Black Pug Brewing broadens Brunswick’s beerscape

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BRUNSWICK — Gir, a feisty, 21-pound pug with a 100-pound personality, was the inspiration for Sam Wilson’s brewery at 30 Bath Road.

Business has been strong since Wilson and business partner Jason Allen opened Black Pug Brewing Oct. 27, and the Brunswick Downtown Association will celebrate the town’s third commercial brewery Friday, Dec. 7, with a 4 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This is sort of a coming-into-the-fold for us” after the first few weeks of getting the business up and running, Wilson said Monday. The Portland resident, whose wife is among the small crew involved in the operation, was holding Gir (pronounced “grr”), a 6-year-old who loves meeting new people.

For now, Black Pug Brewing is open three days a week: Fridays 3-9 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wilson hopes soon to expand the Friday hours and add Thursdays.

Mondays are dedicated to paperwork, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for brewing, and Thursdays are for cleanup, he said.

Black Pug followed Moderation Brewing at 103 Maine St., which opened early this year, and Flight Deck Brewing at Brunswick Landing, which opened in 2017.

“The beer’s been getting great feedback,” and many customers have been “converted” by the brewery’s seven flavors, Wilson said. “The ThaI.P.A. and the Fade, in particular, those are beers that you don’t necessarily have to be a beer lover to enjoy, because there are a lot of different flavors in there that aren’t normally associated with beer.”

ThaI.P.A. is an India Pale Ale named for its lemongrass-ginger ingredient.

Allen and Wilson – who first tried brewing beer in the closet of a college apartment in Vermont – started developing the brewery with an eye toward a seven-barrel operation, “because that’s what everyone tells you you need to open at, in order to be a viable business.”

Black Pug Brewing was the name all along during Wilson’s eight subsequent years as a home brewer, but he wanted a name that wasn’t so personal.

But as the business model scaled down to a two-barrel operation focused on experimenting with unique flavors, the name “fit who we were,” the Bath resident said.

“Pugs are said to be a big dog in a small body, and we try to be a big brewery in small tanks,” according to the brewery’s Facebook page.

Wilson moved to Maine about six years ago at the start of a boom in craft breweries. Dustin Johnson, his adviser at the nonprofit organization where Wilson worked, co-founded Gneiss Brewing Co. in Limerick in 2013.

“We had always … talked about the beer business,” Wilson said. “Seeing him go through it kind of inspired me, (that) it can be done, it can be an achievable thing.”

The catalyst for starting his own business came as Wilson drank craft beers that didn’t appeal to him. “I’m (was) making something better than this in a bucket,” he recalled. “If they can do it on a commercial scale, why can’t I?”

Wilson and Allen this spring began renovations at the former home of Turtle Rock Farm, a craft cannery that’s now at Brunswick Landing.

A cranberry beer, next on Black Pug’s horizon, shows that Wilson’s life as a brewer has come full circle. He originally attempted that flavor years ago, but the bottle exploded.

“I have better equipment this time,” Wilson said. “So, no explosions. No replacing ceiling tiles.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Sam Wilson opened Black Pug Brewery in Brunswick on Oct. 27. The business is named for his 6-year-old canine, Gir.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.