Team: Portland Sea Dogs
Affiliate: Boston Red Sox (AA)
Ballpark Basics: A standard ballpark that is proud of its connection to Fenway.
Walking in the main entrance of Hadlock Field you would think that you are entering a ballpark that was built much earlier than 1994. The first level is wrapped in brick and leads up to the suite level that is covered with green metal siding. The main entrance is behind home plate with a curved Hadlock Field sign above the entrance.
Entering into the main concourse feels like walking into a bunker. The concourse sits underneath the seating bowl and is completely cut off from the field of play. We were there on a crowded night which made the concourses even more cramped and the cinder block fortress did not help with the ever important cell service.
In the concourse you will find the Red Sox Hall of Fame. Being in New England the rabid fan base loves their Sox and Portland was no different with the crowd was extremely invested in the game. In fact, when the team became a Red Sox affiliate in 2003 they added a replica Green Monster in left field (complete with Citgo sign). Banners around the park also show off former players that have made it to Fenway. The Portland Exposition Building towers over the first base side and is clearly one of the most unique aspects of the park.
The seating bowl wraps around the infield and travels a little further down the third base side due to the aforementioned Exposition Building. A small set of bleachers has been set up in front of the building to add additional seats. A picnic area is down the right field line for groups and an elevated set of bleacher seats sits behind the right field wall featuring drink rail seating, another nod to Fenway Park.
There were two specialty stands dedicated to beer: The Shipyard Grill on the third base side and the Not Your Father’s Brew House on the first base concourse. While the Shipyard Grill sold exclusively Shipyard beers the Not Your Father’s Brew House had offerings from a number of local and craft breweries.
The Portland Sea Dogs have done a great job of giving Hadlock Field a sense of place. Being an affiliate of the Red Sox while in New England certainly gave them a head start but the Green Maine Monster, the Hall of Fame, plus the wealth of local beer options help solidify Hadlock Field as a must see for any Red Sox fan.
Oxbow Brewing Co.
Brew Basics: Great Beer, Great Decor, Great spot, as long as the weather is right.
Had we timed this one correctly, this probably would have been our favorite stop on our New England Summer beer tour. From the start, we were just a bit off. Oxbow was very hard for us to find. Though this was mostly our fault in a “you-can’t-get-there-from-here” type way, be warned the entrance is a side alley, and if you aren’t paying attention, odds are you’ll walk right by. Upon entering it became immediately apparent that they didn’t have any air conditioning (turned on), and after our unintended hike in the heat, we were quite warm. A breeze picked up just as we arrived which would have helped some, but Oxbow’s garage bay doors were closed too. There were a handful of sweaty people there, since beer fans tend to be hardy folk, but everyone seemed to be wilting in the heat.
Oxbow has done a lot to make what would otherwise be a boring, cavernous warehouse a welcoming space. The bar is white subway tile and natural wood. A server stand in the middle of the seating area and the bar itself are patterned from reclaimed pallets. Lights above the bar are hanging off a huge piece of tree limb driftwood. Along with flowers on the tables, crates surrounding the bar are filled with fun signs, memorabilia, fishing lures, antlers and more which add homey touches. The music, beer sticker collection and graffiti on the walls behind the brew all combine to give this place a great (albeit loud) vibe. Seating options range from family style picnic tables, bar seats and barrels which serve as two Not.
Most of the beer offerings were Farmhouse or Saison styled and all are uniquely brewed with well water. We loved the beers and the location, but weren’t interested in staying in the stoopid hot for too long, which means we had two*:
Tourist Season (4.5% ABV)- This dry hopped saison was a single hopped, farmhouse style. Bright golden yellow in the glass, with slightly hazy effervescence. The palate was surprisingly lemongrassy and ended with a sour, slightly bready finish.
Bowie (5% ABV) – This one interested us from the start, as it was advertised as a blonde smoked saison (so many things!). Overall, it was cloudy and light in color, and had a funky, saison smell. The palate was kind of woodsy but the smokiness was very subtle and the saison grass and spices remained present throughout. Finishes yeasty and sour. An interesting twist on your typical saison.
*Since our original visit, we have had the good fortune to come across Oxbow offerings on several occasions, and have yet to be let down.
Farmhouse Pale Ale (6.0% ABV) – Although this is one of the signature Oxbow beers, it is possibly our least favorite. Bright yellow in color with a long lasting, white head, the Farmhouse is pretty and smells funky, coarse and grainy. This standard saison style ale has earthy qualities, with a significant banana palate that just doesn’t appeal to some; which isn’t to say it’s bad, its just their other beers are so much better.
Nocturnality (8.5% ABV) – Known for their farmhouses and saisons, when this wild ale poured chocolate brown we were surprised. Preported to have spent fourteen months fermenting in bourbon barrels, we were wondering about booziness, and whether it might be hard to pair with a meal. On the contrary, this is another example of solid brewing by Oxbow. It’s smooth, with the farmhouse grains and strong notes of dark fruit. The bourbon adds character and complexity without being overly alcoholic, and the rich flavors will compliment any cheese plate.
49 Washington Avenue
Portland, ME 04101