Far from the woods of Newcastle, Maine lies a warehouse on Washington Avenue with a rather nondescript door.
On one side is Maine Mead Works – the source of delicious meads brewed all year long. But across the wall is a project that Oxbow Brewing Company has been hoping to unveil for some time – their own Portland-based barrel aging, blending and tasting room. I got a chance to stop in for the soft opening last night, and was immediately impressed.
The room opens up into a broad space, with fresh pine picnic tables to the right, and a wall of barrels subtly concealing a line of stainless steel tanks on the far left wall. The line of quietly-aging barrels, the picnic tables and the bar were lit with a soft candlelight, accented by equally warm lights above the bar and hanging from the ceiling. It almost classifies as romantic.
At the back is an elaborately decorated wall that looks like it is straight out of a classy Maine-inspired interior design catalog. Boxes hold bottles of the different Oxbow beers, glassware, chalkboards and other decorative items are carefully placed there.
The move is a strategic one – providing the brewers with space for barrels as well as a more efficient way to get their beer to Portland and continue to self distribute there. They are also now joining the growing culture of tasting rooms that are happening in Portland – which are becoming more relevant as more new brewers arrive on the scene and small breweries clamor to get their beer in front of more drinkers.
“Oxbow Blending & Bottling” is the name of this tasting room, implying that there will be more happening here than just hanging out and throwing a few beers back. Limited hours for the space, which opens officially to the public on Thursday of this week, were shared on Oxbow Brewing Company’s website:
Update: The weekly hours have been posted and will be Tuesday-Thursday from 12-7pm and Friday-Sunday 12-10pm.
For the soft opening, only one beer was pouring – a light, 5% ABV “table beer” called Continental. Judging by the posted hours, Oxbow looks to be trying to position itself as another social space in the Bayside/Munjoy hill area. Being positioned across the street from Silly’s, next door to Maine Mead Works and a stone’s throw from the rest of “Yeast Bayside” I’d say they’re going to have little trouble doing that.
You can visit the new tasting room beginning on Thursday at noon. (I think the Oxbow brewers may be taking tonight off to hang with Bill Murray).
49 Washington Ave, right next to Maine Mead Works.
Tasting Room Hours: