It’s 3:15 on a Friday afternoon. The throng of bearded men and smiling women holding 10 ounce glasses in this Westbrook warehouse is thick. The tasting room opened at 3 p.m., but there’s already a line at the bar. I order a golden hazy pour of Mainstay IPA. Full glass in hand, I locate my friends Gregg and Tim through the swarm of bodies. Finally, I lean against the wall and take a drink from my glass. I look out at the scene in the snug, low-lit tasting room and feel that familiar warmth that runs through my veins every time I stand in a new Maine brewery sipping palatable beer in an industrial-hip space.
It’s opening night at Mast Landing Brewing Company and the room feels charged — the excited thrum smells like tightly packed bodies and spent grains.
Mast Landing is the vision of Ian Dorsey, owner and CEO, and Neil Fredrick, co-owner and head brewer. It’s the first brewery to open in Westbrook, the scrappy mill city whose revitalization will only be bolstered by a brewery and tasting room.
Located in a former limousine garage at the junction of New Gorham Road and Route 25, the brewery build out was designed to include a massive space for growing brewing production along with a cozy tasting room.
Right now they are brewing on a small system; however, the large hanger space will allow them to comfortably expand in production size as the business grows. And if the growth of other Maine microbreweries is any indication, it’s likely Mast Landing will fill the space with stainless steel fermenters and brite tanks quickly.
The tasting room flaunts low ceilings and rustic-mod metal cage light fixtures. The lacquer is still shiny and new on the half-dozen picnic tables and cocktail tables spread around the concrete floor.
On my Friday night visit, Mast Landing features three American style ales on draft: Seavey Island Blonde Ale, Tell Tale Pale Ale, and Mainstay IPA.
“We are focused on American style ales,” Dorsey explains, “but also want to point out that we are interested in making all types of beers.” In the near future, he notes there are plans for a rye wheat beer, a milk stout, and a peanut butter milk stout—yeah, a peanut butter milk stout.
Though all three beers on opening night are hop-forward ales, they each hit different notes. The Seavey Blonde Island Ale has grassy flavors, while the Mainstay IPA boasts bigger citrus notes.
The most dialed in recipe of the three beers is the Tell Tale Pale Ale. This beer pours a cloudy golden hue with a small head of tiny beads. I get a lot of tropical fruit notes in the aroma and flavor. The finish hits with a clean, dry grapefruit aftertaste.
If opening night portents what’s to come from Mast Landing Brewing, expect delicious hoppy beers and a steadily packed tasting room.
When asked how he feels the opening went, Dorsey admits, “We had hoped for a big opening, but the reality of it was so much more than we could have ever predicted. We definitely chose the right city to grow our business. We are here for the long haul and hope to be able to become a pillar in this strong community that is Westbrook.”
WHERE: 920 Main St., Westbrook
WHEN: Tasting Room Open 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday
ON TAP: Seavey Island Blonde Ale (4.7-percent ABV), Tell Tale Pale Ale (5.3-percent ABV), and Mainstay IPA (6.2-percent ABV)
HOURS: 3 to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday
MORE INFO: mastlandingbrewing.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Maine Beer Company Releases Dinner
Doors Open at 7 a.m. Saturday, March 26, 525 US-1, Freeport
This latest release of the now fabled double IPA from Maine Beer Company comes on the heels of another big showing in a Paste Magazine blind tasting. In the magazine’s American Ale blind tasting, Maine Beer Company scored seventh and second places with Peeper and Mo, respectively. Ride this hot streak along with the Freeport brewery by getting in on the line-inducing Dinner release on Saturday. If you go, get there early. The line is typically a couple hundred people deep an hour before doors open.
Oxbow Brewing Expands Their Brand to Japan
More Info: snowmonkey.jp
After a recent visit to the Newcastle brewery from Japanese business professionals, Oxbow will now be exporting their beer across the globe to Japan. The relationship with the Japanese brewing scene was kicked off this week at the annual Snow Monkey Beer Live festival in Nagano deep in the Japanese Alps. Oxbow was the only non-Japanese brewery at the event. As the Maine beer renaissance continues to grow, it only makes sense that our breweries are beginning to spread their reach on the international stage.