)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use 2 tsp if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • whipped cream — (optional topping)
  • Fresh Strawberry Syrup (see next recipe)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Slice croissants in half lengthwise

Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish. Dip croissant halves into egg mixture, coating well.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat. Add four croissant halves, and cook about 2 minutes on each side or until puffy and golden brown. Repeat procedure with remaining butter and croissant halves.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar; top with Whipped Cream if desired, and Fresh Strawberry Syrup.

Serving Ideas : Sprinkle a few blueberries on top for a colorful presentation.

NOTE: If croissants are not stale, they will not absorb the batter as fully, and will not plump as much when cooked.

Southern Recipe from a Maine B&B: Pecan Praline French Toast

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

Pecan_praline_Fr_tstOne of our favorite French toast recipes is based on one we received from a family friend in California. She sent us Paula Deen’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup.

As some of our friends well know, we lived for a number of years in the Southern USA (Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia), and love a lot of the Southern dishes. One thing we find, though, is that they are sometimes a bit rich for us. Consequently we’ve taken some of our favorites and altered them a little to be just a bit lighter (they are still very substantial – just ask our guests!). That’s what we did with this recipe.

In fact, we had been serving our version as Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast for some time before Ruth came across a video of Paula Deen making her French toast recipe. Based on the recipe we had from our friend, we had been laying the slices of bread down in the pan in layers, which made a great French toast in its own right. When Ruth saw the video, she realized that the way Paula Deen makes it, the slices stand up in the pan, wicking the custard up into themselves, and they look amazing! We tried it with our version, and wow! The taste was wonderful and the presentation was really impressive (as you can see from the photo!).

Here’s the recipe for Brewster House Pecan Praline French Toast:

  • 1 loaf French bread (13-16 ounces) (you may also use challah bread instead for a slightly different texture)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping (recipe follows)
  • Maple syrup (we use 100% pure Maine maple syrup)

Slice bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices upright, in a generously buttered 9 x 13-inch flat baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

Pecan_praline_Fr_toast

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, and whisk until blended. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Serve with maple syrup.Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Bon appetit!

Gluten-Free Quiche With Goat Cheese

March 27th, 2014 by Scott Gile

gluten-free-quicheLike many innkeepers, we find that a number of our guests need gluten-free meals. In searching for this type of thing, Ruth came across this quiche from Martha Stewart, which we served today, to high praise from all the guests!

We served it as presented, but will be trying it in the near future with fresh spinach and sun-dried tomatoes added, as well.

Gluten-Free Quiche with Goat Cheese

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 package (1 pound) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 12 large eggs
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 package (4-5 ounces) soft goat cheese, room temperature
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 9 by 2 1/2 inch springform pan with butter. Line the sides of the pan with strips of waxed paper (the same height as the pan); brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess moisture from hash browns. Mix in a bowl with butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, using a moistened dry measuring cup. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined; whisk in 11 remaining eggs. Pour into crust, and sprinkle with scallions. Bake until set, 45 to 50 minutes. Unmold quiche, and peel off waxed paper before serving.

Serves 6-8, depending on serving size.

Enjoy!

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