Since 2011, Chresten Sorensen has been slaking our thirst for craft lagers and ales in a cozy brew house located in a repurposed scrapyard garage. What the East Bayside brewery lacked in size, it made up for with heaps of hip industrial vibes.
In the tiny space, Bunker Brewing established a mighty brand with an underground feel built on one of the best lagers in Maine – Machine Czech Pilz – and an affinity for doing things its own way.
When word got out earlier this year that Bunker was packing up its Anderson Street brewery and moving across town, I was curious to see how Sorensen and company would maintain the authentic character whose magic seemed, at least in part, wrapped up in that small, scrapyard garage.
Back in March, I reached out to Sorensen to ask about the then-upcoming move.
“We hopefully will be able to carry the Bunker energy to the new space. New spot, same culture,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Sorensen and the Bunker team completed the renovations on the new brewery and tasting room on Westfield Street. As soon as I walked into the spacious, 9,000-square-foot facility, it was clear that the authentic Bunker Brewing vibe was not lost in the move.
The brewery is located in an industrial brick building a half-mile from Hadlock Field. The tasting room is filled with nine vintage, oblong tables and benches giving patrons plenty of room to hunker down with friends for a long stay.
There are high, open ceilings and concrete floors. A record player spins eclectic music through a PA system. The bar is made of beautiful dark woods, and the backsplash behind the bar was fashioned from repurposed tin ceiling panels and barn doors.
While sipping a 16-ounce pour of More Lazerz – a sharp, citrusy India Pale Lager – I agreed that Sorensen had achieved his vision for the brewery: new spot, same culture.
The new brewery has allowed Bunker to triple beer production, and the plan is to add more fermentation tanks in the spring of 2017. They have also increased the output of cans they send to local beverage stores. Currently, they can with a small manual machine once owned by Bissell Brothers, but there are plans to install a dedicated canning line in the next year.
The increased production will also result in more year-round beer offerings from Bunker, as well as experimental brews, including a barrel-aging program and wild ales.
Sorensen jokes that patrons will be much warmer during the winter in the new brewery, as the old brewery was drafty and poorly heated. Also expect more live music and special events in the new space, as well as a beer garden come spring.
When asked what he’ll miss about the Anderson Street brewery, Sorensen said: “Honestly, I’d have to say the thing we miss most about the old space is the community of East Bayside that we grew out of and helped foster and all the small producers there that became our industry friends. But times change, and we’re ready to expand our vision of what we want Bunker to be.”
Head to the new brewery to see how Bunker Brewing retained its underground vibe in the midst of a significant upgrade.
WHERE: 17 Westfield St, Unit D, Portland
BEER: Expect Bunker’s signature lagers and ales such as Machine Czech Pilz, Cypher IPL, and Salad Daze IPL, along with new year-round offerings and seasonal releases
TASTING ROOM: Spacious industrial room with vintage tables, a long bar, creatively repurposed fittings and music from an ever-spinning record player
HOURS: Noon to 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
MORE INFO: www.facebook.com/bunkerbrewingco
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Banded Horn’s Year Three Anniversary
Noon to 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Mill 13-W, 32 Main St, Biddeford www.bandedhorn.com/blog/event/year-three-anniversary
The brewery that brought beer to Biddeford celebrates its third anniversary this Saturday. For the occasion, Banded Horn is releasing bottles of The Mountain, a burly barrel-aged Russian Imperial stout. Purchasing a $15 VIP ticket for the event will secure you a bottle of The Mountain and get you a tasting glass, a raffle ticket and your first beer. However, you don’t need a ticket to join the party. Expect 10 Banded Horn beers on draft, as well as burritos from Locally Sauced, cupcakes from Dutch’s and ice cream floats made with The Mountain from Sweetcream Dairy.
Lone Pine Brewing Co. releases first run of cans
12 to 8 p.m., Saturday, 219 Anderson St, Portland
Lone Pine has made a big splash in a short time with its lineup of American ales whose centerpiece is the vibrant, citrusy Portland Pale Ale. Immediate demand from craft beer fans inspired co-owners Tom Madden and John Paul to recently increase production by two and half times. In addition to amped-up production, Lone Pine will be releasing its first run of cans this Saturday. Expect these hop-forward ales to gush with aroma and hop resin when you crack a tallboy from one of Portland’s fastest growing breweries.