Friday, November 21, 2014

Pressure Canning Chicken Stock

Since I am apparently in the business of posting useful holiday cooking tips (see my annual Portland Turkey Guide), here's a quickie about canning your own chicken or turkey stock. You'll likely have a turkey carcass next week, so pop it in the freezer or, if you're not sick of elaborate kitchen projects, into the slow cooker to make and can a flavorful stock that is shelf-stable and about a quarter of the price of store-bought.  

Vrylena and I worked together to can this stock, but we each made our own stock separately, which explains the color difference of the jars pictured above. I bought a rotisserie chicken, picked and saved the meat, then used the carcass to make my stock. I also added homegrown parsley, onions and celery, and some store bought carrots and garlic. V. used veggies and a leftover carcass as well as some raw turkey wings chicken parts. 

After a rough chop, all the vegetables went into the crockpot with the bird, I covered it with water, and let it cook overnight. (Note: because my crockpot is not large enough to hold 4 quarts of water and all the flavoring ingredients, I used as much water as would fit and then diluted the resulting stock with water until I had 4 quarts.)

Poultry stock needs to be pressure canned for safety because it's a low-acid food (with a pH of > 4.6). That means botulism spores can survive the boiling water process and potentially grow into the toxin that can be fatal if left untreated. So very much to be avoided. Pressure canning is very easy, although slightly unnerving until you get used to it (and even after you do, steps of it maybe still so).

Pour the hot stock into quart jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jar, and apply dome lids and screw bands until fingertip tight. Place into the canner and fill the canner with 3 quarts of boiling water (or the amount specified in your canners owners' manual). Apply the locking lid and properly vent canner (as per the instructions).

Process quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure with a weighted gauge or 11 pounds in a dial gauge. After processing time, let canner cool completely, remove lid, and remove jars. Let cool on the counter, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours. Refrigerate or freeze any jars that do not seal.

We were left with 4 quarts and 5-1/2 quarts each and were very satisfied without canning project. The whole thing probably cost me $10 for 4 quarts and at most an hour of active preparation. I highly recommend it. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read more on the pressure canning process in Pressure Canning: Beets and from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Portland Thanksgiving Turkey Options

Ah, meat. The epicenter of the local food dilemma. On one side, you could argue that meat should not be cheap. On the other side, you have your desire to serve a huge, perfectly-roasted, glistening bird that will satisfy all of your guests, with plenty of leftovers for the next day. Somewhere lost in all of that is the financial reality that locally-raised or organic meat simply costs more than the unethical alternative. 

But float the idea that people should buy a $150+ turkey for one meal, and some will level charges of elitism, losing touch with reality/the working man, or just straight-up snobbery. To that, I say, do we really want to be eating $.99/pound meat? If we're really going to go on a guilt trip, I could ask is that really how we want to spend our holiday dedicated to gratitude, friends and family - eating inexpensive, inhumanely-raised animals?

Now that I've placed all my biases on the harvest table, let's break down your options for a Thanksgiving turkey in the greater Portland area. We'll see if we can find something that satisfies our desire to treat the animals we raise for food humanely, while not ruining our monthly dining budget simply to alleviate our carnivore's guilt. 

Wolfe's Neck Farm free-range turkeys

As I detailed in my recent Portland Phoenix column, Let's talk turkey, the turkeys from area farms live the best life - free-range, plenty of space, and fed Maine-grown, GMO-free, and/or organic feed. They live their short little turkey lives on a nice farm, pecking at bugs, and free from any worries about predators or crowded conditions. 

Wolfe's Neck Farm's turkeys (pictured above) are free range, meaning they have access to the outdoors, and they're fed GMO-free, Maine grains. The turkeys are $5 per pound (available in 15-20 lbs. and 20+ lbs.) and need to be preordered. Visit their website to pre-order turkeys, and if you're going this route, do it soon, since they will sell out. 

Other farms in the area that offer Thanksgiving turkeys are Frith Farm in Scarborough (organic, $5/lb.), Serendipity Acres (organic, $4.99/lb.), and Mainely Poultry ($4.29/lb). The latter two are sold at Rosemont Market on Commercial Street and need to be ordered by 11/20. A $10 deposit is required at the time of order and the turkeys are available for pick-up on 11/25 and 11/26. 

Chefs at LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street will be preparing turkeys from Rosemont Market for sampling today from 1-4pm, so stop in to see if the free-range, local turkeys taste is worth the added expense. They will also be pouring wines that pair well with Thanksgiving foods. 

Turkeys now available at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's turkeys are available today until the holiday (the store will be closed on Thanksgiving). As usual, TJ's has two options for turkeys: "all-natural," brined at $1.99/lb. (available in 12-22 lbs.) and Kosher at $2.49/lb. (also available in 12-22 lbs.). 

The turkeys at Trader Joe's are sold fresh, not frozen, and are marketed as "all-natural," which according to the grocer means they are high-quality hens fed a vegetarian diet, and never given antibiotics or added growth hormones (the USDA prohibits the use of growth hormones in turkeys anyway). 

The turkeys are raised on farms in California, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, but without any traceability provided to the consumer to verify the animals' living conditions. I've always been wary of Trader Joe's meat, because of lack of info surrounding their sources and at times, the too-good-to-be-true prices. But this is a good option if you are concerned about price and want antibiotic-free meat. 

At Shaw's, there are two options: Shady Brook Farms at $.49/lb. and Butterball at $1.29/lb. The turkeys range in size from 10-24 lbs. Despite the bucolic name, the Shady Brook Farms brand is owned by Cargill, the privately-held company that produces 22% of America's meat. The turkeys are raised all over the country, fed a vegetarian diet, and not given any hormones (USDA prohibited) or growth-promoting antibiotics (a new thing for this brand!). 

Frozen turkey landscape at Shaw's, Falmouth

Hannaford offered 4 turkeys at the time of publication, more may arrive by the holiday.
  • Marval (Cargill brand) at $1.49/lb.
  • Hannaford brand at $1.59/lb.
  • Butterball at $1.69/lb.
  • Nature's Place at $2.49/lb. ("all natural," i.e. no artificial ingredients are added)
Whole Foods Market offers a happy middle ground between locally-raised turkeys and affordable, yet mysteriously-sourced supermarket brands. Their store brand is from Jaindl Farms in Pennsylvania, which is the farm that raises the White House turkey. Multiple butchers recommended the Whole Foods turkey to me; it comes in plain ($2.49/lb.), brined (2.99/lb.), and organic ($3.99/lb.). All Jaindl Farm turkeys are free-range, fed vegetarian feed, and never given antibiotics. 

Whole Foods uses the independent, non-profit Global Animal Partnership's 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards. This rating indicates to consumers the conditions in which the animals are raised, with a 5 being the highest rating. Most of Whole Foods' turkeys are rated at Step 1, which means the animals are not raised in crowded conditions, no cages, and a myriad other requirements that pertain to the treatment of the animals, employee training, medicine, euthanasia, and on and on. You can read the requirements for each level. The Jaindl Farms organic turkeys are rated Step 3, which means they are also provided 2 different kinds of enrichment in their pen (turkey toys?). 

Also available are a heritage breed ($3.99/lb.), a farm-raised turkey from Misty Knoll in Vermont ($4.99/lb.), Kosher turkeys ($2.99/lb.), free-range birds from Plainville ($2.99/lb.), and run-of-the-mill Rancher ($1.89/lb.). All of the turkeys offered here are fed vegetarian feed and never given antibiotics or hormones (USDA prohibited). They are all also frozen and come in a wide range of sizes. 

Turkeys chillin' at Whole Foods, Portland
I called Sam's Club in Scarborough and they are selling their store brand frozen turkeys for $.99/lb. A membership is required to shop. (I called BJ's Wholesale Club, but no one answered.)

In the name of getting this post up, I am going to stop here, but I have a few more sources coming and will update this post. Please share in the comments if you know of other deals or local farms offering turkeys. Happy holidays!

Turkeys priced highest to lowest:

  1. Wolfe's Neck Farm, $5/lb. - order by phone or online
  2. Frith Farm organic, $5/lb. - order by phone or online
  3. Serendipity Acres, $4.99/lb. - order through Rosemont Market
  4. Misty Knoll Farms, $4.99/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market 
  5. Valley View Farm, $4.50/lb. - available at the Falmouth/Cumberland Farmers' Market
  6. Mainely Poultry, $4.29/lb. - available at Rosemont Market or $4.50/lb. through K.Horton's
  7. Koch's Turkey Farm heirloom variety, $3.99/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market
  8. Jaindl Farms organic, $3.99/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market 
  9. Plainview Farms, $2.99/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market 
  10. Jaindl Farms brined, $2.99/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market
  11. Jaindl Farms, $2.49/lb. - available at Whole Foods Market
  12. Nature's Place at $2.49/lb. - available at Hannaford
  13. Trader Joe's store brand Kosher, $2.49/lb. 
  14. Trader Joe's store brand brined, $1.99/lb. 
  15. Butterball, $1.69/lb. - available at Hannaford and Shaw's ($1.29/lb.)
  16. Hannaford brand, $1.59/lb.
  17. Marval, $1.49/lb. - available at Hannaford 
  18. Sam's Club brand, $.99/lb.
  19. Shady Brook Farms, $.49/lb. - available at Shaw's

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let's talk turkey: the best bird for your dollar

Wolfe Neck’s Farm’s livestock manager Ben Jensen is not very happy with the condition of the ground in the turkey pen, thick with mud after last week’s constant rain. He plots ways to dry it out while the turkeys squelch around happily, wandering over to the fence to peck idly at our jacket hems. Jensen is responsible for getting the 300 broad-breasted bronze turkeys he’s been caring for since July to slaughter in a few weeks. The turkeys are in the home stretch, still gobbling and pecking at bugs and their troughs of organic, GMO-free, Maine-grown grain.

Undeniably, this is the best life for a Thanksgiving turkey. On a beautiful fall day, the sunlight glints off the nearby Harraseeket River. The farm’s 2 pet bunnies hop around contentedly. Chickens skitter in and out of a neighboring pen, while the cows watch placidly from across the road. The turkeys live in two large, open-sided greenhouses that protect them from predators, but still allow them to explore the pasture. Jensen hand feeds the birds twice a day and says they live an existence of which we’re both jealous, just eating, hanging out, and sleeping.

This luxurious lifestyle comes at a cost. When I ask how much he’s charging for the turkeys, Jensen confesses he felt guilty setting the price at $5 per pound. The birds range in size from the smaller 15-20 pounds up to 30 pounds. At the largest weight, a turkey could potentially cost $150. Ultimately though, Jensen has to cover the expense of renting a refrigerated truck to transport the turkeys from West Gardiner, after their fateful trip to Weston’s Meat Cutting. The organic, GMO-feed he buys by the truckload isn’t cheap either (while the turkeys are raised organically, they are not certified as such, because they’re not processed in a certified organic facility).

But the pricing of Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s turkeys in on par with other area farms offering a similar product. Farmers at Frith Farm in Scarborough, Serendipity Acres in Yarmouth, and Warren’s Mainely Poultry are all selling their all-natural, free-range turkeys in the $4-5 per pound range. Turkeys from Wolfe’s Neck Farm and Frith Farms can be ordered directly through the farm, while Rosemont Market is taking orders for Mainely Poultry and Serendipity Acres.

Whole Foods Market offers less expensive options, but there’s no option for a trip to the farm to see how your holiday table’s centerpiece spends its days. Instead, the organic grocer uses non-profit Global Animal Partnership’s Animal Welfare Rating Standards. The market’s butchers recommend the Whole Foods turkey, raised by Jaindl Farms in Pennsylvania and sold under the store’s brand. Here, only organically-certified ($3.99 per pound) comes close to the conditions achieved at a local farm, with a “Step 3” rating (5 being the best), meaning no crowding, an enriched environment, and access to the outdoors. To be fair, even a “Step 1” rating is more than your average factory poultry farm achieves.

Eyeing the turkeys at Hannaford that cost $.99 per pound? Wondering if paying 4 to 5 times that is worth it? After all, the price difference for a locally-raised, free-range bird should do more than assuage one’s guilt about eating a living thing, it should offer a noticeable difference in taste as well. Avoid any buyer’s remorse by sampling some Mainely Poultry and Serendipity Acres turkey at LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street on November 15th at 1p.m. Pick up turkey roasting tips, sample some wines to pair with traditional Thanksgiving foods, and see for yourself how those happy turkeys taste. If you’re convinced, head down to Rosemont Market on Commercial Street’s butcher shop to order a bird afterward. The turkeys sell out fast.

Rosemont Market & Bakery | 5 Commercial Street | 207-699-4560 |

Wolfe’s Neck Farm | 184 Burnett Road, Freeport | 207-865-4469 |

Originally published in the Portland Phoenix on November 5, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

BBF Travels: Anju Noodle Bar, Black Birch, Kittery

Our upcoming "Friendsgiving" dinner prompted a trip to the New Hampshire state-run liquor store last weekend to stock up on booze for the party. To liven up the otherwise mundane trip, we stopped in Kittery to explore their expanding dining scene. 

Our first destination was The Black Birch. I'd previously only been for happy hour snacks, so I was looking forward to exploring the menu further. But at 6PM on a Saturday, the place was packed and we could barely even get into the restaurant to give our names to the hostess. A two-hour long wait for a table put us back on the street, wondering where to go in the meantime. 

I knew that since my last visit in April, Anju Noodle Bar had opened next to the Black Birch, so we walked around the corner to see what we could find. Anju was indeed just a block down, in a cute stretch that also contained the new custom cuts butcher shop from former Rosemont Market butcher Jarrod Spangler; an adorable art, jewelry, and housewares gallery; and Lil's Cafe, whose crullers have found a permanent spot in the back of my mind. 

After some window shopping, we went into Anju and were surprised to find plenty of seats available. We were seated along the windows at a bar and ordered some wine and beer, while we waited for our table to be cleared. The space is bright (well, in the daytime at least) and airy, with plenty of bar seating and a few larger tables. There's a few minimalist pieces of art and some air plants hanging on the large, white walls. 

The menu offers plenty of mouthwatering ramen, but we stuck to the Bites/Apps section, so as to not completely ruin our appetites for our meal at the Black Birch. Despite our best efforts at restraint, we still managed to order most everything from the appetizers. 

Of course, the steamed pork bun ($6) was necessary, a few to share even, and the okonomiyaki ($12) or egg pancake with shrimp and pork belly, topped with Kewpie mayo and bonito flakes. We tried to order two, but realized that was probably overkill. Our helpful server recommended a dish we had overlooked, the cabbage and mushrooms ($8). It ended up being a favorite, a great, savory mix of crunchy red cabbage and sauteed local mushrooms. 


The rice cakes ($10) were another great dish that surprised us; I didn't figure I'd be a huge fan, with the addition of Chinese Five Spice to the duck confit, served over mushrooms and two sticky rice cakes, but I was mistaken. 

We actually tried to order the Thai coconut lemongrass soup too ($7), but it didn't make it into our order and by the time we realized it wasn't coming, we also realized we didn't need it. Coincidentally, the same service hiccup happened at the Black Birch too, in that we ordered a slew of dishes to share and two didn't arrive, but that was fine by us by the time we realized. (I think that taking orders without writing them down is fine...until it's not.) 

That aside, we loved Anju Noodle Bar and would frequent this place all.the.time if we lived in Kittery. The atmosphere was quieter and calmer than neighboring Black Birch and would offer a nice spot to eat a comforting bowl ramen solo at the bar or share several plates with friends at a table, as we did. Our meal was shockingly inexpensive; the whole thing was less than $115, including tax, tip, and a bottle of wine (less than $30 each for 4 of us). 

After a constitutional stroll down the main drag of Kittery Foreside, we stopped back into the still-crowded Black Birch to see how our reservation was coming along. We still had a short wait, so we were seated in the back hallway and offered drink menus. 

Every drink on Black Birch's speciality cocktail list was so tempting that I took forever to decide. Eventually, I was drawn in by the weirdness that was Flowers for Algernon: Old Overholt Rye, Fernet Branca, lavender syrup, house tonic, and lime. Somehow, the spicy, medicinal, floral, sweet, and tart ingredients all worked so well together. 

After our drinks were delivered, we were led to our table - a communal hightop in the middle of the busy, busy restaurant. We settled in between some ladies who were, "so excited to go home, drink wine, and smoke cigarettes," and a family...who was probably not going to do that after they got home. 

We again, tackled the menu with vigor, ordering American classics like deviled eggs ($3), house pickles ($3), and Buffalo chicken mac and cheese ($8). Some chicken liver mousse ($5) and duck confit poutine ($9) made our order a little more international, while a beet salad ($10) added some virtue. 

The trio of deviled egg halves came quickly, topped with popcorn and Lawry's seasoned salt, sofrito and chorizo, and sweet potato and toasted marshmallow. Fortunately, one member of our party doesn't like mustard, so there was less competition for the eggs. The group's favorite was the toasted marshmallow, which sounds totally weird, but worked, with the burnt sugar contrasting the sweet potato and rich egg. 

The chicken liver mousse came in a 4 oz. jelly jar and topped with a thin layer of grape jelly. It was so rich and creamy; it disappeared quickly. The salad was up next, a fresh mix of arugula, beets, and carrots, dressed with a zippy pineapple vinaigrette. Of course, the Black Birch kitchen found a way to make even a salad have a decedent spin, topping it with a pistachio tuile or thin candy-like wafer of hardened sugar, butter, and nuts.

The poutine was a lovely mess of crispy fries, savory gravy, melted cheese, and duck confit. But as we neared the end of this eating extravaganza, we realized our palates were being assaulted by this extremely salty dish. Uh oh, were we beginning to see that the Emperor wasn't wearing any clothes? 

Poutine from an earlier (daytime) visit

Fortunately, the pickles and mac and cheese didn't make it to our table; we had thrown in the eating flag by then anyway. 

Our bill at the Black Birch was comparable to that at Anju, and we were again astounded by all the incredible food we'd just eaten at such reasonable prices. We felt that if these restaurants were in Portland, each dish would have been a few dollars more.

Next time you head to Kittery, for some outlet shopping or on your way out of state, stop by the Kittery Foreside and check out Anju Noodle Bar and the Black Birch. If you time it right, you could have lunch at Anju, shop in Folk and MEat, have treats at Lil's Cafe, and happy hour at the Black Birch. Good luck fitting all that into your belly though! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

MECA Mixology and Maine Brewers' Guild Beer School

Writing a book about the history of alcohol and drinking Maine has lead to a lot of jokes about all the "research" I have to do. I have lots of people volunteering to be my "research" assistants (always with the air quotes). 

Recently, I went for some actual research (but still with the perk of drinking) to John Myers' Mixology course, offered through MECA's Culinary Arts Continuing Studies. Myers currently works at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club and is one of, if not the, most knowledgeable bartenders in Portland. 

John Myers at Portland Hunt & Alpine on a Sunday afternoon

Myers started out by saying that he'd structured the class like an art history class, "from cave drawings to the modern weirdos." After a short history of early American drinking habits (a lot of cider, rum) we delved into the first time a cocktail was defined. First appearing in a New York newspaper in 1806, the cocktail was described as "spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters." None of us guessed the answer, but that definition also describes the recipe for an Old Fashioned and thus, our first drink of the course. 

In 1862 flair-pioneering bartender Jerry Thomas published the first cocktail book, The Bartenders Guide (during the Civil War?? Baller). Outside of recipes for drinks titled [liquor] cocktails (a la Gin Cocktail, Fancy Brandy Cocktail, etc.), Thomas' book contains recipes for flips, slings, punch, juleps, mules, and toddies - all things we consider cocktails today. 

Thomas illustrating how to make a Blue Blazer, where flaming Scotch is poured
from mug to mug to give the appearance of "a continued stream of liquid fire."

Harry Johnson's book came next in 1900, with specific information on how to run a bar properly and how to bartend, rather than focusing on drink recipes. Johnson is credited with inventing the Bijou, which means "gem" in French. We sipped the gin, vermouth, and chartreuse cocktail, as John explained that this was the first cocktail to be made in the Manhattan/martini style. 

The Bijou was interesting (strong) - I grimaced as I sipped it, while Myers described Chartreuse as tasting of "100 Christmas trees burning in your mouth, trying to decide which one's going to make you puke." I definitely could taste that assessment. 

After the "temperance weirdos" had their fun, we cruised into Prohibition, where John noted the drinks became a lot sweeter with the addition of fresh-squeezed fruit juices. These new cocktails were made to appease the tastes of young flapper girls in speakeasies, as well as to cover up the flavor of rough-hewn, illegal spirits. I must be one at heart, as our third drink appealed to me the most.

The Jack Rose, made with Laird's apple jack, lemon juice, and grenadine was pleasantly fruity, but tart rather than sweet like you might think. John stressed you must have good grenadine made from pomegranate juice, not red #40 and corn syrup. He recommends Powell & Mahoney's, available at LeRoux Kitchen in Portland or making your own. 

After the Jazz Age, the post-WWII cocktail scene saw the rise of the popularity of Tiki bars and culture. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, aka Donn Beach, a well-to-do beach bum arrived in Southern California post-Depression/Prohibition after spending time in the Hawaiian Islands. Donn opened a bar, tacked up some tiki masks he'd collected in his travels and Don the Beachcomber was born. He befriended the L.A. movie set and began serving them Mai Tais, a double rum, orange curacao, almond syrup cocktail. 

Alternatively, Vic Bergeron aka Trader Vic opened his Tiki bar in the San Francisco Bay area and invented the recipe...not for me to say. Either way, I learned about Creole Shrubb, an orange liqueur made in Martinique, and Rhum Agricole, a Martinique rum made from the first pressings of sugar cane, rather than from molasses made from the dregs of the sugar industry. Rhum agricole is more like wine in the way it's made (Martinique being a French colony after all) and has a lighter, grassy flavor. 

After the Mad Men martini era came the "weird" 70s, full of terrible drinks like Tequila Sunrise, Harvey Wallbanger, Grasshopper, Pink Lady, and of course, a Slow Comfortable Screw. The Golden Cadillac perfectly expresses all of that, mixing Galliano, Creme de Cacao, and cream. Dusted with a bit of grated chocolate, it's the epitome of weird, decedent, glam 70s cocktails. 

Our last stop was the modern weirdos, with the Fatigue, made from a full ounce of Jack Daniels, Luxardo, and Angostura bitters. On top of the full ounce of bitters (note most recipes call for a dash), this drink is shaken, not stirred. A general rule (I learned) is that drinks containing milk, eggs, cream, sugar, and juice are shaken, while an all-spirits drink like the Fatigue is typically stirred. As you might guess, this drink is very medicinal tasting, but also tastes a bit like an Old Fashioned. Aaaaand full circle - see what he did there? Very clever. 

OK, so it being the middle of the day, 6 1-oz. samples of these mostly-liquor cocktails had me a bit bent. But I know it wasn't the liquor talking to say I thoroughly enjoyed this course. John is very entertaining and put together a great syllabus that was a fascinating mix of American history, art, culture, and even architecture. The context he provided was everything. I only hope I can come close to something like that in my book!

Final anecdote: as the class was winding down, a woman asked John, did you go to bartending school? and without missing a beat, he shot back, did you go to walking school? The man clearly enjoys his work behind the bar and it shows. John can be found at the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club where he might give you a mini-lesson if you show yourself to be an interested student. 

And speaking of school, I also attended the Maine Brewers' Guild's inaugural Freshman Orientation as part of Portland Beer Week. Held at Coffee By Design on Diamond Street, the 12 breweries that opened in 2014 conducted an orientation for attendees, pouring samples of their beer and giving us their elevator pitch. 

At first glance, I thought it sounded like way too formal of an event for a casual beer enthusiast like myself. I imagined hardcore questioning of brewers by home brewers and beer nerds. But after the event kicked off, I quickly realized I was at an under-the-radar beer festival. The crowd was smaller; we separated ourselves into groups of 10 or so and spent about 10 minutes with each brewery before rotating. 

I loved being able to try beers from Barreled Souls in Saco, Tributary in Kittery, Tumbledown in Farmington and SoMe in York. It's hard to motivate for a road trip to a brewery (that pesky drinking and driving thing), so I'm glad they came to me! The other freshmen breweries were Austin Street (Portland), Banded Horn (Biddeford), Bigelow Brewing (Skowhegan), Bissell Brothers (Portland), Foundation (Portland), Gneiss (Limerick), Hidden Cove (Wells), and Lively Brewing (Brunswick). 

No pics from the event, was just enjoying it - but our cute Maine Brewers' Guild glasses with my Maine Love print

As the event kicked off, Sean Sullivan from the Maine Brewers' Guild announced Beer School. These events are designed to connect the interested public with industry professionals to learn about beer production, marketing, history, and tasting. Some courses may sound like they're for brewing professionals, like the Art of Blending Barrels and the Perfect Cask. But really, they're all educational and open to the public, with plenty of samples to help you learn through experience. 

I cannot wait for Sprucing with Banded Horn Brewing on Memorial Day weekend next year - learning to harvest spruce tips in Etna (checks map...damn, that's near Bangor, hmm, maybe not) and then enjoying homemade barbecue and beer. Sounds so cool. I guess I have a lot of "research" to do after all.