Originally when we planned on staying in Belfast, ME, it was meant as a stopover before heading to the main attraction, Bar Harbor and hiking in Acadia National Park. However, after stumbling upon Three Tides the restaurant to the Marshall Wharf Brewing Company, this small town on the Penobscot Bay became the highlight of our trip.
Wanting to taste local brews, we happened upon this gem from an internet search which was a mere 5 minute walk from our B&B. We almost missed it, though, as it’s nestled at the back of a dark parking lot, with its dim lighting hardly guiding the way. On a cool, rainy night in October, the upstairs patio was vacant and there was hardly a din of customers heard from the outside – I’m sure the patio is roaring during peak tourist season, though.
Located on Belfast’s tiny Marshall Wharf, Three Tides sits adjacent to the the brewery where Marshall Wharf Beer is brewed. As we tenuously (not knowing if this was the place we were looking for) walked up the stairs of a building with rustic wood siding that I associate with the rural northeast, we were invited into the cozy and intimate seating area that matched its rustic and unassuming exterior. Clean, corrugated metal panels served as decoration and function being the doors and walls with the draft beers listed on the chalk board behind the stone top bar. Despite the quiet feel outside, the place was hopping. Customers took up all the bar seating and a hand full of booths, so we were advised to hang out on the lower patio by the outdoor fireplace as we waited for a table.
The knowledgeable bartender walked us through the Marshall Wharf beers on tap. Of course we chose Wet Dog, only brewed once a year in the fall and only available on tap at Three Tides. I’m not a fan of hoppy brews, but this one was different. It had enough hops to make it worthy to IPA-lovers like Cory, but was smooth and flavorful enough for those of us who don’t like the bite. Cory, still tells tales about this beer as “the best he’s ever tasted.”
The lower “patio” section was a bit more rustic than the upper patio which obviously holds seating during the warmer months. Rather, it was an open space with dirt “flooring” overlooking the bay. An awning partially covered there space where there was a platform that I’m sure is used for live music on occasion.
We tried to keep warm near the fireplace close to the fence. It was peaceful watching and listening to the lapping water of the Penobscot Bay right there. Unfortunately, the cold rain drove us to enjoy our beers under the awning where a couple of folks – who we assumed were locals – hung around drinking and chatting. As we admired the 7-foot-high stack of oyster shells by the steps (apparently from the previous weekend’s 5-year anniversary party), we chatted up one of the regulars outside who engaged us in conversation asking why we were visiting. Our new friend – a recently returned Belfast resident who works in the local boat yard – hung with us the entire night even after we moved to the dining area. We ordered mussels – the flavors of which seemed to match the Three Tides atmosphere with a straightforward exterior (cooked simply with salt, water and a little butter), but with much more to them than you initially think (mmm…delicious). After several more amazing pints and discussions of politics and life with our new friend, we headed out.
As we quickly dodged the rain back to the B&B, Cory and I agreed that Belfast, Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewing Company would be the main attraction on our next visit to Maine. Who knows, maybe we’ll come back for the next Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. anniversary party – despite the cold in October, it seemed like the optimal time to be there. For such a small place, they seemed to embody what we loved most about Maine, the nature, the simplicity, the people, and well, the beer.
Note: I didn’t think to take photos when we were there (I wasn’t blogging at the time), so I relied on photos I could find that were free to share. For more photos and info about Marshall Wharf and some photos of both, check out this great article from Brew Public.
A little more from Maine
Turns out October is actually a really great time to be in Maine in general because it was just around peak foliage season plus there were fewer tourists (hurrah!). We happened to be there the last weekend of peak season, but it was amazing nonetheless! Check out some of the other photos: