On tap in Brunswick: Zoning change could launch downtown brewery

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BRUNSWICK — Plans are in the works for a downtown brewery.

It would be the town’s third brewing operation, establishing Brunswick as what the industry considers a beer-tourist destination.

The announcement at a Feb. 27 Planning Board forum came 11 days after the town’s first production brewery, Flight Deck Brewing, nearly sold out of beer during what its founders intended as a “soft opening.”

At the Planning Board, business partners Mattie Daughtry, 29, and Philip Welsch, 30, said a proposed change in the town’s draft zoning ordinance allows for artisanal industrial facilities in the downtown zone.

Daughtry, who is also the state representative in House District 49, said she and Welsh, both Brunswick natives, had entertained the idea of opening a brewery for several years. But current downtown zoning prevents a standalone brewery without a restaurant.

She said a downtown location is necessary for their project, because they want to provide a brewery that’s easily accessible for walk-in customers and bike riders.

“We basically want to brew with a hyper-local focus,” Welsh said.

He added they hope Moderation Brewery, as it is tentatively named, will be a “community hub.”

Welsch, who works at L.L. Bean in Freeport, is an avid brewer and will oversee the beer production; Daughtry will manage the business side of the operation.

The duo’s mission is not unlike what prompted Nate Wildes and Jared Entwistle to launch Flight Deck Brewing earlier this month at Brunswick Landing.

“We built a venue,” Wildes said Tuesday, hoping it would quench a thirst for socializing as well as beer.

They were right.

According to Wildes, the brewery unofficially opened Feb. 17, expecting to use what small traffic they anticipated to iron out the kinks in anticipation of an official launch date and party.

Instead, they unexpectedly greeted about 1,000 visitors the first day, and saw similar numbers throughout the weekend. 

“I don’t know where they came from,” Wildes said. “About half the beers are out, and we’re down to the last 10 percent of the volume.”

On Tuesday, Entwistle said he had been brewing for three straight days to replenish stock.

Wildes said he is excited about the prospect of another brewery in town.

“Greater Brunswick is still missing a critical mass of casual, social opportunities,” he said.

“We’re both passionate about the idea of partnering with everyone,” Daughtry echoed, noting Flight Deck’s early signs of success. 

She said the town’s rising concentration of breweries – which would also include Pleasant Street’s Ebenzer’s Brew Pub – could make Brunswick a destination for brewery tourism. 

Sean Sullivan, director of the Maine Brewer’s Guild, agreed, explaining that increased competition among breweries is a tide that lifts them all.

“While some might think that a small town like Brunswick may not be able to support more than one brewery, we’ve found the opposite to be true,” he said in an email Tuesday.

“Brewers often report that a second or third brewery opening up nearby led to a net increase in visitors to their brewery,” he said. “Because beer tourists like to visit many breweries, having a few breweries all within a small area is often just the enticement needed to attract visitors from near and far.”

Moderation Brewery is still just a proposal, since it can only move forward if the Town Council adopts the revised zoning ordinance; Director of Planning and Development Anna Breinich said that may not happen before May or June. 

But based on feedback at a series of town forums, Daughtry and Welsch aren’t concerned that any proposed revisions in the ordinance will derail their plans.

As of Monday, the two said they had submitted a bid for a lease downtown, but declined to disclose the address.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Customers on Feb. 18 pack the new Brunswick Landing tasting room at Flight Deck Brewing. To the astonishment of the pair behind the venture, Nate Wildes and Jared Entwistle, close to 3,000 people visited Brunswick’s first production brewery the weekend of its soft opening; the brewery nearly ran out of beer.

State Rep. Mattie Daughtry hopes to establish Brunswick’s second production brewery in a downtown building.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.