We’re now up to 89 breweries and counting in the state. While the concerns about an eventual craft brewery “bubble” make for interesting dinner conversation, the industry in Maine has shown admirably few growing pains. It would be one thing if the recent spate of brewery openings was watering down the standard of quality in the state, but what has happened is close to the opposite. The Maine beer industry is now a thoroughly collegial place, where competition is about who can make the best beer, not the most money.
Mast Landing Brewing Company, based 15 minutes from downtown Portland in Westbrook, has a familiar origin story. The classic homebrewer makes good. But what sets Mast Landing apart is their commitment to their community and an already sterling reputation for quality across a variety of styles. President and co-founder Ian Dorsey was good enough to answer some questions about his young brewery.
The Phoenix: At what point did you make the decision to turn a homebrewing hobby into a full blown brewery, and what factors went into that decision?
Ian: It was early Spring of 2015 and I was a Financial Advisor at the time. My wife, Kelly and I had just had our first child. Tommy's birth provided a whole new perspective on life. Up until that point, I had spent most of my time focusing on my clients and whether or not they were fulfilled and happy with the direction their lives were going. I never had the opportunity to completely examine whether I was happy with my career or not. It wasn't long after his birth that I figured out that I was not happy with my career and that I needed to make a change. After some lengthy conversations with Kelly, I was finally able to convince her that this could work. Once I convinced her, I quit my job and approached my partners with the idea. They signed on immediately and the rest is history.
What made you settle on Westbrook as a location, and how has the town been to work with?
By the time we were ready to find a location for the brewery, there were already 65 breweries operating in the State. Because of this, the inventory of properties that were even remotely adapted to brewing was very thin. When we found the space in westbrook and realized that it had high ceilings, concrete floors, and floor drains, we jumped on it. From day one, the City has been phenomenal to work with. Everyone at City Hall has bent over backwards to help us navigate the hurdles of local government and permitting. The Westbrook residents have also been extremely welcoming and supportive.
Tell me a little more about your brewing system and fermentation capacity.
Currently we have a 2 BBL brewhouse with 4 BBL fermenters. We are in the middle of an upgrade to a 7 BBL brewhouse and 30 BBL fermenters.
Any plans for barrel aging and/or wild and sour beers in your future?
At this stage we are looking at adding a sour program to our lineup. We have started to talk about barrel aging, but don't have any firm plans. We want to focus on this upgrade and stabilizing our production before we shift our focus to other processes.
Will we see cans or bottles of Mast Landing in stores at some point?
We will be introducing 16 oz., 4-pack cans to our tasting room and distribution network in early spring.