The Maine Brewers’ Guild describes itself as a “non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the craft beer industry in Maine.” And if you have one of the Brewers’ Guild Trail Passport maps (which you shouldn’t be without if you want to make your way through Maine tasting beers at more than 60 specially chosen craft beer makers) you’ll discover a new stop. Guy Hews and his family are proud to be behind the brew pub Liberty Craft Brewing. They’re also happy to stamp the beer passports of visitors who make it to their neck of the woods.
A Craft Brew Pub
Hews used to spend a lot of his downtime making, tasting and drinking home-brewed beer with friends. He’s been an “avid home brewer” for more than six years and says he often told his friends, “When I build my garage, I’m going to build a man cave where I can brew beer.” While his working time was spent as a full-time engineer for the state of Maine, his friends told him again and again that he should start selling it. They worked to convince him to open his own brew pub.
Now situated in a two-story building that looks like a small, rustic lodge (atop a garage) and sits directly next to his family home in Liberty, Maine, his so-called “man cave” houses a nano-brewery and craft brew pub. Hews designed and built it along with a cousin who is a fabricator. So now Hews has two full-time jobs.
All About the “Beah”
Hews is originally from Liberty. He comes from a family line of blueberry farmers. His great-grandfather, Guy, owned blueberry fields across the road. His uncle still owns land that’s leased out to other farmers, but retains a smaller family patch—which is where Hews gets his berries. Hews keeps that lineage in mind with a special brew that contains the flavor of locally raked blueberries. It goes by the name of “Blueberry Beah”. (Say it aloud and you’ll see the name originates from an authentic Maine accent.)
The hand-crafted micro brews Hews makes use local ingredients including hops, wheat, barley, blueberries, honey and habanero peppers. There are typically six beers on tap—with three “regulars” and three that change. He says currently he does a range of nine beers in total. It takes about two weeks from beginning to end of the brewing process and uses a wood-fired gasification system. Bottles and growlers are always on hand. With the growler loyalty card, after you buy five, you’ll get one for a penny. (You can’t give beer away for free in Maine as it’s illegal.)
His favorite beer is called “The Night Cap,” an imperial coffee porter named by one of his friends. Other flavors include Liquid Heat Sour, a sour ale made with local hot peppers, Haystack Extra Pale Ale and St. George Golden Pilsner, inspired by nearby Lake St. George and it’s clean spring waters. Hews appreciates beer styles from around the world and has recently crafted a Bier de Garde, which he describes as an, “exclusive release of Canadian grain, Maine hops grown on the premise and yeast cultured there.”
Room With a View
A second level tasting room and pub provides a beautiful view of the Camden Hills and surrounding countryside, and patrons can really take it in from picnic tables perched outside.
A small pub menu accompanies his beers. Hews tries to locally source plenty of the menu items including the hamburger, bratwurst and pulled pork sandwiches–all being popular items. Some of their items including sausage, sauerkraut, pickles and condiments come from Morse’s Sauerkraut, a famous Kraut Haus and European deli/market located nearby that was once only open in the fall, but is now all year round (and is also worth a stop).
All In the Family
The business has become a family affair. Wife Karen helps with greeting, serving and hostess duties. Hews has four children who also pitch in. For instance, son Michael, 16, gets involved with some of the cooking duties, although he’s more famous within the family as the “dishboy”. His stepdaughter Madison helps take the orders and his two other boys Maguire and Luke do odd jobs.
Occasionally Hews hosts informal events, such as local concerts when the weather is nice. This is an added benefit for his customers, many of whom are tourists visiting from foreign countries who leave with a different kind of passport–a beer passport–in hand. And he continues to be proud to stand behind the mission of the Brewers’ Guild–helping to keep Maine’s craft beer culture thriving and diverse.