Oxbow is brewing Maine’s ‘Goods from the Woods’ in unique style
A PHOTO-DOCUMENTARY RECAP OF THE ‘GOODS FROM THE WOODS’ FEST
BY THR CONTRIBUTOR BEN MACRI
OXBOW ‘GFTW’ 2018
I want to start out by doing everyone a huge favor. Regardless of your geographic location… or whatever you might’ve already planned for next October… Go ahead and R.S.V.P. ‘no’ to that friend’s wedding… And book your tickets to Maine–rural Newcastle, Maine to be more specific–because you do not want to miss Oxbow Brewing’s “Goods From the Woods” fest. If you’re a fan of farmhouse ales, fall, hikes through the woods, beanies, plaid, pups and…did I mention the farmhouse ales? Well, this just might be the beer fest for you! And heck, if you plan it far enough in advance you may be lucky enough to reserve the Oxbow Farmhouse, the brewery’s on-location Airbnb that sleeps nine.
Many of you reading this [outside of the Northeast] may be somewhat unfamiliar with Oxbow Brewing Company. They are the resident farmhouse-ale-aficionados of the greater Portland, Maine area. Oxbow, founded by Tim Adams and Geoff Masland in 2011, has established itself as one of the most highly regarded and well-respected producers not just in the state, but the whole region. They currently inhabit two locations in Maine. The first is the original Newcastle brewery and production facility where they brew all of their unique farmhouse ales in an old converted barn. All of their beers have a European influence and use spring water from a nearby well on the property. Their second location, Oxbow Blending & Bottling, in Portland houses their mixed-fermentation/”sour” beers in more than 200 barrels and dozens of stainless steel tanks.
Their annual Goods From The Woods Festival, is a direct representation and celebration of all the things that Oxbow stands for. The fest has grown in size each year, with 2018 being its eighth iteration with over 700 attendees. That may seem like it would make for a standing-room-only experience, but the nearly 18-acre Newcastle estate that the brewery encompasses has something (and room) for everyone. The fest starts with a hike through the woods where you come across the first cask: a wet-hopped version of their farmhouse pale ale. Further into the hike you can also sample the honey version made from hives on the estate at cask #2. Hike a little further and you come to a clearing with a tiki bar and a live art wall overlooking a pond. There are nine bars set up throughout this fest including one in the orchard, one within the woods, one inside the brewery and another inside their tasting room. Each bar had between four to six different pours available. Whether you are interested in their First Fruits (a blended mixed-fermentation farmhouse ale aged on cherries, raspberries and strawberries), or the Crossfade (their hop-forward saison fermented and aged with Brettanomyces in stainless steel tanks), or even the Oxtoberfest (a smoked biere de garde brewed with german malts)–there quite literally is a beer for any palate. There is even a farmhouse ale brewed with sea salt and live Maine lobster! (ahem, “lobs-tah!”)
And if one were in need of some extra space, guests were encouraged to explore the grounds which consist of hiking/biking trails, orchards, lawn games, and even rowboat tours with Brewer Mike Fava. The short paddle around the pond was complete with a healthy pour of a barrel-aged version of Oxbow’s flagship, Farmhouse Pale Ale (see below for photo evidence), and a chat with one of the people behind the nearly 40 different varieties of beer that were available for sampling.
The party was initially founded as a way to celebrate what is important to the state of Maine–and of course what is equally important to Oxbow culturally: art, food, music and beer. Sharing the unique environment that Oxbow has created with its fanbase is what makes GFTW such a special and wildly unique event. It was a way to bring together their close-knit community of supporters, and welcome new ones as well, in a uniquely intimate setting. And even as the festival has grown not only in size but in reputation, the brewery remains dedicated to the festival formula that was present from year one.
Thanks again to Oxbow for giving folks the opportunity to share this unique view into their slice of Maine.
Can’t wait for next year.
Authored & photographed by The Hop Review's Ben Macri.