The generalized sentiment at the grand opening Wednesday morning of the Sea Dog Brewing Co.’s new Barrel Room, overlooking the Penobscot River in the basement of its Bangor restaurant and brewery, was that Bangor is not just pro-business — it’s pro-beer too.
“I’d like to put one rumor to rest,” said Bangor mayor Cary Weston, who helped cut the ribbon at the event. “I am a pro-beer mayor.”
The new space, now open for brewery tours and dining Friday through Sunday, as well as for private party rentals, boasts eight tap lines serving up Sea Dog beers, an open kitchen, a hardwood floor constructed from old basketball flooring from the Lewiston Colisee and a unique peek into the brewing process through big glass windows. Sea Dog Old Gollywobbler Brown was being brewed Wednesday morning as an array of Bangor city officials and Sea Dog fans and patrons taste-tested beers and new menu items and checked out the new space.
Sea Dog beers have been brewed in Bangor for years, but with the expansion the brewery can now produce 112 kegs a week, up from 56 before. It also means they employ three full-time brewers — brewmaster Brooks Mathews and assistant brewers Michael Carey and Robert Baker. As patrons drink and taste in the Barrel Room, they can watch the brewers concoct the very beverages they’re consuming.
“There’s a big difference between the upstairs space, which is much bigger and noisier, and this new space, which is very intimate,” said Larry Killam, general manager of the Sea Dog Bangor. “We put a lot of sweat into making it really special. The staff put a lot of personal touches in it, like the lobster trap lights above the bar. It’s very unique.”
The impetus to expand the Sea Dog facilities in Bangor has a number of deciding factors, one of the first being the rapid expansion of the Bangor Waterfront in the past few years. Business from the concerts has increased business for the Sea Dog, and the expansion capitalizes on that momentum. There’s also the exploding popularity of locally brewed beers — Maine brews are so popular that the Sea Dog ran out of space in its Portland brewery.
“There’s been a tremendous surge in people’s enthusiasm and consumption of beer,” said Killam. “This new space is a beer place. It’s for people who love beer. We love the fact that there’s so much local beer in Bangor, between us, Geaghan’s, Penobscot Bay and Black Bear. It’s all good for everyone. It all builds on itself.”
A number of Sea Dog fans were on hand to check out the new digs, including Linda and Carl Blicker of Hancock, N.H., who were visiting friends in Maine and stopped in to visit.
“We first had Sea Dog beers during the Folk Festival a few years ago, and we’re big fans,” said Carl Blicker. “We’ve traveled all over Europe and England tasting beers, and we’re thrilled that local beers are getting so big here in the U.S. It’s wonderful to have good beer so readily available. It’s really a renaissance.”
The Sea Dog Brewing Co. is located at 26 Front St. on the Bangor Waterfront. For information, visit seadogbrewing.com.