Welcome to our newest travel series, designed for moms and dads who need to get their parenting mojo back!
September and October are tough transition months, not only for kids, but for adults as well. There are new school, sports and work schedules to follow, longer grocery lists, more wash and more paperwork. MP feels like she is playing catch up from the start of school until Christmas.
To save everyone in the household from a grumpy mama, MP arranged an overnight trip to Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle. In June, the brewery opened its farmhouse—which was originally home to brewery co-owners, Geoff and Dash Masland—on Airbnb. Located next to the tasting room and nestled between 18 acres of woods and logging trails, a farmhouse visit seemed ideal for an overnight getaway.
When DP and MP arrived at Oxbow, a couple and their one-year-old son were seated at picnic tables in front of the tasting room. The father looked at DP and said, “Where do I know you from?” As it turns out, DP and this man realized they were childhood friends. Once the connection was established, we agreed to get a few beers and join them back outside.
Inside the warm, wood-paneled tasting room, we met Celeste Parke Merrill, a sweet, thirty-something who would be our bartender and farmhouse tour guide. When we told Celeste about our chance meeting with old friends, she said, “I love when that happens!” She encouraged us to take our time and enjoy. We could bring our bags to the farmhouse a little later.
There were 5 different beers on tap that night ranging from Oxbow’s flagship Farmhouse Pale Ale to a seasonal, Oxtoberfest—a strong pale ale with a smoky flavor. MP had never tasted a smoked beer before, so she opted for a tasting of 3 varieties, including a blonde farmhouse ale with a subtle smokiness called Bowie.
Back outside, we rejoined our new/old friends. MP sipped her first beer and listened as DP and his friend, Jeff, reminisced and brought each other up to date. Jeff’s wife Maeve was keeping an eye on her blonde-haired, one-year old, who had begun walking only a few weeks before. MP watched as he busied himself putting pebbles in a water bowl placed outside the tasting room.
As the sky began to grow dark and the temperature dropped, DP and MP decided they should check back in with Celeste. Jeff and Maeve, who were driving to Portland from their home in St. George, bid us adieu and hoped we could all reconnect in the near future.
Back at the bar, Celeste told us she needed to drive to New York that night, so the three of us walked up to the farmhouse. MP had seen photos of the house online, but in person, the space is even better than expected. Celeste said the house was built in the seventies by a local man named Leon Garnett. He created the wood frame home using timber from the property and milling it by hand. From the outside, the house has a simultaneously rustic and modern feel. MP admired the wide wrap-around porch that offers views of the tasting room, brewery, and forest.
Inside, Garnett used salvaged materials in thoughtful ways. MP loved the wide-paned windows that added a soft glow to the kitchen and living space. There are also wide, pine floors and rough hewn beams on the ceilings and around the door frames to the bedrooms, each adding to its farmhouse feel. While we planned to go out to dinner that evening, the well-stocked kitchen made MP wish we brought provisions to make a special meal of our own. The kitchen is spacious and bright with honey-hued cabinetry and plenty of counter space for meal prep.
The decor at the Oxbow Farmhouse is eclectic and fun. There are nods to the brewery with framed photos of handprinted beer labels, a few bottles displayed on windowsills, and vintage books on the shelves including “Beer Can Collectors Bible.” MP got a kick out of the VHS collection, which included eighties classics like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
MP also had her eye on some painted wooden pieces displayed on the walls. She later learned the artwork is by Oxbow Art Director, Will Sears. The oil enameled painting on wood assemblage comes in a variety of shapes, and in many ways, the art reflects the rustic style of the farmhouse.
We had three bedrooms to choose from in the house. While they were all inviting and spacious, MP settled on a room with a little red chair, wooden desk, and a queen size bed with a quilted duvet and woven red throw. Like so much of the farmhouse, she loved the white walls and the simplicity of the space. For a parent, there’s something to be said about sleeping in a room that’s uncluttered and clean (unlike our own that’s filled with laundry, paperwork, and toys and books the kids leave behind).
Once we were settled, we went outside to explore the grounds. In the backyard, we found raised garden beds and still ripe red raspberries growing on vines. Oxbow’s cat, Dizzy, closely followed us as we walked, until we ran into a few guinea hens walking in the grassy field beyond the gardens.
The tasting room at Oxbow closes at 7:00 p.m., so we decided to return for one last round before dinner. MP was happy to learn pretzels and cheeses are available to purchase. Even though her first samples came in modest 5 oz. glasses, she knew another beer had to come with food. DP selected a bag of pretzels, ordered beers at the bar and brought them over to an oak barrel table where we played Tic Tac Toe under twinkling lights.
While we were there, we also chatted with a retired couple from Wiscasset, who visit the tasting room nearly every Friday night. They came prepared with their own snacks, and said sometimes they bring pizza — a BYO in reverse! The sweet couple gushed over Oxbow’s beers and said they loved the events at the brewery, especially the upcoming Goods from the Woods celebration. The late afternoon event, which happens on October 24 this year, features goodies from local food trucks, music, and because of the event’s nearness to Halloween, some guests arrive in costume. Such fun!
We finished our beers and told the bartender, an outgoing 27-year-old named Emily Meader, we were looking for a casual, moderately priced place for dinner in Damariscotta. She suggested we try King Eider’s Pub, which is known for local oysters, but when we arrived, the restaurant was packed. Our only option would be to sit outside, which didn’t seem appealing on a 40º night. We decided to drive twenty minutes to Monstweag Roadhouse in Woolwich — a restaurant we’ve passed on Route One and have been curious about. The pub was also packed, but learning from our first experience, we called ahead to secure a table.
As is often the case when we try a new pub, we kept to safe, tavern-fare. Dad Potato picked the BBB burger, which arrived blackeed with blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and barbecue sauce. MP, whose stomach can’t handle a big burger, decided on a Roadhouse taco with grilled haddock, avocado, cilantro mayonnaise and salsa Fresca. Our meals were served quickly, and each dish was flavorful and satisfying.
On the way back to the farmhouse, we picked up tea and cookies at the local grocery store. We couldn’t wait to settle in for the night with dessert, a warm drink and books in hand. Ah yes, this is what a getaway is all about. What a treat to have an evening to ourselves!
DP and MP could have easily stayed at the farmhouse another night, but CP#2 had a Saturday morning football game we couldn’t miss. As we packed our bags and took in the morning sun shining through the windows, we decided we would revisit the Oxbow Farmhouse with friends and family. The place is great to visit without kids, but filling the rooms with laughter, exploring the logging trails behind the house, and sharing meals (and great beer) with friends, seems even better.
Thanks so much to Katie, Celeste, Emily and the generous staff at Oxbow for hosting us!
FMI about the Oxbow Farmhouse rental, visit Airbnb.
Oxbow Farmhouse & Tasting Room
274 Jones Wood Road
PS: Have an idea for a parent getaway? Write us.