I got to taste my first Oxbow beers when the Great Lost Bear held a special Thursday Oxbow night on Oct. 13, offering four of its beers for $2.99 a tulip glass.

It made me want to move to Newcastle, where Oxbow is located on a farm sitting above an aquifer that provides water for the beer.

Oxbow begins its beers with Saison or Farmhouse ale, which is the beer that farm workers in Wallonia, the French part of Belgium, drank to slake their thirst after a hard day’s work in the field, said Tim Adams, Oxbow’s head brewer. Then they give the beer a (usually) American twist.

“Our mission is to brew beers by their flavor, not by their style,” Adams said when I talked to him at the Bear. But the starting point is definitely Belgian farmhouse ales.

This beer is available now at specialty beer bars — Great Lost Bear, Novare Res and Mama’s Crowbar that I know of in the Portland area — but they also sell growlers on Fridays at the Newcastle brewery, and hope to have 22-ounce bottles available by Christmas. The bottled beers will be brewed and then aged in oak barrels before they are bottled. That sounds like a Christmas present I would like to receive.

At the Bear, I tasted the cask-conditioned farmhouse pale ale, which was about to run out (absolutely smooth and yeasty); its flagship Farmhouse Pale Ale, a much simpler but still good version of the cask-conditioned ale; and Oxtoberfrest, a rich yet smooth mix of German Oktoberfest and Belgian Saison.

Adams, 28, brewer and partner Geoff Masland, and Geoff’s wife, Dash, who keeps the books, do everything at Oxbow. They brew the beer. They distribute the beer, loading it in the back of their pickup for delivery to bars. They promote the beer. And while they are not yet making a profit, they are selling a lot of beer, Adams said, and that is all to the good — except that they have to buy more kegs.

Adams said there is nothing like his mix of American and Belgian farmhouse beers in Maine, and he enjoys seeing people try it.


Narragansett is planning to sell a new year-round craft beer, and you can help choose which it will be.

The options are a cream ale similar to a lager but made with top-fermenting ale yeast and with a fruity flavor, and a rye ale made with a percentage of rye along with the traditional barley. Narragansett made a cream ale in the 1960s and ’70s, but I don’t remember having it.

You can vote online at narragansettbeer.com until Nov. 28, but you have to vote based on the description of the beers rather than the actual taste. I voted for the rye, but I was wishing my computer had a beer-tasting app so I could try them both. And I’m sure I’ll enjoy either one.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer who lives in Cape Elizabeth.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: