BrewReview: Odd By Nature Brewing
By: Brandon Lawrence
BeerSeeker on the Job: Brandon
Maine is a state teeming with incredible beer; where new breweries are popping up regularly, but not at the expense of the quality. In fact, the boundaries of what’s considered “good” continue to be pushed one way or another. And at the heart of Maine’s beer uniqueness is the less-than-a-year-old Odd By Nature Brewing out of Cape Neddick, which, as you can discern from the name, prides itself on its unique approach to brewing.
Before we even dive into the review, it’s worth checking out our Industry Insiders interview with owner Jay Grey, which we conducted in September. Jay gives far more insight into their mission, setup and approach than we ever could in this blog. And he was just one of our favorite dudes to chat with.
I made two separate trips to Odd By Nature before we were able to record with Jay. The first time I stopped in was to pick up some to-go beers on my way back from Portland in August that just so happened to coincide with Tropical Storm Henri hitting New England. I pulled into the parking lot, sprinted inside to take shelter from the rain and, as a testament to the early success of the brewery, it was MOBBED. During a hurricane! I quickly met Jay, told him how thrilled I was to see the place packed, got my beers and hit the road. The second trip I made was with BeerSeeker Nick over Labor Day Weekend while we were camping in Cape Neddick. That time we got to sit down and actually enjoy the brewery and dive into the beer menu. This review takes it all into account, so let’s jump in!
The brewery itself was constructed from the ground up for this purpose, as Jay said in our interview. So the building is brand new, but don’t show up thinking you’re walking into this giant warehouse filled with brew kettles and long tables. Nope, this building is on the smaller side just off Route 1, and is relatively unassuming save for the Odd By Nature Brewing sign on the front lawn you likely won’t miss. The taproom on the ground floor continues to emphasize the brewery’s name.
When you walk in, you’re punched in the face with bright pink walls on one side and bright green on the other. Huge brewery logos adorn the walls on either side, one hanging right behind the good-sized bar on the left side of the room. Barrels used as tables are strewn across the floor and outside there’s plenty of room for picnic tables on the lawn. The brewery may be right on Route 1, but it’s quiet and peaceful in this particular spot.
The staff was incredibly kind and helpful both visits, and Jay was there as well, flying around laughing and chatting with everyone. That’s when it made perfect sense to me why so many people were willing to brave hurricane-like conditions just to be in this friendly, welcoming environment.
You know what made it even better though? The beer. This was a fun one to write...
Okay, so if it weren’t already fairly obvious that this place does things differently, one look up and down the beer menu would cement that fact. Odd By Nature specializes in candy beers, meaning Jay and crew play up on the nostalgia certain candies can conjure from their (and our) childhood and turn them into styles of beer. That was one of our most interesting takeaways from the interview. Jay noted that you can walk into any brewery and get a solid New England-style IPA, so Odd By Nature aims to provide a different experience for those looking to branch out. But don’t worry traditionalists! There’s typically always an IPA or stout or lager on draft.
We took one look at the menu and immediately had trouble deciding which awesome-sounding brew we were going to start with.
Since it’s a smaller operation, the beers on tap and in cans are on a strict rotation. So when something sells out, it’s gone until the next time it appears in the brew cycle (and who knows when that will be, so if you go to OBN and try something you love, snag it). Between my two visits getting to-go beers and our Labor Day Weekend trip, we got to a hefty amount of the menu. So let’s get to some top picks!
Shark Attack (Sour Gose) 6.1% ABV
I grew up a massive sugar head, so naturally I was in heaven at a place that professionally combines candy and beer. And if we’re being honest here, this one could easily double as my top pick. I thought it was that good.
Bear with me here, as I can picture some people reading this next sentence and puckering just from the words on page. This beer is a traditional gose aged on 20 pounds of blue gummy sharks per barrel with green apple tepache and marshmallow. I know, trust me. I’ll give it to you straight, if you aren’t a fan of sweetness in your beer, you won’t share my reaction. But I thought the flavor combo was on point, with the hint of tartness from the apple tepache undercutting the candy sweetness and marshmallow thickness.
If you know me, you know I’m all about the addition of marshmallow to balance out an overly tart sour. The reason it’s my double-take pick wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t think I’d enjoy the taste, but I had some initial reservations seeing a beer come out entirely blue. But Shark Attack was, as the kids say, *chef’s kiss*.
Red Headed Step-Son (Sour/Fruited Berliner-Weisse) 6% ABV
A bit of the same vein as Shark Attack, but a totally different flavor profile and a collab with J. Wakefield Brewing, Red Headed Step-Son was the first to-go beer I bought from Odd By Nature and remains one of my favorites. It was also the first beer I had ever tried with the addition of rhubarb.
I’m no culinary expert, so I can’t really describe “rhubarb” as a flavor. But that didn’t stop me from tasting it immediately. It’s sort of an obvious addition that certainly enhances the overall characteristics and flavor, I just can’t quite put my finger on why. Along with rhubarb, this one is brewed with strawberry sour belt candy, marshmallow (shocking, I know), vanilla and pineapple. It plays off that familiar strawberry-rhubarb combo I’m sure many grew up on.
Again, probably not for everyone. But to me this was a well-executed and unique flavor profile that had all the elements I crave in my favorite sours of all time. And if we’re keeping score, between these two beers plus Odd By Nature’s collab with Definitive Brewing earlier this summer called First They’re Sour, Then They’re Sweet made with sour gummy candy, that makes up three of my Top-10 Sours list.
We talk all the time about how the brewing community is truly just that - a community. You’d think from an outsider perspective that competition would be rampant, but we’ve found it to be almost the exact opposite. And in a time when it feels like most industries are shut off to those on the outside, that community has been incredibly welcoming and helpful to us as we continue on our craft beer adventure doing BeerSighted.
Jay and team at Odd By Nature is no exception. I got maybe 10 feet inside the crowded building on my first visit before an employee came right up and asked, “how can I help you?” When I got my beers to go along with a brewery hat, Jay was right there thanking me for my support and handing me a free sticker. It truly doesn’t get any better, especially when you’re building a customer base.
Their willingness to jump on and do an interview after a few quick text exchanges is one thing, but combining that with multiple philanthropic missions and principles makes Odd By Nature an easy one to support. And it helps that they’ve been churning out hit after hit in the beer world since their doors opened on June 15. Nothing odd about that!
To find out more about Odd By Nature, visit their website here and check them out on social media @oddbynaturebrewing.