On a twitter thread from The Clock Out, it was mentioned that readers may like to see local guides to different cities. Well I am not much for a world traveler (I have been to India, however) so I can’t offer judgement on a ton of places. If there is one thing I do know, it is Portland, Maine. I can’t say enough about this little city. If it wasn’t so damn expensive to live there (relatively speaking), the Mrs. and I would consider it. However, we like our little plot of land and the privacy that comes with it, so that won’t be happening anytime soon. Instead, we make the trek into the Portland area on a daily basis, including most weekend days, because there is always something to do in Portland.
Portland is not exactly a destination for a week-long trip, but if you are out there debating the next city to take a trip to explore on a long weekend, I recommend you come check out to the city of Portland. From the working waterfront to the parks of Deering Oaks and the breweries littered throughout, there is plenty to explore.
This is a multi-part series. Click here >>> for Part 1: Food
Portland is a small city. Despite its size, it has been the hub of a craft beer industry explosion. Craft Brewing Business came out with an infographic last year that put the state of Maine on the map for the Beer Industry. This is in part due to the fact that Portland is saturated with breweries. Maybe “saturated” isn’t the correct word because they seem to pop up on a monthly basis, but you get the gist. Whether it is locally brewed beers, drinks on the water, or a lively night scene, Portland has you covered. Since there is so much the city has to offer on this front, I’ve decided to break this guide into 4 sections: Must Hit Destinations, Day Drinking, Cocktails, and Evening Festivities. This is your local guide to Portland, ME – Part 2: Drinks
Must Hit Destinations
These are locations that you absolutely must make time for to experience in Portland.
One of the most well-known beers coming from this place is their “Allagash White.” Don’t let this fool you, though. They’ve got some extremely bold beers and are well known for their sours. Their brewery is probably the most aesthetically pleasing on Beer Alley, but they lack some of the things that other places offer (cornhole, mainly.)
My personal favorite brewery of the group, this place puts out some amazing stouts and equally as tasty Milkshake IPAs. They always have a vendor selling food there too, whether it be out of a food truck or a little table set up inside.
Foundation is not a very big spot, but they have an amazing selection of beers. Raspberry’s My Jam may be the best fruit sour I’ve ever tasted. Their flagship beer Epiphany is also one of the more iconic hazy IPAs out there. So good.
- Austin St
Austin St Brewery is ranked low on my end because it is freaking tiny in there. But a lot of people hold their beer in high regards. It is good, I just like the other spots on Beer Alley better. Their Six Grain stout was one of the best beers I’ve had there.
- Battery Steele
I love Battery Steele. As far as breweries go, it’s nothing special. As far as their beer goes, it’s near the top of the list for me. Flume is delicious and will put you on your ass if you aren’t careful. It does not drink like a DIPA. They are ALWAYS doing experimental series so there will never be a time you won’t be able to try something new from these guys.
- New England Distillery
I’m not much for liquor but a buddy ordered a drink made with their Gin and I did not hate it.
Heading north into the city on 295 you can see Thompson’s Point. Home to concerts, food truck festivals, and of course Bissel Brothers. The Substance is what many consider to be the standard for New England style cloudy, citrusy IPAs. Some people say it is overrated, but I disagree. There is a reason everyone loves it. I mean Swish is better, but you need to decide for yourself on if it is up to the hype.
You can also check out Cellar Door Winery and Stroudwater Distillery which are both right next door to Bissel. Cellar Door frequently has tasting collaborations with local food vendors which is always super fun.
The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, and all you want to do is soak in the vitamin D and the smell of the salty air, with a drink in your hand of course! These are two of my favorite spots at which you can do all of that.
Portland Lobster Co.
Home of one of the bigger decks in the Old Port and the best sangria Portland has to offer, this is my favorite spot in Portland. You can suck down pitcher after pitcher of their sangria all while listening to some live music (depending on the day). It’s an awesome spot. You can get food too, but that’s not the point.
When I lived in Portland a few years back, a few of us went out and made a day of it during Old Port Fest. We ended up getting into the Porthole after a solid wait only for my buddy to rip a giant hole in the crotch of his shorts while we were dancing on the deck. Hilarious. This place has amazing happy hour specials and is THE waterfront party spot in the Old Port. They frequently have live music on their deck, and everyone brings their dog. The best part about this spot is the fact that the booze cruises dock right next to it so there is always a party.
Alright, maybe you don’t want to go hard in the paint and maybe you are just looking for a night cap after a solid dinner. These are the two best spots (in my humble opinion) for exactly that.
Vena’s Fizz House
This quirky little spot is a gem the wife and I found a couple years back. I just about puked in my mouth when I saw the price tags on their drinks, but they are absolutely worth one drink and one drink only. They are super specialty mixologist nonsense, but they make black raspberry bourbon frozen thing that is *fire emoji*. They have nonalcoholic fizzy cocktails for your DD as well.
Blyth and Burrows
Okay so here’s the deal. This may be the coolest bar in the old port. Or should I say the coolest 3 bars in Portland. This is a spot for adults. Unless you are young because then there is a secret spot in here where a younger, wilder crowd generally gravitates to. It’s a cool concept and you should probably just check it out for yourself because I probably sound like an idiot trying to talk about it. They have cocktails and craft beers and good times.
If you are trying to go out and have a night on the town, the Old Port is jam packed with bars that offer a good time all within like, 3 blocks (which for reference, is like 1 block of a real city.) These are my spots. They seem like surface, mainstream picks, but that’s because they never disappoint when you are getting a little rowdy.
This is a “country bar”. Although everyone that goes here is pretty much pretending to be “country” by sitting on tire swings in the one flannel shirt they own, sipping whiskey out of a solo cup and listening to what is largely new age lame country music, this place is fun. The Mrs. hates it for some reason. Probably because it is always packed to the brim and is impossible to get a drink past 11pm. Regardless, I seem to always have a good time here when am out with the boys. It’s kept pretty clean, the bartenders are…nice…and it is right on Wharf St so if you really hate it you just stumble out the door and directly into another spot 4ft away. I realize I didn’t do a ton to sell this place, but really. It is fun.
Classic two story Irish pub with bars on both floors, with amazing live music on Friday and Saturday nights? Count me in. Every single time we are out on the town we hit Bull Feeney’s, along with most everybody else. The bathrooms take a lot of abuse, I’ll admit that. But this place is a must hit strictly for their live music scene and the fact they can hold some many bodies. Don’t even get me started on this place during St. Paddy’s.
This is such a two headed monster. I love Oasis, but I also can really, really hate Oasis. The patio outside is one of the best party scenes in the summer. The place has long pong, connect four, giant jenga (for you inconsiderate assholes) and is high energy. Plus, they’ve done some renovations that have expanded the inside to allow room for live bands in the winter instead of Oasis just being a summer spot. However, when I get dragged to the club upstairs, I walk out of there feeling like I need a shower and to burn the clothes I’m wearing. Immediately. Not good. Even still, there is a reason this is always the longest line on Saturday nights in the summer. The multiple bars makes the wait times generally acceptable, the bar tenders are all friendly, and there is never a dull moment here.
Old Port Tavern
You down with OPT yeah you know me! It’s dark. It’s grungy. The drinks aren’t even that good nor are they well priced. But they have the best beats and this is the palce to go if you are trying to dance to some good music. Any night ended at OPT is a good one.
Now I have omitted quite a few spots I’d like to recommend but you’d probably be reading forever if I listed every spot I loved. Hit me up on Twitter @207Cush if you’d like more and follow me on Untappd @207Cush for reviews of all the amazing beer here in Portland!