Home Grown: A brewery born of history and collaboration
Back in 2009, the foundation was laid for what is now the Boothbay Craft Brewery and Watershed Tavern. It took 2 years to complete the structure, which consists of over 200 heavy beams crafted from trees donated for the project.
Trees you say? Yeah, that’s right — trees. Win and Lori Mitchell, owners and builders of the mid-coast brewery also owned and ran a sawmill. Their concept was a simple one, get people interested and involved by donating a tree that could be used in the brewery’s construction. They would do the rest at the sawmill. Not totally unlike a GoFundMe project, but definitely more Maine-like, independent and resourceful. As Win had become more involved in the craft brew scene he also became good friends with many in the industry. The timing was good when Rob Tod of Allagash Brewery heard about the Mitchell’s idea and the need for trees, he offered up some big pines they had just cut for Allagash’s expansion. Trees from right up the road, to as far away as Virginia, found their way into Boothbay’s first and only brewery. Even the Dogfish Head Brewery Calagione family stepped up with a big oak that created a main post and beam along with a heavy front door to the Watershed Tavern.
Today the brewery and tavern has grown up and is producing beer, for not only the adjoining brewpub, but also for many restaurants all along the coast of Maine. In 2013, an expansion for additional fermentation and packaging. This also created the ability to add a new upstairs, where visitors could tour and view the brewing process from above, while enjoying a dozen craft choices at the tasting bar. The new upstairs dining area called the “Tool Room” is the resting place of many of Win’s forefathers tools from the earlier age of hand tools. “I thought it was a shame to keep these great pieces of craftsman history locked away in the chest. I wanted people to see, enjoy, and appreciate the talent that was needed to craft wood before the age of power tools.” Much like crafting wood, to craft beer takes patience, practice and good mentors. “I have been very fortunate to have had help from a very altruistic industry that helps each other with becoming better at what we do, to craft great Maine beer!” Core beers are 633 Pale Ale, Dexter Rippa Red IPA, Ken Brown Ale, and Black Rocks Stout.
New beers this year at Boothbay Craft Brewery
Townsend Ale is crafted as an English mild. All English malts, hops, and English ale yeast. This New World born ale is a low 3% ABV.
10 Lewis Ale is the first beer to be packaged in 4 pack -16 oz cans. It’s a 5% ABV bright session ale using 20% wheat with locally grown cascade hops and dry hopped with Citra. This beer was brewed to promote and support the restoration of Burnt Island lighthouse.
Text: Richard Ruggerio