GORHAM — Kai Adams stood in what used to be a farm field at 10 a.m. in early April and cracked open a beer.

It was a Sebago beer, naturally.

Adams was celebrating as the company he co-founded in 1998 broke ground on its new brewery site. Sebago plans to double its size with a brewery and large tasting room that Adams says will draw fans off the beaten path.

While some breweries born in the 1980s and ’90s have languished, Sebago has surged to become Maine’s fifth-largest brewery in 2016. They’ve done it by tinkering with existing recipes and developing new products. Some of the brewery’s most popular or top-rated beers – Simmer Down (a seasonal ale), Whistle Punk (double IPA) and Hop Swap (pale ale) – didn’t exist four years ago.

“Our beers have evolved forever,” said Adams. “Not that you have to follow trends, but you do need to update. A traditional IPA back in 2001 is different from a traditional IPA in 2016. And consumers’ perceptions changed and our taste buds changed.

“I think we’ve all witnessed what happens when you say you only brew traditional style beers. You need to evolve from that. And you can have a traditional pale ale or a West Coast-style, but you have to update your styles. You don’t have to follow the trends, but you do have to engage the consumers.”


It seems to be working.

The company’s production has jumped the past two years. Sebago’s production went up 21.75 percent in 2016 and 16.9 percent in 2015.

Around 2014, the company revamped its lineup, changed its logo and switched from glass packaging to cans. It’s all in an effort to stay relevant in a crowded market. Sebago sells 84 percent of its beer in Maine, according to Adams. The state now has at least 93 breweries producing hundreds of different beers. Adams says Sebago has found its niche.

“There’s always been 5 million beers sold in Maine. It’s just a matter of what kind of beer is being sold, and consumers dictate that,” Adams said.

To fill its niche, Sebago needs a new brewery. Adams says he plans to sell the old Gorham location off to another Maine brewery. Its new location will be nearly 31,000 square feet and Sebago plans to hire up to 40 more employees.

Though it’s located away from beer tourism spots like Portland’s Riverside and East Bayside neighborhoods, Adams isn’t worried about drawing fans to their new building off Route 25. It’s not next door to Portland, but it has other amenities.

“I’m super confident people are going to show up,” Adams said. “This is elevating what a tasting room is like. Not only are the beers excellent, we have natural resources for people to enjoy that they don’t have to pay for. Hiking, biking. They can park, go for a walk on one of our trails and enjoy a good beer afterward.”

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