I finally got a chance to tour the new Geaghan Brothers Brewing facility in Brewer, Maine. I toured their Bangor location back in March of 2013, at the time they were struggling to keep up with demand on their 5 barrel system, the new brewhouse in Brewer is a 20 barrel system with 40 barrel fermenters. The increase in capacity allows Geaghan Brothers to fulfil demand from their distributor – Maine Distributors – who have already started moving kegs and bottles to accounts as well as support the Bangor facility and free up that system for smaller specialty batches of beer that will only be available at the pub.
The new Brewer facility is just a quick ride on I-395 across the river sorta kitty corner from the Bangor location on Abbot Street. As you approach the building the Bangor Brewer Athletic Club is off to the right and Geaghan Brothers is straight ahead, you can’t miss the three large roll up doors.
Entering the roll up door on the far right you find the grain mill to the right, Whirlpool, Brew Kettle and Mash Tun straight ahead, 3 fermenters to the left. Behind the brewhouse is the bottling line that was previously owned by Atlantic Brewing Company. The brewing equipment was all made by Tigpro out of Portland, Maine. The brewhouse isn’t complete, another fermenter needs to go in place and a catwalk to access the tops will be installed, a few small items here and there but in terms of beer the fermenters are full and first shipments have already left the building.
To the left of the brewing area behind the other two roll up doors is an open staging area for pallets of bottles/kegs preparing to leave the brewery and at the back of the space is a large walk in cooler. Above the cooler is office space. Stepping out the side of the brewery and walking a couple units down is another space, that’s narrow and long compared to the brewery where the excess grain, glass bottles, kegs, labels and other such supplies are housed to free up space in the brewery.
Stepping up from 5 barrel batches to 20 barrel batches doesn’t equate to just throwing more ingredients in the mix, recipes have to adjusted accordingly but it appears the transition hasn’t thrown Co-head brewers Andrew Geaghan and Ryan Power for a loop at all. They tell me that the new system has actually given them more control over the brewing process, improved overall efficiency and that the first batches were all “on point”. I got to sample a bottle of Smiling Irish Bastard from their first bottling run while I was there and am happy to report that it is in fact on point.
As for the Bangor Facility, it’s not going anywhere. Andy did tell me they plan on moving their 10 barrel fermenters over to Brewer and dropping in 5 barrel fermenters in Bangor. This allows Bangor to fill a fermenter with one brew session. Core beers that are brewed in the new facility will be supplied to Bangor – Smiling Irish Bastard, Refueler, etc.- but pub only beers and specialty offerings will still be brewed in Bangor.
Thanks to Andy Geaghan, Ryan Power and Lisa Sturgeon for setting up a tour of the new facility. Geaghan Brothers Beers are already landing at retail accounts so keep an eye out for yours.