Food

7 Waterfront Towns to Visit for Their Microbreweries

Sampling the Nation's Best Microbreweries by Boat

By
Doug
Simmons

With many pleasure boaters planning trips around interests like top-flight golf courses, gourmet restaurants and dazzling fall foliage, is it so far fetched that, for some, craft brews and breweries can be a destination unto themselves? Not in our book. Here are 11 sudstastic towns to add to your personal booze cruise itinerary. Just remember to enjoy responsibly.

Portland, Maine

Already known for its classic New England water-town feel and fresh-as it-gets seafood, Portland is making a case as a must for traveling libationists. Its D.L. Geary Brewing was founded in 1983, when there were only a handful of microbreweries in the U.S. Since that time, 13 startups have joined the local ranks. Take a tour and quaff a pint at Allagash Brewing Company, which favors a Belgian style, or venture into Portland's historic Old Port and visit Sebago Brewing Co. or Shipyard Brewing. Rising Tide Brewing Company in the East Bayside neighborhood produces Daymark American Pale Ale, recently named one of the Great Beers You've Never Heard Of  by Men's Journal. Dock at DiMillos Old Port Marina.

New York, New York

With so much else to see and do here, it would be easy to dismiss New York as a humdrum craft beer destination. That would be a mistake. The Big Apple is home to some of the best beer bars drop in at the Blind Tiger or Rattle N Hum for amazing pours from around the world and also has some champion breweries. Brooklyn Brewery didn't just capitalize on a name; it's brewed right in the borough, so you can visit for a tour and a taste. Sixpoint Brewery is nearby, canning four core beers in addition to a series of super-rare brews that are made one time only. Ale addicts flock to Bronx Brewery's backyard on warm days to enjoy four year-round and four seasonal beers. Dock at MarineMax at Chelsea Piers, North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place or in Jersey City at Liberty Landing Marina.

Baltimore, Maryland

The second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, and at one time a major manufacturing center, Baltimore has always been a hardworking town. Many of the microbreweries here reflect that history and character in their names Union Craft Brewing, Heavy Seas Brewery, Public Works Ale and manifest the idea that first you work hard, then play hard. Full Tilt Brewing has the mouth-watering Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout and Patterson Pumpkin. (It's website asks: Why do something half-assed when you can go Full Tilt?) Stillwater Artisanal seems to agree, offering bold creations like Rauchstar Scandinavian Smoked Ale, Classique Postmodern Beer and Gose Gone Wild Sour Wheat Ale. Dock at Crescent Marina at Fells Point, Henderson's Wharf Marina, Harbor East Marina or at any of the Baltimore Marine Centers.

Jacksonville, Florida

Ideally positioned at the confluence of the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean,with 22 miles of white-sand beaches, Jacksonville is already a boater's dream come true. So, what if I told you there was also this thing called the Jax Ale Trail? Bingo! Pick up your brewery passport at any of the participating locations and wineither a koozie or a t-shirt by getting stamps at four or all eight of the designated stops. Breweries include Aardwolf Brewing Company, Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Co., Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Veterans United Craft Brewery and Zeta Brewing Company. Visit the local Budweiser Brewery, one of only five in the country, for extra credit. Dock at Fort George Island Marina, or River City Brewing.

Tampa, Florida

Beer Advocate magazine lists a dozen breweries in the Tampa area, adding to an array of enviable local attractions such as world-class beaches, seafood, sunshine and citrus. Cigar City Brewing is probably the most well known in town, with five Great American Beer Festival medals to its name. It also offers fresh rolled cigars for a great one-two punch. Tampa Bay Brewing Company has an open-air patio and house beers that include Red Eye Amber Ale, a Best Florida Beer Championships Gold Medal Winner in 2015. Other popular suds purveyors include Dunedin Brewery, the oldest microbrewery in Florida, and Three Palms Brewing, which brews 82 beers throughout the year. Dock at Tampa Harbour or Tampa Marriott Waterside Resort & Marina.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy is a city bursting at the seams with heat and flavor, and a cold brew here goes down effortlessly, almost magically. The largest, and arguably best, homegrown label is Abita. Abita Brew Pub lets you sample draught versions of all its offerings Amber, Turbodog, Jockamo IPA, Purple Haze and more as well as select seasonal batches. Other breweries are up and coming after the town's long tradition of beer brewing almost died out after Prohibition. Covington Brewhouse specializes in Bavarian styles. NOLA Brewing Company offers a selection of lagers and ales. Crescent City Brewhouse is the sole French Quarter microbrewery. Dock at Orleans Marina or Seabrook Harbor & Marine.

San Diego, California

If you like your India Pale Ale (IPA), and we do, then this Southern California hop spot is for you. San Diego boasts more than 50 breweries, and has been a haven for grog guzzlers since Prohibition, thanks to its proximity to Tijuana, Mexico, where booze was legal. These days, it has its own style of beer the San Diego Pale Ale; a local twist on the IPA as well as some great Belgians. You can get your drink on at nautical-sounding places like 32 North Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Oceanside Ale Works. Brewery Tours of San Diego offers daily excursions showcasing some of the award-winning beers produced locally. Dock at Cabrillo Isle Marina or Kona Kai Marina.

Seattle, Washington

The multitude of breweries dotting the map in the Puget Sound area is staggering even before you start imbibing. So why not leave the planning and transportation to the knowledgeable guides of Road Dog's Seattle Brewery Tour? Book one or more seats on a three-hour join-in and visit breweries in downtown Seattle, as well as neighboring communities, such as Ballard, Fremont, SODO and West Seattle. Each tour stops at three locations, including places like Bad Jimmy's Brewing Company, aptly named because it only brews intense ales; nothing less than 6% alcohol by volume, Georgetown Brewing Company, the second most productive in the state, and Hales Ales Brewery, one of the true granddaddies of craft beer. Dock at Bell Harbor Marina or Shilshole Bay Marina.

Louisville, Kentucky

Move over bourbon, there's a new favorite drink in town. Not only does this river city have 10 breweries 12 if you count two more right across the Ohio in Jeffersonville, Indiana it will be adding four more in 2015, according to the devotee website LouisvilleBeer.com. Falls City Beer has been a Louisville tradition since 1905, when the brewery first opened. After closing its doors in 1978, the brand was revived in 2010 with a craft-brewed English Pale Ale. Cumberland Brews has a beer list that includes Red Ale, Cream Ale, Nitro Porter, Meade and Pale Ale, plus rotating small-batch beers. New Albanian Brewing Company is noteworthy for its innovative brews as well as its distinct names and label artwork such as, Bonfire of the Valkyries Smoked Black Lager. Dock at RiverPark Place Marina.

Cleveland, Ohio

As the song goes, Cleveland rocks! And we think that nothing goes better with rock than a nice cold local brew. Nationally respected Great Lakes Brewing produces close to 100 beers, from stout to porter, weizen to bitter, bock to rye, and pilsner to ale. Nano Brew Cleveland and Market Garden Brewery are also highlights, with Fat Head's Brewery serving up its award-winning Head Hunter Indian Pale Ale alongside munchies, sandwiches and pizza. Cleveland Brew Bus will pick you up and drop you off after tastings at three or four stops, all the while filling your head with fun facts about craft beer styles, Cleveland brewing history and background on the breweries you visit. Dock at Olde River Yacht Club.

Toronto, Canada

Microbreweries in this metropolis used to be hard to come by, but the success of the labels Mill Street and Steam Whistle has led to a thriving craft beer culture. Fans of diverse flavors flock to Great Lakes Brewery, the oldest independent brewer in town. It produces five year-round lagers and ales, plus more than a dozen limited release beers, from Saison Dupump to Long Dong Pilsner. Black Oak Brewing Co. offers four perennial brews Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale and Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA all of which have won Canadian Brewing Awards. Indie Ale House in The Junction neighborhood serves hard-to-find ales like Belgian Sour and Double IPA, for the true beeroisseur. Dock at Island Yacht Club or Toronto Island Marina.

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Rum, Reggae & Spies!
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The beach at Fleming Villa | Source GoldenEye

In my quest for the best Caribbean Rum, I’ve sampled a few. From Appleton to Ron Zacapa rum, my tastebuds have celebrated the luscious flavors borne from fermenting sugarcane into smooth amber elixirs.

In the pursuit of rum perfection, I’ve noticed that a well-designed label can give clues about what awaits inside the bottle. Many simply present the distiller’s name and location where a rum derives its unique flavors. But it’s hard to resist the image of a crusty old captain, pirate ship or sassy sea wench when pouring a hefty splash into a tumbler.

Curious rum aficionados like myself are always eager to hear the back story behind the libation in our hand. Like a slice of pineapple or lime wedged upon the rim of a glass, the history of a rum’s journey from the Caribbean to our lips can make a cocktail taste even sweeter.

I recently stumbled upon the extraordinary tale that intertwines Jamaican rum, world- class musicians and James Bond. To fully appreciate this unique saga, follow my lead and shake up a GoldenEye Cocktail (see recipe below) to sip while the story unfolds.

THE SPY WHO LOVED JAMAICA

James Bond Dr No Poster Credit Flickr

Our story begins in 1939, when a London journalist named Ian Fleming joined the British Navy Intelligence Service. His unit specialized in military espionage and covert plans to thwart German aggression in Europe and the Caribbean.

During World War II, Fleming was engaged in Operation GoldenEye, and in 1942 he was sent to investigate suspicions about Nazi submarines in the Caribbean. During this deployment, he became enamored with Jamaica and vowed to live there some day.

When the war was over, Fleming returned to Jamaica and bought 15 acres of plush land that was once used as a donkey racetrack. In 1945, he built a house not far from the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay, and the seaside property became Fleming’s tropical sanctuary where he could focus on writing and the discrete task of taking previously tight-held secrets into a public, fictional genre.

He named the estate GoldenEye as a tribute to his Navy service and began working on a book that evolved around the dashing spy and Special Agent 007, James Bond. This protagonist would emerge as the amalgamation of agents he’d met during his maritime service. As an avid birdwatcher, Fleming took the name for his lead character from American ornithologist James Bond, an expert on Caribbean birds, who wrote the definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies.

Fleming’s first spy novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1952. This book and all 13 in the James Bond series were written in his bedroom at GoldenEye. Three of them — Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun — take place in Jamaica.

STIR IT UP

Chris Blackwell | Credit GoldenEye

Not only did the breezy island life at GoldenEye inspire Fleming’s novels, but so did his fetching neighbor, Blanche Blackwell. She was the muse who helped spark his creative drive. The Blackwell family had lived in Jamaica since 1625, exporting bananas and coconuts and crafting a distinctive brand of rum.

Blanche’s son Chris Blackwell grew up between England and Jamaica, and in his childhood spent a good amount of time with Fleming. In 1954, after Blackwell got booted from an elite British school for rebellious behavior, he came back to the island to get involved in the family rum business. Contrary to plan, he followed his instincts and made a career choice that would dramatically alter the global music scene.

For a while, he kicked around working as the aide-de-camp to the governor and as a waterskiing instructor. But after hearing the blind pianist Lance Heywood play at the Half Moon Resort, Blackwell recorded the musician, and in 1959 he launched a music studio called Island Records. In sync with his unconventional style, it became known for discovering and nurturing innovative performers who had been shrugged off or overlooked by bigger record labels.

Island Records introduced the world outside of the Caribbean to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jamaican reggae music, showcasing island culture and universal struggles of indigenous people. It launched British bands such as Traffic, Bad Company, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Roxy Music, King Crimson and Fairport Convention. It also cultivated artists such as Cat Stevens, Brian Eno, Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Waits and the Irish band, U2.

Throughout his success in the music industry, Blackwell remained in contact with Fleming and his projects. When the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, Blackwell was hired as a location scout and consulted on the soundtrack. Sir Sean Connery, whom Blackwell had met during the filming of Dr. No, remained a friend until his passing in 2020. Using a family recipe, Blackwell launched his boutique rum in 2008 that is distributed around the globe.

Live and Let Die was filmed in 1973 on the Blackwell Estate, which now includes The Fleming Villa. Scenes from the movie were shot near GoldenEye, Blackwell’s luxury hotel in Jamaica. The latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, returns to the exquisite Jamaican backdrop of GoldenEye, and the production team was treated to a supply of Blackwell Rum for inspiration while filming.

TO CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, a special bottle of Blackwell Rum has been released, along with a new memoir by Chris Blackwell, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond. If you’re cruising around Jamaica this winter, cue up some Bob Marley tunes, open a bottle of Blackwell’s 007 Rum, and shake it (don’t stir) with pineapple juice and ice to create the GoldenEye Cocktail. And if you’re nestled in at home in a colder climate and dreaming about the Caribbean, we suggest watching a Bond flick and warming up with the Toasted Toddy.

GoldenEye | Credit GoldenEye

GOLDENEYE COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS:

-1 part Blackwell Rum

-1 part pineapple juice

-Lime or pineapple wedge

INSTRUCTIONS:

Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge

Toasty Toddy | Credit GoldenEye

TOASTY TODDY

INGREDIENTS:

-3 parts Blackwell Rum

-2 teaspoons brown sugar

-1 1⁄2 parts fresh lemon juice

-6 parts boiling water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add all ingredients to a mug, except for the water. Pour in the boiling water, Stir well to blend

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If you can’t decide which cocktails to make for your holiday party, or simply need a little cheer to get you through the mayhem of family, friends and festivities, Marinalife has got you covered! 

Check out our favorite seasonal cocktail recipes to help you reduce the stress and enjoy this holiday season all day long.

BREAKFAST

close up view of a red drink
Christmas Morning Punch | Credit Kozak-Salo, Getty Images

Christmas Morning Punch

A sweet treat to get your day started

Ingredients:
4 oz. raspberry vodka
2 cups orange juice
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup ginger ale

Instructions:
Combine ingredients in a pitcher, stir and serve cold.

LUNCH

Christmas Margarita

A zesty fun drink for any festive occasion

red drinks and red cranberries surrounding the cup
Christmas Margarita | Credit Chernishev, Getty Images

Ingredients:
2 oz. gold tequila
½ oz. orange liqueur
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. pomegranate juice
½ oz. Key Lime juice
2 tsp. simple syrup

Instructions:
For a salted rim, fill a small plate with simple syrup and swirl your glass rim in it, then dip into a plate of margarita salt and fill your glass with ice. In a separate cocktail shaker, fill with light ice and the ingredients. Shake and strain into your glass and garnish with a lime or orange. 

DINNER

blue drink in a small glass with lemons on the side
Jack Frost | Credit bhofack2, Getty Images

Jack Frost

A creamy delight to enjoy in your PJs when the kids go to bed

Ingredients:
½ cup light rum
½ cup Blue Curaçao liqueur
½ cup cream of coconut
1 cup pineapple juice

Instructions:
For a coconut rim, fill a small plate with light corn syrup or simple syrup and swirl your glass rim in it, then dip into a plate of coconut flakes. Use a blender or fill a shaker with ice and ingredients and shake well for foamy results. Strain into glass and enjoy!

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Nautical-Inspired Cocktails for Fall
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As the leaves fall and turn to brown, our palette changes from strawberry and watermelon summer flavors to more autumnal pumpkin and apple-flavored treats. Spiced rum is a perfect spirit to enjoy this season, so we chose Captain Morgan as the main ingredient for two cocktail variations. Whether you wrap up in a cozy blanket or entertain friends on your boat, you can drink like a ship captain with the following fall recipes.

A red cocktail with seasonal fruit
Fall Cocktail | Source Veselova Elena from Getty Images

The Captain Cider

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
1.5 oz Cranberry juice
1.5 oz Hard apple cider

Instructions:

Fill a rocks glass with ice and combine all ingredients. Gently stir and garnish with a cranberry and apple slice.

Hot apple cider in a glass cup on a tree stump
Hot Apple Cider | Source Wendy Melgar from Getty Images

Hot Captain Cider

Ingredients:

2 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
6 oz Fresh apple cider

Instructions:

Combine the rum and apple cider in a small pot and microwave or heat over a stove. Carefully pour drink into a mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.

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