A Portland businessman has teamed up with the co-founder of Austin Street Brewery to start a craft brewery that makes only non-alcoholic beer.

Rob Barrett, owner of Barrett Made Architecture + Construction, and Will Fisher, co-founder and head of operations at Austin Street Brewery, are launching KITna Brewing at 52 Alder St. in Portland’s West Bayside neighborhood. Adrian Beck-Oliver and Simon Burhoe, both of whom have experience working at other local breweries, will be KITna’s co-head brewers.

KITna will be Maine’s first craft brewery dedicated solely to making non-alcoholic beer, but it won’t be producing the first alcohol-free beer in the state. That designation goes to Pointer, a non-alcoholic beer released in March by Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery.

KITna beer will be available through local shops, restaurants and bars, and via shipping later this year, Fisher said, but he wouldn’t be more specific about the date. The owners also plan to have a small tasting room at the brewery, but that may not open until early next year.

“The easiest way to find the beer is going to be to go to your local bar, restaurant or retail store in Maine, and we’re looking to expand distribution in Maine very quickly,” Fisher said. “We’re already talking with two distributors to do statewide distribution, and if everything goes well, you’ll be able to buy it in supermarkets and everywhere you’d normally buy any beer.”

The “na” in the name KITna stands for non-alcoholic. And KIT?

“KIT stands for the beer being part of your toolkit, if you will,” Fisher said. “So if you’re using it to replace regular beer occasionally or all the time, or just during dry January, it’s part of your toolkit for life. It lets you know the purpose of the beer but not being too preachy about it.”

Both Barrett and Fisher say they wanted to start a craft brewery that makes only non-alcoholic beer because of personal experience. Barrett cut alcohol out of his life two years ago. Fisher, who emphasizes that he still embraces both kinds of beer, said he has been drinking less alcohol over the past year.

“If I decide not to drink regular alcohol, I just don’t drink anything,” he said. “I usually have a seltzer – a Polar seltzer or a Hannaford seltzer – but sometimes I kind of want something in the middle. I want a beer without the alcohol. But then you go to the non-alcoholic options, and they’re not very good. So having the great quality, something that tastes like regular craft beer without the alcohol, it was like ‘This is going to be awesome.’ ”

He added that he was also excited by the idea of starting another business, especially one producing a “super, super versatile” product.

“You can really serve it anywhere,” Fisher said. “It’s legal to drink out in the open. You can have it up on the Eastern Prom if you get food from a food truck.”

Fisher said Austin Street Brewing gets emails and phone calls “all the time” from customers asking if they have non-alcoholic options, so he expects KITna will be for sale in its tasting rooms on Industrial Way and Fox Street.

“That’s really blown up in the past six to 12 months, too, where we really feel like we need to have something sooner rather than later,” he said. “This will be an obvious choice for us. Otherwise, the two businesses won’t really be associated. I don’t see any collaborations or things of that nature.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.