Mike and Heather Holland are co-owners of Outland Farm Brewery in Pittsfield. The husband and wife team opened the brewery in April 2018 and offered curbside service, and their business has evolved throughout the pandemic. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

PITTSFIELD, Maine — A farm-to-table brewery that took a chance opening curbside during the COVID-19 pandemic has grown into a popular hangout spot and brought a modern flare to this Somerset County town.

Heather and Mike Holland opened Outland Farm Brewery in April 2020, and they’ve evolved the Pittsfield business since then, opening an indoor taproom in July 2020 and adding food in early 2021. Located in the back of the Riverside Coworking & Company building, the brewery serves its own beers, along with wine and ciders from other Maine makers and a rotating menu of burgers, salads and other bites.

In a small town where dining options and places to socialize are limited, Outland Farm Brewery has brought a vibrancy to downtown Pittsfield and the surrounding area. The business has hosted large groups for birthday and company parties and high school reunions. Now that the Hollands know people enjoy their beer and food, they’re considering upgrading the kitchen and expanding beer production with new equipment.

“Aside from getting the brewery out and getting the kitchen into that space, we’re almost out of changes here,” Heather Holland said. “We need to find that next step, whether it’s production only or a second location. We’re looking forward to whatever that is.”

Mike Holland of Outland Farm Brewery explains how he makes the beer on-site. Credit: Valerie Royzman / BDN

Although the Hollands have had to adapt how they run their business and serve patrons, the agricultural aspect has always been at the heart of their plans. They moved to Pittsfield from New Milford, Connecticut, seven years ago to start Outland Farm, where they raise chickens and pigs and had originally intended to open the brewery.

Meat from the Hollands’ farm is used in dishes and available for sale frozen. Their beers feature Maine-grown and malted ingredients, such as grain from Aroostook County, and they source meat and other ingredients from farmers around the state, including beef and cheese from Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

“It’s a full-circle story,” said Heather Holland, who has a background in farming and horticulture and took classes at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. She runs the farm and manages the taproom.

Mike Holland — who also runs a manufacturing company that builds electric control panels and accessories for small-scale brewing systems — handles the brewing. Before moving to Maine, he graduated from the American Brewers Guild and spent a year learning about production brewing at Firefly Hollow Brewing Company in Bristol, Connecticut.  

“We thought it would be great to open a brewery that combines those passions and ties that agricultural side into brewing, which doesn’t happen a lot because most breweries are in industrial parks and cities,” he said.

The Hollands educate people about where their beer and food come from because it gives customers a more complete picture of the farmland they’re supporting, Mike Holland said. Even their list of beers in the taproom features small green markers from the Northeast Grainshed Alliance — a group of farmers, millers, brewers, bakers and others developing a food chain in New England — that indicate how much farmland it took to produce a particular beer.

Left to right: Mike Holland handles preparations inside the food truck on Outland Farm Brewery’s property in Pittsfield. The food truck is where food items on the brewery’s menu are made; Outland Farm Brewery serves a variety beers, brewed on site, along with cider, mead and wine. Credit: (L) Valerie Royzman / BDN, (R) Courtesy of Heather Holland

Pittsfield resident Bob Leibowitz, who considers himself a beer fanatic, usually comes to the brewery with his wife on a weeknight. It has become a social gathering place for some townspeople and a nice way to make new friends, he said.

Leibowitz thinks the Hollands sparked new energy in the Riverside Coworking & Company building, formerly the North Lancey Street Grammar School, built in 1904. The couple spent a year transforming what used to be two classrooms on the backside of the building into their modern taproom.

“In my opinion, Outland being in that building had a lot to do with why some of the other businesses are there,” he said.

Outland Farm Brewery has also brought more culture to Pittsfield. The long tables and atmosphere remind Leibowitz of when he lived in Germany in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

There’s nowhere else in town where people can order some of the brewery’s unique dishes, such as a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. “It brings a whole new perspective to town,” Leibowitz said.

Left to right: One of the unique pairings that are seasonally available at Outland Farm Brewery; Outland Farm Brewery patrons hang out in the taproom or outside, where there are tables and chairs, plus two miniature cabins with heat. Credit: (L) Courtesy of Heather Holland, (R) Valerie Royzman / BDN

The salted pretzel with homemade beer cheese is always popular, and the farmhouse burger with double smash patties, smoked cheddar, bacon jam, romaine slaw and garlic aioli is also well liked, the Hollands said.

When the Hollands first introduced food at the brewery, they made easy-to-assemble options that worked in a tight area behind the bar and near the oven. Now they lease a food truck, where their chef prepares dishes. Patrons hang out in the taproom or outside, where there are tables and chairs, plus two miniature cabins with heat.

When the Hollands imagined their business, they hoped it to be an intentional third space, outside of home and work, they said, where people could relax and feel at home, and one that welcomed families.

“We fell in love with Pittsfield and everything it had to offer,” Heather Holland said. “We knew that what we had to offer could also benefit the community.”