ORONO, Maine — After bottling beer for a nearly a year inside a refurbished gas station on Main Street, Marsh Island Brewing is expanding to add a tasting room with food, owner Alice Swett said Tuesday.
The brewery sells Downrigger IPA, Whitetail Pale Ale and several other varieties of beer in 22-ounce glass “bombers” that are sold in stores from Presque Isle to Kittery, and are available on tap at several eating establishments. On Monday, the Orono Town Council issued Marsh Island a victualer’s license for the tasting room that is conditional on final inspections by the code enforcement officer.
“We’re opening up a tasting room hopefully a week from Friday,” Swett said. “That’s our hope.”
Plumbers, electricians and carpenters were working hard Tuesday to get the new space ready for customers.
“We’ll be selling our own beer and some food … chips and hummus, chips and salsa, artichoke dip, wraps,” Swett said. “Our biggest thing is our beer. We should have our full lineup plus one that is only available at the brewery.”
The tasting room will have seating for 22 and there also will be an outdoor area.
The idea for Marsh Island Brewery originated with Swett, whose family owns Swett’s Service Center and Deli on the Hogan Road in Bangor; Richard England, the store’s craft beer manager; and Clayton Randall, a home brewer and master technician at the service center.
Randall, who gave up his job working at Swett’s a few months ago, handles all the operations as the head brewer.
“We have a three barrel system and seven barrel fermenters,” Randall said Tuesday. “That allows us to do small batches and split batches and stuff.”
The initial plan was to start a one-barrel brewery that could supply beer for the Swett’s Hogan Road Deli, he said, but regulations modified that plan and a larger brewery and bottling line was the final result. The first beer rolled off the line on Sept. 3, 2015.
The decor of the new brewery expansion will be a mixture of industrial and old time, Swett said, with the old garage bay window now repurposed to offer a view into the tasting room and the bar and tables made from an old red oak from Winterport.
Customers will be able to order 16-ounce pints, paddles that have four or six, 4-ounce tasters, the 22-ounce bombers, and eventually cans, the head brewer said.
“We have eight beers in the cooler and eight lines,” Randall said, adding his walk-in cooler is packed with kegs. “We’ll have plenty of beer.”