I first met Craig Dilger at a backyard party in Portland’s West End. We shared a common interest in homebrewing, and that night he explained his dream of opening a brewery one day.
“It’s going to be called Foulmouthed Brewing,” he said.
Fast-forward four years, and I stood next to Dilger last month on the opening night of his new brewery. You get one guess at what it’s called.
The cozy South Portland brewpub was packed wall to wall with patrons fighting their way to the bar to order from the diverse lineup of Foulmouthed beer. And though the bearded Dilger was crazy busy, he had a smile plastered on his face.
Before I paint a picture of Foulmouthed Brewing’s beer and setting, let’s take a look at what transpired between that night in the West End and the one last month.
For over a decade, Dilger was a prolific homebrewer with a proclivity for experimentation, brewing with sweet potato and even rose water. As he began making the move to becoming a commercial brewer, Dilger made collaboration beers with local breweries before he landed the job as head brewer at Lively Brewing in Brunswick. At Lively, he honed his skills brewing on a commercial scale. After his tenure in Brunswick, he decided it was time to make his dream of owning his own brewery a reality.
Last year, Dilger and his Foulmouthed team – including his wife, Julia Dilger,,and longtime homebrewing partner, Bill Boguski – purchased an abandoned auto garage on Ocean Street in South Portland and began renovations for the restaurant and brewery. He explains that every architect he met urged him to tear down the flat-roofed building. Dilger and his team loved the quaint building and its history, so they held out for a local designer who shared their passion for renovating the dilapidated auto garage.
They made the right call; Foulmouthed Brewing is a beautiful space. The rectangular dining area gushes with natural light from a wall of spacious windows mixed with light from industrial fixtures and globes. The space is inviting with two rows of wooden tables and couches on the far end of the bar. The room is, at once, industrial and homey — the kind of digs you’d expect to find in Brooklyn, not South Portland.
So, here we have a well accomplished head brewer and an alluring tasting room. But how’s the beer?
While most new breweries start with one or two beers, Foulmouthed Brewing was pouring six styles, ranging from a German ale to a saison to a double IPA, straight from the tanks on opening night.
When breweries try to offer too many styles at first, they sometimes miss the mark. Dilger, however, has not hit this pitfall. Each beer style is balanced and has restrained flavor.
The Kaizen Saison walks that subtle tightrope between a subdued barnyard funk from the yeast and citrus and grassy aromas from the hops. If you’re into the hoppy saison movement of the moment, this beer is for you. I know it’s for me.
Dark and Foamy shows off Dilger’s innovative side. This is an amber ale brewed with ginger. The interplay among sugary malts, spicy ginger and piney hops makes for a complex beer.
The double IPA, Malcontent, is a hop avalanche of big pine flavors behind a sturdy malt spine. At 8.5 percent alcohol, it’s drinkable without boozy overtones bogging it down.
Foulmouthed Brewing is a must-visit newcomer to the brewing scene. It may just make the Knightville neighborhood of South Portland the hippest area on the other side of the Casco Bay Bridge.
Cheers to Craig Dilger who took his dream and brought it to life in the form of a gorgeous brewpub and a lineup of artfully crafted ales.