Reserve a geodome at Rising Tide in Portland. Photo courtesy of Rising Tide Brewing Co.

Enjoying a beer outside in Maine has typically been an activity reserved for the warmer months, but with breweries upgrading their outdoor seating areas during the pandemic, now winter is included.

The state has not allowed tasting rooms to reopen indoors since the start of the pandemic, but many breweries have kept their outdoor seating areas open and enhanced them with heating sources to keep you warm – some with live music stages to keep you entertained, so you won’t even notice the cold. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 breweries with the best outdoor setups. A couple are also full-service restaurants with indoor seating as well, but we’re opting for fire pits and fish shacks when we can.

Some things to note before you go: These breweries do a thorough cleaning of surfaces between parties. You’ll need to dress warm, even in heated outdoor enclosures like domes and ice shacks, and make sure to wear a mask when not seated at your table. Remember, these strange circumstances are new for everyone, a little kindness and patience goes a long way. And always check websites and the latest state guidelines to make sure these businesses are open before you head out the door.

FLUVIAL BREWING

WHERE: 860 Maple Ridge Road, Harrison, fluvialbrewing.com

HOURS: 3-7 p.m. Thursday, 3-8 p.m. Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Reserve a heated beer dome – a clear plastic geodome – for up to 90 minutes for up to eight people in your pod. First-come, first-served seating is also available around six fire pits at this rural southern Maine brewery amidst the snow and breathtaking views. Light snacks available. Try a charcuterie board with an Easy Dreamin’ Hefeweizen.

FUNKY BOW BREWERY & BEER CO.

WHERE: 21 Ledgewood Lane, Lyman, funkybowbeercompany.com

HOURS: 1-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Funky Bow has about 30 picnic tables, spaced for social distancing, in its large rural outdoor seating area. They just built an ice skating rink, slated to open in late January and free to paying customers. They’re also keeping the disc-golf course open for the winter (8 a.m. till dusk daily). Check their calendar for live music. The brewery created a COVID-safe outdoor music venue by covering the entire door of a loading dock with plexiglass so the band can play safely inside while speakers are outside. Try a Cover Charge Double IPA with an artisan pizza.

MARSHALL WHARF BREWING CO.

WHERE: 36 Marshall Wharf, Belfast, marshallwharfbrewing.com

HOURS: 2-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: The seaside brewery has converted its beer garden into a beer atrium by putting a roof over it and wind blocks around the sides with added propane heaters and three wood stoves to increase the cozy. On weekends, grab a hot dog from The Moody Dog food cart parked out front and look out for locally catered dinners like burrito and soup nights on Marshall Wharf’s Facebook page. Customers are welcome to bring their own food as well. Try a My ShahRona New England IPA, honoring Maine’s CDC director, Dr. Nirav Shah.

FORE RIVER BREWING CO. 

WHERE: 35 Park Ave., South Portland, foreriverbrewing.com

HOURS: 4-8 p.m. Thursday, 2-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

WHAT TO EXPECT: The South Portland brewery just moved its tasting room from its regular Huntress Avenue location to its Park Avenue site. Typically a production space, this winter Fore River turned the parking lot into an outdoor tasting room, complete with fire pits. Open for draft pours, bottles and cans. Try an All Hands Brown Ale.

MAST LANDING BREWING CO.

WHERE: 920 Main St., Westbrook, mastlandingbrewing.com

HOURS: Noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Reserve a heated air-filtered igloo, or geodome, for up to eight people for up to an hour and 45 minutes, where you can order drinks and food with your cellphone. Its food truck, Mainstay by Mast Landing, is open on weekends serving up sandwiches and gourmet snacks. Try the braised beef hand pie with Gunner’s Daughter Stout on Nitro.

RISING TIDE BREWING CO.

WHERE: 103 Fox St., Portland, risingtidebrewing.com

HOURS: 2-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Both patios are open for dining and sipping. Order some wood-fired comfort food from Fire & Co with a Welcome Home Winter Warmer, a fruited ale with cardamon, allspice and cinnamon. Then choose your own adventure: at the east end, there are eight bubble tents with forced hot air and vents at the top for circulation. Servers never enter your bubble, and instead place food and drinks on a service barrel just outside it. Reserve for up to 90 minutes for up to eight guests ($60 bill minimum). For those feeling a bit more spontaneous, head to the first-come, first-served tables around fire towers or fire pits on the West Patio.

FLIGHT DECK BREWING

WHERE: 11 Atlantic Ave., Brunswick, flightdeckbrewing.com

HOURS: 3-8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, noon to 9 Thursday through Saturday, noon to 7 Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: In a recent newsletter, Flight Deck invited guests to embrace the spirit of Quebec’s winter carnival, encouraging snowball fights and snow sculptures. They’ve rearranged patio seating to minimize wind, added fire pits and propane patio heaters, and made blankets available for sale to be able to enjoy outdoor music at Brunswick’s redeveloped former Naval Air Station. Try some lobster wontons from onsite food truck Cook’s Takes Flight with a BXM Brown Ale.

Reservations are recommended for the custom-built ice fishing shacks at Batson River in Kennebunk. Photo by Heidi Kirn/courtesy of Batson River Brewing and Distilling

BATSON RIVER BREWING & DISTILLING

WHERE: 12 Western Ave., Kennebunk, batsonriver.com

HOURS: 4-8 p.m. Thursday, 4-9 p.m. Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Reserve one of six adorable custom-built ice fishing shacks for up to six people up to 90 minutes for $20, plus food and drink. It’s little more chic than the typical ice shack you’d find on a Maine lake, and meals are much easier to catch – guests use flags complete with fishing tippets to call their servers from inside these heated ice shacks, available through March 15. Reservations are recommended, but they do take walk-ups. Full meals or snacks are available from a limited menu, plus beer or cocktails. Try the duck-fat cornbread with a Batson Black Lager.

Have a snowshoeing adventure at neighboring Cherry Hill Farm before grabbing a beer at Sebago’s Gorham brewery. Photo courtesy of Sebago Brewing Co.

SEBAGO BREWING CO.

WHERE: 616 Maine St., Gorham, sebagobrewing.com

HOURS: 11-8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: The Gorham brewery serves up a full pub menu (with wine and cocktails) for outdoor dining. After visiting the neighboring three miles of hiking, skiing and snowmobiling trails at Cherry Hill Farm, you’ll work up an appetite. Eat at the covered patio picnic tables beside heat lamps or take it out back to the fire pit. Try the fried pickles-topped farm house burger with a Slick Nick Wicked Winter Ale.

OXBOW BEER GARDEN

WHERE: 420 Main St., Oxford, oxbowbeer.com

HOURS: 4-8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

WHAT TO EXPECT: Oxbow Brewing’s western Maine outpost is ready to serve up winter adventures. An extensive Nordic trail system is adjacent to the garden, open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Check their website for current trail conditions and rent gear onsite through Portland Gear Hub, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Then enjoy backyard outdoor dining around fire pits. Try their loaded calzone with Oxbow sausage and a Goods from the Woods blended farmhouse ale.

 

Catie Joyce-Bulay is a Winslow-based freelance writer who recently moved back to her home state. Find her writing on beer, travel and people pursuing their passion at catiejoycebulay.com or Twitter: @catiejoycebulay.

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