LEWISTON – Luke Livingston says the guy who brings the beer to the party is always invited back. But he doesn’t just want to come back — he wants to throw the party.

After nearly three years of running a beer website, BlogAboutBeer.com, Livingston, 25, is launching Baxter Brewing Co., a $1.5 million craft brewery in Lewiston.

Currently he is renovating space in the Bates Mill downtown, and intends to have his West Coast-style beer ready for the shelves by October.

Baxter plans to make two beers: the heavily hopped Stowaway IPA and a lighter-bodied beer, the Pamola Xtra Pale Ale.

“Our beers are going to be a little bit different from what’s currently brewed in the state of Maine and New England,” said brewmaster Michael LaCharite. LaCharite was the founder of Casco Bay Brewing Company and the man behind the Katahdin Red Ale that made his brand popular.

What those beers go into will be a little bit different, too. Baxter Brewing will only produce beer in aluminum cans.

Beer drinkers are more likely to recycle cans than bottles, Livingston said, and because the cans are lighter, they require less energy to produce and ship than glass. Cans also keep beer fresher, he said, because light doesn’t pass through to the liquid and “skunk” it. Cans are more portable as well.

“A lot of effort and expense will go into conditioning these beers in the brewery so when you open the can, the flavor is very crisp and clean,” he said.

Cans are more popular in the western United States, Livingston said, and it might take a while for beer drinkers on the East Coast to catch on.

“When people taste our freshness and understand our freshness (is from a can), they’ll be hooked,” Livingston said.

He got hooked on beer making when his brother bought him a home brewing kit for his 21st birthday.

“Once you brew your own, there’s no going back,” Livingston said, laughing.

An Auburn native, Livingston went to college at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and he returned with a business plan. He hopes his story will encourage other young people to return to their Maine roots to start “cool, young, hip business,” he said.

“Young people can come back to the state of Maine and do business here and start businesses here,” Livingston said.

The brewery is one of the most anticipated new businesses in town, said Lincoln Jeffers, assistant to the administrator for the city of Lewiston.

“(Livingston) is an engaging young guy with a great idea who brews great beer,” Jeffers said.

Livingston is financing his venture with a $50,000 low-interest loan from the city of Lewiston and money from a small team of private investors.

The choice to build in the mill was partly one of environmental concerns — Livingston preferred to reuse and refurbish an existing building. It’s also a prime location, he said.

“The mill is a really unique place and has a lot of built-in marketability,” Livingston said. Not only will his beer be brewed there, but tours and tastings, as well as a retail area, will be in the mill space, too.

Renovation work began earlier this month, and Livingston said all the equipment should be set up by September for brewing.

The beer will be available only in Maine this year, but Livingston hopes to move his product into the rest of the Northeast next year. He already has about a dozen agreements from local retailers to carry his brand.

The first brew is what brewmaster LaCharite is looking forward to most.

“The very first cans of beer that are going to roll off that line, and to be able to pop that top,” he said, “once that happens, within days, the Maine people are going to have Baxter beer available to them.”

 

Staff Writer Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at: [email protected]