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Tom Atwell

Tom Atwell is a lifelong Mainer who retired after 37 years at the Portland Press Herald. He kept the fun parts of his job, writing columns about gardening and beer. He has been drinking beer for about 50 years, and was always looking for unusual beers even in the 1960s – when they were hard to find. For the past four years he has been writing What Ales You during a time when the beer scene in Maine has been booming. He does not, however, take all the credit for that.​

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Posted: June 24, 2014

At Funky Bow Brewery in Lyman, they’re making beer, pizza and plans

Written by: Tom Atwell
Paul and Abraham Lorrain are the father-son team behind Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company.

Paul and Abraham Lorrain are the father-son team behind Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company. Ted Axelrod photo

Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company in Lyman is expanding its brewing system thanks to a partnership agreement with Pine State Beverage in Gardiner that was signed back in March.

Paul Lorrain, the father and business-partner half of the father-son brewery team, said the expansion is needed because Funky Bow is selling all of the beer it can make and runs out of supply every week. Funky Bow, until now, has been selling kegs to bars and restaurants and growlers at the Saco Farmers Market, as well as at Friday tasting nights at the brewery. (Read more about that here: Growler Night at Funky Bow Brewery.)

Asked if he was surprised by how quickly sales expanded, Paul said, “I didn’t know what the hell to expect.”

The equipment needs have grown from a brewing kit Paul gave his son to investing in a 3.5-barrel brewing system.

“We figured, maybe we’d make a go of it, and if not, we’d have a really good home-brew system that we’d use twice a year,” Paul Lorrain said.

The new equipment, which began arriving two weeks ago, includes a 10-barrel brew system, four 20-barrel fermenters and a 20-barrel bright tank – all placed in a new brewery building on the family farm, Sunset Organics, where they also grow winter greens sold at farmers markets and to restaurants.

The new system will mean that capacity will go from 200 gallons of beer per week to 2,400 gallons a week, although Paul said they will brew only to the amounts that the staff at Pine State projects they can sell.

Iron Heart Canning, the mobile canning company that already has packaged beer for Rising Tide and Geary’s in Maine, will do the canning. Abraham said that in a few years Funky Bow might get its own canning line.

The beer will be sold in six-packs of 12-ounce cans, and the first two offerings will be G-String Pale Ale and So Folkin’ Hoppy IPA. In the fall the brewery plans to package its Panama Red and a porter.

The brewery, at the end of a gravel driveway off Route 35 in Lyman, is open only from 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays, but those growler nights are like a party. In keeping with Funky Bow’s music theme, the brewery often has a bluegrass band playing. A few weeks ago they installed a wood-fired pizza oven, and they give away free slices of pizza. The pizza is made with spent grain from the beer, which also provides the yeast for the pizza dough – resulting in a good pizza in which the flavor is dominated by the crust.

Paul said he also is planning to move and expand the tasting area, use a greenhouse where people can sit in cold weather, and provide more parking.

He added that all the brewery construction has been paid for without acquiring any debt, which makes him think its success will continue.

Two beers were on tap the night I visited two weeks ago, G String and Midnight Special coffee porter.

G String is halfway between a pale ale and a blond, about 5.3 percent ABV, and an easy-drinking beer. It poured a crystal clear yellow, with a big pure white head that disappeared quickly. It is mildly hopped with an herbal hops, and had a crisp dry malt flavor.

Midnight Special is a much bigger beer, which Abraham said was brewed with coffee from Coffee By Design. It had a long-lasting tan head, malt and coffee aromas, but the coffee flavor was subdued – letting the richness of the malts carry the beer.

Abraham said he has some plans to do some barrel-aged beers, and he is especially excited to put some of his Do Bro Double Brown Ale into some Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels he has obtained.

He also plans a pale ale brewed with Citra hops, which he probably will brew just once because Citra is so hard to get.

LAST WEEK, I wrote – because Narragansett’s website said – that Del’s Shandy was going to be sold only in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Bier Cellar sent out an email last week that they have some. This is good news.

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