The craft beer revolution is big business. And with big business come lawsuits. Case in point, earlier this year Lagunitas Brewing Company threatened suit against Sierra Nevada Brewing because of the way the latter presented the letters IPA on their packaging of, you guessed it, an IPA. This is just one example of the many brewery-on-brewery legal battles being fought in this country.
Like the great American philosopher Puff Daddy once said, “Mo money, mo problems.”
If the craft beer scene could speak, it would holler, “Preach it, Diddy.”
In January, a Maine microbrewery experienced some of the pain that comes with a free market chugging at full speed. The Commercial Street brewery, distillery, and restaurant, In’finiti Fermentation and Distillation, ran into a trademark issue with their name when a South Burlington, Vermont brewery opened with the name Infinity Brewing.
Instead of lawyering up, In’finiti became Liquid Riot Bottling Company.
Around the time Liquid Riot announced the name change, they also renovated their Commercial Street space, taking down the booths on the raised platform that took up the majority of their space. The idea was to create a tasting room vibe.
On a blustery day in March, I head to Liquid Riot to experience the new name and the new space for myself.
What first strikes me as I approach Liquid Riot is that the outside of the building is still plastered with the infinity symbol both on the large wooden sign above the door and on the stack of six oak barrels on their stoop. There doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency to change their name to Liquid Riot as far as signage goes.
When I enter the newly renovated space, all branding confusion is alleviated as my eyes feast on the big open space. Forget that In’finiti is now Liquid Riot, it’s a moot point when you realize how much better this establishment is now that they’ve leveled out the room.
The wildest part: I really liked the space they had before, but somehow, it feels better now. Standing in the new room and cradling a pint of citrusy I.P.A.wesome Vol. III, I realize how claustrophobic the old setup made me feel. The room breathes better now. The energy flows.
Despite the new name and space, the beers haven’t changed. And that’s a good thing. When people ask me where they should go for a beer in Portland, Liquid Riot is one of the first beer rooms that comes to mind, because they brew an array of styles from American ales, to Belgian farmhouse ales, to stouts and porters.
On my March visit, I sampled a number of offerings. The Irish Goodbye Stout is a full-bodied homage to Guinness. The pilNZ drinks like an India Pale Lager with a sharp pilsner finish. The Lumber Smack DIPA is a malt heavy, bitter imperial IPA. Those are three very different styles, and they were all well crafted. That’s no small feat.
Liquid Riot remains one of the best rooms in Portland to drink local beer. The renovation was a success, they installed a shuffleboard table, and soon the back deck will be open. Enjoy the riot.
50 Commercial St, Portland | liquidriot.com
HOURS: 3-11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Noon-11 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, Noon-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
ON DRAFT: Over 15 house-brewed beers and a selection of house-distilled spirits
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS NEAR YOU
Rising Tide Brewing Company Showcase
The Great Lost Bear, 540 Forest Avenue, Portland
5 to 9 p.m. Thursday
This showcase is a day after Rising Tide Brewing Company releases the 2014 Maine Madness Beer Tournament winner, Maine Island Trail Ale, so there’s a strong chance that this showcase will feature the year’s first run of this award winning session IPA. The Bear’s showcase will also include Rising Tide’s Daymark Ale, Zephyr IPA, and Calcutta Cutter DIPA.
Women’s Bourbon Tasting
Salvage BBQ, 919 Congress Street, Portland
6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday
Are you a woman? Do you love bourbon? If you answered yes to both these questions then get out to this event at Salvage BBQ. It turns out that Salvage not only has a great local beer list and brilliant house-made BBQ, but, unbeknownst to many Portlanders, they also have an impressive bourbon list. This pay-as-you-go event looks like it has the possibility to be educational, but is guaranteed to be a good time for women who love bourbon.