New brewery 'keeping it simple'

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GRAY — Ever since Birchwood Brewing Co. opened its doors in February, co-owner Andrew Sanborn said it has had many “busy, busy weekends with lots of beer being sold.”

Birchwood has a local, community feel and is family- and dog-friendly. It recently began offering live music and has local groups lined up to perform on the weekends. 

“Being established in a small area that’s in desperate need of this sort of thing, we’ll be able to grow slowly, stay strong and just try to support people within a 10-mile radius,” Sanborn said.

The brewery, located at 19 Portland Road in the Gray Plaza, sells a variety of homemade beers in house as well as growlers to go. Sanborn said that while Birchwood does not distribute its beers “we plan on distributing it in the future to small restaurants within a small radius.”

Its three flagship beers are a wheat beer, a brown ale and an IPA, although Sanborn said they release new recipes all the time. They specialize in American ales and lagers. 

Birchwood, named after the road that Sanborn lives on in Poland, does not have a kitchen, so it offers only soft pretzels and other snacks. However, it has takeout menus available and allows its customers to bring in food to eat there.

“You can bring in all the takeout you want or a bagged lunch from home, it doesn’t matter. People have been really interested in that,” Sanborn said. 

Sanborn and co-owners Wesley Hewey and Stacy Strattard founded Birchwood in 2017. Sanborn and Hewey have been friends “for our whole life, 20-plus years,” Sanborn said, and worked together doing metal fabrication work and building breweries for 10 years. They’ve been brewing their own beer together for seven years. 

They began renovating their current location in July 2018 and opened the brewery in February. 

Sanborn said what makes Birchwood special is its atmosphere and its beers: “We kind of have the idea of just keeping everything really simple: clean, crisp, cold beers.” 

They are working on expanding a 4,000-square foot outdoor seating area and are booking events and parties as well. 

“It’s been great,” Sanborn said, and the community has given “an overwhelming amount of support.”

Birchwood is open Thursdays from 3 to 9 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. It is closed Monday through Wednesday for brewery production. 

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected] 

Birchwood Brewing Co. opened Feb. 15 in Gray. 

Birchwood Brewing co-owner Andrew Sanborn mixes a mash for one of Birchwood’s IPAs.