A monument on Jockey Cap features a panoramic landscape compass that depicts visible summits. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

FRYEBURG — The half-mile Jockey Cap hike in western Maine has become a treasured walk for locals and hiking enthusiasts alike, offering quick access to panoramic views of the White Mountains.

And now Jockey Cap is the inspiration for a special-edition beer to help complete a land-conservation campaign that will protect the unusual granite outcrop.

Saco River Brewing, situated across the street from Jockey Cap, will roll out an India pale ale on Friday to help raise money to preserve the site that so many of its customers hike, rock climb and boulder below.

The brewery has pledged 100 percent of net sales to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust to help complete the protection of the final half of the 16-acre Jockey Cap preserve that the land trust will donate to the Town of Fryeburg, although a conservation easement is expected to be given to the land trust to assure public access. The town owns the other half of the land.

Many who hike in southern or central Maine have heard of the short rock-faced climb. But you can’t know the unusual nature of the Jockey Cap experience unless you’ve gone there, gotten out at the small, unassuming parking lot on Route 302, and looked up at that imposing, massive monolith with the bulbous bedrock top. It may be only 600 feet high, but when something looks like a granite club sticking out of the ground, it gives pause.

Saco River Brewing is the latest craft brewery to lend a hand to conservation efforts. In the past several years, Maine’s robust craft beverage and beer community has dedicated proceeds and time to support land protection and clean water in Maine.


Après in Portland collaborated with Portland Trails last spring with a release of cans and draught of a birch-and-vanilla hard seltzer called Portland Trails. Après donated about $1 per pint sold to the urban nonprofit with a final donation of just over $2,200, said Sarah Bryan, Après operations manager.

Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland rolled out the Maine Island Trail ale to support the stewardship work of the Maine Island Trail Association by donating a portion of the proceeds to the nonprofit.

Abby King, conservation director of the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, walks along the peak at Jockey Cap in Fryeburg. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

And Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. brewed the West Side Trail beer to help support the development of Yarmouth’s West Side Trail, which also has accessible features for people with mobility challenges.

Many other craft breweries released beers in recent years to bring awareness to other conservation work or clean water efforts, such as Allagash Brewing Company, Geary Brewing Company and Orono Brewing Company, among others.

Brad Moll, one of the owners of Brickyard Hollow, said the brown ale was released in the fall of 2019 to raise money to help the Town of Yarmouth refurbish the West Side Trail because it’s a local outdoor retreat and his employees – like many in the craft brewing community – embrace a conservation ethic.

“I think it is something that probably sort of has to do with people involved with breweries. There is a desire to get involved in these types of philanthropic events around our environment,” Moll said. “I think in craft brewing in general, people who own breweries and work at them are interested in that topic.”


The cost of the land trust’s Jockey Cap campaign was $350,000 for the purchase of half of the 16-acre property, as well as legal fees and survey work for the acquisition. The land trust already received about $140,000 from the Land For Maine’s Future Program and $148,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and needs roughly $17,000 to complete the campaign. That’s where the local brewery comes in.

Saco River Brewing will donate all the net proceeds of the new Jockey Cap ale to help the cause, though it is unlikely to raise the entire $17,000. But the ale also will raise awareness of the land trust’s effort to preserve Jockey Cap.

The Jockey Cap IPA release celebration will run from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday at Saco River Brewing. A natural history tour of the Jockey Cap property across the street will take place at 3 p.m.

“It’s hard to quantify how much our staff and patrons use this area to recreate, but I have definitely seen many groups of climbers park in our lot to go climb and then come by for beer after,” said Mason Irish, founder and head brewer at Saco River Brewing. “It is literally a 10 to 15 minute hike from the brewery to the top of Jockey Cap, which yields some pretty amazing views of Western Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.”

Boulders dominate the foot of Jockey Cap along Route 302 in Fryeburg. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Once protected, the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust plans to be involved in stewardship of the property for the town – including work researching the history of the Indigenous people who used the property, said Abby King, the land trust’s conservation director.

King said there is local lore that Molly Ockett – a historic Native American healer who the local elementary school is named after – stayed in a prominent cave on the property that hikers pass on the trail to the summit. Molly Ockett Elementary School and Fryeburg Academy use the property for science classes and nature writing.

Irish said he thinks the Jockey Cap beer will be brewed again and hopefully aid other conservation work at Jockey Cap in the future.

“Having an iconic landmark across the street is pretty cool. Our address is Jockey Cap Lane,” Irish said. 

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