Maine…I just can’t stop writing about it. When we last left you, we were in Boothbay Harbor, and heading towards Portland. Portland, the city with the highest amount of breweries per capita. Portland, the largest city in Maine with only 66,000 people. Portland, where we visited many great breweries, met many great people, and drank a lot of great beer on our walking brewery tour. Oddly enough, though, our favorite spot was a distillery, Maine Craft Distilling.
East End Portland Walking Brewery Tour
Since we only had a day in Portland, we planned our walking brewery tour around the East End along Washington Avenue, where we were also lucky enough to find an off the main road spot to park overnight on the streets of Portland. Having your house with you wherever you go is one of the best things about living in an RV, especially when you are on a walking tour of breweries.
We began our day at Goodfire Brewing Company, located on the backside of Lone Pine. Good beer, good use of limited space, but with so many breweries, this one just wasn’t going to make the cut to return to.
Walking just a few feet to the front of the building, we wandered into Lone Pine. There was a great selection of IPAs, an open and airy brewery, along with a cute open space with community tables right on the street, allowing for some great people watching and fostering community. You all know IPAs aren’t my thing, so Kenny chose a flight of them, and I sampled from him. A couple of good hazy ones, but nothing over the moon to draw us back. While we did strike up a good conversation with another couple thanks to the community tables that encourage conversations, the place itself was, again, just another brewery in a long line of breweries that we have visited on our travels.
We’re not huge kombucha fans, but always up for something new. So we walked across the street to Urban Farm Fermentory where they brew using locally foraged ingredients with a special fermentation process. This place had wonderful ambiance with wooden picnic tables, benches, and a farm like ambiance complete with high wooden beams in the inside and beautiful wooden touches matched perfectly with greenery and herbs throughout the tasting room. Specializing in kombuchas, gruits, and meads, what they do, they do well. If you like these types of beers, this is one we recommend you check out. Great place, great feel, comfortable, cozy, like a cabin in the middle of a farm.
Art Along the Tour
Off again to check out something different. While we are not on vacation, we have created our own schedule in life since moving into RAIF. Having done this, it is very nice to take a stroll on a late summer’s day in a
new city. Talking about the people we just met, the places we have been, and just strolling along, our attention wandered to an interesting fence surrounding some apartments. This was not your normal fence, but an art project created by local school kids. Their stories crafted directly into the metal via a non-profit called the Telling Room.
Feeling inspired, we made our way to Oxbow Blending and Bottling. We didn’t make it to the farmhouse tasting room in Newcastle, the recommended location, but we enjoyed the Portland location. It is a gorgeous facility, sharp in its elegance, but managing a modern and cozy feel at the same time. Stock full of community tables inside, the outside hosted barrels strategically placed all around the courtyard, encouraging intimate conversations with friends. Not to be outdone by the breweries that also offer food (aka brewpubs), Oxbow shares space with the famous Duckfat sandwich shop’s newest creation. (Duckfat is featured on many restaurant recommendation sites.) The Duckfat Friteshack, a snack shack specializing in quick eats and its infamous duck fat fries, is located on site at Oxbow. Good food, good beer, good people.
East End Walking Portland Distillery Tour
But we had more to sample, so sample we did. Normally, we don’t search out distilleries, but we passed by one on the way to Oxbow, so we decided to head back, but lo and behold, we came across another distillery and decided to check that one out, too. Hardshore Distilling Company used its limited space well, taking up the parking lot on Washington Avenue, turning it into an inviting outdoor space. And with a garage door opening onto the street, we couldn’t help but feel personally invited into its artistically lit tasting room. Not being a fan of gin, which Hardshore specializes in, the bartender took the time to ask us what flavors we did like and proceeded to create a latte inspired gin cocktail. This is a place worth visiting again.
Stout Life Approved – Maine Craft Distilling
But, still unwilling to call it a night, we wanted to check out the one we had initially seen – Maine Craft Distilling. Located in the same building as a homemade bagel shop and right behind a fresh oyster house, this place couldn’t be bad. As we rounded the corner, we could hear music pouring from the doors, conversations and laughter everywhere.
Honestly, when I first walked into this place, I was a bit overwhelmed. Not because of the place, but because of all the feelings that surfaced. I wanted to be here, wanted to feel like an adult, wanted to savor the food and sip on a handcrafted cocktail, all while tapping my foot to the beat of the music. I wanted to do all of this without worrying about money.
In our travels, we love food and drinks and going out to experience new places. Who doesn’t like this when they travel? But we are not on vacation, we are working and on a budget. Or at least we try to be. So, budget be damned, we stayed. We had a cocktail, decided against the food (our kitchen was parked just a few feet down the road), and we enjoyed the boot stomping music. After all, we are adults.
Kenny had been hearing so much about Lunch and Dinner, two highly acclaimed IPAs from Maine Beer Company, and since we did not get a chance to go there, he was excited to find one of them, Lunch, on the menu here. Worthy of the acclimations, he quite enjoyed this beverage and definitely recommends it.
I, on the other hand, usually not much of a fancy cocktail drinker, budget be gone, went for the coolest concoction on the menu: the Common Ground. Made from their very own Whipple Tree Apple Brandy, honey, and bitters, and handcrafted by the bartender, this cocktail was divine. Enjoying our drinks and the festive atmosphere, I finally relaxed about the budget, knowing that we wouldn’t be spending money the next few days. Kenny wandered off for a moment and came back with a new friend.
Always the one to say hi and start a conversation, this time, he started one with an employee who happened to be off-duty. He, however, offered to give us a tour of the distillery. Feeling like VIPs, we were ushered through some beautiful glass double doors. (They actually offer tours and tastings to anyone who is interested.) We were given a full description of their spirits, as well as several tastings of anything they had to offer.
Learning more about their system of farm to flask distilling, using locally sourced ingredients was enlightening, but what really made the connection for us with this distillery over the other breweries that we visited was the people, as usual. The second we walked in the door, we felt like guests and wanted to stay, but it was time to go.
Hearts and Bellies Full
As the night waned, and the stars brightened, we made our way back home, content in the knowledge that while tonight felt familiar and comforting, tomorrow would be filled with the unknown, making it, ironically, familiar and comforting.
The morning came on with a force, just like our appetites, and we wouldn’t be doing our jobs, if we didn’t recommend a stout breakfast to start your stout day. We highly recommend Forage Market, located in the same building as Maine Craft Distilling, it offers freshly brewed coffee and homemade, wood-fired bagels. You’re already drooling, aren’t you. I am!
We’ve always said that the beer we love, no matter where it was found, is due to the people we meet while drinking it. It’s the same with good coffee, good cocktails, and good food. Here’s to the people we meet while searching for the good things.
Here’s to a Stout Life!
- Urban Farm Fermentory
- Oxbow Brewing
- Duckfat FriteShack
- Hardshore Distilling Company
- Maine Craft Distilling
- Maine Beer Company (Freeport, Maine)
- Forage Market
- Monhegan Brewing Company (Located 10 miles out to sea on Monhegan Island, Maine. We didn’t go, so we don’t know, but you should go.)