One of the oldest running Craft Breweries in Maine is right in the town’s back yard, owned by Nancy Chandler and her son, Adam— Oak Pond Brewing Company on Oak Pond Road in Skowhegan.

The brewery is open from 3 to 5:30 pm weekdays, except holidays, for growler refilling, sampling and touring. The brewery is also open for touring, tastings and growler refills from 12:30 to 5:30 pm on Saturdays. They also participate locally at the Skowhegan Craft Brew Festival and many others festivals around the state.
Oak Pond Brewery can be found at the Skowhegan Farmers Market with ice cold 22-ounce bottles of ale and lager available to take home with the other local goods on sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

According to the Maine Brewer’s Guild website, Oak Pond Brewery (OPB) opened the first brewery in Skowhegan in 115 years. The brew house is a 14-barrel system* from Prince Edward Island, Canada, started in an old chicken barn that once housed 60,000 broilers.
(*Just to put it in perspective, 14 barrels is 28 kegs or 450 gallons of beer.)

A Gorham couple started the brewery in 1996, but found long distance management didn’t work for them and they put it on the market. Nancy and her husband, Don, of Canaan, bought the microbrewery as a retirement project in 2003.

Unlike many microbreweries, OPB produces aged lagers as well as ales. These beers are classic old world styles using only the purest ingredients; two row malted barley, imported, and American hops, ale and lager yeast strains, and well water.

In 2008, Adam Chandler started helping his dad, then became his apprentice, taking over more of the work as Don’s health failed. Now Adam and his mother run the operation— brewing, bottling and delivering the beer to places that have facilities to keep the beer at the correct temperature.

Meridians in Fairfield carries OPB ales and lagers, as does Damon’s (Joker’s), the brewery itself, and the Skowhegan Farmers Market. But many restaurants and stores in the area carry OPB beers. There is a list available on the website or look around at favorite places.

“About 20 percent of our beer is sold here at Oak Pond Brewery,” said Nancy Chandler. She has 13 years experience as a brewer, more than any other woman in Maine.

There are several choices in sizes to purchase an OPB beer: 22-ounce bottles, cases, kegs or refillable half gallon bottles known as a “growler,” which can be outfitted with a Koozie insulator to help keep the beer chilled. OPB also has T-shirts, ball caps and hoodies for sale, as well as gift certificates.

At the brewery, six beers are always on tap, including special seasonal brews. The product is truly handcrafted with all brewing, fermenting, conditioning and bottling done on the premises by mother and son.

Here are some of the names to look for: Oak Pond Laughing Loon Lager, Oak Pond Nut Brown Ale, Oak Pond Dooryard Ale, Storyteller Dopplebock Lager, Skowhegan India Style Pale Ale, Somerset Lager, White Fox Ale and Oktoberfest Lager.

Adam Chandler is doing some experimenting with a Bourbon Maple Stout Ale – top fermenting, using whole grain barley. The ales are top fermenting beers, warmer and taking less time, while the lagers are bottom-fermenting beers that are cooler and take longer (12-18 weeks).

At the end of the tour— a bit mind boggling with all the tanks, filters and processes—the writer (a non-beer drinker) suggested the owners pick a beer that would “blow me away.”

Exchanging glances, the pair said, “Laughing Loon.” They pulled a sample glass, the writer smelled it, sat down and took a good swallow. It was wonderful. She bought a bottle to bring home to share with a friend—smacking her lips all the way home —and it still tasted good.

 

For more information,
Oak Pond Brewing Company
101 Oak Pond Rd.
Skowhegan, 474-3233
Call Nancy or Adam Chandler
at 474- 3233
www.oakpondbrewery.com
Also check them on Facebook