As stealthy as they opened in Newcastle in 2011, Oxbow beer has moved into Portland with a new tasting, bottling and blending HQ to shake up the scene.
The red lettering on the door is the only indication that something new is brewing on Washington Ave. Go behind Coffee by Design and press on through to a world of conditioned ales, barrels filled with aging beer and worldly design. “We are very excited to have this opportunity to be a part of this incredible beer city,” said Geoff Masland, Oxbow co-owner, who opened his doors Thursday.
Beer lovers (geeks and babes) are equally as thrilled to have another place to sip from the nectar of the Maine-made gods. What’s different about Oxbow’s tasting room?
There are more than eight beers, like Space Cowboy (the low-alcohol working man’s ale) on draft and bottles of smoky Arboreal and Oxtoberfest, a blend of the past three year’s autumn ales, to try and purchase. House beers Domestic and Continental are made with U.S. and European hopes accordingly.
General Manager Greg Jasgur, who was hired from D.C.’s Pizzeria Paradiso to man the venture, is a friendly and knowledge presence behind the copper bar. He’ll tell you where the hops came from, how they were dried and whether any animals were harmed in the making of Oxbow’s beers (answer is none, though they do keep pigs on a 17-acre farm).
A city presence gives these farmhouse beer boys the opportunity to bring their special style (dry, blonde, hoppy) to the masses. “In Newcastle more of our neighbors are cows than people,” said Masland. “We needed to expand to where the people are.”
This underground tasting room will not be a secret for long.
Look for La Lagosta, a Maine sea salt and lobster ale to be released here soon. Lobster meat will be “in the boil” during the brewing process said Jasgur. The result is a beer that’s “noticable salty with umami.” No bib or butter required.
Almost as exciting as these beers is the design. The bar is made of wooden pallets and patrons rest their boots on a train track-turned-foot rail. Wooden barrels and boxes are arranged here and there. Drop lights hang from a downed tree that’s suspended from the ceiling.
“People will come for the beer, but stay because the space is so inviting,” said Masland, of his warehouse wonderland.
See for yourself, 12 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday and noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.