The Maine Beer Company: A Little Brewery Making Great Strides in Portland

“When Garrett Oliver told us that he could drink 5 of them — which means he likes a beer — I knew we had something”.

That’s what David from Maine Beer Co. told me over a couple rounds at Novare last night. And that’s exactly what Maine Beer Co. has – something great going for them.

The Maine Beer Company is Maine’s newest brewery, currently situated somewhere between elaborate home brewery and professional set up (in a realm often referred to as a “nano brewery” although they are quickly outgrowing the distinction); they brew their beers on a one barrel system and ferment in a 7 bbl tank (the only professional piece of equipment they have at the moment). The brewery is the dream of two brothers — Dave and Dan — which began just about four years ago when Dan was interning at a law firm in town where one of the partners, an avid homebrewer, offered beer classes and education for all of the interns. Just after the internship ended, Dan and his brother began homebrewing; first a few extract batches and then some all-grain batches on borrowed equipment. It’s safe to say they were hooked.

Over the following few years, after dozens of variations, the pair drafted and perfected the recipe which would go on to become the brewery’s first and flagship beer – Spring Peeper Ale. A West Coast-style hoppy pale ale which they describe as,

A clean, dry, bottle conditioned ale.  Its color is light, it has a moderate amount of American hops and its malts are all American.  It has excellent head retention and a nice fruity hop aroma. Alcohol 5.5%.

In July of this year, Dave (the company’s main sales guru) began peddling their beer throughout the greater Portland area. Novare Res was their first account, which closed on the day of this summer’s Brooklyn Showcase. They were there celebrating when Novare owner Eric Michaud shared a bottle with Brooklyn’s famed brewmaster Garrett Oliver. When Garrett approved of their beer wholeheartedly, sales took off and Dan & Dave haven’t looked back.

You can now find their beer across the Portland area, in places such as Novare, The Great Lost Bear, Downeast Beverage, Whole Foods Market, Flatbread, each Rosemont Market, and many others (click here for a full list of where to find their beer throughout the Portland metro area).

As for the future of the brewery, while the brothers do plan on expansion — purchasing larger brewing equipment, signing on with a distributor, entering more markets throughout the state and beyond — they also do not want to forget their roots. They hope to always be able to bottle condition their beers and produce small and experimental batches of beer. They plan to have flagship and year-round offerings, but do not want to ever be stuck brewing a set style or number of beers. They also plan to always offer the majority of their beer by the bottle, rather than kegging it all.

While they don’t plan on leaving their day jobs just yet (they do most of their brewing on the weekends for now), the Maine Beer Co. is a dream come true for the brothers, originally from Michigan, and they’re having a blast. As for the name,

We thought of every crazy name in the book. Seriously, we had a long list of terrible names. But finally brought it back to zero and went with the simplest name we could think of: Maine Beer Co. It was the best marketing  move we could make since people everywhere appreciate Maine-made products and there’s no mistaking where our beer comes from.

I really see great things in the future for the Maine Beer Co. They are providing Maine-made beer unlike every other beer made here. In Portland, it’s either all English-style ales or the Belgians of Allagash, but there wasn’t anything like the great beers being made in the Midwest and West Coast of the U.S., something Maine was severely lacking. Until now. If they can keep pumping out beers equal in quality and taste to the Spring Peeper and their first experimental (and Brown IPA which was on tap at Novare and the GLB a week or two ago) beer, they have nowhere to go but up.

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