November 30, 2016 by Cody
Urban Farm Fermentory is a nifty company nuzzled in the heart of the industrial area of Portland’s Eastern Promenade, conveniently located close to Rising Ride and One Eye Open Brewing. Wow, I feel like I am writing up a Craigslist ad for a roommate or something. It’s all true though! UFF is a hella nifty gem in Portland!
Unlike many breweries, UFF focuses on kombucha and cider, though they have recently opened their Gruit brand, which is a project focusing on hop-free beer varieties. I’ll admit I am not a huge cider fan, as they tend to be too sweet and cloying; essentially a fancy, less annoying version of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I am not a complete ignoramus when it comes to fermented apple juice though, I am well aware there are many a craft ciders that need tasting.
I arrived with my friends Alia, Omar and Jonas to celebrate my birthday this past summer. Immediately you realize the festive, communal atmosphere of this establishment, and I am not just talking about the cornhole. UFF prides itself on community foraging for many of it’s ingredients, and this concept was on display, with a prominent board asking for community members for foraged ingredients. How cool is that? It’s also difficult to miss the huge selection of tasting options. Unlike a traditional brewery where you’ll be lucky to try maybe 4 or 5 different types of beer, Urban Farm has at least 3 to 4 different types of kombucha, cider, gruit and mead. I couldn’t help but think that if a farm to table restaurant suddenly morphed into a booze slingin’ operation, it would be Urban Farm without a doubt.
It was difficult to choose, but because Gruit was a new offshoot, I decided to focus my attention on beer, along with a splash of summer flavors.
Wow, who needs a strawberry smoothie when you can have a glass of this mead poured fresh? The strawberries are just as fresh tasting, and it comes with the added benefit of having alcohol! What a match a nice match honey and strawberry make. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Semi Sweet Mead
After the flavor explosion that was the strawberry mead, it was difficult to transition over to the Semi Sweet, but I gave’er a go. For some reason, semi sweet mead is kind of a bitch. It isn’t full on honey drenched, and it doesn’t have the champagne quality of a dry mead; it’s just kind of there. I am now wowed by this tasting. I need to try more of this to have a final verdict, so for now I’ll have to put my final verdict on the back burner. WAIT IN ANTICIPATION
gruit w/ pilsner malts and rhubarb
First things first…where is the damn rhubarb? This brew is really benign and flavorless. If you are going to add rhubarb to a batch of beer, it needs to take on the qualities of rhubarb, as there is nothing subtle about that tangy, stringy perennial we all adore. Perhaps in the hot sun this would be refreshing, but sitting in the confines of the Farm, I was not impressed. NOT RECOMMENDED
stout w/ dairy, eggs and bacon
I’m no really sure what the fine folks at UFF were shooting for on this one. First, adding meat and egg protein for the sake of calling it a breakfast stout is just not a good idea, and that is putting it kindly. What is the point? When someone drinks a beer, they don’t want to taste their actual breakfast, lunch or dinner. Second, the point of adding these funky ingredients is totally lost, because NONE of it comes through! Stouts are flavorful beers, and unless your additives can compete with the malted grains, it’s kind of a useless feat! NOT RECOMMENDED
blonde gruit? ale?
Here we go! Now THIS is what summer in Maine is supposed to taste like! A very fruity beer without having an overpowering blueberry flavor. Unlike the Strawberry Mead where there is so much sweetness, the beer balances out the fruit sweetness in this concoction. Also, the choice of using a blonde ale as a base is a fantastic choice, as I’ve been having great luck with blonde ales as of late, and this brew is no different. So fruity, yet so smooth and refreshing. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Also of note, is the ghost pepper kombucha that I sipped off of Jonas’ taster. Man was that good! I regret not going back to get my own, because it was incredible! Alas though, I can’t properly make a judgment call on merely a taste, so I will hold off regaling you all on that fine piece of flavor.
My take away from this experience is that Urban Farm is not afraid to try new things, in fact they are arguably the most daring brewery in Maine. I hope if anyone from Urban Farm reads this post, they won’t be disappointed in my reaction to a couple of the experiences I had, because I wasn’t. While it’s true I enjoyed some flavors more than others, it was well worth every penny I spent for the flight, and then some! It’s truly a flavor adventure coming to this place, and I can’t wait for my next trip.