Yankee Brew News October/November 2014 : Page 1
Story and photos by Hollie Chadwick ﬂ ashy label isn’t calling attention to its beers, that’s for certain, and you won’t see them pushing the envelope with extreme beers, but for Maine Beer Company, one of the leaders of the local craft beer movement, demand isn’t slowing down despite it. Brothers David and Daniel Kleban moved from Michigan to Maine in 1999 and set up shop at the right time in an unassuming industrial business complex in Portland with one simple mission: to brew good beer. Looking back on the early days, Daniel recalled the brother’s mindset. “Our original business plan was to grow to 3,000 barrels over ﬁ ve years,” Daniel said.” We thought 3,000 barrels — we’ll never get there. But we did, and we’ve L-R: Mark Fulton & Jared Carr (former employee) serving beer at Craft Beer Comes to Boothbay 2012. By Jordan Grif ﬁ n ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM hen a homebrewer goes pro, a nanobrewery is born. From construction to distribution, brewers have a hand in every aspect of building the business and more often than not, they’re doing most of it by themselves. For brewers pouring heart, soul and savings into a budding enterprise, beer quality is everything. Locavores and enthusiasts are seeking out the newest and most innovate brews. The demand is big — yet most nanos intend to stay small. Home Improvement Brewers with property are at a ﬁ nancial advantage over those without property. Better still, brewers with unused buildings who have basic carpentry skills will spend See Small p.4 surpassed that by twofold. Now you just pinch yourself, you can’t believe that it has gotten to where it’s gotten as fast as it has.” The brothers’ vision of opening a craft brewery started when Daniel took a brewing education class from Allan, one of the partners at the law ﬁ rm where he was interning, and David had a desire to create something tangible. Founded originally over talks during driveway homebrewing, Daniel and David started brewing commercially in 2009. They learned their path, and Maine Beer Company’s humble beginnings started by brewing one barrel at a time with See Maine Beer Co p.6 INSIDE Events Calendar....... 3 Brewsicology ........... 8 Book Review ............ 9 Tasting Panel ......... 10 Homebrew .............. 12 Maps/Directory .. 18-23 State by State News E. Massachusetts ..........14 Boston ............................16 W. Massachusetts .........24 Maine ..............................26 New Hampshire .............28 Connecticut ....................30 Vermont ..........................32 Rhode Island ..................34 NYC/Long Island ............36 Upstate NY .....................38
When a homebrewer goes pro, a nanobrewery is born. From construction to distribution, brewers have a hand in every aspect of building the business and more often than not, they're doing most of it by themselves.
For brewers pouring heart, soul and savings into a budding enterprise, beer quality is everything. Locavores and enthusiasts are seeking out the newest and most innovate brews. The demand is big - yet most nanos intend to stay small.
Brewers with property are at a financial advantage over those without property. Better still, brewers with unused buildings who have basic carpentry skills will spend the least amount of money to get a nanobrewery up and running.
"What's more efficient than working in a building you already pay taxes on?" Said Steve Allman, owner and brewer of Canterbury Aleworks. "I have very little extra capital invested."
The capital he does have invested may well be attributed to building materials - Allman's craftsmanship can be seen throughout the barnturned- brewery on his farm in Canterbury, N.H. The onebarrel brew system sits atop a wood-fired rocket stove that was constructed from bricks and metal. The stone-walled tasting room is warmed by a fireplace, filled with celtic knickknacks and is anchored by a thick mahogany bar, which Allman carved himself.
But if Allman's beer is what you're looking for, you'll only find it on eight taps in the tasting room or in bottles at the Concord and Canterbury farmer's markets; the brewery doesn't have any accounts.
"We want to be a destination experience," said Allman. He hopes the brewery will remain a family business, and that in the future his kids will return to the farm and run it when he's no longer able to.
In Berkley, Mass., Glenn Barboza's contracting background made converting a barn on his 3.5-acre farm into the Berkley Beer Company relatively easy - having electricians for neighbors didn't hurt either.
"It was fairly inexpensive because I did 98 percent of the work myself," said Barboza.
He engineered a wood-fired boiler that supplies the brewery with hot water. A bottling line was designed and built by his son, Glenn Jr.
"If you have your own property and you have the ability to do the build out and mechanical aspects by yourself, do it," said Barboza. "It'll save you tens of thousands of dollars."
Future expansion plans will keep the brewery on the farm.
"We have room to expand here, we could easily fit a 10-barrel system," he said. "Do I want to start doing tours? Add a tasting room? If I did, we'd have to go off-site. It wouldn't fit the business model here. Then it turns into renting a building, equipment and you'd have to take out a half-million dollar loan to do that. Expanding here and keeping it small is what we're focused on."
For Lee Margolin, building a brewery into an unused room of his house proved to be a good moneysaving technique. The tiny 236-square-foot sunroom was converted into the Pennesseewassee Brewing Company two years ago, and it's ready for an expansion.
"I have two options," said Margolin. "I own an empty lot next door that's undeveloped. I could either do a stand-alone building from scratch or build an addition on to the house."
The expansion will allow Margolin to upgrade from 1.5 barrels to 3.5 and add another recipe to the lineup: a brown ale brewed with local honey and elderberry.
"I'm very pleased with being locally oriented and self-sustaining," Margolin said. "It's where I wanted to be."
Hoping to move his brewery off the family farm is Bret Hamilton of Huntington, Vt. The four-barrel Stone Corral Brewery is outgrowing the toolshed it was built in last year.
"My wife has been gracious enough to let me use her tack barn as a tasting room, but we've completely run out of room," said Hamilton. "We're bursting at the seams."
It's a big step for brewers to move off property they already own and start paying rent elsewhere. But for Hamilton, setting up shop in a commercial building across town is worth the risk.
"It's going to be a lot more accessible to folks," he said. "And I'll have a lot more room to make beer."
For the city-dwelling homebrewer, going nano usually means moving into a commercial space. There are pros: bigger space, blank slate, accessibility. But, there are also cons: more invested capital, lease terms, cranky landlords.
On Long Island, brewer Steve Pominski got lucky.
"Once we decided to find a place, we looked quite extensively. It took us a long time, but we found a place for a good price, decent lease and it had all the utilities," he said.
Barrage Brewery opened at its Farmingdale, N.Y., location earlier this year.
"In the first two months, we outgrew our one-barrel system," said Pominksi. "We can't keep up with demand."
In June, a tasting room was constructed in what used to be his office.
"Each week we see a larger clientele, repeat customers," Pominksi said. "Bars in New York and Brooklyn are already asking for beer, but we have to tell them that they'll have to wait."
Relic Brewing Company of Plainville, Conn., opened in 2012. The industrial space Mark Sigman moved into became a bigger project than he anticipated.
"The building was hooked up to city water and sewer, but it wasn't wired correctly," said Sigman. "I had to pay for new transformers. And when I opened, there were so many codes and regulations. I had to re-plumb the tasting room. I spent way more money on space improvements than brewing equipment."
Fortunately, four months after opening Sigman was able to quit his day job.
"Once I started marketing the company and going to festivals, hundreds and hundreds of people started showing up," said Sigman. "I decided that this could really be a viable business."
For a brewery to open, it needs approval from federal, state and local governments. Surprisingly, it's local-level government that seems to be the trickiest to win over. Brewer Matt Richardson of Exeter, R. I., discovered that opening a brewery in his hometown would require lawmakers to draft an entirely new permit.
"In Exeter, they didn't allow breweries at all, essentially," said Richardson. "I worked with the town for over a year, and we wrote a new city ordinance together. They didn't want a Narragansett-sized brewery, but they were really supportive of farms."
Working with Richardson on the ordinance was Exeter town planner David Schweid. He and the town planning board recognized that farm breweries could promote agro-tourism in the small New England state.
"There's a difference between growing hops and selling them to Budweiser or Coors and growing hops and making your own beer," said Schweid. "We want to promote local agriculture, and we're giving those people a way to make some money." With local and Federal consent, Richardson's Tilted Barn Brewery is waiting for state approval before the brewhouse and tasting room can open to the public.
The brewery will open with a twobarrel brew system and eight barrel fermenters, with a goal of reaching the 10- to 15-barrel range per batch following an expansion. According to Richardson, that would be the maximum output as a farm brewery at the local level.
"We very much want to be a local destination brewery," said Richardson. "We're a small state. We're happy staying small."
Crafting the Business
It's obvious that brewers get into the business because they have a passion for brewing delicious beer (and we like drinking it). But once a brewery is established, it has to make money in order to remain a viable enterprise. It's a tough balancing act for a nano to be small enough to satisfy the local market but big enough to turn a profit. So, it begs the question, are there any nanos out there making money?
The short answer: Not really - yet.
"Everything we make from a profit standpoint goes back into the business," said Chris Tkach, co-owner and brewer at Idle Hands Craft Ales, Boston's pioneer nanobrewery. "Financially the brewery's been positive, but it's not at a point where I'm paying myself, though. We'd have to grow a bit in order for that to happen."
After the first summer open as a brewery, Gneiss Brewing Company of Limerick, Maine's co-owner Tim Bissell is optimistic.
"We're not out of the red in terms of owning equipment, but we're not in trouble financially," said Bissell. "We definitely want to keep on the smaller side of things. We want to get the business at a point where we can make enough beer to make enough money to keep things moving."
According to Relic Brewing's Mark Sigman, nanos can thrive as small-scale breweries so long as the beers they produce are unique and high quality - standard recipes aren't going to cut it. With craft beer sales up nearly 20 percent from last year, its clear that consumers are willing to pay for top notch local brews.
And although it is a business, nanobrewers maintain that it's not just about dollars and cents.
"People who start nanos aren't necessarily in it for the money," said Stone Corral's Bret Hamilton. "They're in it for the craft."
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Nano-Nanodo%21/1836555/229051/article.html.
The Maine Event
A flashy label isn't calling attention to its beers, that's for certain, and you won't see them pushing the envelope with extreme beers, but for Maine Beer Company, one of the leaders of the local craft beer movement, demand isn't slowing down despite it.
Brothers David and Daniel Kleban moved from Michigan to Maine in 1999 and set up shop at the right time in an unassuming industrial business complex in Portland with one simple mission: to brew good beer.
Looking back on the early days, Daniel recalled the brother's mindset.
"Our original business plan was to grow to 3,000 barrels over five years," Daniel said." We thought 3,000 barrels - we'll never get there. But we did, and we've surpassed that by twofold. Now you just pinch yourself, you can't believe that it has gotten to where it's gotten as fast as it has."
The brothers' vision of opening a craft brewery started when Daniel took a brewing education class from Allan, one of the partners at the law firm where he was interning, and David had a desire to create something tangible. Founded originally over talks during driveway homebrewing, Daniel and David started brewing commercially in 2009. They learned their path, and Maine Beer Company's humble beginnings started by brewing one barrel at a time with a one-barrel system and a seven-barrel fermentation tank.
Maine Beer Company is now among the forefront of the current state brewers. It showed itself to be at the cusp of a strong and steady upswing of craft brewing in Maine.
"In a lot of ways it was dumb luck to get in at that time," Daniel said. "We didn't know what was going to happen then. It just so happened that we were at a point in our lives where we wanted to open a brewery. So we did."
While not at their day jobs, Daniel would brew and David concentrated on the business side and packaging. Small and independent, the duo self-distributed to reach their customer base.
"I think in my wildest dreams we would have been probably become something maybe half this size," Daniel said. "I thought to be really successful we'd sell 3,000 barrels, which is a lot when you start out brewing one barrel at time."
When the craft beer movement took root in Maine English-style ales and Belgian-inspired beers, dominated the market. Brewing beers with a hop-forward American focus proved to be a well-received plan. Peeper (5.5% ABV), an approachable hoppy ale, had a big impact and made for Maine Beer Company's early success.
The introduction of Mean Old Tom (6. 5%) showcased another side of Maine Beer Company's portfolio. A jet-black roasted American stout with dark cocoa and coffee elements held together with pure Madagascar vanilla bean was named after Daniel and David's antique can-collecting uncle, Tom. The can collection high on the Freeport tasting room wall was once Tom's collection that was passed down. It sat in storage for many years before finding a perfect fit on the wall above the taps in the new tasting room.
Daniel once formulated all of the recipes, but he now focuses on pilot batches on a small homebrew system at the brewery. David and Daniel currently trust all the day-to-day operations to the team that was formed just before moving to the new 10,000-square-foot facility. Some of the more recent additions to the lineup come from the brewing operations team.
Exponential growth is difficult, and bringing like-minded people into a closeknit family business isn't easy either.
"It's hard finding the right people," Daniel said, "but we've had really good luck in terms of finding the right personality combined with expertise. We've been fortunate to land some really great people. We have four full-time brewers. Kevin Glessing is head of brewing operations, and Mark Fulton is our head brewer, brewing with Cole Corbin. Dan Roberts also brews and heads our QA QC program. Weez is Mark's, Lil One is Kevin's and Red Wheelbarrow is Dan's. We're going to keep doing different things."
The new space in Freeport provides for a truly accessible environment to all of Maine Beer Company's beers. The tasting room, which overlooks the brewery, offers eight taps at all times and occasionally features special release beers. The large retail area provides ample room for bustling brewery-only releases of Dinner (8.2%), the double IPA that's at the top of every beer geek's wish list. Maine Beer Company has released bottles of this beer three times, and each time it sells out swiftly. The line for Dinner at the third release started forming at 7:30 a.m. and sales started at noon.
"The line went back behind the brewery and snaked around it," Daniel said. "We sold out in three and half hours."
In an effort to accommodate the amount of people, case limits were further reduced to a four-bottle limit to stretch to the end of the line.
The popularity of Lunch (7.0%) and its counterpart, Dinner, begs the question of if a beer named "Breakfast" is being planned.
"Everybody asks it, and it makes sense now that we have a Dinner and a Lunch," Daniel said. "Session beers are all the rage right now. Who knows? I'm sure at some point down the line we'll consider it."
Do What's Right
As a 1% For the Planet member, Maine Beer Company is part of an alliance of organizations that give one percent of revenues to environmental causes. In addition to funding a handful of nonprofits, two beers were created to honor the organization's causes. Lunch is named for a female fin whale that's tracked by the nonprofit Allied Whale. King Titus (7.5%), a hop-forward robust porter, is named for a silverback mountain gorilla of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, which the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund studied and protected throughout his life.
Maine Beer Company shows a commitment to "Do What's Right" for the planet, the local environment and the brewing community and has helped foster an alliance with breweries that are dedicated to sustaining the craft beer industry in Maine.
Daniel served for many years as president of The Maine Brewer's Guild, and he still serves on the board. He stays involved on the government affairs committee with the national allied trade organization, Brewers Association, and keeps a close watch on beer legislation.
"I got our guild organized and up and running from a promotional standpoint, but more importantly from a political standpoint," Daniel said. "I was pretty heavily involved with Rob Tod of Allagash Brewing and others in having a presence up in Augusta to have eyes and ears on the ground for legislature that could help or hurt our cause."
As a result, the largest and most diverse beer festival Maine has ever hosted took place in August, and Sierra Nevada Beer Camp landed in just seven select cities. Prior to this, laws governing Maine beer festival laws were confusing and lacked independence for the participating brewers. A bill was put in place to ease the unnecessary restraints to brewers, festival organizers and participants. LD 1637 allows brewers who are not currently licensed to distribute in the state to pour beer at brew fests on a limited guest license. It also allows rights to licensed Maine breweries to host up to 10 such events per year and for brewers to pour their own beer. Limits to glass sample size make tickets no longer necessary. The new law brings a welcome sigh of relief and allows much needed flexibility.
"Our biggest initiative last session was the Festival Bill in the wake of the Shelton's Brothers festival," Daniel said. "The guild stepped up and put forth a bill that was aimed at fixing the problems, not just with the Shelton Brother's festival in particular. Those of us that had organized festivals in the state already knew how big of pain in it was. The Shelton Brothers festival just shined the light on it, but we'd been dealing with the regulatory scheme for years. So we fixed it and got a bill passed. I think it's safe to say now that Maine has the best festival license in the country. Sierra Nevada Brewing used that new license in the Beer Camp tour. That festival wouldn't have been here if it were not for this new law."
To celebrate its fifth anniversary in September, 2014 Stout was released. This maple imperial stout was made with cold pressed Ethiopian coffee and Maine-made organic syrup. The beer was brewed in collaboration with Novare Res Bier Café, Coffee By Design and In'finiti Fermentation & Distillation.
Maine Beer Company started a collaborative project with Chicago's Half Acre in the spring. The hoppy session ale, Great Plain Jane, was worked up from a joint recipe that was named and designed by Maine Beer Company and distributed within Half Acre's reach. In the fall, Half Acre will come to Maine to brew the counterpart. The IPA will feature a label designed by Half Acre and will be released in the Tasting Room in late fall.
"It's given us the opportunity to play around with new styles and work with different people," Daniel said. "It's one way of keeping things new and interesting but not committing yourself to a full year-round new brand."
In terms of production, Maine Beer Company is in the process of doubling its production size. The plan spans over the next two years and will ramp up production from 6,500 barrels to over 12,000 barrels.
"The only reason we aren't doing it now, the only limiting factor is the hops supply," Daniel said. "We have to wait to get enough hops on contract, as it's all forward contracted. It's not like you can wake up one day and say, "I want to make twice as much beer, and I want to use this kind of hop.' You might be able to make twice as much beer, but you better hope you have plenty of hops supply."
The expansion will extend the tasting room, move bottles to an offsite warehouse with a large offsite drive-in cooler, which will essentially leave more brewhouse floor space open for additional fermenters. Maine Beer Company has its custom tanks made at DME from Prince Edward Island.
"We don't cut corners when it comes to brewery operations," Daniel said. "If we think there is a piece of equipment that will produce a better beer, we buy it. Extensive efforts are put into QA/QC measures, which is unique for a brewery of our size. We hope this is reflected in the quality of the beer that we produce."
Read the full article at http://ybnonline.brewingnews.com/article/The+Maine+Event/1836565/229051/article.html.