OXFORD — Oxbow Brewing Co. out of Newcastle bought the former Carter’s XC Ski Center on Route 26 last year. Last week, it opened the Bottle Shop, a retail and tasting room, and work is wrapping up on a bar and 60-seat restaurant serving wood-fired pizza in the refurbished, nearly 200-year-old barn.

Plans call for a huge, outdoor, three-season beer garden out back.

First Fruits Ale is bottled by Oxbow Brewing Co.

Tim Adams, who founded Oxbow in 2011, said he’d always dreamed of expanding to western Maine. His family has a camp in Hanover.

“I grew up in southern Maine and so we always drove up (Route 26), so I know this stretch. I love this stretch,” Adams said. “There’s so many landmarks along the way and there’s no bigger landmark on 26, in my mind, from childhood on, than (Carter’s).”

David and Anne Carter operated the cross-country ski center for decades. Anne said last fall that it had gotten difficult to run locations in both Oxford and Bethel after David’s death. She opted to expand the Bethel location, and close and sell the one in Oxford.

Carter’s son-in-law, Matt Delamater, works at Oxbow.

“He kind of planted the seed that there could be potential for an awesome opportunity here,” Adams said. “It was always kind of a legendary location in my mind – I know it’s also true of the community up here. I was immediately very excited. We pursued it right away and worked on how to figure out how to make it happen.”

Oxbow is maintaining the cross-country trails and people can ski and snowshoe there for free, General Manager Jesse Hill said.

The company has one other location outside Newcastle, Oxbow Blending & Bottling in Portland, and last year opened a beer garden there with its neighbor, Duckfat Friteshack.

The new location will be known as Oxbow Beer Garden.

“We do have the license as a brewery up here, so we can have special brews for just up here,” Adams said. “We do a lot of fermentation projects with very extended, wild fermentations in oak barrels, traditional Belgium-style technique. That’s really what we specialize in.”

It took limited work to turn the farmhouse into a retail spot and tasting room, but the barn was a “huge, major effort,” he said.

Last summer, space was added to one side to accommodate the new kitchen. The inside has walls of reclaimed wood, high ceilings and a gleaming, copper-covered, wood-fired pizza oven from Maine Wood Heat.

Adams said they’re developing a menu by experimenting with what else they can cook inside the oven, such as roasted vegetables and lamb.

“We’re definitely putting as much love and energy into the food side of things as we are the beer,” he said.

The restaurant will serve Oxbow brews and guest beers from other Maine brewers.

He’s aiming for a family-friendly appeal.

Adams has five employees at the Oxford location and plans to hire more once the restaurant opens, hopefully this spring.

In the meantime, the Bottle Shop is open 4-7 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and noon-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Once the snow melts, the outside will have tables, seating areas, fire pits and places to play games.

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