Thursday, December 12, 2013
By TOM ATWELL
Freeport Brewing Co. is back -- although it is now in South Portland and might change its name.
Freeport Brewing's Bown Hound Brown Ale was served recently at Great Lost Bear and Nosh in Portland.
From about 2000 until around 2008, son-in-law Christian would regularly buy growlers of beer from Freeport Brewing, alternating with beer from Sheepscot Brewing, at RSVP on Forest Avenue in Portland.
When the Freeport Brewing growlers disappeared, we continued to buy the Sheepscot, and it wasn't until I started writing this column a couple of years ago that I wondered what happened to the Freeport brewery.
So I was delighted when the Great Lost Bear's newsletter, The Bear's Growl, said the bar had Freeport Brewing's Brown Hound Brown Ale on tap in mid-May. Unfortunately, the keg was gone by the time I made it to the Bear.
"I was brewing in Freeport, but that building got sold," Freeport Brewing's brewer and proprietor Ken Collings said when I tracked him down last week, "and I had to put the equipment into storage while I looked for an affordable place to brew."
Collings moved to a condominium unit he owned and had been renting out on Broadway in South Portland.
"I found a little space right down the road from where I am living," Collings said. "It took a little bit of doing with the town and building inspector and stuff, but I finally got a license and it is functioning."
Because the location at Spring Point is not conducive to it, and Collings' license from South Portland doesn't allow it, he will not be selling growlers at this brewery site.
"I work full time in Freeport as a cook (at the Harraseeket Inn), and I don't have a great set-up to do growlers," he said. "I ferment the beer and put it in kegs, and I don't have time to fill the growlers from the kegs, so I am trying to back away from that. Selling the beer in kegs is easier, and the money is the same."
The only places now selling growlers of Freeport Brewing Co. beer are Royal River Natural Foods (443 Route 1 in Freeport) and the North Freeport General Store (130 Wardtown Road in Freeport), Collings said.
Collings has made it into a few different Portland and Freeport bars since he returned to brewing. In addition to the Great Lost Bear, he is or has been in Nosh, The Farmer's Table and Novare Res in Portland, and the Harraseeket Inn, Azure Cafe and Linda Bean's Topside Tavern in Freeport.
Collings hopes to find some customers in his own neighborhood, and has even considered changing the name of the company to Spring Point Brewing Co. But he fears a name change might cost him the followers he developed as Freeport Brewing.
Collings said that late last week, The Farmer's Table had his Ex-Wife Bitter Blond Ale, and Nosh had the Brown Hound Brown Ale. He is finding that restaurants are preferring the brown, because there are relatively few brewers making browns.
"In the last two or three years, there have been so many good craft beers arriving from all over the country," he said. "There has been a climate change as far as competition goes."
Christian and I are looking forward to Collings' Chocolate Porter, which was one of the best porters we have ever had. But he also brewed, among others, an India Pale Ale, a Christmas Ale, a Pumpkin Ale, an Oktoberfest and BFI.
Collings thinks he might have to experiment with his recipes now that he is in the new location.
"They are giving a little different flavor than they did before," he said. "I thought the beer was maltier with the different water supply. Portland water is much softer, while Freeport's water comes from wells and has more minerals."
All I can say is that I am going to go out of my way to find some of Collings' beers, whether in growlers or in bars, in the near future.
I WENT TO the family camp outside of Bethel with the intent of going fishing last weekend, which is why I think it rained so hard.
My beers of choice for the trip, partly because cans travel better, were the Baxter Celsius Summer Ale, which I wrote about last week, and the Narragansett Summer Ale, which was introduced last year.
I liked the Narragansett as much this year as I did last year. It has a low alcohol content (4.2 percent), and is creamy and complex without being bitter. I'll take it on my next fishing trip -- when I hope to be able to drink it outside.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at 767-2297 or at: