Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Honey I’m…. Drinking Mead?

With some regularity, my husband arrives home to find me enjoying a glass of wine.  Chalk it up to work stress if you like (some days I do), or it could just be because people everywhere have enjoyed fermented beverages for a long, long time – and I’m no exception.  While the atmosphere, decor, and dress may have changed over the centuries, people like to gather together and enjoy food, drink, and entertainment.  Today we indulge in a variety of settings – a casual beer with friends at the local watering hole, or a wine tasting party at someone’s home, or checking out the hot new martini bar (although in the interest of transparency, that won’t be me – not a martini gal, I’ve discovered).  I’d encourage you all to add a mead tasting to your list of must-try alcoholic experiences.

In fact, mead is considered the ancestor of all modern fermented drinks.  Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, to see the popularity of modern day mead growing, with meaderies following rapidly in the footsteps of wineries and breweries to take advantage of the rising interest in their product and the art and science behind it.

Last year, I wrote about Far Friar’s Meadery, located in Newcastle, Maine, and this year during my visit to Maine, I had the opportunity to visit Maine Mead Works for the first time.  Located on Washington Ave in Portland, it’s easily accessible for both tourists and locals.  Founded in 2007 by owners Ben Alexander and Carly Cope, Maine Mead Works uses Maine ingredients (as much as possible) and also leverages good ol’ Mainah wisdom – that handcrafted is better than mass-produced, and quality is better than quantity (hence their small batch approach).

Maine Mead Works

We had the opportunity to try a large number of traditional and flavored meads during our visit, as well as a few sparkling versions.  Maine Mead Works emphasizes crafting a modern mead that is dry, crisp, and has a balanced finish.  Like Fat Friar’s mead, the more traditional dry and semi-sweet meads carried strong honey notes on the nose.  As I’ve become more familiar with mead, I find I can also appreciate it more.  I enjoyed the dry mead, but I liked the flavored varieties best of all.  From my perspective, honey mead creates an ideal base from which to add flavors like lavender, strawberry, and cranberry, as Maine Mead does.  I could easily envision a summer afternoon on the deck, enjoying a chilled glass of the strawberry or lavender mead, while cranberry was clearly a holiday season indulgence.

In conclusion, a visit to Maine Mead Works is highly recommended.  While we weren’t able to stay for the facility tour, I’m sure that would be well-worth experiencing as well.  You can also check out their cocktail recipes page for fun ways to mix with mead.

Happy holidays, all!


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Brew Maine: In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation

Like many states, Maine is enjoying a surge in the popularity of specialty beer and microbreweries – and I would certainly argue that Maine has been a leader in this movement.  I highly recommend that you follow @beerbabe if you’re interested in Maine beer in particular, but also microbrews in general.  If you’re into a bit of health and fitness in addition to a good brew review, check out www.lovesweatbeers.com, a blog written by my good friend, Tiffany.

This post on In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation, located on Commercial Street in the Old Port, is long long long overdue.  My apologies.  If you follow me regularly, you know we’ve (my husband and I) been in the process of moving, getting settled, and adjusting to career advancement / more demanding travel schedules, and while that has all been exciting and we’re very thankful for the opportunities we’ve been given – it also takes a lot of time!

We visited In’finiti during our trip home to Maine over the Thanksgiving holiday last year.  My best friend, E, joined Nick and me for the fun.  The In’finiti restaurant space is large, and split level – we were seated in the upper area, overlooking the bar below.  It would be hard for a space like this one not to be beautiful – with its rustic, dark wood and striking views of fermentation and distillation equipment.  The vibrant metallics contrast nicely with the ironwork and other rustic elements, creating an atmosphere of both relaxation and excitement.

Gleaming equipment... it really is pretty!

Gleaming equipment… it really is pretty!

Bar area (please excuse the poor quality phone photos)

Bar area (please excuse the poor quality phone photos)

I can imagine that during a summer day, the outdoor seating would offer a pretty spectacular view as well!

We tried several beers each before settling on final choices – and enjoyed them all.

Cheers!

Cheers!

For a meal, I ordered the lobster mac n’ cheese.  It was very good (although honestly, if you can screw up mac n’ cheese, you probably shouldn’t be running a restaurant – worse, if you could mess it up with the addition of succulent Maine lobster).  I’m happy to report that I enjoyed every bite!

Both Nick and E affirmed my observations on the atmosphere, beverages, and food.  Overall, In’finiti was a great experience for us.  It’s the sort of place where you can easily kick back with friends, or enjoy a casual date… and its location is ideal for dinner before a night on Fore Street.

Cheers!


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Like Beer? Head to The Festival in Portland, Maine

Today, I’m following up my post on Blacksmiths Winery with a post about craft beer and a great opportunity to enjoy it, and the great city of Portland, this weekend at The Festival.  Brought to you by the Shelton Brothers, The Festival features three tasting sessions with brews and brewers from all over the world.  What makes this festival different (and worth the ticket price) is that it focuses on showcasing small, craft brewers and cideries from all over the world – and the people who make them will actually be there to meet you and talk with you.  In addition, session attendance is limited to no more than 1,200 people per session, so you’re less crowded and the brewers have more time to talk with you.

The sessions begin tomorrow, June 21st, with Session 1 running from 6:30pm – 10:30pm, and Sessions 2 and 3 on Saturday, June 22nd, from 1pm – 5pm and 6:30pm – 10:30pm, respectively.  The event is being held at the Portland Yacht Services Building, 58 Fore St., Portland, Maine.  Among the brewers participating, there are several local businesses: Maine Beer Co, Maine Mead Works, Allagash (a personal favorite!), Oxbow, Rising Tide, Bull Jagger, and Marshall Wharf.

Yum!

Yum!

Food vendors include The Thirsty Pig (a favorite of my mom’s – and eventually, a topic on this blog), Bite Into Maine, Pizza Pie on the Fly, Hella Good Tacos, Binga’s Wingas, and Small Axe.

For more information, check out this great article from the Portland Press Herald, by Meredith Goad, or visit the event website.

I only wish I had known about this event sooner!  Keeping track of it for next year (even if it’s not in Maine)!

It appears that Saturday afternoon’s Session 2 is sold out… but follow the link below for tickets to Session 1 and 3:

Buy tickets here!