Becoming Beer Farmers
In 2009, we picked up and moved to Baltimore for graduate school. It was not long after leaving Maine that we realized that our hearts beat louder and stronger along the rocky coast and we were confidence that some day our creative path would lead us back to this rugged beauty.
What we originally thought would be only 2 years away, ended up turning into almost 9 after we found decent paying jobs in the arts and brewing industries. We really wanted to return to vacationland, but with bills to pay and little-to-no jobs being offered in our field, the idea of returning to Maine was not promising. We grappled for a long time about how to find meaningful and financially sound work in a state with far less opportunities. We also dreamed of having our own business but giving up the security of a regular paycheck is scary. We kept taking an inventory of our strengths, experiences, and interests to see where there was opportunity. John has worked for the past 25 years either as a commercial brewer or as a photographer, while Sarah’s background included art professor, horticulturalist, and antique dealer. Over several years, many beers were consumed as we tried to form a plan that would bring us back home.
In fact, every important decision and conversation we have had throughout our adulthood has been had over a beer. Beer has accompanied us on many adventures, celebrations, and through both good and bad times. Beer has connected us with many awesome friends, and places. Beer has been part of the ritual of our life and in fact was the very obvious solution to our predicament, so we decided to combine forces and start a farm brewery.
With this plan we moved forward to find a space where we could combine our backgrounds as a brewer, a gardener, and artists. Without a doubt we knew we wanted to be in the Midcoast. We both have roots to the region and so we were already familiar with the vibrant creative communities that existed and the breathtaking beauty surrounding it. We started searching for the “right” property after we created a list of specific needs for a farm brewery (and desires) and determined our homebuying budget…..again all over cold refreshing beers.
During the home search we fell in love with several older properties, each full of character but the place we ultimately settled on was the last one we looked at before heading back to Baltimore. While it was not 100% perfect, we felt it was full of potential and checked the most important boxes including brewery and farm requirements, location, price, and town support.
One of the benefits of both having art backgrounds is that over time we have become accustomed to waking up each day with a certain amount of unknowns, that we moved forward knowing the path we choose was never going to be easy or straightforward, and that if we put our minds together we could design the life we wanted to live together. Odd Alewives Farm Brewery is the culmination of our strengths, experiences and creative pursuits in farming and beer making. We hope this blog provides a glimpse of how we risked it all in order to carve out our own little paradise in rural Midcoast Maine.