Lobster and clams, Round Pond Lobstermen’s Co-op, Round Pond, Maine.
Lobster roll, Fisherman’s Grill, Portland, Maine.
Saison Dell’Aragosta, Oxbow Brewing Co., Newcastle, Maine.
LOBSTER BEER. *Mic drop*
I’m going to be completely candid off the bat that I’m largely using the excuse of lobster beer to talk about my experience of lobster across the state of Maine. Since at least 1836 when the Burnham & Morrill Company started to can lobster for general consumption, lobster has been a universally recognizable foodstuff, if a little exotic seeming (just look at the damn things). Since the 1920s, it began to gain an aura of luxury, in stark contrast to its early years when prisons would serve lobster to prisoners—and prisoners complained about it.
To soapbox briefly, the history of the lobster lends a certain perspective on our culinary mores. If lobster, the very archetype of American luxury food, was once considered repulsive and bizarre, then the future-minded eater ought to be looking to what we find disgusting today for inspiration *cough* insects *cough*. Entomophagy, baby. I bet we’ll all be eating tarantula all’arrabbiata and grasshopper pie (the literal kind) in a decade’s time.
In the meantime, we can all agree on lobster’s luxurious virtues—and Maine’s special claim to crustacean excellence. My only resolution, visiting the state for a recent wedding weekend, was to eat as much lobster in as many forms as I could find it.
Round Pond Lobster Fisherman’s Co-op offered the most conventional lobster experience, a stone’s throw away from Damariscotta, the cute, quaint, very New England town the wedding was held.
- Flavor: 4 / 5. It’s a lobster—you know what that tastes like. But these are lobsters fresh off the boat, boiled by pros, meaty and messy with their simple melted butter dipping sauce and boiled corn sides. All for only $7 a lobster.
- Fun: 3.5 / 5. Right on the water, the view on a foggy, quiescent summer afternoon is gorgeous. Add to that lobster’s status as the only food that you not only can wear (a la lobster bibs), but kind of have to. It’s an interactive eating experience—learning how to crack open lobsters is second only to learning how to use chopsticks in the childhood pride you get in honing your dining chops.
- Funkiness: 1 / 5. Just a lobster.
Fisherman’s Grill in Portland was the product of Yelping “best lobster roll” on the long drive up from Boston. It boasts a four-lobster lobster roll. Four lobsters. Four. Lobsters.
- Flavor: 5 / 5. Four lobsters hits the spot in a way that fewer lobsters can’t. The roll comes full to overflowing with perfect lobster meat—juicy with just the right level of chewy, perfectly mayoed, succulent with flavor. Doesn’t get much better than this. Which is why it was $35.
- Fun: 4 / 5. It’s huge! And you don’t have to crack any shells or anything, just chow in on some lobster meat. Instant fun. Lobster just feels fun, doesn’t it?
- Funkiness: 1.5 / 5. Again, just a lobster.
Oxbow Brewing Company was the weird detour for the sake of getting their Saison Dell’Aragosta, a beer they boil lobsters in (they eat the lobsters themselves, otherwise that would be something I’d love to get my hands on). I couldn’t resist trying it, especially as I’m already a fan of saisons.
- Flavor: 3.5 / 5. A good, solid saison. Ultimately it didn’t taste much like lobster (often the case with crustacean beers—see oyster stouts for a more findable example). But it was a good, refreshing, tart and crisp beer.
- Fun: 3 / 5. Most beers are fun to drink—this one is also fun to talk about.
- Funkiness: 3.5 / 5. Lobster beer! Say no more. This one gets instant quizzical looks from companions and onlookers, regardless of whether or not you are getting strong lobster tail notes from it.