Steve Gorrill, of the Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company, stands in the brewery’s newly opened tasting room at 74 Hollywood Boulevard in Whitefield July 16. (Abigail Adams photo)
The Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company in Whitefield recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and has opened its doors to customers to taste the company’s highly regarded product in the company’s tasting room. (Abigail Adams photo)
By Abigail W. Adams
In its 20th year of brewing what many have hailed the best beer in Maine, the Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company has added another purpose to its multi-purpose room in the Whitefield barn that serves as the company’s brewery and distribution center.
The doors of the brewery, located on Hollywood Boulevard in Whitefield, will be open select hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for visitors to sample the company’s six available brews.
Among them is the recipe that Steve Gorrill began his company with approximately 20 years ago – the Mad Goose Belgian Pale Ale.
“Everybody else was doing it,” Gorrill said of his decision to open the tasting room. The same-style market analysis led Gorrill, a former oyster farmer, into the craft brew business approximately 20 years ago.
“I wanted to work for myself,” Gorrill said. “I looked at other small breweries. There weren’t a lot and I thought, I can do this.” The brewery Gorrill began three weeks before his son was born has grown in size and reputation.
Gorrill has been featured in a variety of books and magazines and has garnered an unofficial reputation for producing some of the finest brews in Maine. Approximately two years ago, a health condition almost forced Gorrill into retirement.
After collapsing one day, Gorrill discovered he had a brain tumor and was scheduled for emergency surgery. While most of the tumor was removed, doctors gave Gorrill three years to live.
The diagnosis has since been revised and Gorrill’s life expectancy was extended by more than a decade. Stable, Gorrill is not only continuing to produce his sought-after products; he is expanding the services offered by the brewery in its 20th year.
Visitors are now able to visit the brewery in person and sample the variety of ales created in the next room.
Located on land protected by the Maine Farmland Trust, Gorrill was able to work out an arrangement with the trust to open the tasting room in May. Money is exchanged for tokens, which can then be exchanged for 3- or 12- ounce samples of Sheepscot Valley Brewing Co.’s available beers.
There are few frills in the tasting room, just T-shirts of the various logos adopted to signify Sheepscot Valley Brewing’s various blends, such as a one-eyed dinosaur, the Pemaquid Point lighthouse, and a
man named Dick falling down a mountain.
Peanuts are offered in a bowl that has the disclaimer, “Warning. May contain peanut products.” On a nice day, samples can be tested outside at a picnic table with empty kegs for legs.
What the room lacks in interior design, it makes up for in its high-quality craft brews. A couple from Michigan traveled the dirt road that is Whitefield’s Hollywood Boulevard to the tasting room on July 16.
Connoisseurs that had visited most of the breweries listed on the Maine Brewers Guild Beer Trail Passport, the couple purchased a couple of 22-ounce bottles to take home with them, despite their limited luggage space. “This really is wonderful beer,” they said.
Among the brews currently available are the Tumbledown Dick, a double IPA named after the legend about a man named Dick shared by two mountains in Maine; Pemaquid Ale, the brewery’s signature blend; the West Quoddy, a British-style ale; the Old Sow, a double IPA; and the recipe Gorrill began his career with, the Mad Goose Belgian Pale Ale.
The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Hours are subject to change. For more information, contact Sheepscot Valley Brewing Co. at 549-5530.