Five for Friday: Cushnoc Brewing Co.—A New, Hip Place in Augusta

According to Wikipedia, Augusta, Maine, with its population of about 19,000, is “the third-least populous state capital in the United States.” ( Vermont’s and South Dakota’s capitals are smaller.) Augusta is also an old city, established in 1629 by English settlers from the Plymouth Colony. Augusta was originally called Cushnoc, from its native American name that means “head of tide.”

However, while Augusta might be small and old, it isn’t quaint. With its major roads blighted by strip development and its empty shell of a main street, Augusta is a charmless city that gives you the feelingย  the sky is gray, even when the sun is shining.

Augusta wasn’t always like this. My memory goes back far enough to remember when the main street was a bustling place filled with shops and other businesses. Vintage postcards indicate that those major roads, with their current scourge of strip development, were once charming tree-lined streets with lovely homes.

As to be expected, Augusta mostly has chain restaurants, ranging from McDonald’s to Ruby Tuesday. Clif and I don’t eat out very often, but when we do, we mostly go to Hallowell, a little city just outside of Augusta. Hallowell has a snappy collection of restaurants—none of them chains.

However, a new place has come to Augusta’s downtown—Cushnoc Brewing Co., and as its name suggests, it is indeed a brewery.ย  Cushnoc Brewing also specializes in pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven, and they serve other food including nachos and salads.

On Monday, Clif and I decided to check out Cushnoc Brewing Co. As soon as we went in, we looked around in wonder. Could this place—one that could be considered hip, even—really be in Augusta, Maine, the land of strip development and chain restaurants?

It seems that it could. But as the saying goes, handsome is as handsome does. Here were the most important questions: How was the food, and how was the beer? We ordered a pizza to share, and Clif ordered a beer, All Souls IPA. Clif told me it was light and had a citrus flavor and went down real easy.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I ordered a root beer, but beer isn’t my thing. In honor of the beer lovers in my family, I’ll leave it at that, and I’ll return to my root beer later.

The pizza—half mushroom and half pepperoni—was one of the best I have ever had. The sauce was slightly sweet, and later I would discover that the secret was balsamic vinegar. The crust was cooked to perfection, and I ate more than I should have.

After Clif and I were done eating, we went to look at the pizza oven, and I was allowed to takeย  pictures of it. The oven has a name—Stacy—in honor of this building’s previous store, a tempting gift shop where I have bought many things.

Now let us return to my root beer, which had something to set it apart from most soft drinks served in restaurants. (Yes, I know. This is picture number six. Let us consider it a bonus picture.)

Perhaps it isn’t obvious from the photo, but the straw is paper, not plastic, and I consider this to be one baby step in the right direction. In truth, I’m perfectly happy to sip directly from the cup itself, and the next time I go, I’ll tell the server I don’t need a straw. Why waste paper? Nevertheless, Cushnoc Brewing Co. is the only area restaurant I have been to that provides paper straws rather than plastic.

Will this hip place revive Augusta? Only time will tell, but it’s my guess it will give the restaurants in trendy Hallowell a run for their money.




38 thoughts on “Five for Friday: Cushnoc Brewing Co.—A New, Hip Place in Augusta”

  1. Nice! ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll definitely have to check it out the next time that we’re up!!

  2. Great review, Laurie. Do they brew their own root beer? One of our breweries does and it is excellent.
    I was just reading an article about Michael Bloomberg who says if you want to transform a down and out town, bring in the hip creatives, whose culture will draw others. This might be an example.

    1. I don’t know about the root beer. I’ll ask next time I go. Yes, hip creatives often revitalize and failing place. We shall see about Cushnoc Brewing.

  3. Thanks for introducing us to the restaurant. I was thrilled to hear about the paper straws. Maybe other restaurants will follow. The pizza sure does look delicious.

  4. Very glad to read you have a hip new craft beer & wood fire pizza place to go to. Canberra too has got it own craft beers & pizzas in recent years and it makes for a nice change. I ‘m not a beer drinker but my husband & son in law have been trying new ones out whenever they can. And the paper straw is a good start!

    1. Yes, yes! It’s probably too much to pin hopes on one business to revive a moribund city, but the brewery, as well as the paper straw, is a good start.

    1. I know! Poor city. And such a storied one, too. If you do come to Cushnoc and want company, just let me know. My husband and I would love to meet you there for pizza and a chat.

  5. Poor Augusta–I had no idea it was so unappealing. But, if the city leaders are smart, they’ll use the brew pub to help jumpstart more hip stuff downtown. If they could pull in a few more cool shops, it might be enough to start a revival.

    1. Not Augusta, at least not yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you come to Maine, I hope you make time to visit us in central Maine.

  6. Loved the five for Friday photos and topic!๐Ÿ™‚ I love to visit Main Street in all our local towns and they are such an important part of the community. Iโ€™m always a little sad when I visit one that is struggling to maintain local businesses. I hope Cushnoc Brewing can bring back some of the magic to Augusta and the pizza looked fabulous.๐Ÿ™‚

  7. As an owner of Cushnoc I wanted to give a shout out to Circa 1885 (the wine bar across the street) for providing our paper straws! It’s a great green idea!

    1. It certainly is! We’ll have to check out Circa 1885. And good luck to Cushnoc with its beer and fabulous pizzas. Hope you thrive!

  8. Thank you for the positive words and thoughts for our little city! If you’re not much into beer, next time you’re downtown, check out Circa 1885 across the street from Cushnoc; it’s a nice bar with more of a wine & cocktail focus (and offers light bites, too). There is also Otto’s on the River as another new hip spot in Augusta, also on Water Street! With positive words like yours and a great, supportive community, we may just make it yet!

    1. Thanks, Katie! Fingers crossed. Augusta could sure use a lift. It could happen. I am old enough to remember when Hallowell was, if you’ll pardon the expression, a dump. Not kicky at all. So places can change for the better.

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