As a beer writer, nothing fills me with more mirth and glee than the opening of a new brewery. Emily Dickinson claimed, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” But, Ms. Dickinson, I’d argue that hope is a new brewery with shiny stainless steel tanks and fresh beer.
Thus, the recent opening of Goodfire Brewing in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood buoyed my spirits with expectant hope. In following the progress of Goodfire on social media over the past few months as they’ve built their new brewery, it’s clear that they’re dedicated to the science and art of brewing. My palate was itching to dig into their beer.
On a brisk Friday afternoon in late November, I finally had my chance.
Located in the aquamarine section of the Anderson Street building that is also home to Lone Pine Brewing, the entrance to Goodfire Brewing is on the back of the building. As I walked into the brewery and tasting room, I was immediately struck by the brilliant vibe of the old-school industrial space contrasted by the new build-out of the tasting room and the gleaming stainless steel tanks. Brick walls stretch high above the space and are marked by a beautifully aged patina that tells the story of the industrial building.
David Redding, founder and owner of Goodfire Brewing, has put together a team of science-minded, longtime homebrewers to man the mash paddles on his new 15-barrel brewing system. Redding, who developed the beer recipes, is a doctor of nephrology; Chris Beth, a brewing assistant, is a former engineer and co-owner of OhNo Cafe; and Gordon Jones, head brewer, is well known to many Portland-area homebrewers, myself included, as the brewing Zen master at Maine Brewing Supply.
Though at the time of my visit Goodfire was only pouring two IPAs, Redding and his team have plans to quickly expand their catalogue to add balanced, drinkable beers like the forthcoming saison, Tiny Wrist Circles, along with mixed fermentation, barrel-aged beers.
“We’ve been most inspired by simple, rustic, low-alcohol beers that are built on careful fermentation with mixed yeast cultures and the interaction with wood and time,” Kelly Scharf, front of the house manager, explained.
At the tasting room bar during my visit, I ordered a pour of Prime, a 6.5 percent IPA made with loads of Citra hops. The beer has a hazy, golden hue and a nice foamy head. Though the grapefruit and lemongrass notes from the Citra hops are present, the aroma and flavor was a bit muted in Prime. The beer also finished a little too dry on the palate.
After taking my last sips of Prime, I ordered the Vic Secret IPA, Waves. At 7.2 percent, Waves has a similar cloudy appearance with a bit more body. This IPA has more of a tropical fruit profile than Prime, with notes of passionfruit and mango. Again, I found there to be a muted quality to the aroma and flavor as well as an overly dry finish on this early permutation of Waves.
As the first commercial batches on a new system, it’s to be expected that it will take a few batches to truly dial in the flavors in Prime and Waves. As the Goodfire team churns out more batches on their system, I expect the flavors and aromas in both IPAs to begin to really pop. Here’s what’s clear in these beers: They both have the makings to be excellent IPAs given the ingredients in the glass and the deft team of brewers steering the ship.
Over the coming months as they release new beers, I’ll be first in line to see what Redding and his team have in store for craft beer fans.
With a striking space, a clear vision for a varied catalogue of beer, and a brewing team dedicated to the art and science of beer making, expect Goodfire Brewing to make a big noise in East Bayside.
WHERE: 219 Anderson St., Suite 6, Portland (entrance on backside of building)
TASTING ROOM HOURS: Noon to 7 p.m. Thursday through Monday
ON DRAFT: Prime, an IPA brewed with Citra Hops; Waves, an IPA brewed with Vic Secret hops; and Tiny Wrist Circles, a farmhouse-style table beer with Saaz hops
WHAT’S TO COME: Expect balanced saisons and lagers, along with mixed fermentation, barrel-aged beers
MORE INFO: goodfirebrewing.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 525 Route 1, Freeport. On Facebook.
In accordance with the adage on their labels, “Do What’s Right,” Maine Beer Company is hosting a happy hour next Thursday to support the Appalachian Mountain Club. In addition the event at the Freeport tasting room, Maine Beer Company is hosting similar events in eight cities in other states that the Appalachian Trail passes through. Thursday’s event in Freeport will feature representatives from Maine’s chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club along with special drafts. Help Maine Beer Company “Do What’s Right” by supporting this important association.
Foulmouthed Brewing releases barrel-aged blueberry beer
3 to 9 p.m. Friday, 15 Ocean St., South Portland.
As you can see in the headline for this event, I didn’t write the name of the blueberry beer being released on Friday. I figured I’d bury it into the blurb here, because, true to the company’s name, Foulmouthed Brewing has dubbed their Belgian strong ale aged on Maine blueberries, Blue Balls. Along with its lewd nomenclature, this barrel-aged beer has plenty of complex flavors. If you’re looking for a special bottle of beer for someone on your Christmas list, give the gift of Blue Balls. You’ll not only be gifting a great beer, its name will surely bring a smile to anyone’s face.