Ex-Marine drafts plan for Cumberland craft brewery with a higher purpose

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CUMBERLAND — Brad Nadeau’s dream is to brew craft beer and donate a percentage of proceeds to military veterans in need.

All the former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant needs is a place to do it.

Nadeau, who’s been brewing beer at home as often as three times a week for two and a half years, started a Kickstarter campaign Nov. 10 to raise $20,000 in working capital that will help him obtain a lease and bank loan for Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. He needs $180,000 in all to get started.

Nadeau and his wife, Nancy, who has a background in marketing, had raised $10,000 as of Nov. 16.

“I can’t believe the outpouring from people,” Nadeau said in an interview.

Their deadline for the Kickstarter project to be funded is Sunday, Dec. 10.

The proposed brewery’s website, starsstripesbrewing.com, showcases nine year-round, specialty and seasonal offerings, with names that acknowledge Nadeau’s military experience: “Semper Fi.P.A,” “Platoon Pale Ale,” “Stout & Give Me 20,” and “Ooh-Rah! IPA.”

The business’ slogan is, in military fashion, straight and to the point: “Enjoy your beer, that’s an order.”

Nadeau served in the Marines from 1999-2003 in Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, before being deployed to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“My unit was the first in Iraq,” he recalled. “We did the 21 days to Baghdad. We did the mine clearing for the convoy going up to Baghdad, and ended up clearing two minefields.”

Since then, Nadeau has earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, worked in the cardiac rehabilitation at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and is now an insurance inspector.

But his sights have been set the past year and a half on expanding the home brewery he’s been operating using 380-gallon stainless-steel tanks in his West Cumberland garage.

Nadeau has worked since last November with SCORE, a network of business mentors with a chapter in Portland, to develop the brewery. Once he’s found a location, Nadeau will use his construction background to build the business.

“We’re really going to focus on making great beer,” Nadeau said, while donating a percentage of proceeds to veterans who could use the help, such as those with disabilities.

He said he also would like to hold events at the taproom for charitable organizations.

The Nadeaus said the business will be family friendly, with a section set up with activities for children while the parents drink responsibly.

“We want to be a place where we have a large tasting room, and we have a lot of people there,” Nadeau explained. “We’re going to focus more on having people come to us, and not as much on distribution.”

In order to legally sell beer, Stars & Stripes must obtain a brewer’s license from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. But to procure that license, an operation must first have a commercial location and associated equipment in place, so the agency can inspect it, Nancy Nadeau said.

“Everything’s like, what comes first, the chicken or the egg,” she added with a smile.

They can’t get the bank loan until they have a property lease. The Nadeaus have looked at various places in Cumberland, but have yet to find what they need, when they need it.

“We’re itching to get it started,” Brad Nadeau said.

They’re looking for 2,500 to 3,500 square feet – about 1,000 for the brewing equipment and another 2,000 for the tasting room.

With many factors in play, the Nadeaus hope to be up and running at least by next spring. “We’ve got, certainly, our work cut out, but I think we can do it,” Nadeau said. “I know we can do it.”

Perhaps what fuels his conviction most is that this undertaking is, first and foremost, a labor of love.

“We’re not focused on making money,” Nadeau said. “We’re not looking to be millionaires. We just want to be able to pay the bills, and be able to give back. That’s more rewarding than money.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Nancy and Brad Nadeau of Cumberland are looking to expand their home-based Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. to a full-fledged commercial operation, with a percentage of proceeds going toward veterans.

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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.