For better beer – Words and images by Mike V. Sardina
Throwback Thursday – Goods from the Woods Edition
Oxbow Beer is a self-described American Farmhouse brewery. In most people’s minds, the brewery is anchored in Portland, Maine. After all, in this tourist town where most people are coming to Maine for beer, they have their expansive blending and bottling facility. This warehouse is where Oxbow ages all of its funky and sour beers, eventually destined for blending and bottling onsite.
The Portland facility is also home to a cavernous urban tasting room, a spot to showcase not only Oxbow’s beers, but local artists, local musicians, and sometimes, some relatively big-name hip hop acts. It is by all means an urban environment, just a touch raw and edgy.
In contrast, Oxbow’s brewery rests peacefully on an 18-acre farm in Newcastle, Maine, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of the town of Portland. It is a quiet, bucolic, and peaceful rural environment. Amidst a busy (if small) farming operation—with chickens and livestock, orchards, an apiary, etc.—there is a small, but lovely tasting room there, as well.
If one were to be truly ambitious, and in seek of the authentic, if not dichotomous, Oxbow Beer experience, you would sip a beer at Newcastle and stroll around the farm in the afternoon. And then, you would travel to Portland to sip a beer and witness (Mike) Fava spin a DJ set at night. A true balance of rural and urban, of farmhouse and townhouse, of starlight and city-lights… But I digress.
Once a year, for the seventh year now, Oxbow hosts Goods from the Woods, a beer festival that celebrates the rural side of the brewing operation. Among the farmland in Newcastle, they set-up various jockey box stations and pour special and limited beers that often feature ingredients from the farm, as well as old favorites like Farmhouse Pale Ale, Grizzaca, and Luppolo (their Italian-style pilsner).
This past year, on October 21, the event went off on a near-perfect afternoon in Newcastle. The beers were tasting fantastic, and the farm was in full-“bloom” (if you will). In true Oxbow fashion, graffiti artists were fashioning a mural right alongside the bees buzzing happily in their hives behind the pond next to the farmhouse brewery.
After a few pours of beer and a few laps around the farm, the people who made the day trip to Oxbow’s farmhouse were buzzing too.