Nancy Chandler, owner of Oak Pond Brewing Co. in Skowhegan, sits at her desk Saturday. As of Friday, businesses like hers are now allowed to open for inside service. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — Barley, hops, water and yeast.

Those are the four ingredients in Oak Pond Brewing Co.’s nine-beer lineup. It is a no-frills family business rooted in tradition and operating from a chicken coop turned brewery.

“We’re not the newest, sexiest brewery,” said Adam Chandler, who owns the brewery at 101 Oak Pond Road with his mother, Nancy. “We’re built to be a community brewhouse where you can get great beers at a low price to go.”

Beginning Friday, Oak Pond Brewing Co. was allowed to open indoors for the first time in nearly 13 months. Its owners said they see a light at the end of the pandemic-laden tunnel.

Although there were no customers Saturday inside the blue shingled barn that was formerly home to 60,000 broiler chickens, opening for indoor service for the first time since March 18, 2020, was a sign the coronavirus pandemic is starting to loosen its grip.

Owners of Maine’s tasting rooms and bars had initially expected to reopen for indoor service in November, but their opening date was delayed by Gov. Janet Mills due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Although small-scale tasting rooms and breweries said they could reopen safely, they were denied.


And while Oak Pond Brewing is open for business, the COVID-19 pandemic’s reverberations are likely to stick around a bit.

“I think it’s going to take a while,” Nancy Chandler said. “Once it gets to the warmer days, we’ll get more tourists.”

Nancy and Adam Chandler made the decision about a decade ago to stick with Oak Pond. Even after Donald Chandler, Adam’s father and Nancy’s husband, died in 2013, the mother-son duo decided to keep the rural Somerset County brewery going.

Adam Chandler stands by the fermenter and kegs Saturday as Oak Pond Brewing Co. opens for business in Skowhegan. As of Friday, new state pandemic restrictions allow for bars and tasting rooms to open for inside service. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Chandlers took over the brewery in 2003 and quickly made it the family’s livelihood. Nancy Chandler, 69, lives off premises but spends plenty of time at the brewery. They are the lone employees of the brewery, which supplies beer to a small array of local convenience stores and restaurants within a 50-mile radius, in addition to the brewery’s on-site business.

“We’re the only folks here, and we do everything from grain to glass,” said Adam Chandler, 38, who lives in an apartment above the brewery.

Like many dining and drinking establishments, Oak Pond Brewing focused on offering takeout services and sales to customers throughout the pandemic. Some regular customers still made weekly trips for growler sales, but many potential buyers did not come last fall or during winter. The first quarter of the year is always a challenge, Adam Chandler said.


Even in most winters, they brew at least every other week. Oak Pond Brewing has brewed just twice since the start of the year. There is still plenty of beer left from the fall and winter seasonal specials. The Chandlers said they have focused on cutting costs, including turning down the heat and, when possible, shutting off the large fermenters.

This past summer proved challenging. Even with outdoor seating, fewer tourists visited the brewery. With international borders closed, the customary flock of Canadian tourists never came.

“We’re not making a million dollars,” Nancy Chandler said. “We’re keeping the lights on.”

Nancy Chandler, owner of Oak Pond Brewing Co. in Skowhegan, sits at her desk Saturday. As of Friday, businesses like hers are now allowed to open for inside service. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Nancy and Adam Chandler’s office is filled to the brim with books and papers, directly across from their primary fermenter. The Beeriodic Table of Elements if fixed to a cork board across from the beer display, which shows the brewery’s nine beer selection.

Nancy Chandler pays the bills and hot parts of brewing. Adam does the accounting and mills the grains, which comes from Canada. Malts come locally via Blue Ox in Lisbon Falls.

“When we brew, we brew together,” said Nancy Chandler, who wore a denim jacket emblazoned with the Oak Pond Brewing Co. logo.

If there is one thing anyone needs to know about Oak Pond Brewing, it is the hierarchy of its employees.

“Make no mistake, mom’s the boss,” Adam Chandler said.

“You know it!” Nancy Chandler replied.

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