Offshore Ale, despite an Oak Bluffs selectman


To the Editor:

I thoroughly enjoyed Tony Omer’s article on the recent hop-picking party [Hop pickers work up a thirst for local brew, September 13] up at Alan Northcott’s, but a story about hops, the bittering agent in beer, churned up a lot of bitter memories and opened up some old wounds for me. I guess my relationship to hops is a bit specific, you see, since I built the Offshore Ale Company from the ground up back in 1996.

While some of the Oak Bluffs locals were busy lambasting me for closing the old laundromat (it was already closed for months by the time I bought the property) I had to deal with the likes of the late Linda Marinelli, the former selectman who maintained that she didn’t want any more alcohol in Oak Bluffs. I would have had no problem respecting her opinion on the matter had she not enthusiastically approved alcohol licenses for other applicants during that same time period, including one for a short-lived Irish pub not 75 feet away from my property on Kennebec Avenue.

Selectman Marinelli and her cronies were quick to condemn me personally and the Offshore Ale Company, before it had even opened for business They waged a campaign against me and maintained that the brewery would ruin the decidedly alcohol saturated fabric of the town. Ms. Marinelli pursued me relentlessly to no avail, while making her fiendishly unsubstantiated and outlandish claims. If the lights in Offshore were burning after our designated closing hour, she determined we must have been serving alcohol after hours. If another selectman was seen patronizing the establishment, she declared publicly that they “were on the take.” Her convoluted assertions were pathetic but costly, and at the time the powers that held sway over affairs in Oak Bluffs tolerated her antics and never called her to task. Ultimately her attacks on me, my company, and numerous others cost the town a considerable amount of money and, in my opinion, a general loss of respect.

Eventually, she tired of attacking me and had other targets in her sights, but not before she walked into the brewery one morning and told me to “go back to wherever I was from.” In later years, even after she was sanctioned by the Massachusetts State Ethics Department over unrelated matters, she continued to careen through town government like a juggernaut, unchecked by her fellow elected officials.

When I built the Offshore Ale Company, I envisioned a place where people of all ages, including families with children, would congregate and enjoy themselves. When I sold the company seven years ago and moved on, I felt secure knowing that Phil and Colleen McAndrews, the new owners, would do a great job, and that Offshore Ale would continue to forge on for many years to come as the Oak Bluffs landmark it has certainly become.

As it turned out, contrary to selectman Marinelli’s accusations, Offshore Ale didn’t destroy the fabric of Oak Bluffs. Instead, it became what is often referred to as an anchor business, which has operated year-round for more than 17 years and counting. During my tenure we served nearly a million meals. No easy feat, I assure you.

I designed Offshore Ale Company to last 100 years or more, and it has already weathered the worst, in the form of small-minded, biased, inept, and misguided town officials.

In the end, I suppose I was the victor, but I prefer to think it was the general public that ultimately came out ahead.

Robert Skydell