MAPLE AND OTHER KINDS OF SUGAR
MAPLE AND OTHER KINDS OF SUGAR
MAPLE AND OTHER KINDS OF SUGAR
Where to find sweet spots to indulge your sweet teeth
WORDS / SAM PFEIFLE
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Have you been to a sugar shack? If you’re a lover of all things craft, we highly recommend the experience. Maine’s maple sugar producers put just as much care and attention into their sugaring process as any brewer or grower. And best of all, as winter turns to spring, they’re usually warm and toasty.
You surely know of the holiday, yes? Maine Maple Sunday? Last year it was cancelled for the first time in four decades, but all systems are GO for it to resume this year, on the last weekend of March (Maine Maple Sunday is now Maine Maple Sunday Weekend, because obviously). On the 27th and 28th, sugar shacks open their doors to visitors, host pancake breakfasts, and generally show off their wares.
If you’re lucky, you might even find a band playing! Some spots even have little petting zoos and other opportunities for indulging your love of looking at farm animals.
Generally, it’s a morning activity, what with the pancake breakfasts and all, but that just means you’ve got your fun weekend day started early and you’ll feel you’ve accomplished something by the time happy hour rolls around. And these are super-chill, family-friendly events, so just about perfect for a morning edible that will let you relax and enjoy the experience.
If you’re looking to plan a day, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together a listing of some of the more robust Maple Sunday experiences (make sure to ask questions; they love that) along with some nearby breweries and dispensaries to help you enhance the experience. At some of these cannabis shops, you’ll need a medical card. We’ve indicated where that is the case.
MAPLE MOON FARM, LEBANON
Known for hosting the house Wild Maple Band on Sunday each year of Maple Weekend, this working farm traces its roots to the 1790s. Expect warm pancakes from an ancient wood-powered cook stove and a tour full of antique sugaring tools.
XOTA Brewing Company
721 Main St., Waterboro
Watch out you don’t get sucked into a cribbage league — their next season opens up soon! But no worries on satisfying your sweet tooth here: The Lil’ Debbie is a 6.2% pastry stout, “full of cosmic brownies, cinnamon buns, ring dings, and some other favorites.”
Wisely Cannabis [Medical]
81 Industrial Ave., Sanford
These folks specialize in concentrates, and they’ve got some doozies. If you’re into bulk buys, you’ll find fat 14g jars of live rosin. And if you’re into “sweet,” might we suggest the Blue Lime Pie? It’s a cross of Key Lime Pie and Blue Power known for stress relief.
THURSTON & PETERS SUGARHOUSE, WEST NEWFIELD
A relatively new sugarshouse, having opened in 2007, the “TAPS” approach applies all of the new-fangled sugaring techniques, with tubing and reverse osmosis, and they’re happy to show it to you. Make sure you grab a maple soft-serve cone!
The Gas Station [Medical]
171 Washington St., Limerick
Also only open on Saturdays (Limerick keeps the Lord’s Day, apparently), these guys pride themselves on their genetics, which tend to run sweet — like Wedding Cake, GMO Cookies, and Pecan Pie. But they also specialize in small batches, so be prepared to experiment with whatever is on hand on a given day.
Gneiss Brewing Company
94 Patterson Rd., Limerick
Dog-friendly and laid back, make sure you hit this place on Saturday, as Sunday hours are generally sparse until the warm weather hits. The focus here is on German tradition, so you’re going to find a weizenstout and even a threiss wheat wine, but the sweetness is in the Blaubeere, a blueberry weissbier.
BALSAM RIDGE, RAYMOND
Among the closest spots to Maine’s biggest city, they’re open weekends during sugaring season (through April 3), and they’ve got a shindig planned for March 28 this year. Best of all, we know they love beer: They collaborate with Rising Tide Brewery on a special maple-tinted brew.
Maine Cannabis Exchange
27 Ocean St., South Portland
Since you’re downtown, might as well head right over the Casco Bay Bridge and visit South Portland’s Knightville, one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in Maine. On a recent trip, we found a Mint Sherbert, where the mint complemented the sweet aroma deliciously.
Rising Tide Brewing Company
103 Fox St., Portland
This is the closest you get to Maple Sunday in the Portland city limits, thanks to their collaboration with Balsam Ridge. The Nature’s Gold is a relatively strong (6%) golden ale that features honey malt and a bold maple in the nose and on the tongue.
MAPLE RUSH SUGAR HOUSE, SABATTUS
One of the newest spots to visit in Maine, this shack opened in 2018 and has all the bells and whistles. Expect all kinds of candy variations and a mix of arts and crafts from local artisans on Maple Sunday weekend. Don’t miss the kettle corn.
Small Batch [Medical]
711 Lisbon St., Lewiston
You’re in luck: Sundays at Small Batch mean 20% off all the edibles they have in-house, and they open at 9 a.m. If you want to stay in the Maine-made mood, look for their apple cider, taken directly from Ricker Hills Orchard and infused with full-spectrum THC distillate. And it comes in a cute little sippy pouch.
Grateful Grain Brewing Company
26 Route 126, Monmouth
A micro-brewery in one of the coolest little towns in Central Maine, they’re only open Friday through Sunday, but they have a tap room and outside seating area, so dress warmly and feel free to stick around a bit. Try the Medusa IPA, fruity sweet with guava, melon, and apricot.
VELVET HOLLOW SUGAR WORKS, GREENWOOD
Especially if you’re looking for gluten-free options, this is a great spot, with baked goods, granola, even pancakes, all totally gluten-free. And in the afternoon all Maple Sunday weekend you’ll find BBQ Maple Turkey Chili, along with tours of the 200-year-old facility.
Steam Mill Brewing
7 Mechanic St., Bethel
Opened in the summer of 2018 and named for the Steam Mill section of Bethel that used to house a — you guessed it — steam mill, make sure to try the Paradise Perl, a Belgian-style wheat made with Maine honey and designed to pair with citrus fruit.
Moosehead Farms [Medical]
22 Sunday River Rd., Bethel
One the larger selections you’ll find anywhere in Maine, this log-cabin may also be a good stop if you’re heading to the mountain for the day. The Banana Split is a great, sweet sativa to get you going, but you’ll also find here CBD cigarette 12-packs, which might be a great option for driving around to sugar shacks.
LUCE’S MAINE MAPLE SYRUP, ANSON
One of the first sugar shacks to get into the Maine Maple Sunday game, they’ve been actively making syrup on site since 1795. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, make sure to grab some of their maple garlic spice mix, the so-called Outrageous Mapley Garlicky Blend, for all your fish and meat needs — even popcorn!
152 Main St., Stratton
Just on the other side of the Bigelow Preserve, and likely the most out-of-the-way adult rec facility in Maine, they’ve got a full selection of flower, concentrates, and edibles — this is probably a great spot to pick up some gummies, as they carry the always-popular Mainely Baked brand.
Bigelow Brewing Company
473 Bigelow Hill Rd., Skowhegan
Open Friday through Sunday, Bigelow has a robust online menu of pizza, salads, and various specials. Order up a meal and pick out a four- or six-pack to go with it. And may we suggest the Rowe Road Maple Porter? It’s made with local syrup and packs a 7.7% punch with a creamy head.
NUTKIN KNOLL FARM & SUGARWORKS, NEWBURGH
While they won’t be doing their legendary woods tours this year, you can still find a big selection of candies, with fun variations like their tasty maple-coated peanuts. And hit them up again next winter — there aren’t many better Christmas tree farms.
469 Stillwater Ave., Bangor
Brand-spanking new, Brothers just opened for business in February and they’re eager to show off their wares. But they also carry Detroit’s Room 5, including half-gram pre-rolls of their Blueberry that last time we were in. That’s Detroit, MAINE.
Geaghan Bros Brewing
34 Abbot St., Brewer
Maybe you’ve seen their brewpub sitting right next to Hollywood Slots, but it’s their tap room across the river in Brewer you really want to hit. For a crisp, sweet taste, try the Presque Isle Honey Blonde — it goes down easy and has a pretty blonde color.
It’s not the biggest sugar shack you’ll find, but it’s definitely in the tradition of Maine’s craft brewers and growers, a passion project by Adam Cafro that has turned into a business delivering syrup within a 50-mile radius. Make sure to check out the Whiskey Barrel Aged Syrup if he’s got it in stock.
Farley’s Cannabis Farm [Medical]
127 Main St., Woolwich
One of the very first medical dispensaries with a significant storefront, Farley’s has a huge selection. While there’s no shortage of great options, this might be the spot to try Honeyheart Apothecary’s CBD Honey, which comes in an elegant little one-ounce jar and is perfect for tea or toast in the morning.
Bath Brewing Company
141 Front St., Bath
Right across the Kennebec River from Farley’s, this is a beautiful community brewpub where you can grab a burger and stare at the water. This is the soft of place where they love teaming up local chefs for Chocolate Stout Cake-baking with their Maritime stout.
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