What Is a Hop-Free Beer? And Why Is It So Delicious?

By: Spike Carter

"While low-alcohol Kombucha-fermentation is this Maine brewery’s bread and butter, the team also makes cider, mead, and eclectic beer. UFF’s draft-only Harvest de Gruit is made with a rotating selection of mostly foraged natural flavors (basil, dandelion, juniper, et al.). The recipe may change, but the result is always the same: a refreshing outdoorsy crusher."

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Written by: Dave Patterson

"You did it. You survived another holiday season of feasting on various roasted meats, consuming an entire gingerbread village and washing it all down with heaps of craft beer.

But you didn’t get through it unscathed. Your holiday war wounds are a thickening waistline and an intestinal track screaming for respite.

With New Year’s resolutions hanging in the collective unconscious, I thought it time to do a little research on ways craft beer drinkers can help their bodies.

There are a few approaches to detoxifying. You can go the extreme route: an intense juice cleanse where you cut out all beer and food and take yourself to the edge of sanity. Or you can go the more temperate course of making a few conscious adjustments to your everyday life. Below you’ll find that I eschewed the Puritan-inspired cleanses and went the moderate route. (Note: I’m not a health-care professional, I’m a beer writer, so be sure to consult your doctor.)

Over and over in my research, milk thistle came up as a leading supplement for cleansing the liver and kidneys. As with most supplements, the jury’s still out on whether it actually works, but the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that milk thistle may protect the liver from toxins, while having antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I picked up a bottle at Whole Foods. It was a bit pricey, but my liver and kidneys have earned it.

Kombucha is tea fermented in a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (also known as SCOBY). This ancient beverage is loaded with probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins that aid in detoxifying the body. It does contain trace levels of alcohol, but only about 1 percent. Luckily, Portland’s Urban Farm Fermentory brews a delicious lineup of kombuchas. Owner Eli Cayer explained to me that UFF’s kombucha contains all the known health benefits. “We at the UFF believe that directly detoxing the body reduces the load on your liver and is the number one thing a truly raw kombucha does for you,” he said. Don’t be scared by the word ‘raw.’ UFF’s kombuchas are clean and delicious. My favorite is the ginger. (Even my non-alcohol-drinking mother loves it.)

If you’re looking to flush your system of toxins, forget the “eight 8-ounce glasses a day” maxim. To really detoxify our kidneys and livers, most research suggests consuming closer to 100 ounces of water daily. According to “The Conscious Cleanse,” a person should drink half their body weight in ounces each day. That’s a lot of hydrating, but craft beer fans owe it to their kidneys and livers. Adding fresh, organic lemons to your water will further help detoxify your gut, boost vitamin C levels and give an energy bump.

“The Nutrition Bible” states: “Moderate drinking lowers your risk of dying of heart disease by 30 percent.” Here’s some more good news: moderate drinking may also lead to 60 percent fewer colds. When I read this, I was like, “I knew it. All this beer drinking is good for me.” Then I read on: “A problem with alcohol is that few people can limit themselves to one or two drinks a day.” Ain’t that the truth. But it seems that the answer to being healthy isn’t to cut all beer from our diets. Two delicious craft beers a day, and I’m still living a healthy life? I’m in.

I’m happy to report that the Maine craft beer we drink isn’t as harsh on our bodies as some macro beers that contain GMO corn syrup and rice, along with other modified ingredients. Drinking locally is healthier — as long as you’re not slamming back a fridge-full of double IPAs, of course.

With a number of new Maine breweries set to open in 2017, we need to take care of our bodies so we can keep imbibing in this golden age of beer. Cheers!"


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Drink to your health at Urban Farm Fermentory

 Written by: Katy Kelleher

"For years, ladies with yoga-toned arms and expensive sweatpants have been preaching about the benefits of Kombucha. “It makes you glow!” they say. “It can pretty much cure cancer!” some have claimed. “It’s so delicious!” they cry, between sips of the weirdly spicy, disturbingly funky brew.

I want to be the kind of person who digs kombucha, but sadly, I am not. Fermented tea does nothing for me. The price tag makes me grimace, as does the unsettling bubbly feeling it leaves in my stomach.

And yet, I adore, absolutely love, will pretty much kill for a glass of Urban Farm Fermentory cider. Made by the beloved kombucha, mead, cider and gruit brewer in Portland’s “Yeast Bayside” neighborhood, this delicious drink is just a hop, skip and a jump from kombucha. It’s made by a similar process of wild fermentation. It has a similar mouth feel. But for me, it’s a far superior beverage. And the reason for that is simple: alcohol.

You know that old Bagel Bites commercial? I find myself singing a modified version of that jingle whenever I leave Urban Farm Fermentory with my growlers filled: “Cider in the morning, cider in the evening, cider at suppertime. When alcohol’s in apple juice, you can have cider anytime.”

Part of what makes UFF cider so delicious is the lack of additives. Many ciders are overly sweet and cloying, chock full of empty calories and additional sugar. While some of UFF’s brews do feature natural sweeteners, my favorite options are dry, crisp and refreshing. There’s a hint of funk in every glass — a slight smell of wet hay — but for me, this is a pleasant reminder of its natural origins, like when you find a clump of dirt stuck to a lumpy red potato.

Furthermore, the UFF headquarters and tasting room is a wonderfully happy, hip place to be. Art adorns the walls and bunches of wild foraged sweet fern hang from the rafters. The colorful paintings and mismatched furniture, coupled with the bunches of herbs and chunks of chaga, make it feel as though you’re hanging out in the home of a 21st-century hedge witch.

On Saturdays, UFF holds a makers’ market, where local craftspeople can sell their wares. On weekday afternoons, visitors from out-of-town hang out at the bar, tasting and testing the various brews. The company also hosts foraging expeditions, where would-be wild food eaters can learn what botanicals are ripe for the picking.

While the tasting room isn’t a bar in the traditional sense, it can function like one — but only if you get there early. For most of the week, it closes at 7 p.m., which means this isn’t a late-night spot. It’s better for sipping and sampling (not hardcore drinking).

However, it’s a perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon with a group of friends. There are free samples of many brews, and if you happen to find one you particularly love, you can buy a growler (or four) and bring some home, thus creating your own little craft cider bar on the couch."


See original article here.

Craft Beer Guide to Maine: 5 Places To Drink Beer in the Pine Tree State

By Nathan Borchelt

"I swear I’m not making this up: when my wife and I got to the Urban Farm Fermentory, a basket-weaving class was happening in the courtyard just outside its expansive property. Inside the massive space, the hippy/hipster vibe continued, like something out of a feverish Portlandia dreamscape. But in a good way.

As its name proclaims, this “experimental urban farm” and community engagement hub is focused on making authentic fermented beverages—kombucha, cider, mead, and gruit, using local and foraged ingredients whenever possible. They even have a sign asking for donations of any herbs or other ingredients that you might have in abundance.

We opted for a flight of kombucha, cider, and gruit (I find mead to be too sweet), and it was a spectacular tour of different, bold flavors—sour, sharp, herbal, earthy, sweet, and spicy. The three gruits—an ancient method of beer-making using herbs—won’t replace my love of West Coast IPAs, but the ciders were refreshingly tart and funky, a far cry from the saccharine sweetness typical to most mainstream versions. And the kombuchas were a revelation, particularly the one made with ghost pepper. The heat didn’t punch you the way that pepper’s reputation would have you believe. It was subtle, coming on quietly, artfully at the end of the beverage’s sour notes.

The menu is entirely seasonal—naturally—and they also offer 32-ounce growler fills. They also distribute bottled kombucha throughout the state, as well as in Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, and Washington, DC."


See the original article here. 


Christopher Strait on "Fuhmentaboutit!"

Catch UFF's Chris Strait on "Fuhmentaboudit"! The episode aired on Oct 3rd, and includes talks from many brewers. We recommend you listen to the whole podcast, but if you don't have the patience, you can catch Chris in the last 15 minutes of the podcast. 

The episode is live on the Heritage Radio Network website HERE, Episode 118. 




Top 10 Craft Breweries in New England (2015)

"Portland’s Urban Farm Fermentory focuses on an experimental craft approach to cider and kombucha production. The latter—which, when made traditionally, pushes well past the .5 percent alcohol-by-volume threshold and requires identification for purchase—has proven to be its bread and butter, with keen demand from a fervent, rapidly expanding fan base. Things got particularly exciting when UFF began blending and incorporating the seemingly very different beverages. Case in point: when Urban Farm Fermentory aged a kombucha in oak barrels that had previously held a cider it made (after originally housing Jim Beam bourbon). Consider arbitrary genre lines blurred."

See original article HERE

Find us at Hannaford!

Fresh Magazine--a Hannaford publication--featured us in their September-October 2016 issue. Take a look HERE.

Pull out all the hops - mainetoday

"On a sunny day in July, I headed to Urban Farm Fermentory in search of gruits. Its tasting room is a kaleidoscopic mash-up of spray-painted walls, thrift-store accouterments and industrial concrete floors, with agrarian undertones of bundled rosemary and fungal material soaking in jars. The name is fitting: the space feels both urban and agricultural, making it the perfect setting to try an ancient beer style brewed in the modern world of iPhones and Donald Trump.

On my visit, there were three gruits on draft: Strawberry Lager, Sweetfern Lager and Beet Red Nitro. By the names, it’s clear that these gruits lean toward the natural flavors of local farms to garner their taste.

The tasting room attendant explains that its gruits are brewed with 10 percent of the hops used in the production of regular beers. While they’re not hop-less, the aroma from these gruits tells you you’re embarking on something different.

The Sweetfern Lager has a bright but mild aroma of fresh herbs. The flavor is light, highlighting refreshing earthy flavors interplaying with the bite from the lager yeast. This beer is more refined than some of the experimental gruits I’ve tried. Since a lager isn’t known for big hop flavors, it seems like a great choice for a gruit.

The Strawberry Lager rides a similar line as its Sweetfern counterpart, but the strawberry gives it a more robust flavor. Both of these beers are perfect for a hot July day.

The Beet Red Nitro gruit is brewed with beets as the primary flavoring agent and poured on nitro, giving it a big mouthfeel. The sweetness of the beets really shines through.

It’s funny; I didn’t find myself missing the hops in these beers. Surprisingly, without hops, they still taste like beer. Urban Farm Fermentory’s gruits are balanced, clean and impressive.

Do not fear the gruit. Head to Urban Farm Fermentory and taste an ancient beer style that satiated our ancestors long before the arrival of the now ubiquitous hop plant."

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36 Hours in Portland - N.Y. Times

"Rent a bike at CycleMania in East Bayside and hit the trails. One choice for an hourlong ride is the Back Cove trail, which curves 3.6 miles around a circular cove. Then refresh yourself with kombucha at Urban Farm Fermentory. In a town where distilling and fermenting are apparently native skills, Urban Farm, in a warehouse-type space, is evidence of Portland’s entrepreneurial zeal. In addition to fermented tea — recent flavors included mint nettle and turmeric — you’ll find mead, hard ciders and gruit (beer with herbal flavoring). A flight is $5."

See original N.Y. Times post here