Inside its storefront in the warehouse district a few minutes from downtown, the fermentory’s founder, Eli Cayer, poured us tastes before showing us around the place, including the garden out back where he’s growing some of the herbs that flavor the beverages. All the sips were delicious, but the one that made us burst into a chorus of “mmms” was a dry-hopped cider, complex and floral from the time the juice spent in a tank with hops. When we tasted the kombucha — ginger first, then blueberry — I asked Cayer how he walks the line between letting this wild-fermented product do its thing and controlling it for consistency’s sake. “It’s always changing,” he said, so timing is key: He supervises the “booch” as it ferments and gets flavored and bottled, all at room temperature. Once it’s transported to markets, it goes into refrigerators, and that’s when it stops changing.
Suddenly, as the sun streamed through the windows, we found ourselves longing to get outside on this unusually warm fall day, and more specifically to get out onto the water. The shortest cruise around Casco Bay’s islands, though, is 75 minutes, which would have cut into our precious eating time. Then Necee suggested that we take a ferry to and from Peaks Island — the most populous in the bay — without getting off. Smart woman. At 45 minutes, it was just enough time to pass some sailboats, see the trees turning colors, feel the wind on our faces, see a gorgeous silhouette of Portland in the late-afternoon sun. And we never got that how-much-longer-is-this-boat-ride feeling.