WALDOBORO — Even though it feels remote, one of the latest breweries opening in the Midcoast area is a stone’s throw from Moody’s Diner off Route 1.
Odd Alewives Farm Brewery, founded by John and Sarah McNeil, sits on 22 acres of gardens and forest. The brewery and tasting room are a converted 1850s alpaca barn that sits next to their farmhouse. While John works with a 10-barrel system on one side of the barn, Sarah will oversee the tasting room. With quirky bowed floors, handcrafted counters and bar handmade by John, a woodstove, and plenty of seating and games, this old, rustic, barn feels more like a welcoming clubhouse.
John McNeil started off his brewing career working for the original Sea Dog on Mechanic Street in the early 1990s.
“The model we’re going for, as we are a farmhouse brewery, is to lean more toward that kind of Maine-American farmhouse style, with beers taking after a Franco-Belgian history,” he said.
Sarah McNeil, a former teacher, now full time gardener, will be harvesting the farm’s produce with many of the items ending up as ingredients for some of their brews.
“I think we just wanted to do something a little bit different and combine our talents,” said John McNeil. “We’re growing some of our own hops, botanicals and fruit and will try to use as much local ingredients as we can; for example, we have a neighbor who has an apiary, and who offered us some honey. So, we had the opportunity to make a farmhouse ale with honey. For our opening, we’ll also feature a lighter grisette, a good drinkable beer for the summer months.”
The brewery also hosts a one-barrel system for the McNeils to experiment with.
“We can do test batches in this, but we can also brew a small batches,” said John McNeil. “Sarah just tapped the maple trees. We replaced all of the brew water with sap and we can offer on a limited scale, a dark, strong ale from that. Those are going to be the kind of small batches we’ll only offer in our tasting room.”
The maple-brewed beer is called Odd Wood. The honey-brewed beer is called Odd Buzz. All of their brews will start with Odd.
Odd Alewives is a name they came up with after researching Waldoboro’s local history.
“The Medomak River is important to the town and it turns out the English translation of Abenaki word for Medomak is ‘many alewives,’” said John McNeil. “Everyone knows of the alewife as the fish, but, a lot of people don’t necessarily know that the term ‘alewives’ is for women who used to brew all of the beer in villages. As for ‘Odd,’ well, we like quirky things.”
The farm’s rhythms will be a part of daily life for the McNeils, who are as they say ‘living the dream’ to be able to work from home and offer their property as a destination.
“That was a big goal for us to have a life and to invite people to our home, where we grow the ingredients ourselves and brew the beer,” said Sarah McNeil. “We’re also planning on having outdoor events once we get going. There are trails in the woods. We just want people to come and enjoy themselves.”
Their soft opening is May 3 with a grand opening planned in June when the gardens are planted.
For more information on Odd Alewives Farm Brewery, visit the website.
All photos by Kay Stephens
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org