From Blueberries to Brandy
Camden Gets its First Waterfront Distillery
Blueberries are on the menu this year for Camden’s first distillery. Though instead of that sweet, jammy taste one expects from a pie or even a brew, Blue Barren Distillery’s newly released Eau de Vie will surprise you with its sophisticated spirit.
Co-owners Andrew Stewart and Jeremy Howard, a seventh generation blueberry farmer, are behind the new venture.
“Everyone knows the blueberry industry is in decline, which is unfortunate, because it’s still one of Maine’s most iconic products,” said Howard. “So, a couple of years ago, Andrew and I were talking one day, brainstorming ways we could make a secondary product out of each year’s harvest. With his experience in the restaurant industry, our thoughts turned to a distilled blueberry brandy.”
First, Stewart and Howard had to invest several years in educating themselves about the distilling process and settled upon the location, a machine shop that abuts Lyman Morse’s marina on the “quiet” side of the Camden harbor, right next to The Rhumb Line, another popular dockside bar/restaurant.
The microdistillery’s workhorse is a 100-gallon stainless and copper Vendome Copper & Brassworks still, a magnificent piece of equipment that dominates the newly opened tasting room.
As the owners awaited their grand opening last May with an outdoor deck, they conducted a couple of soft opening trial runs to unveil their first product, a clear blueberry Eau de Vie.
Every year, each batch of blueberries will have their own flavor and identity and will be sold on a limited basis. Stewart and Howard look forward to the distillery’s next projects, aiming for a Scottish-inspired gin styled after a Plymouth gin as well as a rum with six new spirits.
Both men have a lot on their plate (Stewart runs Camden’s Drouthy Bear, while Howard assists with Brodis Blueberries, the family farm in Hope). As such, they’re not looking to go far and wide with distribution, wanting to keep Blue Barren Distillery a mainstay for the local community.
“We just want to make a local product that the community is proud of,” said Stewart. “In both of our jobs, we work with and engage with the people who live here year round, so we wanted to give them a place and some nice spirits they can enjoy.” Blue Barren Distillery’s 2019 fall hours are Thursday – Sunday | 3pm-8pm.
— Text: Kay Stephens. Kay loves beer and hiking and often combines the two. She is an author and freelance writer whose work has appeared in a number of Maine newspapers and magazines.