Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 19, 2014
Deep Water Brewing Co. hosts grand opening and bottle release
Local restaurateurs will open doors to new brewery and tasting facility
The beer barn, directly behind the Deep Water Brewing Co. in Blue Hill, Maine dates from the 18th century and sports 33 solar panel units. It will be the site of a community open house on Tuesday, June 25, 2014 to celebrate the grand opening of the brewery.
Those residents who have driven, biked, walked or even crawled past the Deep Water Brewing Co. and wondered just what has been going on with that old barn in the back will now have a chance to find out.
The official grand opening of the newly completed brewing facility, with a tasting area and upstairs shop, will coincide with a bottle release on Tuesday, June 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. The event will include free beer tasting opportunities and will feature first-time availability of Deep Water’s pale ale, called “The Bends,” in 22-ounce bottles as well as informal tours of the brewery.
From an idea to reality
The transformation of the 18th century barn into a brewing and tasting facility has been a few years in the making, with the original idea being conceptualized in January 2012, according to Arborvine restaurant and Deep Water Brewing Co. owner John Hikade.
Hikade’s son, Tim, who runs the brewing operation, was “the motivator,” he said. From humble beginnings, the brewpub business has proven successful—enough to eventually require a larger production system.
“We started with five gallon [batches], then we went to 20 gallon,” Tim Hikade recalled. “This was the experimental stage.”
Now the Hikades employ a three-barrel system, with each barrel having a 33 gallon capacity, and a barn that was just a “catch-all storage area” for a number of years has become the perfect shelter for not only the larger production system but also a tasting area and a shop.
Old and new
Preserving the barn itself as a historical building was an added bonus for Hikade. “We’re losing old buildings way too fast,” he lamented. “Hopefully this one will be around for another two centuries.”
The barn, originally located across the street and saved by a previous owner of Hikade’s property, required a complete renovation. Hikade, who has extensive experience renovating old buildings, initially stripped the structure down to its original frame and roof before taking just over two years to fully reconstruct the barn to suit its new purpose.
“The goal was to preserve the ambiance of a post and beam structure, but have a scrubbable modern production facility,” he said. The barn is anchored on a new concrete foundation, and where there was once a large barn door there are now windows allowing plenty of natural light into the area. Shiny stainless steel mash tuns and a brew kettle inhabit one room and fermentation tanks are in the adjacent space, all of which can be viewed through interior windows facing the center of the facility. The tasting area is essentially a modern kitchen with the addition of six taps on a stainless panel on the wall.
Modernity plays a role in efficiency as well, with the barn’s roof being covered by solar panels on one side. “This [may be] the only solar-powered brewery in Maine,” Hikade asserts. “Certainly in this part of Maine.” The building is also equipped with radiant floor heat and high-efficiency insulation.
Looking toward the future
Taking the time to do things the right way continues to be a key component in what the Hikades aim to do with their deepening involvement in beer making. In the best traditions of craft brewing, they desire to keep things local. There is a large hops trellis in the back lot, upon which most, if not all, of the hops needed for a season’s brewing will grow. “We want to use Aroostook County grains as much as possible,” Hikade said. He would love to see more organic farmers in Maine growing different grains but acknowledged that this requires large amounts of acreage.
Hikade also hopes to eventually reach other markets with Deep Water’s bottled beers, like Camden and Bar Harbor. But for now it’s enough to celebrate the completion of the brewing facility.
The brewery will be open for tours and tastings at 3 p.m. on most days. Hikade encourages people to visit the store “for T-shirts and caps before going to the pub for happy hour.”