Rural Reboot: The Beer Effect

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WALDOBORO (WGME) – It’s a chilly night on Maine’s midcoast, but things are heating up inside Odd Alewives Farm Brewery. Between the warm wood stove, cold farmhouse beer and free pizza, it’s the place to be in Waldoboro on Friday night.

“We wanted to offer something at the end of the week,” said Sarah McNeil, co-owner of the farm brewery. “It’s time to unwind.”

Odd Alewive’s opened less than a year ago and is the only brewery in town. Besides the beer, which McNeil and her husband brew with items grown on their farm, the brewery provides a gathering place for the community.

“It’s a place where people can meet other people we encourage people to unplug,” McNeil said.

According to the Maine Brewer’s Guild, Odd Alewives is part of a growing trend. Small craft breweries are setting up shop and having a big impact on rural towns. From providing an economic boost, to creating a gathering space, small craft breweries provide more than just a pint.

“Brewers are opening up these spaces in these small towns and they’re not just selling beer,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewer’s Guild.

According to Sullivan, out of the 140 breweries in Maine around 50 of them have set up shop in rural communities. The rural breweries are breathing new life into old farms and mill buildings, creating a space for people in the community and supporting other businesses.

“For these towns, it’s often supporting four or five people and then the ancillary benefits of these local performers and crafts people who get to sell their products the local farm who may get a little bit of an extra boost and the tourism dollars of people who are stopping on route to grab gas eat at the restaurant nearby,” Sullivan said. “That’s really what’s benefiting Maine.”

McNeil says that’s what Odd Alewives is all about: promoting other people and businesses in town. The pizza supplied on Friday night’s is from a local restaurant Bella Gia’s. The brewery also hosts local musicians, facilitates community pot lucks and provides a meet up space for knitting enthusiasts.

“I feel really happy and proud to have found this spot here because we really have the most wonderful people who come here,” McNeil said.

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