Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bite Into Maine

On our honeymoon, we tried really hard not to make concrete plans. Like, "we want to do x, y, and z" was fine, but we didn't schedule our days other than vague suggestions, and tried not to be on too much of a time schedule. But one of the things we had to do was eat all the lobster.

Like. All of it.

We basically crushed that goal by eating lobster everywhere. From the amazing brown butter mini-rolls at Eventide Oyster Co. (post coming soon - their chowder changed our lives) to the oceanside picnic tables at The Lobster Shack at Two Lights (can we just live there?) and everywhere in between, we ran the gamut of lobster deliciousness.

But for a classic, amazing, "this is the single best bite of food I've ever had" experience, we were pretty sure we knew where to go.

Bite Into Maine.

With a permanent location (and now even more places!) and food truck, we had a couple of options. Luckily for us, they happened to be at Portland Head Light/Fort Williams Park the day we were there sightseeing.

Let me set the scene for you.

It's 65 degrees, sunny with a nice breeze. The park is bustling but not crowded, and the waves are crashing on the beach in the background. We're one day into our trip and in love with each other and Maine and life.

And then this happens:

So basically, the best thing ever. 

Bite Into Maine is a celebrated food truck (and now restaurant!) and it's easy to see why. First, they're local and use amazing local ingredients. 

Second, they have an adorable truck with a small but amazing selection. You can get different kinds of lobster rolls, a couple of different kinds of sandwiches, and clam chowder! We opted for the Maine style (with chives and mayo) and the Connecticut style (with warm butter). 

Why is my finger in this photo? Why is it so beautiful outside? Why did we not get 5 rolls each? Who knows the answer to life's greatest mysteries.
Third, they even have local drinks (from Maine Root), which coincidentally go perfectly with lobster rolls!

Finally, their lobster rolls are just...amazing.

The Maine style one (that Sloan got) was so good. Mayo is actually the worst, but with lobster and chives on that warm, super butter bread? We might be mayo converts. The Connecticut style - with warm butter on that same buttery bread - was my favorite, but that's mostly because butter is life. We couldn't pick a favorite even if we wanted to. We just wanted to keep eating them. 

If you're in Maine (or hell, go to Maine just for these lobster rolls), make sure to stop into Bite Into Maine. Super nice folks, amazing food, local business with great ties to the local community. Plus, if you can catch them at Portland Head Light, you'll get to see a beautiful park and historical landmark while eating the best food you've ever had. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Maine Beer Company

We're back from Maine, we've decompressed, and now we're ready to tell you about all the amazing food and drinks we had on our honeymoon in and around Portland!

Maine Beer Company was at the top of my list for breweries to try while in this part of Maine. After seeing the quaint but bustling little city of Freeport (home of the 24-hour L.L. Bean store!),  I was not expecting this location for one of the most famous breweries in the region. As it came into view in the distance, I thought this small white building (with a larger brewing area down the hill in the back) and unassuming sign could easily be Joe’s Catfish Shack, not be the home of some of the most amazing beer I've ever had.

It was dark when we were there, but thanks to The Forecaster for this great pic!
This all beer no frills approach continued as we entered the taproom. We came in right as they were about to close, and asked if we could just buy some bottles so they could get on with their evening. This was one of the first displays of the incredible hospitality we experienced throughout the entire trip. The guy behind the bar insisted that they didn’t mind if we stayed for a flight, and then took the time to help us choose beers!

Both their taproom and their labels stand out from the pack because they are overwhelmingly simple, but the beer truly speaks for itself! What I saw in Maine was some of the finest IPAs I have ever tasted. This place was special in that regard especially.

Via Maine Beer Company.
The beer:

Lunch - Named after a whale spotted off the coast of Maine with a bite taken out of it’s fin, Lunch is a tasty morsel of hoptastic goodness. We narrowly missed the release of the sequel, Dinner, but Lunch was a winner, and famous for a reason. Lunch didn’t give me that Captain Ahab feeling as a beer hunter, but it was a really satisfying beverage after a day of airplanes and L.L. Bean.

Another One - Being inexperienced with Maine Beer company’s delicious brews, I was expecting Lunch to steal my heart, but this was the balanced little number that did me in. It has a spicy hop profile with a little herbaceous twist that you don’t see in most IPAs. I love that it gives off such an intense and unique aroma and still manages to avoid being a total palate wrecker. So crisp, So fresh, So clean!

Each beer had its own description, adding to the cozy and friendly taproom environment.
Mo - Amber’s favorite, this APA does not play. Citrus and pine leap from the itty bitty snifter. Had this beer showed up 20 years ago, it could have started it’s own craft revolution. I think Amber considered leaving me to marry this tightly wrapped little libation.

Peeper - This is not a “lawnmower beer”, but I wouldn’t kick it out of the yard on a hot summer day in Memphis. It had a hard time standing out in a flight loaded with big IPAs, but in a different context I could see it becoming a staple.

A tiny beautiful something - This one is it’s own thing in a really fun way. A single hop variety, El Dorado, flavors this tasty little pale ale. Kind of like the Peeper, I would love to have this one in a different context. I really enjoyed it, but it had a hard time standing out against more showy offerings side by side.

Woods & Waters - I love it when the name of a beer is both clever and contains something that actually comes out in the flavor and aroma of the beer. This one is a pine powerhouse. Brewed with Maine-grown grains, this one also has a unique backbone holding all those pretty piney hops together.

Zoe - It is obvious that what these guys at Maine Beer Company do is showcase hops at their finest. This Amber ale is doing something completely different though. The main descriptive words that stick out to me for this guy are malt and raisins. Light sweetness, a crisp clean palate make this a nice contrast to everything else I had. It had just enough weight to meet style guidelines, and just enough crispness to wash the hop resin off my teeth.

Mean Old Tom - This was an acceptable stout. I wasn’t wowed, but I also feel like from what I saw on the whole trip, Maine may just not be stout country. I think that’s a shame considering the weather, but maybe I missed some remarkable seasonal offerings too coming in late spring. We'll just have to go back in the fall!

Overall, Maine Beer Company exceeded my expectations. From the incredibly kind, knowledgable, and friendly staff to the excellent flights all the way to the great bottled offerings (many of which we took home with us when we returned to Memphis!), it was one of the best brewery experiences I've ever had. After a long day of flights, the excitement of being on our honeymoon, and a full day of exploring, walking in Maine Beer Company felt like coming home to a cozy fire and some amazing beer.