January 19, 2019
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Couples to launch nano brewery at Skywalker’s in Machias

MACHIAS, Maine — A new nano brewery is in the works in Machias.

John and Danielle Parker, owners of Skywalker’s Bar and Grille, have partnered with home brewer Matthew Gardner and his wife, Iyisa, to open a brewery on site at Skywalker’s.

“John and Danielle always dreamed of doing something like this,” said Matthew Gardner, who has been brewing beer in his garage for at least six years. “Then they met me.”

Danielle Parker said a mutual friend introduced them in September 2014.

“We decided we would team up and make this dream come true,” she said.

The brewery will be named the Machias River Brewing Co. and it will launch with three beers named after Machias River tributaries — Mopang IPA, Crooked River Dark and Old Stream Pale Ale.

Those beers, Matthew Gardner said, are the ones he has had the most experience and success brewing, and they taste the best.

But the beers aren’t available for sale or sampling quite yet — and won’t be for some time — since the brewery isn’t licensed yet, Iyisa Gardner said.

The Parkers and Gardners are in the process of applying for licenses from the federal and state governments. That process is expected to take about a year, they said.

“You have to build everything and have them come in and say, ‘OK,’” said Matthew Gardner.

“That’s when you find out what you’ve done right and what you haven’t,” added his wife.

The licensing process is similar to that of restaurants. Breweries need to be equipped with certain things, such as running water, drains in the floor and stainless steel sinks, said John Parker and Matthew Gardner.

The couples plan to build their brewery on the Skywalker’s site in a 10-by-12-foot spot where the patio now sits, they said. The Parkers said they can always add a new patio later.

“We’ve been having lots of meetings, trying to come up with a real solid business plan,” Danielle Parker said.

Starting small

The couples have decided to start small, though that decision goes against advice they were given. The owners of other breweries have told them if they start small, they run the risk of not being able to meet demand.

“We’re all for starting small and growing and not having a large overhead,” said Danielle Parker.

If demand exceeds supply, the couples can expand into a 6,000-square-foot warehouse the Parkers own in an industrial park — though that will require going through the permitting process again.

And even if they do expand later, they plan to keep the brewing facility at the restaurant.

“We need to have a small system on site so people can see what we’re doing. That’s part of the draw,” Danielle Parker said.

Iyisa Gardner also has been experimenting with her husband’s beer in recipes at home.

“If I’ve got beer on tap, she’s cooking with it,” Matthew Gardner said.

Iyisa Gardner will use her experience cooking with beer to develop recipes for Skywalker’s, which will be changing its name to the Machias River Brewing Co. Brew Pub once the brewery opens. The pub, located on Route 1, will get an interior makeover with photographs and artifacts related to the Machias River.

“This will be like taking a trip down the Machias River,” said John Parker.

The couples have a long list of names for future beers, and these will also be tied to the local area, especially the river.

“That river’s been the lifeblood of this area for generations,” said Matthew Gardner.

In fact, the tagline for their operation is “Take me to the river.” T-shirts they had made with the tagline on the back and the name of the company on the front are already creating a buzz, they said.


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