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Hopping up to Freeport: Portland microbrewer to open larger brewery

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Hopping up to Freeport: Portland microbrewer to open larger brewery

FREEPORT — A Portland microbrewer hopes to move into an expanded brewery next spring on Route 1 in Freeport.

Maine Beer Co., started in 2009 by brothers David and Daniel Kleban, will almost double its production at the new brewery on the site of the old Dutch Village Motel, near Exit 20 of Interstate 295.

In addition to increasing production, the brothers plan to add a tasting room that will seat about 25 people, David Kleban said.

"Right now, (a tasting room) doesn't really work," he said Tuesday, at their Portland brewery off Forest Avenue, pointing out that the current tasting room is the size of a small office and abuts the noisy brewery. "(The new room) is just there for people that want to learn more about our beer, or who already know about it, to come check out our digs. We'll probably have a few beers that aren't for sale elsewhere. For our loyal followers, we'll have something a little different."

The existing brewery produces 3,000 barrels of beer a year, or about 58,000 12-bottle cases. With the expansion, Maine Beer will add four new fermenting tanks, which will boost production to 5,000 barrels per year, Kleban said.

The brewery will join two other like-minded businesses on Route 1: Gritty McDuff's brew pub, and Maine Distilleries, maker of Cold River vodka and gin.

Known for its hoppy, American-style ales and off-size bottles, Maine Beer now sells beer in nine East Coast states, from New England to Washington, D.C.

Kleban said their approach to making beer is driven by personal taste, rather than any particular style.

"We brew beers we like to drink," he said, noting that they don't plan to make any significant changes with their expansion. "It's just worked out that it's been primarily hoppy, American-style ales. That's the way it has played out for three years, and it's worked, so why rock the boat?"

With the new location, Kleban said they want to get involved with Freeport's community culture and help sponsor walks and road races when they can.

"We hope to be at the starting line, or more likely, at the finish line," he said.

Kleban, his wife and brother moved to Maine from Michigan without jobs, because the wanted to live in the state, he said. About 10 years later, they opened the brewery.

"We've lived in Maine for a decade now, so I guess we're Mainers," he said. "I think that's the unwritten rule."

Although they enjoy the small brewers' community they have in Portland, the brothers hope the move to a smaller town will allow them to connect more intimately with the community, something that's difficult in their existing location, Kleban said.

"Portland is great fun, but it's easier to get lost," he said, noting that their brewery is in an industrial park and about a 20-minute drive from downtown. "(In Portland) it's kind of overwhelming for people and it's hard to stand out. I hope in Freeport people get to know us as good guys making good beer."

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.