January 8, 2021

First Look at Batson River Brewing & Distilling in Portland, Maine

Batson River Brewing & Distilling opened a Portland location a few weeks ago, and thanks to the pandemic (boo, hiss) I opted for takeout from the restaurant. I did take a quick tour of the new location in Bayside and I'm definitely looking forward to spending some time here once it's safe to do so. 

Batson River opened its first location in Kennebunk's Lower Village in late November 2018. The Kennebunk tasting room is a cozy two-story location with a bar on the first floor, a game room upstairs, and an expansive deck that overlooks the village. I've visited a few times, but my interest was recently renewed when it debuted private, reservable "fish shacks" on the patio this fall. 

These cute shacks are heated and offer a sheltered way to dine out during the pandemic winter. We checked one out on a very rainy Saturday in December when it was so cozy inside with the sound of the rain falling on the roof (and many kudos to the servers who had to dash from the restaurant to the shacks in the rain!). 

The Kennebunk location offers a menu of pubby comfort food and drinks made from its own spirits, as well as its own beers. I enjoyed the fruity bitterness of a Jungle Bird, made with the Dixie Bull Rum rum, Campari, pineapple, and lime juice. 

A few weeks later, I heard the Portland tasting room was ready to open. It's located in Bayside near the bowling alley in a building that was formerly part of the Portland Public Works facility. The renovated space is 9,000 square feet (!!!) with 18-foot-tall ceilings and a huge fireplace. 

All decked out for the holidays, it really made a beautiful first impression, with its manor home/hunting lodge vibe. 

The space has two bars, each serving six draft beers from Batson River and cocktails made with their vodka, gin, rum, and bourbon. There's a large center bar and several larger tables in the front room, with plenty of space to spread out (the capacity right now is limited to 50 people). The backroom has another bar and chairs grouped around low tables. 

Upstairs, as in Kennebunk, is a game room with shuffleboard, foosball, and board games. The games are on hold right now, as everyone is to be seated while in the restaurant, but this will be a really fun space once we can mill about again. 

At home, I enjoyed Nashville hot wings with a dry spice rub (there are also barbecue wings) and a wood-fired pepperoni pizza. The menu also offers pub fare like burgers, a delicious roasted cauliflower dish that we tried in Kennebunk, fries, poutine, and grilled cheese and tomato soup. 

One note: the takeout menu is more limited than the restaurant menu, so make sure you're looking at the right menu before you begin crafting your takeout order. 

We also enjoyed beer and a cocktail to-go (pandemic perk!)—the Cleaves Cove IPA, which was a pleasant balance of malt and hops, and the Snow Day cocktail, a horchata and rum take on egg nog. 

It was so fun to check out a new restaurant! Admittedly, it would have been more fun to cozy up by the fire and have a drink in this beautiful new space. I'll leave it up to you whether you dine in or grab some to-go food from the tasting room, but definitely add it to your list of new places in Portland to explore. 

Batson River Brewing & Distilling | 82 Hanover Street, Portland | 207.800.4680