By Callie Ferguson
BRUNSWICK — The town’s first craft brewery will open early next year with a constantly changing lineup of beers made from ingredients as exotic as sumac and as New England as blueberries.
Flight Deck Brewing will open at Brunswick Landing and include a tasting room and beer garden. It’s part of an effort to bring more consumer-facing, community-oriented businesses to the former naval air base, according to the duo behind the brewery, Nate Wildes and Jared Entwistle.
Wildes, 26, is co-founder of the low-profit New Beet Market, the Landing’s first consumer-facing – or “people-oriented,” to use Wildes’ phrase – business. Like New Beet and the new YMCA, Wildes hopes Flight Deck will be an opportunity to build community at Brunswick Landing, which for the most part is home to office and industrial users.
Wildes met Entwistle, also 26, in March, when a mutual friend set them up for lunch “on the pure premise that we were late-20-something-year-olds likely to make a life for ourselves in the Mid-Coast,” Wildes said in an interview.
Entwistle, who is leaving Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland to start Flight Deck, has been brewing since he was 18. “I would stay up all night and brew and put the beer in my closet (to ferment) so my parents wouldn’t know,” he said.
Over lunch, the idea for a brewery developed instantly – “the stars aligned, if you will,” Wildes said – and by June, the two had leased the 4,500-square-foot former small-arms shooting range at 11 Atlantic Ave. and architectural plans had been drawn up.
Flight Deck will have four fermentors and an entirely electric, seven-barrel brew house, which would make it the largest electric brewery in Maine. Since energy use at Brunswick Landing is offset by wind energy credits, the brewery will be run with 100 percent percent renewable energy; about a third of it will come from the Landing’s on site anaerobic biodigester.
Flight Deck will bottle and keg its beer to start, and New Beet Market will be the brewery’s exclusive retailer of Flight Deck bottles. New Beet will also provide food for the tasting room and the market’s popular cold-brew coffee.
Patrons of the tasting room can expect to drink fresh beer straight off the line from kegs or one of the brewery’s two bright tanks.
Aesthetically, the brewery will pay homage to its naval heritage. Wildes joked about putting an old sign that reads “No armor piercing ammo” on the bathroom door. He said he had a hard time finding someone in Maine who could cut through the former shooting range’s 12-inch concrete walls.
In addition, the windows in the building are bulletproof, prompting Wildes to joke, “If the world ends, you know where to come.”
On Saturday, Entwistle was brewing a half-barrel pilot batch of India pale ale, a test run of a potential IPA recipe for the brewery’s opening.
“I’m excited mostly to get my beer out there,” Entwistle said Saturday. While Shipyard has trained Entwistle in the basics of so-called “normal” beers, “I’m more used to delving into weird ingredients,” he said.
In keeping with this spirit, Wildes said the brewery won’t offer a flagship beer to start, but rely on feedback from customers and Entwistle’s experimental attitude to develop a diverse, varying lineup.
There will, however, be one constant: keeping it local. “If it can be sourced locally, we’re going to use it,” Wildes said.
He is already dreaming of a mural that maps the small circumference of places where the brewery sources ingredients and materials: it’s a diameter of about 20 miles from Blue Ox Malting in Lisbon, where the brewery can get fermentable grains, to Yarmouth’s Quality Containers, where the duo will buy glassware for its growlers.
This scale is not only philosophical, but also realistic. The rate at which craft breweries are growing in Maine and the U.S. is exponential, and some observers have questioned whether market newcomers will hit a craft-beer bubble.
“We don’t believe there is a bubble,” Wildes said. Rather, he believes craft breweries will target their growth hyper-locally, and doubts there will be dozens more breweries the size of Portland’s Allagash – which produces more than 70,000 barrels of beer annually and distributes nationally. But there is plenty of room, he said, for small, neighborhood-focused suppliers.
Additionally, both Entwistle and Wildes noted there is a brewery void between Freeport’s Maine Beer Co. and Newcastle’s Oxbow; Entwistle called Flight Deck “a filler of sorts” in that gulf.
“It’s much more about community for me and Nate,” he said.
“We want to produce beer that people want to drink,” Wildes added, emphasizing the desire for community-driven input. “We’re the perfect size and location to have a lot of fun.”
Wildes said he and Entwistle owe some of their vision to Tom Wright, from whom they are leasing the brewery space. They don’t consider Wright just a landlord, but a partner “in mindset” – someone who shares their vision and is providing valuable facilities knowledge.
“It’s not a one-person show,” Wildes said. “It takes a village to start a village.”
Ultimately, their goal is simple, he said: “We want friends. We want to attract other 20-somethings to the Mid-Coast,” and a beer isn’t a bad place to start.