Translation: Beer Here - as spoken with a somewhat exaggerated New England accent.
In an ideal world, Chuck and I would go up to Bar Harbor twice a year; once in the spring, once in the autumn. But the last two springs we haven’t been able to go. So yesterday we decided to make a day trip to southern Maine. We figured we would bring a couple of pairs of Birkenstocks to be repaired and we would bring our empty Bar Harbor Brewing Company beer bottles to be returned. We had no plans to purchase any new pairs of Birkenstocks, but we did definitely want to replace the beer!
Note #1: Remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned we had a Special Problem? The lead sentence was: “Chuck and I aren’t big drinkers.” That’s important to keep in mind as we go along.
So off we went. The day was sunny, in the mid to upper 80s (30 C), and much drier than it had been recently. We stopped for lunch at Flo’s in Cape Neddick. Totally decadent, totally yummy. Then continued on up to Portland. Once the Birkenstocks were dropped off for repair, we drove farther down Forest Avenue to RSVP Discount Beverage. We’d never been there before, but a call to the Bar Harbor Brewing Company the night before, meant we had a list of several places that sold “our” beer.
We think of it as “our” beer, because we don’t drink beer. Well, we never used to drink beer until we ordered a bottle of “Bar Harbor Peach Ale” at Poor Boy’s Gourmet Restaurant in Bar Harbor. Out came an ice cold, 22 oz bottle of incredibly tasty, complex beer, made by the very local, very small Bar Harbor Brewing Company. (Note #2: The purists are correct: beer is beer, ale is ale. But to me, it’s all “beah”!) That was several years ago and every visit to Maine, we would buy a mixed case including all of their varieties and make it last until the next trip up to Mount Desert Island.
RSVP had three varieties of “our” beer on the shelf. We asked a very helpful and knowledgeable gentleman if they had any of the other varieties. He said no and then asked if we knew the brewery had been sold. Sold? I swear you could have seen the color drain from our faces! We know we are the kiss of death, but because we had been to the website and called them the night before, we were really caught off guard. Bar Harbor Brewery was literally a Mom and Pop operation. All the beer was brewed, bottled and labeled on site by the husband and wife brewmaster team. While we had been reeling, the RSVP man was still talking and brought us over to the new version of Bar Harbor Brewing Company products, in average size bottles, in a traditional cardboard six pack. Sure enough, there on the side of the label were the words: bottled in Portland, Maine.
We asked the bearer of bad news how many of the original 22 oz bottles of BHBC beer he had on hand. The number involved cases. We told him we’d buy it all. Seriously. We also managed to pick up a bottle of the previously elusive Kahlua Especial. (Please see Note #1). Because I wanted to be certain we could make our mortgage payment this month, I asked Chuck to charge the beer and Kahlua to our credit card, rather than the debit card!
Once the nice folks at RSVP had loaded up our Subaru we drove back down Forest Avenue. Along the way we decided to check out the other liquor stores on our list in the hopes of finding some of the other Bar Harbor Brewing Company varieties in their original form. The first place was a bust, but at the second, finding no parking, I dropped Chuck off and circled the block while he went in and investigated. As I rounded the corner, Chuck emerged, gave me the thumbs up sign and waved me into a no parking area. My car flashers on, Chuck and the staff ferried out more cases of beer to the waiting vehicle. We made a clean getaway, credit card slip in hand and went to our last stop, Whole Foods.
The Whole Foods in Portland, Maine is one of their huge, fabulous, flagship stores. We looked neither left nor right and made a beeline for the beer. Sure enough, they had some of the Bar Harbor Brewing Company varieties in the refrigerated section. We emptied the shelf. Then we found Rob. We explained our plight and our quest. Yes, he had more in the back. "We’ll take it." A dolly was procured. The bottles were counted. We stopped by customer service to let them know Rob had gone above and beyond the call of duty and we checked out, our third credit card slip in hand.
Back at the Subaru, we were running out of room, but we managed to stow the final cases. Laughing, we looked at one another. What the heck had we just done? We pondered the question and continued to chuckle as we drove to a restaurant we had heard good things about on WCVB’s “Chronicle”: “Susan’s Fish & Chips”, back over on Forest Avenue. Chronicle usually makes very good recommendations. In this case, Chronicle was wrong. The food was really sub par. Which in our experience is par for the course in Portland. We’ve dined at half a dozen restaurants, mostly down on the waterfront, and we wouldn’t recommend any of them.
Fed (technically), we drove our precious cargo home. Three hours later, we arrived to find a message on our answering machine. It was our credit card company. They wanted to talk to us about a possible fraud with our card. At first our hearts sank. Both our debit cards had been compromised a few months ago in the Hannaford Grocery store security breach. But as Chuck dialed them back, the penny dropped. Yup. Our credit card company thought that some frat boys in Maine were throwing a kegger! Nope. It was just the two of us. And as we stood in our kitchen surrounded by cases of Bar Harbor Brewing Company beer, Chuck told the credit card company about our adventure and couldn’t resist adding: “But we really aren’t big drinkers.”!