When Odd Alewives Farm Brewery founders John and Sarah McNeil decided to open a brewery, they did so with the motivation to create a unique and engaging beer experience that would combine their talents as brewers, farmers, and artists. After much searching they found the perfect farm, within the historic midcoast Maine village of Waldoboro. The newly renovated 1820’s barn, which now houses the brewery and tasting room, is surrounded by 22+ acres of gardens and forest and offers visitors a beautiful rural setting to gather and celebrate.
OAFB's mission is to create beer that refreshes, and sustains the hardworking body and mind. As a result our farmhouse ales focuses on the honesty of the product, variability of the seasons, and purity of the ingredients.
What's in a Name?
(Photos taken during the spring Alewife Festival at the Damariscotta Mills fishladder.)
We often get questions about our brewery name Odd Alewives. The first part of our name is a salute to the unusual, a fascination with the strange, and our announced love of oddballs.
The alewife part of the name is a nod to both the history of beer and region of our brewery. Up until the Black Death, beer was primarily brewed both commercially and domestically by woman, who were referred to as alewives (and later on female tavern owners were called this as well). It was one of the few trades that both single and married women could incorporate into their domestic duties to earn extra income. Changes in the beer industry made it a more specialized trade (and more lucrative) and therefore alewives were pushed out of the business due to lack of: access to capital, social and cultural resources, owning land/buildings, and where further excluded as members of guilds that became involved with the craft. Even today many of the stereotypical images we associate with witches, the black cauldron, black cat, pointy hats, and brooms stem directly from Alewives and how they marketed and brewed the beer, which further portrayed them in a seedy negative light.
As for the regional connection, the Medomak River flows through the village of Waldoboro, and the name translates from Abenaki as “the place (river) of many alewives.” The alewives in the river are small anadromous fish in the herring family that spend most of their life in the sea but return to fresh water to spawn. They closely resemble blueback herring and are mainly identified as having a larger chest, as a result the name derived from an association with rotund female tavern owners and brewers. They have also experienced a decline in their population due to dams and over population.
Although alewives (both the fish and female brewers) are less common today then in the past, they are both brimming with tenacity and we are confident in the resurgence on both fronts. We raise a glass to all you Oddballs and Alewives!
What others are saying about Odd Alewives:
The Rural Reboot: The Beer Effect, WGME News.
Maine’s Hidden Farm Brewery is Unexpectedly Awesome, Only In Your State.
Of Fish & Fermentation: Maine’s Odd Alewives Farm Brewery, The Feast Podcast.
Check out these New England Breweries for Great Beer, Food, Fun, The Boston Herald.
Best Wineries and Breweries for Agritourism, Verbal Gold Blog.
A Love of All Things Odd, Lincoln County News.
Maine Alpaca Farm Transformed into a Craft Brewery, Bangor Daily News.
Odd Alewives, New Waldoboro Farmhouse Brewery Opens, Pen Bay Pilot.
Spotlight on Odd Alewives, The Waldo Theatre.