Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Tom Atwell
Banded Horn Brewing, located in the old Pepperell Mill building in Biddeford, was scheduled to brew its first commercial batch of beer the week of Nov. 11, and was planning to be selling beer about when this column appears.
Banded Horn Brewing in Biddeford has a former Brooklyn head brewer at its helm.
“We’re very close now,” founder and brewer Ian McConnell told me when I spoke to him by telephone. “We have a tentative brew date scheduled for Nov. 12, and it won’t be delayed more than a week from that date.”
McConnell brings with him more commercial brewing experience than many of the people who have started breweries in Maine. He was head brewer at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, N.Y., for five years before convincing his wife that they should move to Maine and start a brewery. McConnell is originally from Etna.
His original intention was to start the brewery in Portland.
“I lived in Portland for three years before moving to Brooklyn to be a brewer for Sixpoint,” McConnell said. “Portland did seem like the obvious choice, being the epicenter of the Maine food and beer scene. When I started looking for space, I couldn’t find what I wanted for lease or purchase.”
That led him to Biddeford, where he spent a day looking at properties and fell in love with the Pepperell Mill building.
“Biddeford offered an interesting choice,” he said. “There aren’t any other breweries there, and the town has really gotten behind the whole project. In a way I believe they chose my project rather than me choosing Biddeford. And the Pepperell Mill building is just so incredible” that he is glad to be helping to preserve it.
He said the first two beers he brews will be an American-style IPA and a German-style pilsner.
“Those two beers have been done a lot, but not often done as well as they can be,” he said. He also will be doing some more unusual kinds of beer with different ingredients.
The beer will be sold first on draft, with growlers offered at a brewery tasting room, and in hand-bottled 22-ounce bombers. Eventually McConnell intends to sell six-packs of 12-ounce bottles or cans, and he is leaning toward bottles.
“I like going in and getting a six-pack of something so I can have a couple and then some later, or share with a friend,” he said. “If we can do that at a competitive price, we will reach a really nice spot in the market.”
FOUNDATION BREWERY, located at 1 Industrial Way, is a bit further away from selling., said Joel Mahaffey, probably in the first part of the new year.
“We are doing lot of different kinds of beer, trying to nail down what niche we’re really trying to fill,” he said. “We want do very flavorful, intensely aromatic beers that are more sessionable (lower alcohol). We are doing as our first couple of beers a saison and a saison IPA, but we will be following those up with some other, different kinds of beer.”
He and his business partner, John Bonney, are both longtime home brewers and have been working on the brewery for a couple of years now.
The company is installing a 15-barrel brewing system with 30-barrel conditioning tanks, so it is a pretty good size for a new brewery.
“We will be doing just drafts and growlers initially,” Mahaffey said. “We are definitely having a tasting room where people can come in and try a sampling of different kinds of beers.”
Mahaffey thinks there is room for all the new breweries springing up.
“I don’t think there is a lot of overlap among any of us,” he said. “There is going to be some competition, but there is plenty of room and a potential market across Maine and New England for more craft brewers.”
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: