I once heard the poet Derek Walcott read a poem where in it he vows not to write any more poems about the moon. That’s the way I feel about writing about beer and beer joints. Wolcott has the moon; I have beer. If I indulge every writing whim I have for praising an IPA that is part of the microbrew renaissance or a bar for their beer selection and atmosphere, I’d have a full-time job. (Hey, that actually sounds like a great job. I’ll look into it.) I’m trying to keep my writing topics varied, broadening my horizons beyond the establishments I haunt. I want to be a well-rounded man of letters, for God’s sake.
No more writing about beer or beer rooms!
Well, maybe just one more piece. You see, In’finiti, the newest endeavor by the guys who opened Novare Res off Exchange St., isn’t simply a taproom with the choicest microbrews and a good atmosphere for getting loose on a Friday night. In’finiti is an experience.
I’m going to defer to the Bollard’s article on the raison d’etre of In’finiti, a solid piece published in March. They do a nice job explaining why this place is localvore bliss.
Instead of praising their noble made-in-house, consumed-in-house mission, what I want to highlight is the inspiring control of space that In’finiti boasts. The guys did a supreme job designing and defining the space that is In’finiti. It’s a place you want to be in. In short, it’s spatial bliss.
Quick tour: when you walk in, you’re greeted by a still behind a pane of glass. Yeah, a bon-afide still. Immediately, your eyes are satiated. Continue into the big open room, and you’ll find a beautiful bar that I was told was made from a single black walnut tree that fell in the Philadelphia area. Behind the bar are the shiny copper brew kettles. Before continuing, order one of the beers on tap that was made in said brew kettles. Got a pint? Good. Now turn around from the bar and look at the raised dining area. Notice the materials they used for the floor? That’s repurposed wood from an old barn in Canada. See how thoughtful every inch of this place is thus far?
Impressed? I haven’t even described the real genius design touch these guys added to their space. If you look closely at the wood slats along the railings of the raised dining area, on the body of the bar, and on the lights affixed to the walls, you’ll see that the pieces of wood are curved. Why are they curved? Because they are pieces of old Jim Beam bourbon barrels. In’finiti acquired the barrels from Allagash Brewing Co. who had used them to age their Bourbon Barrel Black beer. Go ahead, take another look now armed with this information. I know, brilliant, right?
But wait, as they say in infomercials, there’s more. Look up at the light fixtures. Those industrial metal globes? Those, mon frere, are the metal bands from the bourbon barrels. More imaginative repurposing.
I found myself mouth agape for the majority of my first visit to In’finiti. There’s no place like it in Portland. And that’s saying a lot considering it’s a city brimming with brilliant places to enjoy a locally crafted Maine brew. It’s such a unique establishment that it forced me to break my self-imposed moratorium on writing about beer-related topics. In the same manner, I’d like to believe Derek Walcott still looks up at the moon from time to time and is affected by its gravitational powers to the point of penning a line of verse about its mysterious beauty. It’s ok, Derek, none of us have to be so strict with ourselves.