Olive Pit Brewing Co. founder and owner, Christy Cain. Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki

Olive Pit Brewing: Brewing Something for Everyone

Sietz. Bleib.” That’s German for “Sit. Stay.” And it’s the name of one of Olive Pit Brewing Company’s first brews – a pilsner.

“It’s a dog pun, but it’s also what we want our customers to do,” said Christine “Christy” Cain, the brewery’s owner and head brewer. “I want to be welcoming and open to everyone.”

Olive Roo. Photo courtesy Christy Cain.

Olive Roo. Photo courtesy Christy Cain.

Dog references are common at Olive Pit Brewing (olivepitbrewing.com), which first opened its tasting room doors in January, 2022. Located at 16 Main Street in Lisbon Falls, the business is named after Cain’s beloved pittie, Olive Roo. Her paw print adorns the brewery’s growlers and flight boards and black-and-white photos of the pup decorate the tasting room walls.

Other beers on the menu include AmStaff Cherrier Pastry Sour and Wagworthy Fruit Hefeweizen.

It’s a fun theme, especially for dog lovers, but it’s only part of what makes Olive Pit Brewing a special spot that has quickly become a gathering place for the community.

Cain and her wife, Marcy Wittman, moved to Maine from western New York in 2015, with no intentions of opening a brewery. The idea was born out of their desire for less hoppy – or bitter – beer.

“I loved the whole beer culture and the tasting room experience here, but my wife and I hate hoppy beer,” Cain said. “And that was what we were finding. When we went to tasting rooms, even when you asked for the least hoppy, they were still 35 IBU (International Bitterness Units) and higher.”

At first, Cain joked about opening her own brewery. But that joke eventually morphed into daydreaming, then outright planning. Having worked in the food and beverage industry for many years, she was confident about her abilities to run a business, but she needed to learn about the process of making beer.

Cain started brewing at home, then completed a six-month course in intensive brewing science and engineering through the American Brewers Guild in Vermont.

“The driver was just creating a place where we focused more on malt-forward beers,” Cain said. “Everyone else has nailed the hoppy beers. That’s taken care of. I do have a hoppy beer on tap because I want to have something for everyone. But that’s really my focus: providing a full spectrum of beers, so there’s something for everyone.”

Photo: Aislinn Sarnacki

Through trial and error, Cain has succeeded in creating that variety. Currently, Olive Pit’s “on tap” menu features a dozen brews ranging from a hazy, strawberry pale ale to a sweet, milky stout. Her Irish red ale is the brewery’s top seller. And the rich porter made with a hint of Moxie soda – called Hometown Moxie – always draws the interest of new customers. (Fun fact: Lisbon is home to the annual Moxie Festival.)

Beer names can reveal a lot about a brewery.

Olive Pit’s Pink Boots Sour, for example, is made from hops purchased in support of the Pink Boots Society, an organization of women in the fermented beverages industry. Celebrating and working with women entrepreneurs is important to Cain, who named her fermentation tanks after “badass women,” including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Susan B. Anthony. (Naming fermentation tanks is somewhat of a brewer tradition, Cain explained.)

Olive Pit Brewing Company is the first 100-percent woman-owned brewery in the state, Cain said.

“It’s just sort of empowering knowing that you can get into what’s typically been a man’s world and be successful,” she said.

Cain says that she sees some momentum when it comes to women’s leadership in the beer world. Shea Hearsum Cusick, for example, was recently announced as the incoming executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

“I think she’ll be an amazing advocate for the community,” said Cain, who has worked beside Cusick at beer festivals.

When it came time to open a tasting room for Olive Pit Brewing, Cain decided to stay in her own community. Located between Lewiston and Brunswick, the small town of Lisbon Falls is home to about 4,000 people.

“There was so much support and enthusiasm from people in the town that I became more and more focused on being here,” she said.

Photo: Aislinn Sarnacki

It took a couple of years to find the right building for the brewery and tasting room, Cain said. The brick structure was constructed in 1919 and was previously a hair salon. Cain and her wife renovated it, knocking down walls, and building a bar where the hair-washing station used to be.

The spacious tasting room is now a mixture of industrial and farmhouse styles, with gray walls, black metal fixtures, and an abundance of old, repurposed wood. With ample seating and space to spread out, it’s a great spot for groups and families with kids. In fact, Cain supplies chalk to children who’d like to draw on the blacktop of the outdoor beer garden.

Dogs are also welcome in the beer garden, of course.

In just over a year, the brewery has secured a number of regular customers, especially for Thursday night trivia. It also frequently offers live music, paint nights, and other events. Local art, available for purchase, hangs on the wall of the back room.

While the building doesn’t include a kitchen, the brewery offers simple snacks including soft pretzels and a rotating selection of paninis. In the future, Cain aims to provide tasting experiences that pair various beers with certain foods.

This summer, keep an eye out for a selection of beer floats to grace the menu. And while some of the brewery’s most favored brews will remain on tap, others will be swapped out for new creations.

“I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again,” she said. “I want to keep trying new and different things, and a variety of styles and to keep learning. And the people in the craft brew drinking community want to know what’s new. They want to try new things, too.”

Story by Aislinn Sarnacki, freelance journalist, Registered Maine Guide, and author of three hiking guidebooks. Follow her on Instagram @aislinnsarnacki or on Facebook at Aislinn Sarnacki – Author & Hiking Guide.

Web Hosting Provided by Maine Hosting Solutions