BREWER, Maine — Geaghan’s Pub took a big chance when it decided to open a brewery in 2011. The risk has paid off.
Demand for Geaghan Bros. Brewing Co. beer has grown to the point where it is sometimes a challenge for the pub to keep its own bar and growler supply stocked, let alone consistently offer beer off-site.
So the Geaghans are looking to expand their brewing operations the across the Penobscot River. Brewer Andrew Geaghan said Geaghan Bros. has signed the lease for a 3,600-square-foot garage at 34 Abbott St. in Brewer, formerly part of J.J. Nissen’s bakery operations.
The Nissen plant was in operation at 34 Abbott St. for more than half a century until it closed in 2005. Since then, the facility has been divvied up to provide space for a gym, hair salon and a few apartments.
Today, Geaghan brews out of a small addition connected to the pub in Bangor. In a given year Geaghan’s brew team has enough space and equipment to produce about 600 barrels of beer — which works out to roughly 18,600 gallons or 1,200 kegs.
In the Brewer garage, he expects to have capacity to brew up to 3,000 barrels per year — or 93,000 gallons, 6,000 kegs. Geaghan Bros. will continue using their Bangor brewery as well.
That would put Geaghan’s closer to a category of breweries that includes Atlantic Brewing Co., which reported producing 101,000 gallons of beer in 2012, and Gritty McDuff’s, which reported making 111,000 gallons in 2012.
“We want to be Northern Maine’s brewery,” pub co-owner Peter Geaghan said.
After the expansion is complete, Geaghan Bros. will work with distributors to send beer to bars in other parts of Bangor and across the state.
The Geaghans are considering starting a bottling operation in the Brewer space, potentially for distribution in stores throughout Central and Northern Maine.
It will take time to set everything up — the Geaghans are still in the midst of all the licensing and permitting processes needed to set up a brewery — but Andrew Geaghan said he hopes to have the operation running by early 2015.
They expect to invest about $800,000 to prepare the garage and to bring in equipment.
Andrew Geaghan said the brewery explored an expansion option that involved building an addition onto the current brewery in Bangor, but the costs added up quickly and the process of getting needed approvals to build a new building likely would have meant a much more delayed expansion.
The Geaghans, a family with deep roots in Brewer, started Geaghan’s Pub in Bangor in 1975. The business’s 39th anniversary was last Tuesday. The pub in Bangor will still be the hub of the business.
“The majority of what we do for business is still right at 520 Main St. in Bangor,” Geaghan said.