Name: Patrick Hyland
From: Concord, NH
Lives: Portland, ME
Bartending how long: 7 ½ years
Where to find him: Pai Men Miyake at 188 State Street in Portland
Why he’s cool: Beer might just be the love of his life.
“Good people drink good beer.” — Hunter S. Thompson
Where’d you start bartending?
I started at a place called Kelley’s Row in Dover, NH. An Irish pub, so it was really busy.
Patrick Hyland at Kelley’s Row. How appropriate sounding. How did you get into bartending?
I was just looking for a job. Bartending seemed to make sense at the time because I was just out of college and I did need money. And it was a mill town so there wasn’t that much going on there except restaurants. So yeah, it made sense. I hadn’t worked in restaurants before so it was kind of fake-it-til-you-make-it, in terms of “I can do that” and then [I would] go home and read up on the drink. It was before smart phones so you couldn’t really cheat. Now I can be like “oh I know that drink” and look it up on my phone.
Pai Men is now known for having a great beer selection, which you curate. Have you always been super into beer?
Yes. Ever since I got to college. I drank a lot of Keystone Light when I was younger and I remember vividly we had a crazy party and I had a mini fridge in my dorm room and there was a Long Trail Double Bag in it, which now isn’t insane to me, but at the time I was like what is this? And I opened it, and that was the first step towards kind of seeing what beer could be and how different it could be. Because at that point it was just a means to an end, very utilitarian, and then I saw that things could be a lot more interesting.
Tell me about what you do here in terms of beer and what your vision was for the tap list?
We like to keep everything as local as we can. Oxbow is our personal favorite, those guys are amazing. What they do is so special and to be part of that at the onset of their growth is just great. They’ve just been out for a year and a half. Watching them grow along with Pai Men has been a lot of fun. So having something local is very important. We’re gonna start carrying Bunker Beer next week, we’ve got a keg of Rising Tide downstairs, Maine Beer Company, Allagash. But we have something for everybody; we always have Kirin Ichiban on tap. A clean, crisp, Japanese lager. It’s affordable and it goes great with pretty much everything.
Portland is a beer town. Has that heightened your beer geekery?
We’re kind of in a hub of activity as far as local brewing. So that local energy and pair that with Novare Res, one of the best beer bars in the country. I’ve also got a lot of friends at the Black Birch down in Kittery, and they just do amazing things, and I’m learning from all these bartenders and brewers in the area, and the patrons as well of Portland are really looking for fun, different things with a very sophisticated palate that you really can’t underestimate. In the last year definitely I’ve seen my palate mature, and just learning what people are looking for.
There seems to be a big sense of camaraderie in the beer brewing industry, do you find that carries over into bartending as well?
Yeah, I think the brewers love if the purveyors of their beers can do it enthusiastically and knowledgably. Tim Adams from Oxbow is in here once a week and we’re working on a new Stillwater/Oxbow event surrounding a beer they’ll be kegging together. They reciprocate our enthusiasm. And there’s also a professional courtesy among bartenders so if I’ve got a problem with a keg I’ve never had before I can call Shahim from Novare and ask him what he thinks. People aren’t jealously guarding secrets. I feel like sometimes that might happen more with infusions and cocktails, but I think beer the camaradie really carries over into restaurants, brew pubs. If you like beer, you like talking about beer. Especially if you have a couple in you.
Speaking of cocktails, Pai Men’s got some cool ones on the menu. Do you find that you experiment a lot with those?
I experiment here mostly. Often times you read something online, because there are just so many resources, it’s almost dizzying to take in. But usually with drinks I kind of look at what we have with the ingredients, what we have in house, and in the kitchen, and what we’re associated with in terms of the cuisine, being a Japenese ramen place. We have our ginger peach sangria in the summer, or now with our sake sidecar, sake is a versatile and fun ingredient that’s underestimated. I also inherited some cocktails that are so popular I just wouldn’t touch; the Shiso lucky, the Smokin’ Roses, and the Sweet Tart. So we’re always experimenting, trying new things, but also holding on to the best that we had before.
What’s your favorite part about bartending in general?
My favorite part is the beer. Being able to put on tap what I would want in my fridge at home. It’s very rewarding. And just being social, as well. I’m part of a big family so when I was younger I perceived myself as shy, and all the sudden you find out you’re not, you like people, you like talking. It’s really helped me acclimate and become part of the community. People love it when you bring them beer.
When you curate the beer list do you think of it in terms of food pairings?
Definitely there are some things that stand alone. Our menu is very versatile. Our sake list is beautiful, and that’s great for some things. But I think beer is really great with our food. Our beer is made to go with our food. It’s really a perfect pairing.
Do you get hit on a lot behind thar?
I don’t thinks so. I’m pretty oblivious to that; I’m not really good at picking up on that.
Do you have a favorite beverage you’re into right now?
Any beer with brettanomyces in it. Brett is trendy, sure, but you can get so many flavors from it. It’s always an interesting finished product. That and I’ve been enjoying comically smoky Scotch.
Where do you go to grab a drink if you’re not here?
If I’m not here you can probably either find me at Novare Res, because it’s just like homework that is actually fun, and also LFK. The staff is great. I love going to visit their bartender Andrew Barron. He’s worked with us before and probably will again. Actually my favorite drink on the menu right now, the sake sidecar, is a collaboration between me and Andrew. The concept we talked about together. Yuzu sake we found to be the perfect fit because it’s a really citrusy, taking the place of lemon, so it’s not too different, but very full-bodied and very nice.
Do you have any tattoos?
No, your theory about bartenders is crumpled.
Rats. You and Andrew messing it up. One last thing, as Portland’s a “hipster” town, do people ask for PBR a lot?
Not too often, People respond to ‘Gansett really well.
You can stop in at Pai Men seven days a week:
Sat-Sun 9am-midnight with brunch from 9am-2:30pm
Late Night Happy Hour: $2 Narragansetts, $3 Ichiban, rotating tap specials. $5 for 10oz sake hot or cold