Kelly Lucas, left, with her father David Geary. Lucas and her brother Matthew Geary wrote on Facebook, “Our funny, charming, gregarious and cantankerous father passed away last night.” Photo courtesy of Kelly Lucas and Matthew Geary

David Geary, a pioneering brewer and the founder of the D.L. Geary Brewing Company in Portland, has died. He was 78.

His family said he died Wednesday night of natural causes at a hospital surrounded by family and friends.

“Our funny, charming, gregarious and cantankerous father passed away last night,” daughter Kelly Lucas and son Matthew Geary wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “He was larger than life and a great dad. We will miss him.”

His children said they are proud of the way Geary, who went by DL, and their mother, Karen, “made a mark on the world and influenced an entire industry.”

The family is planning to host a happy hour at a later date to share stories and a few beers, they said.

“In the meantime, raise a beer to celebrate his life!” they said.


One post on social media in response to the family’s announcement echoed that sentiment.

“David Geary, The Godfather of Maine Craft Beer, has passed. He was an inspiration to brewers worldwide. D.L.’s contributions to our state’s culture and economy are beyond measure. Raise a glass of Geary’s or any Maine craft beer in tribute to the greatest beer pioneer in Maine history. Our thoughts are with his family, “Boothbay Craft Brewery Tavern and RV said on Facebook.

David Geary, founder of Portland’s first craft brewery, dies at 78. John Patriquin/Staff photographer file

Others who knew Geary expressed their sadness and shared their memories of the man who pioneered craft brewing in Maine.

“It was easy to see the things about him that everyone else saw, brewing icon and innovator, proud father and grandfather, trailblazer of business and industry … but for me it was always his human side, sharing in joy, grief, memories and history that I will always remember and cherish the most,” his nephew, Christian Heritier, wrote on Facebook.

The D.L. Geary Brewing Company was incorporated in October 1983 by David and Karen Geary, who shared a vision of producing world-class products on a small scale for local and regional consumption. At that time there were only 13 microbreweries in the United States, with almost all of them operating in California and the Pacific Northwest.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Lucas and Matthew Geary

In 1984, David Geary went to Scotland and England where he began training and conducting research in small commercial breweries. During that time, Geary’s Pale Ale was created using elements from some of Britain’s best breweries. In the summer of 1984, Geary and his wife started developing a business plan that included searching for real estate, designing packaging and raising the money need to start a brewing business.


Construction began two years later and on Dec. 10, 1986, the first pints of Geary’s Pale Ale with its distinctive lobster label were sold, making it Portland’s and New England’s first microbrewery. Geary’s increased its product line to seven full-time products and three seasonal specialties, distributing those products to fifteen states.

The first line of beers featured year-round products: Geary’s Pale Ale, the company’s flagship product, Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale, Geary’s London Porter, Geary’s India Pale Ale and Geary’s Hampshire Special Ale. Geary’s Summer Ale was one of three seasonal products. Geary’s Pale Ale went on to set the standard for English-style ales.

Karen Geary died in 2013, and Geary sold the company in March 2017.

“We are super proud of the legacy our parents built and of the beer culture they helped to build in Maine and New England. Maine is truly a beer destination now, and that started over 40 years ago when our parents had the idea to produce some English style ales and distribute them in Maine,” Lucas said in a statement Thursday night. “Since then, the number of breweries has skyrocketed and the beer styles run the gamut of flavor.”

“DL’s passion for brewing and beers will always be remembered as he promoted the industry with a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face, and maybe a sarcastic remark or two,” she said.

“I’m very proud of the creativity and courage it took my parents to create something from scratch. They were a great team,” Matthew Geary said. “It’s amazing the way the people of Maine embraced the things they did and created the opportunity for their business to succeed. I can’t imagine accomplishing as much in my life as my dad and mom did in theirs. It’s comforting to go anywhere in Maine and see the ways my parents influenced Maine’s culture.”

According to the Maine Brewer’s Guild, the D.L. Geary Brewing Co. was the first new brewery to open east of the Mississippi since the federal prohibition on alcohol production ended. As of February 2022, there were 165 licensed breweries operating in Maine.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: