MIDCOAST — Beer is a booming business in Maine, and the Midcoast is steadily becoming a bigger part of the trend.

The success of breweries like Maine Beer Co. in Freeport, Oxbow in Newcastle, and Flight Deck at Brunswick Landing have shown that the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Now, both Brunswick and Bath are getting new breweries in the hearts of their downtowns.

In Brunswick, Moderation Brewing will be the realization of a dream for Philip Welsh and Matthea Daughtry. The pair grew up in Brunswick, and anticipate opening their new brewery sometime next year.

The path to becoming a brewery became easier earlier in August, when Brunswick Town Council approved a new set of zoning ordinances that would allow a brewery to be opened downtown. Previously, the town required any brewery be attached to a restaurant as a brewpub, something Daughtry and Welsh felt wouldn’t work in a downtown already full of interesting culinary options.

Their goal, said Daughtry, is to be a casual destination for residents and visitors alike.  “That’s where our focus is, to be the gathering spot,” she said.

To that end, they don’t anticipate brewing massive quantities of beer and competing with larger neighbors. Welsh said they plan to keep things on a small-scale, with a modest storefront.

The future brewery aims to be a throwback and tribute to the days of Prohibition. The building they are renovating, 103 Maine St., is one of the oldest on the street and may have some history connected to that era. According to Daughtry, it was once an American Express office, in the days when it was a delivery service and not a financial company. Once upon a time, American Express played a part in the legal battles during the Prohibition era thanks to their transport of liquor from “dry” states to “wet” ones.

Welsh already has plenty of experience making beer. He’s been home-brewing for a decade, experimenting with all kinds of beer varieties.

“It’s taken lots and lots of books and lots of learning,” said Welsh. He added that at this point, his production capacity is as close to commercial as a home-brewer can really get.

Welsh said he plans to brew a variety of modern-style beers. He also wants to use experimental yeasts that aren’t typically used by other breweries, as evidenced by their recipe plans.

“Our flagship is going to be a Brettanomyces fermented red ale,” said Welsh. “Not a lot of people over here are doing that.”

So far, the community has been extremely welcoming to the idea of a brewery downtown, including the town itself.
“It’s a great community,” said Daughtry.

Over in Bath, Bath Brewing Co. is starting to take shape at 141 Front St. For weeks, a sign on the door saying “something is brewing” has been a strong hint that a brewery is coming to downtown Bath.

The developer, Sean Ireland, said things are still in progress and was unwilling to say much more until a later date, but confirmed that a brewpub is in the works.

Mike Therriault and Terry Geaghan will be the restaurateurs and brewers behind the project, which aims to bring “pub and comfort food classics alongside a selection of craft beers brewed on site,” according to Ireland.

The location has received site plan approval and historic district approval from the city for the proposed use. Plans indicate a redesigned front and a potential two-floor set up for the restaurant and brewery, but further details are still in the works.

Ireland said plans are to open the restaurant and brewpub in November.