On May 2, 2006 I was traveling to Everglades National Park with my dad, my wife, Heidi, and my daughter, Zoe. I mentioned to my dad that I should start a brewery. I wanted to make something real. He said jokingly that I would drink all of my profits. I then figured that if I made enough beer, that problem could be solved.
After returning home I started to do some research and built a folder with some business ideas. I had one requirement: I wanted a good partner to work with. I searched around a bit but just couldn’t find the right fit. So, the idea got shelved. The seasons changed. I continued to drink beer instead of making it. Not all bad.
My brother, Daniel, went down to Boston for law school. During his first summer he got an internship at a firm back in Maine, so he lived with us for a few months. A partner at the firm, Allan, gave the interns a lesson in beer and brewing for something fun to do. I guess my brother liked what he saw.
He went back to school and the snow fell again and again over the next few years. Luck would have it that he got a job up in Portland, Maine after graduating. On the weekends we would drink beer. Just something we always enjoyed.
We eventually realized that we should brew beer on the weekends and drink at the same time. We made some really awful beer. Some ok beer. It didn’t really matter. We had fun.
We got a bit more serious and drove three hours each way to pick up a home brew set-up for $300 that we found on Craigslist. We brewed on my front porch in the winter and we brewed in his hot garage in the summer. He loved brewing. I loved helping.
It finally hit me. My brother really loved brewing. He had a job and school debt but I figured I would ask anyway: Do you want to be a lawyer or a brewer for the rest of your life? He said a brewer.
We worked on a single recipe. Over and over and over and over. Peeper was born. Our plan was to do one beer really well to start. Make only beer that we want to drink, period. No market research. Do it. Do it well. If they drink it, great. If they don’t, we go back to our day jobs.
I hit the streets armed with a small, cheap cooler filled with some Peeper (formerly Spring Peeper Ale).
Door to door I went. Sometimes my daughter, Zoe, would come along and deliver with me.
We had a one barrel brew house. The term nano brewery was not even around yet, as far as I know.
A brewery had not been started in Maine for a long time.
I always say that we are not going to get any bigger, but I always learn that to make better beer, we need better people and better equipment, which means that we need to make more beer to pay for those things.
We hired a small crew at our shop on Industrial Way and added more equipment.
In December 2010, after a year and a half of the nano thing, we bought a 15bbl brew house and a 30 bbl fermentor.
And then we added another 30bbl fermentor. And another and another. We were then out of space and out of our minds down in Portland.
Our new brewery opened in Freeport in April, 2013. We had a bigger space for brewing. And more fermentors.
And a warehouse.
And a tasting room.
And an actual office.
From day one, my brother and I knew that we wanted to be a certain kind of company. We wanted to do things right no matter what. We told ourselves that if we couldn’t do things right then we wouldn’t do them at all.
To be honest, we really didn’t know if it would work, but because of everyone who bought our beer and all of the great people who work with us, we made it happen. We’re always trying to be better at making quality beer, treating our employees well, and taking care of our earth and the creatures that live on it.
A large part of our motto “Do what’s right” is giving back. Through 1% for the Planet, we’ve pledged to give 1% of our sales to environmental nonprofits such as Allied Whale, the Center For Wildlife, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Royal River Conservation Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Wolfe’s Neck Center, and many more.
As we grow, we’re able to keep doing what’s right, and give back more and more each year.
Over the years here in Freeport, we’ve grown again. More employees, more beer, and more customers.
As we grow, we always do three things:
Make quality beer.
And smile each day.
And in the end, it’s the same old story: my brother Dan brewing. His shirt reads “Do what’s right.”