BLUE HILL, Maine — The story of DeepWater Brewing Co. began more than 300 years ago in an old horse barn at the top of a hill.
Built in the 1700s in a traditional post-and-beam style, the barn was once home to half a dozen horses, some of whom gnawed away at the hand-hewn beams that made up their stalls. Thirty years ago the barn moved from its original location across the street. These days, instead of livestock, the cream-colored, shingle-sided building is home to bubbling vats of fermenting beer and sacks of malt grain.
DeepWater owner John Hikade and his son Tim restored the barn with the intention of brewing beer to sell at Arborvine, an adjacent restaurant owned and managed by Hikade and his wife, Beth.
Prior to starting restoration in 2012, the barn was virtually unused aside from storing a few pieces of equipment for 30 years and was in desperate need of repairs, including fixing collapsing walls and a rotted floor. But after refurbishing six other buildings, including an old blacksmith’s shop turned restaurant in Blue Hill, Hikade knew he could do the job.
“We wanted a place where people could not only taste the beer, but also see the incredible facilities,” Hikade said of the two-story, 1,200-square-foot barn. “We saved this barn, this barn was on its way down … We’re really excited and kind of proud.”
The barn transformation was completed in two years and Hikade said his goal with the restoration was to preserve as many historic details as possible while still adding modern conveniences like running water and electricity. That meant turning the stalls into a workspace but keeping the original roof and reinforcing the bents which keep the barn upright. They even kept some of the beams the horses used to gnaw on and repainted the sign that hung above a stall belonging to a horse named Tom.
“I love old barns … I have tremendous respect for the way people did things, everything was all handmade and it’s just amazing that they were able to do that,” Hikade said.
John and Beth are not new to opening and running businesses in historic locations. Their restaurant Arborvine, on the same property as the brewery, occupies the former B.W. Hinckley house, which John and Beth restored. Even there, historic details are key. Beth, who oversees the restaurant’s interior, utilizes period pieces such as antique linens and Shaker furniture, according to the company’s website.
“The history that they tell is a very gratifying part of working on old buildings,” John Hikade said.
Visitors to the brewery in the summer can expect an informal history lesson as Hikade shares the details, perhaps unnoticeable to the untrained eye, that make the building a living piece of history.
He knows every beam and every nail has a story.
The three types of nails seen throughout the barn represent various times in technological history when the building was either repaired or added to. There’s the hand-hewn nails created by a blacksmith before the Industrial Revolution, then there’s the still square but mass manufactured nails, and finally, the round, modern nail.
Recently, the father and son duo added solar panels to the roof of the barn, giving the historic building an eco-friendly feature that also saves money. Energy produced is used to power the brewery and occasionally the Arborvine restaurant and DeepWater pub.
DeepWater Brewing Company is located at 33 Tenney Hill in Blue Hill. More information, including a menu, is available on the brewery’s website, www.arborvine.com.