In less than a month, In’Finiti Fermentation and Distillation has changed its name to a slightly shorter Liquid Riot Bottling Company, and even accomplished an interior change to its brewpub on Commercial Street in Portland.
This comes about two years after owners Eric and Julie Michaud (also owners of Novare Res) initially opened In’Finiti. The name change was to avoid any conflicts with other breweries that have since opened and use the name Infinity. Liquid Riot Bottling Company pays homage to the 1855 rum riots in Portland.
The most notable physical change to the space is the leveled dining/bar area. Where once was a raised floor for patrons to dine in cavernous booths, is now essentially one big room. Liquid Riot calls it their “tasting room,” which it is, in kind of a massive way, but a dungeon-like beer hall is more apt.
While not underground (in fact the building itself is perched about five feet above), the original décor remains, which is somewhat of a medieval-nautical look, with a modern-day industrial flair.
You can expect to see about 12 house beers on tap, all priced at $4.50 to $6.50, and ranging in alcohol by volume from 4.5 percent to 10 percent (their Belgian “Quad” is the strongest). Tasters are available in four-ounce pours for $2.50 (up to four per person per round). The bartenders are good about asking if you’d like a sample, and all are very knowledgeable about Liquid Riot’s product.
On a recent night, one man was sitting alone at the bar sampling a bunch of tasters and having an in-depth conversation with the bartender about the beer, while another patron walked in and asked which beer tastes the most like Allagash White.
The crowd is often a mix of regulars and locals, and in the warmer months, expect a heavy crowd of tourists looking to sample local beer. Any given night can be crowded, but the weekends are especially full. The new beer hall vibe (some communal seating but mostly tall tables with stools) should make for more of a beer utopia, with everyone on equal ground.
The distillery’s house spirits will also be more prominently used in their craft cocktails, such as the Old Port Sour ($11) made with Liquid Riot’s white oat whiskey, egg whites, old fashioned bitters, chartreuse rinse, this is a standout drink. Frothy, sweet and smoky, this is the kind of cocktail that makes $11 seem worth it.
Bar snacks are also plentiful and help to offset the expensive cocktails. All snacks are $8 and under, most are $5, and the servings are generous. The Belgian fries come in small or large (and with house made aiolis), but the small for $4 can easily be shared with two people. Cheap! And “The Weekly Baller” (meatballs) is technically under “Snacks” but is substantial enough to be a meal, maybe with a small salad or one other side and a beer.
Liquid Riot is still in the process of changing out logos on glassware and the prominent sign on the building, but considering how fast they were able to change names and renovate, these last details shouldn’t take long.
In’finiti was a local favorite to some, and to others, a place where the food was too expensive and the atmosphere somewhat ill fitting for a brew house. However, with the leveling of the dining room and the new name, these changes help to appeal to a more casual, community-centered pub crowd.
WHERE: 250 Commercial St., Portland | 207-221-8889 | liquidriot.com
HOURS: 3 to 11 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; Noon to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; Noon-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; Noon-11 p.m. Sunday
AMENITIES: Lounge area with leather couches and wood stove, outdoor seating in summer, lots of seating and standing room, clean bathrooms with three stalls, portholes.
PARKING: Small lot
BOTTOM LINE: Liquid Riot Bottling Company, formerly known as In’finiti, is one of Portland’s favorite brew pubs and distilleries. The big space is great for larger groups, and there’s something for everyone on both the food and drink menus. Sophisticated, but casual, Liquid Riot should be on everyone’s bar list.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes