Sunlight streams into the tasting room through floor-to-ceiling windows, reflecting off stainless steel brewing tanks and tasting room glasses with a P-3 Orion logo, and lighting up the smiles of craft beer lovers luxuriating on picnic tables on a Saturday in March. The newly opened Flight Deck Brewing Co. has landed on solid ground.
The former naval small arms range located in Brunswick Landing has been transformed into the – dare I say it – military-chic Flight Deck Brewing Co. with concrete walls and floors, rows of full-glass garage doors and vintage naval accouterments.
I sat down with co-founder Nate Wildes on this sun-drenched day in late winter as the tasting room was abuzz.
Wildes and head brewer/co-founder Jared Entwistle, both 27, had opened the brewery three weeks earlier.
“The response has been incredible,” Wildes said. “We’ve had an immense amount of support from the midcoast community.”
He said that the immediate reaction was so overwhelming they had to hire their first full-time employee six months ahead of schedule and, at one point, suspended growler fills to keep from running out of beer in the tasting room. The midcoast, it appears, is ravenous for craft beer.
As Wildes took me through his business philosophy, it started to make perfect sense why locals are showing up in droves.
“We want to be here in Brunswick; we live in this area. We want Flight Deck to be a social incubator for people on the midcoast,” he said.
The tasting room was designed as a social space where patrons can meet other craft beer lovers and like-minded individuals living in the midcoast. It was also created as a place where companies can hold off-site meetings; there’s free wifi just for this purpose.
Wildes’ authentic passion for the midcoast rang true throughout our meeting. He and Entwistle have created a beautiful space in Brunswick Landing.
This community-minded business ethos is great, but the most important question to ask of any new brewery opening in Maine’s crowded craft beer scene is, of course, how’s the beer?
The answer: It’s as tight as a Fat Albert takeoff by a Blue Angels F/A-18 jet.
The mastermind behind Flight Deck’s beers, Entwistle has been homebrewing since he was 16 and spent nearly two years as a brewer at Shipyard Brewing Co. before teaming up with Wildes.
His brewing acumen combines the creativity of a homebrewer with the chops of a commercial brewer and is evident in the 11 beers he’s crafted in the brewery’s short life. Flight Deck hits all the major beer styles, giving most of the beers names inspired by the naval history of its location.
For instance, the P-3 Pale is an American ale named after the P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft that once flew out of the Brunswick base to hunt Russian subs off the American coast. This beer lives up to its badass nomenclature with a nice balance of citrus fruit and bitter hop flavors. It boasts a solid body for an American ale.
The beer that kept catching my eye on my visit was Hibiscus Tea Beer. It pours a rose pink with a head of tiny bubbles. Intrigued by the glowing hue, I took a gulp and got a rush of fresh herbal notes, slight bitter flavors from the loose leaf Irish breakfast tea and hops, and a bright, clean finish. This beer is original, creative and wonderfully drinkable. Don’t fear the pink!
Another standout is the Pilots Porridge Oatmeal Stout. It’s bible black and has notes of vanilla beans, roasted malts and a chocolate finish.
On my way out, a man and a woman walked into the brewery for their first glimpse of the beautifully crafted tasting room.
“This place is cool,” the woman said.
“Very cool,” the man added.
With a thoughtfully crafted space and artfully brewed beer, Flight Deck Brewing Co. is very cool indeed.
FLIGHT DECK BREWING CO.
WHO: Flight Deck Brewing Co.
WHERE: 11 Atlantic Ave., Brunswick
ON DRAFT: Eleven rotating beers including Hibiscus Tea Beer, P-3 Pale Ale, Pilots Porridge Oatmeal Stout, Blueberry Champagne Ale, Sub-Hunter DIPA, and sours and gruits coming this summer
WHEN: Noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
MORE INFO: flightdeckbrewing.com
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Allagash Gash-A-Roo at Novare Res
Noon to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 4 Canal Plaza, Portland. allagash.com/event/gasharoo
Two Maine beer powerhouses are joining forces to throw another Gash-A-Roo. This annual tap takeover at Novare Res features 32 Allagash beers on draft. There are sure to be some brilliant surprises from the Portland brewery. If you’re a huge Allagash fan, expect some deep cuts. To experience the full breadth of Allagash Brewing, get to Novare Res on Saturday and see why it’s considered one of America’s best breweries.
Shipyard commits to using local grains in Export Ale
One of Maine’s most iconic beers is about to become a lot more local. Shipyard Brewing Co. has committed to buying 30,000 pounds of malt from Maine Malt House in Mapleton. This purchase is a huge win for Maine farmers, locavores and the craft beer community as a whole. The partnership between one of Maine’s largest breweries and the Maine Malt House will allow the maltsters to expand and can only help to ensure that the quantity and quality of Maine-produced malts will continue to grow. Cheers to Shipyard for making the shift to local grains.