Sasanoa Brewery on Westport Island to open in June
There’s a new brewery coming to Midcoast Maine. Westport Island will be the home port of Sasanoa Brewing, at Tarbox Farm at 62 Tarbox Road.
Owners of the MOFGA-certified organic farm Kyle DePietro and Angie Trombley have been working long hours to get the brewery up and running.
The farm encompasses about eight acres. It produces practically every vegetable except corn, and produces fruits, flowers and culinary herbs. All are viable possibilities for flavoring and enhancing the beers the couple will be brewing.
“(The brewery) has been on our list of things we wanted to add to the farm for a long time,” Trombley said. “Over the past two years – it takes a while to develop everything and figure out how to do it, and now it’s coming together. It’s been a long process.” They got a Farms for the Future grant, and then started their business plan.
Now the brewing equipment has been purchased, and the couple is working on building the space that will house it. They hope to be brewing by May and selling beer by summer.
DePietro said they’ve been looking at different ways to maximize profits on their farm, and the beer will be a value-added product. They’re starting small, with a two-barrel system, and six fermenters in the brew house. The couple brewed some beers last fall, but haven’t started in force yet, as they’ve been busy with their everyday farming chores and working on the new building.
Most of their beers will flow with the seasons. “They’ll follow some of the rhythms of the farm, what is growing well at different times of the year,” DePietro said. “Everything won’t be doing well every year and we may get some new ideas based on the seasons. We’re going to try to follow the farm to give us inspiration.
“We’ll use a lime basil, with a refreshing citrus-y flavor, in the summer.”
There’s a big old chestnut tree on their property, so the brewers will be experimenting with a beer using chestnuts; and grapes, strawberries and blueberries are grown at the farm, so those will be some of the flavors to look forward to at Sasanoa Brewing.
“We’re really trying to tie the brewery in with the farm, because we’re farmers,” Trombley said.
Though DePietro is a full-time farmer, he’s no newbie to the business of brewing beer. He began as an assistant brewer, at 19, at the Times Square Brewery in New York City, where he learned from a German brew master.
From there, he went to Mountain Valley Brewing Company in Suffern, New York, then to the Brooklyn Brewery, and later worked as the assistant brewer at the Great Adirondack Brewing Company.
The couple have been farming for 15 years, starting on the Squire Tarbox Inn property. When DePietro came to Westport Island in 2003, the inn was owned and run by his parents, Roni and Mario De Pietro.
He started with raised beds and growing produce for the inn’s kitchen. After doing it for a year, he started farming for himself and selling his products at farmers markets.
Before meeting DePietro and getting into the farming life full-time, Trombley worked in the restaurant industry and taught yoga, which she still does, in her “free time.” Farming wasn’t in her sights.
“When I first met Kyle I had a little plot of garden, but I never saw myself doing this.”
DePietro and Trombley discovered the land their farm is now on, owned by the Tarbox family, while walking around the neighborhood from their then-home on nearby Back Door Road.
She helped him out some in the first couple years, then slowly grew into a full-time farmer and a mother. The couple has three sons, Stellan, Elijah and Julian, ages almost 3 to 7, who like to ride their bikes to the farm and help their parents with some of the chores. “I’ve been farming and being a mom for the last eight years.”
Now she’s a beer brewer, too.
With three greenhouses working year-round, there are always new ideas for brewing beer. “That’s part of why we wanted to move forward with the brewery,” Trombley said. She added that it was something that ties in with the farm, using farm ingredients, and though it's labor-intensive, they love the fact that beer, unlike vegetables, is non-perishable. And she said they're very passionate about brewing high quality, unique beer.
They already have ginger growing to use in one of their brews; and some of the grains, like buckwheat, that will be used in the beers, are grown on the farm.
Trombley said the two have learned to be efficient in their farming chores, by necessity. “We’re trying to balance family and farming, and now starting a new business.”
The beers, like everything else produced on the farm, will be certified as organic. There’s only one other certified-organic brewery in Maine.
The farm will offer tastes of the new brewery’s beers at the Boothbay and Bath farmers markets this summer. Tastings will eventually be offered at the farm, too. “People can come and walk around the farm, pick up some fresh produce, and sample a beer,” DePietro said.
“We’re looking at having a retail space down here,” Trombley said. “The vision is to support other local, small artisanal businesses, like cheeses that we could sell. We’re hoping that when we have a tasting room, that we’ll be able to service the community. This is a great place to live. We love our community and all our neighbors. Everyone is fabulous.”
Reach the farm and the brewery at (207) 522-0840.