Fans of salty, smoky, seafood snacks can once again find a fix at the old smokehouse next to the S Road School in South Bristol.
South Bristol brothers Ken and Todd Lincoln smoke herring in the old smokehouse every year. Local fisherman and seafood dealer David Osier donates the herring.
The Lincolns soak the herring in salt brine for three days, string the herring onto hardwood rods, hang the rods in the smokehouse, and smoke it for five days, depending on the weather. The job requires frequent return trips to tend the fire in the smokehouse’s old wood stove.
“We do it for the history,” said Ken Lincoln. “It’s an old tradition.” Ken Lincoln also serves on the South Bristol Board of Selectmen and as president of the Thompson Ice House Preservation Corp., the nonprofit steward of the historic ice house across the road.
“A lot of people roll their eyes and go ‘Ew!’ … but at one point this was the only way they could preserve (the fish),” Ken Lincoln said.
“When I was a kid, I remember Henry Jones doing it in this smokehouse down by the bridge,” he said. “I was told by an old-timer the other day these are as good as any Henry ever smoked.”
For many years, the smokehouse was on a piece of land next to the bridge over The Gut. The Maine Department of Transportation wanted it removed, and late bridgetender Craig Plummer took it home.
When Plummer passed away in 2010, his son gave the smokehouse to the South Bristol Historical Society. Ken Lincoln built a foundation for the building next to the old schoolhouse at the intersection of Route 129 and the S Road.
As of Friday, Nov. 13, the fish are ready. The Lincolns request a $5 donation to the South Bristol Historical Society per string. To purchase a string, call Ken Lincoln at 831-9967. The herring will last months if stored in a cool place – no refrigeration necessary.
The salty, smoky snack goes best with a can of beer in the evening, according to reports.