Beer tourists traveling between Sebago Brewing Co.’s headquarters in Gorham and the lineup of breweries on Portland’s Industrial Way cut right through the center of Westbrook.
Soon, they’ll have a reason to stop.
Mast Landing Brewing Co., which got its start in a garage in Freeport, plans to open the city’s first brewery and tasting room in an industrial building downtown by the end of January.
The Westbrook Planning Board on Tuesday approved the change of use for the former home of Atlantic Limousine at 920 Main St. into a microbrewery.
Mast Landing joins a rapidly growing craft beer industry in the state, where about one third of its 67 breweries opened in the past two years, according to the Maine Brewers’ Guild.
Having a brewery in every community is where the beer scene, here and across the country, is headed, said Sean Sullivan, the guild’s executive director.
At the same time, the growing number of craft beer drinkers in Maine and nationwide has created a sector of tourism based on visiting breweries and tasting beers.
Thirty-five percent of visitors to Maine stop at a brewery or brewpub while they’re here, according to the Maine Office of Tourism’s latest survey.
On average nationwide, fans of craft brews visit 1.5 breweries a year while traveling, and even more close to their homes, according to the National Brewers Association.
Although Mast Landing was named for an area of Freeport, President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Dorsey is excited about having Westbrook’s first brewery.
With so many breweries in the state, Dorsey said, made-in-Maine isn’t enough anymore.
“Things are getting ultra-local,” he said. “The fact that Westbrook will now be able to say, ‘This is our beer,’ people take a lot of pride in that.”
William Baker, Westbrook’s assistant city administrator, said the brewery is welcome.
“We are very excited to welcome Mast Landing to Westbrook,” said Baker, “and to join the craft beer guild and become part of our ongoing conversations with other brew industry leaders that are considering making Westbrook their home.”
A former financial adviser, Dorsey was finding himself having a hard time getting up and going to work in the morning when he started thinking about brewing beer full-time.
He and his future business partner, Neil Fredrick, a friend from the University of Maine, had been doing it out of Dorsey’s house in Freeport for a couple years.
After a long conversation with his wife, Dorsey decided to quit his day job.
Mast Landing was born, named for the area of Freeport where Dorsey grew up and where the finest trees from along the coast were once shipped off to England to become masts for the king’s fleet.
Even though the company is moving from Freeport, Dorsey said, the name still carries meaning, as they strive to produce the finest beer.
The nautical theme is carried by the names of the company’s brews. Its flagship beer, the Tell Tale Pale Ale, is a reference to a ribbon of the same name that’s tied to a sail, indicating the direction of the wind.
It’s fitting, Dorsey said, as the company will look to that beer’s reception as an indicator of whether it’s going in the right direction.
The company also has two India pale ales, a blonde ale, an amber ale, a milk stout and a peanut butter stout.
They’ll be sold for the first time from the Westbrook tasting room, which initially will be open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dorsey said hopes to have his beers on tap at Portland beer bars The Great Lost Bear and Novare Res.
Dorsey said the company moved to Westbrook because he found a building there that met its needs.
But he also believes the city is “on the cusp of a type of renaissance,” attracting new residents who can’t afford rents in Portland.
“I think we’re getting in at a great time,” he said.