Monday, October 09, 2006

Shipyard Brewing Company

We visited the Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine a couple of holiday weekends ago. Might have been Labor Day, we're not exactly sure anymore. There are two things, aside from their beer, that we find very interesting about Shipyard. The brewery actually got its start in 1992 at Federal Jack's Restaurant and Brewpub in Kennebunkport (think George Bush the Elder). As demand grew, they expanded and moved to a new facility in Portland in 1994. That facility is actually located on the spot where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born. Shipyard has made a beer in his honour, which we look forward to trying. Sorry, but we find these sorts of things quite interesting. The second fascinating fact is that Shipyard was cofounded by an Englishman named Alan Pugsley. That, in itself might not grab you, especially since you were too lazy to click our link. Had you bothered to do so, you might have learned that Pugsley is pretty well known for his English style ales, as well as helping to design and install several dozen brewing systems in the United States, including Geary's (the first microbrewery in the Northeast - also located in Portland), Magic Hat and Middle Ages. In fact, Middle Ages founder Marc Rubenstein interned under Pugsley in Maine prior to opening the brewery in Syracuse. But we digress. Perhaps there will be more on the fascinating history of Middle Ages in an upcoming post.

So, what else can we tell you about Shipyard? Well, they make some pretty solid ales, for one. Pretty much English style with distinctive flavor from Ringwood yeast. Their flagship is a pale, Export Ale, they make a smooth IPA featuring only English Fuggles hops, and Old Thumper is an Extra Special Bitter created by Alan Pugsley's mentor, Peter Austin, and also brewed in Ringwood, Hampshire (that's Jolly Old England), and in the Orlando Airport. Yeah, you read that right. Did we forget to mention that Shipyard is partially owned by Miller Brewing and also has a small brewery Orlando, Florida? Don't hold any of that against 'em though. It's a pretty cool, pretty good regional brewery. You could do a lot worse. We happen to quite enjoy their Pumpkinhead, which is rather light and easy drinking, yet nicely spiced. Here you'll find a fairly complete link to the beers.

Shipyard does a fair amount of contract brewing, including several brewpubs: Gritty McDuff's and Pugsley's Sea Dog brand, Federal Jack's Tremont Ales, and Davidson Brothers, among others. They even originally did contract brewing for Magic Hat. The tour wasn't much, unless you like pockmarked, sweaty, men with heavy regional accents, who are about to knock off for the day and clearly are mailing it in. They did have an interesting video on the brewery's history (you can find that and more on the website if you click around a little). Additionally, it was free, they gave samples, and the giftshop was pretty good, so we ain't complaining. Contrary to their belief, Shipyard doesn't make the best beer in the world. They do have a good product and have certainly played a role in helping establish and maintain plenty of other breweries, not the least of which is the one in Syracuse.
We definitely have a soft spot for them.

If you visit:

86 Newbury St. in Portland, Maine!

Store Hours:
Mon-Sat 10:00-5:00 pm
Sun 12:00-5:00 pm

Brewery Tours and Tastings:
Daily, on the hour, every hour, from 12 noon to 4 pm

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