For the past year, there’s been a steady buzz surrounding a pink shed on Fox Street with the cryptic words “One Eye Open” bolted to the façade.
Word began to circulate that three University of Southern Maine grads were starting a nanobrewery in Portland’s fermentation-heavy East Bayside neighborhood, just a bottle cap flick from Rising Tide, Lone Pine, Urban Farm Fermentory and Oxbow Bottling and Blending.
After a yearlong process of renovating the mid-20th-century shed, Lucas Marks, 27, Brett Barrett, 26, and Charlie Partridge, 25, have released two IPAs to the Portland market.
“This was definitely a journey. We completely remodeled the shed all by ourselves. We didn’t have a lot of professional help,” said Marks.
As college roommates, the three former USM baseball players shared a love for the great beer being brewed in New England. Fueled by that love, they began homebrewing in their college apartment.
After graduating, there was a clear desire among the three friends to start their own commercial brewery.
“We all had a passion for good craft beer, starting our own business and sharing what we love with people and our community,” Partridge explained.
Not wanting to acquire excessive debt to start the business, they each took day jobs outside of the beer world and began gathering brewing equipment over a year and half. It was during this time that Partridge scouted for locations that were commercially zoned, when he stumbled upon the Fox Street shed on Craigslist.
“The people renting the shed before us were making organic butter,” Partridge said.
The organic butter endeavor never materialized, but the former renters had the building plumbed and installed the floor drains necessary for brewing beer. The three friends rented the property and got to work renovating the space.
Unfortunately, they don’t have a tasting room license, so patrons can’t drink their beer at the brewery — which is a shame, because the ambiance has a killer urban backyard vibe. Expect the tasting room to open next summer. The three co-owners aren’t rushing into this. They’ve each kept their day jobs and currently spend their weekends brewing.
“We’d like to grow organically and keep it as small scale as possible,” Marks explained.
“The main thing right now is to make good beer,” Partridge added.
The first two beer releases from One Eye Open Brewing are Clover, a hazy New England-style IPA, and Anything & Everything, a double IPA described as having a balance of bitterness and fruity flavors. Both beers began as homebrew recipes they were excited to brew commercially.
I tracked down a pint of Clover at The Great Lost Beer. The beer has the hazy golden hue, now synonymous with New England IPAs. It gives off tropical fruit notes of grapefruit and peach in the nose. A healthy gulp reveals tangerine, passion fruit and pineapple flavors with subtle undercurrents of piney bitterness. Though the flavors feel a little muted in this pour of Clover, I’m sure as the three brewers dial in their modest 1.5-barrel system and their recipe, this beer will really shine.
The One Eye Open triumvirate plans to add a pale ale to their catalogue this winter and slowly unveil other beers they tested as homebrewers. Seek out their cloudy IPAs to try a pint from Portland’s newest nanobrewery.
WHERE: 41 Fox St., Portland
THE BEER: Clover, a hazy New England IPA with tropical fruit notes, and Anything & Everything, a double IPA with a balance of bitterness and fruity flavors.
AVAILABILITY: Find these beers at The Great Lost Bear, Nosh Kitchen Bar, Duckfat and Little Tap House.
MORE INFO: oeobrewing.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Norway Brewing Co.’s First Friday Brewer’s Choice Tasting
11 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday, 237 Main St, Norway
Norway Brewing Co. just completed its first official summer, and the Oxford County brewery is looking forward to the winter months with their First Friday Brewer’s Choice Tasting. Brewmaster and co-owner Charles Melhus will showcase a flight of three beers each month to highlight the work being done at Norway Brewing. The evening will include an hour long Q-and-A with Melhus where he discusses the beers and the brewing process. In addition to being a skilled brewer, the mustachioed Melhus is an entertaining raconteur, so these Brewer’s Choice Tastings are sure to be informative as well as engaging. And don’t forget to stop into the brewery on your way to and from Sunday River and Mount Abram. The tasting room is located just off of Route 26 in Norway.
Bunker Brewing opens new brewery and tasting room
Open Wednesday through Sunday, 7 Westfield St., Unit D, Portland
Bunker Brewing’s long awaited move from East Bayside to Westfield Street is complete. Bunker is now pouring beer in a spacious new brewery. Though we’ll miss the cozy feel of their tiny garage-turned-brewery in East Bayside, the new brewery and tasting room retain that hip Bunker Brewing vibe in a much more accommodating space. Stop by and check out the new digs. The enlarged brewery will also mean more Bunker cans and draft lines around town.