FREEPORT — A craft brewery that donates a percentage of proceeds to military veterans is coming to town.
Cumberland resident Brad Nadeau, a former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant, hopes to open Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. this fall at 8 Varney Road, near Antonia’s Pizzeria on U.S. Route 1.
Leasing what used to be a kayak shop, and before that a car wash, Nadeau and friends have been tearing down walls and installing the plumbing needed for the 2,000-square-foot brewery’s equipment, due to arrive by Aug. 3.
After that, it’s fingers crossed that the machinery is working as it’s supposed to, and that the beers come out just as well as they have in the home brewery Nadeau has operated the past three years in his West Cumberland garage, using 380-gallon stainless steel tanks.
The bar had yet to be installed last week, but the tables and benches were in place, reminiscent of a classic German beer hall. A large plaque, filled with all the names of people who donated funds toward Nadeau’s dream, leaned against the wall, waiting to be hung above the tables.
Nadeau launched a Kickstarter campaign in November 2017 to raise $20,000 in working capital that will help him obtain a lease and bank loan for the brewery. He has needed $180,000 in all to get started.
Nadeau and his wife, Nancy, who has a background in marketing, raised $10,000 six days into the campaign. The one-month fundraiser attracted 142 backers who pledged $22,300.
“That obviously was a huge help,” he said July 12, noting that getting a bank loan for a fledgling business wasn’t the easiest task. The Nadeaus ultimately procured one from Gorham Savings Bank.
“They believed in us, and the concept of our brewery,” Nadeau said. “(That we’re) not just another brewery,” and that the aim is to run a family friendly watering hole while supporting veterans.
“We’re hoping to do a veterans event once a month, once we get up and going,” he said. He’d like the brewery to host events for organizations such as Toys for Tots, Easter Seals, the Travis Mills Foundation, and K9s on the Front Line, with a percentage of sales going back to the groups.
Nadeau, who served in the Marines from 1999-2003 in Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, was ultimately deployed to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom, where his unit – the first in Iraq – cleared mines on the road to Baghdad.
Nadeau later earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, worked in the cardiac rehabilitation at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and then became an insurance inspector.
Publicity around Nadeau’s need for a brewery site led Justin Fletcher – who owns the Freeport building and with whom Nadeau had worked in construction – to reach out last December. As the project gathered steam, Nadeau quit insurance inspections June 1 to focus full time on developing the space and traveling around to pick up materials.
“There’s probably about an eight-hour day, and I’ve been here seven days a week, mostly,” Nadeau said. “I took the Fourth of July off, and that’s about it.”
He had hoped to open July 1, but every step of the process has taken more time than anticipated, and cost a bit more. (Nadeau said people warned him about that, but seeing was believing.)
Inspections are being scheduled and conducted, new windows will be installed, and new paint and siding will freshen the place up. Eventually there will be outside seating on a 1,000-square-foot deck, which overlooks a small pond.
The brewery’s website, starsstripesbrewing.com, showcases year-round, specialty and seasonal offerings, with names reflecting Nadeau’s military experience: “Semper Fi.P.A,” “Platoon Pale Ale,” “Stout & Give Me 20,” and “Ooh-Rah! IPA.”
The business’ slogan is straight and to the point, in keeping with military fashion: “Enjoy your beer, that’s an order.”
Former Marine Corps Sgt. Brad Nadeau of Cumberland this fall plans to open Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. in Freeport. He is in the process of renovating the building at 8 Varney Road.
Brad Nadeau, left, has been aided by friends like Larry LaPointe of Gray, a Vietnam War veteran. The plaque honoring contributors to the launch of Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. will hang in the Freeport brewery.