New South Portland brewery taps into growing beer ‘fraternity’

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s first brewery plans to open next week.

Fore River Brewing Co., at 45 Huntress Ave., will open a tasting room at 2 p.m. Jan. 14, following an evening launch party at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the Thirsty Pig on Exchange Street in Portland.

John LeGassey, Alex Anastasoff and T.J. Hansen, are the trio behind the brewery, where the tasting room smells strongly of scavenged pine and maple used to construct the bar, ceiling, rafters, doorways and tables, benches and bar stools.

Scattered about the space are items of historical significance to the three friends Dark bottles that once concealed alcohol during the Prohibition and recovered from Anastasoff’s grandfather’s house are displayed on a portion of the rafters. An oxen yoke and a peavey – a tool used in handling logs – hang in opposite corners of the interior. The father of one of Anastasoff’s friends, they said, used the tools as a young man to farm nearby land.

The partners, each with a different skill, constructed most of the installations in the space, which used to be a salt storage shed.

They shaped and fit quarter-inch pieces of pine on the ceiling, they fashioned the black iron and black birch for the light fixtures and chandelier and reconstructed a 19th-century red brick fireplace, piece by piece. Anastasoff even re-purposed an old steam gauge into a two-pronged light fixture in the bathroom.

“Everybody worked on different components,” LeGassey said Wednesday afternoon at the brewery.

To start, the brewery will offer three beers – a silky oatmeal milk stout called John Henry Milk Stout; an Irish Red Ale called Timber Hitch, and Lygonia India Pale Ale, named after the brewery neighborhood. There are no plans to serve food.

The tasting room will initially be opened Thursday and Friday, from 2 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-8 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. When the weather warms, outdoor seating will also be available.

With the space free three nights a week, the trio is interested in offering the space to local groups who could utilize it, LeGassey said.

Anastasoff and LeGassey said they’ve had a good response from neighbors since they started working on the space this past summer, as well as from city residents in general.

The group, very aware that they’re entering a competitive market, particularly in greater Portland, said they don’t feel threatened.

“I think the craft beer industry is such a unique thing in that it’s not really a competition,” said LeGassey, who views the business venture as “joining a fraternity of brewers.”

First and foremost, Anastasoff said, “We want people to come here and have a good time.”

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

Opening next week in South Portland, Fore River Brewing Co. will offer customers three beers: an oatmeal milk stout, an Irish red ale, and an india pale ale, pictured.

Fore River Brewing Co. will open at 45 Huntress Ave., South Portland, on Jan. 14.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.