If there’s one thing I love as much as good cheese, it’s good beer—and living in New England, there’s no shortage of either. For my blog series Beantown Beer + Cheese, I asked local brewers about their signature beers and cheese pairing recommendations.
We’re not in Beantown anymore, dear readers: We crossed state lines for this installment on Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle, Maine. The five-year-old company is known for its Belgian-style farmhouse ales—saisons, griesttes, biere de gardes, oh my!—brewed in a farmhouse out in the woods (where else?). Saisons in particular have gained traction in the American scene over the past decade. Oxbow employs aging and blending techniques that allow them to produce a huge range of sour brews—and stand out from the craft pack.
“We’ve been very diligent about putting beer away in barrels—we’ve just started to really amass this wonderful assortment of barrel-aged beers, making the blending job that much more exciting,” head brewer Tim Adams says. “I compare it to a painter who has different colors of paint on his palette. And the more colors of paint that you have on there, the more creative you can get with blending the colors together to get unique shades.” This artistry happens at their Blending & Bottling facility in Portland, Maine, which also serves as a public tasting room.
Busy at the Oxbow Brewery in Newcastle, Maine / Photo credit: Andrew Foster
And Oxbow is no stranger to curds: Local Hahn’s End cheese company washes its creamy aged cow’s milk cheese Lynn—named for the incomparable country singer—with the brewery’s Loretta, a light, wheat-forward grisette with slight lemon tartness.
Below, a rundown of Oxbow’s most popular and upcoming seasonal brews, plus some pairing ideas from Adams:
Farmhouse Pale Ale (6% ABV): Adams explains that this dry saison is brewed in the traditional way, but made with American hops to lend a citrusy edge to its slight peppery and floral notes. A smooth camembert with a light funk could be a good match.
Try it with:
- Silvery Moon Creamery Camembert
- Chaseholm Farm Creamery Camembert
- Schafkaeserei Koster Jersey Camembert
Oxtoberfest (6% ABV): A smoked biere de garde inspired by classic Hamburg styles, this beer is slightly funky from its fermentation with saison yeast. Adams recommends a spicy blue to go with the roasty, toasty quaff.
Try it with:
Noel (9% ABV): Oxbow’s deep red holiday brew has a rich, fruity profile—raisin and fig flavors are present along with toffee and spice notes. A mild, creamy soft-ripened cheese with some tangy notes will mellow the bold beer.
You can visit Oxbow at their tasting room in Newcastle (and even rent the farmhouse!) or Portland facility:
274 Jones Woods Rd.
Newcastle ME 05443
Wed.–Sun. 12–7 p.m.
Oxbow Blending and Bottling:
49 Washington Ave.
Portland, ME 04101
Sun.–Tue. 12–9 p.m.
Wed.–Sat. 12–11 p.m.
Feature photo credit: Brett Labelle