I dropped by Boothbay Craft Brewery in late July and found a warm and welcoming spot that offers very good beers.

Win and Lori Mitchell started building the brewery and the accompanying Watershed Tavern at their Boothbay Resort more than two years ago and had been planning it well before that, but it didn’t really start operating until this spring.

The resort was the location of the first two summer beer festivals held by the Maine Brewers Guild.

Win Mitchell said the opening has gone well — with one problem.

Lori was diagnosed with a major blood disorder that is related to, but not actually, blood cancer just as the brewery was opening.

“We got through everything with a lot of help from family and friends,” Mitchell said.

Lori is now doing well, with orders to stay at least 4 feet away from all people, take it easy and not do any work.

“She is doing very well at staying 4 feet away from people,” Mitchell said, “and not so well at taking it easy.”

The brewery has a five-barrel system with 10-barrel fermenters, and produces mostly American-style ales using American hops from the West Coast.

In the summer, with the region’s seasonal homes full and other tourists arriving daily, Mitchell said he is selling all of the beer he can brew at his restaurant and at other establishments on the Boothbay Peninsula. He hopes to make some sales to bars and restaurants in other parts of the state, including Portland, once summer ends.

The brewery offered a paddle of five beers — Win Mitchell made the paddle out of a barrel stave — for $15, and I ordered that when I first dropped by at mid-afternoon.

The five beers were 633 American Pale Ale, Dexter “Rippa” Red IPA, Ken Brown Ale, South-Porter and Black Rocks Stout.

The 633 is partly named for the Boothbay region’s telephone exchange, and it also is 6.33 percent alcohol by volume. This is a reddish-golden ale that’s a little hoppy and easy-drinking.

Frank Fassett, an assistant brewer who was tending bar while Mitchell gave a brewery tour to about six visitors, described Dexter “Rippa” Red IPA as 633 on steroids, with a lot more hops added from the boil through the conditioning process.

It’s 6.8 percent alcohol, definitely hoppy but not overly so, and named after a knife used to rip open fish on commercial fishing vessels, according to the company website (boothbaycraftbrewery.com), which was created and is managed by one of the Mitchells’ sons.

Ken Brown Ale was my personal favorite, but I am drinking a lot more browns lately. It is named after the owner of Brown’s Wharf, and is served only at the Watershed Tavern and Brown’s Wharf. It’s wonderfully malty and sweet at 5.6 percent alcohol, with only a little bit of hops in the background.

South-Porter, named after Southport Island at the end of the Boothbay Peninsula, is a slightly Americanized version of an English Porter at 6.1 percent alcohol. It’s richly flavored and easy-drinking.

Black Rocks Stout is named after some ledges troublesome to mariners in the Sheepscot River, and is a souped-up version of South-Porter at 6.7 percent alcohol. The hops is more dominant in this one, and it has a tremendous mouthfeel.

I had my paddle in mid-afternoon before spending four hours volunteering at the nearby Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and made it back to the Watershed Tavern at 8:15 p.m. — just barely in time to have a truly excellent hamburger with blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion, along with a dry-hopped version of 633. It was good, but I preferred the original.

The tavern sells growlers, and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and for brunch at noon Sunday.

WATERSHED TAVERN is holding a special dinner at 6 p.m. Monday featuring beers from Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Del., as well as BCB.

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione has spent most of his summers on Southport Island, where his family has a summer home, and he and the Mitchells are longtime friends. 

Beers from each brewery will be served with each of the three courses, and Sam and Mariah Calagione and Win and Lori Mitchell will discuss the beers while chef Brandon Simpson will talk about what went into creating the food.

Price is $80 in advance at the tavern. Call 633-3411 for more information.

Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

[email protected]


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