Put on your best open-road playlist and head about an hour north on I-95 to 1. Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Hampton, New Hampshire. Even if you’ve been to the brewery before, you likely haven’t played on its months-old, nine-hole disc golf course; it’s free, and although there’s no beer allowed on the course, your score card earns you a $2 pint at the brewery’s restaurant, Hayseed. From there, veer slightly west off 95 to check out 2. Stoneface Brewing Co., a name that references the Old Man of the Mountain, the state’s iconic geological feature. Try a pint of the India Red Rye Ale at the taproom; if you like it, grab a bottle to take home to friends. By now, you’re hungry, right? Fortunately, you’re just 15 minutes from 3. The Black Birch in Kittery, Maine, a convivial and rustic little restaurant serving super-seasonal shared plates. The vast majority of the 24 draft lines are dedicated to Maine or New Hampshire brews, with pours from hometown favorite Tributary Brewing and Maine breweries Rising Tide and Banded Horn. After dinner, another 45 minutes’ drive gets you to Kennebunkport, full of stately B&Bs.
By now, most of your friends expect you to share photos of the awesome seafood you’re eating on the coast, right? Pick up an early seafood snack at 4. The Ocean Roll, perhaps the East Coast’s most retro food truck, which (during warm months) dishes up clam cakes, swordfish sandwiches, lobster rolls, a daily rotating chowder and more from the back of a vintage truck parked at the corner of Ross Road and Route 1. Then head north to your first brewery destination of the day: the venerable 5. Allagash Brewing Co., which has been turning out Belgian-style ales in Portland, Maine, for more than 20 years. Stop by the retail shop for a free flight of four, 3-ounce pours, or book a free tour (which also includes a tasting) through the website if you want to see the behind-the-scenes magic. You’re just 15 minutes from 6. Bissell Brothers’ new location at the Thompson’s Point development, a larger space in which to soak up the brewery’s coveted, hop-forward beers. Next, veer east five miles for a late lunch at 7. Little Tap House, whose 14 taps pour mostly Maine drafts—look for Foundation Brewing, Gneiss Brewing and Marshall Wharf Brewing—that synch with the kitchen’s seasonal pub menu (we’d go for the Beer for Breakfast Sandwich during weekend brunch: two fried eggs, bacon and beer cheese fondue on a grilled bun for just $10.) Next up: 8. Maine Beer Co., a 30-ish minute jaunt north along I-295 to Freeport. You won’t be able to tour the brewery, but large windows offer a glimpse of the brewing process while you work your way through the “all in,” 5-ounce pours of the eight beers on draft at the taproom that day, including selections from the Hop Program series and pilot brewing system. Make an outdoorsy side trip to nearby 9. Wolfe’s Neck Farm, where you can tour the barnyard and gardens or hike through the forest; you can even camp oceanside overnight or rent daytime kayaks during warmer months. Loop south and you’re heading back to Boston. 10. Oxbow Brewing Co.’s Portland taproom marks the final stop of the trip; although the space’s city vibe is quite different than what you’d find at the brewery’s rustic digs in Newcastle, Maine, the Portland space also offers farmhouse beers and is the site of Oxbow’s sour blending and bottling operation. Try some beers there or pick up a few bottles to help you remember the trip.