If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that I recently took a trip to Maine that I’ve been dying to write about. We packed SO many things into our short time in Portland and didn’t even come close to doing everything on our list. If you go, I would definitely recommend more than 36 hours. We were pretty constrained to just exploring the downtown area because there was literally just not enough time to do things in most other parts of the city!
This is a LONG post, but stick with me!
This was our first stop when we got to Portland to kill some time before checking into our Airbnb. The tasting room is really cute and the staff were all so nice – great way to start out in the city! Shipyard also serves Sea Dog Brewing Company beers, so we got to try beers from two great Maine breweries at the same time. We grabbed flights and took a seat to do a little people-watching while drinking our beer. One thing that was definitely noticeable in Portland was that everyone is super low-key in how they dress. I’m pretty sure we didn’t see anyone dressed in “fancy” clothes the whole time (perhaps with the exception of some bachelorette party-goers at the horrible bars on Wharf Street).
Favorite beer(s) of the visit: Melonhead (Shipyard) and Sunfish (Sea Dog)
This place came highly recommended from a coworker and a few Portland travel guides. Novare Res has a great beer selection and we were not disappointed. They have a nice outdoor space, which we weren’t able to take advantage of because it was pouring rain by the time we grabbed a drink. Although I was trying to drink only Maine-brewed beers on this trip, I did make an exception here for a Belgian beer from Brouwerij ‘t Verzet called Moose Blues.
Notice anything missing in the Friday evening lineup? DINNER. We were planning to go to Portland Lobster Company but decided against braving the pouring rain with no umbrella to get there. It finally hit a point in the night where not eating was just not an option, so after a quick Google Maps search for something nearby, we ended up at The Thirsty Pig for some amazingly delicious hot dogs. We made it there just before the kitchen closed (which was a good thing for all parties involved because I’m not sure I could have made it without food for one more second). I ordered the Reuben Dog and was very very happy with my decision.
On Saturday, we got up and took a short walk to the waterfront near our Airbnb. We were really close to the Eastern Promenade Trail (aka “The Prom”) which was great for Doug to go for a run later in the day. If you look closely in this photo, you can also see Fort Gorges in the fog in the background, which is definitely going to be on the to-do list for a future trip.
In the weeks leading up to this trip, I was maybe the most excited to check out this spot. Anyone who even remotely knows me knows that I love donuts. I had been following The Holy Donut on Instagram for a while, and literally everything they make looks amazing. It’s definitely worth the wait – seems like there is always a line, but it moves pretty quickly – and the donuts are SO GOOD. They’re made with potatoes (from Maine, obviously), which makes them really dense and delicious. It was so hard to decide which flavors to get, so we each got two donuts. Way more food than we really needed or were even able to eat, but totally worth it. Pictured here are Maine Blueberry (top), Dark Chocolate Sea Salt (right), and Coffee Cake (bottom). Maine Blueberry was hands down the winner. There was also a bacon cheddar stuffed donut in the mix, but that got eaten before pictures were taken…
In terms of atmosphere and variety, this place was probably my favorite in Portland. This place is seriously SO cool. It’s an “experimental urban farm, fermentation factory, and community engagement hub” that makes and serves kombucha, jun (similar to kombucha but made with green tea and honey), cider, gruit (beer with few/no hops), and mead. Between the two of us, we tried Wild Blue (blueberry sour beer), Dandelion Saison, I am Groot (beer with foraged roots), Semi-Sweet Mead, Blueberry Cider, Gluten Jun, Rosehip Hibiscus Kombucha, Ghost Chili Kombucha, and Chaga Chai Kombucha. One of the bartenders also brought us a free bonus flight while we were sitting there because she “accidentally screwed it up and didn’t remember what was in it and we looked like we would drink it.” No complaints here!
Favorite drinks: Rosehip Hibiscus Kombucha and Ghost Chili Kombucha (We went back and bought more the next day!!)
Next, we walked just down the street to Rising Tide to try out some more Portland beer. Rising Tide has a great outdoor space and while we were there, had someone outside serving BBQ. Much needed for our day of beer adventures. None of the beers were particularly individually memorable, but this is still a great spot to check out, especially since it’s so close to a few other breweries and…
I was so focused on beer when mapping out our stops for the day, I didn’t even think about distilleries! This place is right next door to Rising Tide, so we decided it was definitely worth a quick stop. We ended up spending a while here because the bartender was wonderful and we got to try several (okay maybe all…) of their spirits. After tasting everything, we ordered some cocktails – definitely a good move. The blueberry moonshine (Blueshine) lemonade I ordered was everything I wanted and more.
It seems like craft mead is becoming more and more of a thing, which I am totally cool with. Our next stop – again, kind of unintentional but right next to another brewery – was Maine Mead Works, home of HoneyMaker Meads and Ram Island Meads. Because I felt the need to try everything, I opted for the HoneyMaker tasting, which was only slightly more expensive than one glass of mead ($7 vs. $5) and meant I got to try Dry, Blueberry, Semi Sweet, and Strawberry. I’m not usually much of a blueberry person, but I made a point to try lots of blueberry-flavored things in Maine and they generally ended up being my favorite everywhere. This was not an exception.
By this point in the day, we were pretty exhausted from so much beer/mead/liquor adventuring but we had heard a lot about Oxbow and knew we needed to stop in for at least one drink. Oxbow’s tasting room is a really cool space – nice and big and open – and there was some live music happening while we were there, which was a nice surprise. The only beer I tried here was the Bowie. I’ll have to put this one back on the to-do list for the next visit as well.
Confession – we almost entirely missed the opportunity to go out Saturday night because of a nap that lasted far longer than it was supposed to…but after waking up at 9:30pm we rallied. We were again supposed to go to Portland Lobster Company but missed our chance because of the time. Luckily, Liquid Riot had lobster rolls on the menu so at least Doug could get a little lobster that way! I really liked Liquid Riot’s beers. Without even realizing it when I ordered, I got a beer that I had already tried at Novare Res on Friday. It was just as good the second time though!
Favorite beer of the visit: Tropical Storm
Wharf Street between Union Street and Moulton Street is where all the “party” bars are. We wanted to check it out just to see what all the hype is about. These bars are bad. Don’t go here.
This was our last stop of the night and came highly recommended by our Airbnb hosts. This is my favorite kind of place – kind of divey but not gross, cool crowd but not too busy, and good draft list. The decor was also great here. The walls were covered in (surprise!) maps. I got two delicious fruity sour beers and was happy to close out the night in such a cool little bar.
Sunday Morning / Early Afternoon
This is the place everyone told me I MUST check out while in Portland. They’re well-known for their french fries that are, as the name suggests, fried in duck fat. There always seems to be a wait here. The restaurant itself is pretty tiny and doesn’t have much seating. We were lucky to get in line right before they opened at 11am and got the second to last set of seats in the place. We were sitting by the hostess stand and could hear everyone after us being told that there would be a 30-45 minute wait basically at all times from then on. We had awesome sandwiches and the fries were amazing. I would have survived just fine if we hadn’t made it to Duckfat (it’s good but not like life-changing good) but I’m really glad we went. I would suggest getting in line at about 10:45 if you want to be sure you can eat there when they open at 11:00.
Our last stop on the way out of town was Allagash. Allagash is located in an industrial park a few miles away from downtown. There are a few other breweries nearby that we unfortunately didn’t have time to check out because we needed to get on the road, but I’m super happy we at least got to make this stop. Visiting Allagash is a little different from visiting most breweries / tasting rooms because the beer is FREE! The tasting room does not actually sell draft beer. When you get there and get your ID checked, you get a little wooden coin that you exchange for a free flight of whichever four beers they decide are on the tasting menu for the day. I was expecting little tiny samples, but these were actually substantial pours. We also came across another coin that someone had either lost or just left behind so we got to split three flights between the two of us (shhh…). Allagash has a great outdoor seating area and there were lots of families/dogs hanging out. There was also a food truck with lobster rolls, so Doug happily purchased lobster roll #2 of the trip. If you want to do a tour of Allagash, plan ahead because tours are booked out pretty far in advance online. You definitely don’t need to do the tour to really enjoy this visit though. Let’s be real, all brewery tours are pretty much the exact same anyway.
Favorite beer of the visit: Cuvée d’Industrial
After Allagash, we had to get on the road toward Mount Desert Island for the leg of our trip in Acadia National Park. There was SO much to do (particularly to eat and drink) in Portland, and I’m already looking forward to planning a return visit sometime in the near future.