By Chris Sweet
Cushnoc Brewing Co. is making the final preparations to its brewery and restaurant set to open in the fall. Located in a storefront on Water St. in downtown Augusta, Cushnoc will be the first brewery in Maine’s capital city (since before records were kept, anyway). The four partners in the venture are a mix of beer industry veterans, a local entrepreneur and an attorney. Tobias Parkhurst is the businessman; Casey Hynes travels up the Kennebec River from the famous Liberal Cup in Hallowell; head brewer Chris Geerlings is making a much longer relocation, from Southbound Brewing in Savannah, GA; and the local attorney is James Bass. The brewery is a nano system and resides in a level below the ground-level restaurant. Cushnoc will launch with three beers: a kolsch, an IPA (of course) and a grisette (rare!). For those wondering about the name, Cushnoc, it’s a uniquely Maine name. It’s a native peoples’ word meaning head of tide and it was the original name for the city of Augusta.
More brewery openings to share, none of which are in Portland. Rock Harbor Brewing Co. in Rockland held the grand opening of its new brewery and tasting room in mid-July. Owner/Brewer Dan Pease has been brewing Rock Harbor beers since 2011 and he launched his new digs across town with a wheat ale, an ESB, a session ale, an IPA and a pale ale. The new space allows Rock Harbor to can its beers and package them in 16-oz 4-packs.
In Westbrook, Yes Brewing Co. has opened, giving that Portland-adjacent city two breweries in a fairly small-ish burg. Yes is located across town from the city’s original brewery, Mast Landing. YBC launches with four interesting-sounding beers: a Pineapple Mosaic Berliner Weisse; a Jalapeno Pale Ale; a Mint IPA; and a Double Dry Hopped Pale Ale.
A new brewery is planned for the coastal town of Yarmouth, just north of Portland. Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. would be the town’s first craft brewery and is the brainchild of local entrepreneurs Brad Moll and Frank Grondin. The plans call a 5 bbl. brewing system as well as an indoor taproom large enough to accommodate 60 patron and an additional 30 on an outdoor patio. The name Brickyard Hollow, according to a press release, refers to a valley located in the center of town that was once considered the line that divided the coastal shipbuilding community from the inland farming community. In the late 1800s, the hollow was filled in to unite the two villages and bring people together for community events. Moll and Grondin hope to have the brewery open to the public this fall.
Bare Bones Beer in Lewiston is opening a second location in the town of Bridgton in the western foothills. Surrounded by lakes and a ski mountain, Bridgton is considered a tourism hub with the summer population doubling the number of year-round residents. Bear Bones opened in 2015 in downtown Lewiston and the new, second location will also be open year-round. Once all the permits are secure for the Bridgton taproom (aiming for July-early Aug.), Bear Bones plans to move its barrel-aging operations from Lewiston. Bear Bones has 30 or so barrels of whiskey, rum and wine which it uses to condition certain beers. All Bare Bones beers will continue to be brewed in Lewiston which is also undergoing an expansion from its current 1,200 square feet to 4,000 square feet.
The original brewery in Lewiston, Baxter Brewing Co., has a new Director of Brewing Operations in Andrew Sheffield. He joined Baxter in May, having just completed a stint on the senior brewing team at New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO – the nation’s 4th largest craft brewery. Sheffield worked at Oskar Blues also in Colorado and the 10th largest craft brewery in the US before that. “After more than a decade of making wine and beer, for twelve different producers on three continents, I couldn’t be more excited than to be coming to Lewiston and Baxter Brewing Company,” Sheffield said. “This is a bit of a homecoming for me, as I will join my Mom and Step-Dad who relocated to Lewiston a few years ago.”