As stealth-like as they opened in Newcastle in 2011, Oxbow Beer has moved into Portland with a new tasting, bottling and blending HQ to shake up the scene.
The red lettering on the door is the only indication that something new is brewing on Washington Ave. Go behind Coffee by Design and press on through to a world of conditioned ales, barrels filled with aging beer and worldly design. “We are very excited to have this opportunity to be a part of this incredible beer city,” said Geoff Masland, Oxbow co-owner.
Beer lovers (geeks and babes) are equally as thrilled to have another place to sip from the nectar of the Maine-made gods. What’s different about Oxbow’s tasting room?
There are more than eight beers, like Space Cowboy (the low-alcohol working man’s ale) on draft and bottles of their smoky Arboreal and Oxtoberfest, a blend of the past three year’s October fest brews, in bottles to try and purchase.
General Manager Greg Jasgur, who was hired from D.C.’s Pizzeria Paradiso to man the venture, is a friendly and knowledge presence behind the copper bar. He’ll tell you where the hops came from, how they were dried and whether any animals were harmed in the making of Oxbow’s beers (answer is none, though they do keep pigs on a 17-acre farm).
A city presence gives these farmhouse beer boys the opportunity to bring their special style to the masses. “In Newcastle more of our neighbors are cows than people,” said Masland. “We needed to expand to where the people are.”
This underground tasting room won’t be a secret for long.
Look for La Lagosta, a Maine sea salt and lobster ale to reach the taps soon. Lobster meat will be “in the boil” during the brewing process said Jasgur. The result is a beer that’s “noticable salty with unami.” No bib or butter required.
The decor matches the creativity in the glass. A foot rail is repurposed from a train rail on Marginal Way. The bar is crafted from palate crates and rustic boxes are arranged here and there. “People will come for the beer, but stay because the space is so inviting,” said Masland.
See for yourself, 12 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday and noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.