Portland, Maine. I've never spent any time there until last week and I'm really glad that it was part of the road trip that Kyle and I went on. Portland was the first stop on our whirlwind New England Brewery tour. Turns out due to lack of funding and time off from work we had to whittle the trip down a bit. But I'm glad that we did because by the end of the 6 days I was pretty tired and, I'll be honest, a bit sick of beer. I'm getting ahead of myself. Portland was great and it really started the trip off on the right note. After checking in to our hotel we went down to the waterfront and located an Irish tavern called Bull Feeney's and had a snack of fries. From there we wandered over to a brewpub called Gritty McDuff's. The clerk at the gift/souvenir shop recommended a bar up the street named Novare Res (latin for "to start a revolution"). Novare Res is tucked back behind everything and had great outdoor seating. The highlight, however, was the overwhelming selection of beers from all over the world. Kyle and I finally settled on a wild Flemish ale. It was a little pricey but delicious. Novare Res definitely gets a thumbs up from me, despite the online suggestions that it's filled with "pretentious dirty hipsters". I saw no evidence to back up those claims and found the staff working there to be delightfully friendly and helpful. Dinner back at Gritty McDuff's, a nice walk by the water and then off to sleep.
The next day we went on a tour of the Allagash Brewery. It was a great tour and we got to see the barrels where they age their specialty beers. Had I been more read up on the brewery I would have asked about seeing their koelschip room, which is where they do open air fermentations. Perhaps next trip.
After Allagash we went to the Shipyard Brewery and were disappointed to discover that we wouldn't be able to take a tour. But the gift shop was nice and we picked up a few souvenirs and headed out to our next destination.
Belfast, Maine. I'd never heard of Belfast before but had read about a great restaurant there so we added it to the itinerary. Driving in to Belfast, we had our doubts. It's a small fishing village with a lot of uninhabited and run down buildings and not much else. Or so it seemed. Once we got settled in we went out exploring and discovered that the Three Tides restaurant and Belfast itself was absolutely delightful. A very small downtown area but a lot of fun. Also there was a lovely foot bridge over the river.
It's hard to narrow down a single highlight from the trip to that point because everything about it was great. Besides the driving, that was a bummer. And not touring Shipyard. But Allagash was terrific, Novare Res was a brilliant stroke of luck, Three Tides and Marshall Wharf were fantastic, Belfast was a great surprise... All in all Maine was amazing. We were pretty sad about having to leave but it left us really excited for our next state... Vermont.