Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Unemployed in Vacationland, Part 1

As KJ and I headed to Maine this past weekend, I realized that I'm in the unique situation of being literally "between jobs." That's a funny phrase, in that it's most commonly used by people who are unemployed. In that situation, using the phrase kind of implies that you need to tell your audience that you do expect to, in fact, work again. In my case, my last job ended on October 2 and my new gig begins on October 13. So, it also occurred to me that, right now, I'm technically unemployed.

It's also somewhat analogous to when I used to respond, "not right now," when people asked me if I had a girlfriend. Did I feel that it was necessary to point out that I'd been in a relationship before, and that I hadn't resigned myself to a life of celibacy? I don't think so, although I will say that not being in a relationship is a little easier than not having a job. Of course, I have more experience with the former than the latter.

But, I digress. Since I generally try not to divulge too much information about my personal life here, I'll just say that this weekend was quite special and that I'm no longer concerned with having to answer such questions about my love life.

A stop-off for lunch at Gritty McDuff's in Portland got our weekend started. I'd been to Maine's oldest brewpub before, but it was over ten years ago. I recall being not all that impressed, and this visit did nothing but reinforce that. The food was solid, but the beer was a disappointment.

Gritty McDuff'sOn Gritty's web site, they refer to their Halloween Ale as a robust brew, with a "...deep amber color, a bold, malty palate and a well-rounded hop finish." This got me excited to try it, especially considering my recent interest in fall beer styles. But, in all honesty, I'm puzzled by the use of the words robust and bold to describe this one. It's very much a semi-sweet, light bodied offering that's hoppy up front, but then the bitterness fades. I really had high hopes for it, but rating it above average is as high as I'm willing to go.

I thought that the Portland brewer's signature beer, Gritty's Best Bitter, would be their saving grace, but it was not to be. I apologize to Gritty's if I wasn't aware that this was their cask offering, but it was kind of flat. If it was cask-conditioned, I would have been nice if their menu indicated as such. Regardless, my opinion is that it just isn't assertive enough to serve that way. Cask beer shouldn't taste flat, as other qualities in the beer should compensate for its relative lack of carbonation.

On the plus side for Gritty's, I loved the rustic atmosphere, particularly the brick-walled interior and long communal tables. Additionally, the fact that it was very crowded at 12:30 pm, on a dreary Saturday with no great college football on television, tells me that my less-than-enthusiastic evaluation of the place leaves me in the minority.

After a brief visit with some friends in Freeport, it was on to Bar Harbor, a small touristy hot spot that can boast two small breweries and a brewpub. But, you'll have to wait for "Unemployed in Vacationland, Part 2" to hear what I have to say about one of my favorite New England towns.

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