Robin Lapoint recently had an epiphany. Driving through downtown Portland, it finally sunk in: She and her husband actually own D.L. Geary’s Brewing Co. along with its iconic lobster logo.
A native of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley, Lapoint can recall the first time she saw that logo. She was 18, and the ink print lobster over a sepia background became emblazoned in her mind.
This winter, Lapoint and her husband, Alan, purchased Geary’s, saving Maine’s oldest post-Prohibition brewery from bankruptcy. If you follow the beer world, you know the acquisition caused a row in Portland after the new management team laid-off two longtime employees.
It seemed there were two ways of looking at the layoffs. Some bar owners and craft beer fans thought it was unfair to so quickly cut longtime employees. Others argued, however, that if the new management hadn’t made those cuts, the brewery would have closed, and everyone would have lost their jobs.
No matter what you think about the situation, one thing’s for certain: The loss of Geary’s Brewing Company would have been nothing less than tragic for Maine’s beer scene.
Imagine a world without Geary’s. You know what? You don’t have to, because Geary’s has found two new champions in Robin and Alan Lapoint who are dedicated to forging a sturdy foundation to take the brewing company into the future.
I sat down with Robin at the brewery on a cool August afternoon to talk about the vision she and her husband have for Maine’s oldest brewery.
“When people found out the brewery had been sold, we got calls from loyal customers looking to buy cases of beer. They were afraid we were going to stop brewing their favorite beers,” Lapoint said. “One guy even wanted to buy a palate of HSA (Hampshire Special Ale).”
Lapoint explained that the near loss of the brand has sparked new interest in Geary’s. She assured me that the classic lineup of Geary’s beers will continue to be brewed at the brewery on Portland’s Evergreen Drive.
“We see ourselves as stewards of the classic lineup of beers,” Lapoint said. “None of the old favorites will go away.”
When I asked if the brewery would continue to use Ringwood yeast in the classic beers, Lapoint gave me a strained smile that told me she must get a lot of questions about the controversial strain of yeast legendary brewer Alan Pugsley brought to Maine in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Avoiding the use of the word “Ringwood,” Lapoint said “We are still using our house British yeast.” I.e. Ringwood yeast.
Lapoint explained that they are now allowing the beer to sit for an extra day before packaging, and I will attest that the extra rest does help clean out more of the yeast’s diacetyl off-flavors, which to my palate Geary’s had less of in the first place compared to other Ringwood brewhouses, like Shipyard and Gritty’s.
In addition to maintaining and enhancing Geary’s legacy series of beers, the new owners have added two new beers to the Geary’s catalogue: Riverside IPA and OG Lager.
Both brews boast flavor profiles indicative of contemporary beers.
If I was hesitant about an American IPA from this longtime English-style brewhouse, one whiff from a freshly cracked can of Riverside IPA assuaged my doubts. This beer is legit. Brewed with Mosaic, Bravo and Cascade hops, Riverside exudes fresh notes of mango and cantaloupe in the nose and flavor. It has a full-bodied mouthfeel and finishes with juicy tropical fruit and subtle pine notes. Riverside is brewed with Chico yeast, a strain of yeast most associated with American ales, giving it a clean ale backbone.
The OG Lager, brewed with a lager yeast, is an easy drinking lager with hints of crackers and lime. Though I like a little more flavor in my lagers than the OG offers, this is clearly a well-crafted beer and will please beer drinkers looking for a clean lager.
Geary’s currently has two 60-barrel, closed-fermentation tanks dedicated solely to brewing Riverside IPA and OG Lager. Lapoint explained that as Geary’s continues to expand its catalogue of beers, more closed-fermentation tanks will be added.
Like many craft beer fans, I feel a great amount of gratitude that Robin and Alan Lapoint are working to secure the future of Maine’s first post-Prohibition brewery. If it’s been a while since you had a Geary’s, I suggest you see what’s new with this old friend.
WHERE: 38 Evergreen Drive, Portland
TASTING ROOM HOURS: 2 to 7 p.m. Monday and Thursday, noon to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday
BEER: Expect all of Geary’s classic beers, including Geary’s Pale Ale, Hampshire Special Ale and London Porter, along with new beers like Riverside IPA and OG Lager
AVAILABILITY: Purchase six-packs of the classic beers along with four-packs of 16-ounce cans of Riverside IPA and OG Lager at most Maine beverage stores.
INFO: Visit the website (gearybrewing.com) and follow Geary’s on Untappd
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
Maine Brew Fest at Sunday River Ski Resort
Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday River Ski Resort, Newry. $45 general taster ticket, $55 beer connoisseur ticket. sundayriver.com/events-and-activities/events-calendar/maine-brew-fest
Sunday River Ski Resort is throwing a weekend of events with the Maine Brew Fest as its centerpiece. This brewfest features beer from more than 20 breweries, including Foundation Brewing, Oxbow Brewing and Maine Beer Company, among others. Saturday’s brewfest will also feature fresh-shucked oysters from Glidden Point Oysters and Mooks Sea Farm. Oyster sampler tickets can be purchased during the beer festival. In addition to the brewfest, the weekend will include a Full Moon Beer Dinner on Friday, a disc golf tournament on Saturday and a Kegs n’ Eggs Brunch on Sunday morning.
21st annual New England Homebrewers Jamboree
Friday through Saturday, 194 Depot Road, Tamworth, New Hampshire. homebrewersjamboree.com
Local homebrewers rave about the New England Homebrewers Jamboree, a celebration of all things homebrewing. Located just over the Maine border in New Hampshire, the weekend kicks off with a Friday night brewers dinner featuring plenty of homebrew, along with the chance to meet other homebrewers. The main festivities on Saturday begin at 10 a.m. and will feature an on-site homebrew competition, brewing demonstrations, information on New England’s best homebrew clubs and live music. The ability to camp means homebrewers can spend the entire weekend basking in the glory of brewing beer at home.