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Susan and Ted Axelrod

Susan and Ted are a writer and photographer team who met while working for a magazine — Susan reviewing restaurants and writing food features, Ted photographing them. When Ted left the magazine for a freelance career, they launched their blog, Spoon & Shutter in 2010 as a way to keep doing what they love, together. After many years in Northern New Jersey, they are thrilled to be living in Maine, where Ted's clients occasionally include restaurants and food businesses. When they're not working, cooking, rehabbing their old farmhouse or hanging out with their two cool dogs – Ella and Dixie – they're having a blast exploring this spectacular state. To reach Susan, email saxelrod [at] or follow her on Twitter: @susansaxelrod To reach Ted, email ted [at] or follow him on Twitter @TedAxelRodPhoto .

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Spoon & Shutter with Susan and Ted Axelrod
Posted: February 3, 2014

Run of the Mill Public House in Saco: A serendipitous stop for Maine beer

The bar at Run of the Mill Public House.

The plan was to scope out Biddeford, following up on my colleague Heather Steeves’ post from last week, The Williamsburg of Portland is …  . Yes, once-gritty Biddeford is apparently coming up in the world, thanks in part to cheap rents and plenty of available space for restaurants, shops and breweries.

This sign did its job to draw us in.

We took the slow route south, meandering down Route 1 past motels and ice cream stands shuttered for the season and Saco’s snow-covered amusement parks. Once in Biddeford, we drove down Main Street, planning to park and search out the places putting the town in the spotlight. But crossing the Saco River, we found ourselves at the Run of the Mill Public House & Brewery and since it was past noon, thought we’d fortify ourselves for exploring with a snack and a pint.

A Smelt Camp Strong Ale.

The pub is decorated with local memorabilia.

The pub on a Saturday afternoon.

A growler and the day’s tap lineup.

That’s where serendipity kicked in, prompting us to stay put for much of the afternoon, chatting with the bartender known as “Coach,” listening to identical twins Jan and Jean LaRiviere — Biddeford natives who we had the good fortune to wind up sitting next to at the bar — tell us about fishing for smallmouth bass in the cleaned-up Saco River, and eventually, meeting brewer Nate Duston for a tour of the brewing operation.

Run of the Mill regulars, identical twin brothers Jean (left) and Jan LaRiviere.

The brewing operation is visible from the pub.

Some of the Run of the Mill beers.

Brewer Nate Duston in the brewery.

Run of the Mill is housed in part of what was once the largest cotton mill in the country, a sprawling complex of brick buildings on Factory Island in the river that separates Saco and Biddeford. In addition to the pub and brewery, the former mill has also been converted into offices and apartments and a satellite campus of the University of Southern Maine. On Saturdays, it is home to the Saco River Winter Market, considered by many to be one of the best indoor farmers markets in Southern Maine.

Clockwise from top left: what’s brewing; Alewife Ale fermenting; one of the malts.

The 14-barrel brewery usually offers 6-7 of its beers on draft, plus two guest taps. We just had excellent chicken wings, but judging by the happy groups sitting near us, the food is as much of a draw as the beer. Specials on Saturday included Sunset Farms Organics greens salad with bosc pear, gouda, scallion, cranberry, cashews, Pineland Farms cheddar & honey blood orange vinaigrette and Dijon & walnut-encrusted rack of lamb with rosemary, fennel, butternut squash & a port wine reduction served with bourbon brown sugar whipped sweet potato — both good reasons to go back.

Remains of excellent chicken wings.

Brewer Nate Duston holds malt.

Tools of the trade.





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