Seaweed tea: the next big drink trend?

If you go to the Arabica coffee shop on Commercial St. close to the pier, you’ll find a curious offering on their drink menu: seaweed tea.   What impressions first come to mind when you think of seaweed tea anyway? A mouthful of salt water, but piping hot? The company name behind the tea is “Cup of Sea” after all.   Arabica patrons that day simply said that it “sounded interesting,” but maybe they’d try…

Dipping into Dubbel

Welcome to Belgium, loyal reader! We're spending the spring tasting beers from this small country. Last week, we tasted Belgian “table beers”; this, we're moving onto dubbels. This style (like many of the others we'll taste over the next several weeks) has its roots in the traditional brewing culture of the Trappist, a Christian monastic order that originated in La Trappe, France.   Dubbel has an oddly specific origin — it can be traced back…

Keeping Mainers in Maine at the Fyood Kitchen

Fortunately for us, more and more food entrepreneurs are choosing Maine to start up their companies.   Maddie Purcell is the owner of Fyood Kitchen, an "Iron Chef-meets-Paint Nite for foodies" in Portland, Maine.   Although some would hesitate to involve themselves in this type of competition, one of biggest surprises for Maddie has been the level of competence she is seeing in the kitchen.   “Most people are better cooks than they think they…

Swilling Maine Singles

  Close your eyes, loyal reader, and join me on a magical journey. We're going to a tiny country, approximately the size of Maryland, that nonetheless supports three official languages. Citizens here consume an average of 84 liters of beer per year. We're going to Belgium!   Despite its small surface area, Belgium is a giant in the beer world. With a beer culture that predates the crusades, it's no surprise that this tiny country…

It's Tough Being a Food Judge During Restaurant Week

In this city, everybody’s got an opinion. When I’m sitting at a dinner party or a table with friends, I will throw the name a restaurant out there and ask, “What do you all think of Paula’s Place?” (That's a fake name, there is no Paula's Place.) I’ll get six answers. One person will say that Paula’s Place is the best restaurant in Portland. Another will disagree and complain about the service. Another will say…

Over a Barrel with Maine Stout

  Last week's tasting of Barrel Aged Stout was supposed to mark the dark climax of a month-long exploration of darker beers. Then, a blast of frigid air descended, weakening my resolve, and the combined opportunity to taste local stouts, and use the phrase “dark climax,” proved too much. This week, I'll be sipping several local barrel aged stouts. These intensely aromatic beers benefit from a wide -mouthed glass (like a snifter, or a chalice)…

Talking Barrel Aging with Barreled Souls

When Chris Schofield and Matt Mills started Barreled Souls and poured their first beers in 2014, they were still a full year out from serving a barrel aged beer. The brewery and taproom in Saco are distinct in that it ferments all of its beer in oak barrels, a technique first pioneered in Burton-on-Trent England in the 1800s, but fermentation and aging are two different things. It wasn’t until the one-year anniversary party that they…

Explore ultimate darkness with bourbon barrel-aged stouts

It's been a tremendous month of dark beer, loyal readers. We've sipped sweet, milky, and salted caramel stouts. This week, we're going to explore the platonic ideal of dark beers: barrel-aged stout. What could be darker than that? Nothing, except perhaps if a Russian Imperial Stout was fermented in a black hole and served only to people wearing sunglasses at midnight. Absurdities aside, barrel-aged stouts are aged in wooden barrels for as long as several…

What's burning? Smoked beer from Maine

  It's been a pleasure sampling super dark beers, loyal reader. But my palate needs a break from the dark side, so I'm making a momentary detour into an uncommon style: smoked beers.   Long ago, most malts were dried with burning coal, wood, or peat, each of which imparted a unique smokey aroma to the beer. These days, maltsters use kilns to dry malt, which don't impart a smoked flavor. Smokiness is a choice,…

The Clink: Checking in with Mast Landing Brewing Company

We’re now up to 89 breweries and counting in the state. While the concerns about an eventual craft brewery “bubble” make for interesting dinner conversation, the industry in Maine has shown admirably few growing pains. It would be one thing if the recent spate of brewery openings was watering down the standard of quality in the state, but what has happened is close to the opposite. The Maine beer industry is now a thoroughly collegial…
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