Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
Sometimes, comfort is in the familiarity of the bar. Sea Dog Brewing Co. has a number of locations in Maine and some sister companies that share similar menus, happy hours and drinks.
SEA DOG BREWING CO.
WHERE: 1 Bowdoin Mill Island, Topsham
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Brunch served between opening and 1 p.m.
SPECIALS: Happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. daily with various specials, including $3 drafts, martinis and well drinks
AMENITIES: An awesome outdoor patio with a view of the Androscoggin River
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes
SCENE: A Maine brewpub with regulars and tourists alike stopping in to enjoy a pint and the view
However, each Sea Dog location has its own crowd and special twist. For the Sea Dog Brewing Co. in Topsham, the twist is an awesome outdoor patio hanging over the rushing Androscoggin River.
Unfortunately, when I went with my friend Angie, the weather wasn't suitable for patio seating. Angie has sat on the patio before, and said it's like you're floating on the river -- or for some, like you're about to fall into the river. I guess the perspective depends on if you're seaworthy or afraid of heights.
Despite the dreary weather, we opted for Sea Dog's seasonal brew on tap, Sunfish Wheat. The light beer is brewed as such to offer a peach fragrance and a clean, refreshing grapefruit finish.
It's the kind of beer you want to drink cold while sitting in the sun on a nice warm day. It's also the kind of beer you can drink inside when it's raining to remind you the sun will be back soon.
The Topsham location is situated to draw a lot of locals, so the bar can be packed with them at times. But with its views and location just off the Route 1 path to the midcoast, the bar also draws a lot of tourists interested in a quick bite, a drink and good scenery.
Sea Dog offers its regulars some cool perks, including the mug club. For a $50 annual membership ($40 if you're renewing), you get a mug that allows you to enjoy 22-ounce beers at the same price of a pint.
Memberships come with a free T-shirt each year, complimentary lunch on your birthday, a special "club only" appetizer menu at the bar, invitation to beer releases on the first Monday of each month, and "Firkin Fridays" on the third Friday of each month.
If you're a beer lover and frequent the nearest Sea Dog location -- Topsham included -- it's a great perk. If you're not a beer lover, have no fear: Sea Dog bartenders have a lot of tricks in their bags, mainly special martinis and cocktails.
You could try something like "Forbidden Mango Tango" if you're ready for the exotic mix of Svedka Vodka, watermelon liqueur, mango puree and house-crafted sour mix for $7 during non-happy hour. Or maybe the "Caribbean Dreamsicle," which claims to transport you to paradise. The $7 cocktail features Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, Coconut Jack Rum, triple sec, strawberry puree, pineapple juice and orange juice served on the rocks.
Back to that beer, though: Sea Dog offers its own brew on tap. And if you're going to grab a bite to eat, check out "The Perfect Pairing" portion of the menu.
Restaurants and bars used to only concern themselves with pairing wine and food. The boom of breweries, however, has led to a new taste science. The fruit-flavored beer, like the pints Angie and I had, is best drunk alongside salad or seafood.
IPAs are recommended to be paired with spicy foods. Stouts or porters are a dessert in and of themselves, or best enjoyed with something off the dessert menu.
So basically, at Sea Dog you don't just get a good beer and some tasty food. You get an education.
And, let's face it, a good time as well.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.