'Yeast' Bayside: Artisan foodies flock to Portland neighborhood
PORTLAND — A patch of East Bayside is quickly becoming a destination for foodies.
Call it "Yeast" Bayside.
Tucked beneath Munjoy Hill, the industrial area around Fox and Anderson streets is home to two breweries, a coffee roaster and a producer of cider and kombucha (fermented tea). More artisan food-makers may be on the way, with a distillery, a bakery and a cheese shop all moving into the area.
Coincidentally, the wares of these small businesses happen to involve fermentation, prompting them to adopt the neighborhood nickname.
The businesses, however, have more in common than yeast.
"We're like-minded folks who are excited about the future of this neighborhood," said Heather Sanborn, who owns and manages Rising Tide Brewing Co. with her husband, brewer Nathan Sanborn.
And Sanborn said she "can't be happier" about the fact that a potential competitor, Bunker Brewing Co., is around the corner at 122 Anderson St.
"That's how this neighborhood works ... we help each other out," she said. "It's like the proverbial cup of sugar."
Rising Tide borrowed that proverbial cup soon after moving to the area in March from an industrial area off Riverside Street. The Sanborns were having trouble with a bottling machine, but received a supply of bottle caps from Urban Farm Fermentory, the cider-and-kombucha-maker at 200 Anderson St.
"Being physically near each other helps us all out, and it works in both directions," Sanborn said.
Urban Farm has also recently leased some of its space to Bomb Diggity Bakery and Knickerbocker Creamery, according to founder Eli Cayer. He said he expects both to move in before the end of the year. And a distillery is said to be preparing to move into empty space next to Rising Tide.
"These businesses are a perfect fit," Cayer said. "They're all complementary, and they create a real draw to the area."
But the good neighbors weren't the reason for Rising Tide's move. The company simply needed more room.
Rising Tide began in 2010 with what Sanborn called "basically, a large home-brewing system" that had a fermenting capacity of about 10 barrels. Today, the capacity has grown to 67 barrels. While still brewing in small batches, the company has quadrupled production to 30 barrels a week and distributes its beers throughout Maine and Massachusetts.
All that takes space, and Rising Tide found it in a former truck garage across from Kennedy Park. The garage featured a 5,500-square-foot service bay that even included floor drains, an important selling point for a company that must constantly wash down its equipment.
"One of the important things for us was not having to do a lot of renovation," Sanborn said. "We didn't want to spend money on the building, we wanted to spend money on beer."
Another recent arrival in the neighborhood, Tandem Coffee Roasters, also was attracted to a unique space. In August, the company set up shop in a tiny brick building at 122 Anderson St., next to Bunker Brewing.
"We didn't know anything about the neighborhood, but we knew we wanted to work in this building," said Will Pratt, part of another husband-and-wife business team.
"We'd just come from New York, and so the idea of having a freestanding building that we could afford was just amazing," he said. "We looked at it for like two seconds before deciding to take it.
"We felt very lucky. But it was only after the build-out and moving in that we realized how fortunate we really are."
Pratt said that the neighborhood fermenters are now "good friends" – and pointed out that coffee is a fermented product. Tandem and Bunker even collaborated recently to produce a coffee-flavored ale.
Sanborn, too, praised the unexpected benefits of moving to "Yeast" Bayside. She said she's excited to be closer to downtown, in a "vibrant area where people are walking by every day."
"I don't think we saw all the neat things about the neighborhood when we found this space," she said. "It's phenomenal.
"The growth here is from the bottom up," Sanborn added, in appropriate fermentation terms. "It's organic."