Another "Going to Portland" Thread: But this one's a bit different (June 2019 edition)

Discussion in 'New England' started by AlcahueteJ, Jun 10, 2019.

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  1. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Hi everyone,

    I started a similar thread last year before my trip and wrote the OP in italics below:

    This one's different, because I've been to Portland multiple times in the last few years, so I know my way around. That being said, it's a thriving city that constantly has something new, and I haven't been there in a year. Here's what I have so far...anything I'm missing?"

    I tagged my "Must stops" as favorites. And I italicized places I haven't been.


    I updated this again, now that's I've been to even MORE new places last year.

    Any input is appreciated, thanks everyone!

    Breakfast:

    Hot Suppa

    Holy Donut - favorite

    Standard Baking Co.

    Tandem Bakery - this has become a favorite just because of the loaded biscuit

    Marcy's Diner

    Becky's Diner


    Lunch/Dinner:

    Slab - favorite

    Duckfat

    Pai Men Miyake

    Boda

    High Roller Lobster Co. - favorite

    Empire Chinese

    Salvage BBQ

    Thirsty Pig

    Nosh - favorite

    Expensive Dinners (all these places will have long waits):

    Eventide

    Central Provisions

    Honey Paw


    Fore Street

    Street and Co.

    Scales

    Dessert/Coffee shops:

    Gorgeous Gelato - favorite

    Gelato Fiasco - both gelato places are favorites and will do the trick

    Speckled Ax

    Bard - favorite

    Bars:

    Novare Res - favorite

    Mash Tun - favorite

    The Little Tap House - favorite

    The Great Lost Bear

    Breweries:

    Fore River

    Oxbow

    Bunker Brewing

    Huge cluster of breweries/other stuff:

    Rising Tide

    Tandem Roastery

    Urban Farm Fermentary

    Lone Pine

    Goodfire

    Austin Street's other location

    Industrial Way:

    Allagash

    Foundation

    Battery Steele

    Austin Street

    Bissell - favorite, but might just get a sample or two and cans to go
     
  2. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Oh, one more thing to add.

    Last year I had three nights there. This time we're heading up to Portsmouth the first day, eating in Kittery, and staying over in Portsmouth. The next morning we head up to Portland for two nights.
     
  3. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (188) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    Thanks for posting this, I was just putting together my list of places to visit in Portland for this weekend and I had been looking for your previous post.

    I was up for a day trip to Portland back in March and had some food from Taco Del Seoul one of the many food trucks up there. I'll be looking out for where they are going to be situated this weekend. I think they've been up at Lone Pine's new Gorham location a lot lately since they opened. Anyhow, if you happen to run in to their food truck I'd highly recommend it.

    Since you'll be spending some time down in Southern Maine have you checked out Congdon's After Dark? The Congdon's donut shop in Well's Maine has about 10 food trucks in most nights over the summer as well as a pretty nice beer garden. Something a bit different to do.
     
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  4. Rysk22

    Rysk22 Aspirant (218) Nov 12, 2014 Massachusetts
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    I love the Bao Bao dumpling house that's a few doors down from the Little Tap House
     
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  5. pbrian

    pbrian Defender (663) Feb 8, 2001 Connecticut

    Good timing, I've been thinking about Portland lately because for the fall semester, my daughter is going to be in Chewonki. If anyone has any recos in that area (Brunswick, Bath, Wicasset) that would be great too.
     
  6. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    I also have several posts over the years of my trip reviews that are more detailed.

    I also keep a word document with all of this broken out with explanations of what each place is like, and recommendations for food from some of them. Plus the breweries, bars, coffee places...etc.

    Each place has hyperlinks to the menus as well for easy access. And it lists the walking distance to the Westin (we usually stay there, and it's centrally located).

    If anyone ever wanted this, just PM me.
     
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  7. DucRacer900

    DucRacer900 Initiate (85) Aug 13, 2013 Massachusetts
    Trader

    Great list! Haven't been in a few years but heading up 2nd week in July so this is a good updater.
     
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  8. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Whoops, forgot to add Definitive to the list!
     
  9. dubdrop

    dubdrop Zealot (580) Aug 6, 2012 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I had no idea about Congdon's After Dark. My in-laws live in Wells and we're up there a bunch throughout the summer. Will definitely have to check this place out!
     
  10. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,787) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    Nice list!

    Tony's Donut shop on Bolton St. is the donut shop of choice in town for me (if I was inclined to get a donut).

    I like the King's Head for a few beers and lunch/dinner too.

    Stuff around Bissell location at Thompsons Point include
    Stroudwater Distillery
    Cellardoor Winery
    Locally Sauced
    International Cryptozoology Museaum
     
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  11. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Oops, didn't even notice I left King's Head off. It's on my master list though. I've been there a couple times, cool place, not my favorite but worth checking out if someone's never been.

    I'm not really a big wine/distillery guy or into the other stuff. I just make the quick pit stop to Bissell to sample, buy cans, then head into Portland to stuff my face.

    Supposedly the fried chicken at Bissell is solid too though.
     
  12. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,787) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    Yep, I was just listing some additional places for others visiting the city.

    Now that AirBnB was banned in SoPo I should be able to be around a ton this summer!
     
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  13. mrmattosgood

    mrmattosgood Initiate (126) Nov 6, 2010 Monaco
    Trader

    Miyake, Drifter's Wife, Eaux, Minato. All dope spots. Drifter's Wife you should get in early.

    My basically copy-and-pasted answer is that I always go to Allagash and Oxbow. Duckfat being on-site at Oxbow B&B really seals the deal too because you can demolish some poutine to set a nice base so you're not too inebriated.

    I'll echo Central Provisions, Eventide, Standard, Highroller, and Slab.
     
  14. AirBob

    AirBob Defender (660) Jul 15, 2014 Massachusetts

    Drifter's Wife is outstanding.
     
  15. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Oh shit, I also forgot to add "The Shop by Island Creek Oysters".

    I believe they just opened last year. One of the guys who worked at our hotel recommended it because not many people knew about it.

    You can get excellent oysters without waiting in line at J's Oysters or Eventide.

    It's also on the same street as Drifter's Wife and Oxbow.
     
  16. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,206) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    One thing that's changed since last summer is that Austin Street's down around the corner from Goodfire and Lone Pine. I was there on a Sunday afternoon a while ago and the whole area turns into a big block party.
     
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  17. tavernakhione

    tavernakhione Initiate (32) Jun 28, 2015 Maine

    We, taverna khione, are located in Brunswick. 6 drafts all $6 or less with half pours available. Many of the Portland breweries are represented. Moderation brewing on Maine st is putting out some nice beers. Heard good things about odd alewives in waldoboro. Sasanoa in Westport island has some nice organic saisons. Oxbow in Newcastle would be a must stop.
     
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  18. Manfrombelmonty

    Manfrombelmonty Disciple (307) Sep 12, 2010 Massachusetts

    Allow me to rain on the parade.

    Far too many average NEIPA breweries up there. Lone pine is as bang average as they come. Ditto most of the industrial way crew.

    Allagash, Austin, Bissel, Oxbow. That’s your lot for Portland.

    I could pretty much guarantee most folks who go up there pay no heed to Allagash despite them being one of the best in the commonwealth.

    But hey, there’s a new fruited neipa served out of some place that has Mario kart playing on a blanket hung above a few barrels.

    Just go to Allagash, then the oxbow spot next to that place that does the poutine. That’s all you need up there.
     
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  19. mrmattosgood

    mrmattosgood Initiate (126) Nov 6, 2010 Monaco
    Trader

    100% co-sign. Go to Allagash, go to Oxbow. Otherwise just go grab a great dinner and get the others on tap.
     
  20. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Yup, that's my plan.

    I usually just brewery hop for a couple hours at Industrial, and then the "block party" you speak of.

    While I largely agree, I like to go and have some flights and see if there's anything particularly interesting. A lot of these breweries are close enough to each other that it's easy enough to do. Especially if they have happen to have any lagers.

    I do have to really pick and choose this time around though. We usually spend three nights in Portland, this time it's just two.
     
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  21. JackStrawWichita

    JackStrawWichita Devotee (407) Jan 4, 2003 Maine
    Society

    ...and next to Rising Tide.
     
  22. JackStrawWichita

    JackStrawWichita Devotee (407) Jan 4, 2003 Maine
    Society

    Maine left the Commonwealth in 1820.
     
  23. Davl22

    Davl22 Aspirant (257) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire
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    Hit up Mr. Kim’s for dinner when you’re in Portsmouth. Unbelievably tasty and unique Korean plates. The chef/owner Gary Kim came from The Black Birch and Anju.
     
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  24. gclaw4444

    gclaw4444 Initiate (86) Jul 30, 2015 Massachusetts
    Trader

    If you're in Portsmouth i suggest the Wallingford Dram in Kittery. My only other suggestion is i always stop in Biddeford on the way up to have breakfast at the Palace Diner, or lunch at Yeto's, maybe grab some beer at Banded Brewing, and then stop at Barreled Souls.
     
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  25. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (188) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I'd love to say you're wrong but the only must visits on my trip for this weekend are Oxbow, Allagash (and a few others around Allagash), and Bissell. For the breweries around Allagash I might give Definitive the nod over Austin but I'll likely get some beer from both. I'll probably get something from Foundation but most likely it will be a version of their BA Forge series. Might try something from Battery Steele but I wouldn't go there if it wasn't near Allagash.

    Outside of the beer I'd say the two best places to spend time are Allagash and Oxbow. I could honestly spend most of my time at those two places and be happy. I might just grab cans from Bissell, their taproom isn't bad and I like Locally Sauced but there's just something about the vibe at Oxbow and Allagash that makes it a fun time. Not to mention the Duckfat fries at Oxbow are reason alone to spend time there :slight_smile: .

    Your statement might be a bit harsh (though not untrue) and there will be people who will say "but what about Brewery X?" Everyone has their favorite brewery up there but the question is would you travel to Portland for that brewery if there was nothing else up there (other breweries, historical, seashore, food, etc.)? If nothing else was up there I'd still visit Allagash, Oxbow, and Bissell. The others most likely not. I will say I'd travel up at least once to visit Banded [Horn] Brewing because it holds a soft spot in my heart, my Skal glass from Banded is still my favorite one in my collection and when I first got my kegerator I used to get their kegs all the time. I most likely won't stop there this time but I still enjoy their beers.
     
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  26. dubdrop

    dubdrop Zealot (580) Aug 6, 2012 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Totally agree with this thread that the essential stops are Allagash & Oxbow. But if you're looking for juice, personally, I'd go for Goodfire over Bissell. Less crowded and just as good beer (if not better).
     
  27. papposilenus

    papposilenus Meyvn (1,206) Jun 21, 2014 New Hampshire

    But what about Bissell, Austin Street, Goodfire or Mast Landing?!?!

    Yes! I absolutely would!
     
  28. JackStrawWichita

    JackStrawWichita Devotee (407) Jan 4, 2003 Maine
    Society

  29. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (188) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    I did include Bissell as one I'd go to even if there was nothing else. I do really like Austin Street but I'm not sure I'd go up just for them, its close. Definitive might be one I'd add to the list but I need to try them a few more times. I honestly haven't been to Goodfire, I know people seem to love them so I can't really comment. As for Mast Landing, if they offered me free beer I wouldn't travel 20 minutes to visit them no less 2 hours to be honest (outside of Gunner's Daughter). Maybe I've had bad luck with Mast but the IPA's and Pale Ale's I've had from them were not something I liked, not even a little bit.

    Now this is all a bit tongue in cheek. Its a bit like going into a candy store and having 1000 options. There are definitely going to be some that are can't miss and there are going to be some that are the same no matter where you go. Everyone has their favorites. Allagash and Oxbow type breweries are hard to find many other places. Bissell IMHO is a bit unique as well even though they are mostly producing IPA's. There are a couple of others and there are a few that need a little time to become can't miss breweries. We also live in a time where you've got so many can't miss breweries that we can even make this sort of ridiculous statement like "Brewery X isn't that great" when 10-15 years ago if that brewery was around it would be a can't miss destination in anyone's book.
     
  30. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Looks good! Thanks!

    I don't think the rest of my family would be into Korean though. They're more of a Slab, Nosh, Holy Donut type crowd.

    Less of a Fore Street, Scales, Street and Co. type crowd (although we have been to these places, as we try to do ONE nice dinner per trip).

    The plan is to head up to Portsmouth for lunch (probably Lexi's) then bum around Portsmouth all afternoon hitting up favorites like Book n' Bar, and maybe a bunch of breweries we've never been to.

    Then over to Kittery for maybe drinks at the Dram or Anju...or just head straight to Black Birch for drinks and dinner. But definitely Black Birch for dinner, as my family's never been.

    Then back to Portsmouth to round the night out.

    I'll take any Portsmouth/Kittery suggestions though. Food, ice cream/dessert (Annabelle's?), coffee shops, breweries, bars...etc.

    We just head to Bissell before we get into the downtown to check into our hotel usually. This is around opening on a weekday always, so it's never crowded. Barely anyone in there...grab a couple samples and some four packs then head to downtown.
     
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  31. matthewp

    matthewp Initiate (188) Feb 27, 2015 Massachusetts

    Portsmouth has a lot of great options. WHYM Craft Beer Cafe generally has a great beer selection. Its away from the waterfront and weirdly situated in front of a hotel. I think you mentioned you are bringing family, depends on who you are bringing. I tried to go with my wife and kids once and its really not that kind of place in my opinion. Great place to go with a bunch of friends for sure.

    The River House is a nice option for dinner, food is good and price is kind of normal seafood range (e.g. expensive but not outrageous). Its more casual and a place I go with my wife and kids. More upscale would be Martingale Wharf. That's a step or two up from The River House but the food is worth it, generally the fish is caught that same day. I think you know Row 34 in Boston, they have a restaurant in Portsmouth. Outside of Portsmouth Brewery there is Earth Eagle which has some interesting beers including some Gruits. In Kittery you've got Tributary, Richard Mott's brewery. When Pig's Fly Restaurant and Pizzeria has a great beer selection in Kittery. Those are a couple of thoughts off the top of my head.
     
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  32. Sheppard

    Sheppard Meyvn (1,077) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia
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    This line is best that I've read on this site in a while.
     
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  33. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Thanks!

    I've been to Portsmouth multiple times, and Kittery a couple times. But I haven't been to either in a couple years.

    Our plan is as follows at the moment, we're staying at the Sheraton:

    Lunch/Afternoon:

    -Head up to Portsmouth for lunch, probably Lexi's Joint.

    -Might try to go brewery hopping on Islington Street. The only breweries I've been to in Portsmouth are Portsmouth Brewing Co. and Earth Eagle. Any recommendations here would be good, as there's plenty of breweries there. We might hit up River House for drinks too if it's nice out. I like that spot because it's on the water. The Whym is a good suggestion too, I've never been there, maybe for later in the night? My family also really likes Book n' Bar.

    Dinner:

    -Head to Kittery around 4ish to put our names in at open at Black Birch. Then either have drinks there, or at Anju/Dram.

    Evening:

    -Maybe Annabelle's for ice cream and then hit up some bars or breweries again.


    Oh yeah, I meant to point out this quote too. Pure gold.
     
  34. rightcoast7

    rightcoast7 Disciple (331) Apr 2, 2011 Maine

    While I agree with your assessment of Lone Pine and all four of your picks for some of the top breweries in town, I think you’re being a bit harsh. Like what other small city can you name with even four breweries of that quality, let alone all the other good, even if unspectacular, options. It’s not reasonable to expect EVERY brewery to be world class, but the variety is part of the fun. Even living here, I mostly frequent the same places but still enjoy hitting up LP or Austin etc on occasion even if the beer isn’t quite as good as my top spots.

    And you are seriously missing the boat on NEIPAs if you don’t include Goodfire and Battery Steele on that list. Both are consistently better these days than Bissell IMO, as much as I like Bissell’s space (and don’t get me wrong, they do make great beer).
     
  35. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Agreed.

    I think about where I'm from (Somerville) and we definitely have a lot going for us here. But if I want something unique that's not an IPA factory like Allagash/Oxbow, I can go to CBC in Kendall Square, or I have to drive all the way to Salem to Notch.

    Don't get me wrong, a lot of breweries within a 10 - 15 minute drive have more variety style-wise than Goodfire/Lone Pine/Battery Steele/Bissell, but aside from CBC there's nothing in my area that is unique like Allagash/Oxbow.

    I only really drink Bissell when I'm up in Portland about once/year, but I still like them a bit better than Goodfire or Battery Steele. But it's so close at this point between so many breweries making New England IPAs, that's there's almost no point in debating.

    I will give Bissell this, they now have lagers too, so there's more variety at Bissell than the other two.

    I also really love Austin Street, because Patina is sort of unique in that there aren't too many outstanding New England IPAs/pale ales that are that good at 5.3% ABV. Plus they also dabble in other styles and definitely aren't an IPA factory.
     
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  36. mrmattosgood

    mrmattosgood Initiate (126) Nov 6, 2010 Monaco
    Trader

    This is why Austin Street is typically the other Portland brewery I visit. Its Allagash and Oxbow, but if I’m visiting a third, it’s usually Austin Street. Patina is great. I love their milk stout. Kolsch is as solid a kolsch you’ll get ‘round these parts.
     
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  37. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,787) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    Have you tried the Pilsner or saisons from Goodfire? They have canned Can’t Stay Long Pilsner. I enjoyed and was happy to see them branching out more. Tried a few saisons at the brewery too.

    I’m in Portland quite often. My wife lives there M-Thurs currently and we have an apartment. When I head there my “always” stops are Oxbow and Novare Res. Allagash if I see something I want retail or onsite. Austin and Goodfire would be next in line.
    Bissell only if I want cans. I dislike the “vibe” of the taproom.

    If I am bringing beer friends around we will go to Industrial way. I always force everyone to pay their respects at Geary’s. Usually try for MBC too.
     
  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Meyvn (1,101) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    What do you think of the Kolsch at Definitive? I think it's just ok, but I like swinging by there for variety as well.

    And this is why I like to check out as many breweries as I can. When you're only going once/year the portfolio of breweries can change.

    When I went to Goodfire last year it was mostly New England IPAs and some kettle sours.

    Granted I'm an extremely harsh Pilsner critic, but I still like to try new ones when I see them.

    Novare is a great beer bar, but I only go there maybe once or twice on a trip. I want to have more local beers on tap so I gravitate towards Little Tap House and Mash Tun.

    I've still never been to MBC mainly because there's so much in Portland to cram in it's tough for me to get over to Freeport.
     
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  39. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,787) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
    Society Trader

    I have not made it to the new MBC facility but I have heard it is pretty impressive. I'll be checking it out next month. I usually only head up there if I am touring beer friends around or if I want to buy some Dinner bottles.

    Goodfire is definitely mostly NEIPA, but a canned pilsner was a nice surprise. They have a few saison options and I have tried at least two. Looks like I enjoyed but nothing spectacular.

    Little Tap House is definitely one of my top choices for a meal when we are in town.

    Fore River seems to have one of the more diverse line ups and I have enjoyed a decent amount of their beers.

    Another place that never gets mentioned (Scarborough) is Nonesuch River Brewing. The beer is not going to blow anyone's sox off, but their food is very good. We have stopped there during busy summer season to avoid the downtown crowds for dinner a few times and enjoyed everything.
     
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  40. rightcoast7

    rightcoast7 Disciple (331) Apr 2, 2011 Maine

    I used to be moderately obsessed with Bissell, but in the last year or so, I've started to feel like they hit home runs with Swish and Nothing Gold, and everything else hoppy is just okay. I don't enjoy Preserve & Protect or Reciprocal nearly as much as I used to, and Substance I just find disappointing now. I do really like Umbra and their Lagerbier for a change of pace though.

    I will take Goodfire's DIPA lineup (Crystals, Tri-combs, Terps, Meta, Ormus, Hydro) over Bissell's any day, and I think Battery Steele's Flume, TDH Avalon, and much of their Onsight series were also phenomenal in the last year.

    But I agree, at the level of quality all of these breweries are at, it mostly comes down to personal preference.

    Man I used to love Austin Street too, but I have been so let down by them this last year. It sounds cliché, but it honestly feels like everything went south when they opened the new place and upped production. In particular, Offset, Anniversary 4/5, and Neverender are nowhere near as good as they were last year. Their BA barleywine they released in February was just not good at all. I have pictures of the 4th Anniversary beer they did last year and repeated this year, and they don't even look remotely the same. I hope they get back to form, because AS used to be in my top-3 or 4 breweries in town. And I like the staff a lot, so we do still visit, but have been let down more often than not recently.

    Agreed. I haven't had a bad beer from Goodfire, and although it's mostly IPAs, they can do other styles quite well. With such a small space, I imagine they have a hard time keeping up with production of the IPAs enough to do too many different styles at once, but I think they will continue to improve the lineup as they grow. They are currently my favorite brewery in town (very close second is Allagash).

    Have you been there recently by chance? I live in Scarborough and went twice in fall 2017 when they first opened, and the beer was...well, let's just say I didn't like the food enough to make up for the beer. I would love to make it a regular stop though if they have improved. I understand it can be tough sometimes to judge a new brewery or restaurant when they first open.
     
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