Mark and Nichole Stevens have always loved craft beer. Mark began homebrewing in his Mr. Coffee during college, and Nichole spent several years slinging drinks behind the bar. After spending a vacation in search of northern New England breweries that offered tours, the couple decided to create Maine Beer Tours to give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the burgeoning craft-beer industry.
Maine Beer Tours’ palatable expeditions explore the ins and outs of the brewing process and the Maine brewing industry. Groups sightsee at several well-known breweries that employ diverse brewing styles and ingredients, including the well-known Allagash Brewing Company, Shipyard Brewing Company, and Urban Farm Fermentory, which doubles as a food-fermentation center and bee yard. To help expand guests' knowledge and pique interest in new types of beer, breweries give guests samples of their toothsome porters, ales, and witches' brews.
Whether leading visitors along the historic streets of Old Port or along the craggy coast near Portland's harbor in a trolley, the guides at Maine Foodie Tours regale visitors with background on the area's artisan cuisine. Each of them partners with local culinary artisans to uncover historical tidbits about dishes or reminiscences about the days when whoopie pies were still carved out of wood. On walking tours, they explain how fish houses, canneries, and textile mills have given way to coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants, stopping for samples of fish, cheese, and microbrews to illustrate each point. On chocolate tours, they may explore the history of the cocoa bean by leading guests to confectioneries that craft cupcakes, ice cream, fudge, and truffles. In the spring, summer, and fall, Maine Foodie Tours offers other excursions, such as trolley and bike tours.
Whale watching was a relatively new concept when John Fish's grandfather started giving tours. "We kind of originated it," Mr. Fish says. "Thirty years ago we were the only ones doing whale watching." As the company became more successful over the years, additional captains were brought on to cover the demand. Today, these crews continue to ferry groups into the habitats of several whale species, including humpback whales and sperm whales. Though the whales seen along Cap'n Fish's Whale Watch's journeys still breach and refuse to sign autographs, other things have changed over the years. Below deck, the current fleet's engines work to reduce emissions and provide a fume-free experience. Above deck, 360-degree viewing decks and modern technology help bring whales into sight. Onboard computers display large maps of where the aquatic mammals are known to swim, and GPS systems reroute boats around mermen constructing new reefs. In addition to illuminating the behavior of whales for passengers, the crew's wildlife experts point passengers toward other animals they spot along the way, such as white-sided dolphins and harbor seals. Though some variables are beyond their control, the crew members almost always spot whales and boasted a 98% success rate in 2009.
After a summer spent paddling a cumbersome aluminum kayak through northern Canada, two college students founded Lincoln Canoe & Kayak in an effort to design a lighter, more ergonomic vessel. Although ownership has switched hands since the brand's inception in 1959, the company continues to craft lightweight canoes and kayaks from fiberglass, Kevlar, or carbon fiber. From their retail paddle shop in Freeport, they also corral new and experienced kayakers into tour and expedition groups that explore Casco Bay, Deer Isle, and Muscongus Bay. Skilled guides impart their knowledge of Maine's coast and lead paddlers to discover Maine?s myriad waterways, where no river, inlet, pond, or kiddie pool is off-limits.
With a seasoned captain and crew at the helm, Boothbay Whale Watch's 100-foot Harbor Princess ferries up to 149 passengers into the glistening Atlantic in search of exotic marine life. Voyages meander from scenic Boothbay Harbor into the feeding grounds of whales, dolphins, sharks, and seals, with each marvelous sight indicated and explained by the boat's naturalist, Mechele Vanderlaan. Equipped with an open-air top deck and heated cabin, the boat grants sightseers the ability to watch for marine life year-round without baking in the sun or warming up next to a sympathetic harbor seal. Though alcohol is banned from the boat, the Harbor Princess houses a full-service galley that slings light meals and soft drinks throughout each cruise.
Edgecomb Potters began in the most inauspicious of places: a modest school house on the side of a road in Maine. Owners Richard and Chris Hilton never dreamed that, 30 years after opening that school house for business, they would be in charge of three galleries across the state.
Today, their family continues the tradition they started, glazing and firing pottery in kilns built decades ago. The works never fail to capture the beauty of the region, drawing inspiration from New England's clouds, forests, and minor-league baseball teams. Delicately crafted bowls and vases can be found in the galleries alongside metal jewelry, wood sculptures, and glassware.