Recently, we were invited to check out some breweries and beer-centric special events in Maine, and we were thrilled with the opportunity to take part. Chris and his partner Erin made the trip south for an extended weekend of fun, food, and of course beer. We wanted to share our adventures with you, in the hopes of inspiring you to make a visit south to Maine to discover their exciting beer locations and events.
Our three days in Maine kicked off in Bangor. After a leisurely drive in from Fredericton, we checked into our room at Fireside Inn & Suites on Main Street, enjoyed our complimentary whoopie pie, and went directly to our first beer destination. Thankfully, it was in the same building! Geaghan’s Pub is an Irish pub, opened in 1975 by John and Arline Geaghan. In 1983, John passed away, and the business was purchased from Arline by several of their children. In 2011, they added on-site brewing to the pub, focusing on American-style beers with an Irish twist, quickly growing a faithful following. Andrew Geaghan (John’s grandson) and Ryan Power are in charge of the brewing operations, sharing co-head-brewer titles. Both started out as home brewers, and had been working elsewhere in the Pub before taking on these roles. In fact, working at the pub is certainly a family affair, with owners Larry, Pat, and Peter Geaghan all working in the kitchen or bar.
We met up with Lisa Sturgeon, who joined us in a tour of their beers and tasty pub food, including their famous boneless wings. Insider tip: Ask for the “Reserve Sauce” with your wings. You won’t find it on the menu, but the locals have been ordering it for years. It’s hot and sweet, much like a sriracha and brown sugar combination.
In our first flight, we enjoyed their Refueler Unfilitered Wheat, Presque Isle Honey Blonde Ale (made with local honey), Higgins Irish Red Ale, and Smiling Irish Bastard APA. All were very well-made examples of their styles, and quenched our thirst quite nicely on a warm summer afternoon. All of their beers are named in celebration of the local culture, region, and family history of clan Geaghan. The Smiling Irish Bastard, for instance, is named after Police Officer Bernie Welch, a relative of the Geaghans, who was a serious man patrolling the streets of Bangor, but had a dry, Irish sense of humour.
After the great food and drink, Lisa took us on a tour of the on-site brewery. Their Criveller-built brewhouse is a 5BBL (6 hectolitre) system, with four fermenters of the same size. They do well to pack everything in the narrow footprint of the brewery, with enough room to manoeuvre, but without wasted space. The day we visited, they were doing a 24-hour sour mash for an upcoming release. The walls of the brewery are finished in white plastic, perfect for dry erase markers. The brewers use that to their advantage, taking tally of the number of beers brewed (37 different beers so far this year), volume tally (they are well on their way to overtake the 717 barrels [841 hl] they brewed last year), and motivational sayings (“Don’t be that guy”, featuring a picture of the chemical formula for diacetyl). They are brewing three times a week to keep up with demand, serving eight different brews on tap, and for growler fills, at any given time.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the stellar breakfast we enjoyed at Geaghan’s the next morning before leaving town. Co-owner Larry Geaghan is onsite at 4am every morning baking bread and pastries (we loved the Thick-Cut White and Oatmeal Brown), and Chris couldn’t get enough of the Bacon Cinnamon buns, prepared French Toast style! They also feature “Paddy Cakes”, An Irish potato pancake made with bacon, cheese & onion. And their Oatmeal Stout makes a perfect breakfast beer (so we’ve heard).
Thanks very much to Tom Palmer of the Fireside Inn & Suites, and Lisa Sturgeon of Geaghan Brothers Brewery for having us for a visit, be sure to visit them both at 570 Main Street in Bangor, and stay up to date with new beer releases and Mug Club events on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Stayed tuned as we continue our adventures to a few more locations in and around Bangor, as we hop on The Growler Bus for a fun Friday night, and then hit the road for the Carrabassett Valley and The Forks for some outdoor adventures (and beer)!