Raise a Saison for Oxbow Beer, Set to Descend on NYC
Oxbow Beer is set to take the city by storm next Wednesday, as it prepares a weeklong blitzkrieg through Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Farmhouse-focused microbrewery from Newcastle, Maine, will parade a selection of seasonal offerings to mark its emergence within the Big Apple beer scene. A dynamic new addition to the craft landscape, we welcome the Pine Tree Staters with open arms and raised pint glasses — filled with its flagship pale ale, our Beer of the Week.
Farmhouse ale, or saison, is a traditional Old World style of beer frequently characterized by peppery, slightly fruity notes, courtesy of its Belgian yeast core. Brewers forever profess their desire to make the beer they love to drink. So when Tim Adams started Oxbow, he built his brewery around the category most dear to his heart. "Farmhouse ales have long been my favorite style to both drink and brew," he says. "When I had the opportunity to open a brewery in a true farmhouse setting, it only made sense to focus on this wonderful style of beer."
And in imagining Newcastle — a town tucked away in the woods of rural Maine — rustic barns and lazy livestock ought to dot the hillsides of your mind's eye. From this bucolic setting comes Oxbow's signature Farmhouse Pale Ale, unique for its marriage of American hops and saison yeast. It's a 6 percent session-worthy olive branch uniting the camps of bitter-crazed IPA lovers and ester-centric Belgian beer devotees. It's also an ideal diving board from which to delve into Oxbow's experimental rabbit hole. The brewery puts out more than 24 offerings in any given year, and you should plumb the depths of the ever-rotating Freestyle Series at your own risk; you're likely to fall in love with a one-off that might never again see the light of day. Oxbow's year-rounds are limited to the Farmhouse Pale Ale and Grizacca, an aromatic, earthy Grisette — a subdued variation of a saison, typical to southern Belgium.
"We plan on sending small quantities of beer to select bars and restaurants in New York City," Adams promises. But he seems wary of the pitfalls associated with supplying such a thirsty market, and is already tempering expectations. "We are excited to now have the inventory to be able to allocate beer [but] we do not produce enough to be able to supply retail stores. Keep expectations low for volumes of beer — we are a very small farmhouse brewery!" Although kegs and bottles will be reserved for pubs, not bottle shops, the beers will forever be focused on quality over quantity: a righteous recipe for whipping up cultish fervor.
Speaking of cultish fervor, Other Half Brewing detains the Oxbow boys for a full day next week as they collaborate on a yet-to-be-disclosed one-off. Additional events for the out-of-towners include a Manhattan pub crawl on Wednesday — with beer on tap at Coopers, Rabbit Club, and Proletariat — a Thursday happy hour at the Owl Farm in Park Slope, and a Friday bar crawl across Brooklyn's finest — Brouwerij Lane, Torst, Spuyten Duyvil, Barcade. Oxbow concludes its stay with a Saturday Beer Brunch at Murray's Cheese Bar.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to New York dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.