Acidity has historically played a significant role in the production and preservation of beer, especially in traditional French and Belgian styles. Acid lowers the pH of beer and acts as an inhibitor to spoilage bacteria while contributing a bright and refreshing tartness. We utilize acid, generally in the form of lactic acid, to develop complex layers of flavors and aromatics in our aged farmhouse ales.
- Aged hops
Aged hops are a traditional ingredient used in the production of Lambic and other spontaneously fermented ales. As hops age, they lose both their bittering potential as well as their unique aromatic qualities. When producing slow-fermenting spontaneous ales, we use aged hops to impart minimal aromatic character and utilize the remaining bittering compounds to prevent harmful spoilage bacteria from infecting the beer early on in its fermentation. We use aged whole leaf hops when brewing our spontaneously-fermented farmhouse ale, Native/Wild.
Barrel-aging at Oxbow takes place in our Portland warehouse where an array of farmhouse ales are aged anywhere from a few months to several years in various sized wine, bourbon, and other spirit barrels. Barrels contribute complex tannins and vanillins and the porous wood is ideal for harboring yeast and bacteria which reproduce and create unique flavors and aromas over time.
- Bière de Coupage
Bière de coupage is traditionally any blend of aged and young beer. A more modern and working definition for bière de coupage from which we take inspiration, is a blend of fresh farmhouse ale and barrel-aged spontaneously-fermented ale. For Newcastle Morning, we take young European-hopped saison and blend it with aged Native/Wild which then undergoes further aging in the bottle before being served.
- Bière de Garde
Bière de Garde is a malt-forward French farmhouse ale and translates to “beer for keeping” or “beer which has been kept or held.” These beers are higher strength with lower hopping rates than saisons and undergo a long, cold maturation period before being served. Traditional or historic bière de gardes were aged with mixed cultures and had acid profiles similar to Lambics.
- Bière de Luxe
Bière de Luxe is a pale French farmhouse lager brewed with Alsatian hops and barley originally produced to compete with the growing popularity of Czech and German pilsners.
- Bière de Mars
Bière de Mars is a French farmhouse ale brewed during the winter for March consumption and is typically lighter in color and body than bière de garde. We produce Life On Bière de Mars by blending various barrel-aged French-style farmhouse ales.
- Bière de Miel
Bière de Miel is a French/Belgian style of beer traditionally brewed with locally harvested honey. We utilize raw wildflower honey from our beehives at our Newcastle brewery to produce Catalyst, our barrel-aged bière de miel. The intense aromatic honey character is fully present in the beer while the sugar is fully fermented, contributing to a tart, dry, and complex finish.
- Bière de Noel
Bière de Noel is a strong, dark, malty holiday ale brewed in late fall with the remainder of hops and grains from the season’s harvest. We use our house saison strain to fully-ferment out the beer, lending a dry, earthy, and spicy finish atop a full and complex malt character.
- Bière de Printemps
Bière de Printemps is a French farmhouse ale brewed for the springtime consumption which serves as a transitional beer from the heavier malt-forward wintertime beers to the lighter, brighter summertime ales.
- Bière du Pays
Bière du Pays is a French farmhouse country ale. These are typically darker in color, malty and full-bodied with a low abv and dry finish. We add oats to Space Cowboy to give our bière du pays full texture and flavor for an otherwise low alcohol beer.
Blending is the art and science of selectively combining young and aged beers from a vast array of different barrels and tanks. When blending, we contemplate and choose barrels and beers with varying levels of acidity, oak tannins, flavors, textures, and aromatics which will enhance the overall character of the finished beer.
- Bottle Conditioned
Bottle Conditioning is a traditional process where yeast and sugar are added to flat beer at packaging which initiates a re-fermentation in the keg or bottle that naturally carbonates the beer. Our beers are unfiltered and unpasteurized which allows active yeast and bacteria to continue to develop over time in the package. For Native/Wild we do not add any yeast and allow the spontaneous culture to re-ferment the beer as it naturally conditions on its side.
Brettanomyces is a genus or type of wild yeast which ferments sugars in beer over a long slow process, producing an array of complex flavor and aromatic compounds. This yeast exists everywhere in the wild but in brewing is traditionally traced to the UK and more notably, Belgium. We utilize Brettanomyces in all of our stainless and barrel-aged mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales to impart fruity, funky, and spicy flavors in addition to its active role in metabolizing byproducts of lactic-acid producing bacteria. At our rural Newcastle brewery, truly wild Brettanomyces inoculates the cooling wort used to produce Native/Wild.
A coolship is a large shallow vessel used to cool and inoculate wort with wild yeast and native microflora. Our coolship is situated outside of our Newcastle brewery and used during the colder months to produce wort for Native/Wild.
Dry-hopping is when fresh, whole cone, leaf, or pelletized hops are added to a beer during or after fermentation. This imparts bright hop aromatics without significantly contributing to bitterness. We showcase both American and continental European hops across a variety of our farmhouse ales and lagers.
- Enjoy Within
The majority of our Fresh Farmhouse Ales and Lagers taste best when enjoyed young and fresh. We give these beers anywhere from 6 months to one year before we consider their flavor to be less than optimal. For our aged bottle conditioned products, we recommend drinking them anytime between 3 and 10 years depending on the beer. Because these beers contain living yeast and bacteria, they will continue to mature with time as complex flavors and aromas develop in the bottle.
- Farmhouse Ales
Farmhouse Ales refers to the family of French and Belgian beer styles produced seasonally on working farms with well water, local ingredients and often with wild yeast and native microflora. While originally these were provisional beers brewed for consumption by seasonal workers, breweries began producing higher strength and aged versions for commercial appeal.
- Farmhouse Brewery
We pride ourselves in being a farmhouse brewery in the true sense that we produce our beer on a working farm with well water, local ingredients, and incorporate wild yeast and native microflora to ferment our beers. Our rural Newcastle brewery is in a renovated barn in Mid-coast Maine.
A foeder is a massive oak vat traditionally used to mature wine. Foeders are just another format of oak in our cellars used in the production of our aged farmhouse ales.
Our Freestyle line of beers allow us to experiment with ingredients and processes that may otherwise be outside of the realm of traditional farmhouse brewing. Each Freestyle beer is a unique one-time offering and has spanned the realm of styles from American IPA to Czech Red Ale.
- Fresh Farmhouse Ale
Our Fresh Farmhouse Ales are styles and brands which are best consumed young and fresh. As these beers age, their flavor profile will drop off which is why it is crucial to store these beers cold and serve within our Enjoy Within guidelines.
- Grand Cru
Grand Cru is a term derived from the wine world and in our context refers to a single beer blended from unique barrels of celebratory quality and character. Each year we produce Liquid Swords which is our annual selection of our finest barrels and ranges in color, acidity, barrel type, and style depending on the blend year.
A grisette is a wheat-heavy, low-strength, farmhouse ale which has its origins in the Hainaut province of southern Belgium where it was traditionally produced for coal miners. The name refers to either the gray faces of the miners or the gray-adorned bar maidens who would serve these beers. We showcase spelt in addition to wheat in a variety of our fresh and aged grisettes.
- House Yeast
A house yeast is any strain that has been cultivated from an existing strain and adapted to a brewery’s flavor and performance preferences. Our house yeast is derived from a traditional French saison strain and is used in the fermentation of the majority of our fresh and aged farmhouse ales.
- Italian-Style Pils
Italian-style pils is a bright and aromatic unfiltered lager which has been dry-hopped. Birrificio Italiano’s Tipopils set the benchmark for the style in 1996 followed by a wave of Italian and American breweries that began producing pilsners in this style. Luppolo, which means “hops” in Italian, is our tribute to one of our favorite styles of beer to produce and enjoy.
Lactobacillus (aka “lacto”), is a lactic-acid producing bacteria that we utilize in our mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales. It is considered to be a “good” bacteria that consumes fermentable sugars and produces a bright tartness. Lactobacillus lowers the pH of beer which traditionally aided in the preservative quality of farmhouse ales.
- Mixed Fermentation
Mixed fermentation is short for “mixed culture fermentation” and is any fermentation that incorporates brewers yeast, brettanomyces, and bacteria, usually in the form of lactobacillus and pediococcus. The blend of yeast and bacteria produces a myriad of complex flavors and creates acidity over a long, slow fermentation time. Our mixed culture includes a healthy pitch of the spontaneous yeast and bacteria which ferments Native/Wild.
Pediococcus (aka “pedio”) is a lactic-acid producing bacteria that we utilize in our mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales. It is considered to be a “good” bacteria that consumes fermentable sugars and can produce pronounced acidity. Pediococcus also has the tendency to create off flavors and textures that require extra time to be broken down by Brettanomyces during the aging process.
- Production Time
We pride ourselves on giving each beer a considerable amount of time to ferment and condition before we release it to the public. Our aged and blended beers take anywhere three months to three years in order to allow the beer to fully develop and round out any sharp flavors and aromas. The Production Time on our bottles takes into account the time from the brew day of the oldest blended component to the day of sale of the finished beer.
Puncheons are oversized oak wine barrels that we use for primary and secondary fermentation in a number of our aged farmhouse ales.
Saison means “season” in French and refers to the “saisonaires” or the seasonal farm workers of Wallonia who consumed farmhouse ales during the summer which were produced during the cooler months. These provisional beers were also called saisons and were nourishing and more potable than potentially-contaminated well water. Saisons are blonde in color with a pronounced hoppiness, a fruity and peppery yeast profile, and have a distinctively dry finish. They were traditionally brewed with a rotating selection of farm-grown grains, hops, herbs, and spices and may have been fermented with wild yeast and bacteria. We brew a variety of saisons which showcase European, American, and Maine-grown hops and grains.
Spelt is an heirloom wheat varietal whose lineage in brewing can be traced as far back as ancient Sumeria. This rustic grain contributes to the body and mouthfeel of many of our beers and has a distinct nutty flavor and aroma.
- Spontaneous Fermentation
Spontaneous fermentation is the art of carefully allowing wild airborne yeast and bacteria to inoculate cooling wort which ferments the sugars and naturally produces CO2 and ethanol alongside a myriad of flavor and aromatic compounds. While this form of fermentation is at the heart of historic beer production, it has largely been abandoned for pure culture brewing with the exception of Belgian Lambic producers and a growing number of innovative American breweries. We utilize spontaneous fermentation for Native/Wild where local Newcastle yeast and microflora inoculate wort overnight in our coolship which stands outside our farmhouse brewery.
While the majority of beer these days is fermented in stainless-steel tanks, we call attention to aging in stainless to differentiate from our beers that are barrel-aged. We ferment our fresh draft beers at our Newcastle brewery while all of the stainless aging for mixed-fermentation beers takes place at our Portland Blending and Bottling facility.
- Turbid mash
Turbid mashing is a traditional mash regime used in the production of Lambic which develops significant amounts of complex sugars that are utilized by wild yeast and bacteria in the slow fermentation of spontaneous beer. We employ a form of turbid mashing when producing our spontaneously fermented farmhouse ale, Native/Wild.
Wallonia is the French-speaking region of southern Belgium which is home to traditional farmhouse saison and industrial grisette producers.
Wet hops are freshly harvested hops that are taken directly from the bines to the brewery and used in the kettle and/or later used for dry-hopping. Because these hops have peak oil and moisture content when harvested, they contribute bright, juicy flavors and aromatics. Every year we produce Harvest which is our wet-hopped saison that uses all Maine grains and fresh Maine-grown wet hops.